Wednesday, September 5, 2012

OM sweet OM

I'm home! I have been MIA for a few days, on my blog, email, twitter and facebook (shock!). I had to pay way too much for internet access at the last resort I was at in Goa, so I decided to go without it at the end of my trip (it's actually a nice thing to unplug once in a while). After that I was travelling for more than 24 hours (3 flights : 1 hour, 16 hours, 1.5 hours, plus connections and delays). When I finally got home yesterday I was SO TIRED and foggy headed. I arrived later than scheduled back to Toronto, so I had to cancel my original pick up (Thanks anyways Theresa!) since she had a yoga class to get to, and luckily someone else (Thanks Bill!) was able to come pick me up last minute. I had to come straight home, spend a few hours with my sister before driving her to the airport so she could fly home to Halifax and start university today! Whirlwind! I am so lucky to have a best friend and a sister who were willing to come live in my house for more than 5 weeks (they took turns!) and take care of my pets (not an easy job!), water my plants, etc. I am super grateful for the generous people in my life. Also Bill came over for two days and took cat & weasel duty in between Laura & Jana's stays. I couldn't have taken this trip without them. Thank you :)

I am still processing my whole trip and experience, letting it all soak in. Of course I know that for the next week or two I'm going to be getting a lot of  "How was India?" questions. I find that hard to answer! The real answer might take an hour, I have so many thoughts and experiences and lessons as a result of my trip. But most people aren't looking for that answer. It also seems cheap to say "Great, thanks." So what is the in between? I'm not sure yet. I'm thinking about it. I can't really say it was or wasn't what I expected, because I really tried to go without expectations. In some ways it was harder than I thought, but in a lot of ways it was a lot easier. I was in a very upper class cushy part of India, so there was no major culture shock. I certainly was not roughing it or struggling. Sure, I had to drink bottled water, and close my mouth in the shower, I got sick a few brief times, got rained on, had dirty feet, used some 'squat' toilets, etc. But, it wasn't bad at all. Did I love the food in the region? No, not really. But there was always something decent to eat.

I met a lot more people and was a lot more social than I thought would be the case. I love the people I met and am so glad that they were part of my experience. I love the global feeling of people coming together, from all over the world (USA, Canada, Spain, Mexico, UK, South America, ...more!) all to the same place, for the same reason. We were all on the same journey. We all wanted to come to the source, to Mysore India, to study authentic Ashtanga Yoga, with Sharath, the grandson of Sri K Pattabhi Jois. We certainly are all at different points along that path. Some just starting Ashtanga, some trying to get a little deeper, some already teaching, some on their 20th journey to Mysore. It was an amazing blend of talents, levels, knowledge. We all had something to share with each other and the variety of understandings and perspectives was very interesting. I was careful not to let the social aspect take over my experience, as I think it easily could have, and maybe had with others. I wanted to keep my journey pointed inwards, one where I learned more not only about yoga and the philosophy and lineage of Ashtanga, but more about myself.

People have been asking me "Did you learn new things?" and "Are you a super master yogi now?!". And the answer really is, "No". I practiced the same things I practice here. I heard the same things I have heard many times before, from Sharath, from my other teachers, from books and blogs and videos and texts. But that is the thing about Ashtanga. It's not about learning something new or something different all the time. It's about doing the same thing all the time. And seeing what exactly about yourself changes. I say this often when I teach. Asana practice is just a tool. The poses and the breathing are just there so you can watch yourself and listen to yourself. While healing the body and stilling the mind, there is this whole other process going on inside. You get to watch the fluctuations in your own mind, while going through this routine or system. You get to monitor your ego. You get to train yourself to become more even, more dedicated, more consistent. And that is what I did in Mysore. I was in a place of great energy and heat, with authentic and safe teaching where I felt a lot of trust and faith, and I just went and I did my practice there. I was not given as many poses to practice as I have when I am practicing here in Toronto at AYCT so that was a good lesson in humility, in not showing off ("Bad lady" is what Guruji apparently used to say when someone was showing off!"), doing less but doing it better, and in working with what you have and not wanting more. The same things came up in my practice that come up at home. Being aware of others around you. Comparing yourself with others. Feeling slightly sick or lazy some days and realllly having to talk yourself into showing up on the mat and putting in a decent effort when all you want to do is lay down and take a nap. But I got to work on all of those things a little more. Under a very good and motivating watchful eye. Of course like any teacher you respect and look up to, you want to do it right for Sharath. I wouldn't exactly say I wanted to impress him, but I wanted to do things well and do things properly, around him. And since I am western-minded, I have to say I did make some "progress" in a tangible sense, in that I for the first time was able to walk my hands all the way to my heels while upside down in a backbend, with his assistance, for the last week or so of my practice there. It was party because of being ready, partly because of the immense heat there in the room and in my body, and also because of this support and coaching "walk walk walk walk more...". So I am grateful for all of those things. I have a lot more work to do and a long way to go, on steadying my mind, on releasing my ego, of ignoring what's going on around me when I am practicing, on finding consistent energy and motivation. My life is not changed. I am not suddenly a cirque de soleil performer. I am not suddenly filled with immense knowledge that I will be teaching in my classes this week!

What I am is a little more experienced in my own practice. I think that is what ultimately can make someone a better yoga teacher. I am a little more open to what exists out there in he world after seeing another very different way of living, watching and learning about different ways of relating to each other on social and gender-related dimensions. I am more grateful as always, for what I do have, since as they say, you don't know what you have till it's gone. And when you are away from your pets, your family, your friends, your bed, your drinkable tap water, your washer and dryer, well, you miss them and love them more when you get back home! I am also grateful that all of my luggage arrived with me in Toronto! Am I the only one who worries like crazy that my baggage will not be on the belt thingy after my flight?!

Well here I am at home again. It all seems like a blur (maybe because I'm so jet-lagged!) but like I said, I need some time to let it all seep through me. I need to rest, unpack, and eventually and slowly start to reap the benefits of my journey. It's not about where I went or what I did, but more so about what I got out of it. I think there's an expression something like this hat seems appropriate: To see the world in a new way, you need not go to new places, but rather look with new eyes. So slowly but surely, through my practice, my intentions, my travels and my experiences, I am changing my eyes.

Quick trip to the beach in Goa, in between monsoon rain attacks!

Brekky and a book by the pool in Goa

Deserted Beach in Goa

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Monsoon Season in Goa

I made it to Goa! I think it was a close call though. I had a car arranged to pick me up from where I was staying in Mysore at 7am on Friday the 31st of August, a full moon which meant I had no yoga practice that day. Actually a "blue moon" because it was the 3rd 'moon' of the month (full, new, full). Maybe it was the full moon that was influencing the escapades of the day! 7:15am, no car. Me? Admittedly nervous. I sent an email to Krishna Murthy, who I arranged the car with. He is the one I arranged a car from the airport to Mysore when I first arrived, and that was on time and no problem. Should I have emailed a day before as a reminder? Probably. 7:20am, I call him. Twice. It's 'busy'. 7:30am, I walk up the street to his office and start banging on the locked gate. A guy pokes his head out of the upstairs window "He's not here yet". Argh! Me? Panicked! I have a flight to catch. Luckily I left myself extra time for this whole getting to the airport trip. I found the usual riskshaw drivers at the top of the street by the shala and tell them what has happened. "No car is coming?" No! No car is coming!! They made a few phone calls to their friends, one of whom was able to come in his car and drive me. I ended up paying a little more than what I had arranged previously, but that's ok. And of course (of course!) the two rickshaw dudes (Appu and some other one) wanted payment for their help, which I suppose is fair. Of course what I offered them wasn't enough. But that's too bad, they should have stated before they helped how much they wanted. But as usual, they didn't.

On my way to the airport, finally. The driver was young, and kept turning his head back to look at my legs. Which had pants on, but only 3/4. So apparently the lower half of my calf was very distracting to him. That, plus his tendency to be on his phone while driving, caused him to crash right into the back of a motor bike. Luckily we weren't going too fast. My head jerked in a mini whiplash action (not too bad, it's fine now) and caused both bike riders to pop right up off the bike. Thankfully they landed back on the bike and not in the street. They were not impressed. Neither was I. My driver threw up his arms like "what the hell!" but it was no use, it was so obviously his fault!! They got out and looked, and he just bent their license plate. Thank god, I didn't have time for anything more!! They gave him dirty looks and we were all on our way again.

