Yoga protocol: why does it matter?

Before a pranayama class at RIMYI in Pune last August, we students were sprawled on our mats. Some sitting, some chatting; others, like me, lying down leg stretches. When the teacher, Rajlaxmi, entered the room and settled herself on a bolster, I swung up, sit-up style. “Lie back down!” she yelled. What? In a flash, we…… Continue reading Yoga protocol: why does it matter?

Unsupported shoulderstand?

A friend pointed me to a blog post, “Please, NO Lifts in Shoulderstand,” by Sandra Sammartino, a yoga teacher based in White Rock, BC. My initial response? No way. In Salamba Sarvangasana the overwhelming majority of people need shoulder support, such as folded blankets. Then I stopped and caught myself. In my prior post, “Learning on your…… Continue reading Unsupported shoulderstand?

No false praise in Iyengar yoga

Skimming through an issue of Common Ground, a Bay Area “consciousness” magazine, I spotted a photo of a slim young woman in Dhanurasana. Her pose was all wrong, painfully so, with a collapsed chest, convex thoracic spine, and widely splayed knees. The image accompanied a woman’s essay on surviving depression and addiction with the help of yoga. Incredibly, the image must have…… Continue reading No false praise in Iyengar yoga

The yoga hand

The “yoga foot” has been much studied, taught, debated, and photographed. But what about the “yoga hand”? A few weeks ago, I was practicing yoga with my friend Sharmeen. She observed one of my standing poses and suddenly asked, “Why are your fingers spread apart like that?” Surprised, I exited the pose. “You mean like this?”…… Continue reading The yoga hand

What it’s like at RIMYI (Part II)

Note: This post continues my “self interview” about RIMYI. Read Part I first. Was the student population diverse? Based on my unscientific observations during August 2014, the biggest contingent was from Italy. I met dozens of Italians and many British and French. I met a handful each from the US, Canada, and Japan, and others from Germany, Australia, Spain, Russia, Hungary, Hong…… Continue reading What it’s like at RIMYI (Part II)

What it’s like at RIMYI (Part I)

Since flying home two weeks ago, my temporary life in Pune already feels distant–long ago, far away, a parallel world that words cannot quite describe. Once back, my mind switched to the here and now, the immediate stuff of life. Sooner than I probably realize, my memories of RIMYI and India will grow fuzzy, however vivid they once were. People will stop…… Continue reading What it’s like at RIMYI (Part I)

Packing wisely

Before my nearly seven-week trip to Pune, Bombay, and London, I debated about luggage. Initially I planned to travel light: rolling carry-on, plus computer backpack and messenger bag. In chatting with colleagues, however, I decided to bring a 26-inch check-in suitcase. One friend always packs important items  such as survival tools in her carry-on bag, but checks in…… Continue reading Packing wisely

London: civilization as I know it

I love London! On my first day, I was in fantasy land. How can streets and sidewalks be this clean? Where’s the garbage, poop, and unidentifiable muck? Why are cars stopping for pedestrians? Tap water is drinkable and power outages rare? In India I spent my final week in Mumbai. This city is incomparably larger than Pune–and urban…… Continue reading London: civilization as I know it

Odissi, Ganesh, and complexity of Indian culture

India has long intrigued the Western imagination. Ancient, colorful, and intense, it is a beacon to those seeking a place unlike anywhere else. People often rave about the country’s “exotic” culture and downplay its negatives, such as rampant corruption and abysmal infrastructure. But even the culture, as practiced today, is thorny. Here are two examples. First, on Ganesh Chaturthi, I…… Continue reading Odissi, Ganesh, and complexity of Indian culture

A few thoughts on solitude and solo travel

In Pune, few RIMYI students live alone, as I chose to do. Most share apartments with other students, either friends or strangers, while a few stay at hotels like the Chetak or Ambience. Every option has its risks, especially for first timers, but I decided that after a day among 150+ classmates, it would be a relief to…… Continue reading A few thoughts on solitude and solo travel

10 tips for touring Pune

During the first three weeks of August, I rarely ventured beyond the neighborhood around RIMYI. In the past week, I’ve gone shopping and sightseeing with Nana, a favored rickshaw driver who became my informal tour guide, insider source, and translator. Going around Pune, I noticed a few things (including this orange billboard featuring Mr Iyengar).…… Continue reading 10 tips for touring Pune

What to do, where to go: further “adjusting” in India

RIMYI is closed until September. No more classes for us August students. Suddenly, the purpose of my trip, yoga, was gone–at least in the way I’d expected. At first I agreed to join my Canadian colleagues on a three-night trip to Ellora and Ajanta. That wasn’t my first inclination. I wanted still to practice daily, to…… Continue reading What to do, where to go: further “adjusting” in India