|Demon slaying at Chamundi Hill yesterday--pretty much sums up practice|
Before my first trip to India, Mysore was a mythical place, a pantheon where ashtanga superheroes
were said to practice. Thus my hesitation for making my first trip. I felt that I was not ready--and that feeling lingered, like I could never be ready enough. When I was finally convinced to make the trip with my friend Clara in 2010, we took preparing for it like it were the Olympics. We were "training," getting on the mat every morning for 9 months, putting our whole heart into it. Those beautiful days practice was my soul's purpose
Fast forward to the present day, I am at the led class, practicing to Sharath's precise count in the ladies' changing room and I want to laugh at the idea of ever being ready for Mysore because, for me, at least, there is no such thing. My soul's purpose... well, it's still practice, but practice has evolved and expanded and I feel that I am least prepared now than I have ever been.
And that is totally OK!
This is my fourth trip to India and to KPJAYI. Within the first two days, I had moved into an apartment, rented a scooter, applied for a mobile number, registered and attended class--all possible with a certain amount of collected know-how. I'm no longer a newbie to Mysore or KPJAYI, but each day I am here only affirms that there is no prescribed preparation, no precise steps to follow.
The truth is I feel physically challenged at the moment. My physical practice has suffered from all of the awesome blessings of the year: all the amazing yet destabilizing travel for work and for family. I saw two sisters get married, one in NY, another in the Philippines. I've spent more time with family and seen more old friends, from so many different segments of my life, this year more than any year since I started practicing ashtanga yoga. All topped off with a three week visit to my home city Manila, during THE maddest season of the year, what I call the "Christmas Cray Cray," an all-out-eat-shop-party extravaganza, where the closest to a moment of peace and quiet might be found as you are sandwiched between cars and buses in holiday traffic/gridlock. Safe to say, I am currently not at my best physical shape.
So here I am, come to Mysore, travel-weary, breathing through back pain (potentially caused by long-haul flights and sleeping on couches), feeling what I can best describe as this incredible sense of acceptance, that no matter what state I am in I am welcome to lay down my mat and practice here. That the practice and the shala and, of course, Sharath, is all-accepting, no matter what your trip is, no matter what your issue, no matter what your state of mind or heart or body so long as you're willing to get on the mat and do your very best.
As I hobble through led primary, I feel such gratitude for being here. Perhaps in the past, Mysore was about advancing in practice. But right now, it is the place to come home to; to unpack my bags, my pains, my ego; to heal and to rebuilt; to remember what I am about and to truly, deeply refine that great sense of soul purpose.