At the airport, I check in, and my luggage to be checked was 9kg overweight. 29kg. I was SURE last time it was well underweight. But maybe there was less in it and also maybe for an international flight the weight limit is higher. This was just a 1 hour domestic flight. "OK, how much do I owe you?" I was not about to argue or repack. It was $40. Fine. Let's get on with this!!

The flight was on time, full, but ok. Then came landing time. And an announcement. "We cannot land because the rain is too heavy and the visibility is very bad. We'll be up here in a holding pattern until it's safe to land." The feeling in the cabin was getting more and more impatient. Feet were tapping, voices were growing louder, babies were crying. I was just trying to relax and thought, well, eventually we'll run out of gas and HAVE to land, so we won't be up here forever!! And of course, eventually we landed. YAY! People clapped.

The shuttle for my *fancy* hotel was waiting for me and a few others. It was raining hard and we had to walk all the way to the shuttle (poor me). The drive was amazing (despite how freaking fast and crazy the driver was driving). I felt like we were going through a jungle, well, I guess maybe we were. Beautiful scenery. And then we arrived. Through a locked security gate. To get into the resort I had to walk through a security detector and have my bags scanned and checked. What the heck!? I guess I'm safe in here!!

After checking in (sitting comfortably on a couch), with drinks and hot towels, I was walked to my room with a host. We walked, and walked, and walked, cobblestones, over bridges, seemingly through a little resort village, by pools, to my "court" #2. Upstairs to my "room" which is more like a ... hut? Dwelling? I'm not sure what it is. There are four units in the one building I'm staying in, and it's beeee-eautiful! It's really possibly the nicest place I have ever stayed. Big, stylish, clean, open, new but old (does that make sense?), private balcony, every amenity, smells good... I'm happy here :) The only thing I don't like, is the big screen TV, it should go away. As should all clocks. I hid both of them out of sight. The next 4 days for me, no clocks, no time, nowhere to be, nothing to do, etc etc. I unpacked and headed into the rainfall shower. It was heaven after such a crazy day.

I went for a little walk on the beach around 630pm when the rain stopped. It was super wavy and the ocean was dark grey/brown from the monsoon. Still the beach and ocean were amazing. It wasn't the white sand and turquoise water like in the pictures but I love the ocean in any form. There were local fishermen pulling their nets out of the water. They caught fish, crabs, lots of poor little starfish, and a stingray! I watched the guy break off the poison part of the tail and throw the fish in the bag. (Video link below) I asked if he ate stingray, he said yes, very delicious actually! I had prawn curry and goan rice for dinner, in one of the resort restaurants, it was recommended as their specialty. I also tried a glass of Indian made sauvignon blanc, and it was surprisingly very good! Dinner only cost me $50! Haha. The waiter was very nice and gave me a big list of things to do off of the resort if I wanted to, as well as a place to go for cheap local dosas (I asked for this suggestion!). The chef was also present and made sure I enjoyed it. I really really did.

I slept like a baby. A baby in a 5 star resort. I woke up to roaring rain again. I made a cup of tea, had some fruit that was left in a basket in my room, and slowly let myself wake up. Around 730am the sun poked out. Hallelujah!! I knew it would likely not last so I grabbed a book and a bikini and headed for the pool. I laid out so towels on a lawnchair and ordered a banana smoothie and a chai. I read a chapter of "guruji" then it started to sprinkle. Surprise surprise! I put my belongings under cover and jumped into the hot tub. Mmmm bubbles! Then I went for a little swim in the pool, then back to the hot tub to warm up. After half an hour, the light rain stopped and the sun broke through again. I got another 2 hours in the sun. I had had enough so started to walk toward the beach for a little stroll before coming back to my room. RAIN! Pouring rain! Haha, I knew it was coming. I walked back to my room, getting soaking wet, but it was fun. Some kids were in the pool LOVING it. There's a water slide built into some rocks and they were having the time of their lives. Back to my rainfall shower and then the internet (now!). Later on... Some lunch. If I don't come home, I'll be here. In my hut. I think I might just stay :)

The hotel grounds apres rain

 The beach

 The hotel grounds

 The hotel grounds at night, under the full Blue Moon

 Prawn Curry - YUM!

 Morning at the pool

 Pretty things

PS... A friend of mine shared with me this fun iPhone app that makes these photo-collages. I'm obsessed!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Last few words from Mysore

This is my final post from Mysore. Yesterday was my last self practice and today was my last led class. Yesterday something weird happened, the foyer was super duper packed and I waited for over half an hour to get called in. Then I got a lumpy spot on the carpet. But, I didn't care about that! I have given up the need for a flat floor. It will be a real luxury when I return back home! Today my spot was ok, except for the corner of the rug under my feet. I was totally zapped today. No energy and had a headache. We ate "de-worm" pills yesterday (EW!) just in case we got something from that nasty water incident, and I think the side effects are fatigue, headache, nausea, the usual. I kept telling myself "It's the last class, suck it up and work hard!!" but I really really couldn't. Up dog - knees on the floor. Chatturanga - belly flop. Seriously! Bag of wet sand. I did not cheat in ut pluthi, but I sure didn't stay up the whole time either! Oh well, I enjoyed it and kept breathing properly despite my useless body. I finished in style with a "perfect" resting pose :) I took a few moments in class yesterday and today, as well as in my final chanting session yesterday, so just soak it all up and take in the sounds, sights, feelings, smells, vibrations. It really is something special to be here. I am very grateful for my time in Mysore and for the opportunity to practice yoga at KPJAYI.

I'm nearly all packed up and ready to go. I gave away a bunch of my stuff. Food for friends to use and cook with, and I gave a bunch of little things to a few girls/young ladies who have been working manual labour on building a house just up the street from where I am staying. I am not sure where they are from (someone suggested Sri Lanka) but they work hard and I don't think they have much. I say Hello to them every day, and recently they learned how to ask "what your name". I give them bananas sometimes and yesterday I gave them each a set of bangles. I think they didn't even know what to do! Very sweet girls. I have a few more things, scarves and clothes to give to them today.

I'm off to Lalitha Mahal palace for afternoon tea with a few friends soon. It's an old palace that was turned into a hotel, apparently something to see. This morning a couple of us went to my favourite corner of town and took some yoga photos. It caused quite a scene with locals gathering around to watch! Most were amused and smiling, I don't think it was offensive. We did take off our loose clothing to take photos in yoga wear, which normally is not acceptable, but I think it was clear it was for the purpose of yoga and photographs, and we put our proper coverings back on immediately after. I will post a few of those photos down below. Later this afternoon I have my final Sanskrit class and then hopefully some of us are catching a late movie. By "late", I mean it starts at 730pm hahaha....

Tomorrow morning, I am taking a car to the airport at 7am, then a flight to Goa at 1pm for a little R & R at the beach. Yay!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"You're still eating worms"

I only have one Mysore style practice and one led primary practice left to go at KPJAYI here in Mysore India. Time has flown by. One month is like the blink of an eye!! As far as my practice goes, I want to stay for another month or two. Sharath is getting to know me and really helping me get deeper in my back bends. He told me to come at 430am every day from now on, starting next week. I had to tell him, next week I'll be gone. Just when he gives me a 'promotion'! 430am is the coveted start time. As far as everything else goes, I'm ready to come home. The mosquitoes are getting worse and worse since the past few days have been super rainy. I think I was lucky for the first few weeks I was here in terms of weather. It's supposed to be monsoon season, but it was so hot and sunny and lovely. But now, it feels like monsoon season. I've been cold during the day and especially at night lately... brrr! I am tired of itchy mosquito bites. I finally realized why he laughs everytime I finish backbending. It's because I am coming up too quickly at the end. Today I realized that as I POPPED up, and he said "whoa, easy!" and laughed. Got it. He's not a big guy after all. Maybe he thinks I'm going to knock him over!! :)

I'm feeling bummed that I have to buy so much bottled water, it's so bad for the environment. I even use it to brush my teeth. A couple of days ago though, I was glad I was buying and drinking bottled water when Sara and I took a closer look at the bottom of the household water jug. Every day it gets filled up with filtered water, it goes through a UV system after leaving the tap. BUT, the giant jug that stays on the table apparently hadn't been cleaned in a long time... so... I poured water into a pot from the jug, ready to boil and make rice. but I saw something in the pot. A few little threads or something? I looked closer under the light. The 'little threads' were dancing. They were worms. Alive, moving, taunting me with their wiggles. *FAAAAAACCKKKK*!

