A Travellerspoint blog

Second practice

tigers and jewels

sunny 30 °C

Today I woke up, felt great, jumped out of bed, showered and pretty much danced to practice in the Shala, unfortunately couldn't quite bring myself to start my caffeine detox today so the morning dance and Yoga practice was partly sponsored by Percol instant- I call it happiness in a cup... As of Saturday though, when I've started the herbs in ghee, I will switch to ginger tea or white tea otherwise its a bit of a waste of time. And I do only have one cup a day before practise, it won't be the hardest... Ohhhhh... maybe I'll try and start tomorrow, a nice cup of white tea with my garlic pill and starflower oil...Yoga practice today was good, however, it was self practice and my memory of the sequence goes hazy after marichyasana and my attention started to wander, Sharath noticed and yelled 'no resting!' and he said he'd help me with marichyasana D tomorrow. Thinking about it, its quite daunting that theres so many asanas that I find completely beyond me- like kukkutasana- years of kickboxing, squats etc have given me thigh muscles its impossible to wedge my arms through (they're taut and solid and would break a mans neck frankly) even though I'm not a fat person. Still, its a journey isn't it? Thinking about it, if I could do it all with my current headstate, I wouldn't be gaining or learning anything. And I remind myself that I used to find crow impossible, and headstand too. Still, I think I snuck out a little earlier than I should have today. Went into town, had set dosas for brekky, which are divine, fluffy white pancakes, I think they're made of rice flour, they have little holes in like crumpets and are served with veg curry, yum, managed to eat them correctly, using only my right hand to tear, dip and roll, left hand under the table, with a row of old men all staring at me but I managed ok.
Then I went to the zoological gardens for a walk around, its a very beautiful and well kept zoo, the animals have quite a bit of space. I just wanted to see the tigers, being born in the year of the Tiger I feel an affinity with the big pussy cats. So beautiful. And then it made me feel sad and guilty to gawk at them in captivity. Sat down and read for a little while and a little grey, clean looking monkey came and sat down next to me. Still on Bhagavad Gita- this verse spoke to me- 18 'The man who in his work finds silence, and who sees that silence is work, this man in truth sees the Light and in all his works finds peace'. I had my photo taken with a bunch of people, they kept coming up to me, mostly young boys(!) and I really hate having my photo taken but I didn't want to be unfriendly so I gritted my teeth and smiled nicely. A couple of them even asked me for my number! I just burst out laughing, I mean they were in their teens- maybe my new slightly blonder look is making me appear sluttish or something...! Went to a market type place and bought 2 toe rings but everything else was a rip off, curtailed my spending to just over a quid...
Its so hot today, its beautiful, going to have another quiet one and read read read...

Posted by victoria8 02:47 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)


in search of renewal

sunny 28 °C

Had a lovely day today. No lesson at the Shala as its a new moon so after, most unexpectedly, TEN hours of natural sleep- and I don't think I've ever slept that long in my life, I got up, did a practice for 2 hours, showered, and strolled out into the sunshine feeling great and grateful. I went to Rishis internet cafe and had the most beautiful raw food and fresh chapati lunch, made by Rajeena who is expanding the business and she's going to be offering cooking lessons to Yoga students soon. Its a really serene and spotless place, quiet too. I went to the Southern Star after, for a good swim and read more of the Bhagavad Gita. I'm reading a 1962 Penguin translation and its great. I especially like the beginning- how the scene is set, you can almost see it in full-on GLADIATOR style technicolour. You can read it on so many levels, about how it relates to you and the world outside of you or you and the world within your nature, what you're creating, the difference between non-attachment and inertia, that we have this human life thrust upon us and we must participate because thats what we're here to do, we all have our work and we should do well but not be attached to the results of it... The introductions interesting too, about how its inspired countless writers throughout the West but that maybe its not appropriate to see it as the Hindu 'Bible' because that puts a dogmatic slant on it.

