Friday, 12 February 2010

Mysore, madam!

It`s been almost two weeks ago that I arrived to Mysore, a medium-sized city (about 700.000 inhabitants) in the south of Karnataka where I am spending four weeks and study at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute - one of the main reasons coming to India.
Mysore used to be the seat of the maharaja`s for centuries. They were ruling the whole South-Indian area from here, and the city still keeps something from this historical elegance and respect. It is a city of palaces, the main attraction is an incredibly huge and really wonderful palace in the middle of the town. For the rest, markets, sellers, beggars, crowd, dust and smoke just like in every Indian city - spending one day in the center is like having an attack at my long and respiratory organs.
My yoga school is further away from the center, in a rich suburb area with huge villa`s, broad streets, big cars and motorbikes and elegant Indians. It almost doesn`t feel like India, so clean and neat is the whole environment. But the daily power cuts (reading in the evening with your torch, even preparing food at candlelight), and the lack of water remind me that I am in a different world with different values. I am staying in a little room on the roof, and can use the whole roof as my terrace and enjoy the starlight in the night. Coconut trees all around. It is amazing. In the morning the sun is just rising in front of my door, and the sounds of morning puja`s from the close-by temples make me awake every day. I live in the house of Indians, it`s an in-depth participating experience in their ways and lives. Mala, my landlady taught me how to wash my clothes on her `washing-stone`, hitting out the dirt in their traditional way, provided me with a gas oven to prepare my food on the roof and if the water just stops running from my tap, she is generously sharing her saved water from the big tanks. Once we stayed for two days without running water, doing all our washing and cleaning from buckets - a good way to fully appreciate the fact that we have water at all. Having water is not that evident here than at our side of the ocean - it is usually stored in big tanks on the top of the houses, where it has to be refilled regularly, but like in our case it can happen that it falls out for 1-3 days. So it is always good to have some extra savings and not to waste at all...

The yoga... well, the yoga in this world-famous shala where ashtanga is originating from... is intense... We have morning classes in the so-called `Mysore style` 4 days a week, which means that we are doing our self-practice and the teachers are adjusting and helping around. 2 other days we have led class, when we all move together and the teacher `conducts`, saturdays are free. There are also chanting, yoga sutra`s and sanskrit for those interested. The classes are fully packed, mats right next to each other, the temperature and the energy-level in the room high, and as expected, only the crazy ashtanga-freaks from the West... No Indian students, only the two teachers - the daughter and the grandson of the yogaguru Sri K. Patthabi Jois. Guruji was the person who made up this special structure of yoga asana`s what we call today Ashtanga Yoga. It is a very dynamic, intense, sweaty and yang-style yoga - from those more into the slow-motion hatha directions it is getting critic enough. Still, ashtangais very much purifying, builds up much of strength with a regular practice, and we just simply like it... I feel very grateful that I could come to this place and see how it is taught at the place of its origin.
Life is slow and peaceful here. In the morning we do this intense practice, some days take some filosofy classes till noon, and for the rest just hanging-around... Going to the pool, to the city, reading a lot, receiving many reiki sessions, giving massage, but all in a very slow motion... And the summer is coming closer and closer, which means the afternoons are getting sooo hot that we better avoid doing anything in that critical hours...

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