Wednesday, December 21, 2011
For me, Mysore is about yoga, which in Sanskrit means "yoke" or "union." It is about connection: to our teacher, to the people we meet, to the friends we make. There is an intensity to the bonds formed here, as people are pried open, hearts all soft and vulnerable from excessively deep back-bending. Without barriers, love flows easily and links are made.
However, the most important relationship I've formed so far is with this mad, crazy, magical place, the shala, and within it, this blood-heating practice called ashtanga. It has everything we look for in a partner: it has depth and complexity, it's challenging, it may seem mysterious but it actually makes sense, it makes us work but rewards us for our effort, it keeps us grounded and humble and it makes us feel great, it is constant and yet always dynamic, and it sure is HOT!
The phases of life here even reminds me of the stages of dating.
The first month can be mild, a time of adapting to the inner workings of the shala, to life in Gokulam as well as India at large. It's a time of easy flirtation as one skims the surface of asana practice.
It can also be euphoric, the honeymoon period in which my practice/my teacher and I dance about merrily, getting to know each other. It is full exciting firsts. First practice. First backdrop. First led class. First conference. First coconut. First Indian breakfasts. It goes on and on, all memorable first dates.
Month two is less straight forward, less easy. There are bumps on the road--and as this is India, there are plenty of them. Fatigue wears down the charm of the place and the practice. And the deeper the practice, the heftier the drama. There are amazing highs, but there are lows too.
My practice and I won't always get along. We sometimes misunderstand each other. Other times, we just don't see eye to eye. I may intend to grab calves in back bend but that does not always happen. I may want to move on and get a new pose, but that's not up to me. The practice (and Sharath) may have other plans. I may want to secure my leg behind my neck and back in ekapada sirsasana but my hips won't oblige.
There are petty jealousies. My practice may want me to conserve my energy. To take things easy and rest. It can be possessive. It wants all my time. And sometimes, I feel envious of another student with his/her practice. They look so... happy. They look so good together! Then my practice gets pissed off because my drishti has strayed and I'm not paying it proper attention.
There are disagreements. There are tears. There are disappointments and frustrations. The deeper the practice, the deeper the relationship delves into the deep down stuff that we usually try to hide from each other. Through the difficulties, though, we start to understand each other better. We make up and go back to loving each other, stronger than ever.
I'm days into my third month now. And I can see that my practice and I are getting into a nice groove. It's not perfect, but it feels great to spend time together. I can see there is so much more to discover and I'm looking forward to it. We're learning each other's quirks. We're learning not to rush each other.
I look forward to understanding my practice better, and by knowing it better I feel that I will know myself better too--and that relationship with myself is the connection that I have long wanted to establish, that's what draws me to India, to Mysore, and to the shala.