Saturday, January 12, 2008

Photos from The Iyengar Institute

Okay! I'll try again with some pictures of the Institute where we are spending so much of our time! This was a special request from my mom... (xo!)

Here is a view of the studio, from across the street. This is a nighttime picture (obviously!), but if you look, you can see the giant "Aum" on the gate. The first floor is the larger room, where Geeta & Prashant are teaching, and the top room is the studio where the public classes are taught. In the window, you can see that people are doing Hasta Padangustasana, with their feet up on the bars of the windows... stretching their hamstrings. That's our friend Robin in the yellow t-shirt!

This is a picture of the big practice room. It is quite spacious, but believe me when I tell you that it gets seriously packed. I got this picture when we showed up right on time for a saturday practice session. I'm not sure how well you can see, but the entire back wall of the room is piled to the brim with props props and more props. You have never seen a more crazy & complete selection of things in your life - countless variations of wooden benches, blocks, stools, and platforms; wooden blocks of all sizes, poles, planks, & bars; weights; mountains of blankets, straps, & sticky mats; many variants of pillows and bolsters; and much more. It's fascinating to see how every inch of the room, and every tiny architectural feature gets utilized as a prop. "Wall space" is a hot commodity - and even the columns are a rich source of flat surface (as well as useful corner angles. The edge of the platform is frequently put to use, people are hanging upside down all over the place... it's a crazy and wonderful display of ingenuity.

This is a picture of Abbey on the platform... This is usually the spot that we all face during class. You can see the rope wall on the right, and some of the pictures of Mr. Iyengar above. The whole room is decorated with amazing and inspirational pictures of Mr. Iyengar practicing. It's wonderful to look up and see photos of him - at all ages and in all postures.... amazing!! The room also has some statues, photos of Mr. Iyengar's teacher Krishnamacharya, Mr. Iyengar's wife, and various other lovely objects of contemplation. It's a busy but inspirational collection.

The classes have definitely been building in intensity - and I am most deeply grateful to my teacher Kofi for preparing me so well. The atmosphere in class is intimidating, inspiring, confusing, chaotic, and fantastic. The quality of instruction is truly superb... providing so much information for learning and observing. The depth of understanding, and the awe-inspiring amount of practice and analysis behind that understanding is quite breathtaking. And still, at times it's hard not to practice with the sole aim of not being yelled at! ha ha. Gradually each of us has been yelled at once or twice, and we're still alive... so the rather intense fear of the first couple weeks is definitely subsiding. Thank goodness!

In our classes with Geeta there are usually 3-4 assistants in the room, helping her to make sure that we are doing the postures correctly, as Geeta has instructed. They are the ones to watch out for! :)

We are all just amazed by Geeta's classes. Her skill at sequencing postures is totally astronomical. Something to be studied and reviewed, over and over... for sure.

Here's a picture that I snapped during practice one day.. you can see that it really does get full. And this is nothing compared to class time! At times during class, we are packed in so tightly that it's all mat-to-mat with no space around. And still we have a great experience. In classes, it can get totally chaotic - running to and fro from one part of the room to another, only to find you mat occupied by someone else and all your props gone. You'd better grab someone else's mat quickly though - before Geeta catches you standing around with a stupified look on your face! :)

The practice sessions are a wonderful opportunity to practice what we are learning in class, or to provide some balance to whatever the class was working on. It's also neat to watch what others are doing and learn from how they use the props and such. Lastly, it's wonderful because Mr. Iyengar and Geeta are also almost always there practicing with us. We have been especially lucky because Mr. Iyengar is teaching his granddaughter (in her early 30s?) about yoga, and on a few occasions he has been very willing to let us gather around and observe and listen. My goodness!!! What a phenomena. It's beautiful and inspiring and just plain amazing to witness what he can see and perceive and communicate. Very very special.

I hope everyone is well,
please leave some comments for me! we are all feeling a little homesick... even though we're loving our time here!
xo Amey