Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Hutch and Alex and I at KL airport.
Cutie pie Amelie, my niece, and I in front of Year of the Rabbit display in Singapore.
The fabulous Filipino ashtangis feasting after practice for B-day potluck.
So far, the hardest thing to write about is the journey home.
I definitely have Mysore withdrawal symptoms. It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It’s not like I get the shakes or anything. Missing Mysore is subtler than that.
My body misses the routine, morning practice and shala energy. It has been lonely and uncooperative over the last few self-practices.
My mind misses the concentration, input of Sharath during conference and interactions with fellow students, the talks of yoga and the talks you have when you have had enough of talks of yoga.
My heart misses India.
The first few days, I was in a daze, head cloudy of recent Mysore memories, which I am blessed to take home with me. I would smile and try to be present, as I continuously let the intensity of the last 2 and half months wash over me. I was sleepwalking. I couldn’t quite vocalize how I felt. I couldn’t explain. Not at the start anyway.
In many ways, luck has been on my side. I’ve not jumped directly back into the matrix of my “real life.” I’ve taken a slow route, visiting family in Singapore and Manila (where I am now as I write this) before heading back to my own little island nation, Boracay.
And at every stop, there seems to be a reminder that the world outside Mysore is a friendly place. In the airport at Kuala Lampur, when faced with about 6 hours of waiting between flights, I quite shockingly bumped into two Filipino friends Hutch and Alex, who were en route to India. I impart some India wisdom and they keep me company until my morning flight.
In Singapore’s Budget Terminal, I board the taxicab of Mr. Ali, who asks me out of healthy curiosity why I practice yoga. This is an interesting question to get soon after departing from Mysore and I am surprised at how easily I answer, “I feel closer to God.” I explain in brief ishvarapranidhanadva, which animates, Mr. Ali, a Muslim who says that in Islam they don’t use the word surrender but instead submission. A liberal man, he philosophizes about how he doesn’t understand those who claim their religion without studying, without practicing. I tell him it is just like yoga.
This first conversation in Singapore was comforting, that somehow it was a reminder that the spirit of yoga that I saw so alive and well in Mysore lives and breathes outside of India. It comes in different packages, but the essence is somehow preserved.
The unobtrusive comforting ways of family also played a role in my reintegration back into reality, as they ushered me through Singapore's extremely clean environs, mostly from one meal to the other (that's what Filipino families do, eat), a welcome activity since I just realized I have lost 7 kilos over this trip, interspersed with shopping (a trip to Ikea and the giant Konikuya bookstore was a total shock to the system).
Today, in my first full day back in Manila, I went to practice at a local ashtanga studio called Stillpoint in Makati. It was interesting to participate in a different energy, to be adjusted quite liberally, sometimes by two teachers at a time. It was great but odd. I appreciated the intimate numbers and wonderful help with alignment, but I also missed being swallowed in the powerful anonymity of the shala, seemingly forgotten but silently being worked on.
It was a great yoga homecoming too as we gathered for a triple birthday potluck after wards. This was yoga Filipino style, a hard morning’s practice followed by an opulent feast (We Filipinos know how to live it up!). And after eating, I started to talk about Mysore to those that asked about it. Once I got started, it was as if I couldn’t stop. I wanted to share and vocalize my experience. I wanted to repeat the words “Mysore” and “shala” and “Sharath,” as a means of remembering and celebrating my time there.