Posts Tagged ‘Pune’

Notes from Pune: Yogadandasana. February 2019

July 30, 2019

Yogadandasana. Drawings made from a class taught by Rajlaxmi at RIMYI, Pune.

Adho Mukha Sukhasana. Some students reached forward to the grill.

Sit in Upavista Konasana: extend your ankles toward your heels. Sit on a narrow fold blanket. Fold your legs into Baddha Konasana. Place a narrow brick between the feet.

If necessary, go to the wall and hold the ropes. Turn the brick, first onto its flat side, and then turn it to horizontal. Descend the knees.

Place your feet on top of the brick. Now place a folded mat under the brick.

Now sit on the brick. Remaining on the brick, extend your right leg out to the side. Press the Baddha Konasana knee down and turn that heel up.

Change legs. (If the brick is hard, sit on a vertical bolster). Extend both legs out and return to Upavistha Konasana.

Bend your left leg to Marichyasana position. Turn left toes back. Press arm against bent leg. Change sides. Now move back to Baddha Konasana. Now bend your left leg to Baddha Konasana, right leg to Upavista Konasana. Lift your pelvis, raise your heel and push it forward so you sit on the inner side of the big toe.

Change sides. The students are now on a four-fold sticky mat or vertical bolster or a block. Wedge a brick between heel and pubic bone.

You can come into the pose by sliding down the ropes. To bring your weight to the inner edges of the folded leg big toe, roll forward…

…and now roll forward on both legs. Rajlaxmi came right to the edge of the platform to roll forward even more. 

Place the feet on a flat block. Then turn the block onto its tall end. Press the knees down.

Paschimottanasana: if you are stiff separate your legs.

“Yogadandasana means the staff of a Yogin. In this pose, the yogi sits using one leg as a crutch under the armpit, hence the name” BKS Iyengar: Light On Yoga. Bend your right leg back into Virasana. Push your left foot back (see more complete instructions in Light on Yoga).

The pillar was used to support the lifted leg, while the students turned toward the Virasana leg.

The knee of the Baddha Konasana leg has to turn.

Change sides. Forward bends: Janu Sirsasana; Ardha Baddha Paschimottanasana;

Triang Mukha Aika Pada Paschimottanasana; Marichyasana 1.

Paschimottanasana; Malasana; Uttanasana; Adho Mukha Svanasana; Parsvottanasana; Setu Banda Sarvangasana with a Brick and Tadasana legs. Some students used bolsters for Setu Banda. Move the shoulder blades deeper inside the back. Push the shins toward the shoulders, but at the same time, walk out with your legs.

Savasana.

© 2019 Bobby Clennell

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February 2014, Pune.

March 10, 2014

The Institute.

At the RIMYI we have three classes with Geeta Iyengar per week: two women’s classes (one of which if there is room, the men may attend) and a pranayama class. Prashant Iyengar teaches at 7am, four mornings a week. If you want to experience B.K.S. Iyengar in action you had better get yourself along to the medical classes in the afternoons. In addition, there are six open practice sessions per week where Guruji practices along with local and visiting students, most of them teachers. He invariably interrupts his own practice to instruct someone else and oftentimes this someone is his grand daughter, Abhijata. We gather round to watch, listen and absorb. Then when Guruji returns to his own practice, we drift back to our mats and our own practice.

Prashant Iyengar.

“Rivers of breath” pranayama class.
Just as rivers nourish the land, Prashant says, the breath also provides us with nourishment. These days people flock to the cities to live, but there was a time when people settled along rivers. He talked about how the Amazon flows fresh into the ocean for miles and miles, providing sustenance for all who live along its banks. Similarly, when we practice pranayama, we become energized, re-vitalized, invigorated.

Geeta Iyengar. Wednesday February 19: excerpts from Geeta’s second back bend class.

Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Sirsasana:

  • Be independent. If you lean against the wall, you will never learn.
  • For those who practiced rope Sirsasana; it’s a horizontal pose as well as a vertical pose. Even in Rope Sirsasana, place your palms on the floor the width of the shoulders to create that space. Don’t just hang – lift your shoulders up away from the floor and widen the collar bones.
  • Always move the front of the leg toward the back of the leg.
  • Forehead quiet, but the body should be very much active. Raise the whole body up from the inside.

(Many, many) Urdhva Dhanurasana’s into Viparita Dandasana: Men usually sit at the back, but today Geeta asked them to move to the front of the class. Geeta talked about some of the differences between men and women. Women are more supple then men. In these back bends, they can easily open the front ribs and lift the chest, but they tend to drop the buttocks and pelvis, which strains the lumbar. In addition, they tend to get tired. Men are strong, so they can hold themselves up more easily; but they push hard into the chest and don’t get the natural lift that women get. Some of us, myself included, had a wall to hold the elbows against and a workable mat (from the donated mats in the prop room), which held my feet well, enabling me to access my back muscles and raise my spine.

8-5“Lie on your back, with your head toward the platform.  With feet apart, walk your feet in and hold ankles. Bend your arms. Place your hands on the floor, close to your shoulders. Distribute the weight evenly between the palms. Broaden the palms. Push up into Urdhva Dhanurasana. Walk in with your palms. Raise the chest to walk the palms toward the feet.”

  • Open the armpit chest. Walk in with the feet and be on the arm side. Lift the side trunk!
  • Raise the heels and tailbone up; walk the feet in.

MEN

  • Men always take the knees out – roll them!
  • Shinbones are short, they should be long – knee to shin, elongation.
  • Navel should be up.
  • Suck the elbows straight – die at the elbows! Tighten the elbows! We strapped the elbows – yes, it really has to break into pieces! Have the belt close to the elbow joint.
  • The lightness has to come – lock in the elbow joint. All the men have a belt on the elbow.
  • The flexibility can be seen in Guruji’s photo from Light On Yoga, but the stability is not seen.
  • Pump the body close to the platform.

Viparita Dandasana

  • Push the back ribs forward. At first, keep your head up. Open chest with the head up. Then place head to floor, but keep the chest tall.
  • Men: in back bends, you don’t open your chest.
  • Women; your buttocks drop.

Savasana – stretch your legs out.
Adho Mukha Svanasana, hands to wall.
Sarvangasana
Either Halasana or Karnapidasana (depending on space available)
Pachimottanasana
Savasana

Acknowledgments:
Thank you Julia Pederson who observed the class and took notes, and
Richard Jonas who contributed to these notes from his memory of the class.

Guruji, Wednesday February 20: morning practice.

Guruji spoke of citta chidra or ‘perforated mind’ meaning fissured consciousness. Abhijata, his granddaughter called it ‘leaky consciousness’ as in  “Something slips out; the awareness does not hold itself inside.”

For we students, says Guruji, the mind goes to pleasure; “I like this, I don’t enjoy that, I enjoy this!” In that state, we work from the brain, of which the mind is but a part. When you work from the brain, you sweat in the face, you remain locked in the head, your consciousness does not penetrate the body.

Guruji explains we have to ‘expand from the center to open the four lobes of the brain.’

Guruji showed us the sole of his foot. He expands the arch so that the skin across it is sharp, not dull and not sinking. When one works like that, one does not sweat, one is not stuck in the brain; awareness permeates the areas of the body to which it is directed.
Verse II. 47: ananta samapattibhyam. The balanced state of awareness (samapatti) is endless (ananta).

For us, sadly, it is antara (different, other, outside) samapattibhyam.

The mind goes out, looking for pleasure. It is ‘antara’, different, other. Then, of course, it fluctuates and moves around.

We have to learn ananta (endless) samapattih, a balanced state of consciousness.

Yoga is a spiritual practice. Ananta – or endlessness – is a spiritual state.

When instead, you practice Antara – other, different – you are jumping from one thing to the next. “I like it, I don’t like it. Where is the discipline? There is none.”

One has to go beyond that kind if mind, beyond, ‘leaky consciousness.’

