Day 5 - IYNAUS Autumn Sangha with Abhijata
Some lovely pranayama for our final day with Abhi. She took the approach that she often has during my stays in Pune, of keeping the preparatory asanas dynamic and demanding so that we stay sharp and present, not drifting off into a dreamy state where we're no longer attentive, as can often be the case in a pranayama class. This approach suits me, as I have poor energy flow in my body and especially my spine / back body (perhaps due to health conditions, or indeeed perhaps, why I have the health conditions in the first place). I particularly benefitted from the standing on the seat of the chair in a kind of chair chatush, where we had to cut the feet and arms down and lift the back body up so that there was a clear separation between the armpit which belonged to the arm and the armpit that belonged to the back body. It was intense work, but I felt a welcome surge of clarity in my energy body when we came down. It's such a relief to me, that through yoga, I have finally found ways to feel excellent in a body that is naturally inclined to feeling rubbish.
She began the session by answering some of the questions that had been submitted by the attendees and I was moved to hear her very humble answer to the question asked by a teacher who was struggling with waves of doubt about her teaching. Abhi explained that when she compares her contribution to that of Guruji, Geetaji and Prashantji that it feels 'like such a small drop' that she often wonders what she is doing. I have written many times about my appreciation of Abhi's teaching and I think she does an amazing job of taking the learning that she has received from each of them and bringing it to us in such a vibrant and comprehensible form. I guess it's normal for each of us to feel insignificant in the face of the teachers who have inspired us, but I feel she really illustrates how our 'little drop' can bring so much to our own students.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the classes (especially those whose job / children / finances mean they are unable to attend). I always write these blogs in the spirit of sharing and want nothing in return, though for the first time here, I have added a 'Buy me a Coffee' button after the sequence. This basically is a way of giving a small financial thank you for the work involved and any contributions will go towards my topping up my rather drastically depleted income for the Covid period. Feel free to ignore or contribute as is right for you. I continue to keep my fingers crossed that at some point in the future I will be back in Pune and in blog mode.
Day 5 – IYNAUS Autumn Sangha with Abhijata
Abhi started with answering some questions.
1) Post Covid will she consider offering some online sessions? Abhi - It is something that she will consider for sure, but let’s see how it goes.
2) A 7 year old recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, can yoga be useful? Abhi - Is he/ she interested in yoga? If yes, then between ages of 7-10 yoga can be introduced playfully (too young and tender for a serious approach). Twistings and inversions will be essential later on.
3) A lady who had cataract surgery many years ago – after day 1 of this workshop her eye became very red and she wants to know why and what should be done? Abhi - Does it happen every time you do inversions, or was it just that day alone? If it always red then that must be addressed, if it was just that day alone, unlikely to be a cataract from many years ago causing a problem now - more clarification needed, get in touch.
4) Clarification questions on AMS – a)what does Abhi mean when in AMS she says “Back ribs up” – Abhi – I mean back ribs up towards the buttocks. b) Does bottom sternum down mean straight down towards the floor or towards the pubis? Abhi – Down towards the floor – up and down do not change regardless of your orientation in the pose, whether in tadasana or sirsasana, down is always towards the floor and up is always towards the ceiling.
5) Inflammation in eyes and rhinus caused by unknown allergy, will inversions aggravate the situation? Abhi – Is it a recurring problem? You have mentioned you have a daily practice of inversions, so in the some ways you have answered your own question – if your daily practice is not worsening the situation then you are okay, however inflammation in the eyes and sirsasana don’t go together (dryness can be dealt with) so maybe you could try rope sirsasana instead of independent sirsasana.
6) Arthritis in the hips – when to push through the stiffness and when to maintain the health and nourishment of the hip joint. Abhi – It’s a balance – develop the understanding between what is a bearable pain and what is a pain which is not doing you any good. Pain is of two types: pain for pleasure or pain for pain. In the first, it is like a medical procedure (jab or surgery) that you have to go through in order to achieve a helpful outcome, is pain for pleasure. Pain for pain is enduring pain for no good outcome – like a torture – do not endure this and think that it is tapas, NO! pain for pain is not going to do you any good. Now arthritis in the hips, baddha konasana versus padmasana action – you have to decide – if you have the mobility you can go for it, but while doing the posture, you will know, you have to observe whether that pain is damaging the joint, or is it giving you a healing, soothing sensation, even though the pain is there? One clue to the final answer to that question is to see what you FEEL the next day, the day after that? Because when there is muscular pain – like you may have experienced after day 1, day 2 – there is pain the next day, but then that pain fades down – then it is a pain for pleasure – the muscles worked hard for the health of the body, so that is good. But if you experience a pain that is not going down the graph, then you need to revisit that situation.
7) Pain in the groin in seated forward extensions due to hip arthritis- should I avoid going deeper into the postures? Abhi – Hip and groin are neighbours, so in forward bends you’ll have to see that hip joints are closer to each other and groins are away from each other. Try this action now – stand up in tadasana, with the brick between the inner thighs and take the feet as close as possible. You will know that the groins go away from each other – so you should have your position in forward bends such that, the groins are always moving towards the thigh side and not hitting against each other. So even in the twisting postures, some people get a pain in the groin, they get a pain in the lower back – that is often because the groins are rubbing against each other – they should not rub against each other, but give each other the space. Use this clue for your forward bends.
8) Sciatic pain in parivrrta upavista konasana and janu sirsasana. Abhi – At that time what you can do is work on your sciatica such that you give some respite – do not push through. The back of the thigh has to be rested on the ground, if there is a gap you can fill it with a thin blanket – that padding is allowed, but lifting the knee up to bend the knee is not.
9) Nausea after sarvangasana –Could be something you ate or poor digestion. If it’s a one-off occurrence don’t try to read too much into it. (This is my own note, not Abhi’s – remember asanas are to be done on an empty stomach, 4 hours after full meal, 2 hours after light snack minimum).
10) Question to Abhi personally – Do you ever feel empty and disconnected in your teaching? do you ever feel waves of doubt? Have you ever thought about not teaching anymore? The availability of so many online classes has been a little chaotic and meant that own practice and inner connection has suffered. As a certified teacher, I feel pressure to keep up or make my classes amazing – sometimes I feel my practice becomes a tool for my teaching – have you ever fallen into that trap? Sometimes I don’t know what my own practice needs anymore – surely I’m not the only one! Abhi – When I think of all Guruji did, all Geetaji did and all Prashantji did and is doing – It makes me wonder what I am doing as it seems to be such a small drop, so in that sense I have often wondered what I am doing. Do I feel empty? NO but when I read myself in reference to the three of them, it feels – oh! this not enough – Guruji gave us so much. Guruji taught us to speak only from our experience, he has often said, do not try to prove. Do not worry about what the others are doing, because at the end of the day, you can only be the best at who you are. So instead of worrying about the others or comparing yourself with others, or trying to prove yourself to others – what you should be doing is what Guruji said – be true to yourself, be honest and your practice should be your substrate, your practice should be your clue not just sometimes! It has to be the clue, it has to be the substrate, every time. I remember Guruji telling me not to speak a word of what I have not experienced – so that should make it simple, there is so much out there – but what I have experienced, I should stick to that, deliver the goods there, so that makes it much simpler. When I try to impress, when I try to do very well, it seems overwhelming – but when I just try to do what I know, it’s more comfortable.
AMS Back ribs up means to you have to learn to lift the back of the ribs up towards the buttocks. Open the backs of the knees. The sides of the trunk have to g