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Sunita - February 8th 2020 - Headaches


This one is for you, Naomi!

The coolest day I've ever known in Pune, overcast and fresh. We sat expectantly wondering who would come in to teach the women's class and today it was the turn of Sunita. Slight internal tremor of the "Ok we're really in for it now" variety. Well I couldn't have been more wrong! Her overriding concern was for a student that had arrived with a chronic headache problem (chronic in the sense that she has had a headache for around 2 years) and the whole class was geared around that and teaching us how to help this problem.

Abhi's niece came up to see what was going on, first of all sitting on the steps just watching and then gradually getting bolder and bolder, until she was on the platform performing headstands and falling over behind Sunita as she was teaching. A few times she came to whisper to Sunita, who I think considered not encouraging her, but once she caught her eye she couldn't help but break out into a huge, sunny smile, so the class just carried on around her play and we saw Sunita in the roll of besotted, indulgent Great Aunty. There is a different, softer and happier energy around the institute, as the children spread joy in that way that only children can do.

Throughout her clear and helpful teaching, references to what Guruji or Geetaji would have said were made. She mentioned how Geetaji was so annoyed when people came to her to tell her of a problem and then said, "But it's okay, I know how to manage it". Her feeling was, "If you know how to manage it, why are you coming to tell me about it!!" We should not just 'manage' but learn how to work, how to improve our problems.

My first visit this trip, to the fruit and veg market and I spent the afternoon happily engaged in making sauerkraut which I'm hoping will ferment quickly - apparently if you add a little sugar and slightly more salt it ferments much quicker, so fingers crossed.

Sunita – 8th February 2020 – Headaches

Sunita did not take the invocation at the beginning of the class, her concern was with a student that had come in with a chronic headache problem. The instructions that were given in AMVirasana, were repeated throughout the forward bends, constantly reminding us to soften, release spread. Where there is pain on a particular side of the skull, that side is the side that should face up. Although we were working for headache, Sunita reminded us that this was also a good way to work for the students with asthma who have tightness in the diaphragm, this spreading of the back body and calming of the nerves very useful to ease the breathing.

AMVirasana – Do not extend the arms straight – Bolster horizontal with 3 fold blanket horizontal on top. Arrange the prop in such a way that the eye brows are supported and then release the brain to the front of the forehead. Temples dropping towards the eyes, no resistance there. Eyes closed, release downwards. Spread the elbows – in the case of the headache the neck gets clinched – the skull should release away from the neck and the shoulders should spread and give space to the sides of the neck. So, either end of the neck, no clinching and the skin there should be soft. Side trunk has to extend enough so that the back body can release down – as Guruji said “Why do you make your own dome?? They make the dome for you when you die, so why you make your own dome now, huh?!!” Now, exhale and release the back body down. Back body has to spread and go down, so breathe in such a manner as to spread the back body and spread the organs of the back body with the exhalation. Exhale into the back body to make it completely soft. Release the tongue, don’t push the teeth there. Jaw relaxed, don’t harden.

Ideal scenario for headache problem – forward bends to a setubandha bench where the arms have the space to spread much wider. In the case of headaches, they are caused by muscular tension which makes the nerves tighten, so the asanas have to be taken to where the muscular body can soften to release the tightness of the nerves (no trianga mukha eka pada paschimottonasana, n