What Patanjali SIM card launched
After the trip to India - new impulses
The intensive 5-week practice period at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India has left its mark. I not only trained myself, I also developed further. This affects both my own yoga practice and my teaching - and I am sure that one or the other of my students was surprised ...
Anyone who has only come to my yoga classes so far because I don't sing mantras (not even the OM) has unfortunately been unlucky. Now, at the beginning of every Iyengar yoga class, I chant the praises of Patanjali and the guru mantra.
Sometimes you have to grow into it first. I have long known the verses by heart. We sang them regularly during the training, we chant them at every training or convention. It is wonderful when many people sing a mantra together. It is different to audition alone. I just haven't been able to do that yet. I didn't think it was authentic and I didn't just want to sing because everyone does it that way. That was not me. Since it still required an introductory ritual at the beginning of a yoga session in order to leave everyday life behind and to be able to switch the switch in my head to yoga, I have so far let my concentration focus on the breath.
But in India we sang these verses before every yoga class, usually twice a day. And the more we sang, the more I wanted to keep it up. They are verses that I can relate to. There is something uplifting about them, but without the glorification of the gods, which I find difficult. That's why I'm now singing the Invocation and I would be happy if my students tune in with the times. But that is up to you alone.
What are we singing exactly?
Patanjali was an Indian scholar who is believed to have lived around 2000 years ago and is considered to be the author of the Yoga Sutra. In this work, in 195 Sanskrit verses, all knowledge about yoga from the ancient Vedic scriptures is summarized into a guide, which is still the basis of our practice today. The song of praise describes Patanjali and his performance in a very factual way: He is considered the incarnation of the serpent Adishesha, which is why he is represented with a snake tail as the lower body and 1000 cobra heads fan out above his human head. He is said to have been born three times and each time left a great achievement for mankind: He gave us yoga to purify the mind and clarify consciousness. He gave us Ayurveda to use this healing art to remove the impurities in the body that make us sick. And he gave us the grammar so that we could express ourselves with clear, pure and unambiguous words.
These are the lines dedicated to Patanjali:
Yogena Cittasya Padena Vacam
Malam Sarirasya Ca Vaidyakena
Yopakarottam Pravaram Muninam
Patanjalim Pranjalir Anato’smi
Sankha Carkrasi Dharinam
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam
In my pragmatic understanding, the guru mantra, on the other hand, is an ode to lifelong learning. A guru is a (spiritual) teacher. "Gu" means "darkness / darkness", "ru" means "light". A guru is someone who brings light into the dark, enlightened or removes ignorance. The mantra says, our emergence is guru, life itself is guru, but also strokes of fate, illness and death - that is, the destruction from which something new can arise again - are guru. We ourselves are guru, everything around us is guru.
If we think we already know everything, we cannot develop any further. Arrogance and ignorance, our ego, keep us in the dark. But when we are ready to open ourselves to new knowledge, it grounds us and at the same time brightens our horizons. Yoga takes dedication, discipline and a certain amount of humility. And so the science and wisdom, the philosophy and the kinetics of yoga have been passed on from teacher to student for thousands of years. For me, the guru mantra is also an ode to all teachers who have brought yoga to us over time. This is the text:
Guru Brahmā Gurur Vishnur
Guru Devo Maheshvarah
Guru Sākshāt Param Brahma
Tasmai Śrī Gurave Namah
Mantras are also part of the cleansing and healing process in Ayurveda.
Yoga during menstruation is good, but women should practice differently during this time. I know that, I mentioned it again and again and even held workshops on it, but tended to ignore it in the ongoing classes. After staying with the Iyengars in Pune, who take the subject very seriously, I've now changed that. Also because I am getting deeper and deeper into Ayurveda.
In addition to Iyengar Yoga, I also teach Aerial Yoga. In the yoga postures in and with the towel, inversions play a major role - and they are unsuitable for periods. I did not want to measure with double standards and insist on something in the Iyengar yoga courses that I completely ignore in aerial yoga. That's why I hardly emphasized the special menstrual practice. But until now it has been a silent dilemma for me. Now I'm turning the tables: In Iyengar Yoga as well as Aerial Yoga, there are alternative postures during my period in my classes. Because there are also very nice and relaxing exercises for the cloth that you can take instead.
How should I practice yoga during menstruation?
