A Travellerspoint blog

Ashtanga and Rooftops...

Yoga Kittens

sunny 28 °C

Couldn't sleep Thursday night so took some herbal Nytol which wiped me out until 10am yesterday morning. I thought about doing a practice but was sluggish and slow, and digestion not good... Washed, dressed, went downstairs to the raised eyebrows of the maid in the house and I don't know why I bothered trying to explain that I'd actually been up late studying (true actually, Yoga Mala by Pattabhi Jois which is very readable, and an edition of the Bhagavad Gita which has interesting parallels with some of the Irish epic cycles I studied at Aberdeen University) but I felt guilty for languishing in bed while everyone else had been up for hours... Jumped in a rickshaw to the Southern Star hotel and had a good swim to wake myself up. Saw a few people about and had a brief chat with a nice guy in the pool, also from the UK. Went into town, looked for Kannada handbook (the local language here, I feel rude not being able to say 'hello' and 'thankyou') but no luck. And had another argument with an ATM which I lost- then remembered later, and this is important guys- when the screen says 'Touch here' after you've entered your card, if you do just that it'll then go 'Transaction cancelled- Goodbye'- so the trick is to enter your pin, ignore the screen, press 'enter' and then you can take your money out. Its kind of intuitive...
Went to try and register at the Shala but it doesn't open until this afternoon so I've got to get more photos taken and get loadsa rupees together to pay... At a loose end I remmebered a website I'd come across about the 'Mysore Mandala' which is a Yoga Centre which also has a nice cafe and offers various types of healing, bonesetting, astrology etc- the ideal Vicky hangout!!! Its near the old AYRI in Laxmipuram. So I decided to head there and take some Yoga trousers just in case. Its a lovely house with a beautiful garden which I sat in and drank fresh squeezed pineapple juice and finally got talking to some people. An Australian lady, Gia, fresh from an Ashram down South and the very same guy I'd been talking to in the pool that morning, Lawrence from the UK who's a lovely guy, really friendly, attractive and kind. He lives in a nice flat just across the way so I went and hung out there for a bit (literally- he has a comfy orange hammock) and drank green tea. Then I went back to the Mandala and took part in my first Yoga lesson in India- it was an Ashtanga class run by a young man named Harish who was fantastic. So much strength! And eagle eyed, he could spot anyone doing anything not quite kosher from 100 metres or so it seemed. He was swinging big people like pendulums to get them into the wheel, I've never seen anything like it. There was a vibration in the class that felt very different, slower, deeper, a sense of expansion throughout the practice although I slipped in and out of focus. The thing with Ashtanga, is that its like a dance of gratitude, stretching up and aligning yourself with Universal Divine order. Its also possible to get too into the trap of being a performing monkey. Because it is SO MUCH FUN- like being a kid again, doing gymnastics, or being swung from your parents hands. When Harish lifted my feet off the ground whilst I was in Chaturanga Dandasana I nearly laughed out loud and when he stopped I wanted to shout "Again!". The sweat poured off me and by the end off the practice I was sitting cross legged, hyper aware of all the sounds around me, of the land outside, of the little cat wandering through the class, the smells in the air, each molecule of air, everything. And I saw a picture in my head of my body, as a sand sculpture, put together of all these grains, but it'll easily break down again, with time and the elements, and become something else, and thats just the way it works. And I wandered out of the class, sat in the cafe, felt at one with my fruit salad and chocolate brownie and everything and everyone.
Then went back over the road to Lawrence's who was having a birthday party and kindly let me use his bucket shower to freshen up. Had a lovely evening- met some wicked people, a beautiful Australian girl who was a mesmerizing dancer, another girl called Erin who had cake. Learnt about other teachers and things going on in town and was tempted to study at the Mandala for the month instead- but decided to stick to my plan and go to the AYRI- after all I can always come back next year. Ate some great food- litle wicked veggie pastries and peas and just drank water. I love wine usually but don't feel like it here and also, from a safety perspective I don't think it would be clever for a woman alone to wander round Mysore half-cut after dark, best keep my wits about me. I felt different this evening- more comfortable than usual, like an observer, rather than someone who's aware she's being observed- don't know where that shift came from. A handsome Australian/Irish guy called Kieran (built like a brick shithouse as we say in Yorkshire) walked me to a rickshaw when it was getting on for 10 and told the driver to make sure I got home safe, someone was expecting me and then turned the metre on himself so I didn't get ripped off in a very masterful way it must be said- I felt a bit like Scarlett O Hara in the back of a carriage and had to fight the urge to whip out a fan and giggle a bit... We had a bit of a talk earlier and agreed we must be two of the luckiest people on the planet. To be here. In Mysore, studying what we love, and eating cake under a starlit sky...
Slept well last night and up early today. Finally found a decent cup of coffee in Gokulam- at Anus- I'm a little wired now I have to admit. But my digestion doing funky things and a caffeine enema is the order of the day unfortunately. I'm going to persevere with that then do another practice, and register at the Shala later- hours of queing apparently, I'm going to recheck website and make sure I have EVERYTHING i need. Then Kannada handbook, and study study study.....

