A Travellerspoint blog

Oiled up

and ready to cook...

sunny 32 °C

My alarm went off at 4.45am. My leg was AGONY... So I had a lie in until 6.30 then got up and did my own practice for an hour and a half, working carefully around the sore muscle and doing a few Hatha sun salutations before the dynamic ones. Felt a lot better by the end and used some asanas to open up the stiffness gently- the ones I miss out on just doing the primary series. Garudhasana and Uttrasana for release. Then to Saraswathipuram for 8.30 for day 4 of Panchakarma. No ghee today thankfully, it was on with the paper knickers and full body oil massage by two women, their coordination was incredible, it was like being massaged by a very thorough four-armed goddess. having the soles of your feet rubbed really hard with oil as your legs are being pulled up and off the bed is wonderful, I went into a bit of a trance, that seems to be happening a lot recently. Afterwards I sat in a steam chamber for a while as the sweat poured off, it was so soothing on the leg which felt almost normal again today. Then lunch with beetroot that tasted wonderful and then I lay down and felt a bit shit again- not like yesterday because my headstate was happy and at peace, but I felt so tired and fuzzy in my body, and very weak.
I drank a lot of water and read about the history of Hinduism. really interesting stuff, especially about the caste system. I had no idea that originally, people were separated into four groups almost by divination, that is, people of a kindly, generous and spiritual nature would be Brahmins, people with more 'fire' energy warriors etc. And it was understood that society needed all four castes to function so it wasn't about being greater or lesser. It changed many years later on, when it became something you were born into, a position in society etc. And there was a lot in the book about personal conduct and the role of the family. Theres a great deal of respect for study, for taking care of one's responsibilities selflessly. Interesting that too for years, family men at some late stage in their life would become spiritual seekers and leave all their posessions behind them, beg for food and wear the humblest of clothes but there was this network, this understanding by all around, that they were not rejecting society to be crusties by choice, but they had spiritual teachers to report to and everyone knew what was going on with them and understood that they were preparing for their last journey in this incarnation, that they had their mission so were not to be despised. And money alone is not something that commands respect but conduct is. You can sense how thats the case looking around here sometimes. People will be unashamedly money grabbing but thats because its an abstract thing and not part of someones identity maybe the way it sometimes is back home. And a lot about the role of women too. There were women sages and spiritual teachers equal to men. So much more to read.

After these musings I had another Shirodhara (oil stream) treatment and it was beautiful today, gazing up into a void and getting lost in it. Its like being baptized over and over again- there has to be a connection there. It was good to wash my hair and shower today, my skins gleaming, glowing and soft, and I've kept very warm today. I went into town afterwards, to Ashoka books, found a book on Patanjali by Desikachar and 'The Tree of Yoga' by Iyengar which has a lot about prana in it as I have to write this essay I've been researching for my Yoga course back home and I've been reading reading reading but can't pinpoint what prana quite is. Thinking about getting a book like the 'Tao of Physics' and trying to make it all a bit scientific but that might be a bit ambitious- I mean, its definitely life force isn't it? Like the Chi of Tai Chi. But people seem to view it as some kind of benevolent 'God' force, when it powers everything, including past events like the Holocaust, its not emotive. It seems very ambiguous to say it is 'source'. I'm struggling a little. Got a book about explorers of the world for a little light relief- got stories about Genghis Khan in it.

Went to Anu's for dinner and met a couple of new students who just arrived here, Kristy, a midwife, and Yenko. I was trying to get some people to come to Rishis on Sunday to do a cooking class and they're up for it, as is Susan, my neighbour here. Thats really cool because Rajeena said she would teach us dahl and chapatis (her chapatis are the best I've ever tasted) and 2 other dishes we can choose, probably paneer curry and a dessert- I think you can get paneer in the UK now so that would be top. I love to cook and I just need the technique to make simple Indian food to add to my repertoire of tapas, toast, grilled halloumi and bio-dynamic red wine from Ben of Festival Wines in Brighton... Looking forward to it. Bed now, tired, and the detoxy feelings coming back... Interesting though, I haven't felt angry today...

