That’s what most people ask me after they get over the fact that I’m up at 230am and done with pranayama + ashtanga practice by 7am.
Coming to Mysore is luxurious because I can get away from everything and just focus on my practice. It’s my break away from teaching and the hectic life in Singapore. At home, I get up as late as possible to fit in practice before I have to leave for my 1st class of the day. I teach both morning and night classes so most days I’m still tired when I get up. That especially affects pranayama practice – which you can’t really do properly if you’re falling asleep half the time ;o)
Teaching Ashtanga, especially Mysore-style classes, can be physically tiring and that affects the energy I have for my own practice. Adjusting people also tightens up the body and is asymmetrical as I inevitably favour 1 side over another. A lot of my aches and pains have come from adjusting, versus practicing. So, just practicing without having to teach is what I appreciate most being here.
The practice itself here is also very intense:
- I can’t cheat :o)
- Led classes are full-on, requiring strength as well as stamina ... especially when Sharath counts S L O W L Y!
- Mysore classes where I have to grab my ankles in the last backbend (and now up to mid-calfs) can be tough, especially on days when the body feels tired or stiff.
I digress ... back to the question, “What do people do after practice?”
My answer – Nothing much!
My 1st year here, I stressed about how to fill my time. That lasted about a week after which I could calmly and happily say ‘’Nothing’’ when asked, “What are you doing today?”. The unspoken rule is ... just set yourself 1 thing to do each day.
Laundry can take up more time than you think (especially when I was handwashing the 1st few years). It’s still monsoon season so hanging out and then taking in clothes when it rains can be tedious. Sometimes, it takes days for the clothes to dry.
Everyone has little projects to occupy their time when they come to Mysore:
- My 1st year I read like crazy, sometimes up to 3 books in a week
- Another trip I got hooked onto Sudoku, hiding away in room for hours until I was accused of being anti-social
- This year I am sewing! I have 3 Christmas stockings to complete for my nephews. It’s a lot more ‘leche’ (ie tedious) than I anticipated and I estimate it’ll take 4 weeks for each stocking (with a few hours of work each day). I’m entering into my 4th week and here is what I’ve done for stocking #1.
|Before (OMG, this is going to take me ages!)|
|Now (almost there, but not quite)|
People also take classes (Chanting, Sanskrit, Meditation, Massage, Anatomy etc). They do touristy things like day trips to temples (there’s also a Tibetan settlement 2 hours from Mysore) on weekends or moondays. Gokulam is about 10 minutes from Mysore town where there is Mysore palace, the main Market, lots of shops and eateries.
Getting clothes tailored can also take up a lot of time, just running to the tailor every day to pick up your clothes, only to be told, “You come back tomorrow”. Then once you get the clothes, the whole cycle repeats itself getting alternations done!
The Yoga Shala runs a trust which supports a number of charities and organisations. Some students volunteer to help teach kids English (we took the orphanage kids to the zoo 2 years ago). I also know of people who make some pocket money giving massages and other bodywork (osteopathy or chiropractic therapies).
Daily life here also presents many opportunities for amazing photographs. My Australian friend spends hours in town with her camera. This year, another friend is working on an art exhibition which will open 2 weeks after he gets home to Sydney. Here is a sample of his initial work which he kindly showed us.
|Still WIP, like my Stocking!|
|He's been drawing from Photos he's taken in town|
Not everyone fills their time running around though. One friend is very happy sitting at home knitting (she also brought a weaving handloom with her). Some watch movies and tv shows on their laptops (I’m doing that too this year) and others just sleep, after practice to recover and after lunch when food coma hits them.
Basically, being here gives you the understated value of Time ... to
- Think (or not)
- Do things we wouldn't and couldn’t do at home and
- Time to appreciate what we have been blessed with. And for this I am truely grateful because I have been blessed with much.