Week 4: settled

You see, back in 2005 I was here for three months, and even though by the end of it I was quite ready to go back home, it was from my second month that the hardcore work really happened.

And that’s how I feel now: it seems to me, although perception is always imperfect and tainted by my own feelings and ideas, that Sharath spent the first two weeks triaging us, the third week advancing people’s practices, and is now finally relaxing into it, just in time to watch a whole bunch of us go back home.

So, were I to return, I think I’d rather wait longer to come back but spend two or even three months. Of course, easier said than done. And this makes me feel enormous respect for the people that come here regularly. It’s easier to make excuses (husband! dog! job!) but the fact is that there are people who make those sacrifices in order to bathe in parampara and establish a relationship with Sharath. Not saying that everyone needs to do that: I have almost ten years of daily practice with my teacher back home and value it immensely. But want to give credit where it’s due.

And apart from practice, life here is a succession of delightful experiences. There are the wonderful cooking classes:

image

The cracked heels!

image

The changing city of Mysore (my dad had a construction firm so I’m always fascinated by architecture and how it evolves in different countries):

image

And the random surprises like finding a book on my old industry in an unassuming bookshop downtown:

image

Two more practices, one day in Bangalore easing myself back into reality, and I will be soon back home.

Advertisements

Week 3, done

This week it all came together, despite my being a bit wobbly before the moon day. Somehow, by Thursday something clicked in my head and ever since I’ve been feeling really peaceful and like I’m exactly in the right place at the right time. Like everything is unravelling perfectly.

Despite the slight aches and pains that come from giving it all in practice (a luxury I don’t always have in my life back in London), my body feels great, and even the very intense backbending we do here, where you are expected to catch your ankles or further up if you can, feels absolutely like the right thing to do. That’s Mysore magic happening right there.

And the sense of gratitude was compounded times thousand today during conference, where Sharath spoke truly from the heart with so much devotion and compassion. Every time he tells stories about Guruji I get a bit tearful because he is so open and candid about his love, both filial and guru-student like. He is a master of conveying a lot of information in a really concise way: talking about boastful or disrespectful students, he’d just say “sometimes I felt sad because Guruji was so devoted to teaching”.

So my last week of practice here will start on Monday with a huge sense of gratitude for having had the chance to be here again and to partake in the magic.

And then there are the Juanita cuddles.

image

Invisible caffeination

As time goes by, the body gets sorer and despite getting more than enough sleep I still do not want to leave my bed at 4am (and don’t get me started on the 2:30am call for the 4:30 led class on Saturday and Sunday). Therefore coffee, which started as an indulgence on this trip, has now become a necessity.

image

My mind has been playing games with me lately, complaining loudly about my feeling invisible in the shala. “Worry not”, my friends say, “Sharath sees it all”. And the petulant child in me then asks that if that’s the case, why is he choosing to ignore me?

Of course, this is all related to my own fears and to the fact that when we are here, we are stripped out of our self-identification accessories: at home I’m a computer programmer, I am married, I have a dog. If for some reason I’m feeling unseen during practice, I have the rest of my day to be seen.

I could get all Freudian about why so many of us here (please allow me to hide in group anonymity regarding something I’m not proud of) feel the need to…matter.

But that understanding, though useful (know thyself), might not be as important as the realization that nope, Sharath doesn’t ignore anyone, he is doing a really good job in extremely challenging circumstances and we all need to chill the F out and do the work. Show up, practice, and in my case sort out my Dwi Pada entry to Supta Kurmasana. And beyond the asana, check how I’m doing and try my best to become a nicer person…even though trying to do more advanced asana seems like much more fun!

image

Lazy Sundays

I finally got used to (well, to a certain degree) rest day being Sunday. I spent all of Week 1 and a few days of Week 2 living one day behind the calendar, thus missing out on appointments.

Some more things that have changed in the last few years…

– After led class, everyone flips around on their mat and take rest with their feet pointing to the back of the room.

– You can get decent chocolate and raw food desserts!

image

image

image

– Authorization is constantly discussed and even brought up in conference by Sharath; in 2005 I only heard of two people getting authorized while I was here, and most people were here just to practice. This is of course a totally subjective observation but I feel that a lot of people come here now chasing authorization.

Things that haven’t changed…

– The feeling of everdirty feet.

