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Day 31


Managed to arrive just in time to see Guruji – I knelt down and told him that it was my last day and thanked him for allowing me to come and for his teaching. He said “God Bless You” and blessed is exactly what I felt.

Surprisingly managed to get absorbed in my practice even though my departure was so imminent. Headed home with two hours to eat, pack and relax with a cup of tea before heading off to Mumbai in a taxi booked with Nicola. Almost as soon as I was through the door the phone rang and it was the taxi driver from KK travels confirming the pick up location – trouble was he didn’t have a word of English and I didn’t have a word of Marati. From previous experience I knew this was not a good scenario, so I rang KK travels who said they’d sort it.I got a call from another driver whose English was great and confirmed the pick up for 2pm.

I was not best pleased when at 1pm the door bell went and there was the original driver – I was completely unable to make myself understood that he was way too early and not who I was expecting. I rang KK to see if they could help and when I eventually got through they said ” No Mam, our drivers are not so much educated, no speak English”.

Mostly they are used to just taking people directly to the airport, so to avoid any confusion or difficulties with communication I had booked via email with the two addresses of the Yogashraya for the ropes and the hotel, complete with maps of their locations. As a further precaution I also saved route maps on my phone. Of course this did me no good whatsoever as the driver hadn’t been given the information and he couldn’t read my maps. In the end we rang the Yogashraya several times and got them to explain their location and we stopped at least twenty times to ask people for directions, it took FOREVER. Despite leaving at 2pm Nicola started to be worried about missing her 1am flight! Now for the second leg of the journey, but this was to the airport hotel, so that had to be straightforward right?

Mumbai is a BIG place, the traffic was terrible and the driver not the sharpest. Another 20 stops for directions and many sweaty hours later, we finally pulled up outside the Hotel Kohinoor Continental. Sweet air conditioned Heaven! It was so good to arrive: comfy beds, showers, kettle in room, bliss. I wished we had arrived earlier as they also have a nice outdoor swimming pool. I managed about 2 hours sleep before my 3.30am alarm to get to the airport. As the plane waited for take-off I was surprised to see how close the slums were to the runway – they came right the way to the fence not 200 yards away. My last view of India as the plane taxied down the runway at dawn, was of several slum dwellers pulling down their trousers and crouching on the bare earth. Goodbye India!


Hotel Kohinoor Continental

Day 30


Sure is quiet around here! Half the people have gone already and not many of next month’s intake have shown their faces in the practice room yet. Though the newbies are fun to watch as they catch their first sight of Mr Iyengar relaxing on a deck chair on his porch not five feet away from them. Lots of whispering and surrepticious glances! It is surprising how freely he mixes with everyone, though mostly students keep a respectful distance.

Speaking of which, after I had greeted him this morning it was my opportunity to talk to him about how I was feeling from the work he has given me and to thank him for his teaching. I hesitated and the moment passed as someone else came to discuss matters with him. I’ll try and catch him (and my courage) before practice tomorrow.

I have a car booked to take me and Nicola to Mumbai tomorrow afternoon stopping en-route at the Mumbai Yogashraya to purchase ropes for my future studio, which Lynda assures me are of a superior quality to the ones I could easily have purchased here! I’ve also got twenty empty bolster covers to fill with cotton in the UK as the size and weight of the filled bolsters makes shipping expensive.

This month’s work has been challenging and interesting and hasn’t led at all where I originally expected it to. We have worked very little on the rinsing and stimulating actions that we focussed on last year, with very obvious results on my blood sugar levels. Instead with Guruji’s guidance we have focussed on work that has strengthened and energised the organs of the back body. He gave me a supported Navasana in such a way that I was actually able to feel my pancreas and with this I was able to draw it right up into the body – energetically it feels as if it’s lifted and toned. Interestingly, whatever pose I work in, if I can get this ‘drawing up’ feeling in the pancreas (which is between the stomach and the spine, behind the V shape of the front ribs) it completely corrects the positioning of the lower body – abdomen feels long and lean and no more lordosis. So now I’m doing ‘navasana’ in tadasana, sirsasana, full arm balance etc. It just goes to illustrate how it’s all connected and I’m so glad I’ve found a way to work on this – it just didn’t feel right trying to slam the lumbar back artificially. I do hope to continue the work when I get home, with a view to coming back to Pune as soon as I’ve raised the funds.