There are asanas that have a positive effect on the flow of energy during your period and some that can irritate the flow of energy. During this sensitive time, women should practice more calmly and avoid inverted postures, intense twists and abdominal positions. Anything that squeezes the stomach and hardens the abdominal muscles is unsuitable. The abdominal organs need space, the lower back should be able to relax and the chest should be opened to recharge your batteries. In Iyengar Yoga there are entire menstrual sequences that women can practice parallel to the lesson. Or she practices in the normal way in class and I bring her into an alternative posture for unsuitable asanas.
In Ashtanga Yoga, the menstrual period is much more coolly referred to as "Lady's Holidays". That's what I call it now. During Lady’s Holidays we treat ourselves to some rest. That's nice.
What I liked most about the Yoga Institute in Pune was the time we were given for our own yoga practice. In the large yoga hall, often together with our teachers, but without guidance. So we practiced for ourselves for several hours a day. It was always a very inspiring and concentrated atmosphere that I would like to create for my own studio. Therefore, from Monday to Thursday, “free practice” is now part of the YogaKraftwerk weekly schedule. During this time I practice myself. For 5 € / visit, everyone can keep me company and use all the tools and equipment they need. The only requirement: If you want to take part in free practice, you should also come to our courses regularly. You will learn to use the aids there.
When the YogaKraftwerk opened, I imagined that sooner or later I might practice with other yoga teachers from the area. At that time I didn't have the idea of opening up independent practice to everyone. That was over 3 years ago. Some of my students have been coming to the courses regularly since they opened, some several times a week. Real yoga enthusiasts have developed: open, inquisitive, disciplined. You have started your own home practice and overcome the first hurdles (what should I practice alone? ...). The free practice in India inspired me and I believe that now is exactly the right time to start in the YogaKraftwerk. I already had company today at my asana practice - and it was great.
What are we doing there exactly?
I have found for myself that I practice better, more concentrated, more intense and more creative when I am not alone. When practicing independently, you can repeat asanas or entire excerpts from the class and thus internalize them better. You can work on your “deficits”: stiff hips, leg extension, neck tension, arm balances, ... So set a focus and practice postures that go with it. Or you can practice a finished sequence, depending on your needs. I have enough sample sequences in stock and also a lot of yoga literature with recommended and tested sequences, which I am happy to make available to you for this time. Ashtanga yogis can practice their first series. Some may exercise regeneratively, others sun salutations. That's the nice thing about it: everyone does something different, but everyone practices. Similar to the Mysore practice in Ashtanga Yoga. Everyone is focused on themselves, but you can also help each other into an attitude. We are all practitioners. What do you think?
5 weeks in India - our everyday life
We now know how to make Indian traders laugh: All we have to do is ask for postcards from Pune - one of the largest cities in India, after all. For 4 weeks we tried in vain to find some. The sellers' reaction was always the same: first they were amazed at the question, then skeptical because they thought we wanted to screw them off, and then they had a great time. Postcards from Pune! Who wants that? At least 2 shops had postcards from Mumbai, that's 150 km away. But we didn't want to send any landmarks to a city that we didn't even visit. In the meantime we have given up and prefer to buy things that are easier to find here: T-shirts, harem pants, skirts, scarves, jewelry. Everything very cheap. A dream. If you like to throw yourself into the fray.
In India, the average population density of 407 inhabitants / square kilometer is almost twice as high as in Germany. 3 million people live in Pune alone - and they are all outside. Life takes place on the street. It is teeming with women in beautiful colorful saris and wildly patterned kurtas over gaudy leggings that go shopping or sweep the street. And men who pull fruit and vegetable carts through the area or do their handicraft directly on the footpath. Every day we step over a cobbler on a street corner, who is crouching in a half lotus position on the floor mending his shoes. When it rains, he puts a tarpaulin over himself. He is calm itself.
There is a lot more going on in the shopping streets. Crowds push through the narrow streets, the many small street stalls and shops on the left and right are literally overflowing with fabrics, clothes and dishes. Beautiful or kitschy traditional clothes next to western junk. If we have a specific request and can't find what we are looking for, the sellers take us through the maze of streets a few corners further to the shop of their uncle, father, brother or send an errand boy who conjures up the goods from somewhere. It is a feast for the senses: the fascinating colors and patterns, the soft or rough fabrics, the barkers and the nearby traffic noise, exhaust fumes and incense sticks, garbage and fragrant marigold blossoms, hot and sweet delicacies.
I have enough space in my suitcase for shopping because I assumed that there was a washing machine in the private apartment we rented. That's why I was very reluctant to pack my bags before the trip. We actually have a washing machine in the apartment, but it's broken. The mechanic has been here 4 times but doesn't get it to work. So we wash the small things by hand and take the bigger ones to the hotel around the corner, where they can be cleaned and ironed for little money in 2 days. Okay too.
In the almost 5 weeks in India we have developed a daily rhythm that is based on the timetable of the Yoga Institute. Sometimes we get up to be there very early and attend Iyengar's son Prashant's class from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Our way to the institute leads through a pretty park that is already full of life in the morning. There is an area with exercise equipment that people enjoy using. Some people meditate on one of the benches. Others do gymnastics. There are joggers and walkers like ours. But the people who are out and about here are much more colorful: Here, every age and weight class can be found together to exercise together or at least among other people in the fresh air. Very few have the right sports or functional clothing on. And it doesn't seem that strained either.
Prashant is the philosopher among the Iyengars. His lessons are characterized by letting us students linger in one pose for 10 to 15 minutes while he ponders a certain topic. Then we change posture and he continues to utter wise words. It's a very interesting experience and I would have liked to have attended his classes more often if they weren't so early in the morning. To be honest, we usually don't arrive at the institute until around 10 a.m. to practice free.
After the asana practice we go for a coffee and evaluate the hour. We have now chosen one of the street cafés to be our favorite. The Indian coffee in this region is sweet and milk-based and is made up of 60% chicory. I don't want to drink it any other way.
Then we go to our apartment, because our lunch awaits us there. At the recommendation of our landlady, we hired her cleaning lady Latika as a cook. It was a good decision because it will probably make us eat much more regularly and healthily than if we had to cater for ourselves. The local cuisine is essentially Ayurvedic. From Monday to Friday, Latika cooks soup, rice, vegetables and flatbread. Soup and vegetables vary daily. It's super tasty and is usually enough in the evening. We pay Latika 2000 rupees for the entire month. That's not even 25 euros. Plus the grocery shopping, which is even less. At the weekend we go out to eat and are happy about the variety, because there are many other great Indian dishes.
The afternoon is rather quiet when we don't have to get hold of something. We note the practice hours, read, sleep - or blog ...
From 4 p.m., the yoga institute will continue to operate. In the first 2 to 3 weeks in particular, I usually watched a beginner's lesson around this time to get an impression of how beginners are taught here. During these hours the foreigners sit in the background, just like me, and watch. The participants are exclusively Indian. Most of the lessons are held in English. Every now and then a little Marathi swings in, mostly when it gets more emotional. At this point it becomes clear why the teachers at the institute are so strict. They have to strike a harsh tone to discipline their students. Almost half are chronically late. Sometimes up to 30 minutes for a one-hour beginner class. The Indians are just a little more relaxed.
Something else is also noticeable: Indian yoga students - including absolute beginners - are all inherently much more agile than we Europeans. In a beginner’s class, all participants in the forward bend bring at least their fingertips to the floor with their legs straight. In my opinion, you have fewer back problems and are much more agile in your hips. Maybe because they don't sit around in chairs as much as we do. A lot happens while squatting (including wiping the floor, going to the toilet - also works much better: put a stool in front of the toilet for your feet, you won't want to do without it soon). At home, people often sit on the floor. Even if they are sitting raised somewhere, they usually have their legs drawn up cross-legged. Stiff hips are an absolute exception here and even then they are far from what we mean by stiff.
In the evening there are courses for the advanced, which are usually very full and are attended by local and foreign students alike. The lessons are varied and challenging, we are often soaked in sweat. On Fridays there is an advanced pranayama class taught by Guruji's granddaughter Abhijata. After that, the head is wrapped in cotton wool.
When we walk back to our apartment it will be dark. Not once did I feel like I was in danger here - not even when I was traveling alone. However, that may also be due to the area. The more likely it is to slip and fall into the dirt or a shit heap. When it rains, the sidewalk is like black ice.The dust that covers the pavement slabs and the earth that wild pigs regularly rummage through next to the curb, stick together in a greasy layer. Even if we rarely experienced really heavy rain despite the monsoon season. During our weeks here, the rain felt more like it came from a spray bottle. Pune is considered a comparatively clean city. But that can only be understood by those who have been out and about outside of Pune. The warm, humid climate is good for skin, hair and nails, as we have experienced firsthand, but it also causes rust, mold and swollen wood everywhere, from which the paint is peeling. This means that everything always looks a bit finished.
