Obstacles and New Beginnings

IMG_0093Monday August 15 was Indian Independence Day and a holiday from classes at the institute. It felt good to have a day off for rest and integration right in the middle of the month. My flat mate and I took the opportunity to visit Sarasbaug Ganesh Temple.

Ganesh is the elephant faced god who removes obstacles, especially obstacles to our spiritual growth. This deity may be invoked at the beginning of new endeavors. Ganesh is associated with the root chakra and the qualities of stability and security, while also revealing the potential for transformation.


IMG_0078The Sarasbaug Ganesh Temple was a wonderful place to visit on a sunny day in Pune. The area surrounding the temple was like a carnival, with rides for children, street food and vendors selling flowers, coconuts and sweets to be offered to Ganesh. Inside the temple gates, there were lush lawns, ponds with lotus flowers, and more vendors selling balloons, toys and novelties. It was lovely to see so many families enjoying their holiday in an area that combined the features of a park and a church.


Inside the temple, we circumambulated (reverentially walked around the deity image) the main shrine and made our offerings. I had the chance to become quiet and focus on my intentions for obstacles I hope to have removed from my life. We then visited the amazing Ganesh museum that held literally hundreds of images of the elephant faced god, in many forms, sizes and materials.

Back at RIMYI today, I find that my practice continues to deepen. I notice that small, nagging injuries that I have had for some time are gradually melting away. Windows are opening to both new and familiar poses that challenge me. Being in the yoga hall brings a state of calm awareness that helps the practice penetrate in a new way.

One new aspect of this trip is that I am assisting in the medical class. This remedial class is for those with various injuries and ailments, as the Iyengars have developed protocols for numerous problems. As the students do their sequences on their own or in small groups, the Indian teachers and other senior teachers guide and adjust them with some support from teachers like myself. I was nervous about this part of my work here, and consulted several senior teachers at home about what to expect and how to behave. During the first week, there was a lot of watching. We were told to stand and that if our help was needed, we would be asked. During that first week, felt anxious to do something. I was there to learn and to be useful. Sometime during the second week, I realized that I was grasping – that I wanted to get something. I was trying to acquire knowledge and techniques like a collector. It struck me that my real purpose there was not to get something, but to serve the students. Once I made that crucial attitude adjustment, the work in the medical class changed its tone for me. From a more humble and student-oriented point of view, of course it is going much better!

IMG_0110 (1)Life here is stripped down in such a way that it is easier to observe myself and identify where I may be going wrong. I am hoping to keep in mind the basic tenet of knowing what is to be cultivated and what is to be discarded. Every day has its obstacles, and every day is also a new beginning.

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3 Responses to Obstacles and New Beginnings

  1. Ken Koles says:

    Wonderful. Thanks for the Indian view. Blessings. OOOMMM

  2. Mary Gove says:

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks so much for sharing in these blogs! I feel graced to enter into your world at the Iyengar center. I am intrigued by what you say about the medical classes. I am wondering how the students learn/know the routines that they do?

    Lots of love, Mary Gove

  3. When a new student starts the medical class, they are given a sequence appropriate to their condition. If they are really new to yoga, they are guided through their poses by a teacher. Eventually, the student knows the sequence and becomes somewhat self-sufficient. At the same time, teachers come around an adjust and correct the students as they work.

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