Thursday, September 10, 2009

Saraswathi's Birthday - 11 Sept

How fitting that my last practice in Mysore should fall on Saraswathi's birthday. How I missed it last year is a good indication of how spaced out a person I am. Was early at the shala, and noticed the senior (senior not in age but in practice) aspirants bringing some flowers to the changing room. I went through a mental checklist - is it some festival? is it Guruji's birthday? is it Friday's prayers? All wrong. The answer came after class ended. A birthday cake was presented to Saraswathi at the stage, and then the senior aspirants went to give Saraswathi the flowers. After that, we all sang Happy Birthday. It was really nice to see the respect and love shown to this great teacher.

I was very lucky as I had planned to give Saraswathi a gift after my last class. After the cake cutting, I got changed and went to the office to say my thanks and goodbye. But not before offering the gift as a birthday present. What an opportunist I am - shameful! I took it further and ask for permission for a photo with Saraswathi. Digital camera nowadays come with many features - and one of them is that you can customise the camera in such a way that when a picture is taken, you will hear a dog barking instead of a click. Of course I had change the settings (for the kids!). Anyway, Sharath was in the office at that time and I ask whether he could take the picture of me with Saraswathi. To my horror, I heard a dog bark as he took the picture. He gave a quizzical look at the camera and then at me. At which point, I was completely mortified. Stripped of any dignity, I went for broke and ask for a photo with Sharath! Saraswathi also gave me the same look as Sharath when she took the photo. But it was worth it!

What a great two weeks it has been. It has been both enjoyable and inspiring. Now I must remember to change my camera settings back to normal settings.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Last Self-Practice Class - 10 Sept

Mixed feelings about today's practice. Today is the last of Mysore styled classes for me. One part of me wish I could stay on for another 2 weeks, but the other part is already looking forward to seeing family again. Two weeks is a short time, but at this stage in my life, it seems like the right duration. Maybe in years to come, I'll stay for one month, or even two!

These two weeks have been really memorable. Starting practice at 5am (4.45am in real time) was something I did not expect, but turned out to be such a blessing. After practice, the outside temperature is still cool and having a coconut after practice, perfect! Imran (I hope I spelt right) always serve the coconuts out with a quiet smile. And then, breakfast at my hotel's rooftop - really nice. But don't leave your plate unattended for a minute or the birds will be your breakfast friends.

So, only tomorrow's led class left, which I am really looking forward to. I wish there is someway adequate to describe the first opening inhale, but it's probably best to experience first hand.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Practice - 9 Sept

It's funny how natural it has become to start getting ready for bed when it's still light outside. At first it took some getting used to; but now 7.30pm felt like bedtime. Last night I was woken up by a knock on my door in the middle of the night. Well, I say in the middle of the night; it was really around 9. He asked whether I was ready to go some place. He only realised he had the wrong room when his friend told him. After that, I was wide awake and quietly cursing him, planning ways to steal his sleep. The thought of knocking on his door when I'm leaving for yoga the next morning (this morning) came to mind. "Are you ready to go to class? Oops, sorry, got the wrong room." Soon as "yoga" flashed into my mind, I quickly admonished myself for entertaining such thoughts.

Nevertheless, practice continues to be enjoyable. There is something about practicing together with such dedicated aspirants (I picked up this word from Yoga Mala). In football, the standard of play generally goes up when you are up against a really good team. I think it is the same practicing here. Not that I'm up against anybody; I hope you know what I mean. Binding continues to be easier - well, incrementally - but at least it is not going backwards. What I really enjoy is the energy in the shala and Saraswathi's presence - always watchful and always there when needed.

This morning I caught sight of Sharath! He was with his son. Nice surprise as I thought he was away on a world tour. I don't think he will teach, but how nice it would be if he did for my last 2 practices to come!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Practice - 8 Sept

Beginning to feel more and more settled practicing in this famous shala. Was able to remember the alignment that I've been trying to get into for Mari D, and applied the same alignment for Mari C. It certainly felt different, and the binds were deeper. On one side, I'm almost reaching my wrist! And doing this for Mari C seemed to help for Mari D. It was quicker to bind, and I hope less work for Saraswathi this week than last.

Last week in Mysore. Time has flown! Going to savour the next few practices till I leave.

7 Sept - First Use Of ATM In Mysore

Took me all of 3 weeks before I found an ATM that I could use in Mysore. If your ATM has an icon with the word "PLUS" on it, there's an ATM machine next to Barista (coffee outlet like a Starbucks) that will work. It is an Axis Bank ATM, and it's on Temple Road. Sorry, just a reference point for future use, plus it is a big relief to know I have access to my bank account in Malaysia.

Back to my practice. Mysore style today. Was taking it easy as I was feeling tired when I woke up. Somehow, found some energy midway through standing. Was able to stay steady during Utthita Hasta Padangushtasana but I had help - plus the counts are faster when there's help during self practice classes. Yay! But she stayed to make sure the leg stayed parallel to the floor when hands are back at the waist. So, can't let go of focus.