Posted by victoria8 06:21 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

Sickness and Palaces

day 15........

sunny 32 °C

Practice was good this morning, I went all through the Marichyasana sequence and just as I was rolling up my mat, Sharath appeared and made me do them again ("see? easy now!") and he pointed out to me that when I was going into an asana I find challenging I was holding my breath, which sounds so obvious but I didn't realize I was doing that- it makes everything a lot less comfortable... basically I was trying to go into the complete posture without working into it, hence the problems and impossibility of it before. And the microcosm and the macrocosm strike again!!!!! Oh, your Yoga practice can really reflect your life sometimes. I'm the Queen of getting bored and trying something else but this is teaching me perseverance I didn't have before. And my goodness, I'm stiff and my hamstrings playing up today, which isn't great, so I'm going at my own pace and ignoring the monkey people and adjustment junkies (they should have a branch of 'Adjustments Anonymous' in Gokulam- "Hi I'm Brad and I've been an adjustment junkie for 5 years now, I can't even leave the house in the morning until I've had my ankles crossed behind my neck and my back jumped up and down on for at least 20 minutes ADJUST ME GODDAMMIT, please just once then I'll stop for good" etc.... you get the picture...) and just staying present. Slowly, slowly, you have to enjoy it... Its annoying though, i love Uttanasana and Pascimatanasana and they really twinge right now. On the plus side, my left hand side is coming into its own as the right hand side is usually uber bendy and bullies the left into doing even less, so thats quite interesting- anew exploration, in the long run this injury'll be a good thing for my coordination...

Then it was back to the Dixit clinic for my last dose of ghee, bleeeurgh it was a BIG CUP today and its oh so rich, in fact, about 30 minutes after drinking it I felt rotten, really sick and weak and all the classic detox symptoms- funny taste in mouth, tearful, horrible negative thoughts coming to the surface, almost hallucinating. I wrapped myself in a blanket and lay down, not quite awake and not quite asleep for 2 hours, staring at the picture of Krishna on the calender on the wall which stared back. Then the oil stream massage again which felt different today- I was very aware of my body but it was completely relaxed, as limp as a corpse in fact. Had that third eye twinge sensation again but it wasn't so painful. Felt good afterwards, still, and the sickness had gone and I ate most of my sattvic carrots rice n broth and then sat up, sipping warm water and finished reading the Bhagavad Gita. The last section is very much related to what motivates a person and how motivations/ sacrifices can disguise themselves to both the outside world as well as an individuals conscience. I thought of the mayor in the book/film 'Chocolat' as an example of someone who abstains from everything but still on road to Hell. And I thought of Johnny Depp too, because in my mental film of the Bhagaved Gita he plays Arjuna, beautiful, brooding and plagued by his conscience... And I wondered what its like to surrender your fate so to speak, not to be powerless, but just not to spend your life fighting the inevitable. And today, just to re-iterate the theme the Hanged Man was my Tarot card for the day- surrender and sacrifice. Oh, and speaking of funny events, I'm supposed to be meeting up with someone I made contact with a couple of months back, in India, who was telling me about the forgiveness mantra 'Om Mani Padme Hum' and I was sitting in the back of a rickshaw thinking about him when all of a sudden that very chant started playing on my MP3 player, talk about synchronicity... yep, I can see myself turning into one of those really annoying people 'Hey, you gotta go to India, its really far out, the things that happen'.....

After I'd finished at the clinic I didn't feel like going back to Gokolum so I got a ride to Mysore Palace, which is just beautiful, and absolutely huge, it makes Brighton Pavilion look like a public toilet in comparison. Everything glistens and gleams, I just had to touch the tiles on the walls, its all really tactile too. They have these stained glass windows of peacock feathers and the most amazing carvings that look quite similar to Celtic knotwork patterns but more 'swanlike' with zoomorphic pattening. And the old photos of the Royal family were amazing- its hard to believe its as recent as 1897-1912 in construction. And the flowers and colours- total fantasy architecture. The only thing that spoilt it were the horrible bright orange plastic fences that are there to keep visitors off the main bits of flooring- I think they should make some tasteful wooden ones instead, the orange offended my aesthetic sensibilities. Then I had a walk outside in the gardens, got talking to a nice Canadian guy who'd been travelling round India for 15 months and had a bit of a walk and a chat with him which was a nice 30 minute respite from the constant hassle of being a woman on your own. We had a drink and got stopped a couple of times as people wanted their photos taken with us, actually that happened to me at the zoo the other day too, a couple of times and I found it odd. This guy who is from Montreal said to me that when you're from a multi-cultural place like Canada or the UK its easy to forget that we're a real novelty to some people here. And I hate having my picture taken, but hey, I'll never have to cringe at the pictures so I just smile.horses.jpg
The rickshaw ride back to Gokulum was white knuckle in rush hour- we came very close to crashing into other rickshaws several times- but the drivers seem to treat the roads like a giant dodgem ride and when theres a near miss they exhange shouty greetings and have a bit of a laugh about it and its all very jovial, while I'm in the back like some 19th century Christian missionary repeating to myself "I'm in Gods hands now"...
Back in base now- chapati and dahl dinner and a call to Dr Kumar and I'm off to bed at the end of a long day... Oooh! Starting Sanskrit lessons on Wednesday, and possibly Indian Dance lessons too with my new friend Nick (aka Davina of Berlin, oriental dancer...) the Sagittarius I met last week. Tired now!