I showed sara. she nearly barfed immediately. She *actually* barfed later on, just from thinking about it. She drinks that water all the time. Not boiled. I use that water, but only boiled. For tea, for cooking, etc. So I guess I was in the slightly better position. We both nearly gagged looking at the worms. We looked at the jug under the light, there were TONS of them! We bottled the little suckers and took the bottle to the nearby hospital right away. We showed them, said we drank them, asked what are they, and will we die!? In grande ole Indian style, the nurses laughed, passed the bottle around to EVERYONE in the hospital until everyone knew, and everyone was laughing. Super awesome. We went into a room, sat down with a doctor. He looked at the bottle. He looked at us. "You drank this?" (disbelief) Yup we did. Now what do we need? Pills? Testing? He said he didn't know what it was, just some larvae or something, maybe from mosquitoes, said the water was totally contaminated. He asked where we were from. Sweden for Sara - "oh good, Europeans have good immune systems". Canada for me - "Oh. Most prone to infectious diseases". SUPER! He said we were likely ok. Unless of course we had malaria, or dengue. They took Sara's blood and tested for everything, since she was drinking it fresh and I was boiling it. If it turned out she was infected with something I would then get tested too. 24 hours later, blood is clear, no infections. I wondered though, if we had worms in our belly, shouldn't they test our poopoo? Not blood? Whatever. Gross me out. I want to come home and drink Toronto water!!!! I said to him, "It's better for me though, right? Since I boiled the water?" His response was, "You're still eating worms". THANKS!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hospital visit in Mysore

315am. alarm goes off. i hear raging monsoon rains outside of the window. i think, hmm, maybe it will stop in 45 minutes before i have to walk to the shala. snooze. snooze. snooze. i get up, putter around, do my morning things. have the thought "gee, maybe no one will go today because of the rain, maybe i shouldn't go either" but it is my last sunday and i really do like the crazy early 430am practices, so i get my yoga clothes on, and on top a hoodie and baggy pants, which can get wet and dirty and peeled off in the changeroom. by the time i got to the shala there was a huge mud spray up the back of my legs and i was pretty drenched, but it was sort of fun! they must have opened the gate and shala early so people didn't have to sit out in the rain (very nice) so when i got there most people were in and set up. i had to either go in the foyer (chose not to) or this weird little spot up in the right front corner, facing the opposite direction from everyone else. so once again, it was as if everyone was staring at me! they weren't of course, but the 3 or 4 people directly in front of me were literally right in my face and i was right in theirs. we only kicked each other a few times! practice did not feel as physically hard or tiring as the led class on friday. maybe Sharath went a little faster this morning, or maybe my body had more energy, either way, it felt good. or wait, maybe i was still too asleep to realize how hard i was working?! it's 7am now, and i've practiced, showered, made tea, had cereal, washed and hung out my laundry, dressed, sent a few emails and now blogging. serious start to the day! we have conference early today, at 930, then i have two sanskrit classes to attend. productive is good!!

yesterday was a rest day, and i actually rested. went for a wee walk around 8am for some water, milk, fruits and veggies. not one yogi was out! we had a friday night party for some peeps who were going away, and i think some people stayed up reallllly late. i went to bed at 11pm and i thought that was the latest ever! the rest of saturday i just stayed in, put some new chanting CDs on my computer, made a nice veggie lunch and relaxed! for once. i was hoping to make a movie with some friends at 545pm but i also had plans at 4pm with a few other friends to go to the hospital and have our noses pierced. it's true! we talked about it a few weeks ago and let the idea swish around in our heads. i had my nose pierced when i was 13 or 14 and it lasted a few years until i had to take it out for work. i always liked it and have missed it ever since. but it was never a good time to get it redone. in india though, it's second nature. i'd say at least 50% of girls and women have one or two nose piercings. the first time i had it done, i went to a sketchy blackmarket clothing place in kensington market in toronto (eww!!) and they pierced my nose with an earring gun (so bad!) and the gun even got stuck in my nose for a few minutes. classic. but there was never any problem with it. here, it's a medical procedure, in a surgical theater, with a doctor and many nurses, and freezing... what a fiasco!

we didn't make an appointment, just showed up. (we bought the jewellery the day before) you have a quick consult, then they send you to the 'medical canteen' with a note about what you need to get: an insulin syringe needle and an 18gauge needle (HUGE!). 10 rupees each for that (about .20 cents). then *I went first* you go the the little surgery room and you lay on the table. the doctor was nice and there were a ton of nurses around doing who knows what, most likely just gawking. everything was clean and sterilized. the doctor told me to move up closer to him, he grabbed my head in his hands (i'm thinking - nice! a massage!) then he started banging/slapping the sides of my head (see photo below). HAHA! trying to shake the nerves out or something?! he turned on the little light, looked at my nose closely, played with the left nostril a bit, i guess seeing it's thickness, flexibility, where the cartiledge is, etc. then he drew a dot with a pen. i got up and looked in the mirror. WHOA! way too high. practically piercing my eye! no on no, i showed him where the dot was from my previous piercing. no, no, no he said, way too low. it would be on the cartiledge and would be more prone to infection. hmm, i sort of want to have it where i want to have it, and deal with possible infection! ok ok ok, compromise. i drew a dot in between where each of us wanted it. he still said too low, but i said DO IT HERE!!!! dammit. it's my nose. it was fine last time! he said ok.

i laid back down and he said close your eyes. he put iodine inside and outside my nose. it stung and smelled bad and dripped up my nose. ick. he started singing, which was kind of funny. then came the tiny freezing needle. which hurt like a bitch, because he did it so slowly and left it in forever! he put the needle eventually all the way through my nose. it stung. then it went numb. i guess it's like the little hole you drill through the wall to guide the bigger drill bit?! then he left that needle hanging out in my nose for a few minutes for all the freezing to work. laura was there watching and i could tell it was gross from her sounds! at that point there was no pain and i had no idea what he was doing, until i watched him do it to laura and allie after me, and was like, OH, that's what was happening! it seemed to take forever, and there were a lot of fingers in, up and on my nose. they put the big fat sharp long scary needle through, then threaded the earring through, then inserted the screw part of the earring, then screwed them together, then cleaned it all up. quite the ordeal! no pain, after the first little needle. hey, not so bad!

i looked in the mirror and liked it a lot. it's a tiny stud with a stone, and it's 22k gold, best for avoiding infection. laura's turn! i bought the needles for her so she wouldn't chicken out. she laid down, wanted me to hold her hand and i could tell she wasn't quite as calm or good with the pain of the first needle as i was, but she was being tough. half way through the procedure, i started to get super dizzy, felt sick, got hot, and thought, holy god, i'm going to pass out! why? am i queasy from watching the needle? no! what the... wow, i better sit down before i crash to the floor. i told laura i had to let go of her hand for a minute and slid down the wall. i broke out into a sweat and grabbed my water bottle and coached myself to relax and take deep breaths. the room was spinning and my lips felt tingly. meanwhile, the doctor and nurses were concentrating on laura and i didn't want to interrupt or ruin her procedure. i also felt bad for not holding her hand! i had a few thoughts like, oh dear, i must have been allergic to the anesthetic and now i'm going to die in a hospital in india. OOPS. but i kind of didn't really care either, i felt so awful. after maybe 2 minutes sitting i started to feel a little better. the crazy fever subsided. my vision got less fuzzy. i could breathe. i stood back up and felt so-so, i kept drinking. they were putting the jewellery into laura's nose. i told her she was doing great. allie came into the room at that moment and looked at my and said 'are you ok'?! i must have looked like shit! and i said "yes!" because i was feeling much better than a few minutes ago and hey look at my nose! haha...  laura was done. i went to the canteen and bought allie's needles, so she couldn't back out. she hopped on the table and had her's done. during her freezing needle she yelled "OWWW!" at the doctor and the nurse grabbed her arm and held her down. that was pretty funny. laura held her hand and it went well. i felt 95% better by the end. i think the sudden wearing off of anesthetic plus my generally low blood pressure was just a bad combo. laura didn't get that feeling at all, she was fine.

we went out into the lobby to pay, and allie said "whoa, i'm getting that dizzy feeling now too" then she put her head on the counter, and passed out, slowly sliding down, so i grabbed her and slowly lowered her to the floor, protecting her head. i actually wasn't worried, i knew she just needed to lie down for a few minutes, have some water and it would be ok. BUT, 8 men flew out of who knows where, grabbed her, picked her up in the air, body parts everywhere and carted her away to a room. we grabbed her stuff and followed. it was a little dramatic! and of course she came back while they were carrying her, looking like "what the fuck is happening to me!" and they plopped her on a bed and the doctor appeared. her face was white and her lips were purple. he was slapping her saying "deeeeep breaths, deeeeeep breaths" and we told her it was ok, she only passed out for a minute, and she relaxed. after a few minutes, and some water, her colour came back. their prescription for recovery was chocolate (they brought her some) and said go for chai. HAHAH... oh India, you are hilarious. Poor Allie!!!

