and begging techniques...
04.04.2008 32 °C
I have made it to most of the Ashtanga practices this week. Although I'm having a bit of a plateau in my practice in some respects, things are getting easier and I've learned a lot this week. Louise went over some Yin Yoga practices with me, to balance out the Ashtanga and to gently bring flexibility and awareness to the stiff areas. Like most people, I have a tendency to skim over what I find difficult or uncomfortable and so staying in an asana, using support where necessary is a good thing. Thinking about it though, what I find difficult/easy changes and sometimes swaps places... I find the standing sequence in Ashtanga easy and exhilirating and have got slightly unbalanced as I am very strong now but don't always find it so easy to let go.
This evening I braved the Usha Devi Iyengar class again. It was actually a great class. She was shouty, impish, very funny. This evening it was all "Oh do as you like, you do not care what I say...". She gave everyone a long pep talk. She said that even if you have been doing Yoga/asana practice for 7-10 years you are still a beginner and she was talking about how it frees you from both mental and physical bondage. How it gave her her life back after a serious car accident. She was saying that Iyengar practices intensely every single day so that he is not a slave to his body and the natural deterioration that can occur with age. And how when your body is properly aligned and doing what it can naturally do there is no risk of injury. And we were focussing on upavista konasana and its variations and I could feel a relaxing and lengthening of my inner thighs that felt good and comfortable. I've also completely stopped bending my knees to modify an asana and how found a new and better approach that protects the knees and reduces the risk of injury. It made me realize how much I miss the Scaravelli classes in Brighton- the multitasking awareness of a posture and then completely being in it. Oh, and one of the guys from the Ashram teacher training course turned up! The same one that nearly drove me crazy taking photos, but he didn't have his camera tonight, I'd like to have seen what Usha would have made of that kind of conduct!!
I went to a Sivananda class last night and it was then the Heavens opened... Rishikesh is beautiful in the rain. This was a full on storm though, with thunder, lightening and flooded streets. It was so loud we could barely hear the teachers instructions. I walked through the rain afterwards to go to the Madras Cafe for some hot food and then spent the rest of the evening reading, wrapped up in blankets and listening to the rain. There was a mist over the river and the hills turned into a bluish watercolour that seemed to extend forever. It was truly lovely.
I've spent a lot of time exploring in the past couple of days as my time heres nearly over. Thinking about karma etc and what the astrologer said I was sitting near Laxmanjhula bridge yesterday. A blind saddhu was singing a beautiful mournfula and soulful song. I listened to him for a while, it was quite moving. Then I went and put a few coins in his lap. Clocking this, the old lady next to him who had appeared to be in a trance suddenly burst into song too....! Theres a lot of people begging around here and some of them have some quite interesting techniques- painting themselves red and offering blessings, taunting snakes for entertainment. Theres one who site near Swiss Cottage and we have this conversation every morning;
Saddhu- "Madame! Hello! Namaste! (holds his arms in air) I can feel God! I can feel God in you! I can feel Goodness coming from you!"
Vicky- (sarcastically) Gosh! Can you really?
Saddhu- "Why yes Madame! And how are you today?"
Vicky- "I'm very well thankyou. And how are you?"
Saddhu- "Oh very well thankyou! Except there is no eating of the food for me today.. Perhaps you could be so kind as to spare 20 rupees...."
etc.... But the atmosphere is strangely good natured. I've seen crippled people on the bridge who walk on their knees, it looks medieval to me. But they smile at you and theres a light and contentedness coming from them which can't be faked. And believe me, I know how that sounds. I can't stand people that go on about how happy the poor in India are bla bla, this country has a lot, a LOT of problems. But you see some of these people and how they are accepting their present situation and not bemoaning or fantasizing about what they do not have. Its worth bearing in mind...
I had to laugh this morning though. I went to buy a bottle of water from a small shop and as usual, no change. The boy sprinted around everywhere with my 100 rupee note with no luck. The only person who had change was one of the saddhus who counted it out of his money purse in an organized fashion.... I tell you, God only knows where all the 10 rupee notes go.......