Wednesday, April 3, 2013

getting off the gokulam merry-go-round

Just over a week since the shala closed and the mass exodus of yoga students seems to be at its end. Even Sharath, Saraswathi and the rest of the family are in the US, starting their tour in Greenwich, Conneticut just this last Monday.

Though I left Gokulam myself towards the end of last week to situate myself comfortably in the neighborhood of Saraswathipuram before heading back home to the Philippines, I drove around there yesterday morning to run a few errands. 

On the main street it seemed pretty much business as usual, except for the lack of foreign yoga students milling about, riding around in scooters or motorbikes. Guru's coconut stand was closed this morning. As was their food stand. The breakfast cafes are now closed for the season. Trupthi's Coffee stopped stocking fresh tofu, Mrs. Truphti explaining that there were no more yoga students. I said I was still there. She just laughed. One straggler doesn't make for much of a customer, I guess. 

There's a quiet about Gokulam now and it feels like the energy of the neighborhood has shifted some. There's also a certain sweetness to this time. As if some sort of natural balance is being restored in the residential neighborhood of Mysore, India. Gokulam takes back its streets from the foreign yoga students. Gone are the chatty little road blocks that stop in the middle of the street to converse for some five to fifteen minutes. 

Not that the yoga students won't be missed, as room and house rentals, silver sales, and other services slump for the hottest part of the year. Still, other schools remain open and Saraswathi will be back in action by July. But the main glut of eager ashtanga practitioners will come when Sharath commences teaching, rumored to be in late October. 

For me, one of the yoga throng, I feel like I too am regaining some of my own precious footing. Ending this shala season is a little like getting off a merry-go-round. My three month merry-go-round was actually three months of practice, five weeks of assisting, five weeks of courses at Mumuksha, a month and a half of philosophy classes at James', two weeks of singing lessons with Ranjini, not to mention the many precious moments with friends at the coconut stand, at Van Dosa, Secret Breakfast or Sri Durga Bhavan, or at home for intimate breaky or lunch. All of which I wholly treasure, despite the craziness.

It's only now that I fully realize how much I was whirling and moving, from one thing to another, continuously for three months. It's impossible to see straight in the throes of it. How does it feel stepping off a 3 month ride in which you are constantly going and going in circles? A little disorienting. I've touched ground, but things are still moving. What I realize that in order to do all that I wanted I sacrificed being really present, especially in my writing and in my personal relationships.

Moving so much and getting caught up in activity, I realize, is one of my problems, not just in Mysore, but in general. But Mysore does bring it up (and that is a part of it's magic), what with all the great opportunities to learn and expand. It's hard to set healthy personal boundaries. But they are incredibly necessary--for my own sanity and for efficacy of the yoga practice which I so cherish. Sharath always reminds us in conference, to go home, take rest, self-study--but how we manage this in a skillful way is up to us entirely.

(In a way, I'm pretty relieved that this year has been more like a merry-go-round than a roller-coaster--because I've had that too. The dismount from that is not so smooth as now.)

Ultimately, I do not regret any of the amazing learning experiences and all the awesome interactions I've had this season, but I also recognize that I could engage in a healthier way. I have to be more honest with my personal limitations. I have to give myself as much time to sit and be still, that there has to be a healthy balance between rest and activity, so that I can get the most of this crazy ride called Mysore, in this incredible amusement park called Life.


  1. Hi. Do you give Mysore classes in Philippines? Thank you :)

  2. Hi Jenny,

    No plans so far for Manila classes. I will be in Boracay though, through end of April and start of June, if you have any plans of going. I'll post once I have a better idea. Hope to see you sometime.


  3. thanks for the reply! i wouldn't be able to drop by bora this year hopefully next. awesome blog btw! hope to meet you sometime!

  4. Yoga is good for Healthy life and may be people all around the world love to travel Mysore to learn the Yoga art.