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The Beatles Ashram

and revisiting Kurmasana......

Today was a fantastic day... Got up early after another really out of character long long sleep, 9 hours nearly.... Practise was great this morning- another Mysore veteran has turned up- Eduardo from Mexico- he's a character. When I was first in Mysore and queueing at the door reading all the signs he came up to me and asked me if I'd noticed the 'small sign'. "Which one's that?" I said; "the one that says if you don't get laid you get a full refund heh heh" he said. So it was a nice surprise to see him again and find out if he had any gossip. Apparently Pattabhi Jois is quite ill now and so the shala's shut for a while.
Its been a cloudy day, overcast and cool. The sky was grey over the turquoise river in the morning and the wind was wild around the practice room. The door rattled, the windows rattled, the candle flame flickered and it was very atmospheric. I loved the practice today, I was pretty present throughout and decided to focus on progressing a little, so I did a lot of wide legged forward bends and got into kurmasana which I hadn't done in 6 weeks or so, and its coming. Sometimes its so hard to release though. And I've been thinking a lot and that always seems to affect my body, its like theres not the space to entertain the thoughts I have AND do asana practice. So the obvious solution is to stop thinking about anything non essential. Easier said than done...... However, my body's softening up again, I was very stiff the past couple of days because I've been doing a lot of walking and that seems to have made my legs seize up as I haven't done any exercise for weeks- we only did asana practice in the Ashram.
So I took myself off for a massage today, theres a little place up the road. This amazing woman called Vinita gave me the massage of my life. It was an extreme Yoga type massage, being pulled into all kinds of positions and being pummelled and your back walked over whilst naked. She had her feet on my shoulders and forced my back symmetrical. I could feel loads of clicks but there was no pain. So much tension got reduced! It'll be interesting to see how practice goes tomorrow. Whilst on my physical health trip I went to see the local Ayurvedic guy here to get my doshas checked and get some nutrition advice as I'm only here for another 4 weeks now so I want to make the most of it and be as clean and energetic as possible for when I go home and am thinking about work etc.
Since I've been in India I've met 3 Ayurvedic doctors and I've really liked them all. This one's called Dr Arora and he took my pulse for a long time, checked eyes and tongue etc and diagnosed Pitta-Vata dosha. He said I should make more time to meditate and view situations as they actually are rather than running away with the vata. And he said my low blood pressure was caused by an iron deficiency so I should take an iron tonic and eat lots of green soups. Apparently my pulse is much weaker on my right hand side so my male energy's underactive and this causes a lack of confidence sometimes. So I bought some iron tonic for 54 rupees and decided to make some time for meditation. I keep thinking about Vipassana courses but I think that would be cramming in too much and I can always do one in the UK at some point. I'm just going to do my Yoga practice, go for lovely walks, read and study a lot, socialize a little and eat superfoods for the remainder of my time here.

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This afternoon Sandra and I met up with Soma and he walked us to the Beatles Ashram, where the Maharishi guy lived, and had his first ashram and Advaita Vedanta University. What a place. No ones supposed to go in as its owned by the government etc, but we managed to get past security with 20 rupees each- he told us not to tell the Americans who he'd charged 50! Yes, baksheesh is up and running... Its not the safest spot so if you're going to go there do it in the day like us, preferably in a group. Soma knew the place well and we got a good tour. There were old hippies wandering round the place like psychedelic Miss Havershams. It must have been amazing. Ten thousand people lived there and all the little houses and meditation huts are still numbered. We wandered through the mill where they ground their flour, through derelict guest houses with the remains of bidets in the bathroom. There must have been so much colour and life there. There are loads of family homes with shelves still up, the walls still painted in amazing bright colours. Theres a fresh gentle energy round the place, it must have been like Heaven to the people that had good experiences there.

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There are loads of tiny little round buildings that are reminiscent of the tiny round Celtic structures the earliest hermit Christians lived in in Britain. They are on two levels, the upstairs being a meditation space and the downstairs being a compact little bathroom and kitchen area with shelves. Theres also a lot of bigger family houses and guest houses. We went and sat in the meditation hall (see top photo) which is still a beautiful blue but covered in graffiti now. Theres monkeys and peacocks everywhere. And tigers apparently but we didn't see any, We climbed on to the roof on the ruined university and looked down on to the whole of Rishikesh and beyond. I asked Soma if it was like the place where he grew up and he said yes, but he didn't get to hang around with celebrity musicians... We're going to go and see his Ashram tomorrow, its one of the popular places for meditation workshops. After an hour or so I was feeling very hungry so we went to a very inexpensive local restaurant for thali and looked at the increasingly grey sky. After that Soma went home to do Ashram stuff and Sandra and I went along the river to watch the puja to Shiva. It was beautiful, hundreds of people chanting the Gayatrim mantra. It was like being back in Trimbak. They lit a big fire too and it was incredible. The Shiva statue is so beautiful you can see how people adopt the path of Bhakti Yoga, viewing him as their spouse. He just sits there emanating tranquillity in a strong and high cheekboned kind of way. Feeling inspired to re read the Bhagavad Gita. The Iyengar books are good though. My word that man had a tough childhood. He spent years and years struggling with his practice, unable to perform prananyama or basic forward bends because his cruel brother in law Krishnamacharya, who was obviously a fan of the 'tough love' theory, forced him to perform such extreme back bends it buggered up his spine. And after being made to perform Hanumasana he ripped up his hamstring and so could barely walk. 'Cider with Rosie' its not. I find it comforting to read though, as I've said before, I like the way he writes. He's almost autistic though sometimes, theres a real candid feeling in his books. He said that he used to see a cobra during his morning practice and it scared him so much that he would go and get his wife out of bed to sit up with him until it went away. After he'd already woken her up at 4am to make his pre-practice coffee while he lay in for a bit. And then he writes that she was the most wonderful wife as she never once complained. Oh, and she was a bit fat so she could weigh him down when he was experimenting with new asanas. Its the sweetest story though. He said they were alike in that they were both oddities to their families and would spend whole days just practising asanas...

Its raining heavily now, for the first time since I've been in India. I like it. Reminds me of being in Derbyshire, the dark clouds behind the hills. And now I have a nice room I can curl up in a clean space and listen to it.... Blisss.... Its been so dry for ages its good to have a change....

Posted by victoria8 06:42 Archived in India Tagged women

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