The More Challenging the Yoga, The More We Shop: India


There are so many differences between yoga in India and yoga in Calgary I don't know where to begin, but this is not your airy-fairy, peace-love-and-happiness yoga. Imagine a 1970's boxing gym with peeling laminate flooring, mint green wall tiles and a dozen whirling ceiling fans. No soft spoken receptionist, hardwood flooring, dim lights and soft color palette in India. The classes are a mix of foreigners and Indians and are easily 115 people. The windows are half way up the wall and flung wide open so the exhaust and the blaring horn sounds come pouring in.  The bottom half is reserved for trestles and backbenders and every other Iyengar yoga prop imaginable stacked up. They have to be shuffled around to accommodate all the people. You can barely hear a word the teachers say for all the street noise, never mind that their accents are heavy and they speak a mile a minute. The window grates serve as a surface for the asanas along with every available square inch except for the pedestal that the Pantajali sculpture is on and the platform the teachers teach from. You never get the same mat twice and if a prop isn't within arm's distance you just don't use one because you'll never make it to the prop room and back in time before the pose changes. Today's 2 hour class had 42 poses! To top it off, you are often sharing a mat with someone and so you have to get used to feet and armpits pretty quick. We are going to start using anti-fungal cream as body lotion! Ha ha!


Today was the third day at the Institute and the first women's class. Up until now we have had general classes with Iyengar's son, Prashant. Prashant is notorious for calling a pose and leaving you in it for ages while he waxes philosophical. Some gems from the last two days have been "why would you spend 100 Rupees on something only worth 10?! Why put maximum effort and willpower into a pose and not use your breath to make it effortless?"  and also "you come to the sticky mat with your box of problems. In your social life, at a picnic, at the movies, these things don't bother you. You don't say, my back, my neck. But you come to yoga and you open a Pandora's box of problems on your sticky mat." So the classes pass quickly because you are trying so hard not to fall out of the pose while trying to make sense of what he is saying. Then he switches from English to Maharati and you don't even notice! He maybe covers 6 poses the whole 2 hours but you do them over and over and over, focusing on some small philosophical or spiritual nuance each time.

Geeta, Iyengar's daughter, taught the women's class today which was an honour because she doesn't always.  Her approach is completely different to Prashant. Besides the 42 poses, she is very specific about what you must do and the finite actions involved and she has eyes in the back and sides of her head:

"Inhale,lift,extend, HIGHER,HIGHER,REACH!!! Higher! Elbows up, breath,rotate outer arms, more,more, you, you, third from left (we all start looking at each other), second row,you,with the dorsal spine problem, (oh wait, that is me...)do you not know the correct arm position? do you not speak English, yes you! LIFT YOUR ELBOWS! Take your dorsal spine in. Lift! Elbows behind the ears. More.More! Everyone!HIGHER!!!!"

So I was yelled at by Geeta and she saw my scoliosis in a crowd of 100 women, so I am choosing to feel honored ;) Tommorow, I start my first medical classes where she will probably yell at me some more and give me specific work for this problem dorsal spine. 

Needless to say, when we aren't moving our bodies to the maximum, we are engaging in some retail therapy to manage stress. What's a girl to do?

First priority: new pillows! Aptly named "happy pillows". And I bought a totally kitschy fibreglass Ganesh


When buying a shirt for your 6'3" boyfriend, find the tallest employee in the department store.

2 comments:

Linda Schutz said...

Hi from Penticton - Your Mom and Dad are fine but suffering at bit in our heat. Your family misses you and look forward to each of your blogs. Be safe and happy. AL, B, Mom & Dad

Anonymous said...

Hello from Ottawa. U Rock! Hang in there smart Lady. All the very best. Manon

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