Posted by victoria8 08:24 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

Coffee! Books!

Day 4...

Woke up in my new place today. It is a beautiful house and the fan above the bed is an absolute godsend, I slept like a baby. Did a good long practice first thing, still a bit sore, but felt great afterwards. I had an early night last night, just reading, after going to see the astrologer and palmist across the way who was pretty good.. He got that I have trouble sleeping and often wake up in the middle of the night craving sugar... true and quite specific... my crazy metabolism waking me up to demand fuel. He also said I should avoid sugar. That I'll live till 86, 2 kids in late '30's early 40's and success in business starting later this year. He was writing stuff down using letters of my name and numbers from my birthday, but I couldn't tell exactly what he was doing. I asked him about Vedic astrology but I don't think he knew what I was on about. Or maybe thats what he was doing automatically. Hmmm. I'll have to find someone to explain it all to me. Still haven't really got talking to anyone so am off to a cafe/healing centre tomorrow that looks interesting. And have emailed some people to find out about lessons in Sanskrit, Ayurveda etc that I can take here.
Went to a bookshop in town called Ashoka bookstall- oh my word, I was in Heaven! Not only LOADS of books on Yoga I've never seen at home, and I picked up a few by Desikachar, Iyengar and Jois to read through, but books on Tantra, Occultism, fiction by Tom Robbins and loads of Philosophy- both Eastern and Western. I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to HAVE to buy books. But rather than lugging them around India, I'll have them packed up and Fed-Exed home the end of this month. Had a wander, went to the Park Lane Hotel for lunch which was just delicious, Paneer masala with vegetable paratha, water and beautiful coffee. And a fantastic menu which starts by warning you that 'indulging in conversations struck up by strangers can lead to dangerous and undesirable consequences'(!!!!!) -why they don't put that on UK pub menus I'll never know- and concluding with useful tips on how to cure a hangover- preventative- not mixing your drinks or brands of drinks- restorative- bread and honey- Jewish- chicken soup- sleep sleep sleep and, oh, apparently a spot of Pranayama works wonders (idea for book- 'Breathe Away Your Hangover', perhaps Doreen Virtue could be persuaded to pose for a cover photo holding a pint of Guinness in one hand and a Lambert and Butler in the other.... Ha!)
Wandered about a bit more, bought some pomengranates, got a zillion rickshaw drivers trying to organize my life for me "Where you go? Why? For how long? Are you alone? Let me introduce you to my aunty!" etc. Sometimes India feels like Ireland on a much larger and more intense scale. Me wanting to wander around on foot, stop and stare at things on my own is just seen as plain odd so I can't be too sensitive about it... It gets tiring though. What I need is a nice male platonic buddy to walk around with so they can direct any questions about me to him.
In Anu's internet cafe now- he told me that just round the corner from here is another bookshop which is run by a guy thats been involved with Pattabhi Jois for over 20 years and has some great stuff and is only open in the afternoons so I'm going to check that out and then see if I can just go sit in the garden and study for the remainder of the day. Enjoy the silence. Listen to the dogs barking, and smell the sweet pastry odour of the air. It is SO comforting to be in the sun and I'm starting to go brown, my skin looks clearer, I've never had less desire for alcohol and I'm feeling pretty good. Trying to remember what rain feels like but it all seems very far away...