5 weeks in India are enough for now. I am now looking forward to home again, to family and friends, to the cleanliness there, the peace and quiet, my yoga powerhouse, my students. To be able to pass on everything that I have learned and deepened here.
And I'll miss a lot: the coffee, the food, the motorized rickshaws, the serenity in the wild traffic, the friendliness of the Indians, the pulsating hustle and bustle on the streets - and of course the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, which made me come here Has. Certainly not for the last time.
5 weeks India - Guruji
This year is a special year at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune. BKS Iyengar would have turned 100 on December 14th. Preparations for the celebrations have been going on for months. A film will be edited for yoga teachers from all over the world to share their memories of Guruji. A play is already being staged every couple of weeks that depicts his life, produced by his son Prashant ... I won't be in Pune for a long time in December, but a few days ago I saw Iyengar's 4th anniversary of his death. And that really touched me:
The evening courses at RIMYI are canceled on this day. Instead, we all dressed up and gathered in the great yoga hall to commemorate BKS Iyengar. Five people are asked to sit on the podium to have a chat and tell about their time with Guruji - and thus each represent a decade with him.
The eldest of them, Navaz Kamdin, met Iyengar in the 1960s because her father had back problems and yoga was recommended to him. Iyengars Yoga. He took his daughters with him. Navaz ’eyes light up when she thinks back to when the classes were very small. The relationship with the Iyengar family was close and cordial. The institute with the great practice rooms did not exist back then. Just as little as the many aids that support the asana practice today as a matter of course. “We had a few blankets, nothing more,” reports Navaz. She raves about Iyengar's presence, his charisma and his great talent as a teacher. Everyone who has met him personally agrees passionately.
"For example, he taught a yoga class and at the same time alleviated the physical complaints of an older woman in the background," recalls Birjoo Mehta, who represents the 1970s. “Guruji guided us, demonstrated at the same time and brought us all into the respective posture with quick, precise movements. It was an intense and focused practice where we were only distracted by the loud moans of the woman in the background. He was a gifted teacher. ”He always cared about students with health problems. He taught his famous medical class himself when he was over 90. Because he knew exactly what yoga can do. He experienced it first hand:
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar was born in 1918 in Bellur, southern India, in the middle of a flu epidemic. He was a very sickly child among many siblings, suffering from malaria, typhus and tuberculosis, among other things. His family belonged to the Brahmins, the highest caste, that of scholars and priests. But the Iyengars were impoverished. The father died early.
At the age of 16, BKS Iyengar came into the care of his brother-in-law Krishnamacharya, who later went down in history as the "father of modern yoga". Krishnamacharya was teaching at the Maharaja's palace in Mysore at the time. He was a very clever but also strict teacher. Iyengar had to suffer a lot under his wing, but his health was soon much better thanks to the asana practice. There are videos from 1938 showing Iyengar and Krishnamacharya practicing. After the hard apprenticeship with his brother-in-law, Iyengar went to Pune as a yoga teacher on his advice.
Krishnamacharya may have planted the seeds, but Iyengar's immense knowledge of the direction and effects of the asanas comes primarily from his intensive self-study. His body was his laboratory. In decades of daily hours of practice, he experimented, felt inside himself, corrected, observed.
“He practiced himself every day,” says Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh, who is supposed to report from the 80s at the celebration on the anniversary of his death and who has often accompanied Iyengar to conventions around the world. “Even if it got late in the evening, he got up at 4:30 am, had his coffee and then practiced himself before teaching the others. He never saw himself as a guru or a teacher, but always as a practitioner. ”Iyengar's example was contagious to his students and assistants. "We got up so early at the conventions to practice because we didn't want to be inferior to him in any way," adds Birjoo, who was there himself often enough. “It always started with pranayama (the breathing techniques). Once I practiced Pranayama for a very long time, lying down in Savasana. About an hour and a half… “Birjoo grins shyly. Apparently he fell asleep doing it. “When I was finally finished and got up, Guruji called me over. He wanted to demonstrate something and I was supposed to come into Pincha Mayurasana (the forearm stand) ad hoc. I'm not one of the most flexible, but Guruji suddenly took my feet and turned them on my head. That was the first and the last time that I came to Vrschikasana (the Scorpio). He let us do things that we would never have thought possible ourselves. And he always knew exactly how to grab us so that we wouldn't injure ourselves. ”Again the whole hall nods or shakes its head, the Indians' affirmative gesture.
