As the month at RIMYI enters it’s final week, my colleagues and I are frantically trying to cram in as much observing, classes, practice and shopping as we can before we have to fly back to our various countries and homes. With the money situation as it is right now in India, coordinating enough cash to buy all the books, equipment and presents we can cram into our suitcases takes a little organising to say the least. There are only a few hours a day when the ATMs have money and you are in for around a 45 minute queueing time, with a restriction on withdrawals of just 2000 rupees per card. It’s certainly been a challenging month with Prime Minister Modi’s decision to ban 500 and 1000 rupee notes over night, sending the country into panic – however many Indians we spoke to welcomed the action, but it did leave many people with no access to their funds, or, worse still, with money that had become suddenly worthless.
So now, every day is precious as it will be at least 12 months before we can return again and there are mixed emotions – excitement at coming home, seeing loved ones, getting back to teaching or work, family life etc, but also sadness at not seeing all the faces at RIMYI, not hearing Prashant’s voice as he offers us his ponderings on the “mystical, intuitive, creative process” that is yoga, not having Geeta piercing your very soul with her brilliant insights and sharing with us her 70 years of love and devotion for her father’s work, at the same time taking us further in our practice than we imagined possible. It is hard to leave this “temple of yoga” and not walk the familiar daily route along Hari Krishna Mandir Road, greeting the various street sellers and familiar faces, signing in at the gate and removing shoes, climb up the stairs to the practice hall where you may be practicing alongside RIMYI’s senior teachers like Abhijata, BKS Iyengar’s grandaughter, Raya, Rajlaxmi and Gulnaz as well as senior teachers from around the world and teachers from every country as well as local students.
I personally will miss some of the “patients” in the medical classes who I have watched over the month, sometimes assisted, and observed their progress. One lady in particular who must be in her 90s, I remember her from 2 years ago, she knows exactly what to do, all the props to use to support her body and she shows no fear or hesitation when going upside down or bending backwards.
It is, in fact, very hard to describe how much the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute means to many of us, how the very fabric of this place becomes part of you, the sights, sounds and smells seem to merge into the experience and you can feel the lifetime of practice and service that BKS Iyengar and his family have given to the community, local and worldwide. RIMYI is a humble building in comparison to more “glamorous” type ashrams, but the design was so clever, so forward thinking that for over 30 years it has accommodated the huge rise in numbers that you see in all the classes today, compared to when they first started when Guruji’s friend Pandu said, “well, if it doesn’t work, we can rent it as a wedding hall”!
This afternoon, we have a special extra practice with a recording of Prashant teaching in around 2000 – we will all meet and follow along (I wonder if he will be listening in to see how we get on….) and then there are only 4 days of classes left before I fly back to Portugal. I’m looking forward to starting my own medical/remedial class when I get home, to help people in my local community and also to work on my own yoga practice with a few of the wonderful insights I have picked up here in Pune. And I will be working hard to save up for my next visit!
I hope you have enjoyed these few blog posts. I will leave you with a gallery of photos (mostly of motorbikes and food!) and memories from my month here in Pune.