In the evening I went to the Dixit Health clinic, specialists in Ayurveda and Panchakarma. I met Dr Kumar who was recommended to me. I went along because I was curious to have my 'dosha' read and about how Ayurveda works in general because it is the type of medicine the majority of Indians use. Dr Kumar is one of those people you just like immediately! Glowing, smiley, charming and emanating health health health. I felt a bit awkward turning up because I was a bit curious with no real health problems to speak of, but he was really friendly and helpful and really put me at ease. I told him about the sugar craving/ mood swing/ emotions all over the place/ restless head issues I have and he took my pulse. He said I have an imbalance in that at the moment I'm too 'Vata' and craving sugar/carbohydrates is a natural way of trying to dull it down as they make you tired and help you sleep. He asked about alcohol, and I had to admit to on occasion, considering a bottle of Shiraz and a kit kat dinner. But he didn't come out with any sanctimonious crap about 'Oh don't you know how bad that is?', shudder, shudder etc, because, as an adult who can read I'm only too aware of what damage it can do and thats just not the point sometimes. He just laughed and asked if I was still doing that at the moment. "No" I said "Hahaha!!! Very glad to hear it! Keep it up!!"
And I told him some other stuff, and he prescribed, and I'm very excited about this, a therapeutic purgation lasting 8 days for a really good clean-out of the system. It will involve taking herbs in ghee in the morning, massages and steam baths and a diet. So starting Saturday I'm to go along early mornings for 8 days to chill out there all day purging myself and feeling my skin being fed with oils.. It was funny actually, I have developed some nasty itchy patches of dry skin recently which moisturiser didn't seem to touch (apparently 'Vata' issue too). I thought I'd just take the herbs at home and he said it would be better if I spent the days there, I can have food there and just read my books and its nice and quiet. We had to time it to start this Saturday so the 8th day is also a Saturday, when I don't have a Yoga practice as that is PURGE DAY.. and I'm going to be very near a bathroom all day. He gave me some pills to start me off, mainly garlic, a fantastic cleanser apparently, and a diet sheet, just warm cooked veg, dhal, some breads, rice, NO raw food, fruit, coffee, chai, sweets, biscuits, alcohol etc. I hope they've got some information on the history of Ayurveda too.
So that'll be interesting, I've always wanted to do a detox programme and nows the time to do it, when I have the privilege of having a few days where I can. Just eating some naughty banana crisps made by a boy who has a stall up the road... And I'll miss fruit because it is SO GOOD here- the pomengranates and the grapes and the cute little baby bananas and the sweetest pineapples I've ever had in my life. Its only the next 10 days or so though, I'll live.
Mysore seems to come to life at night. Theres a real buzz about the place and I love going out walking here after dark, all the stalls and shops are open late as are the bakeries and cafes and the atmospheres great... Having ginger tea at Anu's now and starting to feel tired and I have lesson first thing tomorrow... my hamstrings very sore again today.......

Posted by victoria8 07:28 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

First practice in the Shala

To vairagya or not

sunny 28 °C

Big day today.... First practice in the Shala. I awoke at 5am, showered, and made myself an enormous coffee- thanking the Gods for the bliss in a jar that is Percol instant- it really does have the punch of the real thing. Then I had a stroll under the stars and got to the Shala for my 6.30am class just before 6 and I was already at the back of the queue. I sat down and read my book, saw a little girl who was being entertained by her daddy while they waited for her mum to finish the early class so she could be taken back home with her and her dad could join the later class- considering it was cold and dark and boring she was amazingly well behaved. Everyone was chirpy- first class of the New Year, eveyone seems to know each other and I was just listening to people's conversations. We got in, and it was crazy. I unrolled my mat and went to the loo. When I got back the woman in front of me had shifted it so she had plenty of space and I was wedged right up against the wall. And I mean 4 inches or so away. I stood there behind her, the God in me saluting the God in her, whilst the human in me thought 'slag'. But took a deep breath and forgave myself, moved on and really enjoyed the practice.
The pace is fast and its a guided class- that was good as I was slightly concerned about remembering the sequence in its precise order. As a beginner there, I got stopped. In Marichyasana B. And I KNEW it was going to be that one! Hey ho, I wasn't the first or the last to be stopped. I sat and observed the others and how the sequence works from start to finish because I have never practised it that strictly before, and tried to concentrate on my breathing. And I thought I had to sit out the rest of the class, but no, you get to join in again with the backbends and inversions, the headstand sequence was beautiful. Its funny, I used to dread and fear headstand but I've just been floating up into it these past four months- just as it felt like the rest of my life was going to Hell in a handcart, in came headstand to save me. It was a lesson actually- the day I managed it, and not as a fluke, but stayed up there a while, was the day I really could not have cared less whether it happened or not. All the physical bits were working, it was just my monkey mind stopping me... Being in headstand feels like being underwater and is curiously soothing once you have the flow. Sharath asked me to clasp my hands round my head though I prefer to keep them flat a la Vanda Scaravelli, as I've hurt my fingers before. But the clasping thing worked ok today. Could not figure out the jump backs but have been talking to my housemate who's taught Ashtanga for a while and she's going to teach me the technique late- theres a sort of 'lift' and you engage your core, so I'm looking forward to playing around with it. Monkey tricks!!! But if I manage it, my sequence will flow better, the breathing will fuel it and I think it will feel different. Lilys also going to look at Marichyasana B with me so maybe I'll make it to C next time. I thought I would mind stopping, but I didn't really. And there was a good atmosphere in the class, even light. However, you don't feel the most secure. One girl who was near me left after about 20 minutes- I don't know why or what the problem was but before she had even left the room these peole were eagerly pulling their mats into her space, jumping into her grave so to speak, like ants scuttling into a lemonade bottle. And I wouldn't like to trip and fall on my way into practice because I don't think anyone would help you up, you'd just get trampled. Its every man for himself.... I actually think I prefer to be taught by women in some respects. Maybe because I feel the feminine journey is a longer and more varied one, with greater highs and lows- thats just a personal opinion. Different energy.
After the class, energized, I went for a very long walk, and to think. Went to Ashoka books and found a book on Hinduism and the Occult, one on Yoga, physics and time travel and one on Yoga for your Ayurvedic type. Then had pineapple juice and dosas for breakfast and plan on spending the rest of the day reading. It would be nice if there was a park or something here. At least I can sit in the garden of the house I'm staying in. I don't feel massively sociable, theres so much to take in and learn. And I get bored having the same Yoga chats time and again, though I met a really interesting Saggittarian last night to talk about attachments, astrology, habits etc with, the kind of conversation I really miss sometimes. I don't have all that back packers chit-chat ("and I've just been the last 6 months in Goa bla de bla bla bla") That makes me sound really sour doesn't it?! I'm really not, I'm actually having a lovely day, a mixed bag so to speak... Suns shining...

