Biannka : First full week in the shala

I am now at the end of my first full week of practise.  In coming to Mysore, my only expectation was to practice with Sharath and see how the month rolled out.  I had heard a bunch of different stories about the Shala; how many adjustments you get or don’t get, the type of adjustments, the intensity of practice, the students etc.  My time here has already been exceptional.  Despite there being heaps of people practising at the Shala at the moment (some people have thrown around the number of around 450 students), I have felt totally supported in my practice.  There is such an intensity in the Shala, you feel it as soon as you walk into the foyer – I would say it’s like getting off the plane in Cairns (or Townsville) in the middle of summer and the humidity almost takes your breath away when you leave the air-conditioning behind.

While I loved having the time to explore my practice with Rolfe and Marci, It has been beautiful to get back to the flow of my practice.  Listening to where I am – listening to where I tell myself I should/want to be… There are so many awesome Ashtangi’s over here and watching them practise with such grace and ease makes me want to commit even more to this beautiful practice.  That’s part of the magic here; it makes you want to give more to yourself.  The trick is to give more to what you are now and have now, rather than giving more because you want more…. This one still challenges me, but I am becoming more conscious of the mind chatter and am beginning to just watch it and let it go…even though it might pop up again a few minutes later.

In saying that, one thing I have awakened to is how I have been stuck in the humdrum of my practice.  What I mean by this is, I feel I have let my previous practice determine my next practice and I have become stuck in only trying to do what I could do the day before and no more.  In a way, I have let the past limit my present – and I keep repeating the same story.   So, for example Navasana and lifting up in between each of the five breath counts, I have found myself unconsciously stuck in routinely lifting up without exploring how much effort or oomph I have on that day.  I have also noticed this in other areas of my practice since being here.  I’m not sure how I become aware of it, maybe it’s been the awesomeness of practising with other people or the magical fairy dust of Mysore but I started to think about how off the mat I am at times also bound by yesterday…  SO! Now, in Navasana I try to lift and swing – and if I can do more – I will (hopefully) be conscious enough to do more!  Always listening, observing – a beautiful gift to take off the mat every day after practice.

My apartment
My apartment

Every Sunday at 4pm (shala time!) Sharath has conference.  This is where all the students practising with Sharath and Saraswati pile into the Shala and listen to Sharath give mini lectures on all aspects of the Ashtanga yoga practice.  There is also time for students to ask questions toward the end of Conference.  I have been to two Conferences now and one of the common themes Sharath spoke about is perfecting the asanas we have –not always wanting more postures.  Sharath also spoke about how this practice is an eight limb practice – not just an asana practice.  Sharath has this lovely way about him; he jokes, talks about his experiences while practising with Guruji and growing up – he’s just a really good person.

I have moved into my little apartment now.  It’s a lovely little place and only about a 7 minute walk to the Shala.  It’s downhill all the way to practice which means it’s uphill on the way home!  My practice finishes around 11:30am and most of the little cafes close at 12pm so I generally go and have breakfast before going home – a nice interlude before the walk home.  The food is sensational here.  As you would expect, great Indian food that will blow your mind with flavour and there are a couple of organic cafes that serve salads and more Western(y) food too.

Even though I’m living in a fairly built-up area, there are still cows being milked on the sides of the roads early in the mornings and in the afternoons.  I like how living in suburbia doesn’t stop people from having fresh milk every day.  The cows mosey around during the day eating all sorts of things, sleeping in the middle of driveways and roads – nothing too hectic.

Cow cart
Cow cart

While some things are done the modern way with motorised vehicles and equipment; some things are done the old-school way like this cow-cart I spotted travelling through my street the other day.  About 7-8am every morning, people selling fruit and vegetables will wheel their bikes down the streets yelling out ‘tomatey, papaya’ amongst other things I don’t understand.

Fruit and vege seller
Fruit and vege seller

The fruit sellers have amazing voice projection.  Another cool thing is how the school kids catch rickshaws to school – I know this might not sound terribly fascinating but it looks awesome with the kids all piled in and all the school bags hanging from the side of the rickshaws.  I will try and get a photo before I leave.

Much love xo



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