Feeds:
Posts
Comments

At last a few minutes to reflect on time in Gangotri. Meeting with Swami Sundaranand was a blessing and a gift. His definition of yoga: perfection! The practice to balance the nervous system. I felt as if I were cleaning out the Augean stables while meditating with him, so much junk to get out of the way. That’s just me, I suppose, carrying around so much baggage! And I do my best to travel light….

Amazing to hear him speak of his life’s work in photography and mountaineering and yoga practice. The art gallery model stands beside his “kuti” or hut, which he inherited from his guru, Swami Tapovan. His small meditation hall adjacent to the front entry of the kuti will be completed, he said, this summer. Teaching us simhasana, he made such a point that after doing the pose, the lion is so happy! And his face was beaming. Genoveva and I felt more than lucky to be with him, if only for a few days.

The hike to Gomukh was wonderful and grueling, both at the same time. Have to admit that I don’t usually walk 18 kilometers per day. And that’s what we had to do. Ramon, Genoveva’s son, of course at 16 years old, had no problem. Our guide, Vishal, had no problem, it’s his job and he’s only 19. Good thing we spent several days at altitude before even trying. Holding a piece of the glacier, and then eating that chunk of ice was a religious experience, not soon to be forgotten. Maybe next time we will trek all the way to Tapovan!

Sunita, Geeta’s younger sister, was teaching ladies’ class this morning. The transition from Gangotri to kuPune in my mind is this: the workings of yoga on the nervous sstem are well known. Sunita mentioned also the way the motor nerves move with the muscles as we practice asana. And the sensory nerves are with the skin. What an interesting and subtle distinction. Swami Sundaranand spoke of the ida and pingala nadis as Yamuna and Ganga Rivers, and Saraswati being kundalini nadi. So practicing nadi shodana pranayama, we cleanse ida and pingala and make way for prana in the central channel. So many different stories to tell about how energy or prana move through the vahana, the vehicle of the body.

Here at the Christian Ashram, where I am staying, I look out to a garden, a central courtyard, around which the rooms circle. We are a multinational community: a yogini from Varanasi and her son, studying for his English masters exam, a yogi from Germany and his Australian girlfriend, a yogini from Korea, whose computer I am so graciously being allowed to use, in the luxury of my room, no less!

More after pranayama class tomorrow evening. Here’s to the balancing of all human nervous systems!

Though the sun is hot today there is a cool breeze here on the terrace. A walk earlier this morning yielded finally a view of the snowy peaks of the HImalaya in the distance. Crystal clear blue sky. SHould be a thin crescent moon hanging up there shortly after sunset, so we’ll be sure to be out then, too. I don’t like to miss that beautiful sight!
Children are chattering around me in Gujarati this afternoon, a man is sweeping the terrace with the classic India rush-broom. It has no long wooden stick, but rather is a bundle of dried grass rushes tied together at the top. It makes a very distinctive sound that always says India to me. Moti the golden retriever type of dog is asleep by my table. Shamool, the girl who befriended me yesterday had warned me that Moti sleeps a lot. Shamool likes the climate here; she said
“Imagine how it is in Lucknow now!” Though only eleven years old, her English and Hindi were perfect (of course I could not tell about the Hindi, only the English), and she enjoyed visiting her aunt in Dallas. Many Indians have family members in the USA, and lots in Texas.
Practicing asana in our tiny room was a challenge this morning. The dogs (not Moti, I’m sure) barking nonstop between 3 and 4 am did not help my concentration powers, nor the late night trucks on the road near the hotel. Not to complain, these are just the realities of being here at this moment. Genoveva and her son Ramon went to the internet cafe and train ticket office this morning and had good success buying tickets. She has a hard time with the English accent of the Indians and they have a hard time with her Spanish/English accent. But apparently, this morning, communciation happened!
I have some misgivings about the altitude we are about to experience tomorrow, but only time will tell if my fears have any foundation, so better not to worry at all! On to Gangotri in the morning.
I mentioned Ginsberg because it’s his birthday today, by the way. Probably I only heard him read a handful of times, both in Canada and in Austin. He was a fine reader with a fine voice that he cultivated well, often inviting local musicians to join him as he sang his
Blake songs and other poems. I miss him.

Mussoorie, June 2

The drought in Austin almost had me wondering what I was hearing in the middle of the night in bed in Mussoorie–RAIN!
We had a good two hour storm. The clouds cleared this morning and it’s sunny now. Fresh air is a real blessing after the heat and pollution of Delhi. Harshada, the owner of the hotel we are staying at, is the mother of Swati Chanchani. Some of you may know Swati from her workshops in the States–she coauthored with her husband the book “Iyengar Yoga for Children”. Now they manage a yoga center in Dehra Dun. Swati is travelling now, but Harshada said she may be back before I leave. So I hope we can at leastl have a chat. It’s been a long time that I’ve wanted for her to come and teach in Austin. We’ll see what develops.
The town is in the foothills of the great mountains and full of tourists and Tibetans. We are just getting our bearings here–the traffic out of Delhi was horrendous and we were late arriving last night. I can feel the altitude already, and since the plan is to travel even higher soon, it’s a good thing that we are allowing a couple of days to acclimatize. Unlikely that I can write anything while we are actually in Gangotri,but who knows? Maybe there is an internet cafe there! We’ve heard that Swami Sundaranand is not feeling well and want to get his warm jacket, gloves, fruit and nuts to him as soon as possible. Maybe we’ll even leave a day early. A tour guide here in town has advised us to trek to Gaumukh from Gangotri to see the glacier, spending a night in Bhojbasa. If the legs and the lungs hold out, we will definitely do it. Genoveva and Ramon are adjusting to the time change as well as the altitude. Lots of changes at once to deal with. Pranayama here does not even compare to Delhi–Gangotri can only be better.

kaivalya

Newark, New Jersey (aka the real holy land) may seem an unlikely place to be thinking of kaivalya, or liberation, but it’s just what’s in my head. I was liberated from an oversold flight last evening and given a place to sleep and practice. Today, Memorial Day, the ACTUAL Memorial Date, chosen to mark a day on which NO Civil War battles were fought, brings to mind my Uncle Tom and so many like him, haunted forever by his war service (Iwo Jima, in the Marines). He took his life in Dallas Texas, many years ago. Thank you, Uncle Tom.
On to Delhi tonight, on the same flight, thanks to fate, after all, as my friend from Queretaro, Genoveva and her son , Ramon. We are bearing, thanks to Deborah , the warmest jacket in the world for Swami Sundaranand. Himalaya, here we come!

So long have I wanted to be able easily to write and broadcast to friends thoughts, dreams, and reflections. Let’s see if this works. Please wish me well on this adventure. I’ve been known in the past to jinx anything technical. My mind is not binary, and computers sometimes send me into tailspins, spirals, loops and dives……