We went to get her a coconut for some hydration and electrolytes then we went to the pharmacy to pick up our meds: antibiotics, vitamin c (?!), pain meds (none of us ended up taking it) and antibiotic ointment. what a day!

this morning we all felt and looked fine. slightly tender, but no pain and not red. *phew*

here's the picture story....

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mysore style birthday

Again I stayed up too late last night. I use this plug in mosquito killer at night, and it takes about an hour, so I must have put it in at 8pm, because I can't go to sleep until they all drop dead and that was around 9pm. I stare at the ceiling until there are no more hovering. Then I can sleep! My 5am alarm came and again I wasn't looking forward to getting out of bed. But of course I did and crawled to the shala for practice. I had a new spot, in the front left corner of the room, right in front of Sharath's office. Led primary was mostly uneventful today except that the theme of the day was "Why you rushing? You have somewhere to go?". All class long Sharath was telling everyone to slow down, wait for his count, which turned into a really long hold in every pose, especially chatturanga. My arms were shaky and tired BIG TIME by the end and ut pluthi was damn near impossible. I hooked my toes behind my arms to help me stay up, and of course his eyeballs zeroed in on my toes and he came right over tisk-tisking me, shaking his head and saying "Why you cheating". I wanted to say "Because it's my birthday!" lol, but of course I didn't. I unhooked my toes and immediately collapsed onto my big butt :) That was that, it was a nice way to start my day even though it was hard. I have felt a tired relaxedness about me ever since.

I came home and showered, and upon exiting the shower, still in my towel, I was greeted with singing and a birthday cake and candle and two sweet friends, Sara and Fi. They made me a guava cheesecake (HELLO!) and bought me flowers and bangles and crystal bindis. So nice!! I changed, then we sat together and chatted over cheesecake and chai! At 8am, which is practically midday around here, since they both practiced at 430am.

After that I headed off to Mylari hotel for dosas with more friends, Allie, Valentine and Jennifer and we had a super yummy India style breakfast, although I altered the local favourite with my lime, sugar and cinnamon. My touch! After that, it was time to go back to the shala for chanting. Friday is fun because Lakshmish goes through the pose names, the Sanskrit counts and the opening and closing mantras, as well as the usual shantimantra and ganesha pancaratnam, etc. We didn't chant from the Bhagavad Gita today which is good, because I forgot to bring my book! :)

Upon stepping outside of the shala, I decided it was SO HOT out that the only thing that would possibly make sense to do on such a day, it go the POOL! Valentin and I hopped on his scooted and scooted to the pool. Perfect weather. Too hot almost! I had to move to a chair in the shade to read a book. After a few hours there we went nextdoor to the Metropole Hotel for a famous lunch buffet we were told about. We saw a few little table set up, with chats (snack, appies) and maybe a BBQ and a roti station. We got our chats and were thinking, hmm, not so much stuff, what was all the fuss about?! BUT THEN we realized there was a whole inside part that we were missing! It was amazing. SO MUCH FOOD! soups, breads, raitas, appetizers, curries, veggies, rices, fruit, ice cream, dessert, tea... Here's my delicious courses:

And that is really only half my day. I have to go to philosophy class at 5pm, then there are lots of things happening, for a change, in Gokulum tonight (our little yoga part of town in Mysore). There is a store opening, which involves a little party, some kirtan singing, likely food, and happy peeps! There is a goodbye party for some people who are leaving soon, Sari's are encouraged! Too bad I don't have one. Some of us were talking about going to the cinema and seeing a film, but in Indian style, they have forgotten to update the website with show titles and times. Haha! Then others are heading to the green hotel for dinner. SO... I'm just gonna go with the flow and see where I end up! Tomorrow is a Saturday rest day, so no matter what, I get to sleep in, and I have no plans. YAY :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How was your practice?

That's a typical question here in Mysore. We're all here to practice Ashtanga yoga, so what better conversation starter (every single day!) than to ask someone, "How was your practice today?!" Typical answers are usually either, "Good", "OK", "Not so good", or "Terrible!!". What are the answers based on? Sometimes the answers also come with a brief explanation...
"It was awesome, I had so much energy!"
"It was awful, I felt cold because I was at the back of the room and didn't sweat enough."
"Practice was so great, Sharath gave me a new pose!"
"Practice was ok, I felt really stiff today."

But when I think about it, those answers don't really make sense (and I'm totally responsible for all of those answers too by the way, I'm not just criticizing others!) Because what I have come to learn and understand about yoga, is that the physical practice itself isn't the goal, it isn't the end, but rather just the tool for working on the body, energy and most importantly the mind. So maybe, a good practice shouldn't be the result of successfully cramming both legs behind your head, or terrible because Sharath stared right at you and didn't give you a new pose when you were sure you were ready for weeks already, but maybe, just maybe, we should look at the state we are in after we practice. Maybe the practice felt really hard, maybe easy, maybe we accomplished certain poses or not, but what was the effect?? What was your attitude towards those things? It could have been the case that you floated through all of your postures and vinyasas like a superstar, but at the same time were breathing frenetically fast and psychotically uneven the whole time. Result? Anxiousness, crankiness, ego. Or the practice felt like a total struggle and your body just wouldn't cooperate, but you were able to stay aware of your bandhas the whole time and you kept your breath even and calm and at a good pace throughout, and after taking rest and being finished with the body bending you felt peaceful and light and happy.

I think there is also always a lesson to be learned in each practice. Were you stiff today? Maybe you pushed too hard yesterday. Felt heavy? Too much cheese yesterday (HAHA, that was me today). Tired? Go to bed earlier. Didn't get a pose from Sharath? Stop wanting, set aside desire and the need for more and be happy where you are, and grateful for what you have. My friend Allie and I were talking about that last one, and both of us, when we gave up and thought, "Sharath will never give me another pose, I'll just settle into the ones I have and do them well", then BAM, 2 or 3 poses in a row. Conversely, the days when we are like "COME ON! gimme gimme... I can totally do bhekasana, can't you see that?!" Then for sure you're getting nothing for another week.

I'm going to start answering the unavoidable daily Mysore question "How was your practice?!" based more on how I feel after my practice, and on the effect that my breathing and mindset will have on the rest of my day and on my interactions with others, and less on my physical accomplishments. Because I think, that is the point, after all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

walk MORE?!

I had my regular Mysore practice yesterday and today. For some reason I am really tired when I wake up lately, for the first time on this trip. It feels just like when I am at home and my 5am alarm goes off to go coach swimming. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" is what goes through my head. Haha... "please please please 5 more minutes, no 10, no, 20!" snooze.... snoooze... snoooooze... OK, time to get up. *eye rub*

I have been going to bed around 9pm, which is actually late for here, but 9pm-5am is 8 hours, which should be sufficient, no? Maybe I'll roll it back to 8pm, I guess my body is soaking up some extra needed sleepy time from a deficiency I've accumulated over the years!

Practice went well yesterday and today. Yesterday when Sharath was helping me with my backbends, I went back and landed and he said "walk... walk" and I walked as FAR as my body could possibly walk. I could see my heels. I could see his foot. Wiggle wiggle creep creep... "straighten your arms" and I actually could not, I was for sure at my physical limit. I tried anyways. Then I popped back up to standing. He showed me like, half a millimeter with his fingers and thumb. And we both laughed, so close but just ain't getting there.

Today again the same. Drop backs, I land, he says "walk... walk... walk more..." BINGO! My fingers touched my heels. I think to myself, 'I'm here! I did it! I did what he wanted me to do! Taadaaaa!'... Then he says "walk little more". WHAT!? more? how? to where?! lol... fuck it, I walk more, and clobber my hands to my heels and feet and clumsily grab at myself. LOL, like that?! "Very good, very good", and back up to standing I go. Then I sit down for forward fold to counter stretch my maxed out back, and he squashes me downwards for 3-4 breaths and I stay there on my own until I reach 10. His squashes, and Saraswati's, are sure not like the cozy, massagey, hug like squashes I'm used to back at AYCT. I get it, he's in a rush, and has way more people to get through, but boy do I miss the careful back squishing, rocking side to side, getting all those muscles stretched out, and a nice sacrum push at the end. *sigh* I'll do it myself!

