29th February – Abhi

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It’s 5am and we’re sat in Mumbai airport waiting for our 7am flight to Heathrow. It’s been a loong day. Managed to get some sleep last night and enjoyed our last ‘holiday’ morning – practice, swim and breakfast by the pool. We had booked an air conditioned sleeper bus back to Pune with Swami Travel and I was feeling increasingly nervous about this plan. The timetable said it would get us to Pune for 3.30pm in plenty of time for Abhi’s class, but somehow I doubted that the bus would live up to it’s timetabled claim of being quicker than the car we had got on the way out.

Still it turned up only 15 minutes late – not a bad start, especially since in India if you are late for the bus and you are booked on, it waits for you to turn up. The sleeper bus DSCF3420is fun! You have a curtained bunk instead of a seat and I’d booked the top bunk at the front to maximise the view, which was both a blessing and a curse, as you could see in full detail just how close you were getting to the edge of the precipice as the driver made his way cautiously (Yes cautiously!!) down the long, curved mountain descent. We made innumerable stops, which seemed to involve someone flagging the bus down followed by a long argument in Hindi as the would-be passenger tried to secure a place on the bus and then the door would slam shut and the bus would drive off without allowing them to board. By the fifth or sixth time I couldn’t help but wonder WHY STOP? As we approached our supposed arrival time, we swung into a rest area for a 30 minute stop. Feeling increasingly frustrated, I flagged down a likely looking English speaker and managed to ascertain we were about 45 minutes from Pune and that we would be dropped at Chandi Chowk about 8km from Model Colony. We were dumped unceremoniously in the central reservation of a busy multi lane carriageway, where luckily a few rickshaws were waiting – not exactly in a strong position to bargain, we took their first offer and heaved a sigh of relief as the scenery became more familiar. I managed to pick up my bolsters from Dimpex and make it back just in time for Abhi’s class, hot and harrassed and not exactly in the right state for a pranayama class.

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Well, being Abhi, who likes to keep you guessing, although she started with supta virasana she deviated completely and we ended up doing a class of parivrrta’s ; parivrtta trikonasana, parivrrta ardha chandrasana, parivrrta utthita hasta padasana, supta padangusthasana 3, parvrrta eka pada sarvangasana – working on lengthening the top outer thighs to bring about an improvement in Garudasana (full sequence link at bottom of page). As usual it was lively and varied and there were plenty of laughs. We sat in virasana with our knees and shins down and the toes pinned up on a pranayama pillow, bringing about a strong opening of the front ankle and lengthening of the metatarsel. Particularly her local students really struggled with this and were wriggling about and groaning so she relayed her experience when Guruji gave her this, only instead of a pranayama pillow he gave her a wooden rod for the toes. He asked “What is happening?” and she replied “It is painful!!” his response was “Why are you telling me about pain? when did I ask you about pain? I asked you what was happening!”.

At the end of the class I waited to speak to Abhi and thanked her for her teaching over the month. She smiled brightly and we said until next time…..

I somehow managed to stuff 3 great big bolsters, a new pressure cooker and all the little gifts I had bought for my family into my very big and heavy suitcases and am extremely relieved to be on the other side of check-in, having somehow got away with it again. Air India aren’t perfect, but they do offer a very generous check in allowance (twice as much as British Airways) and they’re also a bit more flexible if you’re a little over here and there. For those of you planning to visit Pune for the first time I’ll finish with a few words of advice.

By far the worst mosquitoes I’ve come across on this trip are at Mumbai Airport – I’d been bitten before I even made it through immigration. With Dengue Fever a very real risk, remember to put on some repellent before you leave the aircraft. It’s actually DSCF3407quite a challenge to stay well for a month in Pune, with stomach upsets and chest infections being the main culprits. I’m sure everyone knows about washing hands and not drinking tap water etc. bit sometimes despite precautions stomach upsets occur. It’s well worth bringing some grapefruit seed extract with you (the tablets are more expensive, but you avoid having to taste the vile stuff). It’s very effective and much better than taking pointless pills from the Doctor. If you’re going to maintain your lung health it’s a good idea to bring a pollution mask for rickshaw rides and above all a thorough practice (don’t just rely on classes which won’t always give you what you need) – I felt my daily sarvangasana was what kept my lungs happy.

If you’ve enjoyed reading the blogs and are interested in coming to some classes, I am teaching a yoga holiday later in the year, details at tamarayoga.wixsite.com/maldivesholiday. Until next time …..

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February 29th – Abhi

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