Today, it just worked!

Have you ever had one of those days where everything just seemed to work? No dramas, just smooth sailing. Today was one of those days for me. I don’t have them often, so when they occur they are truly meaningful.

Firstly, I was finally selected to teach the class today. The asanas to teach were probably the most difficult so far (in terms of the amount of information to retain and technical details) and because of that I was secretly hoping not to be selected. I wasn’t sure if my technique for a couple of the asanas was correct - so long story short, I clearly lacked confidence. But on the flip side, I absolutely wanted to be selected to challenge that part of myself - and in the end, I was thrilled that i was. I had so much fun in front of the class demonstrating the asanas (Salabasana, Dhanurasana, Bhekasana and Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana). The  final asana was the one I was most nervous about but my demonstration was excellent.

It turns out my students loved being in my class - so much so they said they completely forgot they were at teacher training and thought they were in a proper class!! They also said they were hanging off my every word, intrigued by what I would say next and wanting to learn from my demonstrations. They said I was a natural and assumed I was already a teacher. It shocked them to find out this was my second class ever - the first being last week. What better feedback could anyone get! Now, in no way am I trying to blow my own trumpet here, but I have to say I am pretty proud of myself. It seems all my hard work is starting to show. And considering I have given up my career to come here, I’m glad the feedback supports my decisions to teach. Yay!

At lunch I decided to take a rickshaw to Easy Day supermarket, the biggest in Mysore. Picture a smaller version of Big W but with food also. I was headed there for two reasons. Priority 1: floss. Priority 2: kettle. Turns out, people in India don’t floss. I have been to that many places trying to find floss but the don’t seem to stock it, or even know what it is. Owen suggested I buy some cotton thread as an alternative - I actually will! I did, however, find is a little ‘Heat Cup” which is my new kettle. I am thrilled to have the ease of making tea whenever I feel like it without having to go to the fourth floor of the building. Such a simple pleasure which I have taken for granted back home.

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Having a little kettle in my room, some bowls and a new little plate - my room is really turning into my home. I’m beginning to get comfortable here which is nice.

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On a side note - it’s amazing how the locals here know when you are new to the area or have been here for sometime. Rather than being quoted a stupid price by the rickshaw driver to take me to Easy Day, I walked up to him, named my price and off I went! The first time I tried to negotiate, the drivers wouldn’t budge of their ridiculous fees. They can see now that I know what to pay. It’s just interesting how quickly you adapt to a place.

This evening there was a second round of teacher training from the students. Our group teacher was a young Frenchman. He often comes across as quite offhand and has very little to do with people, but every now and then he will chat with us all and appear excited. He practices in front of me usually and I can’t help but notice how dirty his clothes are. Stains are all over his shirt and pants - no one else in the class dresses this way. His body odour is also another problem. Thankfully I can’t smell him when he is in front of me - but sitting next to him can be a challenge. But regardless of appearances, underneath the exterior is (I think) a genuinely lovely man, clearly an introverted man hence the reason he is a bit of a loner most of the time. Back to his class - his savasana had me, and the group next to us, in hysterics (keep in mind we are to be silent in class - no talking other than the teacher is permitted). For those who don’t know, savasana (dead mans pose) is a relaxation pose at the end of your class, where you rest quietly on the floor. But this didn’t happen in my Frenchman’s class - oh no! He had us stretching, stretching, stretching every part of our body - then lifting, lifting, lifting other parts of our body - then scrunching, scrunching, scrunching the face - then sticking the tongue out, out out…. I absolutely lost it. One had to be there to fully understand, but just know I (and the rest of the group) could not control the laughter after silently going along with his direction for a couple of minutes or so. I had the tears streaming, even my nose was running I laughed so hard. And chanting - forget it. Every time I opened my mouth I was gone again. We all were. This will certainly be a memorable savasana for me, and anyone else in the world who takes a class of his one day. Ahhhh - good times.

Tonights practice with our proper teacher, Bharath, was fantastically strong. Kakasana and I are still friends - in fact we are getting to know each other quite well! I am also becoming good friends with Kakasana’s cousin, Parsva Kakasana. This is a twist to the side rather than straight in front. I can’t believe how strong and engaged I am becoming. It’s fantastic. And now, I’m sitting at my little desk with my cup-a-noodles and tea (all made with my new kettle) writing these thoughts. It really is lovely to feel a little more settled, and even more lovely to have one of those days that ‘just worked’.

So - on that note, it is time to study and then off to bed.

Thank you for reading.

