A Travellerspoint blog

Ashtanga in the Southern Hemisphere... New Zealand.....

new teachings, new inspiration....

sunny 24 °C

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I have been in New Zealand for thirteen days now. Its not a bad flight fom Thailand, I got to wander around Hong Kong airport for quite a while as I danced on the jet lag tightrope- that late night/early morning hour that seems suspended for quite a while. It was about ten hours from Hong Kong, so all in all, bearable...

My first impression of the country was looking out of the big picture windows of the airport and seeing these hump-like velvety hills in the distance, like 'Lord of the Rings'. And how tall everyone seemed after Asia. And how loud and friendly people were. In a sense New Zealand reminds me a lot of South Africa, with the same kind of Southern hemisphere vibe and the kind of manners you don't often get in my age group in the UK. Almost a retro '50's vibe in a sense. Which I don't have a problem with. I got myself a wash and went off looking for internet access and when I couldn't get my card to work on the pay as you go internet this girl just gave me a two dollar coin and wished me a good day! And everyone talks to you. And then on the bus journey into Auckland when it was time to disembark, everyone thanked the driver on the way out. Which I haven't seen since Sheffield. I found the ferry terminal ok and jumped on the ferry to Baywater to meet my friend Nadia. I struggled with my rucksack and this big strapping guy carried it for me, both ends. And so I met up with Nadia, my friend from school who I hadn't seen in over five years, who's living here with her husband, and two kids now. It was good to see she hasn't really changed, still the same creative, wise, and kind of regal soul, who is ever so slightly batty (we were having a conversation about people who talk too much and she quoted some deep comment from Genghis Khan, of all people, I was amazed he had such a sensitive streak until later in the conversation, when it transpired she actually meant Kahlil Gibran...!).

And we had a little bit of a walk around as the sun shone down on us in a temperate and pleasant kind of way, away from the relentless heat I've had for months. And I clocked the happy badly dressed people eating BIG ice creams and plates of sushi. Well, not everyone dresses badly but you do see knee socks and sandals. And the kind of jeans/ shorts that are a bit 'Joe Bloggs '88'. And you find sushi everywhere which I love. So the first day we went back to her beautiful house in Baywater which is a 1930's weatherboard construction. Its funny, the houses here look almost 'hut like', like Edward Hopper images or something, but are so lovely inside, often with deco stained glass detail and that kind of thing. And we spent a happy day sitting out in the garden with a bottle of wine and caught up on all the gossip. I beat the jetlag by just staying up for as long as I could but it still takes a while to settle. The first day or two was just spent exploring the North Shore area a little, swimming, and finding my bearings. And I checked into a hostel near Queen Street, central Auckland that I could dump my stuff in and explore from.

Its hard keeping up a regular practice when your situation changes so much but I managed to fit in a couple of practices the first week at the Ashtanga shala on the Great North Road which had a visiting teacher from Wellington- Pete Sanson, in the photo above. He was recommended to me by someone I got talking to in Mysore and he is a fabulous teacher. I managed to do Supta Kurmasana and Garbha Pindasana under his tutelage- and he gave me a practical demo in how the arms weave through and make this possible. So my form was ragged- but much improved. I wish I had made it to all the classes as he was only there a week but fatigue got the better of me a little. He has a very calm and gentle teaching manner and has the eagle instinct of someone so completely in tune with the form that he can run a class of 40 and every single person benefits in their own practice. And he has a touch of the Indian English so you know he's studied long ("You wait, I come") and hard in the centre so to speak (though the real centres not geographical). And the Ashtanga Centre is run by a guy called Dik who I thought looked familiar- and then it turned out he was in Mysore in October last year and we met in the Sthalam 8 cafe! Small world! He is Pattabhi Jois certificated and a beautiful teacher also. I went and did an evening Mysore session with him and really benefitted there too. The shala is in Grey Lynn on the Great North Road (www.astangayoga.co.nz) and is spacious and clean, with a sense of the sacred there, that I really had missed in Thailand. It reminds me a little of Yoga Shala in Sheffield. To be honest the Absolute Yoga studio in Bangkok to me, had no SOUL.

