Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back to Reality - 18 inches of snow

I arrived home to a magnanimous pile up of snow everywhere your eyes can take. I had called my neighbor from Mumbai and he told me there was 18 inches of snow piled up on our street and it was impassable and my long uphill driveway resembled a ski slope.
The side and back yard of my house was being used by neighbors as a passable escape route to their vehicles parked in a make shift parking lot behind my house. The next door neighbor had cordoned off his yard with strings and a sign "Donot Trespass - Private Property". But what about the poor deer, who trespass every day?
There was no way I was going to be able to get my car out of the garage. Chains were required on all cars - life in the city had come to a grinding halt, there was not enough equipment to clean the roads and the city had shut down a few times. I can't even describe the chill down my spine when I heard this news. I was missing my munchkins and couldn't take any further marginalization, now at the hands of nature. I needed to see them and spend time with them.

What irony? People in Portland crave for a white Christmas. Now the universe had given them more than their fair share - as if to penalize us green conscious citizens for all wrong doings humanity has performed to nature in form of global warming. Ironically I have been reading "Hot, Flat and Crowded" by Thomas Friedman and ironically he discusses the wrath of nature coming in form of extreme climate changes. His words were prophetic. This was the most snow Portland had ever seen in recorded history and some dumbo justified it as "well it occurs every 100 years"......
Nevertheless, I was able to rent a not so gas guzzling 4X4 and drive up 1000 feet to the back of my house and drag nearly 60 kilos of luggage down the hill to my back door. All that shrubbery underneath, I hope they survive. I then had to climb up a 4 foot pile up of wet snow to open the door and finally I was "home". Luckily no water pipes had burst. I was in a daze as I had hardly slept and I was still recovering from the shock of how I breezed through customs this time with only one question "Are you bringing any jeera?" .. "No" I said with a smile and understood the humor in it... I controlled my laughter as I dragged myself out to the bus and freedom. I can buy plenty of Jeera at the local grocery store... I don't need to smuggle any from India.

So here I was finally home and in a winter wonderland. The Christmas tree had dried out and the timer on the lights had reset to turn on during the day, as there had been a power outage for many hours... I felt disoriented as I had not yet completely disconnected from Bangalore and Mysore. My mind was awake, but my body felt like it needed to crash and sleep.
It has now been four days since my return and I am still jet lagged. This always happens. Its not a new routine. Life is still not normal, the snow is still around and finally melting, but the cabin fever is atrocious. My munchkins and I had a nice Xmas day and my older pushed me to take them out - they had had enough of being trapped in the house the last seven days. We saw a movie "Bedtime Stories" and it brought so much joy to all of us, as we too make up stories at night, all from real life experiences.

I am still processing my experience from the trip from India. And then there are many balls in the air at home, more than I care to deal with, some I wish could just disappear. Its amazing to see how some things will just linger and fester and never seem to want to end, an infinite grind of reality of life. So the videos will need to wait some... there seems to be a surge of readers looking for guruji's 90th birthday celebrations. Please be patient. I must say it was worth the trip and for those who missed it, I promise there is more to see and there will be a lot more from RIMYI I am sure, as the entire 2 weeks was filmed by the second :)
In the meantime, I must say, I have gained a new respect for nature. I am more aware of the atrocities we have committed with the indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels and waste of energy. I am guilty as charged. The book I am reading has made an impact on me - the question now is what am I going to do about it? We all need to get serious about global warming and act NOW!.....


The Yogi

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The music from picture slides

I have turned off the music from the picture slides. I apologize for the annoyance!

Monday, December 22, 2008

BKS Iyengar "Guruji's" 90th Birthday Celebrations - Visit to his former yogashala in Mysore and bus trip back

After much searching we found his old yoga shala where he practiced under his guru Krishnamacharya. All the buses converged to the old residence of the King of Mysore in the heart of the city, which is now an Art Gallery. Our guide Mr. Rao found the school, which has long since been converted to a Catholic school. The school staff was kind to let us in and spend some time there and take pictures. It was back on the buses to head back to Bangalore to conclude the trip. The last two hours on our bus number 6 involved some singing and entertainment. A few clips that I was able to capture will be cherished...


