Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Santosha anuttamah sukha labha

That is yoga sutra 2.42 and it means that ...from an attitude of CONTENTMENT (santosha) you will obtain unexcelled happiness, mental comfort, joy and satisfaction.

Ah, contentment. So difficult for us to experience! It means being happy with what you've got. With where you are. With who you are. Today. Right now. No matter if it's different than it was yesterday or different from how it may be in the future. Even in the face of loss or perceived 'disaster'.

When we are content, we never feel like we need more. Or need something different. Or need to be somewhere different. Or need to be better. We are simply content as we are.

This is a very hard observance. One of the toughest Yama/Niyamas (10 yoga commandments, more of less, to live in harmony with yourself and with the world).

Yesterday I had the most opposite mindset than that of contentment! I was so dissatisfied with myself. My shoulder was killing. My asana practice was 'terrible'. I practiced in the changeroom so that I wouldn't be under Sharath's constant eye. I felt like I could 'hide' and just sort of flop easily through the series, babying my injury. I skipped 3 out of 4 chakrasanas (backwards roll transition). I did little chatturangas, half chatturangas, knees down chatturangas, whole body down chatturangas, knees down upward dogs. I don't think I lifted up once for a jump back, just sort of stepped back. Even downward dog was hurting. Backbending was hurting. It was a royal disaster!

I was even thinking - boy, the people beside me must think I'm really new, or really lazy, or just a weak terrible yoga practitioner. Or let's take it one step further, I'll bet they just think I'm a really bad, awful person. HAHA!

After practice I decided that maybe yoga wasn't for me. I wasn't cut out for Ashtanga. Maybe I'll just do pilates from now on. I won't leave a trunk of belongings here this time because I'm never coming back to Mysore. 3 trips to India is enough. I QUIT!

What am I going to do for two more weeks here? I guess I'll still practice and just ride it out and deal with the pain and the fact that I'm the worst yogi in the world. How embarrassing... etc etc

Oh the mind. So silly. So easily gets swished around and around the toilet bowl of dumb thoughts.

I obviously realized I was being totally dramatic and ridiculous. I KNOW that the asana practice goes up and down all the time. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Sometimes body open, sometimes body closed. Sometimes strong, sometimes weak. Sometimes energetic, sometimes drained. This is how it goes. And I'm constantly explaining this to others and reassuring my students after their "disaster" practice that it's OK! It's a roller coaster. And despite what the body does or doesn't do from day to day, you strive to keep the mental equanimity and continue to do your practice. All is coming.

WELL. I guess sometimes I should take my own advice!

After less than an hour of moping and feeling sorry for myself I decided I needed to do something to turn my head around. I knew just the place. There is this one little corner of Mysore, a "block" of housing, as they would call it, that I just LOVE. It's like never never land to me. It always makes me happy and brightens my day. I thought it was called Vijayanagar, but it turns out it's actually called Vinayakanagar.

It's this little out of the way 'community' sort of away from tourists, not near any attractions, so it seems unspoilt and untouched by the outside world. I've walked around there a handful of times on my two other visits to Mysore. I remember the colours being so vibrant and the people so warm and curious, and the streets just being so full of life - more than other parts of the city for some reason. It feels secret, like only I know about it. And maybe it doesn't even really exist!

It's funny though - sometimes you really pump up a place or a person and in your memory and remember it as so much better than it really is. BUT. I went there yesterday and it DID NOT disappoint. Maybe it was even better than I remembered it!

I took a rickshaw and it let me off on the corner. The driver kind of looked around and wondered where I was going. There was a restaurant and he said - Miss, it's closed. I said, I know, I'm not going there! He asked me when I wanted to get picked up and I said I didn't know so don't worry about it.

I brought my real camera (not just iPhone!) and a tripod. I started off taking photos of some sleeping street dogs. The men on the corner drinking Chai looked at me like I was nuts. Then they pointed to some other street dogs for me to go photograph. Their eyes followed me as I wandered past them down the street. There was a cute little mama dog who had clearly been nursing and I gave her a dog treat (brought some from home) so she of course followed me for a while. The men chuckled at my newfound furry little escort.

