Tuesday, July 31, 2012

rose petals on a silk cushion

August 1st, my first full day in Mysore. Of course I woke up around 230am, wide awake and ready to go! But, I hung out in my room, tweeted and found out there had been a major power outage in India, of which I was totally ignorant, since it hadn't affected me. Whoa! I tried to get back to bed for 2 hours, at which I was semi-successful.

My driver Shree was waiting for me at 6am to drive me to the yoga shala. I was way too early for my 7am start time, but better early than late. Thanks to Cherie Lathey, my twitter yoga confidante, I had a nightmare about being late! Haha. It's good though, because I sat in the foyer for a little bit watching how things work. Someone finished their practice, Sharath yells "One more!" and one student from the foyer goes and takes that spot. You put your mat down first, then go to the changeroom, leave all your stuff then head to your mat and start practicing. You do you finishing postures (from shouderstand onwards) either at the front on the stage (sounds weird, I know) or you go to the changeroom, to make more space for incoming practitioners. I guess my time slot was near the end though, because I was told to stay where I was for finishing postures since the room was half empty by that point. 

The shala was super hot and steamy by the time I got there, but no different from AYCT in Toronto. I guess I was well prepared! I was sweating and dripping immediately. There were lots of little doodads and hairs and furs and picky things all over the floor, and me, which kind of drove me nuts, but there is part of the practice. Turning your mind away from those annoying little insignificant things. Forget about it. 

During my practice this morning I had four teacher interactions:

1. Some Asian assistant dude *verrrry* gingerly helped me in uttitha hasta padangustasana, with soft little weird touches. It felt like my cat was adjusting me. Or a dying child. I was balancing fine until he showed up, then, he nearly tipped me over. Ha! Oh well. 
2. Sharath looks at me with dissappointment and says "No handstands" (to get from virabhadhrasana II to the floor). Oops. I wondered - no handstands for anyone? Or just not for me because that one sucked?! LOL. Who knows. I could hear the "tisk tisk" in his head.
3. Crummiest supta kurmasana adjustment ever! From, I don't even know who! While I was down, my legs got lifted so high, very weird, and then sort of crossed, but not even behind my head, but like, on top of it like a foot-hat. So odd!!! I just stayed there, breathing, thinking, "uh... ok! 1-2-3-4-5... let's get me outta this mess!".
4. Sharath said "First day, do drop-backs on your own" then he watched me do my drop-backs and said next week we will do the second part of them together. I was secretly very happy not to do them today since my back is still so-so. BUT, if I do say so myself, my drop backs were amazing today! My back felt a little bit crunchy, as it has for weeks now, but for some reason I felt so light and strong. I went back so slowly, with my fingers barely touching the floor, they were like airy rose petals falling on to a silk cushion (yes, I AM that poetic), and coming up was as if I had a cord around my waist and someone was just lifting me up. Nice!

Anyways. Back at the hotel now, enjoyed my free buffet breakfast (may as well enjoy it for the few days I am here). Took a shower and repeated 108 times in my head "Don't open your mouth. Don't open your mouth. Don't open your mouth. etc...". 

Now it's back to the shala for compulsory chanting from 10:30-11:15am then back later again for Sanskrit lessons in the afternoon. Wheeee!

flying flying and more flying

I am still in journey, one last short flight to go. In Toronto I found out I was to fly through Brussels, which for some reason I had no idea! But I was actually happy to have what was to be a super long flight broken into two pieces. I had to repack my carry-on luggage 2 times at the check-in counter because it was too heavy, sending me to the back of the line both times. Because of that I got stuck in an emergency exit seat row for BOTH flights! At least it was more leg room, I guess. Toronto to Brussels was 6.5 hours and seemed to go by quickly. For an hour or so I worked on the agenda for the yoga teacher training course that I’m leading when I return to Toronto, and then I watched a movie, half-napped (not actually asleep) and ate. The food was really good on board, Indian style with good vegetarian options. Same with the next flight, Brussels to Delhi, which was 8 hours or so. That one didn’t go buy quite as quickly and I couldn’t wait to get off that plane. Good thing I bought waffles and chocolates in Belgium hahaha! They sprayed us and the whole cabin with a disinfectant spray which I thought was a little creepy and yucky… *sneeze*.

