We were warned the tempo would increase, but bloody hell! The sweat was pouring off everyone in the class tonight. We all looked as though we had jumped in a swimming pool and then decided to do yoga. The shala becomes like a sauna in these conditions, and Barath wont open the windows to let cool air in as this can disrupt our prana. My understanding of this is - the more advanced our practice becomes, the more sensitive our bodies become to external forces which can lead to injury or illness. Therefore, as our bodies have naturally warmed in the room through movement, our bodies have adjusted to the temperature and can comfortably continue working in those conditions. The same goes for Savasana (dead man pose). Should the windows be opened during this resting time, then it can shock our bodies and again lead to illness. Its fascinating learning the science behind the practice.
Of course you have those students who can’t help themselves but complain (who I try my very best not to be affected by) but i just figure - Bharath is the teacher, the master, so there is a reason for everything he does. Trust the process. He can see we are slipping off our own elbows or from under our own feet, but this is all part of the process I guess.
For me, because I was literally doing exactly that (slipping off my own elbows) it required I be so much more focused in the posture to maintain it. Kakasana was a great example of this for me tonight. Not only is this already a challenging posture for me, I now needed to work out how to hold it with absolutely no grip from my skin to hold me in place. I may as well have been covered in oil. But - I did it, and held it for probably my longest time ever. So, at the end of the day my technique and focus must be improving. Method in the madness!
Prior to class, against my better judgement as usual, I decided to eat about five of these instant heart attack biscuits I love. I know they are bad for me. I know my focus in class is significantly reduced when I eat them (or any other crap for that matter). I know I will then need to spend the rest of the afternoon trying to maintain an ounce of dignity… But, of course I had to go ahead and eat them. I regret it every time. The lesson to self here is - listen to your body. It will tell you what it likes and what it struggles with. The act on it (or not act in my case).
Chatting with a friend at lunch, we were talking about obesity and health problems due to poor eating habits (which we all have. I’m a sucker for lollies). I feel a huge part of this problem is people are no longer in tune with their bodies. They’re not listening to what it’s telling them. Prior to meeting Owen, I too was one of those people. I ate a packet of chocolate biscuits every night before bed, lived on ready made meals, drank far too much alcohol, smoked - and I never noticed how unwell my body was. Owen use to tell me he would feel almost a burning sensation in his throat when he had too much sugar. I had no idea what he was talking about. I could have inhaled 5 blocks of chocolate and not understood this feeling he claims to get after about 3 pieces. But now, I fully understand what this meant (among other internal sensations). I have found being here, in Mysore, and so involved in my practice has also helped me to dig a little deeper. I realise not everyone can come to Mysore and have this type of experience, but through a willingness to listen to and respect your own body, combined with regular practice, we can all achieve this greater insight into ourselves. Just a thought anyway.
Earlier this morning I watched a Mysore Style class. Here, the students work at their own pace with the more advanced students at the front of the class and the newer students at the back. Myself and two others in my course sat at the back of the shala watching as everyone practiced in front of us. Personally, this style doesn’t appeal to me. I much prefer the led classes. As I tend to be someone whose mind runs at a million miles an hour, it’s nice to be told what to do and not have to think through my own routine. My mind needs a rest at times.
Mysore Style does, however, force people to become more disciplined in their self practice, which is a great thing, so I absolutely see the value in it. I’m just not keen to practice this way for myself. Something I was excited to realise today however, through this observation, is how you can learn from your students. By watching how people move, noticing their individual achievements and struggles, the emotions which arise while practicing - I realised I am not the only one in any class who is struggling with my own body, or beautifully flowing with it. That everyone is walking their own journey, and that journey needs to be respected and appreciated. I am excited for the path I am paving for myself - that I will be able to share this journey with my future students. Watching how Bharath interacted with the students, and knowing one day I too will be doing the same, gave me such joy.
On a final note, I was chatting with Owen today about the importance of making choices for ourselves which bring joy to us. That make us think and smile. It saddens me to think of all the people who dreamed of a better life but never dared take that one step (which is all it takes) to pursue it. I am a bit of a risk taker - yes. (I have a property portfolio, for example, and am in significant debt to own these properties and yet I threw in the career and am currently jobless in India). But what I know, is that I need to make sure I am living my life how I want and trust everything will work out. What an awful moment it will be if I were to wake up one day and realise my life has been nothing of what I ever hoped for. We only get this chance once, so the price of not living it how I choose is far higher than any money I could lose etc. So i think it’s important people follow their hearts and live how they want to live. Life is so short and we all have a timer which none of us can stop. So if one wants something, plan for it now and take action as tomorrow may not be here.
Of course, we all need to make sacrifices in order to achieve certain things (I for one have had to leave everyone I love, step outside of my comfort zone and travel to India alone for three months to pursue yoga - as you well know) but if the reward is far greater, then the sacrifice will never be considered a burden on your life. It’s life giving rather than life taking.
Now, I’m not trying to be a life expert by any means. But I just hope my beliefs may resonate with some and encourage them to take a chance. To live, love and breathe deeply while we still can.
Ok - I’m going on now. You get the point.
So, it’s off to bed for me now. After a shocking night sleep last night, I need to make sure I get a better one tonight.
Some things I appreciated today…