Stillness amongst the crazy - taking time out to remain sane

With a hot cup of tea, snug socks and my mat - I couldn’t be more comfortable right now. Outside its raining and I’m sitting here, after this mornings Hatha practice, taking time out to collect my thoughts. Not a bad start to the day if you ask me.

Over the past few days there have been a number of people I’ve come across who manage to ooze stress and anxiety, and to be honest its challenging not to be affected by this. Being back in the real world means facing real life issues, one of which includes meeting and being around people who are stressed, possibly angry etc. This could be at the supermarkets, via phone calls whilst trying to find a space, in traffic. There isn’t the same ‘laid back’ attitude which exists in India. People are consumed by many social pressures, financial pressures etc which in essence breeds illness. My challenge - remain centered amongst this and do not allow myself to also become victim to such pressures. This isn’t to say I won’t feel stressed at times - I’m only human and that’s life I suppose, but something I need to work hard on is maintaining that ‘witness’. To be aware of how I’m feeling, constantly checking in to make sure I’m choosing my emotions rather than allowing them to choose me.

Yesterday I wanted to (in fact I did) cry. I had a momentary lapse in control where I felt completely overwhelmed by life here in Australia, specifically the ridiculous pace that people (which was once me) work/move/talk. Coming from the presence of the most centered person I’ve ever met, Bharath, it’s upsetting to see how vastly different my life/surroundings has since become. Restaurants playing loud trance music, people inhaling their food at lunch time.. it may sound silly but this sort of life has become foreign to me. Don’t get me wrong - India is the loudest place on the planet - but it’s a different sort of loud. Maybe it’s the pace of India which I miss? Or maybe it’s because I can’t understand anyone 99% of the time which means my world is ironically silent there? I’m not sure. I will meditate on that. All I know, is coming home has been/is the ultimate challenge for me. Who would have thought!!

Today is committed to more hall searching, insurance organising and finalising my website. It may all sound boring to some but for me, this is such an exciting day. Things are finally happening. Granted its slow as Im struggling to find a space, but i know it will all fall into place.

Until next time, be sure to take time out for yourself - away from the craziness of life. Sit quietly in a room, breathe and collect your thoughts. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Namaste xx

Be patient, witness and enjoy

This mornings class was a little different than normal. We did self practice, working through the foundation series. I found this to be a great challenge to remember the asanas and in what order they are to come (as everything connects like a jigsaw, preparing you for the next asana and the next..). I took great care to make sure I was really noticing what was happening with my body for each and every movement. This is where people fundamentally go wrong and injure themselves nowadays. I, therefore, hope to become more aware and in doing so help others to become more aware also. What I couldn’t help to notice are the people around me who seem to be in some sort of race, as though they are trying to beat one another to get to the finish line. I could be completely wrong, and they could be just as aware (or more) as I am ‘trying’ to be but I can’t help that all the lessons Bharath has given thus far just flew out the window for many people today. Technique became second priority whilst finishing the class became first. What I also noticed was how often these particular people were having to be adjusted by Bharath. I was not adjusted once. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are many technical errors I made which he either a) didn’t see or b) didn’t consider necessary to correct at this time - but regardless, he was near me often and I required no adjustment and I honestly believe this is because I was practicing with his more important lesson in mind - patience. To lose the opportunity to witness the beautiful effects this practice has on your body is such a shame. Again - these people may have been very aware and I could be talking complete crap, but I just couldn’t help but feel I was amongst marathon runners.

PAIN IN THE ASS!

There is one particular young 22 year old girl here, an American girl, who thinks she is all that and more. A grumpy, lazy attention seeker, who apparently knows more about yoga than our teacher, she is really judgmental of people when they have an opportunity to teach. Well - today was her turn. Long story short, she was absolutely terrible. She had no idea what the chants were, poor pronunciation of the asanas, confused the asanas (teaching the wrong ones) and was unable to list the limitations, benefits, mistakes and variations for each of the asanas. This is fundamental to being a teacher. In the end she tried to say she knew it all but just forgot up there. This is not good enough if in a class! But at the end of the day - little miss critical who will tear someone down if their foot was placed 1 cm out - completely screwed up today. I was really honest in pointing out that her preparation was poor however I’m a little more tactful in how I approach this type of feedback compared to how she would have given it, had this been someone else. She also decided not to wear a bra for some reason and I spent the class waiting for a boob to fly out. Very inappropriate and i told her that also. I think I was more frustrated about the fact that she seems to be treating this training like its a joke. Everyone else seems to be working really hard to learn and improve, and I feel her lack of effort is so disrespectful. To all of us, and mostly to Bharath. Of course, this isn’t  my place to claim that it is or isn’t, but I guess I just want to be around like minded people who are prepared to learn, and seriously learn, rather than the know-it-alls of the world who cant be taught.

I won’t give this girl any more energy than this blog, and when I close my laptop I won’t think of her again - but just sometimes I allow people like her to cause me to lose my centre (which is annoying). But she has just driven me crazy all week. If ever there was karama, today was it. I know this isn’t the yogi way of being, but I think even Gandhi would give her a good slap on the face to snap her out of it.

Ok, moving on!

