I’m the kind of person who likes to keep busy. Not in a manic, stressful way; just in a there’s-always-something-useful-I-should-be-doing way. So when I came on this trip I made sure I had plenty of ‘stuff’ to keep me occupied: I brought 2 correspondence courses with me, which are part of my current life plan – ‘Anatomy & Physiology’ and ‘Writing Features and Articles for Health, Wellbeing & Fitness Magazines’; I’m reading Edwin Bryant’s The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali for a bit of light self-study(!); I started this blog as well as keeping a travel journal; and I’ve set myself the challenging task of learning the correct Sanskrit count for the entire Ashtanga primary series. Phew, it’s exhausting just thinking about it all!
The trouble with setting myself these potentially unrealistic goals is the guilt and disappointment that comes with not achieving them. Well, thankfully, this week I’ve let it all go. Just like that. Getting out of the city and being in nature on the wildlife tour last week really helped to shift something and I started to get a fresh perspective on things. So this week I’ve concentrated on doing things I actually WANT to do rather than things I think I SHOULD do. What a relief! (Plus I got a High Merit for my first lesson of the A&P course so that should keep the guilt at bay for a while.)
As well as the usual yoga and chanting classes, this week I have: learnt a meditation technique to help improve the eyesight from B Naga Kumar at Mumuksha; had a very relaxing and therapeutic gong bath (to the point where I was practically asleep) at The Blue House; received a wonderful ‘special pedicure’ complete with leg massage from the lovely Sanna at Iora Beauty Salon; visited the spectacularly opulent Mysore Palace (where I was caught sneakily trying to take a photo and had to pay a bribe to avoid my iPhone being confiscated); wandered around an Art Gallery containing a random but fascinating collection of Indian, Japanese and European paintings and artefacts (including the highlight of the collection: a French musical calendar clock which not only chimes each hour, but has marching soldiers and music too); attended an interesting talk on the meaning of the Ashtanga opening mantra by Arvind Pare; sang and danced at Mark Robberds‘ beautiful rooftop kirtan as the sun went down; had the most amazing 2½ hour deep tissue/emotion releasing/energy healing massage (there’s that fusion again) from Ravi Kumar that not only worked on my muscles, but the bones, joints and tissue too and helped release some of my energy blocks and stuck emotions (totally fascinating); and of course ate and drank plenty of delicious local and not-so-local food and drink – one of my favourite pastimes!
Last Monday at the end of my practice Sharath looked over and asked “Did you catch your ankles?” I gave a little snort, looked back at him with an expression of incredulity and shook my head. He laughed and said “Tomorrow!” Luckily it was my ‘ladies holiday’ for the next 3 days so my next 2 practices were counted led classes on Friday and Sunday. On Monday I finally decided to try out the whole coffee malarkey (“No coffee, no prana“) and had an amazingly strong and focussed practice after one cup of brain juice. When Sharath did dropbacks with me and told me to “Walk! Walk! Walk!” I felt I could go deeper much more easily. I came up and said “Getting closer” and he gave a little laugh. Hmm, I suspect I still have a long way to go!
On Sunday my led time got shifted from 4.30am back to 6am (phew!) and it was the quietest I’ve seen it in the shala so far. I arrived late (meaning only 15 minutes before the start time rather than an hour), there was no pushing or shoving, I had a choice of where to put my mat (which totally threw me) and we even had space around our mats to actually do a full asana practice – total bliss! I stayed afterwards to watch the led intermediate class, which was a very inspiring and eye-opening experience. I’ve never watched a counted led class before and there’s something so beautiful about the mass of people all moving together in sync as one, united, body of yoga. Observing the strength, flexibility and muscle definition of some of the bodies was also awe-inspiring.
But the most surprising thing for me was realising how many people left the room after Eka Pada Sirsasana, as they only practice up to that point – which is probably about a third of the way through the intermediate series. And I suddenly realised that it’s not as far away for me as I had thought. I mean, of course, I still have to get past the dreaded challenge of Kapotasana, but for the first time in a few years of consistent, steady practice, I feel inspired again – to work harder, to go deeper, to get stronger, and to commit myself more fully to this nourishing, transformative, inspiring practice.