Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Teacher

It has been a few days since I have blogged. Partly because I have been sick and the other part because no one would want to read about me lying around reading my book. I spent all of yesterday (except for practice and conference with Sharath) sleeping and resting in bed. I have been downing mass quantities of water in hopes that I can flush my body of whatever is holding it hostage. Today I feel on my way to better. At conference Sharath talked about practicing when we dont want to. I felt like he was talking right to me. Back home, I probably would have stayed in bed on Sunday morning and not practiced. However, while it was not pleasant, it was not as tragic a practice as I thought it would have been. I hope I can take this new resurgence in dedication back home with me to Philly.

Practice was surprising today. Yesterday, I about near had to drag myself on to my mat, and I was a bit concerned that today would be as difficult. However, it went swimmingly. I felt well rested, had a good spot with lots of room, and was reminded about how much the breath can tell you about your practice. Last week I was given Krounchasana. I practiced through Krounchasana (which is a lot more open after practicing primary series) and prepared for back bending. I did my three urdvha dhanurasanas and came to Sharath's face. "You do krounchasana?" I replied yes and asked if he wanted to see. He looked at me and said "No. I believe you. Wednesday you do Salabasana and Bhekasana. Both." And that was that. I did three half drop backs and then grabbed my calves. No big deal:)

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a teacher and am sure have exhausted Trice's ears with chatter about it. More specifically what it means for me to call someone "my teacher." In the dictionary is states: a teacher is someone who teaches or instructs. Now, forget the fact that you are not supposed to use the word in the definition, but I do not think that this does any justice to the profession of teaching or that it gives any idea of what it truly means to be a teacher. Uneasy as it makes me feel to say this out loud, I feel a bit lost when it comes to identifying someone as my yoga teacher. I place teachers in very high regard (especially because my mother was one...and still is in essence) and really set the bar high. I really love the student teacher relationship and the dance that exists between them. I thrive well as a student and really embrace that role. Sharath definitely meets that bar and then soars above it. I trust him to guide my practice. My body trusts him (I know this because my body responds, not in tension, but in acceptance). I trust what he tells me. This would be all fine and dandy if I lived here in India and could practice with him always, but this is not the case. I will leave Mysore in 2 weeks, and in another 2 weeks I will be home. Sharath will always be my teacher, but I deeply desire this connection back home. This new revelation makes me a bit uneasy and I am not sure that this blog even articulates my thought process. Maybe I should be keeping this all to myself and just plug along on my path, but it feels better to write it down. I used to feel connected to a teacher during my first year or so, but times change and so does the world around us. I have to admit to myself that I am looking for someone to call "My Teacher."

On Saturday we went to the Metropol, which is a fancy hotel, for lunch. The hotel is like something out of a movie. It is very reminiscent of British colonialism. I felt like I was in the movie "Lawrence of Arabia." We ate and chatted and just enjoyed. The pictures above are from out trip.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In My Past Life....

I have not blogged in a few days because our days have been a little lazy and uneventful. It has been a nice little pause from all the chaos and allowing my reserves to refill.

Yesterday Trice and I went to past life regression therapy. Now, for those of you who have never heard of this (as I had not until Trice brought me into the loop), it is a practice that allows you to see/address/view your past lives. You come with an issue that you are working on in this life and, hopefully, you go to the past life that is influencing that issue or a past life where you were able to resolve that issue. I was skeptical and a bit nervous. What if, in a past life, I was an ax murder? a wife abuser? a republican?!

And so, I went for my session. Without giving all the nitty-gritty of it and boring you, I will jump to the interesting part. My issue you ask? Anxiety. Never feeling good enough. Fear. This was my "issue" for the day. And so I entered into a past life and this is what I saw. My name was Cynthia, Cindy for short. At the age of 3 I saw my mother fall from a step stool in the kitchen, hit her head on the counter, and die immediately. As a child I was a bit plump and enjoyed sweets, which is what had brought me into the kitchen where I saw my mother's death. Taken in by an older neighbor woman, I grew up to be very obese (think the movie "Shallow Hal" as a size reference) who was lonely. I had no friends because I felt I was not good enough and I lived my life in solitude. I worked in a bookstore and never dated. At the age of 56, I died of a heart attack alone in my bedroom. I had so many feelings of fear, loneliness, and inadequacy that it was palpable. I know this sounds very depressing and very sad, but Kumar (the past life therapist) then asked the self in the past life what I would tell the me of now. I said "Be happy. Just let it go."

