Friday, December 12, 2014

Day 10 - Thank you and Goodbye India.

Mark Zambon - lost his legs in
Afghanistan. He is part of the Wounded
Warriors Project. His positive spirit is inspiring.
Ahhhh...all good things must come to an end. My 10 day Iyengar intensive is no exception to that rule. On one hand I am sad - since it was such a privilege to stand side by side with 1400 yogis from 57 countries and practice Iyengar 
Yoga. On the other hand I am ecstatic to be returning home - to my normal life - normal food - and normal sleeping habits!

Indian dancer at the convention
The last few days of the intensive began to take their toll on me. I had a hard time staying focused and found myself feeling completely done at times. Geeta was kind to us on the last day with a restorative sequence and digital pranayama. Both of which were a welcome respite to my disturbed mind.

This is Geeta Iyengar. She mostly taught
from this chair. her health is not well.
The intensive ended with closing remarks which included a reminder that we are both teachers and students of Iyengar Yoga. We have a great responsibility to carry forward the teachings of BKS Iyengar with integrity and compassion. Guruji (as BKS Iyengar is called) lives within each of us - his life's work stokes the fire within - encouraging us to move forward in our practice and encouraging others to discover how Yoga helps us live a better life.

Indian Couple who were married at the Hotel
we stayed at
It will take me months to digest all that I learned during those 10 days. Finding ways to enhance my practice and insert the teachings into my classes. I will forever hear in my head Geeta's accented voice, "You People!  You practice from your ego. Practice from your heart. Do it!"

Me in front of the Temple.
On the last day Tammy and I visited Parvati Hill Temple in Pune'. It was beautiful and I snapped some fun pictures of it and the surrounding area.

Shiva at the Parvati temple

Tammy and Me - selfie style!
At 3:05AM Tammy and I then began our 30 hour adventure home. 20 hours in an airplane. 10 hours in airports. In Mumbai my artificial hip sounded the alarm.The lady checking me asked me f I had any documentation that I had an artificial hip. I said no. She said, "then how am I supposed to know if it is true?". So in a Mumbai airport I pulled my jeans down and showed her my scar - she seemed satisfied (and perhaps a little embarrassed?) I will say that the Mumbai airport is one of the most beautiful airports I have EVER seen. Such a contrast to the rest of the city - which is probably one of the poorest places I have ever seen. Frankfurt airport is one of the highest security airports I have ever been in. When you exit your plane you have to go through security again. They go though everything with a fine tooth comb. And those Germans are NOT nice!

Enjoy the pictures and I will return to the blog in a few days with some of the enlightenments I received at the intensive. Namaste'

These Indian girls were at the temple.
They surrounded me and wanted to know my name.
Tammy & I at the temple

Temple through the trees

There was 108 steps up to the temple.
 These goats welcomed us in the beginning

And this is what the goats do
at the bottom of the hill

One of the successful meal
outings (of which there were few).BBQ at your table!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

India day seven - Yoga proof!

Vrksasana with BKS
I just finished the 7th day of the Iyengar Yoga intensive.

Geeta's focus over the past 7 days has been on opening up the chest, spreading the ribs and aligning the spine. Standing poses, forward bends, inversions and twists; whatever asana sequence awaits us we know that Geeta's method is pure Iyengar. Each sequence is presented in incremental steps, carefully planned,  and finely tuned as Geeta leads each student closer to the transformation of Yoga.

Photo op with the ladies - Xuan,Me, Tammy
and Alicen 
I will say, that because of the accent it has been a little difficult at times to understand her instructions. I often find myself translating in my head what she has said and then I find that I missed the next three sentences. Still, her ability to guide you towards the essence of the pose is pure brilliance. I feel so fortunate to be here experiencing this event.

