Once again the women’s class was taken by Raya. The numbers in the great practice hall are beginning to dwindle as a steady trickle of students depart for home. Today the class was pranayama preparation and again Raya’s main theme was to teach us to refine the postures so that we are not grossly overdoing. He commented on the use of a single upright brick in the dorsal as we might use for paryankasana or matsyasana – a favourite he sees regularly in the practice sessions. He made a caricature of a totally overdone pose, exaggerated back arch, ribs pushing the skin, temples bursting and said these poses we like to do are “beautifully ugly” – while if there is tremendous stiffness in the dorsal this direct approach with the brick may be appropriate, mostly the people here do not fall into this category and this pose will be ‘drying’ and no coolness will come – ever – when done this way.
Raya talked at length here about the cooling effect of baddha konasana – especially now the heat of the summer has come, baddha konasana brings a quality of water of coolness that can be experienced in many different poses – chair sarvangasana, viparita karani, viparita dandasana – use the baddha konasana position of the feet to bring the quality of cooling to a pose. We looked at different modes of doing Supta Baddha Konasana feet flat, feet raised, arms over the head, spine support etc. and compared the ‘texture’ of the abdomen in each – he encouraged not to get fixated on only one way of doing but to observe the different qualities of each.
We worked for a long time in baddangullyasana with lots of different leg positions and had to learn to’gather the sacrum up’ without over pushing lumbar and ribs. Again he showed how we tend to go at it aggressively with the spine cutting into the body and hardness showing on all the spinal muscles – same in viparita dandasana – here he leapt up energetically with the crown of his head on the bare floor, to show us what we do when going up into sirsasana with straight legs – it was a familiar looking pose. Slightly disconcertingly he spent much of the class with his shirt off to illustrate the point, so that we could really see the contrast in the skin and muscle when he overdid. He pointed out many pictures of Guruji all around the room and showed that in none of them – not even maha mudra – was there this aggressive quality, his skin is visibly soft and supple.
He used the rope to illustrate a more subtle way to work with the dorsal – There is an anterior (facing inward to the organ body) and posterior surface of the spine (facing outward to the skin), right? We are not just trying to grossly over push the dorsal
forward (except in the case where there is a real hardness outward there, then yes the gross adjustment) but we are learning to refine the movement in such a way the anterior surface of the dorsal we have to draw upward. This was helpful and very similar feeling or a continuation of the internal adjustment I have learned to make in medical class to prevent the pancreas from dropping downward. After inversions; baddha konasana in sirsasana and the singularly most uncomfortable chair sarvangasana I have ever experienced, we ended with cycles of ujaayii 1 and 2, seated and supine.Despite the difficulties and discomforts I felt beautifully centred and healthy as I walked home.
After lunch we headed over towards Laxmi Road to have a look at Phule Mandai – Pune’s biggest vegetable market. There is a central tower, with eight covered areas, radiating outward, each section for a different type of produce. The building has stood since 1882 and much of it is completely unchanged since then.
As you wander along the veg stalls each seller has a different song or chant advertising their wares which blend and tangle together on the air – quite a banquet of sights, sounds and smells.So many different products on offer, including (see pic below) lizard repellent spray.
We went home via FC Road to eat at Shabree – our new firm favourite, for completely delicious array of thali dishes and cardamom ice cream.