Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Practice of the Self

It is my last week of practice in Mysore. I am both sad and joyous. For some reason today I am in a bit of a funk. Not sure why and cannot pinpoint the origin. I guess everyone has a bad day.

Practice was good. Strong. Steady. I caught my calves in dropbacks and stood on my own for the whole 5 breaths. This is something I never imagined possible.

There is a lot that I never imagined possible that has happened on this trip. Unfortunately, I dont think that it would all translate in a blog. I have had numerous "ah-ha" moments and really grown in both my practice and in my spirit. I have done a lot of deep exploration of my body and my mind. It is because of this that I am excited about returning home in 2 weeks. I am constantly questioning myself and challenging myself to stay rooted in what I have learned here. I am aware of the difficulty of transplanting information and knowledge from one environment into another environment, but am ready to take on the task.

I was discussing self-practice with a friend today, and in thinking about it all now, these are my thoughts in a much more broad interpretation. In the end it is you and only you. There will be teachers, friends, community, but ultimately you determine your path, your progress, your destination. It is not how others see you, but how you see yourself, connect with that self, and accept that self. Ultimately, that is what matters and that is where happiness is cultivated. From within.

Here in Mysore, in the shala, I feel very connected with the notion of self-practice. Even though there are many practicing at once, and the shala is filled from wall to wall, there is a level of individuality, singularity, and independence. For the most part, you are left to your self to "figure" things out and amazingly...you do. In many ways I think a better term would be "a practice of the self." Just as other realizations that I have had here, I am not sure that feeling is measurable or describable.

Trice and I went to the palace the other night. It is completely lit up for 1 hour on Sundays. It was beautiful and more than we ever expected. The day before we spend the afternoon wondering around the market.

I promise to stop being such a slacker and make sure to blog these last few days. I am unsure what the last 2 weeks of travel with hold with regards to internet access, but I will try to post at least some pictures.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Smacking into Sharath

Yes. I smacked into Sharath during practice today! It is not as tragic as it sounds, and was actually a little funny. I will have to thank David G. for this one:) I have adopted the practice of jumping into the foundational poses, instead of just stepping back into them. Well. This morning I had the lovely privileged to be smack (hehe) dab in the middle of the room. I was all "feeling the energy" and really into my practice this morning...you know, one of those 100% focused moments that are so rare. I about to move into utthita parsvakonasana (extended side angle). I prep. Bend my knees. Bring my arms together. And JUMP! SMACK! My right hand slammed into Sharath's left shoulder. I immediately apologized. He just laughed at me and said something that I totally missed because I was so mortified. He seemed to find the whole event quite humorous. That's what I get for being so focused:)

I thought I would post something a bit on the lighter side today. Here is a short list of interesting things that happened to me today while floating around India:

1. Tiger balm is super super super cheap here. I spent 20 rupees on one bottle. That is like 50 cents!

2. Prescription strength ibuprofen is over the counter. Yes, I got 600mg tabs with no prescription, and it only cost about 30 rupees. And they are bright pink! I can only imagine that if you werent a health care provider or didnt have any idea about how many milligrams were in certain medications, that one could get into some serious trouble at the pharmacy. (see picture above)

3. Contact solution can also be purchased at the pharmacy only and, unlike in the US where a bottle cost me $8, here it is a whopping 100 rupees.

4. Who knew that Roald Dahl, the author of all the famous children's books, is also the author of scary short stories too! So exciting. The caption under the title is "perfect bedtime stories for those who relish sleepless nights."

5. I am finally caving in and reading "Atlas Shrugged." Trice has already warned my that it may not speak to my "socialist" ideas:)

6. A roti (similar to a tortilla) with unrefined sugar is YUMMY! Definitely does not make me nauseous.

7. Rickshaw drivers are not like taxis in NY. Many times they have no idea where they are going and often have to ask for directions....multiple times.

8. I have a scarf addiction.

Trice and I have been fighting off a head cold for the past week. She is a few days behind me and feeling the worst of it. Those pink ibuprofen are coming in handy. I posted a picture of Trice hiding out under the covers, sleeping. She blended right into the bed.

It is to bed early for us tonight. Led practice at 4:30am!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Irritated With Every Rub

My best friend has a quote that is permanently posted at the end of every email. Where some people put their professional titles and place of employment, she instead has one of the most beautiful and profound quotes.

"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?"

I was irritated this morning. No doubt about it. I awoke to extreme irritation at the alarm clock. Why are you going off so early?! Why cant I just sleep a little longer. I dragged myself out of bed, headed to the bathroom, and flicked on the light. Why light are you so bright?! Still half asleep, I almost brushed my teeth with tap water. Wouldnt that be a lovely experience. Once our stuff was all collected, Trice and I headed to practice. We walked most of the way in silence, broken only with an occasional sniffle related to the end of my cold and a little cough from Trice as she develops the cold. My spot in the room this morning was all the way in the corner by the women's locker room. This may seem like a rather bad spot since there is mass quantities of traffic flowing through that area, but, I thought to myself, it is better than yesterdays spot near the entry door. Everythin g on my mat irritated me. I felt like I was being scrubbed with a brillo pad. My body was tight (could be the pizza I ate yesterday afternoon). My nose was running. My head hurt. My eye was twitching. The person in front of me was hogging the space. You get the point. Seed chewing galore on my mat this morning.

It is funny because I dont know what brings on days like this. Some people are very in tune with what causes days like this. Maybe sugar. Maybe alcohol. Maybe eating too late. I have yet to determine the cause of practices like today's. I was so acutely aware of how I was feeling today. With only a 9 practices left till Trice and I head to the north to travel a bit, I am feeling like the end is so close and my time so limited. I love this practice. It makes me so in tune and observant of how I am feeling, whats going on in my mind/body/spirit. This practice polishes me. It is uncomfortable. Some days it sucks. Some days you just want to lay on your mat and cry. But polish it does. This whole experience is really scrubbing me, and not in that toxic silver polisher kind of way. This trip is giving me a lot of space to grow and understand me and my practice. And the amazing part is that it is because of me that I am being polished. I am questioning myself. Questioning the ins and outs of my practice. Delving deep and uncovering me. Not what others think of me, or what others think I should think or do or say. Just good old me finding out about me.

As I headed towards back bends today, I thought, please dont let Sharath come over to assist me. He will make me grab my calves, and I am in no way in the mood. But, as luck would have it he strolled right over. I took a deep breath, crossed my arms, and prepared for the worse. Inhale, exhale back. Inhale up, exhale back. Inhale up, exhale back. Inhale up, arms up, exhale slowly slowly slowly go back. He grabbed my right hand. One ankle. He grabbed my left hand. Other ankle. He grabbed my left hand again. Right calf. Left hand. Left calf. Breathe. Oh, wow, I am balancing on my own...if only for a second! Inhale up. "Much better" he said. Irritation lifted. It must have been residing in my spine:)

Someone asked me at breakfast today whether I was excited to be heading home soon. Its seems such a funny question for some reason. Isnt everyone excited to go home at the end? We learn so much here and half the fun is going home an applying it all. I am excited to go home (when the time comes). I am excited because I realize how much I miss everyone. I realize home much I love my home. I miss my family and friends. I miss my yoga community. I am excited to head home soon, a little more polished and shiny. Maybe even a sparkler. My spirit feels invigorated.

Pictures: Last week when we climbed all the stairs to the temple there was a small house with an OM symbol painted on the front door. I think maybe this may be in my fount door's future. Yes, I know....how could I eat Dominos!! I would never in 100 years eat this at home, but desperate times call for desperate measures. There is no price for a settled stomach.