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A Letter from Pune by Laurie Longden

December 10, 2019

Warmest greetings from Pune! Our group of seven has now completed one month of classes at RIMYI (Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute).  Even Alex who had no prior yoga experience ventured into two upstairs Beginner classes per week We're proud of you Alex! It was the first time in India for the "Double D's" (Diane Goossens and Dianne Noort) and they thoroughly enjoyed their classes and the vibrancy of India.  Although we were mostly steeped in yoga practice, we did manage a number of other outings. Gail, Alex, Diane, and Dianne went for a trip to the Ellora and Ajanta caves while Terry, George and I took a trip with Nana (our trusted rickshaw driver) to Alandi, a pilgrimage site of the 13th century saint, Dyneshwar and where Geetaji's ashes are interred in the Indus River.

Terry, Gail, and I attended Prashant's three early morning classes and his Friday night Pranayama as well as the General Class with Abi and the Women's class with Sunita. Terry and I also observed and took notes on a variety of other classes as well as going to Prashant's Sunday morning Sutra Study. Whew! Along with practices, this kept us steeped in YOG seven days a week.

There were five other Canadians here besides our group of seven.  We all gathered for dinner one evening at a new restaurant called the Tien.  Students are here from all over the world. We met quite a number of Brits, a group from Mexico, and many others from Iran, Japan, US, Venezuala, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Hungary.

Frema (who was here from Edmonton) and I had the good fortune to join a small class of eight at Devki's apartment.  She taught breath work and did a lovely meditation at the end.  She is off to teach in Russia and Tokyo so unfortunately we were not able to observe or take any more classes with her.  It would be wonderful to bring her to Canada sometime. She is a great teacher!

Abijata and Raya gave informal sessions on two afternoons each week, asking us what type of things we would like to learn while here. We did a very active Geeta practice on backbends via video and had Q and A sessions regarding practice. Raya took us through the asanas in Light on Yoga over several of these sessions, discussing reasons why Guruji may have sequenced the asanas as he did in the book. He also said we should try all of the asanas in Light on Yoga to the best of our capacity, and to bring more joy and lightness into our practice. Much has been said about exploring the interplay of body, mind, and breath in our internal investigations as we practice. There has been a very connected feeling between the students and teachers, somehow more amicable than I've observed in the past.

Terry arranged a trip to the Jagruti society while we were here. They are a charity that assists women and children from impoverished families to get training in basic skills that will allow them to be more independent and 'off the streets'. George has made a slideshow of pictures taken there and we're hoping to organize a fundraiser of some kind at KYH for this purpose. The directors of this society are volunteers and every penny they make is used towards the support, housing, and education of the women and children in their care.

I would say the main theme of our classes this time has been inner observation. As we move through various asanas, both dynamic and restorative, we're asked to find ease in the dynamic and dynamism in the easeful (effortless effort). There is also great emphasis on alignment and firmness of the hip sockets in all asanas, perhaps a reminder to pay particular attention to this area which is so prone to problems, especially as we age.

It has been a most rigorous and enlightening month; a smorgasbord of YOG. To digest and reflect on what we have learned will be an interesting process going forward.

Wishing  you all a joyful winter season and warmest blessings from India!

With Love,

Laurie

 

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