At the last minute, Devki Desai taught our ladies class. Before I can even start to describe what we did I have to describe what I felt because what we did is ultimately just a tool that led me on a journey.
I felt transformed and transmuted to another place. A place that I actually can find anywhere because it’s always with me but a place so hard to get to especially when I’m distracted by or paying too much attention to outside input or observation.
Devki spun as one of the local students put it, Geeta and Prasant together. In a clearly asana based class she integrated the philosophical elements in Prashant’s classes. AT the end, she said, “I am just learning. I’m learning with you “referring to how we are all working, struggling to understand and integrate the profundity of Prashant’s teachings.
We began in jumpings and she asked us to extend from the tailbone, to jump like we were teenage girls and break through our fears- a theme here at the Insitute. I had no idea where we were headed but thought we were simply preparing for back arches as we turned in parsva sukhasana. Little did I know she was taking us on a journey to a magical place within.
We flung our heads to uttanasana and jumped from adho mukha savasana straight to urdvha mukha svasasana. We gasped as she showed us her metatarsals banging on the marble platform. After a tentative attempt, I went for it the second try and had none of the pain I expected. From there we jumped up to Urdhva hastasana and extended fully.
She asked us to find stability in the jumpings as she called out Vira 3 from our dog poses. Do all your actions but do them simultaneously.Life does not warn you of it’s problems, you have to find steadiness quickly. We asked her if we could try again.
I looked around at women of all ages, Indian, Japanese, Polish, Argentinan, American, Austrailian you name it all of us were jumping away our sluggish fearful selves. The room was alive.
From here we went on to back bendings and were asked to pay attention to the effects of one posture on the other and the effects on our mind. To see how after Ustrasana, she didn’t have to shout to straigthen our legs because they were already straight- they were connected to the network Prashant speaks of. She asked us to experiement moving from the thoracic- the heart when coming up from Ustrasana.
Introspective but far from “easy,” we continued to explore in back arches. While attempting adho mukha vrksasana with both legs, she said that in the moment when you are just crying and can’t do more is the moment when you find it.. How stopping ourselves because of fear or giving up, robs us of that moment.
After the exhausting backbends, we did a long sirsasana extremely steady after our work- internal and external – and then dessert, Trikonasana, moving from the spine where ” the celestial beings are located” and then activating all that is required from the nasal breath
She is firm and soft. She says that the yelling and shouting gets in the way of our inner state and journey. And she asked then how is your samasthiti? I had never felt more steadiness or more balance in my body or mind. I was observing, experience and not fixing.
As a matter of fact, I felt cracked open and glowing. Tears welled up. Surprise, joy, love, raw.
Such firmness, such strength, such softness, such authenticity. Yes, she asked us to be authentic in our practice.
Often our classes end with, ok, pack up the props now but today she gave us ample time for recovery, for connection and then to sit in savasana with the humbless and stability of our spine. No one moved. We were all hanging in this space we didn’t want to leave. Finally she said, class is over and thanked us for the opportunity to teach.
But we wanted to thank her. And as I crudely expressed my experience she deferred anything she taught to her teachers, her Gurus and gestured in reverent namaste toward the Iyengar house just across from the studio.
This is the aim of yoga and why we do yoga, to connect, to listen to believe in our own inner teacher and to recognize that light, that grace, that divinity.
It left many of us feeling so hopeful.