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20th October - Geetaji Backbends

Today was the final day of the Bulgarian / South African intensive. When we first arrived in the hall, we caught the tail end of a question and answer session with Abhi and the intensive group. One student asked about the change in teacher training arrangements. Abhi explained that Guruji did not want teachers to be mechanically churned out in large groups. Each teacher trainee has a different make up – one may be physically strong, another may be mentally weak – how is the teacher trainer going to properly develop both of those students in a large group setting? There is so much that can only be passed on properly in a Guru / Shisya relationship. Teacher training courses can teach the mechanics of yoga only – for the teacher to get properly developed there has to be a relationship, a long period of observation and learning. Guruji said that if he had developed just one student to follow him, he would have been satisfied. This is how we should be thinking – in a whole area there may be one student who is fit to learn to teach. However there may be unique situations - in Bulgaria for example - where the opportunity is not there for this mentorship, where there are no senior teachers and in this case, please write to Abhi and she will see what is to be done.

Geetaji arrived to take the class to applause and taught a sequence which took into account the fatigue that she observed in the group on their final day, as well as the level of the students she was seeing in front of her. She cautioned against advanced teachers getting carried away with their level of practice and losing touch with the real experience of beginning level students.

After class we had some food and recovery time and then continued our teaching practice with each other. We rounded the day off with a dusk session where we climbed up the ladder to the very top of the roof and settled down with a cup of tea to watch the 'fly over' where the birds and bats return to the park to roost. Lots of great fruit bats, green lorikeets, rooks, black kites, koels and many more that we couldn't identify in the gradually darkening evening sky, set in silouhette against the bright moon. Then we took a stroll around the busy park, just a little too late to join our favourite singing ladies, who sit on the bench in a smiling group of four or five, holding hands and chanting. I thought I recognised the the Yoga teacher / student prayer:

OM saha navavatu saha nau bhunaktu saha viryam karavavahai tejasvi navadhitam astu ma vidvishavahai

OM shanti, shanti, shanti

May we be protected together. May we be nourished together. May we create strength among one another. May our study be filled with brilliance and light. May there be no hostility between us. Om peace, peace, peace.

20th October – Geetaji

AMVirasana – Open the body out, extend forward, open all of the ribs, open the armpits, open the palms, reach forward fully. Hands as wide as the mat to get the opening the space.

AMSvanasana- Continue opening, lift the buttocks up and descend the heels down and fully open and broaden backs of knees and thighs. Hands and feet as wide as mat.

Uttanasana – Continue with the spreading – manually take your hands to spread the backs of the knees. We know we need to lift the muscles upwards, but also they have to spread outward.

This is called starters! When you go for a meal, you like to have starters, make pleasant conversation with those around you. So here you have to have starter course in your practice. Hello knee, how are you? Only one side is opening? Shoulders, armpits whole body you have to observe and have that awareness and communication with.

She observed our breathing and could see that for many energy was low – last day of 2 week long intensive for that group. Yawning comes when brain does not get sufficient oxygen, lungs have the laziness where they do not breathe properly. Also if you hold the jaw and neck muscles tight, result is the same, breathing is restricted and yawning follows.

Parsvottonasana with uttanasana folded elbows in between sides for recovery. In Parsvottonasana if the hamstring is tight, consider keeping the foot up on the brick, so that the hamstring finds the length there. Started from tadasana jumping legs apart, turning to right side and raising arms up. Extend up, extend forwards, fingers on floor CCB stage and head fully down, let the neck hang freely.

In Uttanasana there are different ways of catching the elbows. When you are working for recovery, do not make a tight fold. Elbows wider, create space and make sure you keep the windows between shoulders and neck open.