I am not sure what effect, if any, this session will have on me, but the experience that I had was profound. The true and tangible emotions that come of this cannot be denied. I can see the connections that past life could potentially have on this life. I want to believe that I was able to let something go. I have signed up for one more session, and if anything, it was a great experience. I mentioned this to Mark in an email the other day and instead of scoffing at it he said "It makes sense." At least I am not totally off my rocker:)

I spend the afternoon with Jill-ji today. A nice little slice of home here in India. We went to the bookstore, then to FabIndia, and then to lunch. We gabbed, we laughed, we just enjoyed. It was lovely.

Pictures: a Pug puppy in a laundry basket taking a nap in style; Trice with the monkey that ate my banana

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A New Pose

Yesterday's practice was slow, heavy, and tight. After climbing all those stairs, I think my hips and calves went on strike. And so, yesterday we just relaxed for the afternoon. I got the chance to finish the book I was reading, which was bitter sweet. It was one of those books that you want to get to the ending, but it is so good you dont want it to end. Two thumbs up. I treated myself to the smallest, little, miniature scoop of ice cream and it was good. I have tried to have a few little treats, and all have come up very short. Moisture is a bit lacking in baked goods. But the ice cream was yummy, and even had a little chunk of brownie in it. Hit the spot.

We figured out how to watch some movies online, which is a nice reprieve to all the mental motion that goes on while trying to acclimate to India. We turned off all the lights, drew the curtains, and snuggled down for a little mindless enjoyment.

When the alarm went off this morning I was actually a little sluggish, even though compared to led start time, our mysore time is like sleeping in. I dragged myself out of bed and we headed out. The mornings seem to been a bit cooler the past few days and the quiet walk to the shala is really nice. The vestibule filled up quickly and I was happy we got there on the earlier side (Trice calls me the slave driver about getting out of the apartment no later than 6:15). When I heard "one more" I grabbed my mat and headed into the practice room. Today I had focus. I felt relaxed. I felt soft. I like it when I can find this space. I proceeded to move through the fundamentals, when Sharath stood over me and said "You take Pasasana. Only Pasasana." I nodded in recognition, tried not to giggle, but smiled a little inside at the same time. It is a great privilege to be given the first post in second series. My deep respect for this practice makes me keenly aware of the importance and significance of this. And for this I am thankful. Pasasana. I forget how deep and open the post can be after the entire primary series practice.

We bought some homemade peanut butter and bread this morning outside the shala. We are very excited about this. The peanut butter in stores is very expensive and the kind that has all sorts of fake stuff in it, like Jiffy back home. The homemade stuff is incredible. And who knew baked bread could make two girls so excited!

Pictures: What we have noticed from driving around southern India is that the practice of digging up HUGE trees and their roots is very common. On out way to dinner we always pass this enormous root. Trice got under and pretended to carry it. So silly. Although, with the way her muscles are growing she maybe could carry it away:) The monkeys here are everywhere and have no boundaries when it comes to personal space. I posted one picture of a rather large an in charge monkey just chillin'. Tomorrow I will post the picture of Trice and the monkey that ate my banana. I have also posted a picture of my puppies. I miss them and am constantly reminded of them by the dogs here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Way Better Than A Stairmaster

Today is our rest day from practice, so we headed off to Chamundi Temple here in Mysore. The temple is at the top of a huge hill and to reach it you must climb over 1000 steps (although, when we got to the top we realized there is a slacker route via a road straight to the top). We arrived at the bottom of the steps and headed upwards. The steps were many, uneven, and quite steep. As you are walking up we noticed the little red and yellow smudges on the fronts of each step. This is for the most devout of people, as they reach down and touch each and every step. Trying not to pass out was devotion enough for us. When we reached the top, a bit sweaty, but thankful that we decided to make the trek in the morning before the sun became brutal, we were greeted by a beautiful and intricate temple. Now forgive me if I am inaccurate, but from my research the temple is to the goddess Durga. She is a fierce goddess that helps you in time of great need and desperate situations. She is the "one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress". She manifests as fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor. She is often pictured riding a lion. I like here and for some reason she resonates with me.

