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The fire of Ashtanga...

and more study and reflection...

sunny 29 °C


Teacher training has been going well. It makes the days long though- I'm now doing the 5.30 am practice as the shala has suddenly got very busy and so theres 3 classes in the mornings. 5.30 is a magical time to practice and as I'm an early riser anyway its fine. So I finish about 7 then start the course around 11.30 until 4-4.30ish. Its kind of nice having some work to do. We've covered a lot. We were talking about Ashtanga for women the other day- a particular interest of mine as there's a very fine line to tread with this practice. Approach it correctly, gently and with reverence and you glow and benefit from it, you will rest in serenity and there's softness and peace despite the very physically strong aspect of it. Approach it wrong and you end up a dried out neurotic old raisin faced hag, ageing prematurely, and nerves jangling as if you're permanently on espresso. There are some really negative effects that come from Ashtanga asana addiction. I know because I've suffered from them, dysmenorrhea, really dry skin, losing too much weight, general feelings of anger and difficult to be around... Ajay was saying that when you get your period, rest for 3 days and let your body do its thing. The world won't end if you don't practice. In fact his words were something along the lines of 'meditate on your cycle and eat much chocolate'! Same with pregnancy- different people can practice to different levels but you should not push yourself. There is a fear with female Ashtangis who have given birth that they will 'get behind' or some such thing.... But this is kind of a test of non-attachment too....

One of the problems in Ashtanga, and not many people will admit to this so I will, is that the physical effects are so pleasurable that its easy to get into an obsessive mind state about it. You get very strong. You develop these beautiful toned shoulders, your thighs look longer, also without wanting to be crass women develop the ability to make a chopstick feel like a salami (!) and you feel taller. Who wouldn't like that? Unfortunately that attracts people with anorectic tendencies too. I remember seeing a couple of women in Gokulam last year who can't have been over 5 stone practicing and it wasn't pretty. It was like watching concentration camp victims contort themselves. And so you get a lot of people who practice religiously because they get so into working on the body. And its the antithesis of Yoga as it is total attachment. Ashtanga will bring you balance if you let it. If you are too thin you will even out. If you are too big the excess will reduce naturally over time. As your body doesn't want to be too thin or too fat. You have to check in with it and listen to it. Anyway, Ajay was saying that a good way of keeping periods regular- as excess heat and fire can disrupt them, is too wait 30-40 minutes and then drink coconut water after a practice as this will cool you down. Sitali breathing was also suggested to me and thats a good idea too. As is avoiding too much coffee as this just pours lighter fuel on the fire... Do you want your fire to be a cleansing one, or a manky roadside one composed of reeky old tyres???

We've also started working on the physical adjustments too which I'm loving. I've learned so much in the past week. We also have an hour of Sutra study and chanting. I finished reading 'Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses' by David Frawley and have started on 'Yoga and the Sacred Fire' which is wicked. I love the way he writes, and the way he looks at all cultures when expounding on Yoga. He writes about the subtle counterparts to the doshas- prana, tejas and ojas, and about how we must figure out where we are energetically and what we need to build up in order to create a strong foundation for our practice. He says that if we are not adequately prepared then raising the Kundalini is like putting a thousand watts into a hundred watt light bulb... You would explode or go loopy. Happily I'm feeling a lot more balanced than last year and my body's functioning ok. I need to work on developing ojas- that is basically coolness, stillness, groundedness... A bit of kapha really. I find ashwagandha and honey helps, as does drinking lots of milk. If I had 2 glasses of wine it would kill ojas, but interestingly a very small cup of cold beer seems to help. Its all trial and error for the individual. And constantly bringing myself back into the present moment. Anyway it can take several lifetimes to raise the kundalini.... Still, its good to have a goal...

I bought a poster of Kali in the market yesterday- see above- and I have been meditating on her. It came to me that if you are still in a state where you desire things for yourself then you should give her a wide berth. Theres a reason why her garland is made up of heads who all have their eyes closed...She doesn't suffer fools. In the Hollywood of deities she's an 'A' lister. If you want her to make a personal appearance her fee is high. And if you ask her to do something for you, then she'd be delighted- and will throw in a few extra free gifts so you may learn about non-attachment... It came to me that rather than ask her for anything you should find that part of yourself which is her. And do your own work.... There's so much to be learned from a 50 rupee poster!

Other than all the study life in Laksmipuram is pretty sweet. I've been eating my breakfast and dinner in Mahesh Prasad nearly every night and can now navigate round the menu. They do great stuff, like dumplings in sambar, vermicelli veg nood les, deep fried paneer that tastes like KFC and is scrumptious and gorgeus rotis. I also go swimming at the Regaalis a couple of times a week and get a little sun too. I had a leg wax and pedicure at the Big Bazaar the other day - leg waxing is so cheap here my legs are immaculate! After a long week of study I went to the shops yesterday and bought 2 salwar kameezes- one a North Indian style full skirted embroidered one in turquoise cotton with rust pink pants and the other a blue embroidered silk half sleeve one which is so beautiful, almost like a 60's shift. I love wearing Indian clothes, They are so unashamedly pretty and feminine, and you can add toe rings and as much black kohl eyeliner as you like...Perfection... So I'll get dressed up later..

Claire and I are having a party on the roof this evening. As its a new moon tomorrow we have no practice so we can have people round late. I bought shedloads of snacks for it and also some beers. As most people in Mysore don't drink, alcohol is hard to come by. I had to go to the 'Wine Shop'. My God but it's seedy. People stand around drinking cheap rum out of plastic cups. They practically give you a brown paper bag to cover your bottle in and swig out of. Its a place of tragedy, hopelessness and broken dreams. No friendly Oddbins staff to discuss grape variety with here. In fact I don't think they even do sell wine. Its more like the Indian equivalent of 'White Lightening'.... Anyway I got 4 small cans of Kingfisher and some lemonade to make shandy...

It'll be nice to socialize after backbending :)

Posted by victoria8 20:48 Archived in India Tagged women

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I just wanted to say hello from NZ. I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now (my friend Gia mentioned it so I looked you up). I studied in Mysore last year as a beginner with Vinay Kumar. Your blog brings back many happy memories of my time in Mysore!

Glad to see your yoga journey is going well, it is very inspirational to read your story.

by kiwi_julz

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