Index of Posts

8 Feb

1980-01-08 07.00.13


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2017 /2018 Yoga Holidays in Maldives with Tamara

14 Feb


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8 Feb

For the full 2014 Pune blog see

Day 31 – Medical Class

31 Jan
Chilling at The Mariot.

Chilling at The Mariot.

Well a mini blog to say goodbye! Am exhausted and up in the morning to catch the first of many flights home. My mammoth trip is Pune to Goa, then Goa to Bangalore, Bangalore to Paris, Paris to Bristol.
Do yourself a favour, if you are coming to Pune from UK just get yourself a short direct flight from Heathrow to Mumbai! From Mumbai you can get a taxi (takes 4 hours and costs about £10) or you can fly (about £50). Jenny has started a Facebook group, full of info. and a good way of hooking up with people to share taxis and apartments or air any concerns with people who are experienced Pune regulars. The group is named Visiting Iyengar Institute (RIMYI) Pune? and anyone can join. Or you click here:

Medical today was divine and feeling much better. I do have the option of getting up for early Rajalaxmi class tomorrow which is 7-8.30 am, but suspect by the time I get to bed it’ll be too late for such an early start.
After practice went to the Mariott with Nicky for swim in their ice cold pool (do they refrigerate the water??). It was interesting to swap experiences with Nicky who had a much more Prashant orientated month and loved it. She really got a huge amount from it and was going off to book for 2015. Evening spent organising and packing, can allow myself to think about seeing the kids now.

Cow on waste ground, with our apartment behind.

Cow on waste ground, with our apartment behind.


Day 30 – Geetaji Pranayama

30 Jan
One of many local Ganesh Shrines.

One of many local Ganesh Shrines.

Woke up pre-dawn from a deep and sound sleep and lay listening to the quietness gradually transform into a cacophony of sound. The birds voiciferously announcing the rising of the sun, slamming doors, revving engines, unselfconscious footsteps on the staircase – an Indian city doesn’t tiptoe around the wishful sleeper.

Hopped out of bed with a spring in my step, more singing in the shower. My mood is noticeably chirpy on the mornings where I have a Guruji class to go to – Is there any better reason to get out of bed?

Arrived at The Institute enjoying the much more chilled atmosphere in comparison to the frenetic early days. Many have gone home and those that remain know there’s no point getting too territorial about mats and space cos nine times out of ten someone from the Institute will come and completely rearrange things.

Sure enough we were told to remove all our carefully placed sticky mats and instead we had military lines of thick mats, three per mat.

Reya led the Invocation and when eyes were opened there was Geetaji! She keeps telling us she is retired and it’s the last time we’ll entice her out and then she’s back.
She was noticeably more at peace than the previous classes and was able to give her beautiful teaching unhindered by irritation… ok, well almost: (Uttanasana; AMS; Virasana Seated – eyes closed, coiling the back ribs in, lift the lower breast UP; Sirsasana (menstruation chair back arch) – Be on the crown of the head. Connect the legs into the hips, if you do in dull state, stay for 15 mins, what’s the point? When buttocks go back mind becomes dull, buttocks forward mind is sharp, becomes a mental challenge; AMS; Prasarita Paddottonasana – For menstruation don’t roll the buttocks up; Chatushpadasana; Sarvangasana (Menstruation setu bandha on viparita karani box, bolster for head, feet level) Other schools of yoga (incorrectly) teach with the legs forward, buttocks back – this is the only way they can soften the throat. Use this viparita karani shape to bring the soft well to the throat and then maintain as you assume the correct pose; Paschimottonasna – Not to take the head down in isolation from the spine. Whole spine has to move DORSAL /BACK RIBS IN/ DOWN to the floor to take head down. Hold feet strongly, open armpits; Supine Pranayama – Allowing (rather than pulling) the breath to fill the vessel slowly. Extended, smooth exhalation – let the inhalation follow but don’t force. Exhale smoothly and with that exhalation wash everything away; Seated Pranayama – If you must have a sense of ‘I’ somewhere, make it in the chest (not the brain). Anta Khumbhaka retain inhalation Listen to the voices inside – they will tell you what has to lift, what has to move.