Posted by victoria8 05:53 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

Sattva and Shopping

day 2 of Panchakarma

sunny 32 °C

Up early this morning- 4.45am to get to the 6.15am taught practice in the Shala (I like to have a little while first to shower, make hot water with ginger root and lemon as no coffee this week and generally potter around a bit), great class today, made it throught the whole Marichyasana series to Navasana- turns out Mary D is not so bad, I was just putting my foot in the wrong place. I felt AMAZING afterwards and so did everyone else. I danced off for another shower and then jumped in a rickshaw to the Dixit Clinic in Saraswathipuram for Day 2 of Panchakarma, more medicated ghee and oil stream massage to forehead. It was similar to yesterday, a different guy doing it, at one point he had his hands on my forehead, and I had the sensation of not knowing where I ended and he began, like that sensation you have when you're really intimate with someone and when you're touching you feel like one entity. And again, right at the end I got that sharp pain between my eyebrows and sense of weightlessness. Also the palms of my hands and soles of my feet were buzzing. It was incredible. Funnily enough though, after all that, I actually felt more grounded afterwards, more solid almost, and definitely more still, without the usual anxious thoughts that have me rushing off for coffee... So I ate my sattvic lunch of plain rice, dahl, steamed carrots and buttermilk, much more appetizing than it sounds actually, and read some more of the Bhagavad Gita and 'Yoga for Magick' which has some interesting and challenging asanas that Aleister Crowley dreamt up and some interesting meditations based around the Kundalini. New things to try while I'm here and have the time.

I went shopping in the afternoon, one vice I'm allowed, and I love love love shopping in India- I bought some make up and hair clips and it was about 20p, and I went back to the saree shop to see Maviya and order 2 skirts in silk, copying the design of a favourite skirt of mine, and designed a top they're making up for me too (silver raw silk, the equivalent of 2 quid a metre, amazing), so lovely. And thats going to be it for me clothes shopping, as I'm limited to rucksack space. Had some dinner in town, coconut curry and roti, it was good, this Panchakarma detox is sensible, you eat properly but just avoiding certain things, so I don't feel hungry or weak. Oh! And got my arse slapped firmly by some man walking past, I glared at him and he ran off in a really furtive way the dirty little minker.. Quite tired though, need a good nights sleep. Its so hot now, I'm getting a bit of a tan but mainly stay out of the sun- fair skinned people have this terrible habit of baking themselves to achieve a tan which lasts a few weeks then they get wrinkles from it that last till they die... wheres the sense in that? I need a bigger hat... When back in Gokulam I realized that using my mobile to make local calls is both expensive and pointless, so tried to use a payphone but didn't have enough change. A local guy saw my struggle, was very sweet and helpful, and insisted on paying for my call! And then he hung around while I made my nightly call to Dr Kumar to tell him how the detox was going, so I stood in the street discussing the finer details of my bowel movements that day- thats one way of putting off a potential suitor I guess.......

Posted by victoria8 07:17 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

Ayurvedic Illuminations

and dinners

sunny 35 °C

Had a lovely evening yesterday, went round to the lovely Shashi's for dinner and to watch a DVD. He has the biggest TV I've ever watched and he very nicely let me choose the film- not knowing I have this terrible habit of always picking the most gut churningly disturbing films out of anyone's collection... and last night was no exception with 'Monsters Ball', though its a great film it was good to sit down for some Thai food after an electrocution, a suicide, a fatal car accident, horrible racist stuff and some really quite twisted sex (great film though)... We had white tea too and the kind of conversation I LOVE so that was nice. He really knows his stuff, has travelled extensively and studied Thai Massage in Thailand, both the Northern and the Southern techniques. In fact with all he has going on I really had him down for a Gemini but he's a Leo. And its great talking to someone from the area, lots of gossip. And sitting in the understatedly chic feng shui-d to perfection palace of a house was like a dream. So relaxing.

