Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spiritual Gang-stas

We’re happy to be part of a small social group of students coalescing mostly around shared practice time. Vanessa, Vikram (yes, rhymes with “Bikram” and he is therefore the target of a now-unfunny but unrelentingly-daily joke from Sharath: “Ah, Vikram. Ha. Get ready for ‘Vikram Yoga.’ Haha”) David, and (Miss) Stan are all from Toronto (yes, it’s THAT David) and we usually share a few words over post-practice coconuts. David has the most experience in Mysore, and it is interesting to hear stories: for example, there was the one about an authorized teacher who threw a party in Gokulum and handed out baked goods laced with who-knows-what without telling anyone. At least one person had a seriously bad trip and went to the hospital. It sounds like the teacher was kicked out of the shala, ex-communicated, shunned or whatever it is that they do. The teacher was not named. Guesses?

Practice, practice, practice. It is truly a joy to go to the shala every day. It only gets better as time passes. After having completely submitted to the necessity of healing injury instead of adding postures, I (E) was given pashasana this week. No one was more surprised than I. Also, Sharath has taken helping me catch in backbending as a personal mission, coaching and manipulating me in a much more specific way in the last few days. I haven’t gotten further than clawing at the ankles with my fingernails, but have received a “Very good” and “Next week.” Yikes. K added krounchasana and will probably be onto shalambhasana next week. We’re both working the jumps of the Primary Series pretty intensely. Strangely, this skill—which we think is one of the most important for the poise and strength it builds—is virtually ignored here in Mysore, at least as far as teaching is concerned. Looking around the shala, there are all levels of it, and Sharath seems not to care in the least. One thing that is clear is that it has nothing to do with being given new postures.

We have been acutely aware, for obvious reasons, of any modifications going on in the practice space. There aren’t a lot, but more than you might expect. Most common (or at least apparent) is knee problems. There are several people with bad knees, modifying one or both sides of many Primary postures. Most hindering are shoulder/wrist injuries. There is one woman who clearly has one or both of these going on, such that she does SS on her forearms and, while she does all of the Primary postures, she does not do any of the jumpback vinyasas. Does this hint at a new touchy-feeley, listen-to-your-body shala? Mmmmm, not exactly. There are still students held up in the middle of Primary, either at the marichyasana postures or garbha pindasana. There is also the occasional shout from Sharath, correcting for some otherwise invisible posture imperfection from across the room: close fingers, heel down, arms slightly wider, etc.

Our usual daily routine is practice, then some fruit and working/napping (it’s the coolest part of the day), lunch “out” somewhere, errands/Internet, and dinner at our flat. Additionally, there's usually a stop by the coconut stand or an evening walk thrown in there. It's an easy rhythm. Trips into the city (Mysore proper) are usually entertaining, if exhausting. With practice, we make a decent scooter-driving team (E driving and honking/K watching and hand signaling). Once we make it into town, it’s not hard to wander into a new restaurant with a few minutes of walking.

It is best to take a quick assessment of the restaurant and then simply enjoy. That is, don’t think too much about food preparation, kitchen conditions, etc. (this is true in the States as well, but absolutely ESSENTIAL here). For example, K had rava dosa at a typically grungy cafe. It comes up at the window and the server scoops up a small pat of butter onto it and brings it over. Delicious. Let’s leave it at that.

Let’s NOT consider that the butter is sitting, not only unrefrigerated, but completely uncovered, in an open container in a stifling open room beside the kitchen. Or that it’s doled out pat-by-pat with the server’s bare, grubby hands, which also wipe tables with filthy rags, buss tables, carry supplies and who knows what else. Let's not think about that.

We're closing out another 48 hours of rest after Saturday's off-day and Sunday's moon day. 430a practice tomorrow and then probably watching the Intermediate led class again. Feel free to drop by…we have a spare room…

1 comment:

BG said...

I was gonna stop by, but I gotta work tomorrow...