Archive for January, 2015

Mysore, good to be back

January 30, 2015

Back at the source after 3 years away, so much has changed, yet much including the practice stays the same.

I’m staying at a B&B for a couple of nights, then tomorrow moving to Gokulam for the duration. The B&B is really nice, but the location isn’t really practical for early mornings. If this place was in Gokulam it would be booked years in advance. It has a roof garden looking out over the park.

Mysore B&B

Practice has started 3 days earlier than planned. My email confirmation said start Sunday, which is why I wasn’t worried about the B&B’s location, but when I registered at the Shala yesterday I was told you start tomorrow (Friday)! Not only that, after a Swedish girl ahead in the queue was given a very civilised 6:30am start time she gave me 5am and 8:15 for led, how these things work I’ll never know.

Saraswathi’s Shala

4am rickshaw to Gokulam, I still ended up being early despite it taking me a while to find a rickshaw this far out at that time of the morning, Saraswathi told me to change and start. Saraswathi’s Shala is much smaller, at a push perhaps 30 people could practice at the same time, when I arrived there were around 10, but it soon began to fill up. It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere, Saraswathi just asked if I knew the full primary series, though she remembered me from last time, she adjusts while singing to herself. I explained about my arm, she just said “no hurry take your time” and left me to get going.

She has an Assistant too, so help was there whenever it was needed and unlike three years ago when I got stopped at Garbha, I got to do a complete practice from the first, though I can do a proper Garbha now anyway. Despite the relaxed atmosphere she still likes it done right, a new person set up next to me and started doing all kinds of stretching that she probably does at home, S asked her if she actually knew the series!

It’s funny not to hear the “one more”, but each time someone arrived there was still a space, then people started going to the small Finishing Room, which actually has a bed in the corner, tempting though it was after practising after a jet lagged night of non sleep I closed on my mat.

Her last little surprise as I left was to instantly promote me to the 6:30 led on Sunday, just when I was looking forward to a lie in!


Some habits are never going to change, sod the coconuts Amruth chai is a much nicer reward for all that sweat.

Half of AYL seems to be here, in just over a day I’ve met 7 of us who regularly practice there, it’s like home from home, did I mention the weather, 30 degrees today, I’m not missing the weather.


Three years after my flat mate rescued and named Scabs the dog, she is still here hanging out around the Shala.

Saturday is a rest day for Saraswathi’s students.

Good to be back


Practice and Conference

January 19, 2015


AYL was packed, I started in the Finishing Room and was on Surya B when my “one more” came. Steady practice, I’m always amazed at how much quicker I am at the Shala. Help in the right places, mega squish from Louise in the first Paschimottanasana, Mari D depending , Pasasana Louise got me in to a better bind before letting go as I balanced. My legs were tired, UD was hard, I couldn’t walk in as far and dropbacks were not as easy as they were a few days ago, weird how they come and go. Emma did my assisted ones, she said 2 out of 3 I got up on my own, I’m glad she intervened on number 3, that was only going to end in a car crash. It was so busy that I then had to wait to even finish next door.

Well only more Sunday to go now before Mysore.

Hamish has recently returned from Mysore and is going to do a “Conference” in the style of those Sharath does in Mysore every few weeks, a short talk and then Q&A, this weeks was the first and was part of the reason the Shala was so busy.



Hamish started by talking for just a few minutes about Guruji’s favourite sutra 1.14 When that practice is done for a long time, without a break, and with sincere devotion, then the practice becomes a firmly rooted, stable and solid foundation.
(sah tu dirgha kala nairantaira satkara asevitah dridha bhumih)

1:23 ishvara Pranidhana the concept of surrendering to a higher source be that a god, any god, life force, the universe or a teacher. Moving away from “I”. Having a belief in something higher, believing in the practice as a catalyst for change.

He then invited questions.

Question: There has been quite a lot of media of late about teachers who have abused students. As H said these are very isolated incidents and teachers need to be careful.

Question about pushing the boundaries of our practice in relation to taking it easy, being lazy, H said every body is different, he will push a younger, more flexible person to go that bit further, where as older students who are stiffer and probably more injury prone it’s still about finding their edge within their capabilities. It’s respecting the students limitations. Having a regular practice be that to Navasana or third series.

Question about not imposing yoga on family or friends in relation to early to bed, diet, early mornings etc. H said family most likely not as hung up about the seeming imposition as the yogi. He also spoke about how his non yogi friends interact with him and how it’s changed, true friends accept the perceived sacrifices we make in order to practice, they no longer seem to make the “you’re up late” comment if they see him out after 9pm

Question about the Shalas adherence to the drop back and stand up before starting intermediate. H said it’s more about the emotional effects of the early part of 2nd and not so much the physical postures. The drop/stand is a sign that the student is ready and won’t (hopefully) be affected emotionally, he said some students end up crying during practice or experiences changes in behaviours or relationships.