Posted by victoria8 22:23 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

Yoga issues

Trouser shopping and massage....

sunny 28 °C

Last night as I was lying in bed reading the Bhagavad Gita and eating tim-tams which all the supermarkets seem to sell (and the Irish thing goes on...) there was something preying on my mind. When I registered at the Shala, where were the Indian people? Theres people from the UK, the rest of Europe, Italy, France, Germany, the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand etc etc. And obviously, the teachers here are Indian, but I did expect to meet more young people from India studying it too. In his book 'Yoga Mala', Pattabhi Jois says that for years Yoga was seen as something quite esoteric in India, really just practised by people whose lives were devoted to their spirituality. However, the book was written a long time ago now and I would have thought it would be changing as its so huge in the West.
This morning I went into Mysore and I decided to ask people about it. The first rickshaw driver I asked just laughed quite a bit and then said he didn't have time. I went for a walk to try and find a Kannada phrasebook -still no luck but I found a few bits on the internet- VERY interesting- Kannada is the 27th most widely spoken language in the world, much of it Sanskrit based- classical authors such as Euripides familiar with it, and it used to be spoken as far North as Maharashtra. I ended up in a shop selling silks and ordering some nice baggy kinda pyjama trousers to be made for me in lilac and scarlet cotton and silk as actually, I didn't bring enough clothes with me, I brought lots of Yoga stuff and shedloads of hair conditioner but my wardrobe day to day a bit limited.. So that justifies me spending some rupees on Mysore couture, and it was a good shopping experience. I got talking to a guy who works there, Maviya, and he said that he had studied in the Shala for a month about 5 years ago and he now practises Ashtanga but if he goes to a lesson, he goes to the Mandala in Laxmipuram. He was very knowledgeable about the Western teachers who had studied there, but sort of hinted at a backlash thats now currently going on. It always seems to happen doesn't it? To every Master? Interestingly, and this was something I had wondered, he said that the Shala will charge Indian students less, as obviously there is a difference in earnings which would make it out of the reach of the majority as they do charge more or less Western rates. He emphasized that he personally thought that students should be shown more kindness by teachers. We walked down the road and chatted a while and he showed me a really nice cafe/restaurant called Indras where I sat and had a juice. Then got a rickshaw back to Gokulam and the driver said that he didn't practice Yoga, never had, but evreyone he knew just saw it as being an expensive business in Mysore. Actually, I have a theory that all rickshaw drivers in Mysore are fully conversant with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali- thats why they're happy to trust you to pay them later (ensuring themselves more business that day)- because they know full well that Yoga students are not supposed to be dishonest and use that to their advantage...