FINAL LEG OF THE TRIP

At lunch I met with my man Ganesh today, who has been pulling together a travel itinerary for when I leave Mysore in April. It looks like I will be traveling through the state of Kerala and staying in different resorts in various cities, all the way down to the most southern point of India where all three oceans meet! I will be taken on guided tours through jungles, visit tea and coffee plantations, temples, beautiful beaches, and all with my own private driver! He and I will be friends for 9 days before I then board an (almost) 3 day train up to Agra. This should be interesting. From there, I will be off to Varanasi before taking another overnight sleeper to New Delhi where I will fly home from at the end of April. Ganesh has warned I be super vigilant in the north as apparently it’s quite unsafe for female solo travelers. Point taken. I might be getting myself some pepper spray for that part of the trip! I certainly wont let that stop me from heading there. I can’t wait to see north India also.

I might leave you with that for tonight. I’m not feeling the best (I even took a nap today which is unheard of for me) so I plan on getting to bed early tonight. Hopefully this eventuates, unlike most evenings.

Namaste xx


Life in Gokulam, Mysore

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There is beauty everywhere

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Side walk construction

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Bus stop / rickshaw driver hangout

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Walking to class

Time to relax - holiday Sunday

Never in my life have I cherished a Sunday the way I did today. After seven days of intensive training, having a ‘holiday’ day (as they call it here) has never been so appreciated. If you know me, you know my usual sleeping hours are from about 12.30am until 6.00am every day. Well - last night I slept from 10.00pm until 10.00am this morning. Granted I woke briefly at my usual 4.00am and again at 6.00am, however I essentially slept almost 12 hours. This is unheard of for me - but absolutely necessary. When I woke at 6.00am I had a mild panic attack thinking I was late to class, but upon realising it was my day off, I clearly fell back unconscious until mid morning. Fabulous!

Today has been the first day where I have felt as though this apartment is truly becoming my little 'home away from home’. I moseyed downstairs and did all my washing, utilising the mini top loader washing machine and clothes horse facilities in the underground car park. (Having access to a washing machine is such a simple pleasure which is not often available when traveling. Not having to walk 5 kilometres to find a laundromat is like a God send). I also loved being able to chat with Owen with no restrictions on time - usually when we chat I’m constantly having to look at the clock to make sure I’m not late back to class. But no - didn’t have to worry about that today! Today was holiday Sunday!!!

When I eventually got myself dressed (about 2.00pm) I walked to a little French restaurant (run by Indians) about 50 metres away (I told you - lazy day) - just down the hill and around the corner. I hadn’t eaten there and had wanted to all week. There was no one in the restaurant, which is always a concern, however I thought, “what the hell - give it a go Jessica!” Aside from feeling totally lazy, I also didn’t want to walk too much further away as I was in shorts (all my pants were on the washing line) and it’s not ideal to walk around in shorts here. You get a lot of unwanted stares from men. As it is Sunday, and the area is pretty quite today, I thought it would be ok - and it was.

Sitting on a small porch looking out onto 9th Main, hidden behind some bamboo blinds, I enjoyed not one, but two, salad sandwiches. Three slices of white toast, shredded carrot, tomato, red onion and capsicum with a spicy tomato sauce - I was pleasantly surprised. My immediate thought was that it tasted like a Subway sandwich. Because I am unusually hungry lately, I had to order a second. The young Indian waiter laughed when I asked for a second which I thought was cute. No doubt he looked at me as an over indulgent westerner - it’s true, I was in that moment.

I really enjoyed sitting in this little restaurant. As the streets were quite today, I was able to sit and study without much disturbance, which was nice for a change.

After carrying eight litres of water home from the mini supermarket which is a little further up the road, I took time to fold my washing, chat with Owen some more and continue studying. I have been practicing the Surya Namaskara series in my room. We will be examined on this tomorrow. We also need to know all 84 of the foundation asanas in Sanskrit. Thank goodness I learned these before coming to India. It has made life so much easier. I have also been practicing the opening and closing prayers/chants we must know (in Sanskrit). I chanted them to Owen and he said they sounded very relaxing.

To be honest, I’m quite pleased with the level of work I have put into my training so far. I think it will really help when it comes to the big exam in week four.

Tonight I had my first cup of tea since arriving in India. It was fabulous! So fabulous in fact I have since made a second. Again, this is one of those simple pleasures which you don’t appreciate until it’s taken from you, or at least been made more difficult to have. Here, i need carry my cup, tea bag and 2 litres of water to the fourth floor where the kitchen is. I then need to boil the water first to wash my cup and also rinse the kettle (I was going to use the microwave but the kettle seems ok to use), then boil a second lot of water, carry my tea and water downstairs, juggle everything while I unlock my door and then add my soy so I can drink it. Everything just takes more time and energy than usual. So again, the simple things are so important not to be taken for granted. I know this now.

As tonight has been the first night where I was home at sunset, I did my best to get some pictures from the fourth floor. Unfortunately the smog is so bad here you can barely see the sun - but I guess that’s what makes it an Indian sunset!

Tonight I will make sure I am in bed nice and early in preparation for the next week (a lovely 4.00am alarm to look forward to again). But until then, it is back to study as tomorrow is going to be a big day,

Namaste xx