Ananata – endlessness – comes from discipline.

Read about chitta cidra on page 57 of The Core of the Yoga Sutras, B.K.S Iyengar’s most recent book. Those who want to look will see what he says on that page in the light of his little talk during the open practice at RIMYI that morning.

Acknowledgments:
Thank you Zoe Stewart who relayed Guruji’s discourse from the morning open practice.
Many thanks also to Richard Jonas for his sensitive editing.

Back bends with Geeta and Prashant Iyengar

February 21, 2013

The last–but–one back bend class with Geetaji had two strong themes.

The first was the lengthening of the deltoids (the short, fat muscles at the top of the arms). We began the class with three poses: With hands interlocked, we stretched our arms behind us. Then we practiced Namaskar Paschimottanasana and then Ghomukasana. In Ghomukasana, on the raised arm we simultaneously ‘fixed’ the head of the deltoid into the shoulder socket and then took the elbow higher. This had the effect of drawing the neck of the deltoid muscle up, away from the shoulder and lengthening the deltoid.

Several poses later, which included Urdhva Dhanurasana, we did Viparita Dandasana. Geetaji instructed us as we came into the pose, to move the head closer to the feet before finally placing the crown (inside our interlocked hands) on the floor. We returned to the deltoid theme here. We pressed the forearms and elbows down, and ‘fixed’ the head of the deltoid up into the shoulder socket.

Then we practiced Marichyasana 3. Geetaji observed that we were all of us, weak in our spines; very few were lifting the chest. We were instructed to move deeper into the pose from the back body “move the middle back in” to get the turning action and to help lift the front and side chest more fully.

In this morning’s 7am back bending class, Prashantji asked us to think about how we were practicing and what our objectives were. We are going to become how we practice. If we only practice on the physical plane, we will become more physical. (Last week, Prashant pointed out that the fittest people on the planet were probably the Taliban). A physical practice is a great foundation, but, “After 30 years of practice, what have you become; what are you trying to become?” If we want to become more spiritual, or operate on a higher mental plane, “practice for the mind and on the mind,” and that can mean working in the posture with the breath. Prashantji often guides us in the poses through breathing techniques that include ‘exhalative retentions’ and ‘inhalative retentions.’ In other sessions, it may be delicate nostril breathing.

Finally, Prashant talked about the notion of ‘busy-ness.’ We have all become ‘busy.’ “The modern world is busy and we lose the human fabric, our humanity”.

He glanced around the room at his strong Indian following and remarked (to a ripple of laughter) that he had never seen so many retired people so busy, and with no time. “They all have to rush off after the class, because they are so busy.” He himself has never known what it is to be busy or to have no time (more laughter). We were advised to organize our practice sessions a little differently. If we only have one hour to practice, rather than trying to cram everything in to that hour, practice only for 25 minutes, and leave some time at the beginning and end of asana practice for reflection.

Poses (choice of):

  • Chair viparita dandasana: 1st time normal, 2nd time from padmasana, 3rd time, eka pada viparita dandasana.
  • Rope Sirsasana.

From the floor:

  • Parsva Swastikasana
  • Adhomuka Svanasana
  • Standing back arch
  • Ustrasana
  • Urdhva Danuarasana, Danurasana, Dwipada Viparita Dandasana
  • Baradvajasana

Ropes:

  • Ropes I
  • Feet to floor, knees on bolster
This pic of Guruiji was taken by Jake Clennell at RIMYI, in Dec 1998. © Jake Clennell.

This pic of Guruiji was taken by Jake Clennell at RIMYI, in Dec 1998. © Jake Clennell.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Sally Rutzky and Jeanne Barkey for their contributions to this blog.

© 2013 Bobby Clennell.

Fall Travels 2012

October 17, 2012

Yoga At Zea — Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This was my second visit to www.yogaatzea.com.my which is situated on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, or “KL” as it is commonly known.

