It is backbending week. I have recently arrived back from class and I’m pleasantly exhausted! Suneeta, Geeta’s sister and Guruji’s daughter has been teaching absolutely beautiful classes. She is fierce and so kind giving us clear and direct instruction and then urging us to “find out..YOU find out.” More than once she mentioned her father and the respect, love and sadness is palpable. You can feel how she wants to continue his work but admits she has no idea how Gurji put in so many things and never got tired. Given her recent battle with cancer, loss of her father and husband she is taking to the platform with such compassion in her eyes, humor in her teaching even if her tone is fierce.
ONe more time she says. Eka Pada vipariti Dandasana. The room groans. The last time, my right leg literally went on strike. It knew my brain was calling it into action and it just said no. I came down. Yes, I marveled at the young girl next to me her leg like a brave flagpole in battle. I waited. Ok. Left side. I have to go from my hamstrings as my quivering thighs are telling me I loaded them with brunt of the work. Hey, they shook, give me some help. Exhale and up I went to Urdhva Dhanurasana. GET HEIGHT, “groan” she yelled and from there to Viparit Dandasana. Inching my feet as close as possible and wondering what was causing the resistance, more groans, lifting up the sides, pressing my forearms, shifting my weight, sending notice to my left leg it rose up in the air. Then, a graceful, free and liberated Urdhva Dhanurasana and down I came
Why do we practice? To reach the soul. This is often hard to understand, feel, relate to because we are stuck on the physical plane in our bodies, in our problems. And I think the esoteric is hard to wrap the brain around but a tight hamstring, a bum shoulder, the right prop to turn the trunk more is a lot more accessible. When my mind is completely absorbed in the tightness of my hip it’s quite difficult to understand how this uddanic breath will lead me towards my soul. I’m still on the physical plane.
But as Devki described, it the activity of setting the pose right that allows for better connection so that the bow can release an arrow and hit it’s target.
Prasahant illustrates these complicated concepts with pratical examples that give a good laugh in the room. The other day evacuation was the topic. You can only imagine. Earlier Suneeta went on about right and left confusion and the different uses of right and left hands in India. I leave it there but we all laughed. We evacuate the breath for better connectivity of the parts- body, mind and breath. We evacuate the body of used material or problematic material. He spoke about how we run to the doctor when pained by a kidney stone and quickly want it removed. But what about the mind stones that most often don’t bother us but definitely bother and harm those around us. Don’t we want to remove the mind stones? Or do we only want to remove those things that bother us only?
The process is purification. Every cell has a kidney and bladder to purify, to detoxify. He warned that liberation or Kaivalya can be reached through the process of attainment but it’s is a dangerous path. Purification will get us there. And on the way, the body will be addressed we don’t need to be so focused and obsessed with the body. We could clean ourselves continually in shower it would not clean us from the inside.
The Baghavad Gita says for us to do our own duty and not another person’s so why does he ask is there such a focus on the remedial aspects of yoga where teachers are considered knowledgable only when they know how to apply remedial solutions for students. Pantanjali lists these problems as obstacles but teachers are removing the obstacles in students’ paths – doing their work for them.
In practice, Prashant does not give much technical information though the other day for the first time, he showed on a student various methods of supta padanghustasana with the belt. He did this after 1/2 hour of instructing us in the variations. We had used the belt in the one way we have been taught. . Why, he asked does Guruji have all these different ways of doing the pose? It is because he is investigating, experimenting and being creative to understand better. Why he asked, are we not creative but instead depending on anothers’ creativity.
So, breathe deeply and profoundly, evacuatively in the shoulders, in the abdomen, in the brain, in the eyes and you see, you find out the quality of the breath, the expression of the side body, the connection of the legs to the tailbone, the network of the parts, find out the sublime-ness of the pose, the “philosophy of the asana.” You find out.
Guruji gave us a very pratical way to understand philosophy. In every cell’s brain.