Saturday, February 25, 2012

parcel of practice, connection and a whole lot of self

Guruji in Manila. I like to put out Guruji's photo when I teach.
Here he is watching over my class at Echo Yoga, along Perea.

I hate to admit it, but it took me a while to change my clock. Needless to say it was getting ridiculous, subtracting the two and a half hour time difference between the Philippines and India, plus the additional 15 minutes that accounts for "shala time." Math is not my strong suit. It was impossible setting the alarm. Not very yogic, I know. Not very of the moment.

When I finally did convert to Manila time, the acceptance that I'd really left Mysore was long overdue.

I'll be honest, since I exited from India an entire month and three weeks earlier than scheduled, there's a feeling of loss: the list of Mysore activities still to do, singing lessons and kirtan, friends who I did not get to meet, new depths of connection, self-study and practice that I was preparing to dive deeper into.

All the same, 3 months of study at KPJAYI is also really enough. Enough to dig deep, to unravel and get put together--a few times over, by the time of my departure.

In India, the term for "take home" or "take away" in restaurants, a.k.a. "hotels," is "parcel," which is usually wrapped in newspaper. I feel comforted that I've brought back a hefty parcel home from Mysore. Taking stock now, I am assured that the three months has given me much to munch on:

the practice
In conference, Sharath emphasized how no particular person owns this practice, that it belongs to anyone who really embraces it. And for the last three months I've been locked in a full body bear hug with the practice. Sometimes, it was intense and the practice and I were rolling around the room, wrestling each other; me, refusing to get beat down, the practice trying to subdue me or, rather, my ego. Other times, we were lovingly wrapped around each other, content and existing in total harmony. Over the last year, between the two trips to Mysore, my relationship with the practice has totally evolved and continues to. Today: we are good friends. And I take this very special friendship home with me.

And while there's no way of taking Sharath back in a parcel, his presence in my practice returns home with me too. It's funny to get so little contact and a very minimal amount of feedback and yet feel so much guidance. It remains a mystery to me how it works. I just know it does. I've left feeling like I've been sent off for summer break with a rucksack full of assignments by my teacher. Homework!

One of the gifts of Mysore is the opportunity to connect with so many beautiful like-minded people, who are tapping into the same pool, the source of the ashtanga practice. No matter what background we are hailing from, whatever place we call home, there is a shared commitment to ashtanga and to the lineage. And as the practice churned me, the people who were closest to me became touchstones to the variety of experiences that Mysore inspires, whether it's the complexities of the postures, the emotional uprisings/purgings or personal epiphanies, those precious "aha!" moments that shines a light on some dark corner of the mind.

These connections, whether they are brand new or a couple of trips old, are what makes Mysore special. And when we go home, we are like dots connected around the globe, forming a very tight community, bonded through our love of Mysore and the growing pains we witness/help each other through.

the self
Ultimately, the best connection I ever made in Mysore is with myself. The practice works on so many levels (most of which are upped when practicing in Mysore). Externally, there's the physical body, which stretches and strengthens. There's sweat, lots of it; our body cleanses. Muscles feel soreness and pain as they work towards openness. The practice melts away what is physically extraneous. Internally, it's no different as we release our issues, the tightness in our hearts and minds loosens, removing such incredibly huge yet totally unnecessary obstacles.

For me, I feel like I understand myself better. I have more patience for my foibles, which I see with greater clarity. I am owning up to the things I value and the person that I am, all the sweet and odd and sometimes inconsistent gifts that make me special. I love myself more and in doing so feel more love for the people and the world around me.

taking it home
Realizing all this now not only takes the edge off having to leave Mysore so abruptly but is also enriching my return home. The parcel of practice and the connections with others and with myself is something I can always take with me. It travels light. It packs so nicely into whatever new life space I inhabit.

In truth, I brought home similar lessons from my first trip. But the second time around, my "take home" feels more substantial. I guess that's why people like myself keep on coming back for more. Everything changes and moves, evolves and becomes more refined with this ever dynamic yoga practice.

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