Saturday, July 7, 2012

4 Years Already?

Somewhere in the last few weeks I hit the four year mark of having a daily yoga practice, and it is also in the last few weeks that I have really started planning for my fourth trip to Mysore.  It is hard to believe that so much time has passed, and it is mind blowing that I have been able to spend so much time studying in India.  The trips back to KPJAYI have all had a different feeling in the lead up.  The first time I was a more than a bit scared, travelling for the first time to a developing country, jumping head first into a practice that I had only been doing for a few months and knew next to nothing about.  The second trip was something I anticipated for months, as I spent the year leading up to it practicing alone in my living room, and the thought of being back in the shala with all the energy and more importantly, my teacher, kept me motivated on the days where actually getting started seemed impossible.  Heading back last time, I looked at it as a respite from the gruelling schedule I had been maintaining as I tried to save up enough money and do my three months of farm work to qualify for a second year working holiday visa in Australia.  The prospect of getting up at 3AM, going to practice, and then coming home and snoozing for a while seemed like a total vacation, as strange as that may seem.  The excitement for going for this fourth visit isn't to the same pitch as it has been in the past; it feels more like going home.  I don't really consider Mysore as a home, truth be told, mostly because I don't know that I could ever really hope to understand the complexities of Indian culture, and as much as I love Indian food, after a few months eating it, all I want is something without any trace of masala, and crunchy without being fried, but there is a degree of familiarity that makes living there a few months at a time pretty easy.  There is also less expectation of some sort of result each time that I go.  The first trip it was a running mental dialog of ... I will learn yoga, I will learn chanting, I will make heaps of friends, I will try new foods and love them all, I will have some sort of intense 'spiritual experience', I will evolve into an entirely new and improved person (ha!!),  I may be ripped limb from limb in a rickshaw accident, chances are good that I will pick up at least one parasite, etc etc etc.  The list of expectations could go on and on and on.  The funny thing is, almost all of those things did happen to a certain degree (no rickshaw accident thank goodness), but I didn't realize at the time, so while I was there I was constantly searching for a life altering epiphany and not seeing it.  Going now, the expectation is more along the lines of... I will learn, and I will drink a lot of coconuts.   Pretty safe bets really.  And all the other experiences that come up are just (mostly) pleasant surprises.  October is still a way off, and I have lots of  important things organize in the meantime, a flight and a visa for example, but I can't picture there being too much drama in the lead up.   More than anything, I am just happy to have the chance to go and be a student and soak up as much as possible. 
Four years of practice, not very much in the grand scheme of things, but what a beautiful time it has been.  Five years ago I was still in the dance world, living in Calgary AB, working in a pottery painting studio part-time, and in a daze of pain most days.  So many new experiences since then, so many changes are there. 


  1. I loved this post, Ashley. I'm preparing for my first Mysore visit hopefully next year and it's easy to get swept away with the expectations of what should be experienced as opposed to just settling in for the ride-Lu

    1. Hey Lu, thanks for reading my blog, and have fun planning your first trip to Mysore. Setting in for the ride is a very good idea; India is full of surprises :)