Friday, November 23, 2012


Just a fun rickshaw photo I took while playing with my camera settings.  The 'punk' effect is working well for this one...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mosh pits and yoga don't mix well

There is a funny phenomenon on Friday and Sunday mornings in Mysore, before the guided classes.  Huddled outside the gate at 4:25 AM (shala time) about 80 yoga students jump when Prakash (Sharath's gatekeeper/babysitter/friend/?) comes stumbling bleary-eyed down the steps and unlocks the gate to let the rabid mob in.  As soon as that gate is open a millimeter, the mosh pit begins, sans music, sadly.   It is an un-nerving experience at that early hour, and it is a bit incongruous with the fact that we are all meant to be going in there to do some yoga.  Where is the ahimsa in elbowing someone out of the way, just to get your favorite spot, front row center?  Jeepers.  The 6AM bunch is a similar experience, but they are lined up on the shala steps instead of outside the gate.  Lucky for me, I get to avoid this exercise in ridiculousness altogether on Sundays because the intermediate class isn't full at the moment, so even if you are the last one in the door, there will be a spot left.   And quite frankly, I couldn't care less what spot I get, any day of the week.  Sharath has eyes in the back of his head, just like mums do, so wherever you go in that room, he sees you, even when you think he can't possibly be looking.  The whole issue of getting a certain spot is quite widespread in the shala, and I have been there myself, truth be told, but I can't figure out why. My second visit in particular, I was quite attached to a spot in the third row, but why I liked it so much, I have no idea.  On Mysore practices now I wait for the mosh pit to push it's way up the steps and walk up behind them without any worry of errant elbows, and I try and avoid a spot in the front row, just so that I don't have to worry about any ticktock vs stage conflicts, but other that that, I go wherever.  There is a growing group of people waiting out the crowds, so maybe eventually it will be a small group of frothing elbowers, and a big group of people waiting back, saying, "no madam, after you,"  "no, madam, I insist, after you!"  How nice would that be.  Really and truly, mosh pits and yoga don't mix.  Each at their own time fine.  Mixing?  Not correct method.

In other mosh pit news, I went in to the city yesterday to go to the bookstore, and made a trip through Devaraj Market.  On a Saturday afternoon, this is a slightly crazy thing to do.  The crowds in there are at maximum capacity.  It makes it easier to avoid the multitude of young men trying to sell you bangles and scented oils though, and I managed to mosey through gathering less attention than normal.   There is a small stall selling old prints of deities in the back corner of the market, and I made my way over there just to look, but managed to find a very love-able Ganesha print that looks like it is from long ago.  It came home with me, so facing the chaos was well worthwhile.

Three weeks left on the clock for this trip.  That is a limited number of mosh pit avoidance moments left to be had, although going back to Bondi in December may mean facing something similar on the beach...  what to do?


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Dipavali is here!  Good thing I brought lots of earplugs, because the mayhem after dark will be going on more or less all week.  A few days ago I went down to the local elementary school where they sell firecrackers and rockets and had a good laugh at their inappropriate signage, which has become even more inappropriate since I saw it two years ago. 
One word stands out quite a lot... I would have thought they would put more emphasis on the word fireworks, and less on the name of the brand... but that is just me.

I only bought the sparkly fireworks, not the firecrackers that are just loud and make me jump every time they go off.   I want pretty colours and lights!  Too bad I already used them all up... will have to go shopping for more this afternoon, as tonight is apparently the day for the big spectacle.  There will be a lot of yoga student zombies wandering around Gokulam the next few days... not much sleep will be possible!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Not just bats in the cave

My first trip here, I was shown how to do neti pot, pouring a warm saline solution into one nostril with your head at a certain angle so that it can pass through the sinuses and come out the other side.  It is something I do fairly often when I am living somewhere with excess pollution or dust, when I have a cold, or when my eyes have been irritated.  When I am in Mysore, my eyes get very irritated, and there is a whole lot of pollution and dust, so the neti pot, and the sutra neti come out quite often.  The stuff that comes out of my nose can be quite alarming, and today was no exception. This morning I was up early, made coffee, and then boiled some extra water for some pre-practice neti action, and once I got started, I was in for a surprise.  First side, no problem.  Second side, some resistance; the water did not want to go through.  A little sutra neti on both sides (threading a thin tube up the nose and catching it out through the mouth, essentially a sinus flossing procedure, as satisfying as flossing the teeth), and then another round of neti pot on both sides.  I was doing my last big "farmer snot" nose blowing technique to get all the water and boogers out, and what comes blasting out of my left nostril, but an ant.  An ANT.  It must have crawled in there at some point when I was sleeping, and apparently the inside of my nose is not a good habitat for ants, seeing as how it was dead, but I have to say that I couldn't be happier to have it out of my nose and down the drain.  If there was any reason to keep up the neti pot, this is IT. 

