Hello from Mysore

As far as long trips go, it hasn’t been so bad at all, the ten years gone by since my last trip playing not a small part. The new Bangalore airport is very, very nice, and the immigration process much more swift. The new road out of Bangalore is heaps better than the dirt road I bumped along on years ago.

The things that seem to not have changed much…the hair rising drive at full speed weaving in and out of traffic with often only millimetres to spare, the noise, the pollution. The ATM machines that won’t give you more than 10k rupees at a time, guaranteeing a hive of yoga students wandering around trying to get enough for registration this afternoon. But also the smiles and the head wobbles and the hugs from friends that you haven’t seen in many years but who remember you well.

The other things that made a difference are to be attributed to a lot of travel for work and leisure in the past few years: ensuring I ate a decent breakfast at the airport, layering clothes so that I could easily adapt to the increasing temperature, taking a spare set of undies to change into until in close proximity of a shower. The one thing I forgot, however, were the compression socks! This girl’s legs are not what they were.

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Five days

Travel preparations have now reached feverish speed. Trying to make my absence as unnoticed as possible, I’ve gone into mad organizational mode. Like the world’s most effective PA, I’ve been making lists, writing documentation for family and helpers, and even doing grocery shopping to see my dear husband beyond the first weekend on his own. Yes I know, he can perfectly look after himself 🙂

My back has been complaining a bit, and the knee jerk reaction was first upset and then mild anger (how can this happen right before I go to Mysore for the first time in eons). Once all that passed through I actually took it for what it is: a signal from my body to slow down and pay attention to my emotional state. Apprehension, worry, insecurity are the things that tend to psychosomatize in my lower back.

It really is interesting how modern society teaches us to view the body as an inconvenient liability, at worst (wax! preen! hide any external sign of your menses!) and a tool at best (chase Third series in a vain search for validation and love!). It has taken me many, many years to make peace with my own body, appreciate it as is (despite the cultural pressure to be whippet thin and the regular appraisal of friends and even sometimes strangers who feel that as a woman your image is a zone for free commentary).

In reality, this meat covered skeleton made from stardust is the link between your soul and this world, and an ally rather than an enemy. So now I’m at peace, looking forward to this trip and knowing that the gifts I will receive in Mysore go far beyond, and sidestep, any asana I might or might not be able to “perform”.

Bring it on.

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Less than two weeks to go

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Time is just flying, and my departure day looms in the horizon. I’ve been teaching a lot in order to add more funds to the Mysore pot, which in hindsight might not have been the brightest thing to do since I pulled a muscle in my mid back demonstrating Supta Kurmasana and now my whole back has seized. So I’m spending a lot of my time hanging off what my husband calls my bat table. This, of course, has triggered a lot of emotion, mostly around the theme of not being ready for Mysore. As if one ever is!

In the meantime, I whetted my appetite for India by applying for my visa in person, rather than using a service. I figured that since I am not working (in an office job) and have plenty of time, there is no reason why I can’t spare an hour or two sitting in the India Visa Processing Centre. The Centre is like a microcosm of India: crowded, busy and yet everything works as if by magic. My initial sit was of two hours but I took the chance to eat my (non-smelly) lunch, having spent all my morning teaching Mysore and then doing my own practice. It only took a couple of days to get the text notification that my passport was ready to be collected, and a twenty minute wait to get it back with a six month multiple re-entry visa stuck to it. Score!

So now all I have to do (apart from the necessary preparations for the household to keep running while I’m away without inconveniencing my lovely husband who is busy enough as it is) is to idly worry that Sharath might not remember me since my hair is quite a few shades lighter and I’ve expanded horizontally a little bit! (I blame the yoga, actually: I went through years of craving fat and now I crave protein all the time).

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(picture taken in 2005 during Guruji’s 90th birthday celebrations)

Four weeks to go

Then…

When I went to Mysore in 2005, I was lost. Totally and utterly lost. I’d just turned 30, and remember very vividly thinking that life wasn’t supposed to be like that. I was heartbroken, I’d left a job that, while very interesting and certainly something very few people in the world were qualified to do, was a bit of a dead end in terms of career and pay progression. And I just didn’t know who I was.

My first exposure to Mysore style was indeed in Mysore in 2004. Then, Sharath had progressed me from Marichiasana B to Supta Kurmasana (quite a bit, in just four weeks!). In 2005 he taught me the rest of the Primary series.

Now…

I always wonder how much of the changes in the last ten years can be attributed to the practice and how much to just growing up. I was heartbroken for a long, long time, and the practice did indeed help me process all those feelings of loneliness (Second series will take care of that by centrifugating your nervous system five days a week, thankyouverymuch). I also changed careers to tech in investment banking, and Ashtanga gave me indeed the discipline to work long hours and keep the eye on the goal, plus the ability to somehow temper myself at times when stress ran high.

So now I’m married, have a pug and a mortgage, and wonder how much harder up and leaving for India will be when you have loved ones waiting for you to come back home. There is no specific reason why I’m going (read: I’m not going with the aim of getting authorization) other than having the chance on account of a sabbatical year and knowing that once I return to work, this chance will be gone again for a very long time.

Oh, and I’ve progressed past Primary. Well, at times 🙂