Posts Tagged ‘RIMYI’

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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Kids Love Savasana

November 1, 2014

Savasana (Relaxation Pose) is not just about lying around

We will begin with a few restorative poses. These setups were all done by the kids themselves.

This is 4½-year-old came with her mother to a morning class at the Iyengar Yoga Center Neve Tzedek in Tel Aviv taught by Gabi Doren. “She was amazing! I asked her to be my assistant and she took it very seriously. She demonstrated all the poses.” Here she is in Supta Baddha Konasana.

Next up, Chair Sarvangasana (shoulder stand). Make sure your hips are secure on the chair seat. Notice how this young student holds the chair legs to stop her sliding off the chair.

Donna Pointer's grand daughter. Chair Sarvangasana.

Donna Pointer’s granddaughter.

Savasana on stilts.

Bhishmasana, it’s  sort of like savasana on stilts.

Is everybody ready for Savasana? Place yourself very carefully in the center of your mat. Let your arms become limp and floppy, like perfectly cooked spaghetti.

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Here is Eleana, daughter of Michelle la Rue and Matt Dreyfus, who both teach at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Greater New York. Photo by Bobby Clennell. She set herself up with the legs elevated, and a bolster just touching her head.

Completely relax your legs.  Covering the eyes can help you become still and quiet.

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Sue Fazoli’s daughter loves going to Mom’s classes, at the yoga studio in Chile.

photo 3

This little girl at a restorative class at Natural Yoga, Bogotá, Colombia, was not quite in the center of her mat.

Close your eyes and let the head feel soft.

Restorative class, last one of the year, at 4PM! — Iyengar YogaSchool Amsterdam

This little boy interpreted, very much in his own way, how to use a mat for Savasana. The class took place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

……shhhh.

Galia Yogawalla took this photo last July on her yearly visit to RIMYI of her twins Amitai & Leela, 8 months at the time.

Galia Yogawalla took this photo last July on her yearly visit to Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), Pune. Here are her twins Amitai & Leela, 8 months at the time, in the asana hall.

See if you can find Savasana in my picture book Watch Me Do Yoga.

Watch-Me-Do-Cover

© 2014 Bobby Clennell

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.

Bhishma

August 8, 2013

Many stories are told in the Mahabharata of Bhishma, the son of a great king and also a yogi, a learned man and a great warrior. This particular story tells how Bhishma, unparalleled in the noble the art of archery was himself shot through by arrows as he fought in battle. As he fell, his whole body was held above ground by the shafts of these arrows, which protruded from his back and through his arms and legs. Bhishma was suspended this way for 40 days.

B.K.S. Iyengar tells us that Bhishma was kept alive for so long most likely because of the strategic positioning — similar to acupuncture points; behind the heart, at the coccyx — of the arrows.

Bishma meditated as he transitioned in a timely and dignified manner from the manifest world to the un-manifest, eternal world. Seeing Bhishma laid out on such a bed of arrows humbled even the gods who watched from the heavens in reverence, silently blessing the mighty warrior.

I taught Bhishmasana as part of a restorative workshop at the Maha Padma Temple, Union Square, New York. Restorative yoga teaches us to be in the asana longer and penetrate deeper. It allows us to be to become familiar with a deeper level of internal practice and it prepares us for pranayama.

Bishma surrendered to his fate, which although already ordained by Krishna, was not violent. Stretched out on our yogis’ “bed of nails” and suspended in time, we surrendered to the moment, completely supported and utterly at peace.

Practice this pose and see how it makes you feel. The student, whose feet were placed apart on separate blocks and belted to stop them flopping out, said  she felt as if she were floating. After this picture was taken I lowered the blocks under her arms which helped create more space in her chest.

It’s a wonderfully cooling pose in the hot weather!

A modified version of this pose is often given in the medical classes at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), Pune, India, to help those with heart problems.

Bhishmacharya

Photo by my host at Maha Padma Temple, Veronica Alicia Perretti

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.

Geetaji’s Pranayama Class: Pune, February 1st.

February 1, 2013

The first class at RIMYI today was pranayama taught by Geetaji. We began by sitting. No that’s not exactly right — Gulnaz began by attempting to get us all into the asana room. She did a pretty good job. Every single prop was moved into the props room. We were mat-to-mat, and this is nothing new these days, I know, but tonight, students were almost reduced to setting up on the stairs outside.

We began in a long Swastikasana, head in Jalandara Banda, really lengthening the spine. Some of the new students were “sacrificing their nerves” as Geetaji put it, unable to sit still without shaking (they didn’t yet have the physical stamina to sit still without shaking).

Then we lay down over our bolsters. Those who didn’t get a bolster had two pranayama pillows. We practiced Ujjayii, extended inhalation,  extended exhalation, with normal breaths in between. A few of the newer students were unable to close their eyes.

We sat up on our bolster again. As we inhaled deep into the lungs, lifting the chest as we did so, we allowed the abdomen to stretch away in the opposite direction. We explored this separation of abdomen and chest, both in Ujjayi and Viloma (interrupted inhalation) pranayama. With the incoming breath we lifted and broadened the front ribs;  at the same time, the abdomen had to lengthened downward away from the bottom ribs. The shoulder blades moved down the back. The shoulders had to stay back, the head down.

We finished in Savasana over our bolsters. It was wonderful to begin the month with a pranayama class.

Photo © Jake Clennell.

Photo © Jake Clennell.

© 2013 Bobby Clennell.

Yoga Rahasya

April 16, 2011

Yoga Rahasya is a quarterly publication of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), Pune and the Light on Yoga Research Trust, Mumbai, India. It was a great honor to be asked to design the (four) covers for this year.

Here are the first two. The first corresponded with Annual day — sometimes known as Institute day – and the second with Hanuman Jayanti. The third will come out later this year on Guru Purnima, and the forth on Patanjali Jayanti.

“Yoga Rahasya” refers to the wisdom of yoga, or ‘the secret knowledge of yoga’. The aim of Yoga Rahasya is to share the essence of Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar’s teachings. It contains original articles and transcripts of talks by B.K.S.Iyengar, as well as Geeta and Prashant Iyengar on philosophy, psychology, science and the art of yoga and life. This journal also includes articles by his students, practical details on the practice of asanas and information on treating chronic ailments through yoga.

WHO MAKES IT: Yoga Rahasya is produced exclusively by volunteers. Rajvi Mehta, a student of B.K.S. Iyengar since 1979 has been editing it since its inception in 1994.

WHO CAN SUBSCRIBE:  Yoga Rahasya is a scholarly tool for serious students rather than just a general interest magazine. It is open to all irrespective of whether they are teachers or students of Iyengar Yoga.

 

HOW TO GET IT: The most complete info on how to obtain it is on bksiyengar.com. From the menu bar at the top of the page, select ‘References’ then ‘Yoga Rahasya’. On the lower right corner there is a link for ‘subscription form’ Once completed, the site then directs the subscriber to print the form and send it along with the subscription fee (twenty five U.S dollars/four issues per year) to the relevant organization in their home country. Part of the annual dues that teachers in the U.S. pay includes twenty- five dollars for the annual subscription.

Within the next couple of months, there will a link on the IYNAUS store page where people can subscribe directly. (However, one can subscribe by just sending the $25.00 to IYNAUS at 1952 First Avenue South, Suite 1B, Seattle, WA 98134, and noting that they wish to subscribe). The yoga community in India and the U.S. is pretty low tech, so unfortunately the renewal process isn’t automatic – at least not yet. People need to re-subscribe each year.

HOW IT GETS SENT OUT FROM INDIA: Representatives in many countries (mainly nominated by the Associations) collect the subscriptions on Yoga Rahasya’s behalf.   They then inform Yoga Rahasya in Pune and the issues are mailed out from India. Generally subscriptions are taken for a calendar year. For example, even if one were to subscribe in July they still receive all the four issues for that year. Each country has its own policy for collecting the payment from the subscribers.

Single copies may be purchased through the various associations world- wide. IYNAUS purchases a few copies of every issue and directly sells them. Also, there are back issues available for purchase from The Store (link on IYNAUS website)

COMPILATIONS:  There are 5 sets of compilations: YR -A from 1994 to 1996, YR – B from 1997 to 1998, YR –C  from1999 to 2000 and YR – D  from 2001 to 2002 as well as YR – THERAPY. These are available through IYNAUS and of course at RIMYI, Pune or at Iyengar Yogashraya, Mumbai. Single copies of issues published after 2003 are for sale provided they are in stock. The ‘representatives’ from the various associations around the worlds are periodically informed about the stock status of the back issue before they collect any payment for them.

© 2011 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.