[Mysore dispatch] How does Sharath know? And btw, where did my feet walk off to?


Ah, there you are.

Since my first day at KPJAYI, I’ve found myself constantly wondering, “How does Sharath know?”

I’ve never been great with crowd counts, but I think it’s safe to say there are well over 200 students here right now (and if you told me the number is closer to 250 or more, I wouldn’t even be surprised). The earliest Mysore practice start time is, I believe, 4:30 a.m., and the latest one I know about is 10:45 a.m. There are three led classes on Fridays and Sundays.

A small group stayed on Sunday to observe the 7:30 a.m. led second series class. On one occasion, Sharath came to the door and it looked like he only glanced into the foyer before turning his back to us to watch the room. But suddenly, he turned around and asked one student who he was studying with.

“Saraswati,” came the reply.

How does he know? There are so many new faces, so many first-timers registering each day. 

I had only had one practice down last week before my cycle started, so on what would have been my second day of practice, I had to take a ladies holiday. I figured Sharath would never remember me, since we had only been in the same room twice by that point, once to register and once to practice. But I was also kind of concerned that on the off-chance he did, would he think I had flaked out and skipped? And indeed, he asked my teacher about where I was that day.

How does he know?

These are just the surface examples — the deeper, more subtle ones, speak to the core of what we need in our practice. On the Journey to Mysore blog, Karen wrote this about her first practice back in Mysore:

Here’s the thing I love about Sharath: he remembers that when I first came here three years ago, I was *just* managing to stand up from backbends, and he remembers that last year I struggled mightily with kapotasana and walking in to my heels. He knows where I’ve been and he sees where I am and he gives me credit for the work that he can see I’ve done.

How does he remember? Not only are there so many students — it’s not like he sees anyone all year long.  

Today, rather than guide my hands to my ankles in assisted dropbacks like he did last week, Sharath had me take my hands to the floor and walk in — all the way in, toward my feet. I thought I knew where my feet were, but apparently I didn’t, because I kept only finding Sharath’s feet. “My feet,” he would say, spurring me to move my hands. “Still my feet.” It seemed to me that this went on for about 10 minutes. He said “spread your hands” a couple of times, and it finally occurred to me that I needed to move my hands out. I was so grateful to finally make contact with my feet.

Maybe Sharath just figured my back wasn’t up for catching today. Or maybe it was something else. We all like to find meaning in our interactions with teachers we deeply respect, and whatever the objective truth might be, I think that process is a decent way to put a mirror up to the issues we need to spend some time with — especially when we’re lucky enough to be practicing in a space with the kind of special energy that KPJAYI is infused with.

So . . . I took this to be a lesson on rushing.

I’ve now had three assisted dropbacks with Sharath, and each time, he has told me I need to slow down the dropping-back part. I think part of this is that it’s still so exciting to me to be here, so I know that as I get settled, that speed part will settle. Still, each time, I make a note to adjust for next time, and next time, when I think surely this will be the time I’m not seen as rushing, I get the same instruction. Today, once my hands hit the mat, I rushed that too — walked my hands in quickly without taking the time to let proprioception happen, to really feel things out — then got frazzled and tried to correct without any sense of direction.

Off the mat, I constantly feel like I’m in this epic battle against the clock — there is always something, somewhere, that I should be getting done that I’m not getting done, and the clock is ticking. Is it possible that perhaps that even when I think I’ve slowed down, I’m still sort of rushing? That at least my mind and energy have that velocity? It’ll be an interesting thing to reflect on during my time here.

In any case, once again: How does he know? :-) 

>>More Mysore dispatches:

First breakfast, second shower, next electric practice
‘One more, 9 o’clock, small.

How does Sharath know? And btw, where did my feet walk off to?
Since my first day at KPJAYI, I’ve found myself constantly wondering, “How does Sharath know?”

Pink kurta
One week into my month-long stay here, it seems obvious to me that a big part of coming here is not about the practice at all — it’s about seeing where our areas of density are in our life. It’s easy to spot when a tight shoulder is the obstacle to steady comfort in a pose. For some of us, it’s harder to spot our areas of density in our daily lives.

So familiar and yet . . . so familiar
In Mysore, it helps that even when I don’t know someone, I maybe know someone.

Rain down on me
No small part of what I hope to do in India is find a way to honor life and sit with loss. Back when I planned this trip, the most salient loss was my miscarriage from this summer. Having two friends take their own life in the past 30 days has amplified the grief.

Plugging my 120V self into this 220V space
When Sharath led my hands to my ankles in assisted dropbacks, I could feel my little 120V self had hit full charge.

#gratitude #possibilities
In my reflections today, I decided to try, in the spirit of noting arisings and passings in all things, to see if I can start each new day this year with the type of intention that I start New Year’s Day with each and every year. Toward that end, I’m quite grateful to get to start each day with the ashtanga yoga practice — that makes such a difference in being able to enter the rough and tumble with some equanimity.

Emptying the cup
‘It’s like water in a cup. If a cup is filled with dirty, stale water, it’s useless. Only when the old water is thrown out can the cup become useful. You must empty your minds of opinions — and then you will learn.’

#235, 8th Cross, an eternity and a blink of eye from my first ashtanga practice
This post is for all the home practitioners out there. Mysore is 10.5 hours off from home (9.5 hours without daylight savings). But that’s not the time that really matters, because the time that really matters is shala time, which is set 15 minutes ahead of local time.

Checked baggage for DTW –> CDG –> BLR
What I figuratively and literally packed, or didn’t, for my first journey to India.


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6 thoughts on “[Mysore dispatch] How does Sharath know? And btw, where did my feet walk off to?

  1. Rose – I love this. I’m not able agree in any more elegant or sophisticated words, but this sort of mind-boggling-ly telepathic communication is one of the most incredible experiences for me in my practice. Though telepathy isn’t quite right – it seems to be a fine skill available to those who engage… maybe who slow down enough to notice. Either way, love the observation.
    And I love that there’s no translation necessary – despite you being on the other side of the world, practicing with total strangers, the practice is still the practice. How trippy.

    Love and snow from A2,

    • Thanks for the love and note, Leigh. Trippy is an excellent way to put it. And yes, no translation needed! I think we all speak breath and heart. :-)

  2. You are so correct. Sharath always knows. I have been busted for missing practice once when it was not a Saturday, moon day, or ladies holiday. “Where were you yesterday?”

    Never did that again!

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