A big hello from the land of sweet chai, crispy dosas and sweaty ashtanga practice aka Mysore, Southern India.
So why do I come to Mysore so often? Like, every winter?
Some of you might like to think it’s because I just want to avoid the glorious Scottish winter (maybe some truth there!), but it’s largely because I’m commitment to studying at KPJAYI (Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute). Some people call this place “the source” because you can get deeply connected to the original teachings of Pattabhi Jois- as his grandson (Sharath Jois) and his daughter (Saraswathi) teach at the institute. It’s like a pilgrimage for me- the community and the energy in that space has something very special. I learn as much from those I practice beside (some of who are very senior students and teachers) as I do from my teacher Sharath Jois. So overall it’s a very fruitful time for me and I’m very fortunate to be here again.
Here’s an incredibly geeky picture of me and my teacher last year:
So how does it work in Mysore? Do I just do a sweaty asana practice every morning and then spend the rest of the day resting in the sunshine?
Rest is an important part of my time here, but largely my days are filled with things like this:
Practice always comes first. My November start times were pretty civilised. December start times are the earliest ever for me! 4.30am led classes- I’m hoping the mind will be very still then and practice will be dreamy.
Breakfast: This is something called Idli (fermented rice dish) with coconut chutney and a warm cup of sweet indian chai- costing an eye watering 30p for the whole breakfast and is very tasty.
During the day I often have several hours of studying Sanskrit, Chanting, Philosophy classes. There is time to cook food with great local produce, seeing a friend or two and also pause to reflect on the learning/year past or ahead.
Sanskrit: Here’s my secret ally and friend- Pinar from Turkey/ Finland exchanging notes after a Sanskrit class with Laksmish Bhat on the steps of the main shala at KPJAYI. My husband said something to me last year to me like “it’s good to challenge the mind, not just the body.” I couldn’t agree with him more. Sanskrit lessons are a big part of my time here. For me this practice is not all about bending your body. (Thanks Tom for the photo!)
Conference: Once a week we have conference with Sharath Jois- everyone practicing at the shala is welcome (both Sharath and Saraswathi students) so the main room is often very busy. He often talks about some key points about the yoga practice- often citing key sutras like “sa tu dīrghakāla nairantarya satkāra-ādara-āsevito dṛḍhabhūmiḥ : Practice becomes firmly established when it has been cultivated uninterruptedly and with devotion over a prolonged period of time.” (Edwin Bryant translation). One of my favourites- some of you at Meadowlark have heard Sarah or I recite a this one a few times!
It’s our chance, as students to ask him “sensible yogi questions” and the conversation often covers a large variety of topics from family, food, asana and current political and social problems in both eastern and western societies.
Despite this being my third trip, it doesn’t get any less exciting. In the city centre the streets are filled with activity, I go there to study chanting and philosophy with Dr. M.A. Jayashree and Professor Narasimha once or twice a week and always end up stumbling across streets like this one:
Downtown: Filled with colour, cows and clothes on washing lines.
On days off: Outside of the city there is an amazing Tibetan Buddhist monastery called Bylakuppe- it’s totally beautiful and I keep going every year. This is a photo of the inside of the golden temple.
How long are you there for?
I’m here in Mysore studying with Sharath until the end of December, but I’ll be back in Edinburgh during the middle of March 2016. Back on the mat with my other teacher, Sarah Durney Hatcher, assisting her in the morning mysore room and teaching a little bit myself at Meadowlark. I miss you all!
I’ll say my goodbyes with this photo I took last week whilst waiting for the Ayurvedic pharmacy to open, just to prove to you all that we had LOTS of rain here in Mysore during Storm Abigail.
Drop me an email if you have ‘sensible yogi question’ to ask: firstname.lastname@example.org