He built and strengthened self-confidence in many students. He imparted courage in yoga practice, which also allows you to go through life more upright. Raya Uma Datta, the youngest of the 5 representatives, remembers with a laugh how Guruji divided the class into 2 rows and stood facing each other in a free headstand so that the students were facing each other. “Then he strutted through the rows with a mischievous grin and suddenly swung left and right and knocked us all over backwards, so that we suddenly fell over and ended up in Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana. There was a mighty bang when we hit our feet, but no one was injured. He knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted to take away the fear of falling over in our headstand. "Everyone in the hall laughs, pokes each other in the ribs and whispers:" Typical Iyengar ... "," Do you remember, he did that to us too ... "Iyengar knew that we usually slow ourselves down because we don't trust ourselves enough.
He always found the right muscle or bone that had to be moved in order to get better and deeper into a posture. His assistance was never misunderstood. In contrast to some other yoga greats, he was never said to have touched a student immorally. There are no scandals in BKS Iyengar's life, although he certainly would have had the opportunity. Guruji is said to have said once that he was happy about his bushy eyebrows, which kept the women at a distance. He was married to 16-year-old Ramamani in his mid-twenties. It was an arranged but happy marriage that resulted in 6 children. Ramamani died in 1973 at the age of only 46. The yoga institute, which opened 2 years later, is named after her.
Sometimes the narrators and Iyengar's daughter Geeta, who is sitting next to the podium, have tears in their eyes at the memory. My throat tightens every now and then when I hear how much love they tell about Guruji. He has dedicated his life to yoga, researched and developed it and contributed greatly to its worldwide spread. Iyengar Yoga is practiced by approximately 2 million people in more than 70 countries today. Iyengar's son Prashant admonishes us that we too should study yoga seriously in order to truly practice Iyengar yoga. Otherwise we are just Iyengar Yoga Followers.
Nobody presumes to compare themselves to Guruji. We'd fail because of that, as Raya's story shows: The 39-year-old came to RIMYI as a child and is now a great teacher at the institute himself. “You know that I tend to be a little arrogant sometimes,” he says coquettishly. “And so one day I decided to practice just as intensely as Guruji. Staying in every position for as long as he was. ”That day, Iyengar first practiced Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana, with his head on the floor and his elbows in the wall. Raya practiced the same thing over the chair.
Also intensive, but supported. Iyengar stayed 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes ... without moving. Raya wanted to keep up. At some point he couldn't feel his arms anymore. Finally, Iyengar got out of position. Raya triumphed because he had held out a minute longer. But only briefly. Because while Raya could hardly move afterwards, the much older Iyengar looked refreshed and rosy, like life in bloom. Raya looked totally desperate - and Iyengar laughed and walked past him from the practice room. - At first Raya was disappointed to be laughed at too. But when he later met Iyengar in the library, he gave him his book "The Art of Yoga". With a dedication. Raya repeats this dedication several times and suggests that we write it down and read it over and over again as if it were also for us personally:
"Yoga is a difficult art to master, but not impossible. With love - BKS Iyengar "
"Write it down! 'With love'! Remember it! ”Insists Raya. And I did that too.
5 weeks in India - free practice
On Saturdays, the large exercise hall in the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune is only available for your own yoga practice from 4 p.m. After the long lunch break, it is still quite quiet in and around the building at this time. In addition to the normal street noise, only the rain and a wind chime can be heard, which often accompany us when we practice.
The first yoga teachers who have come together for this month from all over the world to practice with and with the Iyengars and to learn from them trickle into the hall. There is still a lot of space. They take off their long trousers or skirts. The short yoga pants underneath emerge. When the superfluous clothes and bags are stowed on the grids provided above us, grab a mat and a few tools, find a place in the middle of the hall or by the walls with the ropes and begin.
It's a silent practice. I really like that focused vibe that fills the room. It's a completely different practice than at home, where I usually keep an eye on the phone or where the parcel delivery man can suddenly stand in the door. This is all about practicing together on your own. Usually I'm in the middle of it all, today I'm sitting in the background in Upavistha Konasana on the floor, leaning against wooden benches that serve as aids and with a stool in front of me between my legs on which the tablet stands. Observe and describe.