Durga is deep inside the temple and you actually cannot get close to her statue. Everyone leaves money and offerings of flowers or coconuts to her, then places their hands over the small fire at the entrance and places their hands over their face. Thankfully, an older woman showed us what to do and we too gave our respects. Outside the temple we were given red and yellow string that was wrapped around out right wrists. From what I found out, it is given for protection when you have gone to make an offering to a god/goddess.

We stayed a while and looked around. While we were there the king of Mysore apparently entered into the temple, which seemed to be a big deal. Based off of the fact that he had a procession of cars and was riding in a BMW, I would think this is an accurate statement. We stopped for a moment to have a coconut and rest before heading back down, and this is when we were introduced to the father upfront and greedy monkeys. As Trice finished up her coconut, the monkey sat patiently waiting for her to fork it over. When she was done, the monkey grab it, straw and all and took off. I had a banana in my pocket and began to peel it so I could enjoy its contents when another monkey came scurrying over and grab it out of my hand. It was all in great humor. You snooze, you lose.

Now, we thought the trip up was a feat, but the trip down was just as taxing. Unlike the Indians that seem to just spring down, we we moving slow and with great caution so as not to take a tumble down. By the time we reached the bottom our legs were shaking. Quite the experience!

I was going to post yesterday about the dogs here in India, but after writing it all out I decided not to share it. I will leave it at this...I am deeply saddened by how many dogs live here and my heartstrings are tugged on a regular basis. Dont worry Mark, I will not be bringing any puppies home:)

Led practice tomorrow at 4:30am. We are heading off to the palace in Mysore tomorrow evening. Should be fun and produce some good pictures.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"And All the Over-Achievers See This As A Gift!"

"And all the over-achievers see this as a gift!" was Trice's reaction to this morning's news. While moving through the seated postures this morning at practice, Sharath ambled over to the woman next to me to adjust her in a pose. Trying to stay focused and remain calm, I jumped through to sit hoping I wouldn't smack him in the butt with my foot. Coming to sit and situating myself in marichasana C, he turned to me and said "You come tomorrow 4:30...and Sunday." "4:30?" I managed to squeak out. "Yes. 4:30. You and your friend. Come." And that was that. He had changed our start time for led class. I finished my practice. Grabbed my ankles during back bends and then picked up my mat and headed to the locker room for closing. Trice was already moving through her closing practice, and I could tell that Sharath had not graced her with the news yet. I thought to myself....I should let her enjoy savasana first before I break the new to her. We finished up, changed clothes and headed out. Silence is maintained in the shala, so I would have to wait till we were outside to tell her. As we reached the door, we turned to bow our heads to Sharath. I stepped out first with Trice behind me. She paused in response to his voice and I knew he had dropped the bomb. She walked out and turned to me with her eyes WIDE open and mouthed "4:30!." I just smiled.

Pictures: an add for a loan (I thought this funny since at the age of 22 the idea of marriage gave me hives), me hanging out in the room

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Winter Hats, Honking Horns, and Nan

From what I hear from family and friends, the weather back home is cold. Now, when I reflect on what "cold" means to me, I picture below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, with a windchill of -5 and maybe even snow. The weather here, in comparison, is warm, but as Trice and I are starting to realize...warm and cold are completely relative. When we leave our apartment at 6:15am to walk to the shala, the temperature is probably around 65-70 degrees. We comment on how nice it is as we walk in our yoga pants and tops, and maybe a scarf around our necks. Indians attire on the other hand is drastically different. The man in the security booth that we pass every morning as we leave is always wearing a wool had, winter scarf wrapped around his face, and a heavy jacket. He sits there, huddled away as though there were a blizzard outside and he is protecting himself from frostbite. The rest of the people we encounter, from young to old, seem to find the weather here to be cold. Wool hats are common and jackets are not out of the ordinary. So as Trice and I sludge our way through the hot sun, sweat dripping down our backs as we climb the hill to our abode, we cannot help but laugh at all the bundled up Indians with desire that we too could feel cold.

