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Day 6 Women's Class Abihjata

Worse night's sleep so far - there were various animals attacking and eating each other outside my bedroom window and a fight to the death is never going to be a quiet affair. It was so noisy and close that it felt like I was actually out there amongst them, until eventually I realised that one of the large sliding windows in my bedroom was still wide open and got up to close it. Still smiling this morning though as we had women's class to look forward to. As much as I love my own practice, it is nice sometimes to just hand the reins over to someone else and let them decide for you and even better to have that strong motivating energy to propel you further and deeper and to lead you down paths you rarely think to tread. It's most especially delicious when it's normally your gig to do exactly that.

Class was fab - still standing poses and as there were apparently some newer beginner level students (as well as plenty of senior students who should know better but needed a kick up the backside) we went back to basics, though it was still very challenging and engaging. She talked about why Iyengar yoga is so incredibly valuable – Yes it brings strength, balance, healthy body but much more than that: Yoga Philosophy is abstract. Body is concrete. What Guruji did was bring the two together so that we can use the body to experience the truth of yoga philosophy within ourselves, not as an act of faith, but on a personal experiential level. Concrete.

In Prasarita Paddottonasana she said we get the head down and we are satisfied. We have a visual image of the pose in our minds and we aim to make that picture. Head on the floor is a shallow aim! Your mind has to go beyond this. You have to search each asana to find what is happening. You can never understand the magic of the asana if you are only making the image. After we had worked to bring life into the outer thighs she explained that life has to be felt in every pore of the skin so that the entire embodiment is filled with that sense of equanimity. That is our aim in the practice of asana.

She also focussed today on the students that had been using the wall for sirsasana - showing the class as a whole how to teach the balance so that it is really understood, rather than prematurely forcing someone to go up in the centre of the room without that understanding, without allowing the natural ripening process to take place.

It was one of those classes that kept going full tilt right to the very end and whilst we were in sarvangasana my blood sugar finally got the better of me and I had to come down and take some lucozade. As a type 1 diabetic it can be hard in a strenuous class to manage keep the blood sugar levels stable but within seconds I was ready to go again, so I didn't miss much.

I arrived home to a strong smell of burning and Sushila called me in to the kitchen to show me that she hadn't infact burnt our lunch, but was intentionally smoking

an aubergine directly on the gas flame to make a rather delicious smoked aubergine dish. Yum. We had dinner out this eve on the top floor of Charu's to celebrate Susana's birthday, which sadly Kari Ann had to miss as she's succumbed to a horrible flu type illness again. Will visit tomorrow with some supplies. As we walked down the steps from Charu's I realised that for the first time ever in my entire yoga career, I could feel the work from the class in the backs of my thighs. Up early tomorrow as Abhijata has given me permission to film the children's classes as training material for teachers in the UK.

Saturday 6th January – Women’s Class Abihjata

'Equanimity throughout the embodiment'

  • Swastikasana for invocation 1) Keep pelvic girdle level – no part of pelvic girdle should touch the thigh, if it does you are leaning forward. 2) Coil back armpit forward. We will be chanting for 2 minutes. It is not long so you should be able to maintain the concentration on those 2 points for at least this long. After the invocation was complete she asked us to levelise the pelvic girdle and coil the back armpit forward. Did you do what I asked? Was there movement? Most agreed and she pointed out that if they were able to make this adjustment, then somewhere along the way they must have lost their attention and released the action. 2 adjustments for 2 minutes and not even this we can manage. This is what Guruji called the monkey mind. Like a child in a room full of toys. Our job as students of yoga is to learn a sustained concentration where we can learn an action and maintain it, even when we go on to learn other actions. We have to be doubly, triply attentive.

  • AMV AMS 1) Ascend root of thighs upward, push the front of the knee to the back of the knee. She told us the thighs were dropping forward. Fold the top corners of the mat inward and grasp the outer edges of the mat with the hands so that there is no fear of slipping. Can you take your heels down and lift your toes up so that the ball of the foot is down but the toes are raised up? If you can’t do this it is because the thighs are dropping downward. 2) Demonstration on stage to show the difference between just plonking your heels on the floor, where the buttocks get dragged down with the heels and the legs are lifeless, versus lifting the heels and drawing the thighs upward and then extending from the arch to the heel to take the heels down whilst maintaining the height of the buttocks and the root of the thighs sucking upward. Can you see the difference in the leg? We tried this ourselves to experience the difference in the extension of the legs. 3) Repeat same action, but add to it the front of the ankle moving backward, cutting the metatarsels back. This further refined the extension of the legs.

  • Can union happen if there is no communication / coordination?

  • Repeat AMS all of the above elements combined.