SAIIER 2013:Pitanga

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Auroville Sports Resource Centre
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Aikido Dojo
Pitanga Cultural Centre



“Physical culture is the process of infusing consciousness into the cells of the body”


Goals and Objectives

Pitanga Cultural Centre dedicates its service to the development and enhancement of physical education and cultural activities in the light of Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga.

Pitanga’s objective is to provide a community service that facilitates growth in consciousness and inner transformation through physical and cultural activities, along with a variety of treatments and therapies aimed at cleansing, re-balancing, aligning the bodily system and re-establishing health and well-being.

The centre has seven rooms on two floors providing a lively program six days a week for community members and registered guests of Auroville. Twenty percent of activities are for children and the centre has up to 600 visits per week, at its busiest, from adults and children for 53 classes and 52 treatment sessions.

Physical Education

Yoga

Pitanga facilitates a wide spectrum of activities focusing on Yoga Āsanas. We are very grateful for the quality of teachers that have been attracted to Pitanga and the wide and effective yoga program that has been built. Our current team includes Alain, Angela, Gala, Jane, Natacha and Tatiana who offer 21 yoga classes per week between them in B.K.S Iyengar, Asthanga, Vinyasa and Yoga Therapy styles. Tatiana also mentors an active teacher training program that is followed by Angela, Natacha and Shakti, and this year gave two days of intensive classes to a visiting group from France and a week of classes to a visiting group from Russia.

The regular program in Iyengar, Asthanga and Vinyasa styles for 2012-13 included various levels and types of classes: beginners, intermediate, advanced, and mixed levels; Therapeutic Āsanas; Restorative Āsanas for adults aged 60 yrs+; Āsanas for women; Yoga for pregnant women; Āsanas for children; Āsanas for teenagers; Teachers’ training course; Pranayama.

There is a wealth of offerings to Auroville from certified guest teachers. This is a valuable way for us to facilitate transfer of knowledge and well being to Aurovilians. This year we had:

  • Yoga intensive with Sama from London: the Pitanga team were delighted to welcome back Sama Fabian and her group of yoga practitioners from the UK this January. Sama led an intensive 10-day workshop for Aurovilians and visiting practitioners to help deepen their practice.
  • The Listening Body, Yoga of Sound with Tanya from Scotland: a practice to awaken the listening body and explore a sacred vocal practice while experiencing qualities of resonance and tone in the physical and subtle pathways. Grounded in a personal practice over 15 years and offered by Tanya from Scotland, a regular visitor to Auroville, whose teaching draws from the living traditions of Yoga, Shamanism and the Dao.
  • Iyengar Yoga classes in Russian with Alexander Volkov: certified Iyengar teacher from Yaroslavl (Russia) and another returning friend and guest teacher at Pitanga. He has been again able to gather a considerable amount of Russian speaking Aurovilians to his weekly Iyengar Yoga classes in February for a month.
  • Hatha yoga with Sylvie from France: Sylvie, another frequent contributor to Pitanga, led a series of well attended hatha yoga classes in French twice a week for a three month period.
  • Yoga flow with Elisabetta from Italy: This was Elisabetta's first visit to Auroville where she integrated well in the Pitanga team, offering an active yoga flow class to music twice weekly and a series of one-day workshops in yoga and dance.
  • Yin Yoga with Rena from Germany: Rena was our youngest team member this year, coming to Auroville on an internship from Gesundheit un Sports in Berlin. Rena offered classes in Yin Yoga which is a practice that emphasizes stillness and silence and prepares both the body and mind for deeper experiences in meditation.

Pranayama

Pranayama is an integral part of Yoga practice. On a regular basis two different approaches are taught at Pitanga. One is that of the school of B.K.S. Iyengar, offered by Tatiana, and the other is the Art of Living technique, offered by Namrita and Francois. In August 2012 and February 2013 there were opportunities to learn the latter technique in a five-day Pranayama course that combined breathing techniques, meditation, and Sudarshan Kriya. Participants appreciated that upon completion of Part 1 of the course they received home practice guidelines, which could then be supported by weekly refresher courses held at Pitanga or New Creation Gym.