Finally I'm feeling much better. My sinuses are 99% clear and I only have a bit of an itchy scratch in the back of my throat. I think the whole city of Mysore was sick. I went to my tailor yesterday to order some stuff, and he said he was closed the day before because he was sick, stuffed up, sneezing, pain in his head, and his kid had the same. Yup, me too! At least I was not alone ;)

I've been staying close to home and just chillin' for the past few days and I think that is the best thing for me. I have also resorted to eating plain, unspicy food and my tummy is way happier. Grilled cheese w ketchup (lol), cup-a-soup, fruit salad, tropicana OJ, etc. Good times. I knew eventually I would get sick of, or at least could no longer tolerate, Indian food. When I get to Goa I'll try all the food again, because I think it's pretty different there, lots of fish and a Portuguese influence. From what I read and hear, they are big foodies and very proud of their local cuisine.

Here's a pic of some henna (mehendi) I drew on myself. 

Oh, and some cute baby cows that I saw on my way to the market yesterday. Moo! I thought they tan coloured one was a camel at first, it was so weird and skinny looking! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

How do I feel...?

It's Monday. I felt like arse-soup again when I woke up but I just got on with it. I used my neti pot, drank a cup of tea, sniffed some eucalyptus oil in boiling water, blew my nose 10 times, threw on my yoga clothes, grabbed my mat and walked up to the shala for my 6am start time. Oh yeah, I also cut up some pineapple so it would be waiting for me after practice and put it in a tupperware container, but even though I washed my hands, they smelled like pineapple all practice!

I got a spot near the front right in the middle (no hiding!). I put some tissues under the corner of my mat, but actually didn't end up using them. It was so hot and steamy I guess my sinuses cleared out during practice and the only thing dripping off my nose was lots of sweat. I started sweating right away today, like on the first sun salutation. That never happens to me, so either it was way hotter and more humid than ever before (unlikely) or I have a bit of a fever and I was just sweating already from that (more likely). Either way, it was good to move and stretch and sweat again after 3 days off. I felt kind of weak and shaky, but was also moving pretty fast through my practice (from the caffeine in the tea probably!). I just wanted to get through it today so I didn't slow myself down or worry too much about perfect breathing or bandhas. Maybe it was a bit of a lazy practice now that I think about it. But I did it all. The girl beside me was even more sick, coughing and hacking (deep gargly chest coughs) the whole time. Ick! A ton of yogis are congested and coughing. Too bad KPAYI isn't in a nice isolated part of India with lots of nature in fresh air.

Sharath asked me, after I did pasasana, and I was already laying down for backbending, "catch in pasasana?", I answered "yes" and locked my hands together to show him that I bound my hands in the pose no problem. He said "krounchasana" (the next pose), I asked "now? today?" because often he tells you what pose to add tomorrow, he said "yes", so I sat up, jumped back and then jumped through into heron pose. Watching me easily get into the pose, he then said "shalabasana too". So I added two new poses to my practice this morning, maybe three actually, since there is locust A & B. I like those poses so I was pleased, but again had to check that stupid ego that wanted to go "wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee! more poses!" so I put my smile away and just did them. In actual fact, it could be a bad thing if he gives me 2 poses a day (which he obviously won't) because then I'd get through the whole second series by the time I leave here... HAHA! I obviously can't do all those poses, but imagine?!

Tomorrow I plan to really slow down again and give more thought to even breathing and proper bandhas in every posture. I'm gonna stay on the downlow today like I did yesterday and give myself a chance to get better. Later today I have chanting class, two Sanskrit classes, and Sara wants to go to a cafe and to some store call Fab India (lol), so that sounds ok. I bought some bread yesterday, and processed cheese and ketchup and made grilled cheese sammies for dinner. Usually an inferior option, but I thought it would be a good idea to have plain, familiar, unspicy food in my belly for a change. Hope it works! Sara tried some (she's from Sweden) and can you believe she's never had a grilled cheese sandwich before?!

Also yesterday my shoes were taken - did I mention that already? I think it was an accidental exchange, but, ew! Can't you feel the difference after a few steps? I left a note in the other shoes (same size, also black, but very different!), walked home barefoot on the burning pavement and through cowpoo and luckily at the afternoon conference I got my shoes back. Weird!

During the Sunday conference, Sharath was talking about how one becomes a teacher or a guru. Not from book knowledge, he says, it doesn't matter how much you read, or watch on dvds, or think you know, proper knowledge comes from practical experience over a long period of time, so that when and if you teach, it comes from your own experience and has more meaning, for you, and for your students. I liked hearing that and agree. I do think that intensives and teacher trainings are good tools though, even though he laughs at the concept, but I don't think someone can use only the training to prepare them to teach. If you have practiced for a long time, then a training can be the icing on the cake, where you learn a few final key things like anatomy, proper adjustments, etc. Or, if you are just beginning to practice, then a training can be like someone giving you the flour and the eggs and the sugar for the cake, but you still need to pay attention the the recipe, mix it all up, add a few more things and bake it for a long time before it's ready. Does that make sense? I'm very grateful for my 200 hour ashtanga yoga teacher training class. But no, like Sharath says, that course on it's own certainly didn't make me a teacher. Yesterday also, Sharath certified a girl named Karen curing conference, and said she had been coming to practice here in Mysore for 14 years. Amazing! I felt very excited for her and it was an emotional moment for her and everyone in the room.

I was thinking, after a lady on the Bangalore train asked me "How do you feel?", how do I feel? All in all after all the good and bad and unexpected and everything that has happened so far on this adventure in India, I feel happy. Happy to be here. Happy to learn. Happy about the whole experience.

...Even though I got my phone bill today and it was an extra $309.00 from calling my bank repeatedly when I first arrived here to get them to unfreeze my ATM access. Buggers.

sunday snotty sunday

so yesterday i went to bangalore, a bigger city near to mysore. we went to the huge modern ISKCON temple and did lots of shopping and sightseeing. it was a ton of fun, but in retrospect, probably a mistake since i'm here to practice yoga, and i think i really could have used an actual rest day. we left on the 6am train, and got back around 9pm, so i didn't get to sleep until about 10pm. Today i woke up at 315am to get to the shala for early led primary, except i felt like SNOT. literally. sinuses clogged, headache, sneezing, irritated, AND tired. oh, and my intestines were a little funky too. an awesome combination all in all! the smoke and air in banglalore were SO bad for sure i made myself worse. oops. so i skipped my practice. after pressing snooze a few times trying to talk myself into going. yup. it's true. i'm not proud of it, but i knew i just couldn't get through it. tomorrow is mysore style/self-practice so i am going no matter what. i'll be able to stop and take little tissue nose blowing breaks, and even run to the bathroom if i have to, things that really cannot be done in a led class. so sue me. sharath gave me the evil eye, i'm sure of it(!!!) at the conference this afternoon, which i also barely got through.

i was a waste of space in my two sanskrit classes today too. i got a translation wrong, and he said, go try and fix it, and looked at it, realized my brain was feeling very broken and incapable, and then i actually said "i can't, i'm sick" lol, my brain was mush and i had zero motivation to think any harder than my initial attempt. sorry! sue me again. then he said to me "i think fever is coming". great.

sharath said some decent stuff at the conference today about teachers and gurus, despite the bizarre questions he was asked from students, but as i said earlier, "i can't, i'm sick". i'll tell y'all later!! for now, here's a short video from my train ride and escapade in bangalore yesterday, in lieu of a blog for aug 18. for now, i'm off to sleep to heal my clogged self.

Train to Bangalore (video)

oh yeah - on top of my snotty sunday, someone took my shoes from outside the shala. and i walked home (street is super dirty and cow pooey) with bare feet. yuck! and ouch! but alas, i got them back later. maybe that was my karma for skipping practice. doh.

