Mary Obendorfer was one of the teachers who gave my practice a complete 180. Back in the early 2000s, I attended a teacher training she conducted to inaugurate the center where I now teach. She introduced concepts of sequencing back then that I continue to use today in my practice and teaching.
At the time she asked us to come up with a sequence and then the group would critique it with her provisions. I actually handed her a sequence that started with Paschimottanasana (intense stretch of the West side of the body pose) as the first pose because that was what my teacher at the time was teaching (he was not Iyengar based). “Why are you starting with such a difficult pose?!” She asked, but not really wanting to know the answer. After her instructions, I now completely understand why starting a sequence with Paschimottanasana is a bad idea on just about every level. I won’t give you the answer if you don’t know, because so many of my previous blog posts have addressed it.
Fast forward 13 years, Mary Obendorfer still visits our studio annually. This year she is back from GeetaJi’s December intensive in Pune, India with more gems. What I have always enjoyed about the Iyengar system is that you get the knowledge eventually even though you may not be able to attend Pune intensives first hand.
Obendorfer gave us detailed instructions on two poses: Baddhakonasna (bound angle pose) and Upavistha Konasana (seated angle pose.) I will write posts about these poses later once I have integrated the teachings in my practice, reflected on them, and developed my on insights on them.
The one thing that was imparted is that regular practice of these two poses will “decrease the suffering of your standing poses.” Obendorfer also relayed Geetaji’s message that these poses will also help to alleviate problems that people face when they age. With all the upward apanic (pelvic region) action required to do these poses, it is evident that Geetaji has noticed people suffer from GI problems as they age and has given us an “antidote” through Baddha Konasana and Upavistha Konasana to minimize the problems that manifest as we grow older.
Tonight I will continue the workshop with the intermediate class. More gems to come I am sure…