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Adventures in Pune – by Lori Neumann

11703127_10205935435619318_3190959490203891761_nThis month Lori Neumann is visiting RIMYI – the Iyengar Yoga Institute in Pune – our mothership!  Lori is based in Mountain View where she teaches yoga and studies at the California Yoga Center. She also is a student at Adeline Yoga. We hope you enjoy her missives from India.

Our first few days were spent just getting acclimated and learning how to get around. Mostly figuring out how to cross the street. That is the most challenging! My strategy? Find a local and walk with them. The city is really very nice compared to my last experience here. This feels like a real city – vibrant, with parks, lots of temples, lots of construction! The hardest thing to get used to is the noise. The hotel we stayed at has great Chai. That is our new gold standard here! Our chef is making us some now so we’ll see how it compares. The verdict: very very good!

We finally got into our apartment yesterday afternoon and word is out that we are here! Lots of visitors from the water delivery to our cook, to the lady downstairs selling shawls and wanting us to come take a look. It is wonderful how the Institute and all of us that travel so far for this amazing experience help support so many people. They are mostly very helpful and friendly.

The apartment is quite nice and large on the surface. Then there is just this little thing about having a toilet that flushes. Minor thing! At least there are plenty of buckets to manually flush! Or a missing medicine cabinet door. Or the hunt for working electrical outlets. Or the fan in the bedroom that doesn’t work on one speed and the next level requires a blanket!

And are they really speaking English? It sure doesn’t sound like it! Getting used to the accents, the head roll, hearing yes when its really no – all part of this experience.

The view to the RIMYI courtyard from the practice hall
The view to the RIMYI courtyard from the practice hall

Ah, but then there are the classes – the ones we attend and the ones we observe. Seeing new things being done and then trying them out during open practice in the hall. This is hard to describe. Open practice is scheduled time where we all do our own thing in the practice hall. Practicing in that space is worth everything I did to get here. It is beyond what I could have imagined. It looks like every picture from Light on Yoga is hanging in the hall. Watching the different practices is inspiring and educational. There are some incredibly beautiful practices, people of all ages. My back has been a challenge so being able to do my practice for my back works!

Going into describing the classes here (skip over this part if you don’t know what I’m talking about!) Geeta worked toward Parsva Bakasana (crane pose). Her sequence, the actions, observing and correcting, her sense of humor!

Starting with Urdva Prasarita Ekapadasana, to Vira III, focusing on the actions of the lift of the torso. The holds were at least a minute. After about 6 or seven of those, the difference was so much lighter! We were on our fingertips then just the first two fingers and moving toward the ceiling. Then we did one Bakasana and she had us all do malasana.

Then back to Bakasana. After about attempts where I fell on my head at least 4 times, I managed to do the pose! I was excited and when I looked up Geeta was looking right at me and asked me if that was the first time? I said yes! And she smiled and was very pleased. I was in the second row, almost right in front of her. Before class I had mentioned my back condition to her assistant (Gulnaz was injured and wasn’t there). And she said that Abhi would help me modify the poses for my back. After class, this assistant came up to me and said, I thought you said you had back pain! You don’t need any help! You know what to do! So after that, I was able to what I needed in the few poses I couldn’t do and it was great! It all makes sense, this system, when experienced like this. Learning how, and experiencing such a big difference from the beginning to class and the end!

Prashant’s class this morning could not have been more different. His discourse interspersed with asana was a unique experience. I look forward to being able to actually understand more than every third word by the end of the month! Today is his birthday but the celebration is very subdued due to the one year period of mourning. Still, after class a few of the women sang to him and said some beautiful words.

I observed one medical class on the 3rd floor that was will be very helpful for my senior class. The medical class was very hard to observe. Every student is doing a different sequence so I don’t know what is happening. Any tips on how to observe these classes to gain something out of them?