Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hello Good-Bye

In Mysore, you are also saying Good-bye to people leaving and Hello to the new arrivals.  It’s expected but I never get used to it, plus I hate good-byes.  Social dynamics (who you see during and after practice, who you go to breakfast &lunch with and who you hang out with) depend to a large extent on what time you practice.  If you’re done with practice at 6am, chances are you will not be waiting to have breakfast with someone who only starts practice at 9am.  So, you tend to mingle more with your friends who practice around the same time as you.  And if you don’t hang out at the common eating places, it’s not uncommon to miss even seeing people.

As we near the end of the 2nd month of practice, we approach another changeover  ie. people who only signed up for 2 months are leaving, leaving gaps in the shala.  It happens at the end of every month but as we approach Christmas, more people are leaving now versus the end of the 1st month.  January and February are typically the ‘’peak’’ months but it’s unusually packed this year.  The Led Intermediate class has been full the last 2 weeks (ie all 4 rows on the carpet + the last half row on the marble floor).  In comparison, last year, there were a few classes where there were only 2 rows who started and about 4 people who finished the full Intermediate series.

Sharath has already started  to move people up to earlier time slots, allowing for the new people to come in.  He’s working a long day; the 1st batch starts 430am and right now, the last batch is starting at 915am (so he’s in the shala till almost 11am, which is over 6 hours).  Don’t forget that he’s up at 1am to do his own practice before he starts teaching us!

I know I haven’t been written in a while but I have good reasons:
- I was busy sewing to meet my 3 Christmas stockings in 2 months deadline.  Thank goodness for laptops, thumbdrives and downloadable&sharable movies and TV programs to keep me company.
- I was also asked by Sharath to assist in the Shala for the 2nd month.  It was really weird because he asked me about 2 weeks into my 1st month, after he helped me in out of a pose.  Very random.  Because he didn’t move away, I landed awkwardly and I was so blur, I had no idea what he was talking about.
My reaction … disbelief followed by awe then as realisation set in … fear!

So my 2nd month has been something I have never experienced in all my previous visits here.  I assist from 430-630am and then wait for a spot in the shala to open up before starting my own practice.

It didn’t help that my shoulder started acting up again.  Lifting legs (sometimes higher than my head and sometimes very heavy legs of very tall people) wasn’t ideal to ‘’rest’’ my shoulder.  It was pretty awful the 1st few weeks so much so I went to do a MRI (‘’frying’’ my credit card in the process because I forgot to take it out of my pocket .. haha).  To cut a long story short, practice has been quite hard the last 3 weeks.  I am able to take it easier in Mysore classes but for Led classes (especially Led Intermediate), it’s pure survival mode.  Definitely not a pretty practice; actually quite ugly :o)

The assisting has definitely been an experience.  Just being in the room and observing what is going on from another perspective is amazing in itself.  As with everything, there are positive and some scary aspects but overall an honour and definitely a key Mysore memory.

It’s nice to be able to watch Sharath adjust. He makes everything look so effortless.  He knows exactly what is going on in the room and he also watches the assistants as well.  With his sense of humour, he teases a lot … told 2 assistants that if any of them managed to bind a larger guy in a pose (which he’s been stuck at for over 5 years), he’d buy them pizza for a week!  He will scold us too, if we adjust in a way he’s not happy with or if we’re doing something he deems incorrect.  I have been lucky so far .. haven’t been scolded or fired!

Tomorrow is my last day of assisting.  It’s a shame that it took about 2 weeks to get used to the people and vice versa.  I think it’ll take a little longer to sort out what’s happened this last month in my head too :o)

PS.  Finished my stockings with a week to spare, so set up my Christmas card photo before I give them away :)

Merry Christmas from India

The shot with the local bystanders

The final cropped shot, cutting out the local bystanders :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cheating (in blogging) but Cheating (less) in practice

I can’t believe I’m into Week 3 already.  The week opened up with the 1st Led Intermediate Series class on Sunday.
[Just to explain to the non-Ashtangis, the 1st and last days of the week are Led classes.  Always Primary on Friday but on Sunday, if there are enough people doing Intermediate series, there will be a Led Intermediate class. See a previous post for a little more info and a link to a picture of the shala .. you can even see the infamous shala clock!