“Lift your diaphragm UP and make a kind of plinth for the Lord (Krishna) to be seated. You cannot make a small seat for the Lord”

Guruji's Lift

Guruji’s Lift

As the class finished , I realised that for many this was their last class of the month (I’ve got one more medical tomorrow). I’m so sorry to be leaving but so glad to have been. Any of you Iyengar teachers and students that have always been meaning to come to Pune, I strongly urge you to get organised if you want to be here while Guruji is still teaching. He is 95 next year – you do not have time to lose!
We did a trial pack to see how much the suitcases weighed – there is a guy called Vasant who sells Iyengar kit and also offers a posting and packaging service. It’s quite pricey to send stuff home – about £80 for 20 kilos (that’s six bolsters and some belts) but of course so much cheaper for the actual purchase. Currently in the Institute shop a bolster costs 330 rupees (less than £5).

Last day tomorrow 😦

Offerings for Ganesh, Jenny bought a wreath for Ganesh in our apartment.

Offerings for Ganesh, Jenny bought a wreath for Ganesh in our apartment.

Today’s sequence in full here:day-30-geetaji-pranayama


Day 29 – Medical Class

29 Jan

2013-01-29 11.19.08Got up and headed over to observe the Senior Citizens. As I arrived Guruji was sat on the bench just beside the door to the Institute. I went over and greeted him, feeling much more relaxed around him than when we first arrived. There were 35 in the class today – a testament to the excellent teaching they receive from Sushma.
Both the practice session and the observations have become SO much quieter, a lot have gone home already – missing Pranayama week, the crazy fools!
Had to completely amend my medical programme today to accommodate menstruation / the dreaded Delhi belly. Stephanie also gave me some grapefruit seed extract which is excellent for intestinal parasite / infections. This can’t be bought locally so it’s a good idea to bring it with you. My programme consisted of lots of supine work, with plenty of support so as to climb up on to it and make lots of space between the lower ribs and a real separation between abdomen and chest. (Supta baddha Konasana, Supta Virasana, then repeat both t-shaped 4 bolster support, like setu bandha chest, finished with x bolsters) It took a while, but eventually I could feel the tension releasing and the breath becoming spontaneous, deep and healing. Guess I’m tensing up with the travelling fast approaching on Friday.1980-01-09 04.13.39
In the evening I headed over to Dorabjees, Jenny decided to skip it because she’s recovering from a cold and the fumes are always terrible. I was slightly nervous because it gets dark early (it’s also Winter here, even though daytime temperature is 30 degrees). Got quite an aggressive and not very careful rickshaw driver. Usually even though I spend quite a bit of the drive with my eyes squeezed tightly shut I kind of know it’s fine and they know what they’re doing. Not so with this one – he kept making bad judgement calls and screeching to a halt until eventually he actually did smack into the side of another rickshaw, unleashing a torrent of abuse in Maharati and driving off. Felt the tension I’d shed creeping back in and was very glad to get out of there in one piece.
Rounded off the day reading a bedtime story to Josie (and inadvertently Jenny!) over Skype. Only four days till we are reunited. Final Guruji class in the morning.
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Today’s Senior Class sequence: senior-4th-observation_b