Namaste xx


Just something lovely

A rather big day in the end

Where to start. It’s ended up being such a big day. I think sub-headings is necessary in this instance or my tired mind could end up all over the place…

MORNING PRACTICE

Amongst all the noise in India, when it’s 5am in the morning and most of Gokulam remains asleep, you can hear people chanting in the distance. Their vibrations echo up the hill and reach us in our Shala. It really is quite beautiful, and in a way eerie, to hear. Our chants would no doubt be heard echoing through the streets here also. It’s the smaller things like this which make this place very beautiful and, in an ironic way - calming. Chanting can be such a relaxing and beautiful practice and sound.The resonance can reach your bones when you’re really present with it. I hope to invoke this same feeling in my classes one day.

PROTECTING THE HUSBAND

Every morning you will see all the women washing their drive ways and constantly sweeping them throughout the day. This is because each morning they draw, with rice flour, a small image designed to protect their husbands as they leave for work. Some of the patterns, all done by hand (not stencils), are incredibly intricate. You could spend a day here looking at all the different patterns people make. There really are some stunning ones. 

TEACHER TRAINING

This evening we completed our technique course in our teachers other studio, in the main area of Gokulam. We were slowly taken through Surya Namaskara, learning about all the limitations, benefits, common mistakes and variations. We need to know this sequence by Monday. My eyes are closing as I write this so maybe I will leave study to tomorrow.

Our teacher has given a lot of homework for tomorrow, in preparation for Monday, but as he said -  we are here specifically to train. He is also clear that our certification should be considered an honour, making it more valuable, hence we must put the effort in.

DINNER

Tonight my friend Mitta and i decided to eat at my favourite restaurant Depth and Green. We were both so tired we decided against going to the High Bar and just wanted to get home then go to bed. 

Mitta is a lovely, gentle, loving Indian woman who lives in New Delhi however will be moving to America in the near future. This is primarily for the sake of her children who miss their father who lives in the USA. Mitta took time to explain her morals, the effort she is going to to be a good mother and just an all round good person. She then opened up and told me she and her husband are separated and have been for 2 years now. This was her decision as they wanted different things. Mitta said i speak gently and pleasantly, which makes it easy to talk with me. I thought that was really sweet.

Whilst walking home from the restaurant, I noticed Ganesh’s temple was open and full of people. Upon closer inspection you can see Ganesh at the end of the hall, covered in all different types of flowers. There was a gentleman in gold (priest equivalent) waving candles all around the statue. Why - I’m not sure?

This concentration on the ceremony was then abruptly ended when I jumped out of my skin after some of the biggest fireworks i have ever seen were suddenly set off in the street. I was about 40 metres away from what looked like one of the most dangerous stunts out there. There were fireworks flying in every direction! Up, down, side ways, backwards, down… it really is quite fascinating to witness the different acceptable behaviours in different countries. I guess that’s what makes traveling so fun.

SUNDAY FUNDAY!

Tomorrow is our first day off since the course began 8 days ago, However, considering it is expected we know 1) the chants off by heart 2) the teachings stages and 3) the foundation postures, most of us will stay in our apartments and study. Funnest Sunday!

No doubt there is much more to say however I physically can’t keep my eyes open right now. I am truly exhausted.

Enjoy your sleep.

Namaste xx

Feel it don't force it

Physically, today has probably been my most challenging day. From the moment i sat on my mat at 5am this morning and felt pain in my backside, I knew I was in for a rough day. Emotionally too - when I woke and looked at a picture of my Owen at home, I felt quite sad and lonely. So I think the combination of heightened emotions plus physical and mental exhaustion has made today a more difficult day than normal. Our teacher is always reminding us that we will experience fluctuations in emotions, health, strength etc whilst training, so no doubt this also has something to do with it also - but mostly I just miss him.

I have just come from a really trying practice (what’s new). Some time ago I gave myself a goal to successfully move into and hold Kakasana. Well - I’m still not there and I keep beating myself up about it. I’m aware I shouldn’t do this, but sometimes you cant help but feel like a failure when you try and try and still can’t find the strength and focus the posture requires. What I have learned since being here, is that these postures often have nothing to do with strength. Any fit, strong person can possibly move into it postures like Kakasana. But it’s when you move into the posture with a conscious awareness of all the parts of the body which are activated and working in duality to get you up that you have successfully achieved it. I’m clearly not at that point yet!

My teacher is very encouraging but that only makes me feel worse as i can’t help but feel I am disappointing him. I know this is untrue and need to get a hold on these unhelpful thoughts. (Again, aware its an overly emotional, and therefore irrational day for me). I guess that’s just what’s real for me at the moment is all.

