Today begins the 9 day festival, Navatari which celebrates Durga, the mother goddess. Each day a different color is worn.
"Durga, also identified as Adi Parashakti, Devī, Shakti, Bhavani, Parvati, Amba, Yogmaya and by numerous other names, is a principal and popular form of Hindu Goddess. She is the warrior goddess, whose mythology centres around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity and dharma of the good. She is the fierce form of the protective mother goddess, willing to unleash her anger against wrong, violence for liberation and destruction to empower creation." Wikipedia.
Man, the world needs Durga now!
How is it that in almost 3 hours of incredibly hard work and demanding words I feel like I'm floating on air afterwards? Geeta.
Today Geeta taught in a different space because there are a group of newer students who have arrived from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Bulgaria and Jordan to be in a 2 week intensive. Geeta was in full spirit today and had me chuckling through class. She is quite ill in health but her mind and her eye is as sharp as ever. She actually began the class by asking for questions. Does she really want us to answer?, we thought. Raya, one of the senior teachers said "This is your chance," and smiled and I realized that she really did want to teach us from our questions. Of course, my mind went blank. The newer students having no experience were the first to chime in. They had no idea what they were in for!
A woman spoke up about fatigue. Geeta spoke about how there are different kinds of fatigue. Restorative poses are always given as the prescription it depends on the kind of fatigue. But this fatigue can also be from a fragile nervous system and asked the woman why she had tears. It's definitely hard to have all that attention on you she had no idea the whole class would be focused on her issue.
There are many of us not only travel far and deal with jet lag but also we arrive with built up fatigue, stress, doubt that weigh us down. When we get here, it rises up sometimes surprising and disconcerting.
I'm not going to write technical points one because it is not very interesting and two it's exactly what she was teaching us NOT to do. This is what I've been hearing this entire week. Don't just follow instructions, connect inward, listen inward, follow your own wisdom and common sense. "Put the pranayama pillows there instead because they will just remember that there are 5 blankets," she joked in a way that reminded me of my jewish grandmother. We don't remember the shape of the person, we don't remember to ask the person how they feel we just remember there were 5 blankets under the belly and one for the head, missing the boat completely.
Fatigue is either mind or body and we have to be able to discriminate which one it is and when it is complete. There is a constant theme of "educate yourself" that I keep hearing. Do not rely on others, do not compare to others, do not look around, do not ask of others but instead look inside. This outward questioning is the killer of it all, doubt. The disease, I believe of the world I live in. Doubt is that pain that leads to depression and then to the physical manifestations of this imbalance. (sutra 1.30-1)
The aim of this class was to open the heart (spiritual) and rest the heart. When our backs are rounded in forward bends the heart is not parallel, it is receding back into the body rather than extending forward. To be able to do this and open the chest, the groins have to be attended to. All these poses can be done actively or restoratively depending on the need of the practitioner. A slight shuffle home let me know that boy, I opened up my groins. As I've noted in past trips, pain is a necessary part of growth and not feared here as much in the west. The pain is not the problem but all the associated feelings around the pain whether is be "oh I can't do that"- depression, fear, self criticism therein lies the real pain. Finally, we were told, as I have been told before to take postures that truly relax us at least once a week. The tall, thin woman who originally complained of fatigue arose from a supported Prasarita Padottonasna with a beatific smile and glowing open chest.
I was struck at one point as she urged us to get the props we needed to feel what she was asking us to feel. "At least learn one pose right after spending so much money to come here." And when some didn't take the necessary props to achieve, in this case, a state of repose and instead we say "Oh , I'll manage," This is ego! I have not heard it expressed this way and I immediately thought of when I don't take the time to get a prop or the resistance I see when students don't want to get what they need to reach the intended aim or state.
Recent events have been so disturbing so it was really nice to see IYNAUS' current change in policies in response to recent sexual misconduct accusations. The new policies, considerations and imminent actions are forward thinking, inclusive and create a new world. As my friend Rosa mentioned that Durga's time is seen by strong women coming forward to speak, I take this time to bow to these women for unleashing their voice.