Day 24 - Women's Class Abhijata
I’m having a little trouble controlling my Diabetes at the moment. The blood sugar should be kept constantly at a level of between 4 and 7 mmol. Any lower and you have an attack of hypoglaecemia (weakness, shakiness and if not treated with some sugar to bring the level up – coma) and levels higher than this mean little in the way of immediate side effects (thirst, frequent urination, increased infections) but long term high blood sugars are what really causes the serious problems – peripheral nerve damage causing loss of sensation and blindness, gangrene, heart disease, kidney failure etc and as with hypoglaecemia, ultimately if the high blood sugar is left untreated coma and death.
So last night going to bed my sugar was at 18.6 – far too high. I took a little insulin to bring it down – for me 1 unit of insulin should bring my sugar level down by about 2 points, I took 2.5 units of insulin – a little conservative but I have learnt to be cautious taking a corrective dose at bedtime because a night time hypo is definitely to be avoided. Bedtime was late because of many jobs that I needed to do and then 4 hours later I was wide awake, glued to the sheets with sweat, heart pounding as (thankfully) my body woke me up from the deepest depths of sleep to let me know that I was severely hypo. I always keep Lucozade by my bed in case this should happen and I must have chugged my way through at least half a bottle as wave after wave of hypo hit me.
Sadly no more sleep for me, so I got out of bed feeling less than my usual self. Looking in the mirror - you know when you get those computer generated programmes to age you fifty years to see what you will look like? Well it was like that – I looked like my own, very dishevelled grandmother.
I headed off to class feeling a bit broken and upon settling down in the practice hall, Gulnaz took to the stage. However she reassured us that she was just getting the class started and Abhi would be along shortly to take over. It was yet another absolutely outstanding class. It occurred to me when she was teaching that Guruji, Geetaji and Prasantji have amazing knowledge and experience, but what Abhi has is an incredible gift for communicating that knowledge – succinctly and coherently. I come out of her classes feeling that I have understood pretty much every word.
Perhaps my favourite part of the class was a story about teaching a big class in front of Guruji as he practiced in the corner. She was teaching uttanasana with the intention of entwining the mind to the body, and was firing instructions to the group to keep the mind engaged. Guruji held his hand in the air, which was his signal for her to stop and asked her what she was doing? Then he instructed the class to go down into uttansasna as if the pose was ‘a flower falling from a tree’. Upon reflection she understood how the pose becomes distorted when the legs have the ego of holding on to the trunk, or the trunk has the ego of trying to leave the legs. When a tree drops a flower it does not ‘push’ it away. When a tree drops a flower, the flower itself does not try to force itself away from the tree. This is another fabric of doing in Iyengar Yoga and because it is not one we often explore, we have much to discover.
There was a LOT of learning contained within and I didn’t manage to get any notes from observers or have anyone to brainstorm notes with, so I’m afraid it’s just the snippets I remember. I’m reliably informed that the pranayama was the best bit, but with only four hours sleep you can guess what happened …. so you’ll only see the first few minutes before I (sadly) zoned out. Do feel free to share your notes on the bits I missed!
In the evening Jenny and I headed out to Phadke Haud for the incense shop. We had one of those disastrous rickshaw experiences, where you think the driver has understood your destination, but in fact he hasn’t got the faintest idea where he’s going. Ten minutes and 50 rupees in, we were just passing pretty much where we’d got in. Jenny had google maps on the ipad so she started directing him and he eventually dropped us a couple of streets from where we meant to be. Ten minutes of walking later, the ipad conked out and nothing was looking at all familiar, so we decided to try our luck with a new rickshaw. He quoted us an extortionate price, but by this point we were getting desperate and he really did seem to know where we were going, so we jumped in. He hared off the wrong way down a one way street (nothing especially unusual there) but there was a great, big burly traffic cop at the other end who pulled him over, so we were stuck in the back while he had to produce his licence and deal with the legalities.
We finally arrived at the incense shop an hour and a half after leaving, for what should have taken 15 minutes and missed our dinner date with our friend Annie. The moral of the story, is don’t bother getting in a rickshaw if the driver is at all hesitant about where you are going.
It's a tough life if you're a kitten here!
Day 24 – Abhijata Women’s Class
Prasarita Paddotonasana – Cut the outer feet down and take the head, the trunk more in.
Sirsasana – First attempt. Front of the body back of the body parallel and lifting up. Do not lift the back body more than the front (in this case the legs are coming forwards) or the front body more than the back. 4 Pillars or columns, left and right side, front and back side LIFT UP! Extend from the outer hips to the outer heels upward and connect from the outer heels to the hips – understand that these two are different and how they are different.
DEMO of sirasana “Every single one of you is not on the crown of the head” The tip of the nose has to move towards the chin, not the chin towards the tip of the nose. The tops of the ears pointing downwards. We do not teach beginners this way as their neck will pain and they will not come back to your class! But you are not beginners and any discomfort will only be temporary as you become accustomed to the adjustment. 2nd attempt Sirsasana – go up in the way that is natural for you – forgo going up with two legs so that you don’t disturb the correct placement on the crown of the head. “Was it a different sirsasana?” Chorus of “Yes!!” Each one of you would have said that you practice sirsasana on the crown of the head and yet you all acknowledge that the pose was different once the correction was made. We have to increase our observation our sensitivity.
