Cooking up a Storm in Mysore

Fruit & Veg stallFor the fourth and final instalment of my food guide series, I take a look at the options for eating in whilst in Mysore, reviewing the best supermarkets, organic shops and fruit & veg stalls in and around Gokulam.

I suggest how to safely cook with the water in India and also share photos of some of the dishes I’ve managed to prepare in my basic Indian kitchen – for a little added inspiration.

Read the full article here:

Cooking up a storm in Mysore

Happy cooking!

Food for Thought in Mysore City

Pizza at MayaFollowing my previous guest posts for Ashtanga Brighton, The Ultimate Guide to Eating out in Gokulam and I Get the Sweetest Feeling in Mysore, my third instalment in this food guide series looks at some of the best places to eat further afield in the city of Mysore itself.

From traditional thalis and butter dosas to brick oven pizzas and Indian home cooking, there’s something to suit all tastes if you know where to look.

Check out the full post:

Food for thought in Mysore city

Namaste!

I Get the Sweetest Feeling in Mysore

Coffee and cake at Green HotelFollowing my previous guest post for Ashtanga Brighton, The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out in Gokulam, I’ve now put together a guide to the most important aspect of eating out in Mysore – where to find the best coffee, cake, chocolate and ice cream!

If you have a sweet tooth like me you’re going to love these coffee shops and ice cream parlours. And who’d have thought they’d have great ice cream in India, which used to be one of the least safe foods to eat here?!

Check out the full blog post:

I get the sweetest feeling in Mysore 

Enjoy!

The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out in Gokulam, Mysore

Eating wraps and salad at PascucciHaving spent 3 months in Mysore at the beginning of this year, and having sampled just about every cafe and restaurant there is to sample, I thought it would be a good idea to share my thoughts and experiences so other people’s tastebuds can have as much fun as mine!

Now that I’m back in Mysore for another 3 months, it seemed the perfect opportunity to publish such a guide, as I’ve now had the opportunity to check all the eateries are still in business, and to include a few new places too.

I’ve written the guide as a guest blog for Ashtanga Brighton and as well as listing the main places to eat in Gokulam and surrounding areas, and the types of food they serve, I also provide a price guide, the addresses and directions of how to find them – because apart from deciding where to go and what to order, the hardest part is finding the restaurants in the first place!

Thali at Hotel DasaprakashCheck out the full blog post here:

The ultimate guide to eating out in Gokulam

Bon appétit!

Travels and Trikonasanas: 5 tips to help you stay on the mat whilst travelling

Garba Pindasana

During my recent travels I met a lovely Canadian guy in Mysore, Clint Griffiths, who runs a yoga clothing brand and blog, Ekaminhale. He asked me to write a guest post for his blog, so I decided to write about an issue that was very close to my heart and prominent in my life at that time, and which still affects me now: the struggles of maintaining a consistent, daily practice whilst travelling.

In terms of my practice, the first half of my 6-month trip this year was amazing – intense, focussed and dedicated – and I felt strong, empowered and on top of my game, so to speak. But that’s because I was in Mysore. As soon as I left Mysore things took a turn for the worst, and the last 3 months were the complete opposite – painful, difficult and a constant struggle to stay focussed and stay on my mat.

You can read more about my journey, including my 5 top tips to help you stay on the mat whilst travelling, over at the Ekaminhale blog:

http://ekaminhale.com/blogs/news/14972493-travels-and-trikonasanas-5-tips-to-help-you-stay-on-the-mat-whilst-travelling

Namaste!

Searching for the Unsearchable

candle_lit_heart_by_prometheus_nike-d4it3woThis week it’s time to go deeper. I could tell you about the last kirtan of the season that descended into a surreal open mic session. Or about finally discovering the actual, official Cauvery government arts and crafts emporium, not just the fake ones spelt with a ‘K’. Or even about the insane amount of dosas I shared with a friend one evening whilst sampling a ‘sharing platter’, which turned out to be 7 actual separate dosas – we were literally dosa drunk by the end of it!

I could tell you about all those things, but I won’t. Because I’d feel like a fraud. I’d feel like I’m missing the bigger picture. Or perhaps hiding from the bigger picture behind all the nice, fluffy, easy bits of everyday life here in Mysore. Which is easily done. In fact most of us do it every day of our lives. It’s much easier to live on the surface of life where things are clear, practical, rational and straightforward (at least most of the time). Why would we want to dive into ourselves where it’s dark, scary and we can’t reach the bottom? As Sharath said in conference recently, “Many people get scared: ‘Oh, I still the mind, I go crazy!’” It’s the same principle here. What if I don’t like what I find? What if I can’t control my inner self? What if I go searching and find there’s nothing really there?

But, to turn that on its head, what if there is something so beautiful and divine inside you that its light could brighten your entire world? What if you spent your whole life never really knowing or being in touch with your soul essence, your soul purpose? What if you spent your whole life feeling like there was something missing, like there must be more to life than this, like something just doesn’t feel quite right – and all because you never looked within, never looked deep enough to find out?

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Completing Angelic Reiki levels 1&2

I’ve heard it said many times that Ashtanga is not the kind of practice that attracts people who are happy in their lives; people who are content with what they have and aren’t interested in finding deeper meaning. Most of the people who come to this practice seem to be searching for something. Perhaps for deeper meaning to their lives. Perhaps for more of a spiritual connection. Perhaps for their soul purpose. Perhaps for enlightenment. We get on the mat day after day after day, practising asana after asana, focussing on our breath, practising mindfulness, studying ancient texts and trying to be a better person. We wonder where all this is going to lead us and continually remind ourselves of Guruji‘s mantra “Practice, practice and all is coming”.

Sometimes this search is exhausting so we seek refuge in the lighter side of life: hanging out with friends; treating ourselves to nice food; and doing things we love that make us feel good. But for me, the last couple of weeks have been a time of going deeper, of allowing space for this search to continue. I had a Vedic astrology reading, then I went for a tarot reading, then I was drawn to an Angelic Reiki course, and most recently I decided to take an Intuitive Living & Psychic Development course. The momentum has been building and I’ve recently had some very intense experiences.

IMG_2699_SmallThe messages are coming through loud and clear for me, as the same themes keep coming up again and again throughout these different exploratory mediums. Intellectually speaking, my rational mind knows what the issues are and how they impact me on a day-to-day basis, but I still struggle with how to resolve them, how to let them go, how to get over them and move on. One very poignant moment for me was during the intuition course. We were doing a meditative exercise where we were focussing on our deepest inner selves and I had this sudden feeling of dropping, as if I was literally dropping into my body, or into my soul. And then a message appeared, as clear as day, that said “You already have all the answers. You can stop searching now.”

I felt a sense of release and a brief lifting. Oh what a relief! Ok, so there’s nothing to do, nothing to look for any more. But then of course my ego or rational mind kicks in and starts with the “Yes, but what does that mean? You don’t really have all the answers do you? Where are they then? What are they? How come you still feel so confused? If you stop searching, what then?”

This battle between the mind/the ego/the external self and the intuition/the inner wisdom/the internal self can be a very challenging one to resolve. The ego can be very clever and manipulative and often speaks much louder than the inner voice of wisdom. I say this from experience, having spent a 4 year period suppressing my intuition and believing my ego was the real me. Eventually, thankfully, my inner voice broke free and started screaming so loudly that I couldn’t ignore it any more. I had to take action, turning my whole life, and the lives of those closest to me, upside down in a heartbeat. But the one thing that kept me going through all the heartache, all the pain and the guilt, was the knowledge, the absolutely clear and unquestionable knowledge, that I was doing the right thing.

And that’s happening for me again right now. Most of the messages I’m getting at the moment are telling me that I’m on the right path, that I’m heading in the right direction. And for someone who’s never had much direction in their life, this is a very positive and reaffirming thing.

InnerselfMany people feel a strong connection when they visit Eastern or Asian countries, and consider places like India to be their spiritual home. I have a similar feeling after living in Mysore for 3 months. But I also feel like I’ve found my spiritual mother and father here. There are two people I’ve met who I’ve felt such a strong affinity with. You know sometimes when you meet someone you feel like you want to talk to them, to spend time with them, to just be near them or maybe to touch them, hug them and feel close to them? Well, that’s what I’ve experienced here. They both happen to be westerners who’ve spent a lot of time in India, and they’re both very inspirational teachers, speakers and healers. I’m so grateful to have met them, to have had the opportunity to spend time with them and learn from them, and I know I’ll be seeing them again sometime soon, somewhere in the world.

And so, as I continue on my journey of self-discovery and self-transformation, I know I will continue searching for the unsearchable. And maybe, gradually, I’ll get closer to finding acceptance. Acceptance of myself, acceptance that I already have all the answers and acceptance of all that is.

In the meantime I’ll continue to practice gratitude. For all that I am and all that I have. And maybe, by sharing my experiences, others might feel encouraged – even inspired – to start looking a little deeper, into that scary place within. That scary, but immensely beautiful and wondrously divine place within ourselves we don’t want to go. And maybe, just maybe, we might catch a glimpse of the eternally glowing light of wisdom and love that we’ve been searching for, for so long, that shines so brightly inside each of us.

“Aṣṭāṅga Yoga Anuṣṭhāna”: 1st vs. 2nd Edition

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1st Edition: March 2013

Last year R. Sharath Jois published his first book, Aṣṭāṅga Yoga Anuṣṭhāna. It’s a very detailed Aṣṭāṅga practice manual, which sets out the entire sequence of Primary Series, including the correct vinyāsa count (flow of breath and movement) and dṛṣṭi (gazing point) for each āsana (posture), as well as a section on the yamas and niyamas (behaviours and principles), some practice notes and mantrāḥs (chants).

The book was published in March 2013 and wasn’t widely available to purchase outside of India, so many people queued up at the shala shop in Mysore this season to purchase a copy.

However, in January 2014 he released a 2nd edition. Shock, horror! He announced this at conference one Sunday, so lots of students promptly hurried to the shop to get their updated copy, many asking if they could have a refund on the 1st edition. As I suspected, this was met with a resounding “No”! Best to just accept it and call it a collector’s edition I reckon.

So, the question on everyone’s lips now is: “What’s the difference between the two editions?” Well, you’re in luck because that’s exactly what I’ve taken the trouble to find out. Lakshmish told us in Saṁskṛta (Sanskrit) class one day that much of the Sanskrit text was grammatically incorrect, so he painstakingly checked through the entire book again to make the necessary corrections.

2nd Edition: January 2014

2nd Edition: January 2014

I thought I’d do the same thing, comparing the editions to determine exactly how they differ. “Why on earth would you do that?” I hear you cry. Well, maybe because I love proofreading and ‘spot the difference’ competitions, maybe because I’m an anal retentive, or maybe because I just wanted to show some empathy for Lakshmish.

Whatever the reason, I’ve done it (and thoroughly enjoyed it I might add), so if you’d like to see for yourself what the differences are, just click below to open the PDF.

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Aṣṭāṅga Yoga Anuṣṭhāna Comparison

Incidentally, Lakshmish also mentioned that many mistakes are commonly made in writing the asana names in Sanskrit, including in many well-known books by senior teachers. Some of the most common spelling mistakes include: marīcāsana (not marichyasana); paścimattānāsana (not pashimottanasana); pūrvattānāsana (not purvottanasana). If in doubt, refer to Lakshmish’s chanting sheet or p.26 of the 2nd edition of Aṣṭāṅga Yoga Anuṣṭhāna (there are in fact some slight differences between these two sources but they’re largely the same).

I hope you’ve found this guide useful and if you ever need a proof-reader, give me a shout!