However, Grey Lynn is a long walk from Queen Street for a morning practice so at Diks recommendation I checked out the Yoga Academy (www.yoga.co.nz) on Federal Street, next to the big huge hypodermic needle style Sky Tower in the centre of town. And was blown away by that too. I went and did a Mysore class yesterday under the tutelage of Jude Hynes- another Pattabhi Jois certified teacher- I am so spoilt here (!) who is a kind and wonderful teacher and made Marichyasana D deeper and easier and more logical and meditative than it has ever been... And their rates are so reasonable and I was fortuitous enough to go in on a day where they had some promotions and so picked up a ten class card. And so I can step up the practice again, back to a minimum of four times a week, any less, you don't really benefit, the continuity is so very important. So its good to have my rituals sorted.

Rituals are going to be important because I have changed my travel plans yet again. Its all good. If you read my travel blogs you may recall I was thinking about applying for work on a cruise ship. Well I contacted the company and they need an international REPS fitness qualification that as far as I was aware you could only do in the UK. And I was turning over some other ideas too, like studying for it in the USA... But as luck would have it I got a recommendation for a personal training course here from a Pilates teacher who really rated this school. And so I called them up and did some research. And it turns out that these guys are the company the top end cruise liners recruit directly from. How weird is that? Because for the moment I can't imagine settling, I want to keep moving, but obviously its not good to drain all your resources through travel, so this would be a way to keep funding my exploits. Plus the fact that I do genuinely love and care about exercise, I enjoy working with people, and I can teach Yoga with this too. I had to bite my tongue when I saw the ferry blurb to fitness staff though- all about the three week course they send you on in London so you can learn the 'Yoga and Pilates' bit.... If only Krishnamacharya had known about the cruise ship courses eh? He never would have needed to spend all those years in a cave in the Himalayas with his guru..... I mean really...

So I went along for my interview at the fitness college- they take fitness very seriously in New Zealand- it is the home of Pump and Combat- when I do the classes in the Les Mills gym here I sort of feel like a young Jedi in the presence of Yoda... Auckland is to the fitness industry what Mysore is to Ashtanga Yoga. Classes of over 75 people!!! All whooping and cheering in the most painful parts!!!!! Crazy, i love it so much. Anyway, the college is really good- they have great facilities, and there was a great atmosphere too- and they are very big on good manners. I may need to work on cultivating that attitude of relentless cheerfulness but it shouldn't be too hard! You have to smile BIG and say "Awesome!!!!" a lot- and MEAN IT!!! I got talking to some of the staff and they're cool, so it should be a good ten weeks. And I'm sure it'll be useful to go over my A and P again and do some business related study too. The course starts the beginning of April so I'm heading down to Wellington to catch up with a couple of old friends from Brighton, on the scenic train on Monday, and a bit of exploration before I'm back to the grindstone for a while. It feels so good to have something to work on again, I'm a typical Capricorn in the respect that without work, or a project, I feel sort of lost.... like a doozer with no doozer construction.........

I've also got out and about and met some people locally- I went to a talk on meditation the other night, which was great actually, and met a fellow Sheffielder(!) and met some guy called Jonathon too, and went on a bit of a fun Auckland pub crawl. And remembered the next day what a hangover feels like... no fun....

I'm spending this weekend in Auckland, going to some Hare Krishna thing in Albert Park on Sunday. And doing more people watching. One thing that sticks out here is how totally gorgeus some of the people are, theres quite a few people of Samoan and Maori descent, so different looking. And you see some amazing tattoos, on everyone. Theres a distinctly tribal/Pacific edge to the work. Most tattoos you see are monochromatic black. And I love the way you get these beautiful feminine girls with big bad strong looking tattoos. No messing about with names and butterflies here. And they don't seem to be so 'counter culture' here, like, you can be in some posh shop and there'll be a woman in her 50's with a tribal design etched on her wrist and its beautiful. There seems to be a good ethos here, on tattoos. That is, plan them, make them fit the part of the body they're going to be, and wear them with pride, as a totem, an expression of your journey. And bigger is always better with tattoos. If you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly..........
Anyway, on that note, I'll leave it there for now.....

Posted by victoria8 00:35 Archived in New Zealand Tagged women Comments (0)

Self practice on Samui

Paradise and the dark...