Friday, August 17, 2012

moon day congestion

no practice this morning, it's a moon day. i slept in a little but was woken up early by fighting mysore street dogs (i think they have dog gangs) and also by the completely spastic squirrels. they are cute as hell to watch, especially when they start squeaking and their little bodies puff with each noise they emit, but damn, they go forever! like, one hour or more! squeak squeak squeak... and it's loud! champion squirrels.

a bunch of us made a bunch of loose plans for the day, but, well, they all sort of fell apart. no one really got in touch, some peeps came to santosha for brekky, then i just headed into the city with a friend and we checked out some bookstores, the market to get more malas, stopped for lunch... then i decided to take a little nap because my sinuses have finally conceded to the polluted air of mysore. i guess my nose could only inhale so much burning garbage and motorcycle smoke before getting clogged. urgh. my sinuses are not happy! i got some ayurvedic capsules and took one. WHOA! my sinuses have never felt so clear in my life. but i also felt like had ingested 3 pounds of cocaine. for real! i was shaky, adrenaline pumping, heart racing, energetic, spaced out.... not good! so much for going with the natural remedy. i guess there was some kind of epinephrine in there, even though the ingredients were lame, like, dandelion, tulsi, and other herbs. i will not be taking another pill! i'll sniff some eucalyptus in boiling water, use my neti pot and just wait it out. ick. i guess it's good to have to rest days to sort it out.

the one plan that everyone did stick to for today though, was going to a movie. we all saw step up: revolution 3d... haha, a teeny bopper dance movie! but it was a ton of fun and now we all want to bust out in a dance flash mob in sharath's conference on sunday. unlikely!!!

tomorrow morning i'm taking the express train with two friends into the bigger city of bangalore just to wander around and check it out. we plan to see the big modern isckon temple and the bull temple, and then hit up commercial drive which is supposed to be a big shopping strip, then we'll be back in the evening. detail and pics, of course, to follow!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

new moon blues

tomorrow (well tonight technically) is a new moon, which means, no practice tomorrow (sleep in!). it also means usually everyone feels low energy, a little heavier than usual, and so it seems, unmotivated! lots of people were feeling tired yesterday and today, and lots of peeps after practice this morning were saying that they felt unenergetic and not so good on the mat. i think i had the worst night/sleep last night out of my whole time here so far. there is a funky smell in my room that i just can't eliminate/find so i thought i would sleep with the fan on. too loud. earplugs? too uncomfortable. smell? terrible. heat? awful. body? flip, flop, turn over, move pillow. adjust sheets. check time. 9pm. gates squeaking.10pm. rain pouring. midnight. neighbours talking loudly.*ugh* am i ever going to fall asleep?? eventually yes i did, of course, but i was pretty darn tired when the alarm went off at 5am. i considered not going to class. pressed snooze on my phone twice. but then i dragged my arse out of bed, and got ready for practice. once again to my surprise i felt fine once i started moving and breathing. practice was good today. uth pluthi was another 10 million breaths that i cold not stay up for, but other than that, no problems :)

after practice, a few of us scootered across town to the famous mylari hotel. famous in mysore for the best dosas, known to locals and occasionally to us tourists. i read about the place somewhere and it just happened that i was invited with some peeps there for brekky today. YUM! they like savoury dosas here for breakfast, but i can't help wanting sweeter food for breakfast. so i brought a little tupperware tub of sugar and cinnamon, and 3 limes. they serve masala dosas (potatoes and spice) or plain. i got 3 plain ones, with butter, then added my toppings. i'm not too crazy though, some other yogis brought nutella for theirs!! they were super delicious dosas, light and fluffy and crispy, kind of like thin pancakes, not quire crepes, made of rice flour (no wheat). amazing!

now i'm stuffed, waiting for a friend to finish yoga sutras class so we can head to the pool, it's hot and sunny, blue skies again. not much else to do BUT go to the pool, so long as i'm back by 4 for my sanskrit classes. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

lumpy bumpy yoga mat

oh man! i got the worst spot ever today. right under my mat is where the carpets meet and overlap so there was a huge bump. and i think a corner was folded also because it was *really* lumpy! i was aware of it the whole time, even though i tried to ignore it. i also thought about moving when a new spot came up but i'm pretty sure that is frowned upon! other than that my practice went well. we were told that tomorrow (Thurs) is led primary, since friday is a moon day (new moon = no practice). this morning, walking to the shala at 545am i saw the moon - it was pretty cool! just a little sliver hanging there like the letter "U" and a wisp of cloud across it, with a few bright stars/planets nearby.

some guy was called in to the shala when it was his turn, and was walking around and couldn't see the open spot where he was supposed to go. sharath got so annoyed! "open your eyes! no coffee today?" haha. no mercy!

yesterday a bunch of us went out for lunch for sara's bday, the girl who runs santosha cafe where i live (and eat!). we went to sandiya's, a home where you tell them in advance how many people are coming and she makes a buffet of food. we all sat down (about 12 of us) and the food just kept coming and coming and coming. it's definitely the most food i've eaten in one sitting here so far. so many dishes, and chapatis, i can't even remember or explain them all. and it was delicious. good food and good company. an international get-together! then... we had cake. two cakes! i made an apple cinnamon cake with cinnamon buttercream icing, and someone else brought a lemon cake. we were all so stuffed. even in sanskrit class a few hours later my belly was still bursting. then this morning during practice i felt hungry, i think from my tummy stretching out! small diet today to get back to normal. no wait, my other group of friends are going to the same place again today, uh oh!!!!!! and the bonkers thing is, it's only 150 rupees per person, which is less than $3. crazy!

speaking of food... off to brekky now!

i'm a duck

OK i was wrong. i got moved to a new earlier time today! not next week like i projected. proves - you never know around here! i walked into the foyer at 615am this morning for practice (the perfect amount of early for my new 630am slot), used to the 7am queue of about 10-20 people, and i immediately saw that i was the only one waiting! i didn't even have to wait. the moment i closed the outside door behind me, sharath called "one more!". i'm glad i was there, or his request would have gone unanswered! boom, i went right in and got a good spot. i saw that the exact same thing happened to my friend amanda who entered the foyer a few minutes after me. as soon as i stepped on my mat sharath said "new time, 6am". oh, ok!

the only thing i don't like about the earlier time is that you have to do finishing postures in the changeroom (shoulderstand onwards). which is kind of dark and cold and icky. and it's a little too dark outside when i go there too, hard to see where my shoes are to put them on, and hard to lock the door. i do like though that i get home and shower before santosha cafe opens (at 8am) so i don't have to walk through a cafe of happy breakfasters with only my towel on. haha!

practice was good again. i had a turtle adjustment that was ok, it wasn't as horrendous as the other days. i tried at home yesterday to put myself in it... it ain't happening. not yet. see my photo on my mana yoga facebook page for a detailed photo description!!! sharath was there for backbending and i got pretty far. he told me to "crawl... crawl... straighten your arms... crawl more..." (my fingers towards my feet) then i *think* i heard him say "good" on my way up (or i hallucinated it) and he held his thumb an inch from his middle finger for me to see, basically telling me i'm super close to grabbing my own ankles. at that point, it's my shoulders that protest more than my back. which i guess is a good sign for my back. for my shoulders though? who knows. i need to stabilize them more with shoulder blades down my back and externally rotate my humoruses (lol word?!) humori?

he also stood on my mat and watched me do the first part of backbending on my own. i did one, he said "don't turn out your toes, you're a duck, *chuckle chuckle*". dammit, caught red-footed. i made my feet parallel. i bent backwards, it's a little harder to control, and my landing was a little harsher, but fine still. then he stood on my toes so i could not turn them out. and i was.... stuck! i sent my brain to every part of my body that i thought i needed to, to stand up, but there was no response! he laughed and got off my toes and i turned them out and popped up. rats. i'm a cheater. then he said "tomorrow pashasana, only pashasana". so tomorrow i get to move on to the first posture of the second series. i haven't done it in a few weeks so i tried it tonight just to make sure it was still possible, and it was fine. however, i don't recommend it after dinner. *urp*

yesterday i had some mehendi done (indian henna temporary tattoo) by a very nice lady from varanasi who is only here for a few days. here's some pics! oh yeah, the last one is at the pool today. first time i went in a week, since i moved out of that hotel. it was hot and sunny all day yesterday and today so i decided i needed some quality pool time!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

farm day at KPJAYI

first i have to say that i am eating fresh baked mango crisp made by sara at santosha cafe, where i am staying, and where i eat breakfast every day. yum! end of mango season and we are making the most of it.

today i was scheduled to practice at 7am, which is a major sleep in after 430am yesterday, so i woke up early, made some tea, washed all my bedding and hung it up on the roof to dry, then eventually made my way to the shala. as soon as i sat down he pointed to me to come in, and said "change your time, 630am", which means he moved me earlier. i guess that's how it works, all the new people are put at the latest time and the more time you spend here the earlier you get moved. so let me guess - next week 6am, then my last week 530am. works for me!