Posted by victoria8 15:33 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (1)

Second/third days

New water, New Years.....

sunny 28 °C

I had a beautiful New Years Eve...... I thought I'd be lonely but no, it was lovely.... I sat by the water outside of my room and sipped a most beautiful half bottle of Indian dry white wine, and felt totally at peace. I ordered some room service and had my first ever real Indian food and it was gorgeus, really fresh and healthy tasting, the vegetables were crunchy and the spice perfect. I was exhausted from travel so I ended up curling up in the beautiful comfortable four poster bed and sleeping like a baby.
Woke up on New Years Day feeling full of energy- unrolled my Yoga mat and did a good long practice in front of the view of the water and to the sound of geese...lake.jpg Could really feel that I've been doing too much travel and lugging heavy stuff around though, was stiff as anything, but it turned into a lovely practice, just tuned into the breath and was present throughout. Felt a million times better afterwards and walked out into the sun smiling at everyone... Oh I love the Windflower, everyones so polite and friendly in this old fashioned way and you feel so taken care of. Sometimes these things have to be done- so good for the soul...
I took the walk to the shops at Nazarabad, had the attention/stares all the way again, people in tuktuks driving alongside me sure I would change my mind about walking and jump in. But I like walking! Its a good thing I'm used to having people think I'm weird so it doesn't bother me too much. And it also struck me that I'd rather be noticed than not, theres nothing lonelier than travelling alone and feeling invisible- and thats not something I'm suffering with now!. Then I jumped in a tuktuk and went into central Mysore- admired the beautiful buildings, saw the frankly amazingly prestigious looking Ayurvedic Hospital and decided I must go there at some point, see what I can find to read, maybe get pulse taken etc.. Found where the astrologer Joshi is based- someone else I want to go see. Then I spent a frustrating few hours being unable to use my cashcard in any ATM- gotta call my bank and see whats going on and possibly arrange transfers so I can pick up cash etc, I may even have to go to American Express in Bangalore (oh the irony as I've just stopped working there and used to endlessly take the piss out of all the 'I was stranded abroad and American Express stepped in....' etc posters, serves me right) Had a walk near the base of Chaumundi Hill which is beautiful. Didn't have the energy to walk up it though..
On returning to the Windflower, I suddenly felt keenly the change in water. And the sickness came, again and again. I ordered a load of bottled water from room service and got into a disagreement with the waiter about the amount of change I was due. And ended up bursting into tears which was well embarrassing! And he was really nice to me which just made me cry more. Its hard feeling ill. I cried for ages, pent up tension of travel, I knew it would kick in and I felt very sorry for myself and I got feverish and went to bed at 6pm with loads of water, rehydration salts, wrapped up in a warm cashmere jumper, and was so glad I'd picked a nice hotel to be ill in. So comfortable despite everything. I slept for 5 hours and then when I awoke, the fever seemed to have gone. By this morning I felt great- detoxed in fact- well, every bit of fluid had left my body. Drank a coupla litres of water, went for a swim, packed, paid, got a taxi to Gokulam.
So here I am near the AYRI, world famous Pattabhi Jois place- I was lucky enought to get a room in a lovely family house near the shala. Theres pictures of Jesus aplenty and I was told NO male visitors whatsoever. It all feels a little Victorian. Actually I like it that way, I feel safe and can just get on with my own stuff. I'm writing this from an internet cafe up the road, eating an ice cold banana curd smoothie that'll be easy on my tummy. The sun is shining and its beautiful and warm- just being in the sun again is amazing. I can see and hear dreadlocked people with American accents and thers a few people wandering around with Yoga mats so I'll start meeting people soon I guess. Actually have seen someone who was in a dream I had this morning so thats interesting... Had my first ride on the back of a motorbike today which was lots of fun! The traffic here is fast and loud, but it feels very safe, everyone honks to let you know they are approaching in manner of Hyacinth's husband in 'Keeping up Appearances' I had no fear whatsoever. Going for a wander now, a little more Yoga, a call to my bank and must find a supermarket for some more water, and not get too much more sun as I'm going pink already...