Other Exercises

  • Feldenkrais classes: A very welcome addition to the Pitanga schedule has been Feldenkrais classes, three days a week, facilitated by Aurovilian Aurovici who also calls the classes “Awareness Through Movement” lessons. Students engage in precisely structured movement explorations that involve thinking, sensing, moving, and imagining. This leads one to awareness of habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities, and expands options for new ways of moving while increasing sensitivity and improving efficiency.
  • Gyrokinesis (Dynamic Yoga) applies continuous and fluid movements within rhythmical breathing patterns. The exercise stimulates the nervous system, opening up energy pathways, and supporting processes of detoxification through blood oxygenation. Dodo, a well-known Auroville yoga teacher, offered this weekly class that combined lengthening and strengthening techniques on all parts of the body, utilizing elements from yoga, dance, Tai Chi, gymnastics and swimming.
  • Qi Gong was offered by Kristine, a visiting teacher from Germany. The class connected breathing with gentle movements, working to bring subtleness and freedom to the body and activating the chi (energetic body) to bring balance to the physical, mental and emotional realms.

Dance

Odissi Dance: The regular dance practiced at Pitanga is Odissi Dance which has been gracefully developed over the years by our dance teachers Kanchana, Srimoyi and Sangeeta Das. Classes are offered for children, teenagers and adults and address various levels. In the practice of Odissi dance participants develop strength, stamina and coordination in their bodies by learning to independently move the areas of the head, chest and pelvis, which is called Tribhangi, and by learning the different sequences of the basic square stance, called Chauka. Being one of the eight forms of classical Indian dance, participants also learn appreciation of aesthetics and the depth of Indian culture in dance and music.

Tandava Movement: Visiting teacher Nicolo held two very popular dance workshops which explored Tandava (also called the mystical dance of Shiva), which puts the accent on the body explored through the different practices of Tandava dance, visualization of Matsyendranath, and the yoga of touch. Nicolo Berzi studied and practiced with tantric masters Daniel Odier, Nathalie Delay and Eric Baret.

Improvising with movement for a natural dance: Visiting teacher Elisabetta facilitated two workshop that led practitioners on an inner journey to access a personal creative dance language. The exploration of movement through different elements, perspectives, images and feelings gave rise to opportunities and challenges within each one’s own unique dance.

Martial Arts

Aikido: The Auroville Aikikai is another important group practice at Pitanga. There are 5 weekly classes for 21 regular adult students and 32 children, ages 7 and above, who are introduced to and trained in this 'spiritual' martial art. The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, has described it as “the Path to be united with God's will and to put it into practice.”

In addition to the regular weekly classes, an eight day workshop was offered by visiting teacher Andre Palmeri from France and Lars Graf from Germany. The workshop introduced beginners to this valuable art form, renewed enthusiasm in existing practitioners and left our teaching team charged with a urgency to spread the teachings to a wider field. Cristo and Surya, our Aurovilian Aikido teachers, also held a one month intensive Aikido workshop for all ages.

Judo: Weekly Judo classes were offered by Joshua, Eric and Quentin. Judo ("gentle way") was developed as a means to stop an aggressor's attack in a non-violent and gentle way. The facilitators share that “our practice is done in the true spirit of Auroville, for maintaining one's inner peace and balance as well as avoiding conflicts is one of the first steps to achieving human unity. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother taught us that we must first look within ourselves before we can move outward.”

Workshops

We find that workshops are an excellent teaching medium complementing the regular classes, as participants are taught in a short but intensive period of time and can progress much faster than with a classroom rhythm. We had a large increase in workshops facilitated this year. Workshops of note not already mentioned were:

  • Pai-Da and La Jin, self healing therapy by Xia Hongci from China: This workshop was attended by over sixty people of all ages with a variety of health issues. Hongchi Xiao gave a talk and demonstration on this Chinese healing technique suitable for curing pain especially in the back, shoulder and knees. Hongchi Xiao describes this as a simple and effective method using Chinese principles of body tapping and stretching that stimulates meridian lines and points.
  • Family Constellation Workshops: Three workshops were held over the year, two in 2012 by Chiara from Italy and one in 2013 by Evmarie Lang from Germany. In this work the "inner pictures" of participants' families, from the past or present, are positioned. The process reveals and releases those hidden patterns and entanglements operating within the constellation which often hinder the full unfolding of our potential. Even the experiencing of and positioning in a constellation of another can be a healing process which answers deep-rooted questions.
  • Unfolding Consciousness - Utilizing Five Element Theory and Chakra Awareness: This workshop was offered by Ruth Lamb and associates from Langara Collage, Vancouver. Ruth has written books on the yoga of Sri Aurobindo and was the director of nursing for many years at Vancouver General Hospital before following a path of integrative healing which she has developed and teaches at Langara Collage. Interns of this course spend their last month in India sharing their skills, and we were happy to facilitate their offering which was very well attended. The workshop gave clear and lucid witnessing of the Five Elements with a simultaneous understanding of chakra-focused consciousness, for the enhancement of self-mastery skills as detailed in Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga. Symbolically the ‘bandwidths’ of consciousness-force-energy-light and intelligence are used as catalysts to enhance self-understanding (“from cell to soul”). The workshop explored these ideas using subtle energy concepts, affirmations, yoga postures and neurobiological regulation techniques to enhance the subtle-subliminal aspects of body-mind interaction.

