With the stress of exams over, I finally made the effort to go and speak with Bharath privately during lunch. Bharath meets with students on the second floor of his Shala, in the front room which is lit beautifully with natural light. I didn’t quite know what to expect his home to look like, but he had a lovely wooden, low to the ground couch which thin cushions - but still comfy. The chairs were deep. I would have fallen backwards had I sat on the edge and lent back. A thin sheet covered in 1960’s style orange and yellow florals sat over the couch and each of the matching chairs. This mini lounge, a discrete bookshelf in the corner near the bay window and a small laminate coffee table in front of the couch was all that was in the room. I love how simply one can live. My home is much the same. Owen and I are not big on filling our home with clutter. It just creates a stressful, overwhelming environment (for me anyway). Simplicity is so much calmer, and stillness can be achieved much easier (not that I’m always still! That’s exactly why I need a de-cluttered life).
I asked many questions today which I’ve built up over the weeks. As I spend my lunch hours studying, I never found the time to see Bharath until now. I have also been slightly intimidated by him to be honest. I know there is absolutely no need to feel that way but I guess it can be a little intimidating at times being in the presence of a master, and someone I have wanted to meet for some time now.
Back to the questions - I asked simple things like the meaning of certain mudras we do multiple times a day or the reasons why inversions (among other asanas) are not good during menstruation and pregnancy. Being a woman for one, and wanting to work with pregnant women also in future, I think its important I understand this a little more. I asked Bharath if he would recommend I train in gymnastics (in addition to yoga) when I return home to improve my strength. He just laughed at this question. Completely against this idea, he explained the strength comes from the combining of the mind and the body. Often, we limit ourselves purely due to our thoughts. Since being here, I now fully understand what he means by this and have personally witnessed it to be true. Bharath recommended I remain committed to my yoga practice and don’t start other activities like gymnastics, pilates etc. I mentioned that it had been recommended I train in as many areas as possible, such as gymnastics and pilates. To that, Bharath simply said, “…the people who do that are lost.” Enough said.
Finally, I chatted with Bharath about the chronic, and currently sharp, pain I get in my back. I explained I have Scoliosis and that i have flare ups every now and then - now being one of those times. I told him that many people have said my back would improve through yoga, but I am yet to see this happen. That during practice I can relieve it, but once practice is over, the pain always returns. I also explained I have accepted that I shall always live with this pain. There. That was it. Bharath found the problem in an instant. It’s not my back, it’s what I think about my back which matters. If I continuously tell myself I am in pain, that I must deal with pain forever, then that is how I shall live. Bharath told me a story of when he was run over by a motorbike a few years back now. His ankles and legs were broken, he suffered a slipped disc in his back and had severe sciatica (among other things). Bharath said he feels no pain now. Although you can see his damaged knees following the operations, he feels absolutely no pain and this is due to firstly; his commitment to regular practice, but more importantly; his mindset. He wouldn’t allow himself to think negatively about his body. I, however, have done the opposite for years. So - from now on, positive thoughts!
I left Bharath today feeling much more ‘connected’, if you will, with him. I like that he knows a little more about me, and I think he does too. He has a wonderful heart and soul, and clearly wants to best for his students. He is also wonderful at giving 100% of his attention to you. To me. Nothing could distract this man during the time we shared, and it was lovely knowing he is completely engaged. He is so focused on us that you can’t help but feel important to him.
So after today, I no longer feel intimidated by this man - at all. Maybe I should have gone to chat with him a little sooner….
This evening was a more relaxed practice. Beginning with a photo shoot by Bharath of all of us, it ended with us all having an opportunity to take pictures doing asanas in front of the gigantic Om at the front of the class. It was a really fun evening. Bharath sat with us all and helped us get into and out of our postures for photos. He helped me get into Sirsasana for mine. As I was on the spot and rushing into the posture, it was good having him there to make sure I didn’t end up doing a back flip. For most students, this was their last evening practice. For me, I get another month with this wonderful teacher, and I feel so very fortunate for that.
So, my take home lessons for the day; love my body more and be kinder to it, challenge feelings of intimidation - it’s not necessary to feel that way and only brings harm, and stay focused on my practice. This is my chosen path and I will commit to it. What is yours?