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Day 31 - Women's Class

Final blog post from Mumbai airport, which I seem to have arrived at far too early for my 2.25am flight. Have had a lovely last day. Woke up pre-dawn, which meant I had ample time to complete my packing before the Women's Class at 9.30am. As I enjoyed my last walk through the park I speculated about who would teach - this year there has been a bit of tailing off of classes and as numbers are low, I wondered if we would get a cover teacher.

When I arrived in the hall, someone whispered that they'd heard a rumour that Geetaji would be teaching. In fact it was Raya who came and took the stage and Abhi arrived shortly after.  Maybe they had been expecting Geetaji as they seemed to be making a last minute plan over what to teach us.

It was Raya who led the class, with Abhi intervening every now and then to rein him in or clarify a point or offer an alternative to an advanced pose - dropping back from full arm balance in centre of room anyone?

He set off at a cracking pace, launching straight into Amvrksasana, Pinca Mayurasana and Sirsasana drop backs. Somewhere in the back of my mind alarm bells were ringing - if 6 fast drop backs in the centre of the room from sirsasana was our third pose, where was this going to end up? 

The next pose was dropping back from full arm balance to urdhva dhanurasana and many in the room visibly paled as we realised we were being given this without a get out clause! My palms were sweating just watching Raya demonstrate.Here Abhi suggested the use of the wall for those who weren't ready - moving a palm's distance further on each repetition. Raya strongly encouraged us to give it a go in the centre, after all, what could possibly go wrong?

Full sequence is below and at the end Abhi said that we couldn't really call it a class, more of a guided practice and an observation of the logical progression of the poses - if we explored the poses more fully there would not have been time to complete the sequence. Raya said it was a 'teaser' a taste of the poses like you see a trailer for a movie.

After lunch and notes I went to the Marriott for a final swim and to enjoy the last warm sunshine I will see for some time.  The driver from Sandi's travels was very prompt and I was happy to be sharing a car with Susanne from Switzerland for company. All was well until we got to the busy Mumbai roads and here I was digging my nails into the seats as the driver went waaaay too fast for safety, weaving in and out if the traffic at great speed as if he was invincible or playing a computer game. 

I was very proud of myself this trip for being organised enough to avoid using a single plastic water bottle or carrier bag. However when I went to drop my baggage they insisted that I pay to have it wrapped in plastic as there was a slight tear in the seam where the zip was bulging (l knew that second bolster was a bit ambitious!) I watched in dismay as sheet after sheet of plastic wrap was wound around - all my good work undone. I had also had a complete fail on the plastic straw front as it's really difficult to drink from a coconut without one. We all need to remember to bring a sturdy reusable or bamboo straw people- otherwise that's an awful lot of plastic waste being generated by the institute. 

Hoping to be back at the institute next year and in the meantime I look forward to catching up with other people's blogs during their trips. Going home with a full heart from this great trip and looking forward to reuniting with my loved ones back home. 

Day 31 – Raya and Abhi – Backbends and dropbacks

• AMVirasana • AMSvanasana • AMVrksasana – Extend from joint to joint. Wrist to elbow – elbow to shoulder – shoulder to hip – hip to ankle - Pull yourself higher and higher x 6 alternate legs

• Pinca Mayurasana – No belt, no brick unless you really can’t stop the palms from slipping together. Do not go up and then lift. Instead get the lift of the shoulders and hips before you go and like an escalator go on elevating upward as you go up into the pose. Being on your arm is what allows you to extend joint to joint. Hip area move it higher and higher. No part of your lower back is compressing. Legs have to find the lightness. Open your armpits.

• 2 sticky mats – one above, one below your thick mat. • Sirsasana drop backs. First preparation. Toes UP, metatarsels UP , arches of the feet UP. Suck buttocks area UP. Legs in virasana 1. Raise front thigh towards the knee 2. Curve dorsal, tailbone, sacrum inward 3. Shoulderblades in and go slightly onto the forehead 4. Thighs navel getting extended 5. Extend shins, toes, metatarsels downward Once you have dropped, roll over to the side and do it again” Quick!!”

• Sirsasana dropping to a height. How many of you are falling back and how many are in control of the drop? When there is that fall, you learn to drop back to a height, so that you can maintain the control . Here we took a row of simhasana boxes to the wall. The boxes are narrow, so if you know your feet are going wide, platform is available, wall is available. Practicing drop backs to a height.

• AMVrksasana drop backs in centre of room Arch and drop. Do not allow buttocks or bottom ribs to collapse. Become lighter to arch. See that you don’t block the movement of kicking up to full arm balance by lifting the head, this makes the spine stuck. Then only as you, drop back a little you can lift the head. Those who cannot, practice dropping back to the wall, each time advance the hands a further palm’s distance away from the wall.

• Pinca Mayurasana drop backs (Vrishchikasana) to backbender bench for those who managed the previous two, or keep going at whichever dropback you are working on.

• Demonstration of Ganda Bherundasana This is the next step in this progression.

• Lie prone Urdhva Mukha Svanasana hands way back in line with the pelvis and toes tucked under. Push your shoulders and upper arms back. Raise your chin and chest, breast plate, navel and pubis. “I am not going to repeat these, each pose only one time” so we stayed a long time.

• Salabhasana Look up, raise the shoulders, broaden. Relax the abdomen.

• Makarasana Don’t keep the elbows to close or too wide. Expose the armpit.

• Dhanurasana First lift up the chest only so that you almost go onto the thighs. Then maintain the lift of the chest and raise the legs upward.

• Bhujangasana – Hands near pelvis. Lengthen the legs and broaden the backs of the thighs. First lift your eyes and then lift yourself up. Thigh should not come up. Shoulders back, eyes up. Push the back, become taller and taller, see the window behind you.

• Eka Pada Rajpotkatasana Leg in virasana (not in Janu as is often taught as it is harder to get the upward lift from the pelvis). Short arms / not able to get the lift take 2 bricks. Rolled blanket / pranayama pillow / bolster for virasana buttock, not for extended leg thigh, which has to descend down. Keep virasana foot completely outside the buttock. “I’ll leave it up to you whether you are ready to bend up the back leg and catch the foot. Many different methods of working were demonstrated . Facing wall and pressing palms into wall to get the lift and arch. Hands on stool in front. Back to wall, reaching up at catching the ropes.

• Eka Pada Rajpotkatasana leg in marichyasana, foot close in to the buttock bone to form an acute angle. Hands on buttocks or stretching upward like Vira 1. Thigh / buttock descend and spine ascend. Groins have to move away from each other.

• Raja Kapotasana

• Rope 1 demo • Rope 2 demo • Rope 3 demo • Rope 4 demo • Rope and stool urdhva dhanurasana demo

• These poses working on the front body elongation. These were demonstrated and we were given an opportunity to practice rope 2 only – reaching up and holding the top ropes and then sliding the hands down the rope as the thighs came down to the floor or the horizontal bolster. Leg could be bent or straight.

• Full setu bandha sarvangasana, hands supporting the back chest like sarvangasana. 

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