Friday, January 30, 2009

It is my last full day in Mysore. Although I didn’t get to move forward with my Yoga practice, it has been an interesting visit.

This was the first trip where I have had to practice in the main Shala with 75 other students. In previous years, I have always had the privilege of practicing with Sharath in his house. Prior to that, I practiced in the old shala in Laxmipurham. Both of these studios accommodate a maximum of 15 students.

Sharath no longer teaches in his house, so this year I have had to join the crowds.

It is sad that Sharath can no longer give as many adjustments as he did in previous years and it must be tough for him to compromise his teaching like this. The only adjustment that I have had throughout my time here is back bending.

The energy in the Shala is amazing though and the few adjustments that I did have were precise. It was definitely good to come for the experience of it.

I have been invited back in June 2010 to participate in a teacher training. This will be level two of the current Authorisation that I hold at the AYRI. I am excited at the prospect of doing a full – time schedule with Sharath and gaining some hands-on training with him.

I am now very much looking forward to a week on the beach in Goa and to doing self practice for a week.

I hope that I will be able to continue my blog, but I am not sure what the net access situation will be. If access is difficult, I will see you most of you very soon anyway!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I have decided to try and be a bit more Zen with the locals. If the Rickshaw drivers want an extra 10 rp (approx 7 pence!), then I have decided that I am going to give it to them with good grace. The stress is doing my blood pressure no good at all and at the end of the day, I am arguing over pennies!

I was thinking about their attitude to money here and I concluded that I need to feel pity for their desperation instead of anger. Anand was telling me that when someone dies here, they hope to be reincarnated into a life in another country far away from India. He also said that when he dies he would like to come back as someone from the West. I thought that this was very poignant. So many Indians long for all things Western.

I have to say, being here makes me realize just how lucky I am back home. Of course we have our own worries and stresses, but at least I have food in my belly and a roof over my head.

I can’t believe how inpatient and aggressive I have become in the past week. I have had another day of arguing with rickshaw drivers and getting hot and bothered. India seems to bring out the worst in me and I hate the person that I have become here.
The heat is so intense, so dry and arid. I really don’t know how incomers can bear to stay here for months on end.

I went to the zoo this afternoon. I felt much like one of the animals; I was stared at intensely for an hour and had my photo taken at least a dozen times.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I am starting to get very frustrated with this place. Little things are starting to irk.

I have had a number of bad experiences in the past few days with rickshaw drivers where they have tried to take more money than the journey is actually worth. Another stunt that they like to pull is to say that the meter isn't working when it quite clearly is. My Landlord has also ripped me off, so I am feeling very disheartened in general. So many people are on the take here and it requires so much energy to fight them off. It was also incredibly hot today which didn't help, todays temperature was 35 degrees! The Yoga Shala walls were dripping with sweat this morning and I was soaked through by the end of practice.

On a happier note, my painting is almost finished! I had to put in a double shift and will have to do the same tomorrow. Hope to have it finished by tomorrow and will send it away to be framed. Very excited; it looks beautiful.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I was kept awake last night by dogs howling in the street, and then the eerie sound of the local mosque doing prayers in the wee small hours. Luckily it is a moon day so no yoga and a good long-lie in :)

I commenced the final leg of my painting class this morning. At last, the main event; the final piece of artwork. After 10 days of sketching it is time to culminate all of the skills that I have acquired

I have chosen Laxmi – the Goddess of good fortune for my final piece. After outlining the picture, the traditional technique is to attach pure gold paper to the canvas with glue to create a gold leaf effect; a laborious technique that could take me some time. After two hours of fiddling I have almost completed a square inch of the entire picture. I only have 5 days before departure so I am hoping that it will be done by then…….

I am feeling ready for my departure on Saturday. I have enjoyed my time here, but as always India has been hard work and I am sick of eating curry. I am bound for Goa for a week and am looking forward to some beach time and some Western food!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It would seem that wherever I go, my life is super busy.Today was no exception and although I had a day off painting class, I managed to cram in as many activities as possible.

The day started with a led second series class. I was a little apprehensive about this as I am still getting my energy back after my illness. Thankfully, Sharath stopped me just before a very energetic pose (titibasana) and I gratefully moved in to back bends.

The remainder of the day was spent by the pool, catching up on business duties and doing my homework. It is now 10pm and time to turn in, having been on the go since 6am I am well and truly spent.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It is amazing how quickly one becomes accustomed to ones surroundings. The apartment that I am staying in is ‘functional’ and no more. The shower is warm with a low pressure; the bed is hard, the walls dirty and cracked. But, for my time here it is home and it has become a little haven for me – an escape from the rigours of Mysore.

Unfortunately I was forced away from comfort and familiarity, to do battle with town to purchase an adaptor today. The centre of Mysore is dirty, hot and polluted with smoke billowing from exhausts and a constant noise of horns tooting and hawkers harassing you.

Mission accomplished, I was thankful to retreat to the relative peace and quiet of Gokulum. The pollution definitely hasn’t helped my cold any and I am still blocked and nasally.

My painting class with Anand was productive. Seems I am ready to graduate from sketching hands to drawing feet! He seems pleased with my progress and I was rewarded with a promise that we will move on to the main event on Monday – at last, I will be creating the classical Mysore piece of artwork - hooray!

Friday, January 23, 2009

I feel like I am over the worst of my illness…. It seems that first aid kit did its job.

I felt well enough to do practice again this morning – a led primary class that helped me to sweat out the last of this evil virus.