Both Trice and I are very aware of what NYC driving is like. We are used to horns honking, people passing, and fast driving. India dwarfs NYC. I have never heard so much horn tooting. Drivers constantly honk. Honk to go through an intersection (I have yet to see a stop sign). Hong to pass people (which happens constantly). Honk to tell people...get the f*%k out of the way or I will run you over with my rickshaw. Now, they dont honk once. They honk multiple times and even when there is no possible way that you are not aware of their presence they honk a few more times for merit. It is very fascinating. I, however (Trice has much more patience for this practice), am over the honking. I know you are coming. I know you will squish me like a bug if I dont dive off the road and into the bushes. I can see your car coming. The New Yorker in me has been trying to get out. As the honking begins, I can feel the bird itching to come out of its cage and fly through the air. I want more than anything to "flip 'um the bird" but I have resisted. I have pacified the bird for the time being, but I cannot promise anything:)

We had another cooking class today. It went well. We learned a few northern Indian dishes, which are my favorite. Not only did we get to do some tasty dishes, but I got to learn how to make NAN! I am very excited about this. I think I could live off it has no ghee, no butter, no oil and is not spicy which all adds up to a settled stomach. Now you ask, what is in nan? I bet you would have never guessed what goes into a piece of nan. The two main ingredients are white flour and YOGURT! Yes, plain yogurt. Never in a million years would I have said yogurt was a main component of nan. Well, now that I know, everyone back home start preparing for a little nan when I get back.

Practice has been good this week. The instruction is minimal, which I should have expected since there are about 60 people at one time in the shala. I have yet to be adjusted in anything but back bending, which is a mildly uncomfortable adjustment as Sharath makes me grab my ankles, but I am accepting of this. I know that I will learn, even if it comes more from myself and less from Sharath. Many people back home have asked if he has given me any second series' poses and the answer is no. The tradition is that you must be there a month before he will even think of starting someone on second. I am quite content with this, as I feel no pressure and get to just do my practice. I enjoy primary series and the softness of it for me allows me to really focus on the breath. I am waiting to the lessons that I will learn and the knowledge or clarity to present itself. "Do your practice. All is coming."

Pictures: Trice making nan, the potato chip making man making FRESH potato chips! yummy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Seed Chewer

I apologize ahead of time, but this entry has no silly rats or naked massages. It is a slow day, with lots of down time. Which for me always equals thinking, and in this case "seed chewing". I first heard my cousin use this term and was immediately draw to it because this is what I do. I take a thought and I chew, and chew, and chew. I roll it around in my head and chew. Never really getting anywhere, just causing more anxiety and tension. The seed chewing just continues to feed on itself. This is how I have spent my morning.

I am constantly reminded at how much I thrive on consistency and routine. I find comfort and easy is sameness. I am sure this is why I am draw to the tradition of Ashtanga. The repetition in practice, the steadiness in the flow, and most of all the same faces coming to the mat every morning. Being grounded, having a foundation, this I like.

I know this about myself. I have accepted the astrological influence of Cancer in my life. I have even grown to value this about myself. I do however, acknowledge the very obvious drawbacks to this mentality. Change is not my friend. Change is very uncomfortable. Change hurts and shakes me to my core.

I have been struggling with this on many fronts since arriving to India. At home, practice is surrounded by familiar face, familiar practices, familiar laughs. Here, at the shala, I know only two people. Everyone seems very intense and this change in energy has thrown me off a bit. I keep creating this serious in my head where everyone is judging me and each other. Total seed chewing moment. Totally self created.

Back home I grow fearful that the world I have know over the past few years is drastically changing. I am no longer a student (in the very formal sense), my best friend is moving away, my yoga home is changing, and I have no idea where I will be in 3 months. I am terrified. The seed has been planted and I am trying not to chew, but habit is strong. I feel a bit without a foundation. I feel my roots slipping from beneath the earth. I feel lost.

A friend mentioned to me the other day that I rarely post pictures of myself on my blog, so today, since I have taken no pictures yet, I will post some of me that Trice has taken.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Clutching My Mini Red MagLite

Let me start the blog by saying that we had a wonderful trip during our two days off. With that having been said, I shall tell my story.

Let me just jump to the interesting part (for those readers who only ready the funny parts) and then I will quickly recap all the beauty of our travels. Having to improvise a little, due to the fact that the phone number in our travel book was wrong and so we had no reservations, we found a very small "resort" hidden away in a coffee plantation. There were only three rooms, two single rooms and a family cottage. The single rooms were already taken by other travelers and so Trice and I got this rather large family cottage, equip with a porch, 2 bathrooms, three beds, and a lofted area. Big, but oh well. After hiking around the plantation for a few hours, sitting by the fire in our room, and eating dinner by candle (the electricity was out...very common here in India), we headed to bed. It was early, maybe 9:00, but because there was no light, there was nothing else to do but sleep. Now begins the story...