– Missing my clothes. I’m a far better winter dresser than summer one, and I’m so sick of the bunch of hippy-dippy clothes I bought in a panic when I realized I was coming and I had nothing adequate to wear. Mysore seems to be the place where (yoga students’) fashion comes to die.

Animals still wander freely.

image

What about practice, I hear you say? Well, practice is being very very nice. Primary Series is an old friend so other than attempting a tighter Supta Kurmasana and grabbing my ankles daily in backbends, I’m not getting too taxed. Which sometimes feels a bit of a shame given that it’s here and now that I have the opportunity to spend the day resting and recovering, but then again, I didn’t come here to get poses, did I? 🙂

image

Starting week 2

With February being a short month and the Monday-Saturday schedule, my visit to Mysore is very well defined as a four week block to slowly (or quickly as it actually feels) tick off one by one.

Settling in was surprisingly easy last week; just a few watery eyes moments when overtired, jet lagged or missing my husband. The rest of the time was spent remembering the physical landscape and getting used to the social landscape.

People come to Mysore for as many reasons as there are students. Tons of first time students eager to do their pilgrimage, visit the source, have the ultimate Mysore experience. Many lone teachers whose parampara link is Sharath and they spend the rest of the year getting up at 3am to practice on their own before opening their Mysore rooms. And students like me, lucky to have a great teacher back at home but who are also in love with this room and whenever they can, scramble the funds, get time off and come and bathe themselves in the prana in that room.

Because there are so many people with so many reasons, the social constructs can be a bit tricky to navigate. Some keep themselves to themselves, some crave company, and some manouvre a bit politically, upwardly mobile in the hierarchy of authorized, level 2, certified teachers. And there I was thinking I’d escaped my corporate job 🙂

Compulsory food pictures:

image

image

There is also the first conference of the month to talk about, but people have documented it better than I ever could in other blogs and Facebook, so I will just say that even though sometimes it can feel a bit basic, I really enjoy Sharath’s insistence that we keep doing the practice diligently and do not forget about the yamas/niyamas.

No pictures though…trying to preserve people’s right to privacy!

Lastly, this week we have a bit of a change in schedule: Sharath is away on Monday and Tuesday and has left four certified teachers in charge of the room. Then we will have led class on Wednesday once he is back. I personally am happy to not start the week with a led class!

Of food, shopping and backbends

So, read any Mysore blog and you will find out that a great portion of an Ashtangi’s time is spent obsessing over food. Now take that and double it because I grew up in Spain where the favourite pastime is planning where to go for your next meal, what to order, who to eat with, and analyze/dissect the merits of that food to exhaustion.

Ok, the Spanish way might be a bit more related to joie de vivre than the Ashtangi way, which might be all about pooping before practice and being skinny enough to lift your ass of the floor for jumpbacks, but let’s skip that for now (I’m soooo going to get roasted for this 🙂 ).

The fact was, I finished my practice and was hungry. So I rocked up at Santosha before they had finished their own breakfast and ordered this:

image

Ragi french toast with cinnamon and honey (the vegan score took a bit of a hit here). And it was so good that then I ordered this:

image

Yes, same same.

From there I waddled back home where I did my laundry in the expensive Japanese import washing machine in the basement. Don’t be haters and book yourselves at Urban Oasis next time  🙂

And after yet more food…

image

…we went shopping, with compulsory rickshaw picture. But look up from gorgeous Karla:

image

Now, I’m not sure if that’s an actual lamp that lights up or not, but isn’t it amazing? I don’t know, maybe I’m jet lagged and yoga-ed out but I really love humans’ need for self expression and individuality that pops out even in the most mundane circumstances like driving people around for a living.

And practice, I hear you say? Well, I got a lovely spot for “one more, short!” this morning and even though my monkey mind went a bit wild at times and I’m pretty sure I went straight from Janu Sirsasana B on the right side to Janu Sirsasana C on the left, it was still pretty great and got the best help in backends from the lovely assistant. So what more can I ask for? It’s good to be here.

First Mysore practice, down

But no one deserves to be subjected to a blow-by-blow account. Suffice to say that it was as magical this morning as it was so long ago, that I arrived to an almost empty queue by virtue of being on time, and that the assistants are lovely.

And this time round, good quality chocolate is easy to find. What more could I ask for? (other than my family being here with me, but let’s just leave that for next time maybe).

image