Abhijata - 20th February 2020 - Backbends (and a little Navaz pranayama too)
Ah yes backbends are truly upon us, how lovely to have a backbend class every day. I spent the day in reflective mode - this month has felt like a personal programme tailored just to suit my needs. Each class has focussed in on something I need to work on; hips, groins, buttock suction, folding the legs into padmasana in sirsasana, building up the spinal / gluteal strength to drop back from tadasana to urdhva dhanurasana or ustrasana to kapotasana, alignment in inversions and how allowing one side to become dominant pushes the other side outward. Amazing!
Every now and again I check my alignment, by taking a video to see the outward presentation and I was dismayed to see my sirsasana, after all my work, is still not correct - what I think I'm doing and what I am doing are two completely different things. I suspected as much when Sunita gave me a particularly penetrating stare when roasting us for bringing the legs forward in sirsasana last week. So not to be deterred I spent some time working on the virasana in sirsasana correction Abhi gave last night and as you can see in second pic, it is improving.
The word went around that Navaz would be teaching a bonus pranayama class at 4pm for anyone who would like to attend, even if they had done, or were doing, another class, so happily I skipped off. It was a particularly warm and comforting session - you can just tell that she is dearly wanting to impart this knowledge of Guruji and Geetaji's pranayama. As I was doing two classes back to back, I did not attempt to remember Navaz's class for blogging, there's only so much my brain can hold onto and I knew I'd need the capacity for Abhi's later class!
She told us stories of the early days when there was no RIMYI and they had to beg for space in this hall or that school to practice, reguarly being moved on and no props, only one 20 rupee blanket that had to be used for absolutely everything. Her deep, resonating voice, lulled more than one into an afternoon nap, but we did some beautiful pranayama both supine and seated and then surrendered into the lap of Mother Earth in our final savasana with at least 2 bolsters on the thighs to pacify the brain. One particularly helpful instruction today came in the anta kumbhak where we had to retain the breath at the top of the inhalation, not holding it with the throat (which should be soft and move back) but with the diaphragm.
It was hard to get into gear for Abhi's dynamic backbend class which followed, but it was good to have that slightly mellower attitude to begin with, as it ranked right up there among the toughest classes I have ever done. Particularly challenging was being asked to stay in dwi pada viparita dandasana regardless of which monsters reared their heads. We were asked to stay and face them and find out what would happen (unless our heart was going to stop, then she conceded, we could come down). Now as already mentioned, this is something that I personally really need to work on, as I'm always pretty brief in this pose, inhale go up, experience a few moments of mental anguish, exhale and come down! What I found by staying and staying and staying and then staying some more, facing the monsters was this: 1) A little back strain, which I never get and this was good learning, to know what it feels like and to find out how long it lasts and which of the standard releasing methods actually soothed 2) The second time I went up after the first marathon I was completely quiet - literally in that I wasn't making all the drama, squeaking, moaning and groaning and also total brain quiet. Interesting.
This courage on the part of the teacher, instils courage on the part of the student to break some barriers and learn something new. Would this be considered acceptable teaching in the UK? Probably not. Am I grateful for it? Undoubtedly.
Apologies for the lack of photos today, I usually try to avoid my own asana pictures - perhaps some fellow RIMYI'ers would like to share some of their best Pune photos with me to share with the wider community? I'm excited to go to bed tonight, as I've bought a soft mattress to use as a topper, for the bargain price of 450 rupees (about a fiver). I've discovered over the years, the posher the apartment, the harder the blinking bed and since this is such a lovely apartment, the bed is pretty solid .....
Abhijata – February 20th 2020 - Backbends
Swastikasana invocation - Like a plant – the roots have to reach down into the earth, but everything else, the sapling reaches up towards the rays of the sun. Let the mind go to each vertebrae and see that it is ascending. The problem with modern culture today