SAIIER 2014:Pitanga

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Auroville Sports Resource Centre
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Aikido workshop
Pitanga
Cultural Centre


“Perfection is the true aim of all culture, the spiritual and psychic, the mental, the vital - and it must be the aim of our physical culture also. If our seeking is for a total perfection of the being, the physical part of it cannot be left aside; for the body is the material basis, the body is the instrument which we have to use.” [1]

- Sri Aurobindo

Introduction

Pitanga 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 through physical and cultural activities for children and the adult community of Auroville along with a variety of treatments and therapies aimed at cleansing, re-balancing, aligning the bodily system and re-establishing health and well-being.

An account of the various activities and therapeutic facilities, addressing individuals on all levels of their being, is given below.

Overview of activities

Objective of the activities

The centre, located in the community of Samasti, has seven rooms on two floors and aims to provide an atmosphere of beauty while providing a lively program of physical education 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 from adults and children for 48 classes and 60 treatment sessions.

Thirty two Aurovilian/Newcomer teachers and therapists offer activities at Pitanga on a regular basis. Pitanga provides activities in the field of physical and cultural education as well as Health Care. Regular classes of physical education include open classes, closed research classes, rehearsals for performances and teachers’ training groups.

Regular cultural activities aim to provide opportunities for awareness, education, self-expression and appreciation of visual and performing arts.

Non-regular activities bring a well-appreciated diversity in the form of workshops for physical and health care activities or as evening performances, lectures and art exhibitions for cultural education. These presentations help broadening awareness and discrimination for art in its various expressions. The following lists our regular activities on March 2014. We have not counted guest teacher and therapists in these numbers who also add considerably to our program.

Physical activities: 48 weekly classes

  • Yoga classes of different styles and levels: 32 classes per week
  • Dance classes: 3 classes per week
  • Martial Arts: 8 classes per week
  • Other exercise: 3 classes per week
  • Teachers’ trainings (Yoga, Shiatsu, and occasionally Farewell Group): 2 per week

Cultural activities: 8 weekly

  • Piano practice: 6 sessions per week
  • Music classes and rehearsals: 2 per week

Health Care activities: There were 60 appointments offered each week for a variety of treatments such as Physiotherapy, Cranial Sacral Therapy, Inner Body Exploration, Reiki, Thai Yoga Massage, Oil Massage, Hypnotherapy, Shiatsu and Somatic Movement Therapy facilitated by Aurovilians. There is also a lively homeopathy clinic.

Occasional events: Pitanga hosted 55 such activities during the last year:

  • Art Exhibitions: 8 exhibitions
  • Performances and concerts: 13 programmes
  • Workshops: 34 workshops

Physical Education

Yoga

Pitanga facilitates a broad spectrum of Yoga activities from various systems such as B.K.S Iyengar, Asthanga, Vinyasa and Yoga Therapy styles. 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, Petra and Tatiana who offer 32 yoga classes per week. Tatiana also gives support to other Iyengar teachers and teacher trainers and occasional gives intensive workshops to the community.

The regular program in Iyengar, Asthanga and Vinyasa styles for 2013-2014 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 such a wealth of offering to Auroville from certified guest teachers. This is a valuable way for us to facilitate transfer of knowledge and well being to Aurovilians. The following were the visiting yoga teachers we had this year.

  • Iyengar Yoga classes in Russian with Alexander Volkov: a certified Iyengar teacher from Yaroslavl (Russia) is a returning friend and guest teacher at Pitanga. A large number of Aurovilian Russians attended his weekly Iyengar yoga classes for a month and Tatiana continued to offer this class in Russian language.
  • Hatha yoga with Sylvie from France: Sylvie, soon to be newcomer to Auroville, lead a series of well attended hatha yoga classes and workshops in French twice a week for a six month period.
  • Yoga flow with Elisabetta from Italy: This was Elisabetta's second visit to teach at Pitanga offering a yoga flow class to music twice weekly and a series of one day workshops in yoga and dance.
  • Allan Nett, certified Iyengar Yoga instructor from the USA: Alan offered weekly classes and two intensive workshops that focused on specific body themes. Alan has been teaching Iyengar Yoga for over 20 years and describes himself as a “hands on teacher” who enjoys helping the student to find the perfection in the pose all the while remembering that Āsanas are a tool for the expansion of consciousness.

