I did the final class this morning. Since Abhi is out of the country we expected a replacement to come. Well, it was past 7 am and no one to conduct the class yet. The students decided to start the prayers themselves and we were just about to jump into AdhoMukhaSvanasana , when Raya showed up. There was confusion who was to teach the class, so he was late. We started with AdhoMukhaSvanasa , and with an intermediate pose of Uttansana , he asked us to do Sirsasana . Ah, not today - I can't hand the blood gushing into my head first thing in the morning as I was uncertain how it would impact my blood pressure. My doctor had told me logic would dictate that inversions could cause increase in it . I mentioned it to him. I was asked to do ViparitaDandasana with support. From there it was Chair Sarvangasana and then supported BadaKonasa . We performed more time in two variations BadaKonasana and then the pranayam was inserted, eventually to Shavasana . They all have different styles - I preferred Abhi's style more. Raya also ranted quotes on yoga philosophy and how to properly get into Shavasana , while he is instructing a junior youngster who is being shamed into doing 100 halasanas . He challenges us to bring our attention to the breath and away from this distraction. To bring our thoughts inward. Then someone's cell phone ring in a typical Indian musical tone. He is obviously annoyed. My mind wanders - why be bothered about cell phone rings, when there is so much noise pollution outside. There is constant influx of sounds into the yoga hall - the buzzing, the thumping, the rumblings come right into our minds in the middle of shavasana . If we can accept that, why not accept a cell phone ring. Just a thought as I try to focus my mind back into myself.
He also quotes the Iyengar family members - what they say about yoga, about understanding the asanas and their purpose without sounding too philosophical. I get some, but I feel he will have a deeper impact once he develops his own style as he growns and learns from his own practice. The inner yogi inside him needs to slowly come out and shine in his own unique style and I believe he will. He is a good teacher. All in all it was a relaxing conclusion to the week as it was my last class. I will be taking off this weekend for home. I asked him about poses for my recently discovered Spondolysis . "Go to the library and read materials and speak to your US teachers"! I will do that for sure.
This last week here was less about asana practice and more about what it meant to be here - in this little oasis of spirituality , yoga and holistic life. The house I am staying in, the HanumanMandir (temple) accross the street, the yoga center, the park next door, the people around this one street -- they paint a very holistic picture with a brush of "faith". I have discovered that in the midst of tremendous heat, unbearable sometimes, the buzzing of cars and scooters, the honking of horns, there is peace, tranquility and calmness. The heart warming music of the temple, the morning and evening patanjali chants at RIMYI , the chirping and singing of the birds, this little oasis called HanumanMandir Road is simply abundant in faith.
I told my hosts, the Shahanis , that there was something holistic about the 3rd floor of their house where I was staying. Neena said that the floor was built specifically for devotees of the Hare Krishna Temple by her father in law and now of course its primarily used for Iyengar Yoga Students from abroad. There is something very spritual about this place which gave me much needed comfort and peace and time to reflect, write and read most of the wonderful books left by many yogis from their past trips. I will write a separate blog about some of these wonderful books I read that inspired and enlightened my intellect.
NeenaShahani so eloquently put it "there is simply faith all around you". I realize as I am ready to go home, that it is the faith that brings the peace to the inner mind. It doesn't just exist around HanumanMandir Road, but its abundant all over India. This is probably why I am so drawn back to India. In this trip I discovered despite all the noise, the pollution, the dirt and filth in India, there is faith is everywhere you look . This is what makes India unique - despite all the contradictions and extremes that exist here. India is open to such a diversity of faiths. There are so many pathways to inner peace because there are so many pathways of faith that exist here. People see faith in trees, in stones, in animals, in people, in many animate and inanimate objects. The statues, the idols all these objects identify and exemplify these pathways. You eat, sleep, and breathe faith here and all forms of it are just accepted. I walk every morning by a tree on the sidewalk decorated with colors - I know someone worships this tree.There is faith in the trunk of a tree by the roadside and its accepted and respected by all.
You choose what you want to believe in and it is accepted.Someone posted a comment on one of my previous posts, asking about the meaning of a yogi and does he or she have leave their home and family to become a yogi. I posted a simple reply inform of a definition. I realize now, that this is such a complex question to answer. There are so many answers. The Iyengars so rightfully say, "just because you know the meaning or definition of something doesn't mean you fully understand it".
I agree , you cannot learn something by memorizing a definition. But, I have realized that having faith does bring you closer to understanding of many things, including yoga. Faith allows you to practice and practice brings an intuitive understanding of the subject you practice. It was a eureka moment! Its faith that brought me to Pune in 2001 and I had no idea then about Iyengar Yoga. Its faith that keeps bringing me back to this oasis of spritualupliftment and its this faith that keeps me on this spiral process to continually seek peace of my inner mind. This revelation made my trip worthwhile.
I must thank the Shahani's for their hospitality and kindness. I want to really thank their long time cook, who herself shows such faith despite her old age, by cooking these wonderful meals every day for me. She would call me Sahibji (sir) and I told her please call me son. She is probably my grandmother's age. She was so taken aback! She said how could she, as I was a man of stature. I told her no, she was of a higher stature both in age and experience, so she deserves higher respect. Here was another example of the dichotomy and contradiction that exists in India. People of money and stature are presumed to deserve respect. Well not in my world, not in the culture of my adopted country and I felt to be proud to be American when I told her that. Her cooking is the best I have tasted ever!
Thanks again to Mrs. SunitaParthasarthy for helping me sign up for classes. Najeeeb for bringing the halasana bench. My staff in Pune who have such respect and regard for me and work so hard 24X7. And last but not the least Mr. Pandu at RIMYI who was very kind and will let me attend classes in future trips and found my badly needed sunglasses. I may not have perfected my asana's in this trip, but I have certainly taken babysteps to perfect my understanding of how to reach my inner mind. I left this morning for Mumbai with a hug from Manu and a comforting hand shake from Neena inviting me to come back. I told them I had a strong feeling I would be back but wasn't sure if they would have room, considering the fact that they are booked in advance. She replied, "You never know, there may be a cancellation". Well only faith will create a cancellation and only faith will bring me back to this little heaven on earth!
So as I fly out of India tonight, I promised myself to hold myself to this faith that I need to continue in my strive to do my karma and my yoga, inorder to get closer to my inner mind. I need to leave the rest - the outcome to the universe, the universal god and almighty. That is what makes a true yogi.