sunny 45 °C

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Leaving India for Thailand was pretty easy. I didn't realize the flight from Delhi's a mere three hours... The Cathay Pacific flight was beautiful and peaceful. Thailand's not so far from India geographically but culturally its another world. And the thing about Thailand is that I'm not sure what to make of it yet. I think I'd have to stay here a long time to find a pulse, so to speak. The first thing that hits you is the heat. This damp air. And the smells. Theres this odour of rotting food, eggs and meat, that seems to rise from the ground near restaurants. And the smell of holy basil and something feral. The streets are very clean though, you're struck by the lack of rubbish. I think Bangkok would be an ideal home for one of Anne Rice's vampires. Everything works, everythings in order but theres a darkness too. Like a feeling of uncertainty. Because its the polar opposite of India in how everything works. That is, if you want something done, its just done, you don't have to fight for it, or argue, or have a big beaurocratic struggle over it, which is nice. People are very polite and friendly, but you don't feel like you really get to know people as the social niceties seem so entrenched, if that makes sense... And as a woman you don't encounter the same swaggering machismo that you have to get used to in India. Men look you up and down in Thailand too, but you get the feeling they're checking out your outfit more than anything... Thats just an observation, not a value judgment. Its a very easy place to be, and a great place to wind down.

I got in mid morning and went straight out exploring. The guy at reception in my hotel told me that we were right near the temple of the sleeping Buddha, but I didn't make it... I saw myself in a mirror and as I strongly resembled someone who'd just spent months in India I went off looking for a hairdresser. I found this brilliantly camp guy in a shopping mall hairdressers who shouted at me for using henna and got my hair the perfect shade of cherry red again. And I spent a few happy hours looking at shoes in Siam shopping mall and then rode around on the Sky Train. You're not even allowed to drink coffee on the platforms in order to preserve hygiene standards. Its so SO clean. And the air conditioning is fierce, like being in a freezer. So I got back to my hotel with perfect hair and feet and hung around there for a while, ate some Japanese food which was heavenly then got an early night. I got a flight to Koh Samui at 6am the following morning.

The flight to Samui takes about an hour from Bangkok on Bangkok Airways which is touted as 'Thailands first Boutique airline' (whatever thats supposed to mean) and is easy and quicker than the ferry. Getting into Samui is magical- it is such a beautiful little island. heavily forested and the beach views are like something out of 'South Pacific' with distant islands emerging out of the misty horizons. I spent the first three days on Lamai Beach at a resort called 'Spa Beach' which is a 'detox' resort. I had this little hut all to myself, with air conditioning, a king sized bed, lovely shower and balcony for around 15 uk pounds per night. Theres a fresh water swimming pool and a raw food restaurant which was beautiful- they don't just serve raw food though, its all good. I had great coffee and fresh juices every day, beautiful salads, nori rolls, raw chocolate desserts, the works. There were quite a few people fasting. Really skinny dissatisfied looking women (who seem to have decided that if they no longer have their youth being underweights a good compromise which is understandable, considering the screwed up culture we have) and some people losing it entirely. As someone thats done intense detoxes I can attest to the fact that you don't just get a physical detox ache, horrid things happen to your personality too, and you flip out over the most ridiculous things. I think if you're in Paradise, like Koh Samui, you should enjoy yourself. If you're going to live on hot water and lemon juice, you can do that anywhere. And actually just having a rests usually enough of a detox. I caught up with some friends which was really lovely, and met some new people too. I had an amazing tarot reading there, which surprised me, she was really spot on. She's called Abigail and works from the Lamai area and very intuitive, and confident with the cards. And ever since then I've been sleeping really well. And having some vivid and deeply colourful and intense dreams, it feels like some old stuffs been processed in a sense, and a weight lifted.

As for my Ashtanga practice, I kept it up on Koh Samui. As I remember from last time I was in India, its a funny thing; that is, when you're in India you practice and practice and it feels really difficult. If anything you often feel that your practice is going backwards, rather than forwards. But then when you leave India and go practice alone, or in a class, you feel like you're flying, its so much lighter and easier. So I got up on this platform overlooking the beach, in the most idyllic place I've ever been, and did the Primary Series on my own every morning. And it just seemed to flow. And of course, the heat helps, you don't have to wake your body up in the same way in a warmer climate. The next two days in Samui I stayed in the Jungle Club, near Chaweng, a little Thai-French owned resort up in the mountains and there the view was even more amazing. There was a little platform where I could practice again, with this huge panoramic view of the ocean, the islands beyond, and the jungle. It was incredible. And so peaceful.

