and a pak recipe, make it, eat it, be happy cos you eat ghee......
Yesterday practice at the Shala was great although still sore. Managed to get into kurmasana and jump back. Unfortunately I seem to always get the slot right next to the door so theres all these little pitiful Victorian orphan style faces peering in, waiting for their meagre space for practice.. I'm so lucky I get to go in at 6 when thers only 4 or 5 waiting because by the time I leave at 8 theres about 20 of them all sitting there looking frustrated, with no one catching anyones eye. Also being by the door means people bump into you which is irritating especially when you're in a balance. And the most annoying thing is the hoards of people who have finished their practice all hanging around trying to catch Sharath's eye to bow to him before leaving. I am ashamed to report muttering 'Get a life' to one of them.....we are talking 6am after all, not my most patient of times.. It makes it hard to focus. My focus is coming but it still feels like its a little wild bird I have to coax down- and sometimes it comes for a minute, hovers, and then flutters away again. Am having daily energy healing on my hamstring which is helping a little, its just that because my hips been stiff when I go into lotus because of the sore hamstring insertion sprain (quite literally a pain in the butt) the pressures been going onto my knee which now hurts. And its annoying to me because I know full well how stupid it is to do lotus if its not comfortable. The heat of the healing helps, and I love talking to Gita- she has an interesting theory that too much education is not a good thing for a man- they can't handle it and it makes them odd... I can see where she's coming from!
So this morning I stayed at home and did the Primary series minus lotus and eased into it with the Hatha Sun Salutations for a while, I did a good hour and a half practice. Afterwards I had a hot hot shower and headed to Santoshas for home made multigrain toast with hummus and got talking to a really nice guy called Robin who teaches Ashtanga in Birmingham. He agreed that the Hatha Sun salutations feel more beautiful and ritual than the Ashtanga ones when you have the flow...We ended up having a great chat about Yoga etc- he did the BWY course that I'm on too so knows what its like and was also full of information about Rishikesh where I'll be in March. We went for a walk and he showed me new places to shop, though actually I've decided not to get any more stuff. I think a few scarves and books are enough, and I went into town this afternoon to pick up some train tickets and resticted my shopping to fruit and Mysore pak as I don't know when I'm going to get sick of it... I got slightly concerned yesterday about the amount I've been consuming- out of sheer post practice hunger it has to be said- and, loathing myself for being such a control freak, went to weigh myself in the chemists and I've actually lost more weight and now I've gone from being someone who always wants to lose a couple of pounds to not being that way at all anymore, I can even see it wouldn't do me any favours. Actually maybe its more a month of just very clean living than any huge Ashtanga metabolism change. So I bought more Pak then too! Its essential to avoid that unattractive 'drawn' look. The pak is not a meal substitute though, its an addition, its like a cross between fudge and shortbread but its so full of ghee it hits the spot straight away and a square inch or two is enough, ooooh I'm going to google a recipe and try and make it in the UK.
Here it is- Recipe Description -This is a simple way of making mysore paak, a very popular south indian sweet
First off you take six measures of plain sugar and grind it to a fine powder in a dry grinder ( icing sugar wont do ). Next you add the six measures of sugar powder, 2 measures of gram flour ( besan ), one pinch of baking soda, and a little water ( very little is required, ) and make a dough of the consistency of dough for rotis. Let it rest for about 15 mts and then add 2 measures of either cooking oil, ghee ( clarified butter ) or dalda ( hydrogenated vegetable oil ) or a combination of them into the dough. Place the vessel containing the dough and oil on a stove with a very low heat ..and allow to heat with continous stirring. As the cooking progresses you will first find that the dough expands and after some time starts contracting in volume ..The dough stops bubbling and the mass starts showing the texture of mysore pak .. when this stage arrives stop the heat and pour the mass along with the oil into a sieve ( such as the one you use for seiving floor, be sure the sieve is of stainless steel, not nylon ) and allow the excess
oil to drain out into a plate for re use if necessary. Make cuts into the shapes you like with a knife and wait till the mass cools to the room temperature before separating the pieces.
When you're surrounded by Ashtangis, many of who do not follow vegetarian Yoga diets because it interferes with high protein type regimes and you have a bag of Pak, it feels a bit like you've got a bag of Angel dust... Speaking of vegetarianism I'm feeling great for eating only Veggie food with just a little dairy and loads of nuts and seeds and fruit, it really agrees with me and when you eat food thats really nourishing it satisfies you far more. I couldn't understand why the pomengranates and lemons I was buying kept drying out so quickly, I thought it was the heat, but then I realized they were natural and not sprayed to death.
Last night I went to a birthday party at the Chakra House- it was Martinas, the American girl- she's beautiful like a classical statue with glowing skin and even features and she performed a classical Indian dance which was amazing. She's so statuesque and I asked her how tall she was and she's actually six foot six, I thought she was about five eleven. We all sat around and had samosas, tea and cake and Tracey was there too. I ended up being one of the last ones there, talking to a woman named Simone for a long time about dreams, men who smoke too much and what its like to have all your stuff in storage while you step back and re-assess. I love that I keep meeting people who are on a very similar wavelength, if I was a cheesy New Age dolphin botherer I'd harp on about synchronicity but I'm not... I was talking to someone a few weeks ago and she was saying that she was here 2 years ago whilst going through a divorce and kept meeting other women who were too. I just keep meeting other women who say 'Here' when you ask them where home is because they, like me, are itinerant wanderers for now...
This afternoon I went for a long swim and, rarely for me, a sunbathe (with a big hat) and lay there for ages reading 'The Yoga Tradition' by George Feuerstein which is FANTASTIC, especially chapter 17 all about medieval mysticism and tantra. And its written in an accessible way too. It talks about how the Divine and the everyday can be a part of one another, and so many different views/ways of enlightenment, understanding. I found it very moving and got a little choked up. I was going to send it home once I've done my essay this weekend on Prana, but I think I'll take it travelling with me, it'll keep me busy on those long train journeys anyway. Going to bed early this evening as couldn't sleep last night and exhausted, and theres a taught practice at 5.45am tomorrow so I must be up. Theres a party at Santoshas tomorrow night, I've really got to like Santoshas, they serve the best carbohydrates- banana porridge, choc chip oat cookies and home made bread (turned into such a foodie recently), and theres going to be snake charmers and a buffet, I've got my ticket and I cannot wait, I want to have my photo taken with a massive huge reptile, and it'll be a good chance to spend some time with all the people I've really got to know and like this past month, I'll be sad to leave that on Tuesday. But at the same time excited to see Mumbai and the Gate of India and the beach. I had my palms read yesterday by a guy called Rao who was very sweet- he predicted travel in 3 or 4 countries would be important, success on my own terms and a new man who was educated to the same level as me and from a good family- but then all Indian palmists emphasize the 'respectability' aspect of your life. I think its because theres a lot placed on 'respectability' here. And he said a move when I returned to the UK, but then I know thats on the cars, the North is calling, even going up North in India feels so right...