Woke up feeling buoyant and launched a revenge attack on Mr. Next Door who treats me to full technicolour renditions of his hawking up repertoire every morning and night without fail, so today I treated him to full volume”Let it Go” as I took my pre- practice shower. Unfortunately our bathroom windows back on to to each other and there is no soundproofing whatsoever – was thinking maybe a Simon and Garfunkel medley tomorrow 🙂
The doorbell went and when I answered Sushila (our cook for the month) came bounding in looking extremely swish with a sparkle in her eye and a big grin. I commented on her rather beautiful sari and she told me she was able to buy it with the baksheesh (tip) I had given her yesterday. This made me very happy as I had been looking and looking and struggling to find the right sari for her as a gift when we leave, so now she has saved me the trouble!
My practice session today was hard – 3 steps forward, 2 steps back kind of carry on – but I have to remind myself that does mean that overall I am still going forward. In my sirsasana journey I haven’t reached my destination yet, but at least I have left the house!
The quote that kept coming back to me again and again during my practice (that both Abhi and Raya have mentioned a lot) was Guruji saying that he used his brain strongly to get into an asana, but once there the brain has to withdraw. It is my tendency to go at it ‘all guns blazing’ and it’ll take me a lifetime of practice to master the art of retaining the desired action and withdrawing the brain, but again, at least I’ve now left the house, even if I am still only dragging my suitcase down the garden path!!
Raya’s class this evening was restorative and pranayama (full sequence below). We began with AMS, uttanasana and prasarita paddottonasana. He quoted Guruji who said
“We have to expand our extension and extend our expansion”
He illustrated this point further with a visualisation: Niagara Falls are very wide, not so high but far distance from one side to the other; Angel Falls are narrow and very high, very tall – as we descend into uttanasana / prasarita paddottonasana we have to flow like both of those falls simultaneously. He demonstrated very clearly how in uttanasana holding the heels (gulphasana) we get a superior downward extension, by first widening – starting from the feet pressing into the outer edges, knees and thighs hitting from inner to outer, then the torso widening the ribs and collar bones, how this creates the space for the body to flow completely downwards without any humping of the back.
After sirsasana and chair sarvangasana we finished with some pranayama, first seated on the chair backward with the arms extending downward behind working on an active inhalation and then lying in bent leg savasana with the shins weighted on the chair and the body lying on the stone floor (much better experience to lie so that the body gets the contact with the natural stone floor rather than a sticky mat), working on extended exhalation. He asked us to imagine we were standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking a valley far, far below and you have folded a paper aeroplane which you launch over the edge. First you have to launch, but then it gets carried without any further exertion. So it goes further and further away as you exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhaaale. As you exhale going deeper and deeper down into that stone floor. The inhalation requires nothing from you, it is simply a reaction to the exhalation, almost like a breeze.
Our last proper Pune practice tomorrow – we are travelling to Panchgani after the Women’s class on Saturday and returning Monday just in time to get one last class with Abhi before departing for an overnight trip to Mumbai, plane leaving for Heathrow at 7am. Sigh.