I zigged and zagged through the streets. I looked down each alley and just turned whenever I saw something interesting. I think I went in a few circles. The sun was rising and casting long shadows. There were some fires burning and some stoves going so there was some haze and smoky smell in the air. People were outside washing dishes and clothes. They were burning incense and setting out flowers as offerings to their God(s). They were washing and sweeping the fronts of their homes and drawing new rangoli (drawings on the ground that ward off negative energy). Kids were prancing around in their school uniforms waiting for the little school busses that would soon pick them up. There was a cat and two kittens bouncing around a few yards and people were throwing them food. There was a teenage girl scowling as she got tangles combed out of her long knotted hair. There was a man fixing some bicycles. There was another man sitting on the ground fixing some shoes that people were bringing to him. A few young men in dress shirts and trousers were hopping on their motorbikes and whizzing off to work. There were a few men going up and down the streets with vegetable carts, yelling out about their wares. Cows were being fed. And then there was me.

The thing that gets me about this place is, that news of an 'outsider' spreads like wildfire! Somehow everyone knows there's a weird white girl with a camera winding through the streets. Heads pop over balconies, curious eyes peek out of dark doorways, and slowly a gaggle of kids start to follow me, calling me "auntie".

Everyone wants to practice their English with me. I get asked, "What is your good name? Which country you are from? How long in Mysore? Hello! What you doing? Where you staying? Thank you very much! Hi!..." I answer each question, however I never know if they understand me. And the conversation unfortunately never gets past a few sentences.

I found one really pretty spot, to them probably a crappy run down house front. But I love the colour. I decide I want to take a few yoga photos here. I know you're really not supposed to be seen in a tank top in public but I just can't resist the opportunity and do my best to ask everyone in the vicinity if it's ok, if they mind. They all seem to bobble their heads and say OK. I set up my tripod and everyone gathers around to see what the weird Canada girl is doing. Some ask. Some just look. While I was setting up, two very old lovely ladies, with super limited English, want to know what I'm up to. I show them the screen and take a shot and they kind of nod with understanding. Then they point at themselves, like they want to be in a photo! OK! I set them up and take one of just them and one with me. So sweet! I show them and they love it. I wish it was a polaroid so I could give them a copy!! I am thinking of doing some prints and going back to hand some out- but who knows if I'd ever find the same people.

Am I a giant?!
I did my little yoga photoshoot and I think they are pretty cool. Mostly because of the colours!!

Pasasana - a noose, with which I strangle my feelings of discontent

Ustrasana - a camel. I will get over this little hump!

Tittibhasana - a dragonfly.
SO many dragonflies everywhere here in Mysore.
Beautiful little flying dragons which remind me to soar above silly mental fluctuations and fleeting feelings.

Here are a bunch of photos from the morning walk. Everything is silver and gold and magic to me! Animals from storybooks and colours from only dreams. I just can't explain the love and joy and life and mystery and beauty in these people in this small hidden away place. I can't help but feel CONTENT and happy and special and magical when I walk amongst them. They don't have a ton, in this little community. (They're not poor, but they're certainly not well off) But I know and feel that they are all so content. So happy. So alive and grateful. And it rubs off on me. I knew it would. Just look at their faces! Thank you - most special humans! True yogis. Thank you for allowing me to float through your world and feel like I am part of it for a little while. I'll take that feeling with me for a long time... I hope you can see what I see??

Needless to say, after all of my citta vrittis (mental fluctuations) as a response to an injury and a bad yoga practice, today I had a very good practice. My shoulder was hurting a lot less and the few days of rest along with my oil bath, helped my muscles to relax and my body opened up again. I felt energetic and strong. I caught my heels in kapotasana, not easily, but got there and could breathe. Sharath dropped me back and for the first time, grabbed my wrists in the air before my hands even touched the ground and I grabbed my ankles. Whoa - didn't see that coming.

And tomorrow...!? Who knows! Hopefully whatever happens I can remain content. If not... At least I know where to go.


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