Arun back in the islands

I was lucky enough to attend H.S. Arun’s latest workshop which was just a few blocks away from my house. I have written about Arunji in previous posts. To express the magnitude of what that means for me, imagine if you studied physics and Richard Feynman gives a lecture at your friend’s house who lives nearby. Or if you like cooking and Emeril Lagasse happens to show up at your neighbor’s house and you are invited to a barbecue. For me it’s that a big of a deal!

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This banana tree and rusty Iyengar chair is the entrance to Val Hobensack’s home/outdoor/garage/beach studio. Val was my first Iyengar teacher years ago and still teaches a few classes a week out of her home. She graciously hosted Arun this past weekend.

I am trying to recap a few gems from the workshop. Here are some of the highlights that stuck with me:

  1. Try to emulate Sarvangasana in the pose. If you watch Arun practice, he is always lifting his ribs and taking his chin down. He says he tries to capture the “bhavana” or feeling of Sarvangasana. Not just the shape of the chest, but the internal feeling of that pose.
  2. “Take the twist out of the twist.” He said that is a Prashant quote, but he illustrated it in several of the many twists he taught. For example in Bharadvajasana, he would ask us to take our navel to the left if we were twisting to the right. It was counterintuitive to me, but the more he repeated the instructions throughout the workshop, the more it made sense internally for me in the pose. With my girthy frame, twists have always been a challenge for me. With this instruction they became much more accessible.
  3. Learn to modify poses by practicing one pose for your whole practice that day. Arun said he sometimes practices a pose like Utthita Trikonasana for an hour and a half. I asked him half jokingly if he held it for that long. He said that he will hold for one minute each side, then three minutes, then try a chair, then try a belt, then other props. This is what led him to many of his prop innovations. IMG_2815

Outside the teachings, I had a few before and after class chats with him. We share similar sentiments on the perils of the commercialization of yoga. He said he has much sadness about “beer yoga” and Lululemon’s new “Mula Bandha” underwear which he said he feels disgraces the practice. Arun is on a mission to bring authenticity back to the practice as he literally tours the world teaching. Shortly after the last class, he was on a plane to Seattle en route to Mendocino, Calif. for the next day’s class. Thank you Arunji for the wonderful workshop. I’ll try to post more insights later…

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10 thoughts on “Arun back in the islands

  1. So...

    It’s such a lovely thought- sarvangasana bhava… a continuous shuddhikriya of sorts.
    This year, one of my classes is with a new teacher and once again, there is so much in common and yet such flavour in the teaching. So much of good teaching is really in what is not articulated.

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      1. So...

        Last year, my teacher would say that she wanted all of us to be with open chests if not at the start of class, atleast by the end of it. She shared that Geetaji would watch the students and be able to tell whose class they had just attended! 😊 All by looking at how people stood/ walked.

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  3. ambfoxx

    Thanks for sharing this. I took a class with him in Santa Fe last year and it was too crowded for me to get as much out of as I would have liked. I actually understand his instruction better when you paraphrase it and review it.

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    1. yogibattle Post author

      I lucked out. Devki Desai was teaching a workshop in Honolulu last weekend that I couldn’t attend due to guests being in town. There is a rule where you cannot advertise more than one senior teacher at once. As a result, attendance in Arun’s workshop was down compared to his usual crowds and it almost felt like a private lesson–with 20 other people 🙂

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  4. k8macdo

    Ooh! Love these little tidbits of āsana wisdom you share here. The twist advice makes sense to me: I think of it as corkscrewing down into the earth in a counter clock-wise direction while twisting the upper body in a clock-wise direction. Marriage of opposites. Āpana and Prānā. : ) I also find his idea of having a focus on one pose very intriguing! Such a different practice style for me, yet one that would yield much insight, I’m sure! Thanks for sharing!

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