Sunday, November 17, 2013

a skip season

Guruji's portrait in the shala. 

I would not have thought it possible. Towards the end of my first trip, so certain was I, so gung-ho, so totally obsessed with Mysore, that I was sure I would spend a portion of every year of my life in Mysore, India to practice at the shala--at least until my brittle bones would prevent me from doing so!

And now... as friends and, yes, my yoga family converge in India, I sit during spare in-between-teaching moments reading updates on facebook, viewing photos on instagram, and breathing--I breathe into the space in my heart that tightens because I long for it so: India, the shala, the energy and the practice there, the grace of the teacher, the community in and around Gokulam, the yoga folks, the chocolate, the random livestock wandering around the streets. Oh my goodness, I miss it all!

I've been in Cairo over three weeks now, my coming here has allowed another, my friend and fellow ashtangi Iman Elsherbiny, to go and study with Sharath in KPJAYI. The last three months has been this way, me holding space for others. Before this I was in Japan, subbing for a mysore program in Osaka. After this, I will be doing the same in Barcelona. And the current Mysore season will have come and gone by the time I am done with the commitments that I have made.

I have chosen to skip a season, I have to remind myself. I am the architect of this anomaly.

This was not so methodically planned. I do have a ticket leaving London in the end of December going to back to Asia. My intention was to be in India by the new year, in keeping with my "tradition" of spending the eve at the Shiva temple in Chamundi Hill, giving puja, burning old karmas, making new intentions. But so much has changed since I left South East Asia in early June. And life has challenged me to be flexible off the mat as well.

As the year ends, my puja, my offering is my life. Burning old patterns writ on paper isn't enough anymore. I simply need to stop cycling into them. And the intentions, well, my plate is still full there as I toil over the ones from previous years.

Ultimately, I know it doesn't matter where I celebrate the new year. It doesn't matter where I practice, or where I bow to the teachings of my teacher.

Still, I am missing practice at the shala and Sharath's stealthy hawk-eyed gaze. I can feel my body miss the deep down soreness, the depth of self-discovery, the intensity of moving amongst the breath of 70 some odd students, that indescribable push to the edge. But this time, choosing to teach, rather than to study, also seems right.

While studying regularly with Sharath is important to me as a human being and as a student, I can't help but feel his hand in my learning now, that it is because of his blessing that I am out here. That this is my "off-campus" self-study; it is also a part of my expanding education. And when it's time to return to the mother ship, Mysore will still be there. It will still be the same crazy, pressure cooking home away from home.

Life, I try to remember, is an extension of this practice. That "realizing mysore" is not exclusive to being physically in Mysore the Karnatakan city in Southern India. It is a state of being, a process and a tool for living. We go to Mysore to experience it and when we leave, we don't forget its lessons, which have seeped into our muscle memory, into our bones and into our cellular beings. When we leave, that energy goes with us.

And even though I am missing Mysore very much at the moment, I also know that like the practice, Mysore is always with me. 


  1. Beautiful post! You are talking about the same spot that I come from when I paint yogaland:)

  2. Thanks Esther! I feel you too when I see your yogaland paintings. I often feel like Alice myself, chasing the White Rabbit and going deeper and deeper into Wonder Land.