The room is in a pleasant semi-darkness. Some begin their practice with silence for a few minutes, eyes closed, hands closed over their chests. A ritual to focus on practicing and leave everything else aside for this time. Others lay down directly in a regenerative posture, routinely supported by various blankets and bolsters. It looks totally relaxed, but I know that you are also using your time here to work on your deficits. So if you rest in Supta Baddha Konasana or Supta Virasana for many minutes, you would very likely want to improve your hip opening or the stretching of the front of the thighs and the groin. Still others start straight away with an intense, dynamic practice.
The room keeps getting full and everyone does something different. In front of me, a Polish woman is leaning her bum against the wall in a head-leaning forward lean. In addition, her new friend stretches arms and legs in the downward facing dog. A few meters away, a Chinese woman lies in an intense back bend over a chair. For at least 5 minutes. And next to her a very tattooed yogi presses himself into a high wheel. I think he likes to practice that. In any case, I often see him in strenuous back bends. An Indian woman practices twisting postures. My teacher and trainer Michael Forbes from Munich is also there. He lies straight with legs and bottom on the pedestal, while the forearms and the crown of the skull rest on the floor in the headstand position. An elderly woman is hanging upside down on one of the ropes that dangle freely from the ceiling. A Slovenian woman does a handstand on the wall. She practices coming up, not staying up. Sometimes with the right leg, sometimes with the left leg. Up, down, up, down, right, left, left, right, ...
People hardly speak - at most in a low voice, in order to help each other in a more difficult posture or to complain with aids when it is not possible on their own. You can only hear the movement of chairs or stools on the hard floor. Or the unrestrained moaning when someone presses themselves into an intense posture. Abhijata Iyengar, Guruji's granddaughter, who often practices for herself with us, is particularly loud. Sometimes the noises are more reminiscent of the delivery room or swingers club - just like the many twisted, bent, jumbled bodies. But only briefly…
4.45 p.m. It is now difficult for the stragglers to find a place with enough space for the attitudes they have set out to adopt. Partly there is mat to mat. It is quite possible that while practicing, someone else's foot suddenly slides in front of your nose from above or from the side. There are blankets, bolsters, mats and belts everywhere.
When I practice at home, I often have finished sequences (from “Light on Yoga”, my exam sequences, inspirations from other teachers, my sequence of exercises for the following week's lessons, ...) lying next to me. I practice differently here. Before each practice unit, I think of 2 to 3 postures that I want to improve and that go well together, and then work towards them with many preparatory postures. Spontaneous. The process is very organic. I don't even have to think about what to do next. It's a great experience.
It is exciting to watch the others doing their asana practice. Some always practice the same thing in order to work on their “problem areas”, their stiffness in certain areas. Or to cure one of your little squirrels yourself. Others practice very advanced for the next higher level. Many repeat interesting sequences from previous yoga classes in the time available for their own practice. Rightly so. I have already been able to take part in a few classes with these highly qualified teachers here at the institute, which have literally burned themselves into my memory because they were so special and intense. And fucking exhausting too.
As different as the practice of free practice is, the last half an hour is almost the same or at least very similar for almost everyone: Just like in class, towards the end of the practice there is usually a long headstand - with or without various leg variations - and then a long shoulder stand with or without variations in posture, with 2 to 3 blankets or a bolster under the shoulders, above the chair or freely in the room - practiced. And almost all of them rest in Savasana for a few minutes at the end.
Today I just watched, but I know how the others are doing now: After 2 hours of my own practice, I feel different than after attending a guided yoga class. Often with a greater inner calm that lasts for quite a while. That's nice.
5 weeks in India - the yoga practice
I have a lot of respect for Geeta Iyengar, but also a little scared. Fear of attracting negative attention in any form in her yoga classes, because her ranting tirades are as legendary as her competence. And I should see her live soon ...
From 1st to 31stOn August 1st I am registered at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, the yoga school of the Iyengar family. Unfortunately, I was no longer able to experience BKS Iyengar myself, but his children Geeta and Prashant continue to run the institute in its tradition. I go to a course every day, "observe" another yoga class of my choice and practice for 1 - 2 hours in the sacred halls for myself.