My entire body hasn’t stopped shaking today. A combination of squatting against a wall with knees bent and hands overhead for 5 or more minutes, legs raises, single leg balancing asanas and sitting for hours, has left my legs weak. Basic balancing postures like Garudasana (eagle) and Vrksasana (tree) have been extremely difficult for me. Normally these are fine however upon reflection I am aware I have never pushed myself the way i have been pushed here - hence my legs have had reserve strength for when I move into these asanas. Tonight I could feel the sweat dripping down my back as I did by best to keep my body uplifted and strong. Never before has my body been worked so hard. No gym class, PT class, jogging or weights session has ever come close to the level of work and effort you put into holding your own weight. it’s phenominal what can be achieved.

Tonight, when class ended, our teacher spoke to the group in a way which left me feeling truly inspired. Firstly, he  said “if your entire body is in pain, then the training is working”. That made me feel a little better! He told us that a mountain looks beautiful from afar, but it can be difficult to climb, however once at the top, the view is magnificent. This is what we are going through now. We are climbing that mountain - Everest!

Our teacher is very gentle in how he speaks. He assures we are not to force ourselves into a posture, but to feel it. I love this and will be sure to remember this when teaching others. Our teacher also made it very clear that he is there for us. Should we have any questions or concerns, he is available. He told us that through making mistakes and asking questions we can learn. If we know everything, then he cannot teach us as there is nothing to teach - so it is expected that we come with many questions. I have a book full ready to go! I may need to block out an hour or so ;)

Finally, our teacher talked about why we need to study so intensely everyday - to know the asanas inside and out. The Sanskrit name, the limitations and benefits, technique, common mistakes and variations. He explained that we are no longer beginners, We are training to become teachers and in doing so it is our responsibility to educate others, to share our knowledge. So we must know these things. I find it really exciting when he refers to us as teachers. Not only am I thrilled my own practice is deepening so much, but i am thrilled that I will be able to share this experience with many others to come.

Well - i need to fall into a state of unconsciousness now before my heart stopping alarm goes off at 4am in the morning again. Then i can repeat this all again!

Namaste xx

Nearly time to go!

I have had a week of lunches with colleagues from work. I have never felt so special and important to be honest. Beautiful gifts, many warm hugs and good wishes. I have been really surprised by the wonderful send off.

I am in the process of pulling together loose ends which will get me to India. Little things like mail redirection, asprin and comfy tank tops to train in. All the bigger things are in place, like travel insurance and visas - thank goodness.

I haven’t been training as much as I would like lately. Staying in someone elses home, Kevin and Trish, makes it a little more challenging. I feel a bit uncomfortable about setting up my mat on their deck or in their living room. God knows what awkward position I could be in when someone walks in! So at the moment Im restricted to a small room, our bedroom, where I move as much as i can between the bed and the wall - about the width of my mat, so not heaps of movement. This is only temporary, however, as the spare room - my new yoga room which Trish offered to me, is currently being used.

My plan is to write all the names of the postures in Sanskrit. Once I pick up some final items tomorrow, like dry cleaning and my travel visa debit card, I will come home and begin this next challenge. I am confident that writing the names will help me store them more easily.

I can’t say Im not nervous about leaving. I am. Mostly about the idea of leaving my Owen and pooch for so long. It’s going to be really tough on us all. But - having said that - a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

Well - on that note, it’s time for bed however I will be sure to keep you posted with how I go leading up to and during my training.

xx

Ashtanga Yoga Mysore India

I’ve been sick in bed for the past two days, so it’s given me some time to just relax and learn more about where I’m headed. It seems the Mysore way of training is quite intense. So intense, and unique, it has created this name for itself - “the Mysore way”. Trust me to enroll in such advanced training style. I guess it just wouldn’t be me if I did it any other way!

Watching videos on YouTube is really inspiring. Wow some people are strong! Kino from Kino Yoga is very impressive.

It’s also a little intimidating to be honest. I haven’t got the experience many of these people have and would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about being the weakest or most inexperienced in the class. This is just a worry I need to move past. It doesn’t serve me to think this way - and instead I choose comedy for my mind, rather than horror (as Sudghuru would say).

It’s been recommended I train in gymnastics to improve my strength and posture. I’ve emailed a couple of gymnastics schools here in Adelaide to see if I can attend a few classes before I leave. When I return to Australia, I will look for a gym school in Melbourne to continue my training. I’m certainly open to any form of training which will improve my practice.

Finally, I’ve been practicing the posture names in Sanskrit. This is proving incredibly difficult. During a moment of improved health today, I decided to try a couple of the postures I have never done before, Kakasana being one of them. Turns out I need to practice a little more often!!

Namaste xx

P.S. I resigned today!!!!