During the days I explored the island a bit. Chaweng, the main town on Samui is basically so much like one of the Canary Islands... All cocktail bars, English pubs and fake Ed Hardy clothing stalls.. All the shops basically sell the same things and there are millions of them. Cocktails are cheap and very very good. I had some good afternoons drinking mojitos and margheritas with Kate and Hailey- I think of it like treading the middle ground, like the Buddha..... balance.... a few cocktails are OK (i wonder if this theory explains why so many clubs and pubs called 'The Buddha Bar' keep springing up in the UK)... the weird thing is, on Samui, you never seem to get hangovers- maybe its something in the air, because in Mysore if I even had one beer I could barely walk the next day so really had to mainly avoid booze. So Samui is the magical no-hangover Paradise.... The last two days I stayed in the Coconut Grove resort in the far north of the island with Hailey which was lots of fun. They have this amazing narrow 75 metre long swimming pool that was just outside the room. So if you swam 20 lengths it was a kilometer and a half.. So I swam a lot there and we did an awful lot of lying around in the sun too and I even have a tan now, and bikini marks, for the first time since I was about 12. So, as adolfo would say, it was a 'Shanti Shanti' holiday, my first proper beach holiday in 18 years- I don't really tend to do that, as lets face it, its indulgent, and I like to be learning stuff or touring ruins, but this was beautiful. And if you are going to have a beach holiday, Samui's the place to do it. And once you're there its no more expensive than the Canaries.

I think one day I'd like to return to Thailand, as I don't really feel like I learned much at all about the culture. And Samui is very westernized and not really such a Thai place. Its the ultimate chillout though. A place to sleep. eat. relax and have a great time. I spent a further two days in Bangkok before I left. I stayed in the coolest place- a cheap hotel called the '13 Coins' which was inspired by a Seattle steak house where the owner, an entrepreneur, worked in his youth, and so, its got a 1950's American vibe, and the menu is all steaks and pancakes alongside the Pad Thai. Its somewhat bizarre. And theres a Muay Thai boxing ring attached, and loads of attractive young men, mainly from the USA, milling about the place. Theres a big crystal chandaliered reception area open 24 hours with an interesting array of lounge singers employed (Thailand is very keen on lounge music- its all a bit Mike Flowers, they lounge up pretty much all music) and I had a great time drinking iced Chinese tea and people watching. I'm never going to stay anywhere else in Bangkok! I was happy to leave though- the heat is so so so oppressive...

And so the next destinations New Zealand............

Posted by victoria8 14:13 Archived in Thailand Tagged women Comments (0)

Delhi revisited...

and fortune telling...

semi-overcast 20 °C

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I arrived in Delhi yesterday afternoon after nearly 2 solid days of travelling. My night in Bangalore was hellish. My hotel was above a bar that had a lot in common with a Yates wine lodge and they had a Bhutanese hip hop evening on downstairs... It sounds exactly like you would imagine and was so so so loud that the floor was actually shaking. I got about 20 minutes sleep after eating the greasiest Indian food I have ever eaten any where, including Aberdeen. The staff were nice though, and when I couldn't sleep and went to reception to bitch about it, they let me use their computer to surf the web. I had to get up at 2.30 a.m for an early flight. So I was exhausted. I had to wait in Mumbai for 5 hours and I started thinking the voice on the tannoy was addressing me directly, like the voice of God, as I was so tired and confused. I somehow managed to hold it together though, i drank plenty of Iced eskimos from Coffee Day, whose menu I now know pretty much off by heart, the paneer tikka sandwich on brown is very good and the brownies are to die for... I also read a good chunk of Lord of the Rings. And felt for the tired hobbits.

Delhi airport was much cleaner and quieter than I remember from last time and i got a prepaid taxi to my hotel, the Hotel Grand Park Inn in New Delhi- and I am never going to stay anywhere else when I come here- I got a really good deal on the expedia.com sale, and its lovely. I have a massive room with dark wood furniture- a clean clean soft spotless king sized bed, cable TV and a ginormous bath. A bath!!! I lay in my first long hot bath since September last year and then watched a really dreadful film called 'Fire and Ice' until I fell asleep for about 11 hours. I got woken up by the phone- the guy on reception telling me breakfast was nearly over and as I had paid for it I should eat something- I mumbled incoherently back at him and they sent me coffee to my room- Indian style, thick with sugar and condensed milk (it actually tastes gorgeus, like a dessert), so I had a really happy morning lying in bed with that and watching America's Funniest home videos... Bliss. I'm travelling all day tomorrow and have to be up at 1.30 am so one day being a couch potato was needed. And I have not been really comfortable in bed since I got to India, my bed in Mysore was like some kind of prison bed- not hard enough to feel healthy, nor soft enough to feel decadent, just crap really. I miss my six layer futon mattress.