Things I am going to miss about Pune: 1)The excellent yoga and excellent teachers 2) Sunshine 3) Luscious fresh fruit 4) Spiritual Vibrancy

Things I am NOT going to miss about Pune: 1) This bloody rock-hard bed (I am getting arse ache just sitting on it, never mind sleeping on it, might as well put a sheet on a concrete slab 2)Pollution 3)YES maam? 4) The utter impossibility of organising anything in a straight forward manner.

When the cab company (that is the one most often recommended by others KK Travel) that didn’t respond to my online booking and then cut me off when I rang them, finally rang to confirm the booking I was very relieved – that is until the confirmation email arrived with the WRONG date on it. Three phone calls later (each one getting passed around, so that I had to explain the same thing and answer the same questions continuously) they are refusing to send me a confirmation with the correct date on it, I just have to trust that they WILL turn up…

Day 29


Oh what a BUSY day. Regretfully skipped observing Geeta’s class in favour of practicing myself and getting on with the jobs that need to be done before I return home. However I did get a full report from Eva (see below) when she floated through the door after a ‘Geeta special’ pranayama class. 

“The eyes have to sit in the pockets of the cheek bones and the brain will follow and quieten, eardrums also withdraw inwards. On the inhalation observe how the eyes rise again. They are like naughty children who continue to repeat the same behaviour, and in the same way as with a naughty child you have to repeat often, kindly and firmly the behaviour you expect of them.

In the viloma she used the pauses to put the eyes back in their pockets. The chest opening had to come very naturally – not as a result of a command from the brain.

I spent a long time trying to speak to Air India and even with my unflappable yogic calm it was impossible to get anywhere with them. Incorrectly advertised telephone numbers, menu systems that didn’t work and when I finally did get throughto the right person I explained the problem and yep, you guessed it, they hung up one me. I am NEVER flying Air India again!! On the trip out here I rang them no less than three times to check and double check they had ordered me a gluten free meal for the flight and then checked again when I checked in. When the meals came out and I asked for my gluten free one the steward looked utterly mystified, as if I’d asked for the moon and then proceeded to give me a bread roll! I ended up with a little sachet of cut fruit served with cut fruit, with a side order of cut fruit and cut fruit for dessert. It would have been funny, except somehow on a plane the food becomes a magnificently important event and I was HUNGRY. 

Headed out for my final shopping mission to get Josie a little indian outfit and also a supply of ragi flour which I can’t get in the UK. You get millet flour, but not this dark coloured chewy stuff that I love. I am feeling quite anxious about how I’m going to pack all this stuff to get it on the aeroplane, am hoping the ropes are not too bulky. 

When I arrived for medical I was surprised to see Guruji on the stage lying in savasana with an enormous weight on the thighs – this was what I needed for my head, my brain was hopping about all over the place. My sequence stayed pretty much the same, with some adustments from Guruji where he felt a pose could be done more effectively. Each time he makes a change you are required to give a quick response as to it’s effect. One very nice pose (and I use the word ‘nice’ in the yogic sense, meaning exquisitely uncomfortable) is a rope sirsasana on the ceiling ropes so I’m dangling in the centre of the room, I fold the elbows and then weights are tied to the forearms. This makes the whole organ body feel like it’s being drawn into a long, skinny line along the length of the spine (it also drags and scrapes your bare calves on the rough, fibrous ropes, ouch).

When I came home I realised the taxi company hadn’t confirmed my online request for Friday’s cab, so I rang them and yep, they hung up on me too …….

Day 28


Slept about 11 hours last night! I had expected to be up in time to practice before observing the older person’s class, but alas having woken at 5.30am and decided it was too early, didn’t open my eyes agin until 8am. The health of this place is really beginning to sink into my bones.

