It seems that the thermometer is rising by the day and I barely make it to my second sun salute in the Shala each morning before I am dripping in sweat. This is taking a little getting used to and there is definitely a sense of needing to slow down. I now have my own transport in the form of a little push bike which is brilliant. The morning commute to practice is pretty much free wheeling down hillall the waythere but that does mean that the return journey mid morning is all uphill … and in the heat of the sun!
There is also a surprising alchemy occurring during my practice each morning. I am actually doing less asanas than I would usually do at home and there is very little in the way of instruction or adjustment at the moment as I have said inthe previous post and yet as a result of this self dependance within the context of a room full ofothers all practising alongside me I ambecoming more aware than ever of a greater sense of mindfulness each day. I have found myself confronting myself during the time that I spend on my mat each day. There is no escape and I am having to recognise a whole range of emotions (different each day) … feeling distracted, frustrated, accepting, learning to let go, to soften the practice some days, to challenge myself more on others and becoming more awareof how I deal with challenge. None of this is new of course, asanyone witha regular yoga practice will no doubt acknowledge, but even having spent all the years practicing yoga that I have, this experience somehow feels very concentrated, like someone holding up a big magnifying glass to me. In his conference last Sunday Sharath talked about how the practice has less to do with how many different asanas (postures) you do and so much more to do with how the practice transforms your life, enabling you to engage with it fully, by looking at ourselves properly to see who we are and what our purpose in life is …
At the end of the first full week’s practice I did feel suitably tired and in need of a hot bath (although sadly I don’t have a bath) and so it was really lovely to have a whole day off on Saturday (which is always a rest day, along with full moon and new moon days). To celebrate this free time a few of us went out on the Friday evening to a beautiful old hotel, the Royal Orchid, which has the most amazing colonial style architecture … lots of carved rosewood furniture and details and a stunning courtyard restaurant where you can dine under the canopy of mango trees. I think there may have been a monkey in one of these trees because half eaten mangos seemed to fall onto our table from above at various intervals during the evening. The food was stunning and it was great to reconnect with a friend Jenny from Bournemouth who has been travelling with her partner Andy for a few months now and they had just arrived back in Mysore that day. The world really is quite small.
Saturday was spent doing a spot of exploring and sight seeing, with a trip tothe beautiful temple atSomnathpur, about an hour’s drive from thecity. The drive itself is really interesting as you quickly leave the dust and chaos of the outer limits of Mysore city and find yourself travelling along basic roads through little villages and stretches of forest or sugar cane plantations. The poverty is pretty stark though and you are aware of how very little most of the people who live here have. The driving is as crazy in the country as it is in the city though! The temple itself is beautiful … intricately carved out of granite stone and made up of a central space surrounded by more beautifully carved corridors on all four sides …stunning!
Then it was time to drive back to the city to check out the old Mysore Palace in the daytime. This involved forming a long orderly queue to walk around in the heat through the various corridors and rooms that make up this beautiful building. It is a celebration of an era when money was clearly no object and full of beautiful carved wooden doors and pillars, solid silver doors, ornate tiled floors and stain glass. It was well worth the visit.
After the visit tothe palace, the mid afternoon heat was getting the better of us all so we headed to the north of the town to a hotel with a swimming pool which you can pay to use for a couple of hours …. bliss! As the afternoon turned towards evening and suitably cooled down by a swim we all headed back down into the centre of old Mysore to the old market which was a real treat. Lane after lane of little stalls selling every kind of vegetable, fruit and spices with their colours appearing all the more saturated in the twilight. These were followed by the most beautiful flower stalls where stall holders sat cross legged up on platforms or on the floor working on making intricate threads of flower heads and petals. So much colour everywhere. There were stalls selling incense and precious oils, kitchen implements,banana leaves, blocks of jaggery (a caramel coloured typeofunrefined sugar) and old picture stalls too. I was in a visual heaven and was kicking myself for not bringing a better camera with me so had to settle for using my camera phone. It was lovely to have the time to take photographs and I realised how little time I allow myself in day to day life to do things like that. India can be so intense and hard work at times with the constant noise and heat and lack of personal space and then it can completely stop you in its tracks with its beauty …. you can’t help but loving it.
In contrast to the busy day’s sight seeing on Saturday, I had booked myself an ayurvedic massage after the morning practice on Sunday at a place which several people had recommended. Fortunately I was given a lift there on a friend’s scooter as I would never have found the place myself, tucked down an alleyway in an area of Laksmipurum, another suburb of Mysore. The outside looks very unassuming and I knocked at the little blue door to be greeted by the lovely Harini, one of the ‘Three sisters’ who treat people from a room in their home here. I soon found myself wearing very little at all and lying down on a floor level ‘bed’ whilst two of the sisters, including Harini, proceeded to massage me using their feet (an old ayurvedic technique) using special oils. Although quite strong, it was one of the best massage treatments I think I have ever experienced and brilliant after the intensity of the practice each day. What was really lovely was that at one point one of the sisters came in carrying her 7 month old baby (one of twins) and proceeded to ask me all sorts of questions about my own children whilst Harini continued with the treatment. There was something quite special and very grounding about the atmosphere there and I most definitely slept well that night!