This afternoon I decided I should do something- I had this lofty ambition to go to the Red Fort and take in an art gallery and Humayan's Tomb. But I wasn't that energetic. So I got an auto to Paharganj. I love Paharganj- its this feast of the senses and the best place for people watching. I haven't seen that many whacked out looking Westerners since I left Brighton. All kinds of freaks. And they have the best shoe shops selling the coolest, weirdest footwear. I got 5 pairs of solid leather, carved, sort of Persian looking strange shoes, they came to about 4 pounds a pair. Spotty ones, ones with psychedelic trees painted on them, Aladdin style pointy toed ones with pom poms on. Thats the thing about North Indian Rajasthani fashion- you can take it home and wear it and it looks good, sort of boho and arty if you take care to not over accessorize. Whereas you really want to avoid South Indian style unless you fully intend on looking like one of the Three Kings from the school nativity play (sans tea towel on the head) on your return home... The guy in the shoe shop told me that he supplied some shops in Brighton and suddenly I realized I had probably bought more from him in Brighton's Greenwich Village in the past. And its very Glastonbury-ish too, endless streets of hippy clothes and bags, the slight whiff of urine and incense in the air and everyone looking earnest and drinking chai. Loved it.

I was accosted by an old beardy guy- he grabbed my hand as I walked past a juice shop and sat with him for 10 minutes or so while he charmed me with Jedi-style mind tricks, for example giving me a piece of paper all screwed up and asking me to say a colour and then unfolding the paper and it matched. And a couple of variations on that. I think these are just tricks they can learn, rather than it being particularly spiritually significant- I mean- its very important to not get too blown away. But he was pretty spot on- he said all my problems are caused by thinking too much and hesitating to make commitments. And I should make commitments sometimes. He predicted my death aged 87- Indian palmists are unanimous on that- and I must have had at least 10 palm readings here. I don't know though- 87 seems awfully old and I can't bear to think on being physically dependent on other people. He also said that I dissipate my energy being friends with too many people whereas less friends would be better as less social stimulation would bring greater peace. We argued a bit about that one and I bought him another juice and went off in search of books.

I found a good stall full of second hand books so I picked up a Bill Bryson I hadn't read for a few rupees and got talking to the owner of the stall, 'Professor Kapoor' who's also an astrologer (with gorgeus hair incidentally) and I liked him instantly. So, on impulse I went to talk to him (yes Paharganj really is a lot like Glasters) and he looked at my dates and read my palms. The first thing he said to me was "You are always thinking too much. This is the problem". OK, so there was a pattern emerging. And he rightly said that life he been particularly hard since the 4th of September 2004. That was the very date of my fathers death as it happens. So I got a cold shiver down my spine at that moment. Since then my lifes just been quite mad- so many changes, so many moves, jobs, different studies, travel, heartache, happiness, unhappiness, its almost like I've had 10 years of activity packed into less than half the time. But he said the worst is over and I should just make decisions quickly and then stick with them. He also said that I have relationship problems because I am so against ever telling people what to do- as I hate being told what to do. And at the end of the day being told what to do makes men feel safe apparently. Like children. And I just trust them to already know how to behave without me having to lay down ground rules. And apparently (this is the best bit) in my last life I was a preacher in the area of Hampi and I had my own ashram. And I was married but I was secretly into some girl behind my wife's back. And in the end she got sick of it and married someone else ("Good for her" I exclaimed in a fit of rage against my past incarnation as a cad). And so the Diksha said that I've repaid the karma for that, getting burnt by someone elses marriage in this life (even though thats a long story and they separated before I came along). And so thats over and done with there can be peace now. And teaching and writing. And he said more too, but as Ajay would say "I have said enough" (with a 'mysterious' expression!!!)... Its funny though, I've often joked that in a past life I was a bit of an player... (albeit a spiritually minded one...) And I bet I also smoked too much, talked a lot of shite and entertained some tragic fantasy about being a 'musician'....! Ha! Explains so much of what I've suffered in this incarnation...

Its still 'winter' in Delhi- that is, only around 20 degrees- pleasant actually, T shirt weather for me and headscarves and fleeces for the locals. Just a nice fresh temperature, a lot cooler than Mysore. I will be going to Bangkok first thing tomorrow and so its a very early night for me- with another long hot bath , and more sleep in a very clean and comfortable bed... And when I return here in March I'll hit some culture then...

Off to go get street food...