The Delhi airport has been a treat. I arrived around 9pm, cleared customs, collected my bags, and headed to a premium lounge where I rented a tiny suite for 6 hours, including a lovely shower, bathroom and bed, where I napped until 4am. From there I went through security again and checked in my bag and headed to departures, where I am now sitting. I fly to Bangalore (2.5 hour flight only) then meet my driver for a four hour car ride to Mysore. I’m enjoying all of the Hindi signs, since it’s the same alphabet (Devanagari) as Sanskrit, so I can read everything. I don’t necessarily know what everything means, but at least I can read it and pronounce it! Some words are similar or the same as Sanskrit, but nevertheless it’s good practice reading anyways.

The one thing I find surprising is the tea on the planes and in the airport. Isn’t India known for world class tea? Then why am I getting a crummy little tetley tea bag? And why no chai?! Patience grasshopper, I can get that in Mysore. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

One day to go... till sleeping pod!

I leave tomorrow for India. My biggest concern (strangely) was the travel over there. I go straight to Delhi (one long ass flight) then I get dumped there overnight from 9pm til 7am, then fly to Bangalore. I was worried about such a long time in an airport in India... Will it be super dirty? Will I be able to snooze? Will I get robbed? etc etc. BUT, after looking online at the airport website, now I'm super excited to hit up the Delhi airport!! HAHA... It looks so fun! Tons of restaurants to try, all sort of shopping to browse through, a massage and spa place, shower and nap rooms, and get this... SLEEPING PODS, right at your GATE! What what!
My mind is blown. I want to sleep in a pod for sure :) Let's hope though, I wake up and make my flight to Bangalore in the morning!!
Today is all about last minute packing. Or rather, unpacking. I'm really trying to cut down on luggage. But I am told it's so humid there right now that when you wash your clothes, they NEVER dry, so in that case, I need more clothes. Especially yoga gear. Hmm.
Two more classes to teach tomorrow morning at Fireflow. Sad to go! I love watching the progress of students in my classes and how it can help bodies, minds and spirits. But then again, that is why I'm going to India. To learn more and practice more, so that when I come back, I can give more.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ready for Mysore... But the winds have changed.

One week from today I will be ON the plane from Toronto to Delhi. I don't know how many hours that is and I don't think I want to! I am doing well packing and making sure all my loose ends are tied up before I go. All of my yoga classes are covered with great subs and all of my competitive swim coaching practices are covered by great coaches as well. My best friend Laura and then my sister Jana are both scheduled to stay at my place while I'm away to take care of the cats and the weasels. I will miss those little fuzzy beasts. And my pets too. haha ;)

The only hitch in my plan (there always is one, right?!) is that I have recently hurt my back. I have not really dealt with a back injury since I have been a yoga practitioner. I did fracture my spine in 3 places before I was a yogi, and I honestly credit yoga for helping me heal and eliminate pain and weakness from that accident. But now this is a whole new experience. I have been working on deep backbends (seconds series kapotasana and it's precursors) for a handful of months now, and making slow and steady progress with them. My low back has felt a little bit sore the whole time, kind of an achy dull pain which did not worry me much as I assumed and was told it was part of the process.

Now that I have started working on legs behind the head poses though, the pain has gotten much worse. I actually think I may have sprained a muscle between the ribs from getting adjusted in eka pada shirshasana, which is starting to feel better. Soft tissue injuries do not worry me much. BUT, I think I might have also somehow injured a disc in my very low back, S1 or lumbar. I got very deep into kapotasana on my own for the first time last week (easily grabbed heels without help) and that may have just done it. There is sharp pain right between two of my vertebrates and pain deep in my QL muscle (are you going to google that?!) and across my iliac crest to my hip. Owie owie owie. All backbends now hurt. It has felt like this for a week despite taking my yoga practice super easy and even taking a few days off. Looking on the internet (BAD idea, I KNOW!) it says discs should heal on their own in 6 months. Oh. Great. And that is probably if you totally lay of the activity that was hurting it in the first place!! I know injuries are ok and there is always a lesson to be learned so it's not the end of the world. If nothing else, I shall grow more compassion as a teacher for my students who come to me with injuries.

