The electric power goes out unexpectedly in Pune! So far it has gone out every day that I have been typing this letter to you! This is the 4th attempt at sending messages home about the second week. I hope it reaches you before the lights go out!
Well, what a week! The medical classes are called Remedial and several assistants have been explaining to me how certain asanas are helping the patients and how individual each one needs to be to fit the body type and condition of the person. I would like to get wall ropes up some day so we can experience the work . . . there is neck curvature, Rope 1, Rope 2, rope motion, and a whole variety of back-bending and standing asanas that can be approached from the wall.
Wall work allows for an in-depth internal study of what is happening in your body; the rope holds you while you breathe and open those areas that have been stiff or in the dark.
Geeta taught a forward bend class that was amazing. The next time you do a forward bend, say a seated one, ask yourself where you are holding back . . . what we found after a few minutes is we were all sinking and contracting in the abdomen and chest . . . here it is to be a forward motion yet we were all going backward. Geeta taught in a way that our chests opened, or side ribs flew forward, the thoracic spine came in to its rightful place and most of us had our hands well beyond the feet . . . the experience was deep exhilaration, not the usual heaviness of 2 hours of forward bends.
This was a good example of how excellent teaching fleshes out the multi-dimensions of yoga. The class was more than just asana—it was going beyond our personal shortcomings: physical or emotional.
She said at the end: “Why do you stop going forward? Many of you get close to climbing Mt. Everest, but then when you see it you stop short. Why? When the body fails it is really your mind failing, do you know that? The body cannot fail. Only the mind plays tricks on you.”
In essence, get hold of our minds! Be aware!
Prashant taught a class this morning which I watched from the steps. It was full-tilt-on with long holdings and ended with a lecture about meditation.
“The goal of yoga is to forget about you. You can not be present when it is time to fall asleep at night, if you are present, if you are worrying about your personal identity or shortcomings or dress wear you will not fall asleep. “You” cannot be present to fall asleep . . . and then you are unified in body, mind, and breath. Savasana is to be unified in body, mind, and breath. Each asana is to be unified in body, mind, and breath. By the time you reach savasana your innermost plane should be surfacing and no longer are you man or woman or old or young or disabled or defeated or deformed and incapable, because at the core we all have the same identity.”
And lucky for those of us who fall into basement thoughts about ourselves—there are ways to loosen the grip on our basement self! The ultimate goals of yoga and meditation are to allow us to experience this as fact. Experience the unified whole of who we are and begin to live our lives from this truth, our truth of unity not the pretend truth of separateness.
This was a strong cup of chai! I hope this makes sense, and to borrow Prashant’s words: “I have done my best, but if you still don’t understand I will try better next time.”
Well, I am off to shop with some friends from Australia. I have bought things on my own and it is a disaster: 2 tea strainers, a rolling pin and a statute. My friends promise to help me out!