Memo to the ants of Mysore:  stay out of my nose!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Tomorrow I go re-register for my second month at the shala, and it feels a bit strange to know that it also marks the halfway point of the trip.  My other three visits have all been for three months each, so this seems like a mini-trip in comparison.  Part of me is dying to go back home to Sydney, and be back in my life, but the time practicing in the shala here is so very sweet that I wish I could stay forever.    Or be here in the mornings for practice, and then be home again for the rest of the day.... is time travel an option? 

I have joined the level one Sanskrit class (for the second time), and somehow, surprisingly I am actually understanding what is being taught.  The first time I came, I took the class, but missed one or two classes due to some tummy issues, and then was completely lost the whole rest of the course.  My pronunciation is nowhere near perfect, and I don't know the whole alphabet, but what is being taught is sinking in instead of going way over my head.  Yahoo!

Practice in the morning is really something special.  That room is one of my favourite places in the world, stinky carpets and all.  Even when you have an agro/heavy breathing/malodorous neighbour, which doesn't happen all that often, you can feed off everything else that is happening in the space and soak it up instead.  Sharath has been teasing me nearly everyday that my arms are too weak, and he is very right, they are, but the are so many little changes, both mentally and physically, that even if it isn't yet visible, some strength is coming.  Slowly slowly. 

For the first time this trip, a couple of weeks ago, I went into a temple.  Many temples actually, all the ones on the way up Chamundi Hill.  I had been hesitating to go in and participate, because I am not Hindu, and also because I know there are specific ways to do things in temples, and I don't know how to do them correctly.  A friend who has also been here several times gave me a quick run down, and after my first misplaced kumkum, somewhere rather off center, everything was fine.  The attitude about foreigners participating in festivals and temple activities is so open that I don't know why I was worried in the first place.  There is a lovely Ganesha temple just across from the chai stand, right here in Gokulam and as he is my favorite of the Hindu deities, I might start taking in flowers more often. 

It is very nearly time for bed, or at least I have a fairly severe case of the eye rubs, so at 7PM on a lovely Monday evening, it is time to get ready for bed.  The street dogs have been doing choir practice right outside my window around 2AM, nearly everyday, so the stupid-o-clock wake up has been shifted earlier than necessary.   Thank goodness for coffee. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday morning rambling

I have been neglectful with blog posts lately, partly because I am not sure I have much to write about, even being back in India.  There hasn't been a lot happening for me here this trip, I have almost been using it to recover some energy stores after the busy few months I had in Sydney before arriving.  Things have been happening, I mean, it is India, so there is always something going on, I have just been choosing to participate in less and spend more time resting and enjoying some solitude and quiet, with the occasional outing thrown in.  Dasara festival happened last week, which meant there were many days of pujas and then a big parade in the city, but after experiencing the parade and seeing the elephants all decorated and dressed up a few years ago, I decided to lay low this time around and just hang out in Gokulam.  Boring, I know.  Diwali is coming though, and I doubt I will be able to resist the firecrackers, so I will be getting festive soon.

Practicing here is always something special, and this trip has been no exception.  How to describe what it is that makes it special is very difficult to articulate, and I have probably tried to do so in previous posts on previous trips, so I won't stumble over words trying to come up with a good explanation this time around, but that room holds some magic for me.  In one very heartfelt conference last year Sharath said that he still misses Guruji everyday, but he feels him in the shala, that his presence is there, and that as long as we keep practicing, he is with us.  Maybe that explains it all.

There has been some interesting buzz around the internet lately about the Jois Foundation and their program for teaching kids yoga in school, and how some parents are reacting negatively, with the feeling that the program is a form of religious indoctrination.   It is an interesting thing to read about, because, in my humble opinion, yoga is not a religion in any way, shape or form, but it is a spiritual practice that invites you to have a deeper relationship to whoever or whatever you personally believe in.  Call God by whatever name you like, but surrender to something bigger than yourself.  And, while I am throwing my two cents in, having taught kids yoga before, lets just say it is challenging enough to teach them postures and keep them interested, so I can't imagine there is too much philosophy talk happening in those school programs.  Hopefully it turns out well over there in Encinitas.

The other interesting buzz I have been hearing is about the presidential election in the USA.  Now, please, I am not American, but as a (lapsed) Canadian, I suppose what happens does affect my country.  It is baffling how much international press American politics can gather, but what amazes me even more is that this sounds like a close race.  If the population of America is roughly 50% women (I am guessing?), why any of them would vote for someone who wants to make them second class citizens is beyond me.  Obama certainly hasn't had a perfect track record, but he is so much a better option that if I had a vote, it would undoubtedly be for him.   It seems like the yoga community in general is of the same opinion, so hopefully they all get out there and cast their ballot in the right direction.

Anyways, it is a lovely Saturday morning here in Mysore, so I am going to go and enjoy it.  Oil bath and maybe a breakfast adventure.  Might be a good day to get out of the house a little bit!

Off I go...