The institute building is directly opposite the Iyengars' house. On my first day, Geeta was sitting on the bench in front of the house. It's my first meeting with her. The strong, dominant woman seems very small and fragile to me. The eldest daughter of Guruji, as BKS Iyengar is affectionately known by his students, is now 73 years old and suffers from sugar. A couple of toes have already been amputated. When I see her sitting there, I'm not sure if she'll teach at all anymore.
Geeta Iyengar as a young woman in Virabhadrasana II
The two-hour Women's Class, which is usually held by Geeta, begins at 9:30 a.m. on August 1st. She has not only studied yoga but also Ayurveda and has dedicated her work to "Yoga for Women", which is also the title of her comprehensive book. She attaches great importance to the fact that we consider menstruation, pregnancy, regression or menopause in our practice and pay special attention to these periods and phases of life. And so the Women's Class was once introduced to train this mindfulness. So I was only expecting women. But now the class is attended by men and women alike who want to experience Geeta's classes. Women's issues are considered individually, but are no longer the focus.
The large yoga hall on the first floor is very impressive. There is a semicircular open space around the pedestal. Fans hang from the high vaulted ceiling. All the photos of Guruji from his work "Light on Yoga" are on the walls. The wall with the typical Iyengar ropes is tiled like a bathroom. Tiled columns with ropes frame the hall, behind which the ceiling hangs lower. The wooden aids are located here in front of the large windows: large and small backbenders for back bends, the so-called pune horse, benches, stools, ... When things get tight, the tools are simply put outside through the window so that more mats can be spread out can. Blankets, belts, blocks, bolsters are stacked on shelves, the chairs hang on the wall around the corner. To change, you actually go to the toilet room - it is more clever to wear the yoga things underneath, just undress in the hall and stow the things on the bars above our heads. The floor is smooth, hard and pleasantly cool. The thin mats stink a bit from being overused. We are not allowed to put blocks or chairs on them while practicing so that they do not break so quickly.
The women's class on that day is pretty full with around 100 people and is introduced by Abhijata, Guruji's granddaughter and Geeta's niece. A tall, resolute woman who, with a clear, loud voice and precise announcements, quickly brings order to the swarm of people. Like all of us in the class, she wears shorts and a T-shirt, what else is unthinkable in the warm and humid climate. Since there are lots of Pune newbies like me among the yoga teachers from all over the world every beginning of the month, Abhi gives us a brief introduction to the no-gos: do not feed street dogs, as a woman, especially at night, do not walk around alone, no passports and valuables with you Bring a studio, be careful when giving money to beggars (if they think it's too little, they might steal you), don't let strangers in, ...
In the meantime, a few pillows and blankets were prepared on the platform - and Geeta was led in and out to this place by 2-3 helpers. She can hardly walk. Abhi tells us to sit up straight and starts the opening mantra. Then Geeta takes over. She simply announces the first posture: "Adho Mukha Virasana!"
Suddenly Geeta doesn't seem small and fragile anymore. She sits upright and keeps an eye on us all. The focus of the lesson is on lifting the buttocks in seated, hip-opening forward bends, so that this is easier for us later in the lesson in arm-supported positions such as Tittibhasana. And Geeta is already ranting, because one of the many practitioners bends forward cross-legged as requested, but simply ignores the instruction to lift his butt. Geeta scolds like a pipe sparrow because she sees her energy wasted if we don't participate properly. Because we don't listen properly or speak English too badly to understand them. Geeta's English is excellent, but the accent takes some getting used to. To make matters worse, the street noise penetrates through the open windows and Geeta sometimes runs out of breath when speaking and scolding. So I ventured quite a long way forward with my mat to understand it better, but it's still difficult. I regret that in the next posture, because with Baddha Konasana I don't get my butt up - with all the good will - either.
I believe that someone with longer legs and a lighter bottom might find it easier than me, but our physique shouldn't be used as an excuse in Iyengar Yoga. So I just do my best. With momentum it works for a short time. Phew
Geeta is annoyed when we dawdle in her eyes to get into a position ("Quick !!") or when we want to jump on aids immediately when she announces the next asana. “You immediately think of your squeamish and support when we approach an attitude. At the moment, my main concern is that it happens quickly and purely. "Sometimes it sounds as if we are one single disappointment for you:" And you want to be the best Iyengar yoga teachers in the world ... "
Nevertheless, she is in a milder mood in the second part of the lesson. Also try to convey to us why she gets angry sometimes. She doesn't have much time left. She wants to teach us something. The stay in Pune should bring us further. And that only works if we get involved and break out of our usual patterns. We have to listen to her for that.
