Visiting RIMYI with my Daughter

I have almost crossed the halfway mark of my visit to Pune. While this journey has been a long dream come true it wasn’t all as expected.

Given we don’t have any family in Australia and my husband is working a busy job, the only way to make this trip was to take my 5 year old daughter Lena with me. I had initially planned to take my lovely babysitter that came for our last trip but unfortunately her Uni exams didn’t allow her to join us this time.

This is why I left a few days earlier; so that we had time to settle, find a day care or a nanny, so that I can do my classes and practices at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), which was opened by BKS Iyengar in 1975. Iyengar Yoga pupils and teachers come here to study with the Iyengar family and usually enjoy a minimum of a month, of being able to attend classes, do long self practice sessions and observe a whole range of classes.

The end of October and first week of November is when the Indians celebrate Diwali, the festival of light and there are lots of fire works and fire crackers. Luckily my daughter and I both have a good night sleep.

Finally on the 2nd November I had my first class at the Institute. Wednesday morning at 9.30am, the womens class. I had dropped Lena a daycare and made my way to class. I knew from some people that were here for the month of October that Geeta Iyengar (Guruji’s daughter) had been teaching the womens class. And to my luck it was Geeta that was conducting my first class at the institute.

I picked up Lena from day care when I finished the class and brought her back to go to practice in the afternoon. Upon finishing my practice I floated through the park to again pick Lena up. I felt so happy. I had applied to come to RIMYI almost 3 years ago and it truly was a very special moment to walk up the stairs and enter practice room, find a spot and place your mat on the floor where BKS Iyengar practiced and taught for almost 40 years. The walls of the room are covered with pictures of Guruji from “Light on Yoga”, his book that was published in 1961 and still is the reference book for many pupils today.

When I got to day care Lena was so happy to see me she gave me a big cuddle and it was just beautiful. But things changed the next day, when I came to pick her up she was in tears, she told me she had vomited in the morning. She didn’t want to go back that afternoon and not the next day, which meant I could not go to classes or practice and I practiced in our apartment.

I felt devastated! I was here in Pune and had my dream at my fingertips but I could not do anything. Lena and I had big arguments and conversations we both cried, I spoke to Pascal my husband to try to find a solution. I asked Lena if I should find someone to look after her but all she said was I want to be with you mummy. Should Pascal and I both fly to Bangkok to exchange Lena so she could be in Sydney and go to school would that be easier. Should I just go home?

I had a very emotional time. I communicated with some of my dear friends back home, I was so glad to have someone that listened, which made me feel supported even if we could not find a solution.

In my desperation I also wrote to someone at the institute to ask if they would know someone that speaks English and would maybe look after Lena so I could do some classes. I got a reply saying I could try bringing her to practice.

So finally on Monday I was back at the institute, this time with Lena. She has come a few times to practice with me at Marrickville Yoga Centre or watched me practice at home but has never come to a class before. She was great! She watched a bit, she drew, she played and most importantly for her she was close to me. And so she also started coming to class a few days later. I knew I had to take her out of the room and might not be able to finish the class, but it was better to try as not to go at all.

And now it is already past mid month and we have somehow found a rhythm. We go to practice together, Lena has got to know some of my fellow pupils and it makes my heart jump seeing her socially interact. She is feeling more secure and has found her feet at the institute. Sometimes she joins in and does some asana practice with me or she occupies herself at the back of the room.