The Yogi

Sunday, December 21, 2008

BKS Iyengar 90th Birthday Celebrations Parting Video

I am posting this final parting video in a series of videos that will appear in reverse chronological order from Dec 19th to Dec 10th. This is the final evening of Dec 19th, 2009. It was a long and fun bus journey from Mysore to Bangalore. I was on bus number 6. This was the chanting bus as the last 2 hours of the journey involved singing and chanting by the members of this group. I must say the Israeli contingent outshone everyone. Hava Nagilla is my favorite. Many thanks to Sania Sheik our tour bus guide, for inspiring us and Swati Chanchani to get us in the chanting mode. We practiced in the bus what appears in this final video before Guruji leaves the hotel in Bangalore. We all parted the next morning back on to our respective life journeys. Hope you enjoy these momentous moments and forward to them others.


The Yogi

Saturday, December 20, 2008

BKS Iyengar 90th Birthday South India Tour Dec 18th

This was day two of our trip, that included a 7 hour journey from E-Inn in Bangalore to the two 11th century stone temples in Halebidu and the other Bellur spelt "Belur". The morning started a bit chaotic, but once everyone was settled in the buses (I in bus number 6), we were on our way. Little did I know I was amongst some of the luminaries of the Iyengar yoga world including Swati Chanchani, Faeq Bria, Patricia Walden, John Schumacher .. and more... I sat next to Wolfgang, an Iyengar yoga teacher from Cologne who enlightened me about many things about yoga and Germany and we remained bus companions for the next three days. By the end of this momentous trip Bus number 6 became a world community.

Guruji followed us with his family on this trip. It was an exhausting journey till 11:30 pm at night, but worth every minute. I have so much to share - it will be several days and weeks till I complete my entire journal of this trip, and believe me, I will!!!! I have tons of video footage documenting this trip in addition to pictures. I met some amazing Iyengar yogis throughout this trip and am very thankful I had the opportunity to be part of this wonderful experience we all shared with Guruji. His presence was felt all throughout - though my most momentous experience was my short but important discussion with Faeq Bria, one of Guruji's most important students, an educator, a spiritual scientist and Vedologist, an expert in Hinduism, Yoga, Sutras, Indophile extraordinaire. He sat across the aisle and I don't remember a moment where he was not discussing something with someone in the bus, mostly in french. It wasn't until we arrived back in Bangalore and shared an elevator down, that I finally got a chance to speak to him. Wolfgang had mentioned about his amazing workshops and I had to talk to him about my strong connection with Sutras and desire to take more pranayam. In summary, I wanted to be re inspired to focus my practice back on the asanas but integrate pranayama into it as well.

I told him I felt very connected to the Sutras. He said "its not surprising, its in your blood". I almost fell to the floor when I heard those words. It is in my blood I realized or why I else would I be in it. He advised that I should start integrating pranayama into my practice right away and that a strong integrated practice of asanas and pranayama is the way to really connect with the Sutras. He added that it is too easy to intellectualize the Sutras and simply be stuck in that realm, without the pragmatic experience of asana and pranayama. His words have been resounding in my head every since.

I will have much more to share in my next few blog posts. The tour concluded this morning (2oth). I have to plug the new Bangalore (Bengaluru) International Airport. It is one more leap forward and nothing like any other airports - its world class. So those of you who maintain a critical view of things in India, well we Indians eventually do get it, through long hard struggles of thousands of years of making mistakes and the beauty of our character lies in those mistakes we make, the many times we fall, we just pick ourselves up and keep plugging away till we finally get that perfect asana and the deepest breath. There are still 500 million of us who remain downtrodden, but its those 500 million that we strive to uplift will change the world. Guruji has taken a small step in transforming the children of his native village Bellur, and I made a generous contribution to that effort as a gift for his birthday. I hope you will do so as well. That is the best gift you can make to him and the children of India. There are many such efforts underway..... I am determined in my own way to be part of that change. As Gandhiji said "To make a change you need to become a part of it....".

Enjoy the pictures and thanks to everyone who sent their nice comments and thanks to all my new friends on this trip who shared their thoughts and experiences with me. I am truly inspired by each one of you. How amazing is this connection of Iyengar yoga and Guruji!!!! If you would like to remain updated, subscribe to the blog via email, as I will be posting pictures and videos from this occasion for the next few weeks.