for some reason, today in the shala, it was like a barnyard. everyone was snorting, horking, stinking... what a circus! i was smiling and laughing to myself at one point, thinking, is this for real?! it was so gross today! i actually thought someone might spit on my mat. yuck! hey people, blow your nose before your practice and wear a little deodorant. for realz. it was out of control. mooooo.... baaaaahhh... cluck cluck. we aren't animals! right!?

again it was a nice sweaty mysore practice, steamy and just right. i also think i had a little extra energy from my tea. i felt uch better and happier than yesterday. yay caffeine! i had a crappy turtle adjustment again, i really need to sit up and do it on my own, shoving both legs behind my head. today a different guy did it, and was shoving my forehead down into the ground so hard i thought my skull was going to crack open. um, ow!? if you want something done right, do it yourself. that is sort of the point anyways. the same guy helped e with drop backs, it was ok, he let me go alllll the way into really deep backbends. it felt ok. i think i need to start to go deeper now anyways, things are healing up. the thing was though, he only brought me up like 3/4 of the way so i was sort of hanging there, not quite vertical then dropping back again. it was fine, but it was weird. like i was never grounded. i guess i need to dig my heels in more and use my abdominals to come up to full standing on my own.

later today... getting some mehendi (henna tattoo)... will post pics later! :)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

grumpy smurf

Every Sunday I have to get to led primary series at the shala at 430am, which is actually 415am since shala time is 15 minutes ahead. You need to get there nearly a half hour early too, if you even want a decent spot on the floor. We sat and waited in the dark, outside KPJAYI, it was a cool breezy morning, and two dogs played (more like fought) and growled, while we all rubbed our sleepy eyes sitting on rolled up mats, waiting for the lights to come on and the gate to unlock. I feel like we sat there for 3 hours.

For some reason I wasn't really 'feeling it' this morning. I felt kind of annoyed or grumpy or something not very yogic. But practice was fine. It was super early, so the shala was cold when we started, no heat. And no class before so also no steam. I didn't even feel one drop of sweat until seated postures when we started jumping back. Then a little dew on my forehead. By the time we got to garbha pindasana, usually I am pretty sweaty and can slip my arms through my padmasana legs, but I was just sweaty enough to be clammy and sticky today. Gross! Even worse than totally dry! There was no way in hell my arms were sliding through my legs. Boo. Sharath walks around with a water bottle for people who are stuck and need a little extra help in that pose. I stuck out my arms and blinked my hands open and closed saying "help help squirt me!" in sign language. He looked at me, and said "you don't need it" and gave me a squirt and a half, more on my mat than on my arms or legs. LOL. I said back "today I do!" Rats. He knew I wasn't working hard enough or sweating enough today. Tisk Tisk.

I think I was also a little annoyed because I have really come to love practicing Mysore style, at my own pace, not being led. Which is funny, because I used to be the total opposite. I loved being in a led class, making the teacher tell me what to do, keeping me on track. I couldn't imagine why you would go to a class just to do your own thing. Maybe I just didn't know the practice well enough back then, or have enough self-motivation. Once you have that internal drive, I guess you don't need to be told what to do anymore. Some days I feel like taking it slow, with deeper calmer breaths. Some days I want to move through the sequence faster, with more energy, generating more heat. When it comes time to follow someone else's count, I have a mini internal rebellion "I don't wanna!". Haha... Can't win. I need some equanimity so I can be ok with whatever way I am to practice on any given day. There is no 'grumpy smurf' in the yoga version of the smurfs.

At least now I have 4 days in a row of Mysore, so my bad smurf attitude can get put on hold until next Sunday at 430am ;)

Yesterday was a rest day, so I went to "Easy Day" store which turns out to be Walmart! Actually! It has the same logo, and the same brands inside, but everything is Indian. So crazy! Indian Saris and Kurtas with the "George" label inside. Hahah! It was a blast. After that I went to lunch at Pascucci's with Valentin and he had seafood pasta and I had margherita pizza. SO GOOD! I'm loving the Indian food, but sometimes it's nice to have something more familiar. Then we went to the zoo. It was awesome! Zoos make me sad, but at the same time, they are helping a lot of species breed, exist, not become extinct, etc. Some of the animal areas were big and awesome and the animals looked really happy, the antelopes for instance, they were having the time of their lives! Leaping and chasing each other and munching grass... Good times in the antelope cage. Some of the animals looked really depressed though, and their home looked too small and boring. Sometimes I worry my ferrets are bored with their home so I'm always mixing it up and buying them new tunnels and toys! I wanted to buy the Mysore jungle cats some new toys yesterday!

The best part of the zoo was the super descriptive signs by the cages, all in pictures.
Step 1 - 2 guys watching from the railing
Step 2 - 1 guy falls over the railing into the pen
Step 3 - an animal ripping his arm off and blood everywhere, a look of terror on his friend's face
Step 4 - him crawling away with no arm and blood everywhere.
message: don't sit on the railing, you'll fall in and get your arm ripped off and bleed to death.

next sign:
Sept 1 - guy holding food out for free roaming monkey
Step 2 - monkey literally ripping off the dudes face (no more nose) and blood everywhere
Step 3 - angry nurse (really angry) re-attaching his face.
message: don't feed the monkeys or they will tear your face off.


Conference today with Sharath at 10am instead of 4pm, then I have 2 Sanskrit classes to get to, and hopefully the lit up palace tonight if we're not too tired.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

kicked in the package

When I woke up today I had sharp pains in my tummy and thought UH OH! India wins! I wondered if I should skip practice for fear of sharting in the shala (LOL) but I decided it wasn't too bad and I should just go, even if I have to run to the bathroom halfway through, well at least I tried! Anyways, it was fine. I actually feel almost all better now, apres breakfast so I guess it was just a fleeting unhappy belly moment.

During practice however, the poor guy beside me, Johnny, a bloke from the UK, got stopped by Sharath at marichyasana something, as a lot of people do, so he laid down. And closed his eyes. Big mistake. At least sit there with your eyes open, right? To watch, to stay aware of other people's body parts, etc. We get to supta kurmasana, I lift up, go into titthibasana (dragonfly type manouver to get to bakasana and then jump back to chatturanga)... But, on the way around and back, my left foot went a little bit low, and I totally kicked him. Right in the package. OOPS! I said sorry. And I was also laughing. For about 2 more poses. I couldn't help it. I'll bet he won't lay down and close his eyes again in the middle of class! I also bet he'll never put his mat beside mine again ;)

I have Sanskrit homework coming out of my yinyang so that's my plan for today. And chanting class at 1030am. And philosophy class at 5pm. We are looking at chapter one of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika in great detail, I will share more the main points here again soon. It's excellent information. Tomorrow is a rest day. If it's sunny a few of use are heading to the pool at my ex-hotel. Or maybe the local botanical gardens which are supposed to be beautiful. I'll let you know!

Here's a new video I made that includes some chanting and shows the city market:


not as busted as I thought

So I practiced today with my recently busted up knee (read previous post for details!) and as it turns out, it's not as busted as I thought. It has some pain for sure, but it didn't bother me in any poses. Good good. To my surprise I felt super tired today during practice, even though I thought I had a very good sound sleep. I also felt realllllly dizzy. Which makes me think I am not as hydrated as I should be. I have pretty low blood pressure in general, but I'm usually ok to practice. Filling up on fluids raises your blood pressure, so that is what I need to do. I think I drink way more water at home. I'm always out and about here, and forget to keep drinking! But now I know I need to pay more attention to that since I seriously thought I would pass out a few times today. Not good! I can hear Sharath now..., "No fainting!".

I had a turtle adjustment, but once again, it felt really bad. I guess I am spoiled at AYCT in Toronto with really good adjustments. Or just different. Nah, better. Oh well. Finally Sharath was there to help me with drop backs. It felt pretty good, he was really pressing on my sacrum which was helping me tuck my tailbone, lengthen my low back, and get the rest of the spine to do the bending rather than just the crunchy low part. The only reason he was able to adjust me is because Saraswati wasn't there today - haha!

