It's been intense around here the last couple of weeks. Conferences have been packed since the New Year. Led classes are beyond tight. Last Friday, there were three on each side of the stage. Mats overlap everywhere. You're lucky to be practicing on the crease as a few simply choose to practice at home instead of the locker rooms. Even the second level of the Ladies' Locker room have even been occupied for the lack of mat space --from there Sharath's voice is all muffled. On a normal day, self-practice seems to flow too seamlessly into chanting, which is now at 11:55 shala time.
We come into chanting last week--at nearly mid-day, and the room is steamy. The glass of the windows are covered with beads of condensation--a.k.a. human sweat. The air is thick, even though all the windows are open. And it's hard to find a spot on the rug that isn't damp. I swear, even if I sound like it, I'm not complaining. It is what it is.
Whether its a glitch in the system or not, we're all here, trying to make the best of it. I know of at least one person who was asked to leave early and come back when the shala is less busy. It has been said (though not directly to me) that some students who have been here beyond the three month mark have been encouraged to go early. And I know of another who was greeted with much graciousness when she said she was leaving earlier than planned. Requests for extensions have been denied left and right. And I can't help but feel there was some exasperation in Sharath's voice (again, maybe I'm projecting here) as he noted that I was re-registering for my fourth month at the shala, "Not going?"
Though some people continue to leave after their 3 months or many just after the minimum 1 month, students keep on coming. Everyday, I note fresh faces wandering around Gokulam. There seems to be no end to it. The latest start times are rumored to be between 10-10:30am.
At the height of the sudden upsurge of the newly arrived, the website was updated stating that there was a new 3 month maximum study at the shala, along with the announcement of the shala's reopening on July 1, 2012. Boom, just like that, times are a changing.
It's may only be my second visit to Mysore, but already I miss quieter times. In 2010, late October was a sweet time to come. The shala had been opened a month or two before; I came in with a 6:30 start time. October 2011 was definitely more packed. Start times by the end of the month was at 9am.
We are witnessing the changing times here at the shala. As ashtanga grows throughout the world, as Mysore programs are being built up and more and more qualified teachers spread the lineage, the students inspired enough to come multiply. I know I am a part of that swelling wave of this yoga practice, which continues to expand and extend, growing a culture of people who are better attuned to their body and to their higher natures. And that, despite the change in pace and ease in these parts, the nuisance of packed rooms and stressful gate stampedes (which are still really tame, by any standards), is still good news for everyone.