The class was Super Intense to say the least. Ironically, in a masochistic way, I love this class.  It’s the only class where my mind finds a one-pointed focus  - you have to, or you’ll die because not only are Sharath’s counts seemingly slower than his Led Primary count but there is no break.  So, it’s really just you, your mat and your breath.  Of course, this should happen in every practice but being human, your gaze (and hence attention) wanders, you fidget, you cheat etc etc :o)

This morning (Tuesday) I woke up feeling tired and achy .. and I’m not even halfway through the week which is a full week (ie no moonday which is a rest day we enjoy every other week).  You get through it though … somehow you do …  and lying on your mat afterwards in relaxation Is the best feeling on earth.  Then you reward yourself by eating whatever you want for breakfast!
I haven’t had time to write what I intended to because I’ve been busy sewing .  But I’m done with the first Christmas stocking.

I amazed myself by completing it so quickly.  Goes to show what you can achieve whilst watching 7 episodes of Downton Abbey, 7 episode of Episodes (some American tv series) and about 8 movies!  This is not counting the hours spent in friends houses stitching whilst they napped, chatted etc

So, I’m going to cheat a bit and share another Mysore blog with you.  There are so many Mysore blogs out there and I have been lucky to meet some of the authors.  They possess an eloquence, style and a way with words that I don’t.

Here are a few links to Magnolia’s blog which that I hope you will appreciate:
- To give encouragement to those of you who struggle to maintain a regular practice

-  There’s a lot more to Yoga than just seemingly crazy postures!

PS.  Insect & creature update
a) I seem to have little ants living in my laptop … see! one just ran across my screen!  It’s been getting colder so perhaps they like the warmth of my laptop?
b) The other night, just after dusk, I was going around to the back house to visit a friend and as I rounded the corner, I almost ran right into a toad who was squatting right in the middle of the path, like a guard.  Eeeeuuuu .  I think the yoga is helping me because I didn't scream and calmly walked past it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Same same but different

Mysore again :o)  This time for my own practice is something I look forward to every year.  My work involves helping others in their practice (and I love it) but it is lonely practicing on my own every day.  So, the thought of coming back to practice in the Shala keeps me going.

When I arrived, there was the warm feeling of coming home – to familiar places and faces.  Yet, having been away for a year, you spot the differences right away.

The House
  • My landlord has cleaned up the house in the last year.  The cupboards in my room have been painted.  I also have a big mirror in my room now so I don’t have to run outside to the living room all the time.
  • My best friend, the washing machine, has been serviced.  However, the pipe carrying the water to the drain cracked so the 1st time I used it, the water sloshed out of the washing machine and all out onto the floor!
  • Based on traumatic ‘insect’ incidents from previous years, I had a minor panic attack when I saw an ant running across the bed.  Thankfully, it was only  1.  There is also a big Spider living in corner of my bathroom.  I am glad to say that we are living together peacefully.
Mysore businesses and people
  • The businesses centred around the yoga students (breakfast and lunch places, are slowly starting up.  Of course they are on Indian time which means most are not open yet.
  • Guru ( my coconut man)
    - He’s the same, still black hair and white beard (although the beard is longer).  Coconut prices have gone up though .. 12 rupees, instead of 10 now.
  • Maney (my rickshaw man)
    - 1st thing he asked for were “groundnuts from China”.  The garlic ones are his favourite.  I gave him 5 packets, one of which he’s hiding one packet in his rickshaw (just for himself)
    - His rickshaw has been fixed up .. new canvas, spare parts for the engine .. good thing too cos it was always breaking down last year.
  • My Muruku boy / young man
    - He used to call me Jimmy (cos he couldn’t pronounce Denise).  Now he doesn’t call me anything because he’s probably forgotten my name.  Anyway, he recognised me and welcomed me with a big smile and a free handful of my favourite muruku and coconut biscuits. Mmmm
The Shala
  • There are 2 new benches outside the Shala, across the road, perfect for people to sit on whilst they have their coconuts after practice.
  • There are lots of new faces in the Shala.  I used to be the token Asian girl .. but not this year.  Mysore has been hit by the Asian Invasion (mainly women).  Lots of Koreans and Taiwanese who tend to go around in groups.  There are actually 5 Singaporeans in Mysore right now, which is the most I have ever seen at one time.
  • Needless to say, the practice itself is great.  Sharath tends to start with a few days of Led Primary, just to whip us into shape.  There are already 2 Led classes (430am followed by 6am) and both are full!  I’d say there are about 130 people here now.  This time last year, we only had 1 Led class for at least the 1st 3 weeks.  I am not even in the early batch; which means I only start at 6am, a luxury I am treasuring.
  • The clock in the Shala (which used to be first 10, then 15 minutes faster than normal time, is now almost 25mins faster!  I wish someone would just change the Shala clock instead of making us run on 2 times – Shala time and normal time.
  • Considering that there are many new people and we usually need a while to settle down, the energy in the Shala is surprisingly very quiet.  Sharath’s count is great  - slow but steady, perfect to help keep the energy in the Shala calm.

