It is 2am in Calcutta. I have been up for the last two hours because my body is still on Wisconsin time, halfway around the world. Once I realized that sleep would evade me, I arose and bathed. I went into the large practice room where the women practice (it is full of pictures of advanced yoga postures) and practiced pranayama (breath control). How wonderful to practice in the middle of the night when the whole house is still. There is no rush, no pressure. Just patience, peace and stillness. Now I have moved to the men’s room, where the walls are covered in pictures of bodybuilders, extreme acts (pressing a spear with the eye, eating a cobra) and contortionism. The men will arrive at 6am sharp.
The 9 of us meet on the rooftop terrace of the Ghosh school at 6am to practice together. We do the 26, Jeff leads. It is hot and humid, so we all sweat significantly. A wonderful way to begin the day.
Jerome, Ida and I set out on foot toward the college district in search of a very specific juice stand. We realize too late that most shops in Calcutta don’t open until 10 or 11am, and it is only 8:30. So no juice for us this morning. We go to a coffee shop for sweet coffee and buttered toast, but even the coffee shop doesn’t open until 9am. How strange.
Our practical training this morning begins with asanas. Up to this point we have only learned therapeutic exercises. Asanas are something different. We cover several standing postures and several done lying on the floor. I especially love the many variations of Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) and Wind Removing Pose (Pavanamuktasana). So many different ways to do these positions, all with slightly different purpose. This is why I am here!
The evening session is a lengthy discussion of the benefits, contraindications and muscular usage of many asanas. I have already filled an entire notebook, and we’ve only been here for 3 days.
This evening we go to Nilmoni Das’s place to visit his son Swampan. We met him months ago when we were here - a sweet and generous man. We take him a copy of Bose’s 84 Yoga Asanas and a poster of the asanas. He is kind and complimentary. We don’t stay long.
Tomorrow will be a big day. Three training sessions.
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga