This week I’d like to share some fascinating facts I’ve picked up during my last 2 months in Mysore. But first a quick overview of my week….
We’ve been having freak storms here: plenty of rain, thunder and lightning,with trees down, debris washed all over the roads and lots of power outages (but then that’s nothing new in India). One such storm happened while I was in the cinema watching a romcom called Shaadi Ke Side Effects (The Side Effects of Marriage). We came out into the pouring rain and experienced a very wet and hairy rickshaw ride home, with no streetlights, several trees blocking the way and lots of new potholes to dodge. With the storms having occurred almost daily for about a week, everyone’s wondering if the monsoon has come early this year.
I had a vedic astrology reading this week, which was fascinating as it accurately told the story of various events in my past, including a very shocking moment when the exact date of a particularly important event showed up in my chart. Even the astrologer was shocked as it’s not usually quite that precise! It also provided some much needed reassurance about my future and windows of time where certain things are more likely to occur, so I have some positive things to look forward to.
On Saturday I attended an inspiring yogic philosophy session by James Boag, which included a very accessible and down-to-earth talk on the yamas followed by an exploration of their application via the means of contact improvisation. I felt very grateful to everyone for sharing such an intimate experience and it provided me with a much-needed reconnection to others via the means of physical contact. We all need a regular dose of human touch and I realised I’d begun to crave it. I think there’s probably a cultural aspect here, as there’s something very British about keeping one’s distance and not being overly tactile towards others.
In terms of my practice this week, my start times have changed again, I was given 2 more postures, I fell into my neighbour during Setu Bhandasana (don’t ask me how when I was only a few inches off the ground) and I had a major wig out when I was completely drained of energy, too exhausted to carry on and ended up in a heap of tears on the toilet floor (which stank of wee I hasten to add). I also videoed myself for the first time and discovered I’m not straight in headstand, I’m too high in half bend and too low in Chaturanga. So an eye-opening experience all round. But that’s one thing that’s guaranteed in Ashtanga – we will forever continue to learn, to adapt, to be amazed and to be challenged in this lifelong practice of self-transformation.
Did you know…?
Mysore and its environs
- If it wasn’t for the Western Ghats the whole of South India would be a desert.
- The Western Ghats, although referred to as a mountain range, are actually the side of a plateau.
- The Cauvery river is thought of as the Ganges of the south.
- Mysore is named after Mahasuraheshwara, a demon who was killed by the goddess Chamundeshwara, a form of Parvati; hence Chamundi Hill.
Flora and fauna
Coffee plants produce beautiful white flowers that smell very similar to jasmine.
- Coffee berries need lots of shade to grow, as do black peppercorns, so you often find them planted together.
- Eating groundnuts straight off the plant takes forever!
- There are 7 leopards living on Chamundi Hill. Yes, real live wild leopards.
- There are about 3,500 tigers left on the planet. Approximately 1,500 of them are in India, with roughly 50 in Nagarhole National Park.
- Mosquitoes only buzz or sing when they’re looking for a mate. The male and female both sing and try to match each other’s pitch in perfect harmony, which will indicate they’re a good match for mating.
Food and drink
According to Ayurveda you should never heat honey, as it destroys the enzymes. So you shouldn’t cook with it or put it in boiling hot drinks (only warm).
- In India if you order Chai you get normal black tea with milk and sugar. If you order Masala Chai you get the spiced sweet milky tea we call chai in the west.
- If you mix chai with rum you get a delicious drink called GoRumli (named after the tour company we were with, GoMowgli)!
- In traditional South Indian cooking you often eat the rice last after other foods. Meals usually start with a spicy tomato soup called Rasam.
- Ragi is a type of millet which can be used to make bread, pancakes, dosas, rotis, etc.
- ‘Gu’ means darkness or spiritual ignorance; ‘ru’ means one who removes; therefore ‘guru’ means the one who removes spiritual ignorance.
- There are 15 vowels in Sanskrit.
- The difference between a sage and a monk is a sage can have a family whereas a monk cannot.
- Technically speaking the word ‘Ashtanga’ should be pronounced the American way with the second ‘a’ as a long vowel, as in ‘Ashtarnga’. This is because in Sanskrit it is written with a dash above the second ‘a’ indicating that it’s a long vowel, pronounced ‘aah’.