Enjoyed my walk through the park to the institute, the morning energy is lovely, there is always something happening, always something to see, smell, hear. First I walk past some kind of temple where at this time there is always music – bells ringing, cymbals clashing, chanting. A joyful cacophany of worship. Today outside was an old oxen and cart.

Then the park itself is a bustling hive of activity – there are always half a dozen or so women sweeping up the leaves from under the trees and gathering them in huge baskets which they carry on their heads. It’s a liitle like painting the golden gate bridge though – a never ending task and I’m not sure why it’s necessary anyhow, wouldn’t the leaves help to preserve mositure and nutrients for the trees above? You know how they say you’re never more than seven feet away from a rat (or from someone who’ll tell you you’re never more than seven feet from a rat) – well in India you’re never more than seven feet away from someone sweeping. It’s a national occupation and the sound of a swishing besom is an almost constant back drop. It’s hard to understand why – what would happen if all the sweeping stopped? We seem to manage at home without continuous sweeping.

Guruji was in attendance at medical class but didn’t work with me today. Sometimes I think he is observing and next time he comes he will have planned the next course of action. Gerry got some personal tuition from him in sirsasana during the practice session today. I spent some time selecting and ordering photos for Yogawest and also getting quotes for ropes for the new studio I hope to open in the coming months. Finally the internet guy came to fix our internet, I felt like hugging him so pleased I was to see him!




Day 27


Great practice at home, I should have done this all along  – I am feeling much stronger and happier with my own yoga. After practice headed to Dimplex – a small shop selling handmade batik items; yoga shorts, t-shirts, mat bags as well as Iyengar Yoga supplies; ropes, belts, blankets etc. After I had placed my order I was shown the workshop in the back where there were 3 women working. One handpainting the wax for batik and 2 on sewing machines making yoga belts.

Back home I made another batch of delicious coconut and pistachio truffles. I blended; soaked dates, creamed coconut, grated fresh coconut, cocoa and pistachios and formed ball shapes which were rolled in grated coconut and put in the fridge to set. Seriously yummy.

Medical class was great. I continued to follow the exact sequence given by Guruji last time I worked with him. I feel I’m making real progress with it now and am very sad to be leaving on Friday (though very excited to be going home to family).

Was pretty fed up to get back to the apartment and find still no internet and no answer from landlady’s phone. Must be a whole week now and I’ve no hotel booked for Mumbai and haven’t been able to Skype the kids either. Bah Humbug!



Day 26



A wonderful day! Woke up naturally (always a good start to the day) and practiced in the cool solitude of the apartment. Worked very hard on the realignment of my body in sirsasana – it’s going to take some time before my body will accept this new shape, somehow when my lumbar and dorsal are correctly placed there isn’t enough room for my legs and hips in the pelvis, trying to keep them back in line feels like ancient millstones grinding laboriously against each other or trying to move tectonic plates that are wedged!

I understood with great clarity today that I have been allowing difficult emotions to chase me around the place – like bullies the more you avoid them the bigger they become. The value of yoga practice is to give you a forum to face the suffering head on and only then is there freedom from them. It made me realise that both as a parent and teacher I am doing my students and children a great disservice by trying to protect them and only give them pleasurable experiences. Far better to support them in facing difficulties and suffering so that they become stronger and more resilient.

The more we stay in a posture and meet the negative feelings with a steady breath the more we purify the body, but if at the first niggle or distracting thought we move on, we have lost an opportunity to thrive.

After practice headed to the Mariot Hotel for a swim. It’s great if you want a bit of luxury. When I got there I soon realised that the sunbeds were full of Iyengar students, so I had a lovely sociable day swimming in the ice cold pool and drying off in the pleasant heat, whilst comparing our experiences at the Institute. I felt more relaxed and energised than I have all month. Afterwards Nicola and I headed to their cafe and I indulged in a soya milk hot chocolate – the only place I’ve come across in India where you can buy this. Then we went up to the 24th floor where they have a rooftop terrace. We were greeted with a complimentary glass of bubbly (which I donated to some of the drinkers – don’t envy them going to Prasant’s class in the morning Blink) It had an amazing view looking out all over Pune . The food was great and I thoroughly enjoyed myself despite the rather obnoxious music pumping out of the speakers at full volume.