Steamy, tropical, and surrounded by vast palm tree plantations, KL is a multicultural community, the majority of the people being Chinese, closely followed by the Muslim and Indian populations. Similar to Singapore, these three cultures live, work and observe their own religions and traditions, happily and peacefully, alongside of each other.

KL is a lively, bustling, and happy  place. I shopped for a Hello Kitty iPhone case and was taught by my hosts and their families to eat local delicacies at the Petaling Street night-market. It is also an affluent and  firmly established modern city.

Hello Kitty!

Dhanurasana

Ustrasana

Supta Padangustasana II

Setubandasana

The children’s class:

Being joyful!

Cat pose

Resources on teaching yoga to children:

  • Yogashastra Tome 1 by teachers of Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute and Light on Yoga Research Trust
  • Yogashastra Tome 2 by teachers of Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute and Light on Yoga Research Trust

Goodbye to Yoga at Zea — Zoe Kok, Anita Frisk, Bobby Clennell and Edison Tan Choon Tian

Next stop — Shelly Yoga, Taipei

In Taipei I was mesmerized by the swarming motorbikes in the city, but then calmed when I took a break in New Beitou a little town in the mountains, which was complete with hiking trails, hot springs and a Starbucks.

Inside “101”, the world’s second tallest building, a mall offers acres of high-end shopping: Burberry, Prada and Gucci, to name but a few, were all buzzing with activity. But the night markets are where Taipei comes alive. As the sun goes down, the streets come alive as thousands of people descend on the markets and alleyways for some of the best food and cheapest thrills that can be found in Asia. The same, quick stepping, fashionably dressed young people who flood these markets, are also taking to yoga in a big way.

My host Shelly teaches Iyengar Yoga at her studio Shelly Yoga, which is situated in the heart of Taipei. The students here were excitedly preparing for their first trip to study at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), Pune.

The Priciples of Alignment

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Prepping for Pincha Myorasana

Parigasana (variation)

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana with Crossed Bolsters

Kapotasana with a chair

Last stop — The Iyengar Yoga Institute of China

The city of Guangzhou has a population of 6.7 million and has a history of more than 2,800 years. It ranks first in China in the number of restaurants and tea–houses, and is famous for it’s food including a wide range of delicate pastries. I still miss the food, especially the delicious moon cakes, which are eaten at the beginning of the fall season (and which the students showered me with to bring back to New York).

Lion dance

The elegant and spacious Iyengar Yoga Institute of China has been built and equiped since B.K.S. Iyengar visited China with the Yoga Summit, just three months previous. The main studio has 25 sets of wall ropes (enough for 25 students) and the two other good-sized yoga studios are also similarly well equipped with ropes. This Institute also has a large office, a large reception area, and a hard working staff. The moment that you step into this place, you feel the dedication to and the respect for the Iyengar method.

Uttitha Padangustasana

Sirsasana on the ropes

Urdha Dhanurasana with a rope and blocks

Urdha Dhanurasana at the trestler

Parsva Hasta Padasana at the trestler

Uttanasana to the side

China was so much fun! The energy of the place is palpable and there is a feeling that anything can be achieved. A public lecture, where I spoke and demonstrated on why women should practice ‘women’s yoga’ was organized quickly and efficiently and was complete with background music, cameras, lights, raffles, an Iyengar yoga backdrop, a podium and a rapt audience of around 300.

Adho Mukha Svanasana with head on block

Urdhva Hastasana (head up)

Padangustasana (head down)

Uttitha Padangustasana II

Kapotasana with chair

Badha Konasana

Chatoosh Padasana — the Principles of Alignment

These are early days for Iyengar Yoga in China, and my hosts at the Institute — Chen Zhiyong and Niki Su are keen to show the Chinese yoga community at large something of this method. I agreed to model for a set of photos showing some of the uses of props. Here is a small selection from that photo shoot:

Pincha Myorasana

Ardha Chandrasana

Pincha Myorasana with the Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana bench

Badha Konasana in Rope Sirsasana

© 2012 Bobby Clennell.

