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Day 10 - Women's Class Abhijta

Happy Days – Women’s class on Wednesday mornings.  I would love to be able to tell you that I greeted having to be in ‘ladies corner’ with a dignified sense of complete equanimity. However this would not be true – it felt like having my nose pressed against the window of the world’s greatest party, but not being allowed to join in with the fun. Abhijata’s classes truly are a celebration of excellence in Iyengar Yoga.

We sailed a little close to the wind, only just arriving in time for the class to start and I ended up taking the only remaining space in the room, in the men’s enclave, exactly the wrong place for me to be. I peered over at menstruating ladies area and saw a lone clueless male there who probably didn’t know he was supposed to sit in a particular place with his fellow men. I saw the opportunity and went over and whispered to him to ask did he want to swap. Once I’d got him to understand, he was quite amenable so I settled down in his spot, but in the 30 seconds or so it had taken me to explain, an even later latecomer had swooped into his spot. Sigh. The Institute is a bit of a nightmare for this kind of thing and you do have to have your wits about you. It was especially busy today as there had been a sudden influx of students who had just finished an intensive in Bellur with Patricia Walden.

Class was brilliant from the word go. We began by working in pairs, taking it in turns to hold bricks at the buttock / thigh junction in Adho Mukha Svanasana. I worked with Gulnaz. The helper does not push the bricks, but just holds them there with a steady, even force. Then we had to lift the buttocks / back thighs up and push back into the bricks. PUUUSSSHHHH!!! For me, this made me feel the thigh bone with great clarity at the top of the leg – it penetrated that area so that the sensation became clear and sharp, but you had to lift up at the root of the thigh and push with tremendous force to get that sensation. Inner and outer thigh equally pushing back. We had to feel both sides of the brick. Abhi has great skill at using her voice and language to motivate us to fervently seek out an action so that you go much further than you normally would and ultimately gain much more benefit than you normally would. I was grateful that at least this part of the class I was able to join in with.

This high definition awareness was carried through the whole class, where we journeyed through going up into 2 legs sirsasana, an intense forward bend sequence encompassing krounchasana, urdhva mukha paschimottonasna and kurmasana and ended with a sarvangasana sequence which included parsva sarvangasana - not just a simple matter of turning to one side and then the other – a much more complicated affair where the legs are stretched back and off to one side and the weight is born on the hand and wrist on one side. Photo below. Abhi’s sequencing and teaching built everyone up so nicely, that I’m quite sure there were many that had never dared / hoped to achieve these poses but were able to give it a really good go today.

I’ve written the full sequence blow, but of course to write good notes you have to have had the experience of performing the actions you are talking about – then you can write with understanding. Today as I was in ‘ladies corner’ I had a limited experience of the class. Many thanks to Claudia for sharing her notes so willingly and I will do my best to give you at least some understanding of the class. The uttanasana after the forward bends really reminded me of an epic forward bend class class Geetaji taught, where so much improvement in mobility was brought that the uttanasana was completely  transformed. Fluid, flowing and deep.

Lunch and notes was followed by a trip to the Marriott to catch up on internet necessary work and there I met the northern lassies reclining on sun loungers in blissful recovery from the morning’s exertion. All three of our flu-ey friends had finally managed class this morning so spirits were high.

Photo courtesy of Marie Kristensen

Wednesday 10th January – Abhijata Forward BendsAMS