Posted by victoria8 04:58 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

My last day in Mysore

and feeling blessed...

sunny 30 °C

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I can hardly believe that today is my last day here... I would say the past four months have flown by but they really haven't... I sort of feel that I've been here for about a year- or maybe I've learnt what would otherwise take longer in a sort of super-condensed way without the annoying nusicance of having to work 10am till 8pm, or a man shouting oafishly for my attention. How lucky I am to get these windows from time to time- having space, and time in which to contemplate is so very precious. Last time I came to India I felt like I took some tools home with me, and this time I feel like I brought them back and went back to the drawing board so to speak.

I've had some amazing experiences- when you have the time to practice intensely, and rest afterwards you can start to feel like a radio, picking up signals from everywhere. One thing thats become clear to me is that the practice doesn't ever necesserily become easier. As soon as one thing yields, something else comes up. As I've noticed before- development is circular, not linear- and you can't practice with an agenda. I wanted the perfect Kurmasana by the end of these months- and its far from perfect but bizarrely enough Pincha Mayurasana feels easy and comfortable now. I don't know what that means. One day I'm going to compile a book of the sacred essence of each asana- the fiery seed of Garudhasana, the emotional rebalance of Pascimatanasana. Each asana is like a key, and where you are with it could be a type of divination. My practice has opened up so much these months.

I've also learned that detachment doesn't necesserily mean having perfect control over your character and emotional make up- or at least it doesn't have to, to start with. Detachment can mean throwing a tantrum and whilst you're offloading being aware that its only temporary. You can almost play with your moods, laugh at yourself, try and work out where its coming from if you so desire. Having a little mantra helps- like the non-dualistic "Not this, Not this" idea when trying to understand the divine- you can say to yourself "Not me, Not me" when you're having a bad reaction to something. It helps. You just have to keep at it. Don't be downcast because you aren't perfect. Aspiring to awareness is better- anyone who wants to be perfect probably has some bad stuff they're trying to hide anyway. Face your darkness. Read about Kali and learn that not all darkness is quite as it seems. Learn to really listen- to everything and everyone. Be open.

What else? I've learned sometimes you need to make yourself rest. And you don't have to be engaged in 'useful' work every waking hour, take time to digest. So thats probably enough for me to be going on with...

I said goodbye to Ajay this afternoon- I got my teacher training certificate, my t-shirt, my adjustment book (that is to be shown to no-one) my lucky coin, and I'll be collecting my little protection Yantra to wear tomorrow- I thought he might teach me some kind of 'secret handshake as well'.... but no... maybe next time ...:) I am so glad I studied with Ajay. He's a glowing example of a Yoga teacher, so much energy and intelligence. I'll really miss him in classes- I love the way he gets excited about what he does- and the way he goes off on crazy tangents sometimes when he's channelling something from who knows where... I know its intolerant, but boring Yoga teachers really get to me. Yoga is fascinating and romantic and to make something so incredible boring and passionless is just inexcusable. Or to reduce it to the same level as a keep fit class or trawl out some cheesy meditation or observation from a book rather than from the heart is just urgh. When I practice Yoga I like to think of the millions who've gone before me, struggling with the same stuff. To honour the dead and contemplate my own mortality... Hmmm... Now I'm having a tangent moment. I do believe though, that when you have a regular and dedicated practice inspiration starts to flow, and you maybe don't need books in the same way. Because you access other knowledge deep deep within. What the Druids refer to as 'Awen'. And if you teach Yoga your well will never run dry if you keep up your own practice, your own discovery. You can never rest on your laurels, you have to keep going, on the road with everyone else. Never really alone.

There was a Kirtan the other night which Ajay led- chanting and music. It was beautiful. I was talking to Sista Shree about it earlier today - she was a long term student of Pattabhi Jois. She came to the Kirtan too and said that it reminded her of what it used to be like to study Yoga here. That very special kind of energy that happens when you have a gathering of people for a special reason. It was amazing evening. As it was my last Friday evening I was thinking of going out for dinner and then Deepak at the Shala said that he would like to cook a buffet. And then it really took off and loads of people came and the food was gorgeus- beautiful Indian vegetarian food with raw salads and channa masala. And I spent time with some of my very favourite people and we looked at the nearly full moon in Leo and talked all night.

I have cleared out my little flat- I have packed a rucksack. I'm leaving with Brian for Bangalore tomorrow- after which I'll go to Delhi, then Delhi to Bangkok, Bangkok to Aucland, then early March back to Delhi- then maybe Rishikesh for 2 or 3 weeks and then it'll be getting hot and I'll leave India. And then? Not sure yet. I'm planning on seeking out some good Ashtanga in New Zealand- unfortunately theres no John Scott workshops while I'm there. Or maybe I'll just do a lot of self practice. I'm keeping my plans for late March open but very loosely thinking of the USA, starting North West. I think I'd like that. And so my travel plans are as circular as my Yoga practice. I've been doing some research into working abroad too and so am looking at all options (I am too much of a Capricorn to be a feckles drifter), even qualifying as a personal trainer and working on ships- we'll see...

