Tuesday, March 6, 2012

calling on mysore energy

Mysore is on my mind today. It is most days. How can it not be? Each morning, every practice, that first "Om" followed by "Vande gurunam..." is like a thread connected to India, to Mysore, to the shala where a small remainder of friends/diehards are currently sweating out the hot month under Sharath's quiet but steady gaze. Today, in particular, with Manila friends returning home from their own yoga journey, I am feeling the shala.

Emphasis on "feeling." There is a certain lonesomeness to it, though I'd have to say it's a different sensation from missing the shala outright, which I also admit to wholeheartedly.

It's been 6 weeks or so since I left Mysore. Today, however, with Nature (a friend and Manila teacher I've been subbing for) back from Mysore I feel a sense of recognition. As she briefly recounted her experience practicing there for the first time, I knew exactly what she was feeling, what most of us who love Mysore, who call Sharath our teacher, who consider Gokulam home away from home, universally feel. Ultimately, it's inexplicable. Not to be over-dramatic, but the experience, the time, the tapas is in my blood, it's in my system.

The room exists under my eyelids, where I can see the faded rugs, the condensation forming on walls and windows. Sharath's succinct voice counting in Sanskrit or calling out "One more" echoes within my eardrums. The humidity of the shala is forever on my face, the locker room's cold marble continues to cool my feet despite my rubber mat. The magic of the shala and Sharath's support is stored in the memory of my body.

All these things are present with me, though some days the connection is stronger than others. Teaching is helping, the ability to see the room with distance, as an observer as much as a participant. Somehow, the energy of a room amidst self-practice, hearing the chorus of breath, watching over the softly determined students focused on the practice before them strengthens that direct line to Mysore. I don't even think many of the students consciously realize that they make up a part of this growing web that makes up the ashtanga community.

In a way, it's a blessing to be here in Southeast Asia, the outer edges of this sprawling global yoga community (and, yes, slash "industry").

For most of the students here, mysore is the method of their practice. Few have been to the place, or understand how a Guruji's Lakshmipuram room good for 12 people helped give birth to their practice many decades ago. They are more concerned about what is happening presently on the mat and how it's reflecting in their daily lives than being caught up in what the NY Times magazine is saying about yoga, or what's happening to Anusara's John Friend, or the contraversy around Jois Yoga as illustrated in Vanity Fair--all of which does make me want to launch into some grand yoga debate. However, I think there's something really beautiful and uncomplicated about the students I've been working with this week. Regardless of whether or not they have the memory of Mysore itself imprinted on their system, as they dive into their practice they are tapping into Mysore's magic, the lineage in its purest form, sans politics, just energy.