Pranayama

Pranayama is an integral part of Yoga practice and weekly in Pitanga two different approaches are taught:

  1. The school of BKS Iyengar with Tatiana.
  2. Pranayama in the Art of Living technique, offered by Namrita and Francois.

The Art of Living practice was enhanced by a five day Pranayama workshop which combined breathing techniques, meditation and features Sudarshan Kriya, a breathing technique that uses specific rhythms of breath to detoxify every cell of the body and infuse it with energy. Participants appreciate that upon completion of the Part I Course, they receive a home practice consisting of Sudarshan Kriya and other breathing techniques, which comprise a comprehensive breathing program. The regular home practice is then supported by weekly refresher-courses that are held at Pitanga or New Creation Gym on alternate days.

Dance

The regular dance practiced at Pitanga is Odissi Dance taught by Kanchana, Rekha and Srimoyi. Classes are offered for children, teenagers and adults and address various levels. In the practice of Odissi dance participants develop much strength, stamina and coordination in their bodies. Being one of the eight forms of classical Indian dance participants learn also appreciation of aesthetics and the depth of Indian culture in dance and music.

Pitanga has also hosted international dance teachers this year:

  • Improvising with movement for a natural dance: Elisabetta facilitated two workshop that lead practitioners on an inner journey to access personal creative dance language. The exploration of movement through different elements, perspectives, images and feelings gave rise to opportunities and challenges within own unique dance.
  • Bio-Danza: Birgit Rinke facilitated a workshop in Biodanza which originates in South America and means dance of life. It is a system of dance with no steps to learn that gives one the freedom to find own authentic, heartfelt movements. It is a way to develop a deeper connection with one’s selves and to cultivate deeper, more honest interactions with others.

Martial Arts

Aikido is another important group practice at Pitanga with 8 weekly classes. The founder Morihei Ueshiba has described Aikido as “The Path to be united with God's will and to put it into practice.” In addition to the regular weekly classes, a 15 day workshop was offered by visiting teacher Andre Palmeri from France which introduced beginners to this valuable martial art form and renewed enthusiasm and deepened practice in existing practitioners. Cristo and Surya from Auroville and Murugan from Pondicherry are the regular Aikido teachers who consistently dedicate themselves to developing this practice.

Visiting Teacher Aikido Workshop 2014: André Palméri, 6th Dan - Makoto Dojo, Marseilles, France, student of Tamura Sensei held a 15 day intensive practice for both beginners and advanced students.

Workshops

We value the initiative of Aurovilian teachers and friends from abroad who contribute their time and expertise to these activities. 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 an exercise or technique, allowing much faster progress than by classroom rhythm. It also allows a much deeper research on mastering of a technique.

Here is a summary of all the 34 workshops hosted in Pitanga this year:

Month & year Description of activity Duration Teacher Origin of Teacher
July 2013 Ashtanga workshop 3 days Alain Auroville
July Yoga mudra meditation 1 day Gala Auroville
August Ashtanga workshop 3 days Alain Auroville
August Awareness on birth 1 day Manuela Auroville
August Mudra workshop 1 day Gala Auroville
September Body awareness 5 days Hans Auroville
September Self defence and confidence 5 days Hans Auroville
October Self defence and confidence 3 days Hans Auroville
October Body awareness 3 days Hans Auroville
December Self defence and confidence 3 days Hans Auroville
December Mula Body awareness 3 days Hans Auroville
December Chi Qong 3 days Hans Auroville
December ATB 1 day Aloka Auroville
December Mula Body awareness 3 days Hans Auroville
December Kaya Bodha / body awareness 3 days Hans Auroville
December Iyenger yoga 2 days Allan Nett USA
December Bio Danza 2 days Birgit Germany
January 2014 Family constellation 2 days Evmarie Germany
January Hatha Yoga in French 1 day Sylvie Auroville
January Improvised Dance 1 day Elisabetta Italy
January ATB 2 days Aloka and Gabi Auroville
January Yoga 4 days Mitra Auroville
January Hatha Yoga in French 1 day Sylvie Auroville
January Kaya bodha / Body awareness 3 days Hans Auroville
January Improvised Dance 1 day Elisabetta Auroville
February Womb blessing 1 day Veronique Colombia
February Family constellation 2 days Evmarie Germany
February Dance 1 day Elisabetta Italy
February 2014 Medical therapy 1 day Ouriel Zohar and Barbara Heman France
February Pranayama 5 days Namrita & Francois Auroville
February Aikido 15 days Andre Palmei France
February Dance 1 day Elisabetta Italy
March Kaya Bodha / body awareness 3 days Hans Auroville
March Self defence 3 days Hans Auroville
March Iyengar yoga for fundraising 3 days Tatiana Auroville

We wish to especially thank all friends from abroad who have contributed generously to the diversity of program offered.

