Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Unfolding Ourselves Each Morning

I am completely convinced that 4 hours of intelligent asana each day will cure any disease, any ailment, any condition whatsoever. Toss in a half hour of pranayama and an hour of meditation, and you're invincible. That's what I get in Pune on good days: pranayama from 5-5:30am, 5:30-6:30am meditation, 9am-12pm asana, then a 2-hour asana class in the evening. Some afternoons I go to the library from 3-4pm, before assisting with the Remedial (Medical/Therapeutics) class from 4-6pm.

But other days, I wake up too late for pranayama, or I have to be on a phone call to the USA before morning class, or I choose to nap instead of go to the library, or menstrual cramps compel me to observe class instead of take it, or.....any number of good excuses can be found here, just as at home.

My slack days do not deter the beneficial effects and karma of my good days, however. When we are so fully present in our bodies, aerating all our chakras, opening our hearts and minds, no obstacle, not allergies, not depression, not sacral instability, can deter us from becoming more and more balanced. Not that I have already cured every last thing that ails me, but I'm getting there!

RIMYI (Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute) is not the easiest place to study yoga, to say the least. This January is the most crowded I have ever seen. During morning practice, we are mat to mat, with no space to keep props out. During class, our mats overlap, and sometimes we have to fold them in half to fit more students. We take Shavasana with our legs folded in Swastikasana. The mats, donated by international students over the years since they're hard to come by in India, are in various states of wear and stickiness, and probably have never been washed.

Yet, when I settle on a mat in the main hall of the Institute, any mat, I am home. Sattva washes over me, rinsing away the agitation of rajas and the heaviness of tamas. I am grateful, open, aware. I decide what I will practice that day: am I feeling tight, sleepy, high energy, achy? What is my body asking for? My practice sequence unfolds differently each day, although nearly each day includes some standing poses, quite a bit of time in inversions, and some backbends and twists.

All around me, experienced practitioners from all over the world unfold their sequences as well. I've met students from France, Italy, Brazil, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, name it. All around me, quietly, students are earnestly folding forwards, backwards, to the sides, jumping to and fro, leaping upside down, and in every permutation humans can imagine.

The room becomes even more hushed if we hear Guruji, BKS Iyengar, speak, from his corner by the props room. He may be instructing one of the Senior Teachers from abroad, or he may be instructing his granddaughter, Abhijata Sridhar. If he is in a teaching mood, we all stop mid-asana to gather and sit silently nearby to catch whatever wisdom he may be passing on. We sit knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder, eager to soak in what we all traveled so far to learn.

Sometimes Guruji speaks so softly I can barely hear him, or I am so far back I cannot glean the lesson. But I don't mind. Just being in that charged atmosphere in the presence of brilliance is enough to keep me practicing, learning, staying another minute in Sirsasana, attempting Parivrtta Parsvakonasana a third time or a fourth time, waking up without an alarm before the birds, opening up to the fullest potential of yoga, another day, and another day, and another day.

1 comment:

Debra said...

Amazing, and I so wish I was with you. Thank you for such amazing insight and clarity. Namaste, dear Peggy...