This afternoon I had the massage experience of my life! I've had a dodgy hamstring for a couple of months (my own stupid fault- I lifted weights for an hour, then did an intense Ashtanga workshop and didn't listen to the pain as I was so buzzing with endorphins and nearly crippled myself) so I thought I'd go for a deep tissue massage before I start practice tomorrow. So I called a local man recommended whose name is Shashi who specializes in Swedish massage, traditional Thai massage, and Esalen circulatory massage which is what I had. I met him by the coconut stand and he picked me up in his car and drove me to his house. I don't know why I expected him to be old and wizened- maybe its the established reputation- well, he isn't- he's young and gorgeus and lives in a beautiful and palatial house. Stunning sandalwood carvings, marble floors, mosaics in the bathroom (where Toni and Guy products live next to the Ayurvedic ones) and the most beautiful therapy room with bowls of lilies in water placed to aesthetically understated perfection. He also works in real estate so has one foot in both worlds. He's opening another Yoga center in Gokulam and will teach Hatha as well as Ashtanga Vinyasa flow and two types of Osho meditation- a man of many talents. The massage was great- the sore muscle went into spasm and he got me to breathe through them. He used essential oils, and I was so relaxed by the end it was unbelievable. The Indian head massage sent little tingles all down my arms and shoulders and he used some intense pressure which was amazing.
Afterwards we had a cup of silvertip tea from Korea on his balcony and chatted about Yoga and I asked him why he thought more people in India didn't practise. His reply was a little more pragmatic- apart from the obvious fact that the cost of a months tuitition at the Shala would feed six families for a month, he said that most Indian people, even now, have a more laid back approach to life than Westerners, ate better food, slept better, and Westerners come here because they need it more, and hey, if they're the ones that want to learn it then the teachers will happily teach them, and charge whatever they feel is a fair price. He also said that Pattabhi Jois in India is very much a Mysore phenomenon, and did not have the early success of Iyengar, who most Indians still associate more with Yoga if they were going to go and take a lesson. Interesting. I also asked him about local Ayurvedic doctors and he recommended one called Dr Kumar as I want to go and have my pulse taken and learn about my dosha- I have a suspicion I'm a bit 'pitta'; when I said to Shashi that I really liked the slow Scaravelli approach to Yoga, he said that in his opinion, that would be better for me than Ashtanga with the energy I have. I'd actually suspected as much but I really enjoy a dynamic practise. I think actually people who crave a certain practise often need the opposite- I've met loads of lazy people who drive everywhere, sit on their arses all day, and then go to 'Relaxation Hatha' to spend an hour lying down before going to bed. I'm not a huge fan of sitting still. We're contrary beings aren't we? How many people truly want the thing thats good for them?
Got my first class tomorrow- going to go have an early night, maybe have some coconut juice (oooooh, party on) and do a little reading. Theres another girl staying in my house now- Lily from Canada, she teaches Ashtanga and is nice- she's up for going halves on joint monthly swimming pool membership at the Southern Star with me. Excellent. I'll be able to float around in the water after practise. In the sunshine... How lucky I am...

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

Pattabhi Jois

Queues, admin etc


Had an eventful afternoon- got loads of passport photos taken only to be told I couldn't collect them until 2 hours after I needed them. Annoying! So I got a rickshaw into town to try another place- the driver told me (like a lot of the others) that the meter wasn't working and seemed to think it was fine to quote me twice the going rate once the thing was moving. I was tired so just agreed. Then the bloody thing broke down and took AGES to fix. I was fuming.... So I got my own back by nagging him Scottish fishwife stylee (up in Aberdeen its called 'nipping their heids") for the remainder of the journey, banging the meter with my fist in a Meditarranean way, demanding to know if he thought ALL women were stupid or was it just me, and did he think it was good manners, or moral, to lie about meters, and how would he like it if people tried to rip off his mother, or his sister... He raised his eyes to Heaven in that universally male 'Oh here we bloody well go' way... Etc Etc Got to the other place and they couldn't do the photos by 4 either- they take them by hand then print them rather than using booths- which actually results in a much nicer photo aesthetically it has to be said... Went to Ashoka books and found a good little book on Vedic chanting by Desikachar to read with a wicked section on phonetics of Sanskrit.

Then it was back to Gokulam, with a working meter, and to the Shala to queue for my place for the month at AYRI. It wasn't nearly as painful as I had anticipated- I had had visions of hoards of starved, hollow eyed, cultish, muscley types all jostling competitively for 4am classes (I've read a lot of horror stories online) but it was fine. I had to queue for an hour and a half but got talking to an interesting woman called Sonia and read a bit of my book and it was ok. When we finally got inside we had to sign a form agreeing to stop an asana when asked to by the teacher and pay 27530 rupees (though that includes registration, subsequent months are less). Pattabhi Jois was sitting there in a chair, greeting everyone, which I actually thought was really special. After all, he's not a young man and it must have been a long day for him. He was wearing a deerstalker style hat which became him and his complexion looked clear and theres a kind of gleam about him. I am in the 6.15 am class for 2 hours, 6 days a week- not too early, that feels fine to me . Sharath said to show up at 6am. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to have an early one tonight, just reading and looking at the Primary Series again. Nearly finished 'Yoga Mala' now. Its good, really thought provoking section on Yama and Niyama and why we practice Yoga and how far we can choose to take it, in a way. Its quite conservative though. And sometimes examining your own intentions is not the most comfortable way to spend an hour...

Posted by victoria8 04:49 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

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