I have to say that I headed to bed with some hesitancy. I like nature, but do not like to experience it where I am sleeping/eating/living. I quickly noticed that the roof and the walls did not meet...a perfect little place for creatures to crawl on in. Plus, just the area we were in was bound to invite nature into our cottage. I closed my eyes, deep breathing, pretended there were no bugs, and amazingly fell asleep. At around 10:45, I was startled awake by light pressure on my blanket. I quickly kicked my leg and repeated in a mantra fashion that there was nothing there. I continued this monologue in my head for about 2 minutes until I just could not shake the feeling that something was in bed with me. I sprung up, grab my mini maglite and flug the blanket off me. Nothing. Just me. Just them Trice screamed and jumped up, asking me if my foot touched her. I said no, and with the speed of light she jumped out of bed (the feet of our beds were attached). I shown my light over towards her and just then we both saw a big, gray RAT scurry over our beds and down onto the floor. It hustled across the room, around the trash can and then up the stairs to the lofted area. I wish I could express our frenzy as we stood on top of my bed and screamed. Trice tried to encourage me to go get him while she opened the door to try to get him out....nope...not going near the rat. The rat (we have since named him Raoul) then raced down and back up into the loft. With no sign of him, we climbed back into my bed...the two of us shoved into one twin size bed. I clutched my mini red maglite to my chest all night long with very little sleep to speak of. I dont think I have ever been so happy for 6am to come.

Other than that our trip was wonderful. We stopped to see the Golden Temple at the Tibetan refuge on the way to where we stayed (pictures above). The morning following the rat incident we went for a 4 hour (8mile) long hike through the coffee plantations and up into the hillsides. We climbed to the top of one such "hill" where the wind was blowing so strongly that you could almost lean into it and not fall. It was beautiful. Everything was so quite and peaceful. At night time, between the elevation where we were and the darkness of the countryside, we could see so many stars. Trice said it reminded her of Montana on the coldest of nights. I have begun to get used to the large amount of trash that fills the city ground where we are doing yoga, but where we were was completely clean. No litter or garbage, just nature. Quite the contrast.

Practice started back up again today. Led Primary. For some reason I was dragging when I got up this morning, no wanting to practice, but it was juicy. I felt light and well rested. Not dreading Uplutihi quite as much...which says a lot.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rest for the Weary

Led primary was how I greeted my day this morning. Being that tomorrow is the designated moonday, traditional Thursday mysore practice was switched to led primary which usually inhabits Friday mornings. For anyone that practices Ashtanga, you know that this is a blessing. Two days off from practice in a row! The small pleasures in life. Even though I have a fairly consistent practice, this first week at the shala has left my energy low, my body a tad sore, and my stomach a bit on the fritz.

As much as I love Indian food, I have to say I am unsure as to my stomach's perspective on the situation. Embarrassing as it is to admit, I actually thought about Ramen noodles today. You know, those negative nutritional value, high sodium, blocks of noodles that you secretively eat but swear out loud were what you ate back in college when you were a poor student. Yes, those noodles. I am not sure what brought them to mind. In the current state of my digestive system, they seem appealing. How very unfortunate. And as I reflect for a moment, this all may be TMI (too much information).

Led class today was hot. Just when I think it is not possible for me to sweat anymore, I find myself with a miniature waterfall off the tip of my nose. I have to smile a bit when I think back because this must be what it is like for half of the men that I practice with back home. Much love for the sweat. I managed to get stuck on what I can only describe as the meeting point for all the rugs in the practice room. In the shala there is tile floors and so enormous, thin rugs are placed down so that almost the entire floor is covered. For the most part this poses no problem, except in this one spot. It is like laying your mat over chewed up asphalt...maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. I thought this would consume my entire practice, and so I was shocked when class ended and I realized I hardly thought about it. This, I think, may be progress in taming my obsessive compulsive nature. It could also be that my mind was so focused on the 6! Navasanas, followed by an exceptionally long Chaturanga, capped off with the longest counted Uplutihi ever (in which Sharath stood right in front of my cheating possible).

This first week of practice has left me a little shell shocked. One of my beloved teachers always talks about "the point." I am not sure what the point is. What am I expecting from all this? Why am I here? What is the point of it all?