On Friday a local PhD who is also a student at the Pune Yoga institute gave a presentation on the scientific evidence that Yoga really does work. There was some great reference material but specifically the practice of Yoga:

Affects your muscles, bones and organs:
  • increases muscle length and longer muscles are stronger muscles. In turn muscles supply nutrition to the bone and keep the bone healthy.
  • Stimulates new bone by weight bearing action.
  • Arteries are made of muscles, so when we extend and contract the arteries are "exercised" and elasticity is increased.
  • Legs up the wall at break time
    The heart is a muscle. When we do back bends, the heart is massaged between the back and front ribs.
  • Creates space in the rib cage and abdomen area bringing freedom to the organs
  • Inversions bring the blood in the bottom of the lungs to mix with the oxygen in the other 2/3 of the lungs which helps to circulate the oxygen more efficiently in the body and improve stamina.
So that is just a small portion of her findings. She also had references to about 10 medical studies all supporting the evidence that Yoga works on structural and chronic health issues as well.
we called this the nuclear soup!
Other adventures have been the food. We are getting really tired of Indian food, but even when you order something that is not Indian, it still tastes like Indian! Our favorite was the restaurant where we got "green" food. Needless to say, It was not appetizing. The other night Tammy and I ate at Mc Donalds (seriously I normally do not eat at fast food) and we were ecstatic because it tasted like "home"! Even Tammy's McVeggie burger was good!
Also, they have their own sense of "time" here in India. Everything is "5 minutes only" and then it is not really 5 minutes only. More like 30 minutes or more - if they understood what you were saying.
At the institute with the ladies.
Picture of BKS in background
Fun shopping!
Traveling in this city is a nightmare. We don't realize how fortunate we are that we can jump in the car and get somewhere relatively quickly. Here in India, a 10 mile drive can take upwards of 45 minutes to 1 hour or more depending on traffic. we pick and choose our adventures wisely. A simple dinner can turn out to be a 3 hour adventure between driving, service and traffic.

Shopping has been fun! Our dollar is strong here so we have been able to purchase some beautiful things for our friends and family at home. It is weird to see things about Christmas on FB or the news because we feel so far removed from that season here in India.

 Most of you who are reading this are now just thinking about dinner or going to bed for your Sunday evening. In India it is Monday morning and I am off to day 8 of the intensive. Have a great week everyone!



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Day Four India - many adventures thus far!

So I have been in India four days now. I have some news to share. Those of us who live in the states have no idea how fortunate we are and how grateful we should be.

2nd story dilapidated buildings and below
are open businesses
 We live in the land of plenty. If we want something we run down to the store or open the cupboard and get what we want. Who knew that clean air, drinkable water, ICE, BEEF, roads with stop signs, stop lights and traffic lights, clean sidewalks and clean cities were a luxury? We don't have to go through metal detectors at hotels or stores and we could never imagine a constant presence of police and local military. Packs of stray dogs (not vicious- tame), beggars and shanti towns aren't just in poor areas but seem to infiltrate even the more modest neighborhoods. Needless to say - this place is an eye opening experience for a small town Redlands girl. All of you reading this should be thankful for what you have!

Old woman on street near businesses
The traffic here is pure mayhem! There is no reason or rhyme to how people drive. Cars, bikes, motorcycles, scooters (many with 4 people on them including small children) pedi cabs,  buses, pedestrians all travel on the same road at the same time. They communicate with their car horns - it's like some kind of morse code that clearly I do not understand! If I lived here I would NEVER drive. I can't even look while our driver takes us to our venue! Just this evening it was like Mr. Toads wild ride. Oncoming traffic, on both sides of the road - I have to cover my eyes and all the ladies laugh at me while I just crack up from the absurdity of it all!

The venue day one
Even in the midst of all this craziness, I am having a fabulous time. Studying with 1000 Yoga students and teachers and taking classes facilitated by the Iyengar family. This is a dream come true. People from all over the world coming together to practice the centuries old art of Yoga. I am in Yoga nirvana!

All of us at the Institute. Picture of BKS in background

The yoga classes have been exceptional  and todays class was close to brutal. 3 hours of asana is tough for even the most conditioned Yogi - I'm wondering how I will feel by day 10! I now understand how coming to India to study Yoga for a month or 2 at a time can transform your practice. These Iyengar teachers and their ability to take you deeper into a pose is beyond mere words. Liberating, humbling, exciting, transforming - and so much more.

Banner of BKS Iyengar in

I am beginning to feel the after effects of today's class and my harrowing taxi ride - so I will close for now. Namaste' and what ever tomorrow brings you - enjoy your journey - and be grateful for what you have- because a lot of people have very little.