So my very last entry in Mysore... for now... We're having a quiet meal tonight and chilling. I'll try and sleep tonight but I'm excited to travel. See some more of this world, eat street food in Delhi (NICE) and all that kind of thing. And I am ready to leave in a way I wasn't before. And I have more David Frawley to read. As well as 'Lord of the Rings' (should keep me going).

And if anyone I've met in Mysore is reading this I want to say thankyou, I love all you very much and we'll meet again...:)

Posted by victoria8 02:55 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

Welcoming in 2010 in Mysore...

and still learning to read the signs, and making only one resolution for the year...

sunny 28 °C

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Its been an illuminating couple of weeks... After all the joy that was Christmas, there was my birthday and that was sweet... I had a little party on the rooftop of my house and we had a really nice evening, and, I think, my first alcohol free birthday in about 15 years... Tea and cake and really good company. Prakash came round with a birthday cake with my name on and I had flowers, and I felt very spoilt, very happy, very good. I also went to Ajays backbending class on my birthday and a talk about dreams by Priya at the Mysore Mandala. Different levels of dreams. What you should pay attention to and what is actually garbage... I've been having some quite far-out dreams it has to be said- especially since I've taken the pranayama to a deeper level.

I was sad to finish the Pranayama course with BNS Iyengar. I was going to learn mudras with him too. but decided against it as I think I'll do better to just continue to practice what he taught me alone. Pranayama gets more exciting. I remember the last time I was in India, one day as I was washing up in the ashram I thought how we are like blackened pans, or ancient woks- with these dried out old crusty bits of blackened food clinging to us, and we are so used to the blackened crap in a sense, that we think this stuff clinging to us is part of us. But its not. Underneath it all we are still clean and shiny like a brand new pan thats never been used. Pranayama helps dislodge whats clinging to us- what dulls us. And like physical cleaning, it takes some work too. Sometimes after Pranayama I'm dripping with sweat... And after a session there's a sense of relief; like basking on a quiet beach after the tide has gone out. There is space and there is silence to just be... And this kind of relates to my New Years resolution.... I decided what my resolution was on the 10th of January- it took a few days. Because I'm generally anti New Years resolutions- they tend to be all about denial and feeling bad- just what you don't need in January, which is so often such a dull month in any case...

New Year was a blast- there was this amazing party at Shoab's house in Gokulam, Robbie and Brian and others played music, there was cake, there was vodka, dancing, singing. There was a bit of a French vibe going on and the singing got quite raucous in parts, it started to feel a little Celtic, and the flickering candle light added to it. There was a beautiful girl dancing with fire and after my third or so vodka it was like this glowing corner of the universe, a beautiful place, full of beautiful people...

Its been a long time since I've felt this good, this light, thinking about all that is here now, all that is still to come, rather than what is gone, what could have been, and what never will be again. And there's no point getting into value judgments but its just another Yoga lesson isn't it? You have no control whatsoever over what happens to you, it is how you handle things, how you choose to see the world that defines you as a person. You can choose to be rich or poor, happy or sad, weak or strong. I think being here has been such a learning curve. And there's so many amazing people to learn from. Like Adolfo, and how he really properly practices contentment. And the practice of contentment is not easy. It should be, but its not. You have to drop all your conceptions about how things will ideally be when you've done whatever, reached a certain point, bought a certain house, lost a stone, whatever your thing is, you have to learn to let go and say "Fuck it. This is what is right here, right now. Its great. Nothing else I need". In fact there's a new book out that's about something called "Fuck It" therapy- there's a lot to be said for cutting to the chase...

And so my New Years resolution is to properly practice the niyama of Santosha- contentment. Inspired by Adolfo, inspired by Shoeb and others. Being in the here and now. You could be cynical and say its a damn sight easier to practice contentment here than at work in a bank in Sheffield in shitty weather but that would be missing the point. True Santosha is so much about sacrifice and attaining contentment in every situation. Being on an even keel, not bitching when things are not so great, not feeling like you're God when they are. Being 'same same'. As Iyengar says in the 'Light on Yoga' "There is contentment and tranquility when the flame of the spirit does not waver in the wind of desire". And another phrase that keeps coming to me is 'Let Go. Let God'. And I have a horrible feeling that thats a well-known AA favourite quote but hey ho. It seems to make sense now.