Tomorrow we are off to a Tibetan refuge for the night. Hopefully to return with lots of good pictures and interesting stories.

Pictures: Trice drinking her coconut after practice, another decorated cow, and a man ironing clothes in the street. Only in India!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Not Exactly Like Back Home

On every trip Trice and I have taken abroad, we have gotten massages. Thailand had the best ones to date and were all about working the muscles and joints. Staying in line with tradition we decided to try an Ayurveda massage. Neither one of us knew exactly what to expect, but we just assumed it was like any other massage we have had. Nope. That would be the mistake of the century. Here is how it went.

I went into the room, escorted by two women, and was told to completely undress, underwear included. Red flag number one. The one young woman preceded to tie a small string around my waist and then took a piece of cloth between my legs and secured it with the string. Lying down on the table, for the most part completely naked except for my small shroud, with no sheets in sight. None to cover the bed and none to cover me. Red flag number two. Now, I have been through midwifery school and am not shy or modest, but this was a whole new level of exposure. I closed my eyes and tried to relax. The massage began with a pouring of oil, about the amount in a liter of soda, all over me. I was completely drenched in oil. Then, both women began to vigerously rub. Now for those of you who have never had the experience of a massage in the states, the chest/torso/butt area is usually off limits. Not so much here. All areas were game. This continued for about 30 minutes, with me flipping from from front to back like a little greasy fish. Once that was completed, the finale consisted of being placed in a steam box, where only my head poked out from the top.

This was an experience. Maybe not exactly the one I was looking for, but I am chalking it up to being a medicinal massage with lots of healing properties. That is my best attempted to see the rainbow:)

We took cooking classes today. I am so excited to possibly finally be able to cook something Indian. The food was so tasty and the woman was a joy to learn from. I have posed some pictures of the food that was made.

There is a festival going on this week that celebrates the harvest. In celebration the people paint the cows because they are part of harvesting the fields. I have posted a picture of a very pretty cow with her horns painted green.

I have been noticing that I have been posting far more about non-yoga things. I am not sure why this is. The yoga is why I came here and yet I have shared more about the culture and the "goings-on" than anything. I think I am still absorbing a lot about the yoga. The practice seems so personal at times, a process, that to blog about it would make very little sense to a reader. I am sure that time will reveal more and something worth sharing.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chanel #5

Yesterday Trice and I went to the market in the center of town. I wish that I had take a picture to better describe the craziness of an Indian market. I will have to return and snap a few photos. Most of the market, it seemed, consisted of food, bangle bracelets, and vibrant colored sand (at least I think that is what it is). Are we were ambling around Trice happened upon an oil stand. Run by an older gentleman and his grandson, they quickly shuttled Trice and I behind the stand to show us how they roll incense. I was completely take away by his hospitality and desire to swoon us with his oils. After the incense demonstration he intoxicated us with his scented oils. He brought out each crystal bottle, had us close our eyes, and sniff. Ahh. He even had Chanel #5 scent.

As we were nearing the end, and he was bottling up the fragrances that we had purchased (let me tell you he is the best salesman I have ever encountered) he shared with us a little tip on how to use the oil. He took a very small piece of cotton and placed one drop of the oil onto it. As he is explaining how we can use this trick when we are going out to a party to make everyone think we are just smelling divine, he places this little piece of cotton in his ear! He says "you just tuck it right in and no one will know how you smell so wonderful." Now, this is not the funny part. Then he says, after smelling so nice all night long, when you get home you just remove the cotton and squeeze the oil back into the bottle. No waste! I believe Trice and I have just reached a new level of frugal.

I left his booth covered in Hugo Boss on one arm, Georgio Armani on there other, pink lotus on my wrists, and frankincense all over my arms. I am sure that I was a walking odor ball. I could smell myself and it was not pretty. Thank goodness for Dr. Brummers...does laundry and gets off body oil.

Practice went well today. I am still learning all the "goings-on" of the shala. It was very warm today and the sweat was literally dripping off my face. It brought back memories of practicing in the summer at Y2. Sharath came over for my drop backs again, but this time there was no pretending that I couldnt reach my ankles. He grab my hands and placed them on my ankles, and then made me shimmy up a little towards my knees. I am interested in how this is going to continue over the next few weeks. In the past this posture has brought me a lot of pain, but I have been toiling with whether the pain stems from emotions or actual physical limitations.