AMVrksasana – we looked at a student who was lifting up the buttock flesh by dropping the pelvic bones towards the ribs, causing a collapsing back of the abdomen. This is incorrect adjustment. We did it in Tadasana. Utkatasana, Savasana as well as repeating AMVrksasana “First of wrong action!! Now correct action!!”.
Trikonasana Perineum area (between anal mouth and genital organs) should not get disturbed – if it is backward the pelvic bones are tilted forward, if it is forward opposite action is occurring. The left and the right side of the perineum should not get pulled one way or another. Vira 2 – Now to get that action here, think about the anal mouth – it should continue facing the floor as you bend the leg.
Everyone take two belts and place them on the outer top thigh so that the buckles are drawing to the back. Cross the hands over behind you, so that the right hand is pulling the left belt and the vice versa. Tadasana - Do not get confused and think that this is wrong action. We have to roll the top thighs in to spread the back thigh, If we allow the action of spreading the back thigh to continue unchecked so that the outer thigh rolls in, it is wrong. Spread the back thigh and let the outer thigh keep its place. Does this make an inner space and lift?
With the belts Trikonasana. Draw the hands downward with the belt and don’t overly clinch the shoulder blades together, you are not trying to narrow the back. When the hand goes down (on the right side) the left hand can continue to hold. Does this help you to work on the action? Now make a direct connection between the buttock of the left and the outer left heel pressing the floor. Make that connection there STRONGLY!
Virabhadrasana 2 – This adjustment is only effective if you roll the inner knee back (Do not allow the right knee to come forward). Anal mouth faces the floor. Now connect the left buttock to the left heel. Connect there.
Ardha Chandrasana – Can you feel how the belts are working or do you need a verbal explanation?
Sarvangasana in 2 groups so that the sarvangasana group could have 6 thick mats under the shoulders. Group 1 Sarvangasana. Nirlambe Sarvangasana from halasana with the arms extended over the head. Elongate the arms, press them downwards and raise the right leg, followed by the left. Stay 1 minute and down, raise the left leg followed by the right. Observe any difference – is there more shakiness, disturbance one side than the other. Make the body your laboratory and then play! Halasana and then nirlambe with the arms extending up alongside the body, palms facing the thighs. Extend the arms fully right leg then left up. Back to halasana and left leg up followed by the right. Outer hip to outer heel lengthen, lift up!!
Group 2 – Setu bandha with 2 folded blankets under the shoulders and feet at the ledge or the grille. Learn to extend from the outer hip to the outer heel . Eka pada setu bandha fold the right leg towards the chest and from there, stretch it straight upward.
SBK flat holding belts as we did for the standing poses, crossed over behind.
SBK – Body flat on the floor and feet raised on longways bolster. Once you have adjusted the top buttock flesh, see also that you take the flesh in the tailbone region from the centre to the sides. To understand what is right action, first of all you have to experience wrong action. Go the other way keeping the flesh moving towards the centre (immediate hardening felt inside pelvic abdomen) Now do correct action. Are you understanding the softness? Now here forget the actions – do not grip the hips, press the heels etc do not allow your brain to dictate the pose, instead now you must let Baddha konasana dictate. Let Baddha Konasana do you.
She told a story about teaching a big class in front of Guruji as he practiced in the corner. She was teaching uttanasana with the intention of entwining the mind to the body, and was firing instructions to the group to keep the mind engaged. Guruji held his hand in the air, which was his signal for her to stop and asked her what she was doing? Then he instructed the class to go down into uttansasna as if the pose was a flower falling from a tree. Upon reflection she understood how the pose becomes distorted when the legs have the ego of holding on to the trunk, or the trunk has the ego of trying to leave the legs. When a tree drops a flower it does not ‘push’ it away. When a tree drops a flower, the flower itself does not try to force itself away from the tree. This is another fabric of doing in Iyengar Yoga and because it is not one we often explore, we have much to discover.
She spoke of seniority – senior teachers and typically humble she said “I am not at senior level, but because new people come in who know less than me, I get elevated above them”.
SBK- Bolster longways, toes up on the end of the bolster, heels down. Even the pubic area is a sense organ – can you feel how you have softened and withdrawn inside? This is the beginning of the understanding of the bandhas, the mudras – for those of you that know Ashwini mudra. When we have only one mode of doing - with the bolster to open the chest - all these different possibilities we miss. Just as there are many different types of fabric – silk, cotton, denim – the poses have many different fabrics. The fabric of this SBK is different to the previous, no? If you have loose stools, diarrhoea and you prop the chest up on a bolster, the abdominal area is pushing / expelling mode and you worsen your problem.
Ujayii Breathing - You know when you drop a stone into the water and you get the ripples, concentric circles emanating outward? So the navel is like the stone as it’s dropped into the water and as you inhale the ripples spreading outward, when you exhale maintain that spread. See that the top and the bottom of the navel remain parallel to each other.
Savasana – Throat like the sarvangasana with all that height – did it not make a pit? Make that pit here, release the throat downward so that it rests completely on the bed of the neck. Do not have the sense that “I am doing savasana” instead let the brain diffuse throughout the whole body as if the brain itself has become liquid matter.