Monday, December 8, 2014

new year's eve countdown

Gate 109, Terminal 3

At the stroke of midnight, Manila time, I should be flying somewhere above India.

This has somewhat baffled friends and family. Would I not prefer spending at least one more day in Manila to enjoy the fireworks and the parties? Or at least be on the ground when the clocks strike 12. 

Perhaps. It's true, I'll be in a foreign land again, far away from family again. But as I sit here waiting for my flight out of Manila to Bangalore, I know there is no place I would rather be. I also know that I am returning home, because India has been a great home for me. I have grown so much from my time there. It is where I get to return to myself through the deep process that is practice. 

Without planning it, there will also be friends there (even now I don't know exactly who), and some of these friends, well, they're family too--just the kind of family we discover along the way. 

Ganesh emailed that I am the first student to be picked up by his taxi service on the 1st of January 2015. I doubt that I will beat the throng of students at registration, but I feel happy to touch ground in India so soon after the New Year begins because Mysore has always been about bringing in the new for me. It is about accepting change, letting go of what needs letting go of, and, of course, manifesting the new. 

Realizing Mysore continues to be unending journey. The count down starts, this is the beginning of a new chapter in this--my favorite--story. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Remembering Guruji

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Guruji. 
July 26, 1915 - May 18, 2009

Here's to a light that never extinguishes!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

being a student, mysore in london

Very non-descript placard beside the door of the shala.
From outside, you would never guess the magic going on in there!

“One more,” calls Hamish Hendry from the main room. I come up from uthita trikonasana, fold my mat  and walk into the steamy room, condensation on the walls and windows, steam rising from hot bodies in practice. I can feel the humidity on my skin but also in my lungs. It might be on the edge of oppressively hot but I love it, I am so happy to put my mat down. I take a few moments to inhale and exhale in samasthitihi, getting used to the thickness of the air in the room before restarting my practice. Ekam…

These months of being on the road have been beautiful lessons in self-practice, in learning to motivate myself, to be patient and sensible when it comes to the limits of the body, to forgive and be loving towards myself when necessary. I have relished the time on my own, but I have to admit, it’s been difficult, and also a little lonely.

Being on a mini-holiday to visit with friends in London, with no particular agenda, has been a great opportunity to go to class, to step into the cauldron, so to speak, to be a student.

In late 2013, when I last breezed through London, a trip to Dharma Shala was on my agenda. I only managed a couple of days but attending class there left a strong impression on me. Returning this time around, taking class super-ceeded being a tourist. It's been nearly a year since my last Mysore trip. A year of self-practice. So entering a warm room again, one buzzing with the energy generated by bodies moving with breath and thoughtful intention...It's like magic. 

Dharma Shala on Drummond Street is a gem of a shala, where the connection to Mysore, India feels very alive, so tangible you can feel it. I’ve not practiced in so many places, but it’s at Dharma shala where I feel Mysore-mysore the most outside of India. It’s the similarity in the process, the continuously rolling in and out of students, finishing postures in another room, the practice-generated heat.

And then, there’s Hamish, very down-to-earth, friendly but also straight to the point sort of man who is among the small number of certified teachers in the tradition. In Mysore, it’s impossible to not meet a student of Hamish’s. And if you speak to them, impossible to miss the tone of love and respect they have for their London teacher and shala. His presence, very much his own, is not so dissimilar to Sharath's non-obtrusiveness. I felt very much how he gave me space, knowing full well I need to do my own work. But I also felt his compassion, how knowing I have not practiced with anyone for a long time, he tried to give me as much support as I needed, inviting me to try new things, giving me something new thing to work on. 

I've been told that Hamish is a teacher's teacher, with many London ashtanga teachers attending Mysore either before or after their own classes, many assisting him as well.  And you can feel that in the assistance, very skilled and sensitive. And you can see that in the room: some really amazing practices, intermediate A, B, not uncommon. The depth of practice, no matter what level, the concerted effort, full deep breath is truly prevalent in the room. And it was a joy to be there myself, even for a handful of days, practicing in the thick of it.

This morning, I returned to my mat, returned to my solo practice. Again, not easy. I couldn't even break a sweat with this fresh spring air in Barcelona, my body stiff from travel yesterday. But I feel good, that even that bit of time in such a room, with such a teacher, has given me some "homework"to stoke my practice.

A wonderful companion to yoga practice:
It starts: "Before you start reading this book breathe long and deep.
This in the only practice in this book and may be the most important."

Yoga Dharma is on sale at Dharma Shala.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

new openings

Maybe it's the inspiring airy, light-filled Espacio Vacio, where I practice in the mornings after class, with its high ceilings and wood floors...

Maybe it's Barcelona, the newness of it and the change of pace that it's allowed me...

Maybe it's Cairo with its unfathomable intensity, perhaps this is its parting gift...

Maybe it's the season and my body is simply used to being pushed to its limits right about now were it in Mysore, India--that somehow I've developed an automated response to diving into the deep end this time of year because for the first time in my life of solo self-practice, I feel like I'm really going for it...

Maybe it's a combination of all these factors.... Or maybe it's just finally time...

Whatever the cause, it feels as if something is once again shifting. But in a very different way from what I'm used to. I don't feel exhausted, or pushed or frayed. I'm eating right, I am sleeping enough, I feel loved. I'm not having a hard time of practice. I'm not wracked with internal egoic debates nor am I plagued by the usual issues of fear or self doubt. I don't feel delicate, though admittedly some tears have come recently but they feel largely like an emotional release, a catharsis without much attachment.

Were I a heaving mess, I'd understand it better. I've been through the process where it felt like practice was slowly prying me open. I, likewise, am familiar with the all-the-sudden bam! sneaky sledge-hammer style it can have at times. I am used to being broken, cracked like an egg, having my guts spill out onto the sidewalk. Used to the dirty process of picking up the pieces in order to put myself together again (albeit better than when it all started).

This. This is new. First of all, I feel well. I know that's a strange one to note, but it's definitely notable. More than anything there's this new awareness, a strong sense that something is happening in my body. On the gross level, there's a deep muscle soreness--not so unusual with practice. Beyond that, there's this more subtle feeling that within my body things are being rearranged, the process of which has resulted in both a lovely yet strange new spaciousness in deep down areas I've never felt before and a quivering sensation, like there's a certain weakness in the limbs, as if they don't quite know how to hold themselves. What in the world?!

Whatever this is, I'm excited. It's thrilling to feel changes in the body. Having been in a practice plateau (physically) for sometime, the prospect of an opening in the body makes me want to celebrate, throw a party, send out announcements--instead, a blog entry will do. Moreover, it's amazing to be able to be aware that something within is moving. Staggering, too, to experience it so calmly, so steadily.

What exactly is happening, I can't really say. One thing is certain: shifts will come and I have a feeling this might be the one I've been waiting for and for quite some time.

It's especially reaffirming to feel how deeply the practice works. That the spirit of Mysore, the movements it inspires, is not a fixed experience. It exists wherever one practices, whenever one practices.