Enjoy the pictures and I end with the following words from an earlier post - Change and see the world change around you! I am now yearning to return home to my two little munchkins who I love dearly and missed alot during this trip and so wished they were with me to share in this experience. There were many kids they would have loved to have hang out with ...


The Yogi

Thursday, December 18, 2008

BKS 90 th Birthday Celebrations in Bellur Village - Dec 17th 2008

Here is a slide show of some of the pictures from Dec 17th, the first day of the South India tour. It was a crazy day yesterday. We had a 7 hour drive from Bangalore to another town called "Belur" to visit two ancient temples. I sat next to an Iyengar yoga teacher from Germany, Wolfgang and had interesting chat about globalization. I have been reading a book called "Hot, flat and crowded" by Thomas Friedman.

Imagine shunting 300 people in 9 buses over 200 km through dusty and bumpy roads. We arrived back at Mysore at 11 pm. Amongst the chaos of rooms and herding the group, there was a lot of meetings with interesting people who are Iyengar students from around the world. And of course Guruji and his family were with us throughout.

Enjoy the pictures. Please, if you find the music annoying, click the speaker icon to turn it off. I will not be able to post videos which are far more interesting till later in the week.


The Yogi

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BKS Iyengar 90th Birthday Celebration - Trip to Belur on Dec 17th

The celebrations in Southern India commenced today with a trip to Belur, Karnataka, a 90 minute drive from Bangalore. Three of us, that included two iyengar yoginis - Karen, an amazing artist and architect from San Francisco and Elizabeth, an accomplished yoga teacher from Bellingham Washington were picked up from our hotels in Bangalore and zipped down to Belur in a nice van, while the rest of the three hundred travelled by buses later from the hotel central in Electronic City.

All three of us had a nice conversation about India, both Karen and Elizabeth are touring Kerala and Tamil Nadu after this trip with their families. Both are certified indophiles and have visited India 10 years prior. It was an honor to meet them and hang out with them the entire day.

We arrrived early in Belur and were greeted by Mr. Raghu, Guruji's son in law, who runs the Belur trust. Belur reminded me the hill country of San Antonio. The weather was cool, mildly humid, but had the arid feel to it. You can see a smattering of rocky hills around flat land. We were driven to the "Ashram", the facility that hosts a Senior School, Hospital and a guest house belonging to the Belur trust. A huge cultural event was planned in the afternoon with performances from the school children. The senior school has 3 grades of 8,9 and 10 and about 300 students. Its absolutely free and open to any child from the village or neighboring village. The facility looked impressive, clean and you could see smiling and curious kids all around asking your name. I enjoyed the time I spent with them.

We walked over to the guest house for breakfast and got a whopping surprise. Guruji had already arrived and was sitting right there in the room with us. We just sat down and simply absorbed this moment. None of us pulled out our camera - we simply just cherished these very close moments with Guruji as we devoured a delicious and filling carb packed breakfast along with coffee.

After sometime we were asked to leave to check out the school, and facility. This was a polite way to tell us, times up... :) It wasn't long before the buses arrived with the rest of the entourage. I think the crowd was 70-30 foreigners vs local Indian students. While the rest of the crowd was being fed, I had a chance to really get to know Karen. She is an amazing person. She is a seamstress, an accomplished artist and sketcher, a great photographer, a world traveller, and to top it an avid Iyengar practitioner and a student rather than a teacher. We spent a lot of time talking about indian culture and share life experiences. Throughout the day she sketched out various parts of the events, that included people, and the colorful tents under which all the cultural events were held. And of course she was agile and always ahead to take amazing pictures. I was envious of her brand new Nikon D-90.

After the crowd was fed, we were bused for a short ride to the village of Belur, where Guruji was born and where he had built a primary school, which is now run by the government and the patanjali and hanuman temple. He was given an amazing welcome at the entrance of the village and then there was flower laden procession to the temple. I was in photography heaven, but I never could match Karen's speed in being ahead of the procession. I imagine that by the end of this tour there will be more footage of Guruji than ever recorded or documented by both professional media and hundreds of attendees. Even one of the Sadhu's from Bangalore was out taking video on his phone cam.

