I didn’t come to Mysore, Karnataka to be a tourist. But thanks to the initiative and organizational drive of a new friend from Calgary whom I met through an old friend from Calgary — I love how the instant ashtanga community works — I was able to join four other ashtangis on this moon day for an eight-hour, 334-kilometer (208-mile) temple tour to Belur, Halebid and Shravanabelagola.
Our driver took us three hours northwest of Mysore for the first stop, Belur. The photo above was taken there. I was amazed by the detail and the artistry of the Hoysala architectural style. Another thing I found noteworthy was how uncrowded it was, especially compared to Chamundi Hill, where I paid a visit last week.
Here is the (yes, highly filtered) highlights reel.
I usually take pretty lousy photos because I’m more interested in, say, an ironic sign or a chipmunk lurking between the detailed carvings of an ancient temple. But if you’re curious, here are some of the photos I took today. The sets may load slowly if you’re on the spottiness that is wifi in Mysore. If you’re in the U.S. or other areas with fabulously fast and reliable wifi, enjoy!
- Photos from Belur, set 1
- Photos from Belur, set 2
- Photos from Halebid, set 1 (I’ve probably at least four spellings of this, so I have no idea which one is most current; and I went with a different spelling on Tumblr.)
- Photos from Halebid, set 2
- Photos from Shravanabelagola, set 1
- Photos from Shravanabelagola, set 2
- Random stuff
As for Shravanabelagola, the Jain pilgrimage site that is home to what is apparently Asia’s tallest monolithic stone statue of Gomateshwara: I just googled it, and it seems there are nearly 700 steps. It’s not quite the 1,008 steps that you can opt to take at Chamundi Hill, but it’s a hike. (I skipped the steps at Chamundi and let the rickshaw take me all the way to the top).
I was thinking as we were walking up that it would be an interesting ritual, after you are given the last pose to any ashtanga series and are feeling pretty damn good and strong, to walk up those steps and see how you feel. As I was doing my snail’s pace up and taking breaks to boot, a man who looked to be in his 70s or 80s skipped the steps and glided — awfully quickly, it seemed to me — up the slope instead. Young men sprinted parts of it.
By the way, normally, my photos stay on my iPhone for weeks, if not months or years, untouched — I forget to post them on Facebook or Tumblr or anywhere else. You’re talking to the woman who got married in 2012 and still hasn’t processed all her wedding photos (I am not proud of this fact). So I decided just today that at the end of every day here in Mysore, I will process — delete the crappy ones, upload the good ones to Tumblr, whatever — as part of my evening routine.
That said, it’s time to start winding down for bed. We’ll see how Friday led primary class feels after all those stairs at the Jain temple!
>>More Mysore dispatches:
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.