Pranayama, breath control, is taught every Thursday evening. There is a two hour class by Geeta for experienced RIMYI students and a forty-five minute class for First Timers like me on the second floor.
Pranayama practice involves controlling the inhalations, exhalation, and retentions of the breath. This is physical initially, but quickly we experience the intimate relationship between the breath and our mental states. It continues the inward awareness we develop as we practice asanas and move towards pratayhara, the withdrawal of the senses from the outer world. Our Thursday night class this week was an ideal situation for practicing looking within at our breath.
When the Institute was built in the early 70's this area was quiet and undeveloped. Now it is surrounded by apartment buildings, a very busy highway and a five story shopping mall, Pune Central. So there is always some noise during class and open practice, especially the buzzing and beeping of the rickshaws.
But this Thursday night raised the bar. First steady deep drumming began. Then loud Western music. "Tonight's gonna be a good, good night." I was impressed with our young teacher who truly did not even appear to hear all this. Then shouting started. (A couple of days ago large demonstrations against government corruption started in New Delhi which prompted a bulletin from the U.S. Government to be cautious.) It sounded like a large troop of protestors were moving past the Institute. Gradually all these distractions from the outer world subsided.
The pranayama prevailed. A deep quiet pervaded the class.