I went to get my brows shaped this afternoon; the cheapest threading I have ever experienced at approx 20p! She was deft and very well practice with the cotton and gave me the best finish I have ever had. Treatments here can be a bit hit or miss here. I had an oil massage the other day that made me so repulsively greasy, I felt as though I had been steeped in the deep fat fryer for hours.

My art teacher has moved me on to painting with a brush. I was excited at the prospect of progressing from endlessly sketching hands. Much to my disappointment, I realized that the next step is to outline the hands that I have drawn with paint. I sincerely hope that we move to the main piece of artwork soon… I see now what he meant by ‘meditation’. This painting practice definitely requires focus, a capability to be in the moment and an ability to not get too attached to the end result!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It looks like this head cold is going to get worse before it gets better. Typical, I managed to escape winter in Scotland feeling relatively healthy and without getting any flu/colds etc. Now, on my ‘holidays’ and I have a really nasty virus. I was up the night before last feeling dehydrated and with streaming nostrils. Last night, I slept for 12 hours solid and have awoken with a severe headache.

So, I have felt very low today… extremely tired and my head is still splitting. Managed to get myself the ultimate first aid box though; lemon and ginger tea, Mama Mia DVD and a chocolate brownie! See you in 24 hours!

To fill my days, I have signed up to do a painting class. The session is two hours per day and the result will be a beautiful gold-leafed traditional India painting.

The first class was spent laboriously copying pictures drawn in pencil by my teacher Anand. He described at as ‘meditation’, requiring focus and an ability to sit on the floor cross legged for two hours. I thoroughly enjoyed the session, though it was harder than I had anticipated. I was even given homework!

I was utterly exhausted after the session. I have cold and swollen glands – surely not flu? Can that be possible in this climate?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

After a nice slow and gentle primary series practice and breakfast at the Om House, I went for chi at the local chi stand. There were three young lads causing mischief – nothing major, just playing up like normal ten year olds do. In response to their behavior, the owner of the teashop took a broom and starting beating them with it. His brutal reaction was unexpected and left me feeling shaken. I am sure that a public beating like that would result in uproar back home; no-one seemed to bat an eye here.

Ah, India… a country of extremes. Just when you start to feel that you are beginning to settle in and understand the culture, you witness something like that.

The remainder of the day was a bit perturbed as well… I had lots of business issues to deal with. Seems there is no escape from work after all.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Led second series this a.m. The Shala is so much quieter for the more advanced class which means more room to move, no queuing and no jostle for mat space.

I had a good practice; though the second series led class is intense and extremely slow. I also realized just how lazy I am in my own practice back home; taking five quick breaths in one pose, five long in another; adapting the practice to how I am feeling that day. Mind you, I have so much going on in Edinburgh and so little time to recover after practice, i can't really push myself physically without feeling exhausted for the rest of the day.

Time is one thing that you are never short of here. My friend Krista and I flaked out by the pool at lalitha Mahal Palace this afternoon...… ah, the joys of no work. Another day has slipped by and I am really starting to feel rested and well… I feel so blessed that I don’t have to endure the peak of the harsh Scottish winter. I hear that things are pretty bleak back home……

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday… a day off! I slept for India last night, waking at 8am after a record 10 hours! After my previous restless night I was so glad of the rest.

As predicted, yesterday was exhausting mainly because I now have to branch out on my own and chat to people. It is so easy when you are part of a couple and you can be lazy and chat to one another. I felt as though it was my first day at school and I was trying to ‘make friends’.

There is certainly an abundance of people here to talk to; the difficulty is discerning who you are likely to have anything in common with.

I met my friend Chris from Edinburgh this afternoon and we went for some pampering and massage at the Windflower Spa. My hot stone massage was scalding, I was covered in burn marks directly after ( is this supposed to happen?!), but feel very relaxed now.

And so another day draws to a close.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Andy left me yesterday and there is now a huge void in my routine. My apartment is extremely quiet and I feel quite lost without him.

Yoga was difficult because I hadn’t slept well….. a mosquito has invaded my sleeping quarters and spent the night trying to tunnel its’ way into my ear. This coupled with an aching shoulder made for a restless night

So, in all I am not in the best place today. A long sleep this afternoon will do me the world of good and perhaps a massage.

I am also feeling slightly perturbed at the thought of having to make such a fierce effort to do everything on my own now. Andy has been such a support here. I have traveled to India many times on my own and hadn’t realized until this trip how much easier it is to travel with a man. Men receive so much respect here from the locals and it was wonderful to give him full responsibility of our money and any discussions re accommodation, travel etc.

Oh well, just a period of transition I guess. I will get used to it soon enough.......

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Well, here I am again….. it is my 8th trip to Mysore and I am still blown away by how many Western people there are here practicing yoga with Sharath and Pattabhi Jois. The numbers have increased since my last trip and I have been informed that they are expecting at least 300 students by the end of January!

So far, I have done a week of led primary series, one led second series and one Mysore class. The led classes have been pretty challenging; I had forgotten how long Sharath holds each pose for. Five breaths feels like five minutes - especially when in Nirvasana!

The afternoons have been spent getting some down – time, reading, swimming, sleeping and trying to acclimatize to the extreme temperature change.

Andy has been confidently driving a scooter around Mysore for the duration of our trip. This will all change next week when he leaves and I will be negotiating my way around by rickshaw. Definitely a safer way to travel, but less fun and more exhausting because of the negotiation required when getting from a to b.