Overnight, it got busy. The first signs were over the New Year’s weekend. At every turn, there were new faces, on shala road, hanging around the coconut stand, people loitering around the entrance on Anu’s.
Then by Sunday’s led class I was met by a slew of new arrivals smart enough to arrive early at the gate. It was a packed class with students on the stage, foyer and some even in the dressing room. There was still a comfortable amount of space in between some mats. I’ve been told it only gets worse. Every day there will be new faces. The shala will continue to fill.
By 4pm conference, we filled the entire shala (more on special guest Mr. A.G. Mohan soon). The room was a buzz. The small groups talking amongst themselves collaborated into a massive sound. There was a long cue from Sharath’s office to the shop, students waiting to register. The office was closed since Friday, so there was a bit of a backlog. The new arrivals now outnumbered my self, my contemporaries and those that registered before us.
The shift in numbers don’t only affect mat space, it changes a little of everything. Gokulam is not so intimate as before. Quiet moments are less likely to be found at any of the favorite local cafes and eateries, there are more introductions and reunions.
And the energy, oh my, the energy! At this first stage of it, for newbie like me who has settled into an easy groove already, it’s a little unsettling.
Despite the sudden shift, it’s all very exciting too. The promise of seeing so many devoted students, many returning students with fine-tuned practices, of sharing the room with them all. It’s a lot to experience in my final week and a half in Mysore, but also a good one to see. Though I’ve been told by returning students that numbers are controlled this year, I am looking forward to tasting what it’s like, the fullness and energizing effect of a packed shala, the converging masses of ashtangis from around the world coming to practice at the busiest time of year.