Was up early today- day one of the Panchakarma detox. I got in bright and early at 8.30am. I was sat in front of the shrine to Krishna and the woman working there chanted prayers for the ritual and then I drank the ghee and sat there for a while, contemplating all kinds of things. How we make ourselves ill by living in these brittle emotional cages. And we're so hard on ourselves. I saw Dr Kumar too, he was bright eyed and glowing, bowed to the shrine, bowed to me, and then bounced off to do stuff...
Then I went and read the Bhagavad Gita for a couple of hours (am nearly through it) and lay on a bed. THEN, the really interesting part of the day- the Shirodhara. Thats a type of oil massage where oils are poured over your forehead in a constant stream for 30 minutes or so. For the first couple of minutes it feels odd, almost irritating, but then it starts to feel like angel's fingers. The smells and the temperature vary, and there is a strong sense of 'washing away'. Towards the end, there was a point where the oil was directly between my eyebrows and for a moment I felt a really sharp pain, and then my body felt completely weightless, I couldn't even feel it, in this amazing sense of ascension. Then I was left alone for a while to relax. And it occurred to me that you could see everything that happens to you in life, in nature, as medicine. If you remember its doing you good you can get through it, because some medicine tastes good and some doesn't but whether it does or not isn't the point because the taste is going to go away at some point. Maybe remembering thats the key to surviving and being happy as well as involved. Because you have to partake in life, and you have emotions for a reason too and you can't switch them off...

Then I had a bland sattvic lunch and a bit of light reading- 'Yoga for Magick' by Nancy Wasserman, most interesting, and back to Gokulam to pick up laundry... No practice today as Saturaday and I'm taking it easy... Just an early dinner at Anu's and bed with water...

Posted by victoria8 03:32 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

Kannada education

reading reading

sunny 28 °C

Early practice today- self practice in the Shala, I made it pretty much to navasana and then jumped to backbends/inversions as hamstring still very sore. And Sharath caught up with me as I was skipping out... "Marichyasana D hmmm?" Then laughed and went "slowly, slowly". I like him. The sweat poured off me today and it was, for me, quite a focussed practice- it gets scary though, when your mats slimy with sweat, you feel like you're going to slide right off and break something...
Afterwards I went and showered and read the paper, I love reading the papers here, the use of English is very different. A man charged with sodomy of a minor was referred to as a 'scoundrel' and apart from the 15 years of hard imprisonment he was sentenced to, he had a fine of 15000 rupees 'slapped upon him'... And you get things like articles on Vipassana meditation in the business section- spirituality in a very matter of fact and commonsense way.People go on about India as being such a 'spiritual' place but it seems to me theres simply more balance here, in attitude I guess. Getting up early to pray before going about your day is normal and a respected thing and having a Guru is something thats understood and not mocked whereas in the UK people tend to be more one way or the other- there tends to be either no ritual at all in daily life and a vague, constant, nagging sense that somethings missing, lets see if its in the shops, or people quite often go too far the other way, don't do anything without consulting the Angel oracle, see everything as a sign to from the universe to them personally, all day everyday and go around dripping with sigils and crystals, 'dolphin botherers'(!) as my friend Kath so eloquently put it once.trees.jpg
Then I had a walk in a neighbourhood I hadn't yet been to and found another great bookshop- I got a book on Vedic astrology, a couple of little ones on Bhakti and Jnana Yoga and finally, a Kannada handbook! So I can now say thankyou to people in shops and rickshaws etc (Vandanegalu) and sentences like "My Darling! What happened?"- "Nanna Bangara! Eniyithappa?!" and theres a good section on haggling in shops etc. Its pronounced like Sanskrit (being its source) and the way the sentences are constructed seem very close to what I remember of Latin. Its nice to learn a bit, to pick it up, I think you should always make the effort when you're away- and Kannada's a damn sight easier than Hungarian let me tell you.
I went to an Austrian cafe for iced coffee and then spent the afternoon reading the Bhagavad Gita. It gets better and better. I like to imagine Arjuna in his armour, looking down at the armies below, with an incredibly handsome shape-shifting Krishna appearing to him out of a bluish mist and being so mesmerizing that every word he speaks is burned into memory...
Then showered and got a bit dressed up. Off out for dinner with some really nice folk I met last night... can't spend every night in after all......

Posted by victoria8 04:36 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

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