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  • Writer's pictureAmit

Iyengar & Self Practice

I’m 2 weeks into my 4 week course here at the Himalayan Iyengar Centre and nearly a week overdue on this weeks instalment, sorry my bad! There is a valid reason though, I’ve been busy actually being a yogi.

The official routine has been the same as last week, 15 hours of Iyengar every week with the school. However, this hasn’t been enough and so I introduced some unofficial self-practice. I’ve actually been wanting to do this for a while but didn’t really know where to begin. All I knew was that it needed to be relevant for me and had to be practised daily. In true engineer form, I listed out my problems and biggest weaknesses. From here I used my very limited asana knowledge to combat these problems and rectify those weaknesses. I also wrote down some long-term ambitions that I wanted to achieve such as landing the infamous handstand. I spent around 2 hours in a scenic cafe writing down all the poses along with the length of time I needed to stay in each pose. I also downloaded a repeat timer app which periodically beeps. This means I’m not thinking about the time while I’m in a pose, I just wait until the app beeps and then go to the next pose. I trialled it on Monday and it took me 4 hours to complete! After the monstrous session, I realised that I was a bit too ambitious with the quantity of poses and it just wasn’t sustainable on a daily basis. So, I tweaked it and now it takes between 2.5 and 3 hours. The routine complements Iyengar very nicely and is much more relevant for me. It has all sorts of weird personal aspects, for example I do 21 minutes of meditation because that’s my favourite number and Romeo dunn. My objective is to continue Amit-practice, daily, for the remainder of May. I’ve created a silly little written contract with myself to give it some legitimacy, it seems to be working as I’m doing it daily! I’m very happy with the self-practice, it’s a bit of a masterpiece actually.

The Iyengar classes themselves, have a different feel to them as bossman Sharat is teaching them this week. Unlike most teachers nowadays, Sharat came from the old school era of military discipline. Occasionally he’ll tell us stories about B.K.S Iyengar. He mentioned that Iyengar once held a forward fold for 1 hour! There is no doubt that this level of strictness has been instilled in Sharat too. He is not crazily strict with us but I can certainly sense that back in the day he was probably was. Even though he has taught for over 40 years, his level of enthusiasm is still sky-high. He can be a little intimidating at times and brutally funny in others. I’m on my best behaviour in his classes and apply all my focus, at time a little too focused as he occasionally spots tension in my jaw and tells me off for not relaxing.

I must criticise Sharat’s visual awareness, however. On Thursday we were finishing off class with a routine shoulder stand. As such, I spent 7 precious minutes building my little shoulder stand platform. Sharat and one the assistant teachers came next to me as I was building and decided to have a little chinwag.

My shoulder stand platform in front of Sharats knees

You actually have to be very precise with the build as one crease in the blanket can be quite painful once you’re up in shoulder stand. Then it’s a whole load of admin to come down and fix it. Speaking from experience, it’s much better to do it properly, first time. Anyway, I had built my platform and needed to get some pillows. So I walked over to the equipment area and grabbed the pillows. This process took no more than 10 seconds. In this time, my newly built platform had disappeared. There was a moment where I thought I was going crazy. Fortunately the assistant teacher had taken note that I was building nearby and was as clueless as me. We then realised that, in the space of 10 seconds, someone had stolen my platform. The theft was rather audacious as the theft had quite literally taken place right under Sharat’s nose without him noticing. Sharat made an announcement and told everyone not to steal things, as if we were children. The suspect remained silent. Luckily, the class was getting recorded and the camera just so happened to be pointing at my platform during the time of crime. After class, me and the cameraman did some detective work and found the suspect. It was GAP man! Look at this chief. FYI, those platforms do not naturally occur in Yoga classes, engineers like me carefully construct them. GAP man knew what he was doing. It’s okay though, whoever you are GAP man, I forgive you and your tense shoulders. Relaxation to the nation!

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