I strolled home via the fruit market stopping for delicious Chinese gooseberries. I am irresistibly sleepy now, the way kids are when you take them swimming!


Day 25


Pranayama week began today with Geeta’s class this morning. A sequence of supine poses and rope sirsasana / chair sarvangasana followed by ujayii and anta kumbhaka. The tone was very different to how we teach pranayama back home – very severe and strict despite the peaceful nature of the subject matter.

After class went off to the perfume shop with Eva and Lynda and got the oils people back home had requested. Some of it was for Tanya who had asked me only to get if it was completely pure. As I was buying the neroli oil, I was double checking it’s purity and he let slip that he had a higher quality one but insisted that we wouldn’t need such a high grade oil for our purposes – he was extremely reluctant to sell it to me and was quite cagey about mentioning anything again in case I made him sell me any other unnecessarily high purity oils that he deemed me undeserving of!

Went to Laxmi Road again in an attempt to find fabric for my daughter’s trousers – but no luck, they simply don’t seem to sell that kind of cotton here. Lynda took me to a packed Indian eatery right in the heart of Tulsi market and the food was delicious.

We had a farewell dinner for Laura tonight who is leaving tomorrow. I was rather chilled to hear from Kirsten that the little puppy who had been jumping up at me and nipping at my legs had a crowd around him today. He was writhing around on the floor with blood pouring out of his mouth and she wondered if he had rabies. Then Gerry said he’d read in the local paper that nine people had died from rabies in Pune recently. I think I may have had a very lucky escape….


Day 24


Had perhaps the best practice of the month, staying at home suits me so much better. Headed off to Laxmi Road in the hope of finding presents for the girls, this experience also better solo. The time to wander in and out of shops without inconveniencing anyone else. No pressure, no hurry. Well perhaps not quite ‘no pressure’ – if you even so much as glance at a stall or shop there is an immediate “Yes Mam?” said in an expectant and demanding tone. It gets kind of irritating after a while, so today I greeted every loud “Yes Mam?” with an equally loud and expectant “Yes Sir?” and nine times out of ten we ended up smiling at each other and they just left me alone to get on with it.

Went into a marvellous fabric shop and purchased 6 different fabrics to make into tops when I get back to Bristol. Should keep me busy in my dressmaking class for a good while.

Pranayama with Geeta this evening and again I found myself sitting right at her feet. Before the class had even begun we got a telling off for waiting for instruction and watching her put her socks on when we could have been preparing ourselves to sit well.  She told us watching her put her socks on was ‘very spiritual’ in dryly sarcastic tones. The thing is, I’ve got very fond of Geeta over this month and fully understand why people have previously talked about her as being motherly. It’s certainly not motherly in a soft, nurturing kind of way – much more in a ‘tell it like it is, cruel to be kind, whichever way you play it is the wrong way’ kind of motherly and yet all the while she is giving with every ounce of her being. It would be much less effort to ignore all our faults and just deliver the information.

The class followed a similar format to last week, alternating between long periods sitting for digital pranyama – Surya bhedana and Chandra bhedana and lying down ujayii breathing. She said we always start and finish with ujayii and we even die with ujayii – death is not something to fear but another gift that we receive. I find her teaching very clear – she is very adept at articulating elusive ideas in a colourful and often dryly humerous way.

After class headed off to eat on my own as I had nothing prepared and it felt too late to start cooking. Went to a new place just at the crossroads and had a very pleasant meal with plenty left to eat tomorrow. If you want a ‘doggy bag’ you have to point to your leftovers and ask for ‘packing’.  One of the good things about eating Indian in India is there is a choice of gluten free options to have instead of chapatti or naan. Today I opted for uttapa – but could also have gone for a dosa.

A very pleasant and productive day.