Here is a summary of all 31 workshops hosted in Pitanga this year:

Month & year Description of activity Duration Teacher Origin of Teacher Number of participants
May 2012 Qi Gong, inner smile, cosmic healing, six healing sounds 4 days Susanna Rito Brazil 12
May Aikido for all ages 1 month Cristo Auroville 11
July Body, mind and soul retreat. An innovative weekend workshop to nurture and revive. 1 day Vikram Auroville 14
July Family Constellation 1 day Chiara Italy 16
August Family Constellation 1 day Chiara Italy 20
August Pranayama course. Art of Living, Part 1 5 days Namrita & Francois Auroville 29
September Tandava movement 1 day Nicolo Italy 8
September Family Constellation 1 day Chiara Italy 23
September Family Constellation 1 day Chiara Italy 22
September First Aid 2 days Anna Auroville 8
October Pai-Da and La-Jin, self healing therapy 1 day Xia Hongci China 60
December Hatha Yoga in French 1 day Sylvie France 3
December Aikido for adult beginners 1 day Lars Graf Germany 7
December Hatha Yoga in French 1 day Sylvie France 6
December Holoenergetic practice group 1 day Marie-Claire Auroville 8
December Aikido for adult beginners 2 days Lars Graf Germany 7
December Tarot 2 days Francoise Auroville 6
January 2013 Tarot 2 days Francoise Auroville 6
January Holoenergetic practice group 1 day Marie-Claire Auroville 8
January Intensive Yoga workshop 10 days Sama UK 12
January Improvising movement for a natural dance 1 day Elisabetta Italy 4
January Family Constellation 1 day Evmarie Germany 17
January Yoga of sound 1 day Tanya UK 26
February Healing techniques suitable for individual and family health 1 day Yvonne Murphy Ireland
February Holoenergetic practice group 1 day Marie-Claire Auroville 8
February Pranayama course. Art of Living, Part 1 5 days Namrita & Francois Auroville 21
February Tarot 2 days Francoise Auroville 6
February Improvising movement for a natural dance 2 days Elisabetta Italy 5
March Unfolding consciousness 1 day Ruth Lamb Vancouver 18
March Aikido for adult beginners 8 days Andre Palmeri France
March Intensive Iyengar Yoga class 2 days Tatiana Auroville

We wish to especially thank all friends from abroad who contributed generously to the diversity of the program offered. The following guest teachers offered their skills to this year’s program:

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Health Care

Pitanga continues to offer various therapeutic facilities to the community as well as quality medical help in homeopathy and physiotherapy. The centre is also used regularly for practice groups who want to refine the teachings that they have learnt; regular practitioners are the Holoenergetic and Tarot groups.

The community benefited from a variety of 21 treatments and therapies offered throughout the year including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Awakening the intelligence of the body
  • Chiropractics
  • Cranial Sacral Therapy
  • Energy Healings
  • Facial Massage Therapy
  • Healing & Harmonizing of the bodies
  • Holoenergetic Healing
  • Inner Body Exploration
  • Massages
  • Osteopathy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Psychotherapy with Tarot
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Releasing Through Awareness
  • Shiatsu
  • Somatic Therapy
  • Thai Yoga Massage
  • Therapeutic sessions

We were very happy that a number of our visiting therapists were touched by Auroville and decided to return as Newcomers, including Antenello (Italy) who offered various forms of massage, Elena (Russia) who offered Cranial Sacral Therapy and Osteopathy, and Betty who offered Reiki.

Also in the field of health care the community benefited from the generosity of professional therapists from abroad who offered their skills. These certified guest therapists generally stay with us for a three-month period. We wish to thank especially:

  • Morgana (France) who offered Acupuncture and Massage.
  • Evmarie Lang (Germany) for her work of Family Constellation.
  • Evelyne Guinouard (France) for her Energetic Healing work addressing physical and emotional blockages in the body.
  • Chiara (Italy) offering individual and group Family Constellations.
  • Sandra (Columbia) offering Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy.
  • Laura (Germany) offering Kinesiology and Reiki.
  • Rena (Germany) offering Shiatsu and Meridian Massage.
  • Nadia (France) offering Biodecodage.

