Cynthia Bates: Post from Pune

Cynthia Bates writes from her month of study at the Iyengar Institute in Pune, India.
As with life I suppose, my days seem to cycle through feeling full of energy to feeling sapped. This morning was a bit of a groggy one but I cautiously made my way to Prashant’s class at 7am. BKS Iyengar’s only son teaches a style of yoga which is distinct, like nothing I have experienced before. Again, he started the class with a third of the people in setu bandha (bridge pose) over a block, a third in viparita dandasana (backbend) over a chair and the remaining in rope sirsasana (hanging from the ropes). He himself made reference to an orchestra and it indeed felt like one. Only in this orchestra, the players change instruments in the middle of the piece. Like a yoga-relay-fugue.
From there (hour number 1) we went to backbends from the floor: viparita dandasana, ustrasana (camel), dhanurasana (bow) and several people at a time did Ropes II, (backbend in the ropes). Finally Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward dog), Uttanasana (standing forward bend) and Janu Sirsasana (seated forward ben) to take the kinks out of the back. A brief Savasana, a short ending lecture and “clear the hall!”
After this many years of practice, I wish that I could whip into backbends first thing in the morning, but believe me that this was a painful way to start my day. However, I kept going and with Prashant’s continuous mantra to NOT use the body, but to use the breath, use the mind I actually felt pretty good at the end (although not quite sure I want to repeat that experience….) I was so focused on what I was doing that I didn’t actually catch much of what he said, but perhaps that is the point, to be IN THE POSE. I am going to try and go to all of his classes this week so I can get a broader picture. Stay tuned.
Over this weekend, we took an outing to the shopping district to look for fancy clothes since there is both an engagement party for Guruji’s granddaughter Abi this week and Guru Purinam holiday where we honor Iyengar later this month. There were “Monsoon Sales” everywhere and I found a great new outfit for about $10 digging through bins. It’s all black, though, which isn’t appropriate for either occasion but it takes me back to my Goth days in high school (in a good way). Throw a purple scarf on and voila! By the way, I have finally discovered why Indian women wear those scarves, I think it’s to hide their breasts? It never occurred to me but Victoria you’ll be happy to know that I am wearing a bra….most of the time.
I also took a trip to the mall yesterday looking for a special battery for my Steripen (great invention which sterilizes water completely with UV light). While the water in our apartment already runs through a filter I have gotten attached to doing a second sterilization with the pen. Given that it is rainy season and I have been sick, doesn’t seem that neurotic (does it?). The mall was like being in America with young women shopping for clothes with their moms, friends or boyfriend in tow. The supermarket filled with cereal and packages foods that the wealthy buy. It occurred to me that the poor might actually eat a healthier diet now? I couldn’t help but investigate as I am fascinated with how pop culture gets translated in different countries. What’s next? A movie perhaps? There is a cineplex right down the street playing American movies….
Dreaming of buckets and buckets of fresh salad greens with avocado.
Hope you are all well! love, cynthia