Ashtanga is a householder’s practice, and the students at KPJAYI are people with family and professional commitments to the hilt. Some have their kids with them in Mysore; others Skype daily with theirs. Some are here with their partners; others Skype daily with theirs. Some are teleworking for their companies; others, such as shala owners, are managing their businesses remotely. If you are going to come at all, you’re required to uproot from your life for at least one month. How does it all work?
If it takes a village to raise a child, I’m convinced it usually takes a little block’s worth of people to send an ashtangi off to Mysore — from supportive significant others, family members and coworkers (“Yes, go, we’ll find a way to take care of the kids/get your work covered/pay the bills”) to flexible friends and neighbors willing to provide surgical-strike-style acts of helpfulness at key moments (“Yes, no problem, I’ll take your child/pet to the doctor/vet the day that your spouse/family member can’t.”).
So on the broadest level, this post is a thank-you note of sorts to anyone who has ever made a sacrifice to help an ashtangi get to Mysore to study.
And this post is a thank-you note in particular to my husband, who, today, for the first time since we’ve been together, celebrates his birthday without me.
One of the first questions people usually asked me back home when I told them I was going to take this pilgrimage to Mysore was, “Is your husband going to go with you? Or will he at least visit you?”
I explained we like to joke that no, he would not be coming with — someone has to stay back and do the work.
In our case, it’s literally true. Scott and I work at the same firm, and whenever I’ve pulled a going-away-to-deepen-my-yoga-practice thing, he always ends up doing some of my client work. Also, in this case, it’s the first time I’m going away while taking an unpaid leave of absence — the only way I could get one month off from work — so my husband is holding down the fort so that we can pay the bills as I can make my dream of practicing at KPJAYI come true.
From the beginning, it was Scott who told me we could make this trip work on all fronts — office, home, financial. When I totaled my car just before leaving for India and had to take on a new car payment and worried about adding that financial burden on top of this trip, it was Scott who told me not to worry. When I told him in my second week in India that based on budget projections, being here would cost a little more than I had budgeted, it was Scott who said it was no big deal (and then proceeded to downgrade the scale of his birthday weekend escape to get some cross-country skiing in).
It’s not just that he’s an incredible life partner. It’s not just that he is a salt-of-the-earth, stand-up guy. It’s that, even though his grounding comes from playing guitar and practicing Okinawan karate, he knows how much ashtanga yoga means to me, and he wants to help me, in any way possible, to create space for transformation. He supports me in big ways, like with India, and in small ways, like telling me the nights before I have to get up at 3 a.m. for practice that he will do the dishes so I can get to bed sooner.
I can see him now, shaking his head that I wrote this post knowing full well that he would hate being the center of it. To which I would say: Honey, a Benedictine monk said in a TED talk that happiness is born from gratitude. So it’s making me happy to express my gratitude for you. Thank you. For everything.
And happiest of birthdays to you.
So, ashtangi with the “Mysore, Karnataka” Facebook location tag — who helped get you here? Perhaps you can send them a note of thanks if you haven’t done so in a while. 😉 Tell them I said thanks as well, because having you here — having this awesome community in Gokulam — is, to me, an important part of what makes this practice so life-affirming.
>>More Mysore dispatches:
Temple tour to Belur, Halebid, Shravanabelagola
I didn’t come to Mysore, Karnataka to be a tourist. But it was wonderful to be one on this moon day, doing a 208-mile round-trip drive and hitting three ancient temple sites.
Sankranti is one of the few Hindu harvest festivals celebrated in India that’s tied to the solar calendar. And it’s a new year of sorts! What an incredible month. I was in Mysore for the New Year’s Day holiday that I adore so much. Now we have Sankranti, with is promise of auspicious beginnings. And I didn’t realize until after I arrived that the day I fly home will be the Chinese New Year.
Thank you, interwebs and wifi
When I was playing my trip to Mysore, I kind of thought that the ideal way to experience this trip would be to unplug. Man, was I wrong about that one.
Castor oil baths and not (particularly) getting things done
Rest day + castor oil! I think when you’re studying yoga in India, my day so far would have been considered productive. At home, this should have all been done by noon.
And then there were four — led classes, that is
From healing to teaching, from deepening to escaping, everyone here obviously has a unique and personal story about whey they’re here right now. But is there something drawing us, collectively, at the dawn of 2014?
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?”
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.
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.