Day 28 – Raya

28 Jan

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I must have had a sixth sense when I put blog up so early yesterday. The internet was down for the whole beach area throughout the evening. Spent the time doing forward bends moving on to the more obscure padmasana ones which come so much more easily in this hot weather.
Slept well and woke up just before 8am for last swim in warm sea I am likely to experience for some time (particularly as our Summer holiday this year is west coast of Ireland, brrrrrrrh!). Just time for a little yoga and breakfast before heading off in taxi for flight. I had allowed 2 hours for the 1.5 hour journey, which was just as well because we needed fuel and the filling station was in chaos. Every pump had its own impatient queue and nothing was going to happen anytime soon as a fuel delivery meant that the station was temporarily closed down. I felt surprisingly relaxed as the minutes ticked by and the car got hotter and hotter, which turned out to be justified when after finally filling up and leaving, I got a text from Air India to say my flight was delayed (could have squeezed in another swim!).
En route to the airport we passed an accident where a motorcyclist and all his parcels had come off his bike in the middle of the busy carriageway. A few other bikers had stopped to help and my driver pulled up close and stuck his head right out of the window. ‘Ah good’ I thought, he’s going to offer his assistance. Instead, having got a really thorough ogle he made a little click of disgust and sped off to the airport. I asked if there would be an ambulance available and he indicated there would – but I wonder how it works here? Do you have to prove you have funds before they will assist you?
Upon getting to the airport I was hurried to check in by an attendant, when I mentioned the text informing me of the delay he said it was not delayed at all. Oh. This gives me a little thrill of worry about my travel arrangements for getting back to UK on Friday. I have a total of 4 separate flights that need to coordinate and flow seamlessly …….
The flight seemed almost obscenely quick in comparison to the 13 hour bus journey – take off, peanuts and orange juice, land – 45 minutes!!
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Raya’s class was worth coming back for, though we didn’t get to any actual pranayama – mainly we worked on what happens in the abdomen in the various leg positions, whether seated, supine or inverted. He gave a rather impressive demonstration of a good padmasana in sirsasana – not the weak crossing that we all settle for but a really compact cross is needed to draw the length into the abdomen and keep the lumbar long. At the moment I would be lucky to aspire to his weak version, never mind the strong one. He also strongly warned against tying the legs together in supta virasana and implored us not to continue passing this method onto our students. He showed clearly on Uday how it causes the thighs and groins to become aggressive and hard and the abdomen to narrow and tense. Instead the feet should be made wider and then rather than slamming the legs together the outer knee has to lengthen and turn in from there.
He finished with a lecture: when westerners come to Pune, don’t come looking for your understanding to be validated – come with an open mind not to pick and choose what you’re hearing to suit what you think you know. The wind blows in many directions not just one and so the teaching emphasis will vary many ways. And then very important, that once you have ‘mimicked’ you move on – by far the most important teaching comes from your own internal genuine experience.
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Raya’s full sequence here: day-28-reya

Day 27 – Last weekend in the Sun!

27 Jan

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My last weekend in India – this time next week I will be safely back in rainy UK. Both dreading it and looking forward to it in equal measure – can’t wait to see the kids 🙂

After dinner last night wandered up the beach and happened upon a German couple booking a boat trip for this morning, so I invited myself along – you pay per boat (2000 rupees) so the more people aboard the less it costs. Slept terribly – partly because I knew I had to get up and partly because it’s so damn noisy. Packs of dogs barking, the driver’s of the overnight trains absolutely uninhibited in their copious and gleeful horn use, birds, locals – you name it, it was having a ball on or near my room.
1980-01-09 01.42.17Got up as the sun was rising and went for a little stroll along the shore. At night the beach belongs to the dogs and they were running along beside me, snapping at my dress and the ends of my shawl. I however was in no mood to play after they had kept me up half the night. Nowhere was open yet for breakfast, the beachside restaurants littered with sleeping bodies – no luxury hotel rooms for the locals.

Instead I returned back to my room for some pranayama and really enjoyed the freedom in my breath after a month of good practice. The pranayama is coming easily and sweetly, enabling a finer, subtler experience. As Guruji says “the breath should be welcomed in like a revered guest” the heart has to be open.

At eight I headed off (with Lorna who had decided to join us) to the meeting point – a fine sized boat in front of the Namaste cafe. The two man crew arrived shortly after and it soon became apparent that launching the boat was going to be no simple matter. It started off with me, a couple of kids and the two crew.The rocking and pushing was coordinated by a simple, rhythmical chant. Half an hour and about ten more people later, we finally managed to haul the boat the twenty or so feet into the water. 2013-01-27 09.02.05

We sped off out to sea, past Palolem beach and over to Butterfly beach where we went ashore and had a look around. It is a small, isolated cove named for the large butterflies which were flitting around. Not quite as idyllic as no doubt it once was, due to the rubbish left behind by previous visitors.

Then we spent an hour or so cruising around hoping to spot dolphins, though by this time it was late for prime viewing. First we sighted a few glimpses of baby dolphins then some bigger. They were darker in colour than the most well known bottle nose dolphins and they seemed quite shy. By this time there were a few other boats cruising around and every time  there was a sighting all the nearby boats would hone in on that spot – we didn’t feel so happy to be part of that circus so we headed off back to Patnem for a deliciously cooling swim. 

Spent the final day making the most of being here, relaxing and enjoying the beach. Looking forward now to getting back to Pune for the last week of teaching – presumably pranayama. Flight at 13.45 tomorrow so back in time for evening class.   – A fleeting glimpse of dolphin   – Launching the boat  – Children chanting at slum school in Pune
My room at 'Home'<
The Rooms at 'Home' Patnem Beach

Day 26 – Holiday!!!

