Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Greetings from Pune, India!

You can feel India the moment you step off the plane onto the jetway, as the soothing heat soaks right through its seams. Finally you get out of the sterile airport and into the pick-up area. Even though it's 2 in the morning, the airport is as packed and lively as high noon, the air smells musky and wraps around you like a cloak, and the sensory overstimulation has just begun. You squeeze yourself into a crowded car for the final leg of the journey, from the Mumbai airport to your apartment in Pune, only 200 km, but it takes a full 4 hours for reasons that only make sense in India.

I arrived at my sweet apartment I am sharing with several other yoga practitioners at 6:30am, determined to stay awake all day so I can get a full night of sleep and get quickly over jetlag. Soon, we walked down the street to the Iyengar Institute to register and practice.

BKS Iyengar, age 94 and regal, sat on a bench receiving arrivers with a generous grace. How do I describe the feeling of being in his presence? It's like driving down a road, turning a corner, and getting hit with a view of the ocean that takes your breath away: a sense of majesty, evoking a feeling of deep gratitude for having this opportunity.

This morning I enjoyed a delightful class with Devki Desai, who reminded us that just as we feel refreshed and ennobled when we enter a place of worship, or, I would add, a beautiful place in nature, we can experience that in asana. BKS Iyengar says "Alignment for Enlightenment," meaning that the purpose of all this attention to physical detail is to bring us to a state of clarity and luminescence. Devki asked us to make our legs not only intelligent, but wise. We spent a good half hour in Upavista Konasana, with respites in Baddha Konasana, before moving on to standing poses. Devki pointed out that Trikonasana can be a shrine for us, a place of ennoblement. Just as a walk along Lake Michigan can inspire and refresh us, so can an asana.

Let us create wisdom in our limbs, our organs, our nervous system, our digestion, and throughout our bodies. Let us make our bodies worthy of grace.

More later, namaste,

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