What makes Mysore, the whole culture here, is the people you meet. People who are willing to put their lives on hold and come here to practice, practice, practice. There's reverence and there's joy. Adolfo said the other day its like we're forming a whole new caste here, in India , the land of many cultures. The place, that like Wonderland, is so often the antithesis of what you expect, and so you see yourself against this backdrop unlike any other, in what is often uncomfortably sharp relief. Its a privilege to get to spend a few months here.

The weathers just starting to get a little little warmer again. And the mornings are lighter. The insects are also out in force. My flat is now super clean. Any kind of crumbs are just so attractive to ants and beetles. And oh my Lord I saw the biggest baddest nastiest spider the other day. I leaned down for a better look and I swear the little beast had these big fangs and was actually gnashing its teeth at me threateningly... It was a case of "OK. Right then. I'll be off out now, and I erm, expect you to be gone by the time I come back...". I also smell attractively of citronella Odomos at all times... I have learned to love cockroaches too. I even feel slightly protective of them now. They're like these cute little wind up toys that don't do you any harm at all- in fact they eat mosquitoes off the wall so they are our friends.

People have been leaving too. Priya left last week, and then Robbie left two days ago, but Brians still here for as long as I am. I adore Brian and Robbie- they are both blonde, very attractive, more than averagely intelligent, kind and funny. What saves them from boring bland perfection is that they're both ever so slightly neurotic. In this really cute way -Robbie told me he thought he might have leprosy a couple of weeks back- he had some dry skin panicked and got a mite paranoid with googling info about related illnesses....... Actually, talking of leprosy, I saw my first leper in Bangalore last week. No nose and stumps for arms, being wheeled along, begging. I got quite interested and went out and bought the 'Tell Me Why' guide to diseases. Theres a LOT of diseases you can potentially get in Asia beyond the well-known ones. Mysore's a pretty risk-free place though. Apart from the occasional stomach thing.

And hundreds of new people have arrived in Gokulam as Sharath is back to teach for the season. And so the sacred mandala of Mysore Yoga students continues to change form... I was tempted for a tiny second to go do a month there, but to be honest, I'm so happy where I am. And its 25 percent of the price. And this morning I was doing free standing drop backs and coming up with no fear and no help. Ajay just said "You don't need me now, just get on with it" and walked off as I felt like a virgin driver on my first adventure out alone on the roads... My whole body feels like its opening up. Sun salutations have never felt so soft and Kurmasana is developing. Physically its good- I had to take 3 days off practice last week after injuring my right shoulder adjusting people in Down Dog, but its better now. Yesterday I taught a class of one (!) and today after class Ajay came up to me and said "I heard good things about the class yesterday! That you pushed him and aligned him! I am very happy!". The teaching is coming! I have been practicing with Nagaraj and slowly getting over the fear that I'm going to hurt someone. When you are up close to someone adjusting them, you can feel how their body is, where they can go, and when you should back off. This experience is invaluable. I've never adjusted that much at home but I will be able to in the future.

Last Saturday there was an Acro Yoga workshop in Gokulam run by Paul Millage. That was fabulous- so much fun- a good photo oppurtunity. It also really inspired me. Some purists might not consider it Yoga but I think the contact with the other person is actually very Yogic- a way of moving beyond your own sense of 'self' and the feeling of separation we can suffer from. A way to break down some boundaries maybe. I want to do more partner work, go to some more workshops. Paul's a really good teacher. He's calm, with this beautiful energy about him.

And now I am in my final three weeks of Mysore- my plans are to travel more next month, but this new 2 month rule they're implementing, where if you leave India and get a new visa, has kind of thrown a spanner in the works as far as my plans go. So I'm considering my options- stay longer in New Zealand and return to India to go to Rishikesh as planned- or go home and work for a few months- OR- considering I have no pressing need to go home, think about working elsewhere- I've been doing some research and have some possible irons in the fire... I feel a calling to see some more of the world, especially the USA for some reason. I want to see some mountains, go walkabout... I've also been emailing people and requesting information from cruise ship companies. Apparently working on private yachts can be a good move too... Hmmm...

So I'm thinking about all these possibilities... And treasuring these last few weeks in Mysore.

Posted by victoria8 02:30 Archived in India Tagged women Comments (0)

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