There were a series of pujas conducted at the Hanuman and Patanjali temple and the event lasted several hours. Guruji gave a speech and Sunita Iyengar recited the patanjali sutras. Every time he was garlanded the crowds would stand up to take pictures, leaving others who sitting viewless. That certainly got under the skin of some, especially one lady who was outspoken and asked many to sit down, so everyone could see the events. Her name was Dhuan Khandala, a very old student of Guruji. She said she had been his student since 1972 and told me how he had transformed her life and also of her friends. She described Guruji as a tall handsome man, who was extremely dedicated to teaching yoga to the Bombay students. He would come on a train every weekend to Bombay, come rain or shine, or storms, nothing would stop him. It was rare therefore for any Bombay student to miss the class. Guruji put all of himself into these classes. She remembers how he would hold her leg up to help her with a pose, while instructing others to perform another set of poses. She remembers how he would quietly come over to her and sit on her back while she was in Adho Mukha Virasana, in order to improve her flexibility in performing that pose better. She said Guruji taught her and others that yoga was not just about performing asanas, it was a way of life and showed them the way of life, and by example. In all the years he came to Bombay to teach he always stayed in a cheap hotel at the train station. Never did he heed to requests by his fairly wealthy students to stay at their house. His dedication and simply way of living is what the students received inspiration. There were many more touching stories, but Dhaun most deeply touched my heart. It was all so real about how Guruji has transformed so many people.

We returned back to the Ashram from the village and that was followed by a heavy spicy lunch and then the cultural event of kids performing yoga and dances. Then there was some felicitation by various VIPs, including a famous swami. It was an exhausting day, but being around the children and getting to know other fellow yogis, along with Guruji's words of inspiration and thanks, made it all worthwhile. Tomorrow we head to Mysore. I hope to blog from there and I hop to post the pictures from today in my next blog. Its late, I am exhausted and the day starts back again at 6 am.


The yogi

Monday, December 15, 2008

BKS Iyengar's 90th Birthday Celebration finale in Pune Dec 14th 2008

It was a magical evening with over 500 attendees converging at Govinda Gardens in impeccable pageantry of traditional indian garb, color and music. A shloka was chanted upon Guruji's arrival. It was followed by fecilitation of Guruji by some of his oldest students that included Jawahara Banga, Faeeq, Munos and then Prashant and Geetaji. Guruji's address to the students was touching and heart warming. Many tears flowed as he addressed that gathering as his children. I will let the video speak for itself.

Afterwards there was a mad attack to the food stalls :) whilst the announcers that included Abhi requesting the crowds to not shower guruji with gifts and give him space so he could give his blessings to everyone. The food was really delicious and worth the wait in crowded lines. Guruji walked around to thank everyone for attending. I had many opportunities to get close and even ask for a picture, but something inside told me to respect his grand daughters wishes. Of course rules were broken, and there was a stream of well wishers around Guruji wanting his blessings and pictures - India is full of contradictions and Iyengar yogis can't be excluded.

I remained a silent observer - there were many people who I had email contact with that I wanted to interview for the blog, but I decide to "unblog" and reflected upon his words and reflected upon the conglomeration of people from around the world who had come all the way to be part of the celebration of the life of this great man. We all have been blessed in some way by his teachings, physically, mentally and emotionally, as we all took a leap of faith into the world of his yoga.

I left Pune for Bangalore this morning, probably much less stressed than the day before. There were the customary hugs and good byes with Neena and Manu Shahani. Neena commented I looked a lot let stressed this time. Of course I am destressed! I have been in holistic heaven for the last four days with the peace and tranquility of her house and the birds chirping every morning to wake me.

She gave me a Ganesha statue as a parting gift and remarked "This is for your protection!" I turned away teary eyed ... Ganesha is my savior - How did she know? Faith, I recall her words is every where here on Hanuman Mandir Road. Its this faith that keeps drawing me to her place, over fancy hotels. Enjoy another batch of pictures from the event last night. Another post will follow with a video.... If you find the music from the earlier posts annoying please unselect the speaker icon from both posts.


The Yogi.

