From Monsoon to Monsoon: First Days of India

The City of Calgary underwater (Source:

We left Calgary in the worst natural disaster it had ever seen. It was very difficult to get on the plane knowing that my workplace and the homes of many friends were underwater. Two colleagues stayed with us, many emergency staff meetings were held, volunteers took over the city and then I left. I know that what I will come home to will be far better but still in need of my help and so I am trying to stay focused on what I came to India to do, which is work on my yoga practice. My time here will be an excellent exercise in acceptance and trust as I can't be in Calgary and I feel very torn.

We start at the Iyengar Institute on Monday, where I am hoping to get into the medical classes for my scoliosis and also the women's classes. I have chosen not to pay the extra $100 USD to audit the other classes , so that I can have a more open schedule to experience India and sketch. I also expect that between the intensity of classes and practice time, I will need the break. I think though, that they will accept the money anytime if I change my mind! Registration went very smoothly yesterday, by all acounts. India requires a massive amount of paperwork and every foreigner must be registered at the police station so we spent the day photocopying and meeting our landlord (twice) and visiting the Institute (twice) only to have to go back today as well. I have to write a letter to Geeta (Iyengar's daughter) explaining the condition of my scoliosis and she will develop a specialized practice for me while I am here. I see why it is so crucial that you have had 8 years of Iyengar yoga as a minimum to attend because you have to have such a deep understanding of your body and your own practice even just to communicate what you need from them while you are here. 

Geeta teaching at the Institute

The Iyengar family (Prashant, Geeta, Guruji)
We arrived at the Institute just as a class was ending and got to sit on the stairs watching everyone. It was quite something for me to see the people in person whose books I have read and whose words I have studied for so many years. Guruji ("spiritual teacher" and the term of endearment and respect for Mr Iyengar) is 95 now. They have built him an elevator and he has lost some weight, but his body is still so strong and he is just as barrel chested as all the photos. What lung capacity! A waiter we had this morning was pleased to hear we are studying at the Institute (it does much for the local economy) and he said to us that yoga does what medicine cannot. How true!

Our hotel, while we wait to go to the apartment tomorrow, is lovely and clean and doesn't feel like India at all. We are certainly in a bubble here. It is above a movie theatre and food court and Indians are huge movie fans. They seem to watch them 24-7 and we can hear the explosions and Bollywood music through our floor all night long!

The view through the windshield on our drive form Mumbai to Pune.

Through the window: the streets of Mumbai

Flat tire and roadside repair. Our driver, Vikram, oversees the process.
 I took these photos on the 3 hour drive from Mumbai to Pune through the windows of the tiny car jammed with us three yogis and several bags. The final photo at the bus stop was taken on our excursions around town getting paperwork organized. It is next to impossible to stop for photos without fear of getting hit by an auto rickshaw or stepping on a stray dog, but I am determined to try! This little girl's mother was very pleased to let her have her photo taken, but didn't want to be in it herself! India is a dichotomy of so many things and we have only just begun.

Beautiful bus stop

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