Pune 2012

February 15, 2012

My youngest son Jake and I arrived in Pune on Wednesday 1st February at around 4 am. I attended a 9.30 am Women’s class taught by Guruji and Abhijata. It was a special “jet lag class”. We began with some supported inversions, some of which I had never seen done in quite the same way before. This is my 19th trip to Pune — the first was in 1976 — and I don’t know why I am surprised that they are still coming up with new material!

Viparita Karani/Sirsasana: Sit backwards on a chair with the  knees bent over the back of the chair rest. Slide back off chair and place the crown of the head on a vertical bolster. Thread your arms through the chair and hold the back legs. There was much emphasis on lifting through the dorsal spine. 

Viparita Dandasana: Sit backwards through the chair. Curve back around the chair seat. Support top of the back of your head on a vertical bolster, and your feet on blocks. Hold the back legs of the chair. 

Viparita Karani/Sarvangasana: Proceed as for chair Sarvangasana, with your shoulders resting on a horizontal bolster and the back of the head on the floor, but rather than extending your legs out, bend them over the back of the chair rest. As for regular chair Sarvangasana, there was lots of lifting through the dorsal spine. 

Setu Bandasana. Sit backward through the chair. Keeping your knees bent, slide back off the edge of the chair and place the back of your head on a vertical bolster (build up the height of the bolster as needed).

Then, just when you thought that this was going to be a restorative class, we went straight into some simple, but extremely vigorous standing poses (including lots of Adho Mukha Svanasana).

This class was just what was needed to throw off the fatigue and fuzzy-headedness of the journey.

Geetaji taught pranayama on Thursday and standing poses on Friday — fabulous classes both of course. Guruji and Abhyjata taught Saturday’s women’s class, and it reminded me of Guruji’s classes in the 70s. This was a “remembering–what–it’s–like–to–be–taught–by–a–master” sort of a class. There’s just no other way of putting it!

Maty Ezraty doing Pincha Myorasana in the practice session

Mary Reilly in the practice room

 One evening a few of us attended a Sufi music festival. Parvathy Bauul from the Bauul sect was the last act. She chanted and danced, and twirled, causing her hem length dreadlocks to swing and flare out like a mandala. It was all meditation for her and a part of her practice. Here is a clip of her from You Tube, although you lose much of the electrifying affect that you get when she is right there in front of you.

Bauul is the equivalent of Sufi in India, particularly in Bengal, where Parvathy comes from. Her impressive beauty, her personality and the intensity of her devotional chanting and rotating dance, Dervish style, make her unique. I will never forget her, or that class with Guruji and Abhyjata.

Guruji then left with Abhyjata and a group of students and teachers for a yoga convention in Bangalore. It had been fascinating watching him in the practice room each morning, coaching his students for a yoga demonstration that they were putting on at the convention.

On Tuesday (almost one week into the course) Prashant taught a class “for the mind”. About half way through the class he directed us through some nostril breathing as we practiced standing poses. Sounds fairly ordinary I know, but taught by Prashantji, it was profound. It was after that class that I finally shook off my jet lag and slept through the night.

With Guruji gone (and also Geetaji, who had gone to Calcutta for another yoga convention), we were left in the good hands of three truly excellent Instiute teachers, Navaz Kamdin, Rajlaxmi, and Gulnaas, and later, when Guruji and his entourage returned, Abhijata Iyengar and Raya Ud also taught.

Last night Prashantji taught a challenging back bends class. The sequence included: Padmasana/Setu Bandasana over a block, and Padmasana/Viparita Dandasana on a chair, Ustrasana, and Viparita Dandasana from the ropes. The objective was to come out of the class feeling as cool and calm (Prashantji used the word “sanctified”) as we had after his forward bend class “for the mind”.

This morning, Guruji taught a truly profound and masterful class with Abhyjata. We came onto the points of the fingers whenever the hand was on the floor (Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana, a version of Virabadrasana III with hands on the floor in frount of us, and Bharadvajasana I: “tiger claws”!).

