Last week at RIMYI

Time is passing by quickly. This is my last week in Pune! It’s a bittersweet feeling, but I’m really excited and can’t wait to get back home to my husband, kids, and of course my dogs (not to mention my comfy bed). I will miss RIMYI…everyone in it and all it stands for. Even the experience of Pune (which is not what I would call easy) has come to resonate with me. It’s Sunday, a day off from yoga at the institute, but I observed of the children’s class this morning. The children packed the yoga room, and they are fun to watch. The teachers move them into and out of poses quickly, while also creatively weaving in the element of alignment. After that I headed to Gulnaz’s studio for Sunday yoga class with her. Like I said in one of my previous post’s, she’s a gem. Sightseeing in the afternoon, still trying to get everything in before I leave. Nana our rickshaw driver took us to another beautiful shiva temple, and then the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Museum. Time for chi, then a bee line back to the institute by 5pm for a talk by Geeta on the 10th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. There were a few moments when my eyes became teary while Geeta spoke, and as I look around that room where great yoga has been given, and done…now I know why people come back year after year to study the Sacred Art of Yoga at RIMYI.

Prasant, on how “yog” is to be done.
“The Will to Do.”
“The Will to Know.”
“The Will to Become.”
“The Will to Be.”

Children’s yoga class



Me and Petra at The Shiva Temple


Nana getting us Chi


Gulnaz’s Studio



Life Outside the Institute, part 2

Sensory overload are the two words that best describes Pune. I wonder if the noise ever stops? Pune is very loud, horns honking and beeping, dogs barking, noise everywhere all day and all night, and the traffic is crazy! There are a few small cars, motor scooters, rickshaws, bicycles, and people going in all directions all the time. There seems to be no traffic rules, but there are traffic rules….I believe most participants just choose which ones best suit them. Oh, and people do not have the right-of-way! I’m getting pretty good at dodging everything to make it across the street. Every once in a while to add to the traffic, you will see a couple of pigs, cows, camels, goats, and even an elephant walking down the street. It really is total chaos, and always entertaining to observe. My typical “westernized” brain has a hard time computing it. Yet somehow, they seem to make it all work. Stray dogs are everywhere, which is sometimes sad to see as they don’t always appear well cared for. Once again I recognize that priorities are truly the possessions of those that live in the environment, and shouldn’t be judged by those just passing through. Pune has a high pollution problem, very dusty, yet there is a fragrance of spices that fills the air continuously. It’s monsoon season now so the rains (almost daily) help to clear some of the dust from the air. It has been raining a lot lately, and the streets fill with water quickly. I recommend rain boots if your visiting RIMYI during the monsoon season, because you’ll find yourself walking in muddy water puddles as the rain pounds the ground, and all while carrying heavy bags of groceries. Meantime, the crazy traffic and loud honking and beeping continues as you maneuver your way though the street, and once again you can’t help but think of how pampered you are back home. Yet in all this, no matter how worn down the house might be, or storefront, and no matter how noisy or crazy the surrounding environment is, there is always a beautiful altar present inside homes and stores for prayers, and you always see the children outside, climbing trees, and playing games…they know how to play.

Wednesday – Women’s Class with Geeta today, Back Bend Week. What can I say, she’s amazing.


Life Outside The Institute, part 1

I haven’t written much about life in Model Colony – Pune India. Or, at least my observation of life in India. It’s very different compared to any place I’ve ever been. The experience is not what you would call a relaxing vacation. Luxury hotel? Nope. Sitting under an umbrella gazing at the beach, drinking slushy drinks? Nope. I’m very fortunate that my flat is very nice. The accommodations are perfect for basic needs. I still can not get used to the bucket/pitcher bath. Luckily, I have a western toilet. Sometimes there is hot water, and sometimes not. I’m drinking only bottled water, as well as brushing my teeth with bottled water to reduce my risk of catching an intestinal virus. Washing my clothes in a bucket is not so bad, but still you become aware of all the luxuries you depend on day in and day out. There are power outages throughout the day. It’s interesting how you expect the internet to work fast and for it to at least work 24/7. They beds are hard, with a small thin mattress on top of wood. Oh, how I miss my tempurpedic! I did put two mattresses on top of each other, and now my hips are happy. The food is delicious for us who like Indian food. I do miss having a fresh salad though. I don’t eat food that is not cooked here, once again I don’t want to chance the intestinal virus. Everyone longs for that favorite food they love back at home…(yes family and students, you know what food I miss most). My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. The people of India are beautiful. I love the colorful clothing. It amazes me how everyone is always cleaning and sweeping, yet it never really gets clean (once again personal perception and definition of what is clean is really about what you as an individual are accustomed to…’s just different). Some of you know that little “head bobble” everyone does around here, it can mean yes, yet it can mean no, and why is it that every time I go to the store, someone cuts in line right in front of me? That can be frustrating to say the least. I was in the market today, and the vegetables first have to be weighed and marked before going to the cash register. Everyone kept cutting in line…wait, there was a line, yet there was no line…can’t you see that I was standing here first? Everyone just does what they need to do, just like the traffic. The lessons about myself I’m learning on this journey aren’t just being taught in the studio. More on the traffic next time…to be continued.