26 Jan

1980-01-09 05.19.53 There’s no place like Home!

Slept deeply and soundly so woke up refreshed and the previous day’s travel a distant memory. Started the day with a dynamic yoga practice – trying to assimilate the various pointers we have received from Guruji over the last three weeks. I am relishing having the space and the energy to practice this way – work / family life often leaves me only fit for restorative work, although I was interested last week to observe a late evening’s beginners class that approached this problem of tiredness with sharp, focussed,energetic sun salutation / baby backbend sequence.

As I practiced some pranayama it occurred to me the process is a little like my experience yesterday, diving in the sea on my arrival – the stress, the toxins are broken up and dissolve into the vast space of the inhalation breath. In this way we can cleanse the mind, body, breath.
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Headed off to April 20 for a lovely fresh fruit salad and to catch up on blog and emails. Although I came to India to do yoga, this part of the trip is also so important. The chance to be in such a beautiful natural environment and to absorb and assimilate the warmth of the sun, the cool of the sea and fresh vibrant food. This will help to bring me to health along with the yoga.

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In the afternoon jumped into a rickshaw to the local town of Chaudi to get a few supplies. It was market day so there was plenty to see, taste and smell. Hoping to organise a dolphin trip for the morning ….
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Day 25 – Travel Nightmare!

25 Jan


Possibly one of the most stressful nights ever. First my taxi failed to show up, then as I set off dragging my enormous suitcase down Lakaki Road I had the misfortune to happen upon the least competent rickshaw driver ever. After collecting Lorna from the Mariot we headed off to the bus pick up point with only just enough time to make it. Frustratingly it soon became apparent the rickshaw driver did not know where he was going. In desperation we rang the concierge at the Mariot who managed  to contact the bus company to get the bus to wait for us and gave our driver fresh directions. Many wild goose chases and phone calls later we were still driving around hopelessly – up back alleys, the wrong way up dual carriageway twice.  Eventually he spoke directly to the driver of the bus who arranged to meet him somewhere he did know, but somehow he messed that up as well. Two and a half hours squashed into a rickshaw only for the bus to leave without us and we ended up back where we started (and had to pay 850 rupees for the pleasure). The concierge at The Mariot booked us on to another bus at 11.45pm which again agreed to wait for us. This time there was a problem with the booking, they couldn’t accept cash or UK card, so that bus again drove off into the night without us. Just when it looked like all hope was lost our hero at The Mariot once again found us an air conditioned sleeper bus, leaving right now that would take cash on the bus. We set off, this time in super luxury Mariot car(and super pricey at 2200 rupees for this short spin to the pick- up point).  Our bus was found without any bother and on we got, only to find that they actually had no sleepers for us at all – instead we had to share an unbelievably cramped, low ceilinged space used for luggage.

<p10-3DC861AB-778854-800>My relief at finally getting on a bus was gradually replaced by a growing sense of panic. I needed the loo, there was not one on the bus plus I was trapped on the inside of this tiny space with Lorna between me and the small gap to get in. I endured probably 4 hours like this before the first stop, where I was able to use a roadside toilet (Imagine how bad it could be and then add some). Thankfully I was able to explain to Lorna who was now awake for the stop, my predicament with the claustrophobia (by this point I was trembling from head to foot) and I was able to go on the outside with my head in the gap. Again the relief was short lived – I felt I couldn’t breathe it was as if there wasn’t enough oxygen in the air. It dawned on me that everyone else seemed to be breathing just fine and I was in fact hyperventilating. I dimly remembered hearing that you have to inhale less and exhale more to correct it, so I spent the next two hours doing viloma on the exhalation which helped enormously, as long as I didn’t stop. Once the bus was coming to its final stops the crowd started to thin out and we were able to get a bunk each and breathe freely. Hallelujah, the relief……

Mere seconds later our final setback was realised – the bus wasn’t going to Margoa at all, the closest stop to our destination was Panjim. Darn.

So another 2000 rupee ride later we arrived at Patnam. And here I’m delighted to say the misfortune ended. I headed straight for the sea and as I floated around on my back I felt the heat, the sweat, the fumes, the stress dissolve into the sea and just float away. It’s beautiful, perfect. I’m sitting on my shady porch now at the lovely Home Beachfront hotel listening to the waves breaking on the shoreline surrounded by palm trees. Bliss.11-104858B2-2269278-800