I have posed a few pictures: Trice rolling incense and some photos of the area. The big gray building is the shala. The white and red building is where our apartment is.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Laundry Day

We have been here for 3 days, 2 of which have been practice days. As we are traveling on the light side, with minimal luggage, we each only have three days worth of practice clothing. I have volunteered myself for the washing of the laundry duties, as Trice has so nicely brought the computer and I think it only fair. Now, let me state that I hate doing laundry at home...where all that it entails is carrying the clothes down the stairs, placing them in the washer, adding soap, and pressing start. Well, it takes a lot more effort here to do laundry. I have a whole new perspective on the situation. After practice we had a relaxing breakfast and headed home to do the laundry. I cant say that I have any expertise in doing laundry in a bucket. So, I threw all the clothes in the bucket, added water, added Doctor Brummer's soap, and mushed the clothes around. Unsure if this would actually clean the clothes I removed each article of clothing, added more soap and squished some more. I placed everything back in the bucket for a little more mushing and then rinse. This was all fine and dandy, but trying to get all the water out of the clothes in order to hang them was not the highlight of my day. I do not recommend anyone getting rid of their washer anytime soon. This is not a practice I will continue upon returning to the states:)

Practice was mysore style today. I was nervous as Trice and I sat outside the shala practice room, waiting. This is how it works. You wait until Sharath says "one more!" and then you very quickly haul ass into the room, place your mat down so you dont lose the space, run to the locker room, drop your back, and haul ass back to your mat. Much of my anxiety is relieved now that I know the morning drill. Practice and lovely. I relaxed into the flow of primary series. I am quite content with doing primary series and an greatly enjoying my breath throughout the practice. I did my back bends at the end, and waited for Sharath to come over for drop backs. In my head all I heard was dont grab my ankles on the first day, and so, I came close but did not force it. I feel like the first week is a bit like dipping my toes, then feet, then legs into the water. By next week, I think I will be completely submerged into the practice, the shala, the routine of it all.


Today is my first blog from India. While I have been here for 2 days, the lack of an electrical adapter created a situation where only quick and limited computer use was available, with Trice (my cousin) and I alternating 5 minute time slots.

We arrived in India at 2am on Saturday and began our journey with a 3 hour car ride to Mysore. What you ask did I observe from that car ride? Just this:
1. Yes, there are speed bumps randomly planted through the highway...yes, I said highway
2. There are no rules of the road. They are merely suggestions that you can choose to follow when it seems necessary.
3. Cows do not move when you honk at them, which in the end requires a quick swerve to the side to avoid crashing into its back-side
4. Flashing your headlights and honking = I am going to try to pass a huge truck, where there really is no room, and hopefully the other driver will move out of the way.

We arrived, thankfully in one piece, to quite a nice room. In comparison to all past traveling ventures, I would say that we are resting our heads in the lap of luxury. The bucket shower adds to the experience. The town is quite beautiful. It is considered a suburb of Mysore and seems to be on the more affluent side. The architecture of the homes is pretty extraordinary, and I imagine to be grand to live in. I will have to take some pictures and post them.

Registering at the shala was the first order of business. This is quite the process. As the shala is on the more expensive side, especially for India, this entailed that we go to the ATM where we preceded to take out 4000 rupees, in 100 rupee bills, multiple times. Let me paint the picture:
a. Place card in ATM
b. Get huge wad of cash
c. Stuff huge wad of cash into bag
d. Repeat 5 more times
It was quite the scene I am sure. The above picture is Trice counting out all the money to pay the shala...we felt a little rich, even if just for a moment.

We had our first practice today. It was led primary with a very steady and traditional count...just my style:) I was nervous. I was scared. I was excited. It was powerful to take that first practice in the home of Ashtanga. I am still a bit apprehensive and unsure of myself, but I am hoping that will fade over the next few weeks.

I have been thinking a lot about my practice and trying to make connections to why certain things come up on my mat (and even why other things dont come up on my mat). Aches, pains, emotions. I am hoping this experience helps me get a bit more clarity and uncover more of what is going on. In the few weeks leading up to this trip I have had a slight aversion to practice. I am not sure of why or where it is coming from, but it felt really nice to step back on the mat this morning. Maybe this is just the ebb and flow of yoga in one's life.

The other posted picture is Trice feeding the cow her leftover watermelon. The new solution to edible trash.