Stories from Pune #1
12th February 2017
This month we’re featuring some of our teacher members’ experiences of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India. Iyengar yoga students from around the world can apply to visit the Institute after studying Iyengar yoga for at least eight years, typically staying for a month to learn from the Iyengar family and others.
This week, Tamara Hockey and Judith Soffa share their stories.
Tamara Hockey – January 2013
(This is an extract from Tamara’s blog https://tamarahockey.wordpress.com/ where she gives daily updates from her trips to Pune).
Day 2: 32 Tadasanas / Abijata and Guruji What a day! Class began at 9.30am and after yesterday’s experience of being at the back with all the traffic noise, we made sure we arrived 45 minutes early and chose a good space. Abijata took the class with a microphone and relayed instructions directly from Guruji – it was amazing! I was so moved to be receiving instruction from the master himself. The class was excellent and I learned much. I am brimming over from all this new learning and that was only the first class! The method of teaching between Guruji and Abijata worked brilliantly. Abijata’s instructions were crystal clear and her delivery assertive but with humour.
First a lecture on coming to class with an open mind – as Guruji put it, if your cup is already full how can you receive anything?. We were to leave our egos at the door and approach the class as students whatever our certification as teachers. We began in swastikasana with no props unless truly needed. Lifting up the sides of the spine, every single vertabrae involved in upwards extension – we were told we were pushing our spines forward and there can be no extension in this case. There should be 32 Tadasanas in your back!
We did a dynamic standing pose sequence: Prasarita Padottonasana, Trikonasana, Parsvakonasana, Vira 2, Ardha Chandrasana, Vira 1, Vira 3, Parsvottonasana, Prasarita Paddottonasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Sirsasana, Adho Mukh
a Svanasana, Janu Sirsasana, Upavista Konasana, Paschimottonasana, Sarvangasana, Karnapidasana.
So much brilliant teaching contained within that I felt completely engaged and challenged throughout. Spirits soaring all round, yesterday’s despondency about class size and difficulty hearing etc. transformed.
Later on in the day I was in the lobby looking at books for sale, when I noticed Guruji sat just opposite me. There we were face to face. I nervously bought my hands together at my heart and bowed my head. When I raised my gaze he gave me a nod of acknowledgement and I felt an unexpected sense of grave respect contained within.
Judi Soffa – Pune Intensive 1982
I had just gained my Introductory Teaching Certificate and Jeanne Maslen, our trainer and senior student with Guruji, booked us into an Intensive three week course with BKS Iyengar at the RIMYI in Pune.
What an experience it was!
Firstly of course India was still very much third world and a revelation to me, Pune had no cars, just bullock carts, bicycles and rickshaws, no mobile phones, no shops just shacks. With only trunk calls back to the UK, which took 2hrs to get connected and letters taking three weeks, my mother was beside herself with worry.
There were two classes a day. The morning class began at 9.30am and was 2-3 hours long, and the afternoon class at around 4pm was also at least two hours. The teaching was phenomenal. Guruj was on fire..the zeal, intensity, the absolute commitment to imparting his yogic discipline to us was like nothing I had ever or will experience again.
Some found it too intense but I knew he had to make us be absolutely in the present and if you stayed with him and followed his every instruction the rewards were there. We were taken out of our comfort zone and challenged physically and emotionally and only when Guruji was sure we had caught his instructions and we were doing the asanas with all our efforts, then he beamed and he was satisfied he had done what he was meant to do..impart the most incredible knowledge of the body, mind and spirit and lift us out of our limitations and inspire us on the yogic path.
I feel so fortunate that I have been alive when Guruji lived as there will never be another teacher like him for hundreds of years, if ever.