Question about taking moon days and (Saturday) rest days. H said he usually does some kind of a practice, even if it’s just sitting or some simple stretches, but rest becomes more important the older we get as it takes us longer to recover from injuries, we do this practice every day, even Olympic athletes take a break.

Question about the yoga diet, H said everyone is different, the body makes changes as we practice more and it “feels” what is right, we learn which foods have a detrimental effect on our practice and how much before practice we should eat. It’s not necessarily a vegetarian or vegan diet, though the practice does lead us to a healthier lifestyle.

He talked a little about the question of “Authorisation” and it’s value, when he first went to Mysore there was some kind of certificate, but it was so far “out there” and unattainable that he never thought about it, eventually a few people became authorised to teach the lineage, but it still had little value in the west as so few people had it and even fewer knew what it meant. Then many more became authorised and a very few certified and it’s significance and value became more widely known. Today it’s perhaps tipping the other way as there are so many authorised teachers now and it’s value has begun to lessen in many people’s eyes.

Question about whether it’s necessary to go to Mysore, bearing in mind it’s not possible for many people financially, for family or work reasons. H said it’s not a requirement, but he still recommends it, he said he likes to practice on a Sunday as he can take his time and has no commitments after, he said going to Mysore is like a month(s) of Sundays. He ended by saying if you do manage to make the pilgrimage to Mysore you will want to return.

Finally back to where I was

January 11, 2015


Finally after 2 years, 1 month and 6 days, it feels like it’s all coming back, just in time for going to Mysore.

Today was the first AYL Sunday of 2015, not helped by two hours on a cold rail replacement bus to get there. A full Shala, surrounded by the usual friendly faces. HNY’s and hello smiles and a spot in the narrow one mat wide section.

A nice steady flow through in the warm, adjustment in the right places, seated all bound, lovely Supta K assist from E, a proper 360 Garbha. Back to just the first 5 of intermediate, Pasasana to Bhekasana, trying to work the thoracic in Salabhasana A and B, assisted Bhekasana, my left arm still can’t get quite enough downward pressure on the foot, but another super assist from E lifting my chest. All before trying to walk the hands in as far as possible on each Urdva Dhanurasana on a damp mat with sliding hands, but it’s a measure of how much stronger my shoulder has become that I can walk the hands in and shift the Pelvis forward.

So it’s time for the one asana that’s eluded me for the last two years in the Shala since the fracture, dropping back AND standing up again. By the time I got there Louise was assisting my neighbour, so I was conscious of being watched. Dropping back is no longer a problem, I’ve learned to land with straight arms again, it’s the walking in on the UD’s that’s made the difference, I now land nearer my feet in a deeper bend, the pelvis more forward and less weight sinking in to my arms, a quick rock. Inhale, a tiny stumble and I’m up. Yahoooooooooo. Doing the first one was always going to be the barrier, after the first I soon did two more.

As I stood up from the third one Louise had just finished squashing my neighbour, “well done you’ve got it back”, I think she was as pleased as I was, she’s been there the whole way through the last 2 years, without her I would never have got my practice back. Three assisted half way, then a full drop, walking in then pinging back up. Two years ago she helped cut up my dinner in a restaurant in Thailand, today she barely lifted a finger to bring me up from a dropback.

My left arm still has issues with some movements, mainly to do with transferring weight such as the exits from Bhuja and Supta K via Bhakasana and the jumping forward in the vinyasa. But I can bind everything on my own and the physical and mental hurdle of dropbacks is going.

It’s been a VERY long journey that’s coming to and end just in time for Mysore and a new journey.

Ducks are in a row

January 9, 2015


All my Ducks are now in the row, Shala email, flights, Passport, Visa, Taxi, Accommodation, Mysore here I come.

Only 3 more AYL Sundays to go, plus a couple of trips to the local Shala where I get to “play” a bit more.

Waiting impatiently part 2

January 5, 2015

you may come” how wonderful it was to wake up to that email on Boxing Day morning from the Shala. Last time I went to Mysore I had 3 months to wait from receiving the email to unrolling my mat, a long build up including extricating myself from “that” job. This time it’s a headlong 28 day rush of booking a flight, finding a place to stay and arranging airport taxi’s and getting the Visa.

So now I’m impatiently waiting for the visa company to do the job, they only just reopened after the Christmas shut down, then I’ll have all my Ducks in a row.

How things have changed, last time I had months of job stress, migraines and keeping my plan secret until the last moment when I handed my notice in, no way would they have let me have time off, this time I’m taking a mini sabbatical with the Boss’s blessing, she even did the special 2×2 visa photos for me on the company’s special photo machine.

The countdown has begun, 23 days until I fly, I’ve given myself a few days to register, move into my room and register before I lay down my mat on 1st February with Saraswathi.