It’s been a few days since writing because we finished class on Thursday and then took off for Bangalore where we spent the weekend with my friends Pryanktha, Anand and Jaya. More on the wonderful city of Bangalore later.
Geeta taught to the large group which included the regular month attendees and the intensive group from South Africa, Bulgaria, Qatar and Jordan.
Many people say that Geeta and Prashant are teaching two totally different things, My first year in India, I heard a lot of negative and disparaging remarks about what Prashant was teaching it’s a shame because while he is not easy to understand at times if you weather it out you end up on a pretty beautiful sea. I honestly wonder if the many problems that arise in our community and ones we are currently dealing with are partly from people who refuse to learn from him and never delve into what Prashant is teaching. Anyways, those grumpy grumps that first year, missed the boat. And you know what good came out of that? I found my way hanging out with another group from the midwest and this is when and where I met Jennie who 10 years later into a friendship we are roommates here.
So, Prashant’s class ended class with Prashant exploring and experimenting with sound and then lo and behold Geeta started class with a one hour chant of the invocation in all the various seated positions. Not only did those who didn’t know the chant, learn but we had the benefit side dish of doing all the seated poses. She touched on various key points for each pose- not too much and not too little just enough to connect into the pose. It was also a great way to practice all the various leg positions holding them each for the one minute of the invocation. She insisted on expressing the three sounds of OM.
Her humor was in full force. With a sly smile and lift to her voice she instructed that one set of toes in Siddhasana are putting the coins in the pocket while the other is for extracting a few coins for the rickshaw driver. If you don’t know siddhasana, look it up and think where are the coins going in the pocket and where are they pulled out?
After almost an hour she said “Are you bored?” I wasn’t sure if she was addressing someone in particular because if that was the case I was nervous. “I know you are bored and I can make you more bored, she smiled” Boredom is one of the obstacles and Pantanjali’s cure is one pointed focus. “Boredeom, frustration and pain are inevitable. Don’t give up but keep working. Running off it easier than staying. “ Amen to that. “Prakruti is bored and you must continue to work, Purusha is indifferent and doesn’t care.” How often do I let my little Prakurti run the show?
“I am indifferent,” she claimed as she spoke directly to a woman who kept complaining of back pain “This lady has shown me many times with her hand that her back pains.” The woman quietly said something about a bulging disk that Abhi relayed to Geeta. Yes, bulging disc, I know. You have said. And that must go inward. Correct?” The woman was afraid of creating more pain so she resisted. In an attempt to include us all in this diversion, we all then did our poses with the intention of moving the sacrum inward, lengthening the spine and moving and bulging part inward. I found it interesting as I”m working on a bulging sacrum and it gave me a strong focus. We changed the intention of the elbows bending in Paschimottonasna . Bend the elbows to move the head down. Bend the elbows to move the sacrum inward and look and see how the hold on the feet changes. Prashant also asks us evaluate and then to articulate inwardly our experience but in this case all I can say is that yes, the hold changed, the force changed but I have yet to come up with words to describe it.
When you aren’t able to do what is being taught in class, as this woman was claiming you come under the eagle eye of Geeta. As her senior teacher described in a debriefing class much later, Geeta is a perfectionist and she wants and needs to resolve an issue. If there is resistance it makes her want to work harder or she can get quite angry. “I can not have false compassion.” Her voice lifted an octave “Thaaat’s good, YEeeess, Feeeeel good.” Abhi chimed in “Relax.” Yes, Geeta continued “Reeellllaaax.” The whole hall was laughing. I Don’t think I’ve ever seen her this funny. How different this approach is to the more popular spoofed versions of yoga teachers. To ignore this lady would be doing her a disservice. “I can’t do this. Whether you take my help, I’m indifferent. Her senior teacher later explained that you either sit back and observe and take notes or you do the class, come under her surgical eye and follow her instruction. It’s not an option to be in class, bring attention to your problem and then resist the instruction. Abhi expertly took the woman behind a column away from Geeta’s eye to work with her, help her build some courage and confidence while the class could continue onwards.
We continued to work on rocking and rolling in Janu Sirasana and Pachimottonasnaa allowing the knee and buttock to come up and head down. We sat up extremely high on blankets to see how our buttocks released. In our debriefing session, the senior teacher explained that this rocking and rolling is a more advanced technique but was being taught to show the local teachers where you would take a group of students. I can guarantee we are going to see this rocking and rolling introduced in the west, and most likely to the wrong group. I appreciate practicing next to Jennie, as we both grunted and groaned our heads down It really did liberate the buttocks and bring more freedom. What are your buttocks holding you back from?
We did all the standing poses and then a long Sirsasana moving the shoulder blades in and the thighs back for steadiness in order to maintain the pose. These are not foreign actions but how is it that Geeta can describe actions I’ve heard and done before but like a laser create and effect like no other- in this case, steadiness. a very long Halasana and Sarvangasana followed by a Savasana that felt like I was chocolate melting into a spongy cake. I drifted off so much that when I opened my eyes, I didn’t know where I was in the room.