BKS Iyengar Pune Celebrations

Over the course of the last few days I have had a chance to attend some of the celebrations for Guruji. It was a UN affair, with many attendees from all parts of the world. I have never seen so many non Indians dressed in traditional and elaborate Indian dresses. The celebrations began on Dec 10th with the puja and then moved to Yashwant Auditorium in the heart of Deccan (Pune) where an exhibition was put together by his students chronicling his life. The evening of Dec 11th a movie on Guruji's life called "Leap of Faith" was shown. It chronicled his life from childhood, his struggles as a disciple of his guru in Mysore and then on to his path of creating his unique style of yoga in Pune and his subsequent impact on the world.

On Dec 12th we had the pleasure of experiencing the beautiful flute ragas of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasias. I captured some pictures from the exhibition and there is subsequent video footage that I will post in a future post. This trip has been jam-packed as I squeezed a few hours of attendance along with an intense work schedule. I finally met up with my friend Felipe a yoga student from Chile, who I met on the Iyengar group on facebook, and who read my Pune blog posts from April to help him guide through his stay in Pune. I was glad to hear that those posts helped him to get settled in his yoga practice in Pune.

I am now Bangalore and will be joining the next part of Guruji's celebrations in South India on the 17th. Last night was the grand celebration of Guruji's birthday. It felt like a big Indian wedding! Videos and pictures to come soon.


The Yogi

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fear of death - an update

I have had a chance to speak with numerous folks about the events of 26/11 in Mumbai. There were numerous innuendos of conspiracies and how they could have been more than 10 terrorists that landed on the coast. One said maybe as many as 100 and how this was all political and timed to be right before elections in India. I heard two comments that made my heart stop:

One was from Najeeb. One of his private students was in the Oberoi hotel with a group that was gunned down on the 18th floor. He survived by staying still and pretending dead and apparently his Iyengar yoga experience helped. He took a bullet in the leg and one grazed his leg. He spent 16 hours in a vent along with two others drinking water dripping from an AC unit. They were eventually rescued by the commandos. It was a remarkable story of being fearless and calm in a very difficult and stressful situation.

The second came from one of my managers. He said "when you have no fear of dying" you can be extremely destructive. The terrorists in Mumbai had no fear of dying, so even a small group of 10 was able to achieve such destruction. How empowered that feeling became. These guys had no fear of death. Wow, that was a chilling realization! The sutras teach us to not have that fear, and if you can achieve it, you have achieved a level of courage that can be very constructive, but I never thought about the destructive forces that such lack of fear creates, especially of dying. I realized I had encountered situations myself where the lack of fear simply made someone so empowered and as a result extremely destructive. There is always a dark side to the bright side. I fear the dark :)

This is a great question for the Sutra experts? Is eliminating fear always the best?


The Yogi

BKS Iyengar's 90 birthday Celebration - the journey to Pune begins

I arrived in Pune this morning into my holistic home away from home on Hanuman Mandir Road. The journey from the Mumbai airport was uneventful. The airport has been redone, remodelled, redug once again, and the journey from the gate to the exit got longer, though much more visually appealling.

There was chaos at the end, as none of the luggage belts showed flight information and as soon as luggage arrived, the crowds swelled and it became impossible to get out with lines backed up on Xray machines at the "green line". Why call it a green line, if you are going to check every passenger for contraband and harrass them for money anyway? I went to kind lady customs officer at the completely empty red line and remarked "I had nothing to declare". She said "go" as she got swamped by another group of 5. I tried to go, but was immediately confronted by a policeman with an old rifle. I stepped back and just went around him. I had been "Cleared".

Then came the long walk with no clear signs if I should left, which is where I always turned in the past or go right. They will work this out eventually. As I walked down this long alway with no visual sign of an exit, I was looking for armed guards and commandos - all the security that I had read about. No none at all other than a sea of humans waiting outside for their loved ones. Just one cop at the exit with an old 50s rifle. I could sense negative thoughts come into mind, so I had hurriedly detach from those thoughts and started dialing the cabbies number. I couldn't imagine how I would spot my name amongst the hundreds of sign carrying cab and limo drivers. But before I could touch the dial, there it was and then the blast of heat hit me. I needed water.

The whole front of the arrival area has been dug up. Pot holes everywhere but it felt like an ocean of calmness at that hour. No honking horns, just quiet and occasional yelling of waiting folks calling up on their arriving relatives. It was hard to say that just about 2 weeks ago Mumbai had suffered its own version of 9/11. The roads were quiet and the highway to Pune had trucks, but all seem to be quietly dragging them up the hills. It was surreal.