The plan is to take it easy for the rest of the day, except for classes Sanskrit level 2 and 3 later from 4-6pm, and to bed early for led primary tomorrow morning. Oh, and going to try to ingest 2 liters of water. BOTTLED water ;)

And of course, many many cups of CHAI!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

hurt in mysore

This morning I had mysore style practice again, it was a good one. I once again stayed in supta kurmasana for at least one whole minute hoping someone would see the poor stranded turtle on the floor waiting for help. but no. A lovely gal later told me to approach one of the assistants before I start my practice and ask for them to come over at that point. Good idea, since it's the only time I need help. Once again Saraswati blocked Sharath and helped me do drop backs. LOL... Waddup with that!? Afterwards she smiled and said "walk more". Meaning, get closer to grabbing your own ankles. Baby steps. Literally. My back is feeling a little better each practice.

I went for a massage today, was supposed to be 2 hours, ended up being THREE. Althought there were some good parts and I think it was really good for my back, I actually got bored and annoyed by the end. It was a combo of ayurvedic healing, energy balancing, A.R.T., thai yoga massage, and deep tissue massage. It was mostly good, except for a few weird things he did. My face and head massage was super awful. Yuck. But oh well. The worst part is though, I was on my stomach and he had bent my knee and was pushing my heel toward my bum/hip to stretch my quad. Well, my quads are pretty damn stretchy, and hard to get a good stretch in, so he kept going, going, CRACK POP, my knee made the worst sound. It didn't hurt at that moment but it was a definite sensation and noise. And after, it started to hurt. Are you kidding me? I get hurt during a massage? I felt angry at him, then angry at myself, then sad, then wanted to go home, then just gave up with trying to feel something about it. It's not a total disaster, I can still do all of my poses and walk, etc. It just hurts. Now, I deal with it. And wait 9 months for it to heal like last time I hurt my knee. And go to sleep. G'nite.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

adopted by Saraswati

Yesterday after chanting, and before Sanskrit and Philosophy, I went to a temple built in the 1200s with my friend Valentin.

It was more than amazing. Beautiful, ancient, full of history and stories and enchantment. Just being on that archaeological site was magical. Of course a little guide dude approached us right at the entrance saying we will not understand anything if he doesn't go with us and explain. On the inside I was laughing... not understand? I understand that this place is a treasure and I can appreciate it's beauty and it's past whether or not the details are explained to me or not. But he was persistent and I think Valentin sort of wanted to hear what the guy had to say. So we went with him. I was dying to just dash around and look at everything, fast! I wanted to see it all, now! And then later take my time looking closer at details etc. Well, that was clearly not how it was going to go down. We stopped at the entrance. He talked. and talked. and talked. OMG! Let's go inside! Then... he talked... he talked... he talked... Of course a little bit of it was interesting and some things I would never know if he didn't tell us. But, I have to say, I sort of wandered off on my own, and left Valentin with the guy most of the time! I could recognize when I saw Lord Ganesha (elephant), Matseya (fish), fighters on horses, Krishna, lotuses, etc. It was breathtaking.

We *barely* made it back in time for class, nearly hitting a few dogs, cows and buses. We also stopped at a guava farm HELLO!!!! and bought a whole bag of fresh fragrant delicious guavas, for 15 rupees. Less than 50 cents. YUM! They cut some open right away, sprinkled them with some reddish stuff and ate them. Ok, I'll try the reddish stuff (I'm thinking, sugar?). GROSS! chili and salt! I was NOT expecting that taste.

Today, practice was 7am Mysore again. Still not help with supta kurmasana, even though I poked my head out of my turtle shell, looked around to the right, the left, behind... No one in sight. Boo. Lift up jump back, move on. Again Saraswati was there to do my drop backs. In fact, she stood beside me right from backbending waiting to help. I like her, she is very sweet, but... She seems to have adopted me yet I think I signed up to practice with Sharath. I would like at some point for him to help me with drop backs! Just sayin'...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Monday Mysore in Mysore

Back to self practice for a few days now, I had a 7am start time but I'm so scared of being late that I end up coming way to early. So I sat in the foyer waiting for everyone with earlier start times to get called in, but Sharath poked his head through the door around 630am and pointed to me "You, come in now and start on the stage. Move places later."... "ME?" oh, ok. I picked up my mat, and walked through everyone's mat cracks (in between mats, lol) and rolled out my mat on the stage. If you haven't been to the shala in Mysore, it's a large room, with carpeted floor, and at the front of the room there is a marble stage, maybe 2 feet high, and fits usually 4 mats very comfortably. Sharath sits up there on a chair for conferences, etc. It's a little intimidating being up there, but at the same time, you actually have a bit more space, so maybe it's good!

Of course everyone in the room (60 people at a time or so?) are facing you, however, I assume (and hope) everyone is so focused on their own practice that they are not actually staring straight at me. Still though, as much as I kept bringing myself back to my drishti, bandha, breath, but sometimes I still couldn't help but think "I better do my asanas really well today because everyone is looking!" I stayed up there until the end of garbha pindasana then Sharath said "Move your place" and I got a spot on the carpet. I didn't get any adjustments in any poses today until backbending. I really don't need many, except for supta kurmasana. I stayed a little extra long down there with my hands bound and just my toes crossed, wondering if anyone would see me and cross my legs behind my head for me. I was up on stage after all!! But nope, no help today.

By the time I got to my drop backs Saraswati had come in to the room and started helping and adjusting, so she walked up to me after I did my drop backs on my own to help me with the next set, the hands free ones. I told her I have a little back injury and pointed to the place, and I said, "you have to be nice to me!" because I have been warned that she is super intense pulling people into deep back bends and getting then to grab ankles, etc. She was super gentle and it was just what my back needed. It felt a little sore while doing them, but it doesn't hurt now, so that's a good sign.

I'm about to pack and up move to Santosha Cafe today, out of this hotel, and much closer to the shala, so I can walk and not rely on rickshaws to get me everywhere. I have started to figure out the city layout and streets though. I know how to walk to the shala and some of the main places, but it's still pretty far. I'm excited for the change!

*Here's two videos I made in Mysore, just some shots of the streets, the cows, the people, etc :)

"A little trip through Mysore"

"The Streets of Mysore"


430 am: the sacred hour

This morning I had to wake up at 3:30am to catch my ride to the shala at 4am. Class starts at 4:30 am, but really that is 4:15am since shala time is 15 minutes ahead of real time. Between 4 and 6am are the sacred hours before the sun rises and are supposed to be auspicious and the correct time for sadhana (sacred practices like yoga, chanting, meditation, etc.) Last night I went to bed late (for a yogi in India!), around 9 or 930pm, since my day was so packed and long with my friends yesterday. We went to the market, the 'old' market, learned how to make incense, shopped for fabric to make saris, bags, pants and other clothing, ate out, hung out by the pool, enjoyed the maddening weather of sunny and boiling hot for 30 minutes followed by 5 minutes of intense downpour followed by 15 minutes of clouds, then sun, then rain... AHH! We walked and walked and walked. It was awesome! I am putting a video up on youtube with some of those moments. I will post it to my blog tomorrow (takes a while to upload).

Despite all of that, I didn't feel tired when I woke up, or when I went to the shala, or even during practice. I am energized just by being here, and by all of the like minded people who are here, all for the same reason, all vibrating on the same level. It's hard not to get picked up by all of that. It was led primary again this morning, I was right beside the 1/2 open door, but luckily I only smacked my ankle into it once. Better than being on the stage, in the hall, or worse yet, in the changeroom. It was so busy at 430am that people were jammed into all of those places. On the hard cold marble floor. Once again I managed to find a spot with a carpet crease underneath my mat. haha! Can't win! Other than that my practice went smoothly and everything felt fine except for my low back still not liking backbends very much. I like to think it's healing though. AND I stayed up for all 3000 breaths in Sharath's long winded "10" counts of ut pluthiti. In the pose before it, padmasana, I mentally gathered as much energy as I could, trying to raise myself up before I even put my hands down. Then, in ut plut, on every inhale I said "I'm light" and on every exhale I said "I'm strong".  Lo and behold, I was still up and I heard TEN. Wheeeeeeeeee! The power of the mind is a wonderful thing.

Last funny anecdote reflective of so many moments here in India. Housekeeping calls me in my room "You have laundry today ma'am?", "Yes, I have some. How long does it take to get it back?", "Ok, I come pick it up", "I would like to know how long it takes first", "how many pieces you have?", "about 10", "Ok I come now", "no wait, when I give it to you, how long until I get it back, how long until finished??", "Yes ma'am". *smacks head* "How long for you to do my laundry? one hour? one day? how long?", "Yes ma'am, yes ma'am."