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Day 4 - Raya


A quiet day spent at home practicing after a terrible night's sleep last night. Was curiously wide awake after spending the whole day feeling sleepy and each time I was close to dropping off I was disturbed till eventually it was 3am and I was still awake. It's truly astonishing how noisy an Indian city is at nightime - first we have 'the night howl' a nightly show put on by a pack of local dogs who live in the farm opposite. It usually lasts 10 mins or so and they make one heck of a racket. This was followed by what sounded like a barrage of bombs going off (I'm assuming fireworks but have no explanation for what or why and bearing in mind that all the shops were closed because of rioting in Pune yesterday, a tad unsettling). I'm praying that I can get into a better groove sleep wise soon - I do NOT want to get home after a month off, more tired than when I left.

We headed to the institute for 6pm class, not sure who was going to take it. It turned out that Thursday eve is now Raya and it was busy with both students and observers taking notes.

It was undoubtedly the hardest class we've done so far. Right from the first second he went off like a firecracker and at times the instructions came so thick and fast, he reminded me of a horse racing commentator! I felt his teaching was much more focussed than 2 years ago although he did make time to lecture us on a few points.

I must have had a sixth sense, as in the 5 or so minutes before class started I did some good padmasana preparation. I injured my knee in 2014 and it has taken 3 whole years for it to get better and I have just recently got back into a consistent padmasana, but I definitely have to take the time to prepare for it properly. He gave padmasana for the invocation followed by a creative and engaging sequence of shoulder work, ardha matsyendrasana 2 and prone padmasanas. We did padmasana in sirsasana with gorakasana as an alternative. I am pretty good with knowing the names of poses but had never heard of goraksasana and there were a

lot of blank looks all round. Jenny bravely asked what goraksasana was but he wasn't interested in explaining so we had to skip it (we know now!) The theme of the class was to understand how the poses are all interlinked and how the actions learned in the basic poses are repeated in the advanced poses, but also how you can work back from the advanced poses to the 'basic' poses - so after the prone and inverted padmasanas we did a single Virabhadrasana 2 which came so beautifully with the openess of the front groins and inner thighs and the chest lift from the simhasana. More details about the class and the lectures in the sequence below. I did feel a bit sad at his parodies of our behaviour and our poses - I feel sometimes that he is completely contemptuous of us and although I kind of get it - I don't doubt there are many visiting students and teachers that are ignorant and egotistical - but among them there will be many humble, genuine and hard working students.

We finished the day with friends Kari Ann and Susana over for supper - after Jenny managed to communicate with our cook Sushila using her Marathi phrase book that we wanted her to cook enough food for lunch and dinner, she cooked enough for 6 so we needed a bit of help to get through it!

Thursday 4th January – Raya Intermediate 6pm

  • Those that can sit in padmasana for the invocation (Poss alternative swastikasana / virasana)

  • Lie on mat in supta padmasana – release groins towards the knees, lengthen (alternative supta virasana / supta baddha konasana)

  • Supta Tadasana – arms overhead. Outer ankles and legs closer and closer, inner legs widen. Long spine.

  • Roll over lie prone. Walk toes in (like chaturanga) keep forehead on the floor. Lift arms up and stretch them forward. Extend heels away and extend arms forward. Elbows higher, arms higher X 3 with rests in between (this was HARD work).

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana

  • Urdhva Baddangullyasana widen back upper arms

  • Release arms and take them back as if you were holding a brick, take the arms closer and closer without closing off the outer back chest, here you spread even though arms come closer. Make sure both shoulders moving equally.

  • Ardha Baddha Hastasana with left hand catch right elbow and keeping the right arm straight, take it further and further backward, without pulling the side chest back. Armpit chest lift and face front, arm further and further backward. Elbow goes easily, can you make the shoulder roll back? Repeat other side.

  • Urdhva Hastasana palms facing backwards can you feel how this widens the shoulder blade? Now without changing anything, turn the palms to face each other.

  • Gomukhasana here he gave a demonstration how the shoulder rolls forward as we take the arm further back. Beginners yes, but intermediate practitioners have to bring the elbow forward to take the arm up the back.

  • Here he gave a lecture about how we are viewing the poses as isolated actions – like digital which is made up of lots of completely separate dots as opposed to analogue which is a continuous wave. All these arm actions link from the basic poses to the advanced poses – He pointed out Guruji’s poses on the wall Padangustha Dhanurasana – arms are in urdhva hastasana, Paripurna Ardha Matsyendrasana – do you recognise the arm movement here? Don’t imagine that the so called ‘basic’ poses are to be overlooked. They are the jigsaw pieces to put the advanced asanas together.

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana 2 Spine lengthening, back ribs in and rotate, rolling top shoulder backward. Now stand up quickly and repeat ardha baddha hastasana – which hand will you catch? Meaning that as it was the left shoulder we were working on in ardha matsyendrasana this would be the shoulder that repeated the action in ardha baddha hastasana, so we caught the right elbow with the left hand. Repeat Ardha Mat