Okay, for my yoga junkies… Geeta taught the Women’s Class on Saturday. All Inversions! My favorite, Ha! (some of you will get that one). This is a great inversion sequence to practice at home:

Urdhva Hastasana
Uttanasansa – feet mat width apart, hands around ankles.
Interlace hands behind back. Roll shoulders back.
Urdhva Hastasana, widen arms, then move from elbows only to UH
Adho Mukha Vrksanana, with right leg, then left
Urdhva Hastasana, with belt proximal to elbow
Adho Mukha Vrksanana, with belt
Pincha Mayurasana, hands holding block – (outer edges of hands – little finger side) first right leg then left leg.
Pincha Mayurasana again, with traditional hands, right leg then left. All done with rolled stiky mat under elbows.
Sirsasana, interlace fingers right little finger on floor, then again with left little finger on floor.
Sirsasana again, right little finger on floor and raise left leg up as high as you can, then do right leg.
Sirsasana again, same as above allowing bottom leg to lift off the floor into Sirsasana. Do both sides. (No jumping, no hopping, do slowly and keep legs straight).
Tadasana, straight a way after sirsasana. Interlace fingers behind back chin up eyes up.
Ardha Sirsasana
Tadasana, same as before
Urdhva Dandasana – feet at wall, hug thighs into the hip sockets and raise the buttocks up. Then walk the feet down the wall to Ardha Sirsasana.
Tadasana, hands in fists – extend thumbs down. Then interlace fingers behind back chin up eyes up.
Urdhva Dandasana, free form – feet from floor half way.
Setubanda Sarvangasana, with block
Setubanda Sarvangasana, hands under back ribs
Salamba Sarvangasana I
Salamba Sarvangasana II
Nirlamba I – arms forward
Nirlamba II – arms straight up towards ceiling along sides of trunk

Gulnaz and I in her new studio.


A Treat

(I apologize to those that have already read this. It posted prematurely prior to edits)

Wednesday Women’s Class. Today we all wondered if Geeta would be teaching the women’s class again. Our class begins at 9:30am which is the same time Guruji is practicing. A teacher named Nawaz began teaching the class, we started with Adho Mukha Virasana. Guruji wasn’t satisfied with the instruction or our asana. At that point, from the beginning to the end of class…Guruji taught us. Gulnaz did most of the demonstration, Nawaz guided, and Guruji on the microphone. WHAT A TREAT! I never thought I would have the opportunity to be taught by B.K.S. Iyengar himself. Nawaz even had us repeat the key instructions out loud that Guruji gave us to make sure we got the point, which made the atmosphere calming. He sure can make you wake up in an asana. I always thought I would be petrified if ever given the opportunity to be in a class when Guruji taught. But it was inspiring, transforming, and lots of fun too.

I’ve been really busy…so much to do, so much to see, and so much to eat! Here are a few pictures.

Practice Hall.


Shiva Temple.



Ayur Jyoti: Kerala Ayurvedic




A gem

Sunday morning mini workshop with Gulnaz. A small group of us went to Gulnaz’s yoga studio today. Her space is lovely. She’s almost finished with it, just a few touches here and there. Gulnaz first started by saying that we are so lucky to have Geeta teaching us this month. Yesterday when Geeta taught she was on fire, full of energy. Gulnaz said that it was so beautiful for even her to see. From what I understand Geeta has been in semi retirement, and will be in full retirement very soon. There were many times I wavered in my decision about going alone especially my first time to RIMYI. You hear all the stories, and its always nice to have someone guide you through the process. I’m really glad that I didn’t allow fear to keep me from having this experience.

Okay, back to Gulnaz. She opened the floor to any questions we may have about the teachings at the institute so far, and then we practiced a standing pose sequence, revisiting poses we had done this week. She guided each one of us individually. She joyfully laughs…”Okay, I will come hit you and then you will understand”. Her hit is not at all a hit of anger or meanness, but rather a wake up call bringing intelligence to a stagnate area of your physical body/mind. Then she moves the body correctly, which the body then responds to as now it understands. The resulting response is freedom in body and mind. Gulnaz is a gem! A very talented teacher.

Mango Lassi…Mmm


No Props

Saturday morning women’s class with Geetaji. Geeta was full of energy today, she wiped me out! It was the conclusion of a week of standing poses. And, did we do standing poses! Also without the use of props. “No props today. You always go for the props to be comfortable. Unless you have some medical, and /or aged need, otherwise you just use them to be comfortable”. The class was fun, energizing, and a lot of hard work. I must have lost 5 pounds after that one.

On Sundays there are no scheduled yoga classes at the institute for us, it’s a day off. However, I’ve been invited to a home workshop with Gulnaz (teacher at the institute). More yoga for me.

Here’s a few pictures of our afternoon outing.

Dear Esta, This one is for you! Nana!