Posted by victoria8 13:40 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

first day in India......

cows and taxis

sunny 28 °C

4poster.jpgWell, I set off from Brighton yesterday at 8am in the morning and got plane from Heathrow at 2pm in the afternoon. What a horrific experience- what was supposed to be a 10 hour direct trip turned into 14 hours with a 2 hour stop in Chennai due to bad fogs and we had to wait for the sun to come up... Added to that I had a guy wedged in next to me, a guy in front leaning his seat so far back he was practically sitting on my knee and American kids to listen to. Plus loads of turbulence, and despite only being 5ft 3 inches tall, no leg room whatsoever........ Finally got into Bangalore, the driver I was supposed to meet was not there and I was KNACKERED, dehydrated, emotional etc. Got a different car from the airport, however, airport ATM didn't work so tried to get driver to take me to another, but this was all too much. So we got to Mysore 3 hours later, me, sweaty, tired, starting to feel ill, him, fresh as a daisy having stopped for water breaks himself, a couple of cigarettes, a piss by the side of the road etc but I had no currency to get any. Then he got talking to some guy in Mysore and they brightly suggested together that perhaps it would be nice for me to go shopping!!!! I laughed out loud! I mean obviously, 14 hours of jetlag would not normally put me off looking at shoes but it was all too much.... Anyway finally got to the hotel.Tipped the driver in euros...... The Windflower.... naturally, to go with the theme of the day my booking had been lost..... But I downloaded a copy of it from Expedia and oh my goodness I have the most beautiful room in the world, with a raised double bed four poster and an outside shower which is just decadent. White wine, chocolate and diet coke the only things in fridge, as if they were expecting only me, a list of reasonably priced vegetarian delicacies on the side too, a wooden verandah with a table looking out onto the lake at the back and the sound of birdsong everywhere- also, check out the picture of the OUTSIDE SHOWER surrounded by blossomoutside_shower.jpg..... Had a long long shower and massaged minty lotion into my poor aching ankles, did a few press ups and a coupla sunnys and decided to go for a walk... The Windflower is in the Nazarabad district of Mysore, there is a big nature reserve here and it is stunning. I walked the 3 miles or so to the shops from the hotel, there are cows EVERYWHERE, some people have them on leashes but most of them seem quite autonomous and happy to just amble past you. And some of them are beautiful doe-eyed creatures... The air is warm and fresh... I strode along the roadside in a long skirt, t-shirt and sunnies, and got a few cat calls, mind you my pallour is quite outstanding at the moment. But actually though, I felt safe, if you don't respond or make eye contact they don't push it. I just revelled in the new atmosphere, the colours, the animals, the really quite incredible fruit I bought, the sharpest, most cherry- like red grapes, a beautiful small watermelon etc. Felt a little tired though and needed the loo but couldn't find a cafe or anything. So I got a tuktuk back to the hotel, the driver was very pretty and he recommended Chamundi Hill for a New Years walk tomorrow. Have to also sort accomodation for the rest of the month as only here in Windflower for 2 nights, is a little extravagant but I had to do this! Its important to live out the Princess fantasy once in a while.... I'm going to sit by the lake and have a glass of dry white wine this evening, I am going to be quiet and I'm going to be present, and finish 2007 in peace and start 2008 in peace too and then I'm going to sleep very well... Have been up for over 24 hours now....

Posted by victoria8 03:34 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

Planning the trip.....

Preparing for the journey

Last day at work today. Last day sitting in a Customer Services centre surrounded by seasonal paraphenelia and reflecting on just how much life has changed over the past few weeks and months and where I'll be a week today. Mysore. The home of Ashtanga Yoga and I've read a million mixed reviews and maybe there's a part of me thats just going to stare, to suss out whether they are all ex Catholics bent on another extreme version of the mortification of the flesh, or whether, as I suspect, there's a way of approaching the practice like a dance, of channelling, rather than attacking. I know that when I've been through hard times Ashtanga has proved a most excellent way for me to get a sense of 'burning away' the negativity and the ensuing toxins created by that good old fight or flight response, when your nerves are shot to pieces. Now things are better I'm curious about what effect a more intense daily practice is going to have. Especially with a long term fascination with Magic and Occultism I wonder if I'll get a glimse, in just over 3 months of the magic in Yoga if thats all I'm doing. What a privilege to have the oppurtunity to try! Reading Crowley, Wasserman, Dona Holleman and Patanjali's Sutras in prep... 6 days today I leave, and I've never really travelled before.....

Posted by victoria8 05:59 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

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