Marichyasana D seemed easier to bind today - well, I hope Saraswathi think so too. I think I'm getting an idea of the alignment she wanted during Marichyasana D. It makes it harder to bind as it requires more twist in the body. In the long run, it will be good for me.

I'm still quite pleased I found out about the ATM. Next time I don't have to lug around a money belt with me all the time!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sunday Led Class - 6 Sept

Had been looking forward to today's led class. Having Friday and Saturday off felt like a weekend - so much so, yesterday I had a mild panic attack and thought I missed Sunday's led class. Talk about spaced out yogi!

As expected, the shala came to life with the first resonating inhale as the hands go up in unison. Managed not to dance so much in Utthita Hasta Padangushtasana, although my breathing has none of the serenity associated with yoga. Was really grateful to Saraswathi when she came to adjust me in Mari D. Even though I was bit stiff, she gave me two goes on the right side, and then stayed to help with the left. By Navasana, I was trying to catch my breath from my efforts in Mari D. But then, with the slow counting during Navasana, I lost my breath again and by the fifth Navasana, I was a shaking wreck. So, haha, made it through Navasana. Now, I could relax and watch the rest sweat. Just as I got comfortable, Saraswathi smiled and ask me to do Bhujapidasana. So much for resting, but I was like the dog I met this morning, happy for any attention.

After class, rushed back to clean up and made it to Mass at Sacred Heart Church at Yadav Giri. Made good time and was even early. All of a sudden, I was asked by one of the church helpers to read the first reading. I wanted to say I can't but somehow "sure" came out. Was so nervous that I nearly read the wrong reading. Thank goodness, someone came to help with the microphone and I discretely pointed at the section I was supposed to read and got a discrete nod back.

Well, considering the last two days of not doing much, except read, eat, and walk into shops, I felt really productive this morning and it's not even half past ten!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Led Class - 3 Sept

Led class this morning. Not sure whether I was nervous, but I slept badly the night before. Woke up tired, and thought, thank goodness, tomorrow is moonday. I would just practice and go back to rest. Reached shala early and took a space at the back - less pressure, I had hoped. I was glad I went early. I could sit and look around the shala. There was a big painting of Guruji at the center of the stage and another big picture beside it. Felt moved, just sitting there and looking at the painting, with Guruji smiling back at us.

Slowly the shala began to fill up. One thing that struck me is the reverent atmosphere before class begin. There were no chit chat in the room. Any voices heard were from the changing room and even then it's kept to a minimum and in low volume. It's quite something to see so many people in a room, waiting with total silence.

Then Saraswathi came and all stood at the front of the mat. Opening chant, and then the class began. That first inhale, as the hands went up, was so breathtaking. I guess I was taken aback as I had not taken a led class with so many students. Any tiredness felt earlier was replaced by adrenaline from that first inhale. Even my breaths seemed noticeably louder.

Class was fun. Everyone was moving in unison, each transition is held until the next vinyasa is called. This year, Saraswathi's count seem to be a lot longer. By the time, I reached Navasana, I was a spent force. After that, I happily sat and watch the other inspiring practices around me.

Joined back at backbends. Was glad I had the rest between Navasana and backbends. The counts seemed like it was played out in slow motion. Class finished with closing chant, which I could barely do as I was out of breath. Next practice is another led class, coming this Sunday. Can't wait!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Third Practice - 2 Sept

Already third practice, and already settled in the daily routine of waking up early. No noticing of mosquitoes during practice, but they are still around during savasana. Obviously, yesterday's slap to the ear had done me more harm than them.

Bound again on both sides - of course, with a great deal of help from Saraswathi. I wonder how is it she is always in my vicinity when I reach Marichyasana D. Could she be planning her routes when there is a quiet period? Amazing. The shala is so big and packed with practitioners.

Led class tomorrow as Friday is moonday. Am looking forward to it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Second Practice - 1 Sept

Had my second day today. Quite like the idea of being the first batch to practice. The walk to the shala is so calming. No one is up yet - only us crazy people. Once I heard the sound of a motorcycle approaching behind me and I took a mental wager that it would be a yoga student. And it was!

Body was less stiff this morning - the binds on the Marichyasana D were easier, of course with Saraswathi's help. With less stiffness, comes with less strength - that was me this morning. Have to admit to dancing with Saraswathi when she came over to help with Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana. I was quite glad when I reached Navasana. Shala was full today and the heat was more than yesterday. I was drenched when I finished with Navasana. I think those practicing next to me were relieved when I left to do the finishing poses in the changing room. Quite happy that my mind was less scattered than yesterday. Did not notice any mosquitoes during downward dogs. Just during savasana, when one of them kept buzzing around my left ear - that was when I quickly ended my savasana with a violent slap to my ear.

Had my coconut outside. I think I was the first to finish today, no one was around. So nice to finish early - the air was still cool and when I got back to my hotel, the security guy was still sleeping in the same position as when I left earlier! No dozing off today while waiting for breakfast to start - although I did lose time a couple of times while reading my book. So far, I kept to a vegetarian diet (well, except for omelette for breakfast) - although I have been thinking of the gin and tonic I had at the Green hotel last year. Very nice. Maybe dinner at the Green hotel this Thursday, as Friday is moonday ...