Today, on my rest day, I have actually taken the time to do so and thus taken some time to finally get to writing about Mysore.
After two weeks, I finally feel like I have a good amount of things to tell you about this place and many things about my personal experience.
I want to start off by explaining a little bit about where I am and it’s huge importance and follow with the internal/personal experience.
Part I : Ashtanga Yoga & Mysore
I am currently in a city called Mysore in Southern India.
Initially, my whole trip began because I wanted to come to this place specifically and have been wanting to for about two years now.
Mysore is the home to the SHRI K. PATTABHI JOIS ASHTANGA YOGA INSTITUTE (KPJAYI) , the shala created by Sri. K Pattabhi Jois, Guruji, over 50 years ago. This is where I am studying Ashtanga Yoga with his daughter Saraswathi, whom I’ll talk about more in a bit, for the whole month of March.
But, the history of Ashtanga Yoga in Mysore goes further back. Guruji came to Mysore, in 1932, when he was around 14 years old and studied with his guru Sri Krishnamacharya, who was also teacher of other great masters such as B.K.S Iyengar, . K. V. Desikachar, and Indra Devi.
So as you can tell, coming to this place to deepen the Ashtanga practice is a big deal and is now the dream of thousands of Ashtangis who come here every year.
Although Sharath is the current Guru of this lineage, Saraswathi, whom I can now call my teacher, has been teaching on her own since 1975 after assisting her father for several years.
In 1986 she created a little revolution here in Mysore by being the first woman ever to teach men and women together. Also she was the first woman ever to be accepted into the Sanskrit College in Mysore. She is one amazing lady!
At the age of 75, she is still vibrant and strong, teaching from 4:15 am until around noon. As she said in conference “People tell me I am old and I should take rest. But I don’t think I am old, I am strong you know. If I love this, why would I stop?”
She really is strong, believe me, if you could only see how she assists!!!
But, she also has such a kind a sweet presence, very motherly and caring,
I consider her to be the example of a wonder woman and I feel privileged to be practicing under her guidance.
Part II : “La Petite” in Mysore
Now, I will talk about my personal experience here in Mysore.
As I told you before, my whole trip began because I wanted to come and study here. But then little by little it , very naturally, turned into “I want to spend the next year traveling around Asia, being a student of life” kind of thing.
I had planned to come to Mysore for both February and March and then from here take off to who knows where. The thing with plans is that they are nothing but unreal creations made by our monkey mind and thus never turn out to be how you expected. I tried to apply for February and my application did not even go through because too many people had already applied. I want to highlight that I sent mine only 20 minutes after the application process had opened, after many failed attempts.
One month later, I tried again to apply for March with Sarawathi and was able to get through and got an acceptance letter less than two weeks after.
That was it, I was coming to Mysore!!!!!
I had already booked tickets for January so this is why I ended up spending February in magical Bali. So I now understand that not being accepted here, when I wanted, is probably one of the biggest blessings I have ever received.
Can you tell I am a little obsessed with that place?
But back to Mysore…
When I first got here I honestly did not like it. I felt uncomfortable in so many ways. Coming from Bali where I was practicing with 20 other people (tops) and had already made friends and a nice life, Mysore felt very much disappointing. The attention during practice was minimal (I already knew this though), I did not know where to go to make friends, everyone seemed to be only focused on the practice, I had to be all covered up everywhere I went in this 37º C heat, and I felt like I was not in India but in some sort of Twilight Zone full of foreigners.
This might come as a shock to everyone who knows me well, or at least it was for me, as I had been looking forward to coming here for so long now and experiencing the Mysore Magic everyone talks about.
This lasted for about 3 days, then it started to wind of little by little as the days went by and I was able to understand that I was simply uncomfortable with the change. For some reason, I had forgotten what the point of this whole trip is: get out of my freaking comfort zone. I was already very much comfortable in Bali and now I was in a new place, with new people, a new teacher, and new customs, and my mind and ego did not like that.
I already knew that the attention here is minimal because we are hundreds of students everyday and nobody is “carrying” the students around here. I now see that the positive side of this is I get to connect with my inner guru and not depend on my teachers to be all over me all the time. I came here to put into practice everything I have learned to this point and make sure I am present in every move and breath I take, because if I am not, then who will be?
It seems like I had also forgotten that I did not get to Bali, or anywhere else in the world that I’ve been to for that matter, and made friends in two hours. Finding a group of people you really connect with actually takes time and that is what make bonds so special. I am happy to say I have met wonderful people and have good friends that are making this experience even better. **Fun fact: I am the youngest person I know of here in the institute. Apparently twenty-something year olds are not really attracted to Ashtanga… go figure.
Instead of complaining that I am living in a bubble here in Gokulam, I decided to rent a bike to be free to go anywhere in Mysore at whatever time I want! Actually the first day I got it, we went all the way up to Chamundi Hill and watched a beautiful sunset and then I got lost on the way back home and had a real Mysore adventure!
Also, I must admit I like many things about this “bubble” : I feel very safe, I can eat nice plant-based, organic food whenever I want, and I can communicate easily with most people.
I also decided to make my days more interesting by finding a job at a cafe here in Gokulam, DiBa’s. I don’t work for money I work for FOOD!
I love the experience, because I had never worked as a server before and I mean who doesn’t love free food, specially if that includes free smoothie bowls and bottomless coconut chai lattes?!
I have met so many people at this small cafe and have created a beautiful connection with the incredible local women who work at the kitchen. So I managed to do something I had never done before, make new friends, and meet locals for that Indian spice I felt I was missing out on, all in one place.
Plus, I would like to mention that they have the best and most fresh food and apparently the best coffee as well here in Gokulam, I swear!
I am glad that I was able to identify my feelings and turn things around. No matter how much I know that change is good, I might always have to remind myself every time I am experiencing it. Change is not what what our mind wants. Our mind and ego like comfort, a routine, and feeling safe. But the soul likes adventure, freedom, and challenge. I am grateful for every single feeling and emotion that is popping up throughout this journey, each and everyone are a lesson to learn from as well as a stepping stone for improvement.
I have already been a bit over two weeks here in Mysore and have two weeks more to go. It is crazy how time flies. In a blink of an eye this whole thing will be over and once again I will be moving onto the next piece of this puzzle.
**Due to the very slow internet, everywhere, uploading all my pictures will take some time. I will have a full album for my next post!