I was welcomed by Manu at 5 am into my digs. This time I am at the "outhouse". I wish they all knew what an outhouse means in American.... :) This is an annex to the main house. It was a book storage shed Neena Shahani had told me last time which was converted into a quaint cottage for yoga students. I immediately crashed after trying to call my munchkins, and then a couple of calls back to the office.

Its the shortest sleep I have had as on the dot at 6 am I could hear the sweeping of floors and a strange pungent smell. Someone was burning their garbage. I recalled the open sewer than runs by the park. It didn't matter, and I kept my eyes shut and finally was awakened by the alarm in a couple of hours.

3 cups of chai and I was ready to start the day at work with a stop on the way at Govinda Gardens where Guruji's birthday celebrations had started bright and early around 7 am. There must be hundreds of people there. I ran into Najeeb, one of the teachers from Mumbai and a good friend of Nuvana. She had called him - I was on the way and I had already a request to carry something back. And then familiar faces started to appear. Najeeb asked me to go eat first. While I was grabbing some quick South Indian breakfast, Geeta Iyengar walked right by me and I could just clobber a quick Namaste. Here was my chance to approach her as she hung around in this makeshift kitchen quiet and away from the masses and loud chanting outside. I should tell her about the going inner part from her audio class. I must introduce myself. Something held me back... its the damn fear - what am I afraid of?

Outside this calm eating area, I can't even begin to describe the pageantry, and chanting of hyms by a group of priests who sat around Guruji. There was at least 3 camera guys, making professional videos and hundreds of foreign contingent all dressed in colorful Indian garb with bindis on their forehead and henna feet. It felt like an indian wedding. It all felt unreal - I became a silent observer and amongst hundred that had their cameras out taking pictures. I spotted more familiar faces including Zubin and my teachers. It was an amazing event - especially the part towards the end when Guruji is given a bath by his family in the grassy knoll outside. A priest sings and the music is most touching. I didn't know what it meant but I instantly thought of my two girls, and overcame with emotion and love for them. I missed them. I wish they were with me experiencing this beautiful and heart touching event, where the family pours blessed water on their through a cloth full of jewellery from the family. A lady offers her gold bangles that she takes off from her hands and is firmly told that it was not necessary. I was touched not just by the offer but the firm refusal to accept such gifts. Cameras were clicking away non stop. I am certain this event will have been captured as a very important event in the history of yoga. A guru turns 90 and is wished another 90 years.

As I stood there observing I could only think of my two munchkins and how much I loved them unconditionally and that my devotion to yoga exists only because I am so devoted to them. I continue to strive to plant the seeds of my belief systems, culture and tradition all culmination into my passion for yoga and I know that nothing in the world can stop that from growing. In those feelings I continue to understand the message of yoga and patanjali - its eventually about achieving this unconditional love!

Here are some pictures from the event. I will be attaching videos in the next few days, as I find time to edit the videos.


The Yogi

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Going inwards with a shout from Geeta Iyengar

Ever wonder how asanas allow us to get inwards and explore the depths of our minds? This question burns inside me every time I get into a yoga practice in class. While I am focused on being in the asana, awakening those untouched and unused muscles, I frequently question how it is helping in my inward journey.

On Dec 6th Sunset Yoga organized a 2 hour class where a recording of Geetaji's class from August 1 was played, as we followed her instructions. It was the most intense class I have ever taken. The after effects of a 2 hour intense yoga practice where you have been subjected to being in asanas much longer than you normally experience, not by choice but because once she put you in that pose, she spent another 5-10 minutes bantering with loud lectures, corrections, reminding these yoga students who themselves are teachers and experts that they are still on the journey of going inwards. Was the journey in those two hours inward or simply trying to absorb everything that comes out of her mouth? Was it the fear of being caught not following her instruction or simply trying to understand her instructions and the philosophical dissertation that comes along with?

What does come out is incredible! Its incredible how she observes every student and how she can correct them and get them focused on the “right way”. She is self cynical in her banter – BUT after this two hour audio journey of her class, I realized how much inwards the class took me. I only realized it after I woke up the next morning. I could barely move. It was the best damn two hours I have ever spent in a yoga class, with 3 teachers demonstrating and one correcting. It woke up muscles I didn’t think I had. I learned how callous I have been with my yoga practice and how amazing, powerful and inwards focused Geeta Iyengar really is – despite her bantering and really very humorous style.