We are exactly at the halfway point of the month.

Richard Jonas

I love Sunday mornings on Model Colony. There is no traffic. Everything is quiet. I stroll down to the neighborhood café, Lalit Mahal, for breakfast: upma and real coffee. The owner was starting the day with a puja for his garlanded deity, and the fragrance of incense permeates the entire place.

Puja

Interior of the Lalite Mahal

© 2012 Bobby Clennell.

September Issue

September 18, 2010

I always look forward to Diane von Furstenberg’s fashion shows. Before it begins, there is a tremendous air of expectation and excitement at her design studio. Runway shows are about marketing and promotion. They are a media event, a buzz, and to some degree, they are also theatre.

At Lincoln Center where the shows are held this year, there seem to be more people on the outside trying to get in, than there are ticket holders entering the building. People (journalists? Tourists? Fashion students?) have lined the path to the entranceway. Inside in the reception area, more people are milling around, some with glasses of wine. Still others are in lines. You are directed onto one of these lines – the wrong one as it turns out. You are one of the chosen few! You are ushered onto another line for ticket holders.

Now inside the auditorium, I look down toward the front row. I get my bearings from a mane of bright red hair. It belongs to Grace Codington, the creative director of Vogue magazine. She who stole the show of The September Issue, last year’s documentary cult hit, is already seated.  To her right sits Anna Wintour, the editor –in – chief of Vogue, and also star of The September Issue. Andre Leon Tally, one of the fashion industries most influential style setters, takes his place on her left.

Great excitement! Sarah Jessica Parker just arrived, surrounded by paparazzi, flash bulbs popping.

I can see Anderson Cooper. And there are fashion reporter Lynn Yaeger, and Suzie Menkes, fashion editor at the International Herald Tribune.

The lights go down and all eyes turn toward the illuminated entrance of the catwalk.

The models stride out and strut their stuff. The press is in the stands directly opposite the catwalk entrance. All lenses are trained on the models walking toward them before looping around to return to the back stage area.

The clothes are nothing short of fabulous. Diane has pulled off a particularly polished and exciting collection. The prints for which she is famous, are shown off to stunning advantage; in bold dramatic strokes, and combined with the sleek silhouettes of the clothes, they help to make this a truly great collection!

Along with her creative director, Yvan Mispeare, and to much applause, Diane takes a bow. Her granddaughter presents her with a bouquet of flowers, and the three walk off together.

And all too soon, it’s over. Outside, Bill Cunningham, fashion photographer and style hound for the New York Sunday Times, his bike padlocked to a tree, is taking pictures of the departing audience.

As always, the after- dinner party is a lot of fun with its high- concentration of creative energy. Whew! I’m fitting in with my black DVF ruffled blouse and leggings.

Illustration of Diane von Furstenberg ©2010 by Bobby Clennell

Meanwhile, my son Jake Clennell and husband Lindsey Clennell are in Pune. They sent these pictures of B.K.S. Iyengar who was the guest of honor at the annual Pune Ganesh Festival. You can see him here taking part in the puja with the priests. This special ceremony is undertaken to invoke Ganesh’s holy presence into the statue of Ganesh. Mantras are chanted. Offerings of are made of coconut, sweets, rice, flowers and coins. The statue is then paraded through the streets accompanied by devotional singing, drum beats, dancing and much fan-fare. The streets are very crowded, and are filled with boisterous devotees.

Ganesh, the elephant headed son of Shiva and Parvati, is the god of wisdom and prosperity. He is popularly worshipped as the remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked.

© 2010 Bobby Clennell. Photos © 2010 by Jake Clennell.

Full Moon Over Mulchi Lake

February 18, 2010

© Bobby Clennell 2010

I’m on my way — almost.

January 22, 2010

I leave for Pune next Thursday 28th Feb. I have so much to do……….

Never-the-less, I am attending Mary Reilly’s weekend workshop at the Iyengar Yoga Institute. Tonight, Restorative.

© 2010 Bobby Clennell.