Art and Culture

Visual and performing arts are another important aspect that allows Pitanga to support cultural education. The courtyard allows us to host exhibitions year-round and the main hall provides an intimate place for evening performances. Exhibitions and performances from Aurovilians and artists around the world provide a wealth of annual culture. The space is also an important community practice platform, actively used by the Auroville Theatre Group, individual musicians who come for lunchtime practice on the piano, and (until the new facility at CRIPA was ready) the Auroville Choir.

Exhibitions

Art can be understood as a means for spiritual growth in which artists are seeking to express their inner dimension. Pitanga encourages and supports Aurovilians to express themselves in arts and to share their outcomes of research and work with the community. This year Pitanga hosted nine exhibitions, predominately by Auroville artists:

Month & year Title / description of exhibition Artist Origin of Artist
July 2012 “Amazing Worlds” paintings Gala Auroville/Russian
August Skies and Deserts photo exhibition Satprem Auroville/French
September “Brushstrokes paintings and ceramics Marlenka Auroville/USA
November Abstract painting Neeti Khanna Auroville/Indian
November Acrylic painting Vasantha Kumaran Pondicherry
December Upcycling exhibition Okjeong Lee Auroville/Korean
January 2013 “Journey of a Soul: Recycled beauty” Monique Patenaude Auroville/Canadian
February “Looks of the world: Miracles Del Mundu, Regards du Monde” Elvira Auroville/Spanish
March “Light beyond skin” photography, drawings, graphics Leonard Pietri Auroville/French

Cultural events

The organisation of cultural events for Auroville is a special joy for the Pitanga team. With the help of Aurovilians and artists from abroad, Pitanga facilitated 13 beautiful events for the community:

Month & year Description of performance Artist / Organiser Origin of Artist
May 2012 Tango dance evening Mona Auroville
July South Indian Classical music Madras String Quartet Madras
August “Set fire to the rain” pop/jazz vocal performance Lisa Auroville
September Classical Spanish guitar Ashaman Auroville
October “Shaamey Ghazal” vocals and Tabla Shri Baloo Dutta and Shri Biplav Burman Kolkata
December “The Soul-Flower” Eastern Slavic Songs Shakti and friends Auroville
December Indian classical vocal concert with Tabla and Harmonium Kalapini Komkali Auroville
January “Projet Ganesh” Puppet show Le 7eme tiroir et le Pavillon de France Dimitri et Elisabeth France
February Meditative bamboo flute concert Jean-Christophe France
March Chansons francaises Maurice Benin France
March Children's piano concert for parents Shakti and Pushkar Auroville
March “Moods of Kalyaan” Indian classical vocal concert Nandita Di Auroville
March “Living violin” Tyler Canada

Outcomes

2012-13 was a year of reflection for the Pitanga team with a change in the management team, a time of financial constraints and the challenges of a service that has outgrown its space capacity as detailed in last years report. The team has been making concerted efforts to reduce expenditure while attracting extra activities to broaden the service. We also have been looking at ways to make the most effective use of space as well as start plans for future development. Pitanga continues to have approx. 25 Aurovilians contributing their time and skills for the development of this service, backed up by a team of five Aurovilians in administration.

Throughout the year Pitanga offered 54 classes and rehearsals per week for children and adults plus some 20 different therapies as well as a continued service of the Homeopathic Dispensary to the community. The program of regular activities was complemented by a number of occasional events as mentioned above: 31 workshops, 9 exhibitions and 13 cultural performances.

An interesting development this year has been a cross cultural exchange that has happened between Pitanga and Thamarai health and healing Centre in Edayanchavadi village. Both centres have their own pool of activities and professionals and this year there was a sharing of resources to the mutual benefit of the villagers and the community of Auroville:

  1. Healing practitioners from Langara College Vancouver who are bi-annual visitors offering Integrative healing training to villagers through Thamarai held very well-attended one-day workshops in Pitanga where they shared their skills with Aurovilians and Guests.
  2. Adriana Ovalle, (Columbia) who is a Vini yoga teacher, nutritionalist and regular visitor to Thamarai offered individual Vini yoga and health sessions at Pitanga over a four week period.
  3. “Project Ganesh” puppet show (France) performed at Pitanga and Thamarai.
  4. Surya, one of Pitanga’s main Aikido teachers started a self-defence course for village girls in Pitanga on Sundays.
  5. Sandra (Columbia) offered Reiki at both Pitanga and Thamarai.

Conclusion

It is a joy for the Pitanga team to be of service to the community of Auroville. We endeavour to improve and refine the service and look forward with renewed energy to a new season ahead after the summer holiday. For the forseeable future, our goals are to continue to enhance facilities and activities in order that a wider program can be offered to the community.