There was huffing and puffing, grunts and moans – now that is my kind of yoga class. I was thoroughly exhausted – but I relished every moment and it gave me confidence that despite myself I could survive a Geeta Iyengar class – or not! And I only have 3 years of yoga on my belt.

I now know how I can motivate myself to restart my home practice. I need to purchase a CD set of her classes and get started once a week of my own 2 hour practice. It is like being with Geeta without being spotted. Yes all the yelling and shouting along with her really great sense of humor is all worth the journey of going inwards.

My plane journey has been horrible. I am numb on my feet and arms, with non stop pins and needles attacking me. Sitting doesn’t help and carrying 40 pounds of camera equipment and electronic junk on my back makes it worse. I have to endure, but I need to get smart and find a cart at Frankfurt Airport.

In the meanwhile I look forward to arriving in Pune in a few hours... There will be numerous posts and pictures of Guruji's birthday celebration. Dec 10th is his real birthday. So please return frequently :)


The Yogi

Monday, December 8, 2008


A very wise person told me last night "Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real".... It made it all real for me about the current state of affairs inside and outside my life. We are being gripped by fear - not necessary and uncalled for fear. What are we really afraid of? Our own shadows? Our own insecurities?

So as I take off for Mumbai (and then immediately to Pune), I say goodbye to my fears, I have to ... that is the only way to move forward. I arrive on the 10th, Guruji's 90th birthday and hope to attend a few functions while being at work. It will be intense and I expect little sleep. I hope to practice yoga with one of my teachers privately. I will be thinking of my munchkins. I am not taking any books, no reading, just long shavasanas on the flights.

Watch for posts, pictures and possibly videos from my trip.


The Yogi

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What does it mean to be detached?

I continue to explore and deepen my understanding of "detachment" through my yoga practice and real life experiences by increasing my awareness of this concept - in a nut shell i have become much more aware of the need to detach from situations that create imbalance in my life. Its in this exploration, awareness and experimentation that I feel I am approaching a deeper understanding of it.

But this exploration also leads to more questions and concerns in my mind. What does it really mean to be detached? Does it mean that when I detach from something or someone have I become cold and dis compassionate? Does detachment means "avoidance"? Does it make me weak and meek? Does it prevent me from fighting back when I need to fight? Does it mean I become a victim and victimized, when I feel the need to detach from situation where I may feel oppressed and at the losing end of some battle. When do you detach and what do you detach from? All these questions brew in my head, every time I find myself in a situation where I simply detach from.

Yesterday I found myself in a situation, where my detachment compelled me to be unresponsive. I was put into a situation where I was to compete with someone for a position, that I had no desire to seek or asked for, but was compelled to be in the situation to avoid a worse situation. I had no desire to win, so I lost because I simply detached from the need to win. Winning would have been great for my ego and ego of others, but losing meant keeping peace and neutrality. But who likes to lose? In the past I would have never inclined to put myself in such a situation - I would rather just walk away or duke it out. I didn't fight and I chose to simply detach and not even participate in voting or canvasing. I lost, but did I really lose?

It concerned me and I questioned if I should have taken a different path. If I was put in the fray wasn't the right thing to fight and put my best foot forward to win vs becoming detached? Once it was all over, I was relieved I lost, but was it really over for me as I maintained my detachment from the whole process including not participating in the rejoicing emails that followed. I clapped for the winner, as I truly felt that was the best outcome, but if I was detached, I wanted to detach in completion and not be part of the winning or losing, the rejoicing or the disappointment. I had to remain neutral by not voting and not seeking and finally not rejoicing for the winner as a good loser. It did concern me and question - was this truly detachment and essence of Patanjali's yoga sutra or simply an avoidance of hurt.

I questioned if at the end in such instances, was there really a winner or a loser? Does it really matter who wins or who loses, if the goal at the end for us is to merge our soul with the higher power. My happiness and contentment comes from observing and experiencing what comes at me in the present and then let that present moment dissolve to the next moment. The less I judge it, the less stressed I feel. Is that the true essence of detachment?