In a flash, week 1 is over and we’re kicking off Week 2.  It’s Devali (Deepavali back home) next Wednesday so I’m getting myself mentally prepared for the scares of firecrackers going off at all times.  I set one off last year and almost gave myself a heart attack.  My friend set off a monster one last year outside the Shala, which lasted almost 2 minutes!  He was thrilled until Sharath handed him a broom to sweep up all the debris :o)

Oh .. I started on my 1st Xmas Stocking (I have 3 to complete again this year .. but within 2 months ... eeeks!!).  Here's what I've done so far ...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A picture speaks a thousand words

When I was last in India, I created 1 post of just photos  Photos often capture what words can't describe, plus, I have many lazy (or busy, so they say)  friends who don't like to read :o)

I still don't own a camera so most of these photos are 'stolen' (again).  I did take some with my lousy 1.3mega pixel phone camera though (we all have to start somewhere right!)

Ok .. enough words ... take a look for yourself

Found in an organic shop.  We didn't buy it and didn't manage to find out who has tried it 

Elephants all dolled up for the big Dassara festival in Mysore
Backside of the elephants.  Love the parasols!
My rickshaw driver Maney's homemade Lemon Rice.  Key ingredient - Love!

The famous Mylari Dosa (I am so sick of it I refuse to go there anymore!)

Maney and his rickshaw, all decorated and set to be blessed in the Auto Puja for Dassara
The rickshaw always had to be watched or the cows would come eat the flowers!

Kids on the way to school, reminding me of the backpack I used to carry altho mine was a lot heavier!

Hotel Paradise - classic retro decor

I'm don't cook but this beetroot carrot quinoa salad topped with white sesame seeds with a honey-lemon-olive oil dressing was pretty tasty (even if I do say so myself

I love all cow photos .. but this one of the cow trying to get into the house is a classic
The shala steps - usually either littered with shoes or with people waiting for the later Led class to start

People on the shala street waiting to go in for Conference

My landlord (taller guy) outside the house.  I live on the top floor .. entering via the stairs on the rightside of the house

Shao Gay bhat (basically Beehoon with Indian spices ... I refused to eat Chinese noodles in India but surprisingly it's pretty good)

Upma (made from Semolina) with Coconut chutney.  One of my favourite Indian Breakfast items

The Onion and Coconut street in Devaraja Market

Flower street in the market

I love this scene - the Indian laundromat where clothes are left out in the rain and dried on the fences, grass etc (wherever there is space to hang stuff)

Belur temple

The reason why I spent so much time in my room being anti-social

A pin cushion I made from the leftover scraps and stuffing from the Christmas stockings

Stocking #1 - the early days

Stocking #2 - WIP

Stocking #3 - when will this be finished?!!

Yoga Dassara ... all welcome

Everyone in Downward Dog - such an awesome sight

Ouch! And no, I can't do this

Sharath (his daughter by his side) leading students from the shala in an Ashtanga demo

A muffin shake - with half a muffin blended into the shake and the other half hanging outside.  Sounds gross? I thought so too .. but again ... I was wrong! It's pretty good