Anyhoo, I shall stop with the lamenting and self diagnosis. I have a sports med and chiro appointment this coming week to see what's up before I go away. My guess is I will have to take a very light and careful practice the whole time I am in Mysore. Which was certainly not my intention while planning this trip. However, we cannot direct the winds right? Only change our sails. I will have to go with the flow, and do what is best for me in the long run. No matter what the state of my spine, my trip to India will be superb. I cannot wait!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

T-minus 2 weeks until I go to India.

I can't believe it's actually happening! 
I'm going to India.
 I have wanted to for so long that I can't even remember when I first started wanting to go. I have been all over the world, Australia, Bali, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Caribbean, Mexico, USA... Never Europe which is odd I guess. Anyways, I know India will be completely different from all of those places. Fabulous, shocking, enlightening, smelly, busy, beautiful, enchanting... I can't wait!

I'm going to Mysore to study Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga as taught by Sri K Pattabhi Jois. Unfortunately he passed away a few years ago and I never got to meet him or study yoga with him. But the stories are brilliant and his great legacy continues in all of his pupils and in the practice itself. I have taken 2 x 1 week workshops with his grandson Sharath though, and Sarawati, who are the current 'head gurus' of Ashtanga Yoga and have the task of carrying on the lineage and training. I'm headed to the KPJAYI to study for one month with Sharath. I'm very excited to go to the source. I know the teaching and adjusting will be fantastic, but there is something more about going to Mysore. I know and feel this even though I haven't even been yet. I sense that there will be some special energy there, a motivational force driving everyone's practice in that place. Something energizing and meaningful and traditional and authentic. Yes, I want to experience authentic. Oh, and have some chai too. My back is feeling a little tweaky and junky the past few weeks. I hope it feels better soon so I can get the most out of my trip and experience.

Dear Ganesha, please remove the obstacle currently plaguing my back. Thank you :)

...the packing has begun!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Human as Divine

It’s the springtime and I find that I notice nature a lot more this time of year. How can I not? Everything is coming back to life, becoming colourful once again, opening, growing. Flowers are blooming, trees are budding and blossoming and sprouting leaves. Butterflies are dancing everywhere. Baby birds are calling out and squirrels are once again getting plump and curious. Seeing any of these things just makes me so happy. All of nature makes me smile. It’s all so beautiful.

I am pretty sure this holds true for all of us. When have you ever looked at a flower and thought, “Oh, it’s just okay looking.” When have you been face to face with a mountain and thought, “Meh, seen it before?” …Even if you have seen it before. When have you stood in a babbling brook with smooth river stones under your feet and not just bubbled up inside with pure joy? It’s impossible to swim in the ocean waves and be bored or unhappy. It’s impossible to stare up at the stars and not be taken aback by wonder and amazement.
Why is this? I think it’s because all of these things are pure and natural. They are part of the earth, part of the universe. They are not created by the mind of humans. They are unfettered by planning, scheming, motives, the need for structure and symmetry; there is no ego behind their design or existence. They are simply and truly beautiful.  All of these natural phenomena are created by the universe, by Mother Nature, by god, whoever and whatever that might be.
The most wonderful piece of nature though, of pure beauty, that each of us can witness and enjoy at any moment, is standing right there in the mirror. The body we dwell in is that same as that, part of the universe. Not contrived by the calculating minds of humans, but rather given to us as an authentic gift from god and perfect in its uniqueness. Your very own physical self is a tangible miracle.  Take a moment to fully appreciate the living breathing sensation that is your body. The exact form, shape, appearance, outline, and all other characteristics are just as they are supposed to be.  This is your gift and it is your task to be fully aware of it, take care of it and ensure its longevity, protecting it, enjoying it fully, as you would a fresh cool stream coming down from a mountain, or a 300 hundred year old mighty oak tree, or a baby bird just hatched. You are a source of pure joy because you, like those, are beautiful and divine.