Nana, our rickshaw driver took us here to buy pune shorts. This is the workshop in back of their home, where they make the batik design materials.



Me and Petra (my friend from Germany)


Straight Through

Geetaji taught the women’s class today. I swear she can see straight through you! This is the second time I have experienced Geeta’s teaching. Both times, people have been called upon to “take the pose”. She is amazing at bringing more clarity, freedom, and life into everyone (not just into their asana). She begins with the physical level (Annamaya Kosha) and penetrates straight through into the intellectual body (Vijnanamaya Kosh). She does it in a frank and honest way. In the end you can see her compassion and her kindness. I’m looking forward to her pranayama class Friday evening.

It’s just coming up on monsoon season here. The rains start between 4 – 6pm every evening and last throughout the night. It’s nice because it cools things off. I’ve met a lot of good people from all over the world. And yes, I have been doing my share of shopping. If anyone from the Bangalore trip is reading this…Something heavy is coming home in my backpack. Here we go again.

This is my cook and friend, Monesha. My friend from Germany, Petra is joining me for lunch today. Monesha is making rice, dahl, vege dish, and chapati.


One Like No Other.

From 7:00 – 9:00am is yoga class with Prashant. Then from 9:30 – 12:00pm is personal practice time. Guruji also practices at this time. At one point I looked up and saw Guruji practicing a deep backbend -Bhujangasana, with chest and arms up on the rope wall, and weights placed on his feet. Those of you who attended Arun’s workshop know what pose I’m talking about. At 94 years old, he is one like no other. Guruji also instructed Abhijata and Raya during our practice time. Got to try this one….take the middle rope (yes the middle rope, not the top one) out of the rope wall and place it in the lowest hook. Step into the rope and place the rope around the upper back (shoulder blades armpit area). Then take Adho Muka Svanasana, heels at the wall. For the second attempt, same pose with adding a block at the dorsal spine (between the shoulder blades, the rope will hold the block). Big pose!

Between 4:00 – 6:00pm, I observe the Medical Classes. Yesterday Abhijata conducted the class. Today Guruji conducted the entire class. Wow! All I can say is that this is LIKE NO OTHER. I don’t know anyone anywhere in the world that does this type of incredible work. It surpasses physical therapy hands down.

First Day of Class.


I didn’t sleep a wink last night. The anticipation of the first day of class was just too great. As we lined up the stairs waiting to go into the yoga room, I noticed that I wasn’t the only newbie struck with wonder, anxiety, and fear.  As soon as the invocation begins, all is okay. While Prashant leads us in the prayers there is an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that I’m finally here in India at the Iyengar Yoga Institute. Then Prashant begins to speak. OMG I cannot understand a word he is saying! I can understand Geeta and Arunij, why not Prashant? He was in lecture mode today. By the end of class I could understand him a little better. After class we have two hours of personal practice time in the studio. Guruji was also practicing. While he is in sirsasana and in deep supported backbends he is talking to Abhijata guiding her throughout her practice, it’s so sweet and so inspiring. Later in the afternoon I observed the medical class, more on that later. Off to bed, I’m exhausted.

I’m Here.

Vikram picked me up promptly at the hotel in Mumbai. Travel time to Pune was about three hours, luckily the traffic gods were on our side. Vikam was great, he called my landord as soon as we entered Pune to let her know my time of arrival, and his car was air conditioned (definitely a plus). Mrs. Pai, along with the house keeper (Kaveeta), and the cook (Monisha) were there to greet me upon arrival. Mrs. Pai explained all that was needed from me for the institute. She sent the cook with me to find an ATM, zerox machine, and to the market to buy food. What an angel! I was worried about all of this since I am all by myself in this adventure, thank you Mrs. Pai! While in the market, Monisha is asking what I want her to cook. Well, I like Indian food, but do not know the names of all the dishes I like. I just told her to pick out whatever she wanted. She made a lovely meal of rice, dahl, and a vege dish. After everyone left I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and exhausted, and I took a much needed nap. Then off to the Institute to register for classes. My flat is only 3 minutes walking distance from the institute. I saw Guruji, and Prashant as I walked in. The registration process is pretty simple If you know what is required ahead of time (which isn’t usually the case). You need a passport size photo, letter from landlord with proof of address (landlord utility bill), a copy of your visa with date of entry stamp, and your letter of admittance. Also, on the registration form there is a place to report any ailment and to attach papers relating to the ailment. So, if you have any issues you need to report, bring doctor reports (I was unaware of this).

Tomorrow is the first day of class! I keep hearing Arunji telling me “Debbie, go with no expectations”. From Chris “Focus on one step at a time – not to get overwhelmed”. And from Tina ” Follow the Yellow Brick Road – courage”. So, those are my mantras.

Check out this awesome flat! It has everything, two big bedrooms, two baths, complete kitchen, separate living room, outside balcony, AC, TV, and Wifi. It’s light, airy and quiet! Just wish I had someone to share it with. Hopefully I’ll meet people in class soon.