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 Holo Energetic, Shiatsu and Tarot groups.

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

  • Acupuncture
  • Awakening the intelligence of the body
  • Chiropractics
  • Cranial Sacral Therapy
  • Energy Healing
  • 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

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 therapist generally stay with us for a three month period and we are very grateful for their contribution.

Art and Culture

Visual and performing arts are another important aspect that allows Pitanga to support cultural education in music and theatre. The courtyard allows us to host exhibitions all year round and the main hall provides an intimate place for evening performances. Exhibition and performance from Aurovilians and artists around the world provide a wealth of annual culture. The space is also an important community practice platform and is actively used by the musicians and singers for practice.

Exhibitions

Pitanga encourages and supports Aurovilians to express themselves in arts and to share the outcome of their research and work with the community. In 2013-14 Pitanga hosted eight exhibitions as follows:

Month Name of exhibition Artist Origin of artist
November Windows on The Figure Audrey Auroville
December Intuitive abstract painting Hufreesh Auroville
January 2014 Bone’s memory (X-Ray art) Monique Auroville
February Brushstroke / Water colour painting Marlenka Auroville
February First nations ; New nation (Photo exhibition) Paulette Auroville
March Aqua salis (Photo exhibition) Lisbeth Auroville
April Dreamtime Diving Amrita Auroville
April Rainbow Children's Art Gala Auroville

Cultural Events

With the development of CRIPA there has been a trend for large concerts to be performed there and Pitanga to be used as a smaller intimate performance venue. The organisation of cultural events for Auroville is a special joy for the Pitanga team, great care is taken to enhance aesthetics so that a beautiful atmosphere prevails. With the help of Aurovilians and artists from abroad, Pitanga facilitated 15 beautiful events for the community to enjoy this year:

Month & year Description of performance Artist/Organiser Origin of artist
April 2013 Piano concert Lazco and Pushkar Auroville
April Stick Chapman, tabla and vocal Jacky Mouvillat and Anaka France
April Book event Arya Rajam Chennai
April Songs with guitar Jivatman Auroville
August Piano concert Hartmut Germany
August Poetry reading Monica Mody India
October Concert Deepshika Pondicherry
November Piano concert Italy
January 2014 Piano concert Hartmut Germany
January Spandan music session Ritu Jain India
February Poetic musical collaboration Anungla and Holger Auroville
February Performance Ouriel Zohar and Barbara Heman France
February Meditative flute and tabla concert Jean-Christophe and Arnab B. Chowdhury France/India
March Swing, Sing and Think (film) Bruno Monsaingeon France
March Sacred choral music / The Mother’s first meeting with Sri Aurobindo Le Choeur with singers from Auroville and Ashram Auroville


Outcome

The outcome of Pitanga's service this year was the enhancement of well being and growth of potential for Auroville residents through our program of activities, therapies and cultural events . Our goal for the forseeable future is to continue to enhance facilities and activities in order that a wide program can be offered to the community. We will do this by supporting our team and attracting new teachers, therapists, artists and performers. We would also like to make plans for the development of the building with increased room capacity.

This year our team have made the following improvements thanks to help from friends and grants:

  • Completed the repair of our concert piano.
  • Installed a new dynamised drinking water system.
  • Upgraded our yoga equipment, giving us three fully equipped rooms with excellent yoga materials.
  • Installed a projector and screen that has allowed us to enhance our current programming with films related to yoga, health, art and music.
  • Installed an underground water tank and drip irrigation system.
  • Upgraded our toilets for wheelchair access.
  • Replaced our Battery and UPS system.
  • Replaced our concert cushion covers.
  • Replaced the roof of the workers' lunch area.
  • Installed electric points to facilitate E-bikes.
  • Replaced old fans and lights with new energy-efficient models.





  1. Essays in Philosophy and Yoga, p.521, "Perfection of the Body"