After the two-hour class, I'm totally sweaty, but happy. Teaching with Geeta is a real experience, I experienced a few asanas with a completely new awareness - and I got through safely.
5 weeks in India - my packing list
My second trip to India and with it the first visit to the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune is coming up. The Iyengar family institute is a place of pilgrimage for Iyengar yoga teachers from all over the world. I signed up for it two years ago and you usually stay for a whole month.
Pune is a metropolis in the west of India. August is the rainy season, which I find rather pleasant as an asthma sufferer. I'm flying with Moni, a yoga teacher friend, from Munich via Abu Dhabi to Pune. We rented a private apartment near the institute from a Scottish woman who lived there. There is WiFi and a washing machine. And we were able to hire a local cook who spoiled us with Indian food. I'm particularly looking forward to that.
Here come my travel preparations and the packing list. Maybe someone else will benefit from it. In any case, on my next trip I will be glad that I can look it up. Because as an Iyengar Yogi you usually don't fly to Pune just once ...
Dates before departure:
- Pulmonologist for asthma
- General practitioner for vaccinations (typhus, hepatitis, booster tetanus + diphtheria)
- hair stylist
Papers / documents:
- Plane ticket
- Purse, cash, credit card, blocker card
- Vaccination card
- Allergy pass
- Health insurance card
- Foreign health insurance
- Travel guide (was superfluous, Bobby Clennell's "Pune Guide" is completely sufficient for Iyengar Yogis)
- Address, contact, route description, accommodation
- Notebook, 3 pens
- Pill (take exceptionally, have bad experience with Indian public toilets)
- Grapefruit seed extract from 1 week in advance is said to help prevent gastrointestinal histories
- Gastrointestinal agents
- Malaria tablets, just in case
- Means for curing mosquito bites
- Fat cream for skin allergies
- Asthma prevention and emergency spray
- band Aid
- Disinfectant (not used)
- Cleaning wipes for removing make-up, face pads, face water, face wash cream
- Travel nasal rinsing jug + salt (hardly used, awkward because of the water)
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, tongue scraper
- Ear swabs
- Lady shaver
- Hand cream, foot cream, small body lotion (superfluous due to high humidity)
- Deodorant, perfume in sample bottles (perfume superfluous)
- Hair wash, hairspray, hair gel, comb
- Lip care
- Nail scissors, 2 nail files, nail polisher, cuticle remover (cream)
- Mosquito repellent
- Sunscreen (was superfluous in August due to the rainy season)
- Travel detergent (not used)
- Eyelash curler
- Eyebrow pencil
- 5 short yoga pants (although you normally don't show a knee in India, the Iyengars want to see whether the kneecaps are pulled up, so short pants are common at the institute - as everywhere in the world - for Iyengar yoga)
- 2 yoga leggings
- 13 T-shirts for yoga and everyday life (shoulders should be covered)
- 3 long shirts
- 7 pants, long (because of mosquitoes and decency) + light (because of weather)
- 5 tank tops, long (not used)
- 5 tank tops, short (only for going out, not for practicing)
- 4 thin cardigans to cover the tank top shoulders
- 3 light sweaters
- 1 large, light cloth
- 1 short pajamas
- 1 sleeping mask (if I hear a mosquito at night - to prevent it from biting my eyelid + disfigured ...)
- 1 bikini (not required)
- 10 underpants, 5 yoga bras
- 5 pairs of socks (2 pairs are enough)
- Wellington boots, crocs, sandals (sandals not used because of dirt, only rubber shoes worn)
- 3 hairbands
- 1 chain, 3 bracelets, 2 rings, 1 anklet, 1 pair of earrings (always wear 2 anklets or none)
- 2 glasses, 1 sunglasses, glasses cleaning cloths (sunglasses unnecessary)
- Bum bag (not used)
- Leave space in the suitcase for shopping (especially short yoga pants, T-shirts, towels, books from RIMYI, ...)
- Cell phone, charging cable, short cable adapter, headphones
- Tablet, keyboard, charging cable, case
- Tracking watch, charging cable
- 2 socket adapters (did not fit in the apartment and were also superfluous)
Did I forget something?
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