I will always remember that April 2015 afternoon when my friend Sue Drummond brought me to visit Clifton Hill Yoga Studio. The memory of entering the studio is still very fresh in my mind. What struck me the most was a huge, black and white framed picture of Guruji on the wall sitting in Sukhasana! I remember my reluctance to joining any classes but the moment I met Alan and Archer I knew Clifton Hill Yoga was going to be a part of my life. Their welcoming smiles and excitement of knowing that I was from Pune sealed my fate!

My first tryst with Iyengar Yoga happened when I joined the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune in June 2013. I still remember rushing to the Institute early morning in late May to make sure I got one of the only hundred forms they distribute just twice a year. I got lucky. Ironically, Hare Krishna Mandir Path has been my address in Pune for more than six years, the lane where the Institute is located, but I never visited the Institute then. My parents still live a few hundred meters away from the place.

Over a period of almost two years I was fortunate to attend classes conducted by Dr. Manoj Naik and Raya at the Pune Institute. I can sum up my experience here in two words – Tough Love. I remember Guruji practicing one morning at the age of 95 and watching him practice asanas was an experience which is beyond words to describe. His presence signified simplicity meshed with discipline and perseverance which was breath-taking. His passing away in August 2014 was almost a sign that my journey at the Pune Institute was going to be over soon (just for a little while, I hope).

In November 2014 my husband had to take up a job in Melbourne and I was devastated at the thought of breaking away from one thing that kept me going. After moving to Melbourne, after almost six months of struggling with self-practice CHYS came along. Between motherhood, study and Yoga my life now feels complete. I miss my home town every single day and dream of going back one day but CHYS feels like a home away from home. I feel a strong connection with the space. As the body gets trained in alignment, balance and flexibility so does the mind. Through the practice of asanas an unbelievable physical and mental strength is achieved.

“If you practice yoga everyday with perseverance, you will be able to face the turmoil of life with steadiness and maturity.” – BKS Iyengar

I feel proud of my origin and at the same time humbled to see so many people from this beautiful country dedicated to the practice of Iyengar yoga. I feel very lucky to have found a place in Melbourne where I can practice Iyengar yoga daily under the supervision of astute teachers.

Having attended classes of every teacher at CHYS I can only say that the dedication, consistency and willingness of each one of them to teach is impressive. Gentle coaxing to go further in the pose and reminding students to ‘curve the corner of their mouth upward’ while practicing challenging asanas adds lightness and fun to classes. Last week in Marina Jung’s class I was able to go into handstand after months of trials! Marina’s confidence in my ability to go up in handstand by myself helped me achieve this. This is my biggest achievement so far and I look forward to more.

Every time after the class, I ride home on my bike thinking of yoga and humming an old hindi song – Tuze Jeevan Ki Dor Se Bandh Liya Hai meaning ‘I have tied you to the thread of my life’. The school follows the teachings of Guruji with commitment and discipline. I know I am in the hands of tough and loving teachers. I feel taken care of.

Reminds me of the Tough Love in Pune in that lovely lane I identify as home.

PS: My sister Pooja who studies yoga at RIMYI, Pune under Raya will be arriving in mid-October this year for three months – all we plan to do is Yoga at CHYS, play time with Adi – my four year old beautiful boy, bike rides, good food and then some more YOGA! I cant wait!!!

By Vrushali Bafna