dancer from Somanathapura (near Mysore) Chenakesvara Temple, from 13th C
note:2 small mridungam players at her left and right

Mud and Sky

By 8 or 9 AM in Mysore there is a consistent hum established. The pre-dawn Adhan (Islamic call to prayer) and the vendors' chants have given way to layers of sounds. The roar and rumble of motorcycles, auto rickshaws, bird calls, scooters, barking dogs, and human voices crowd into morning's empty spaces just as yogis are silently surging into the Shala's large practice room for their led Sunday class.  

While the cool air still has an edge, the students move in one mass up the steps toward the outer door where they are sifted one-by-one into the shala. It is high season here, and some yogis end up in the ad hoc practice spaces—the atrium or the dressing rooms. 

Today I arrived late (5:30 for 6AM class) with low energy, so I easily accepted my spot in the atrium next to the outer door, a site that just happened to give me a front row seat to a small melodrama. 

At about sirsasana there was burst of laughter in the main room, (not unusual—Sharath has a great sense of humor that eases energy/intensity). As Sharath entered the atrium holding a towel, he said "Anyone would like a cockroach?" More laughter. Stepping across my mat with an apology, he handed off the swaddled roach to someone in the next batch of yogis with the polite imperative—"Don't squeeze!"

It pleases me that such a creature was so carefully treated and apparently has a place of respect equal to just about anything else in the Shala. My status and that of a cockroach is what it is—equally valued!

Equality and equanimity,* both were mentioned in Sharath's talk and Q&A session (called Conference) last Sunday.

"There are some good and bad practice days. Experience both good and bad.... Take "sukkha and dukkha" (happiness and sorrow) equally,"  

Soothing and wise words.

"When we start yoga we experience many things—ups and downs in our practice. If there is pain, enjoy the pain also.... Practice brings mental stability," 

He then compared yoga to a 4-wheel drive vehicle to much laughter. "Yoga is terrain management." 

I hear it. Yes. Regard the cockroach and butterfly (experiences) equally. 

And the hummmmm, the underlying consistency of life goes on either way.


*Sharath is a Libra, by the way


Mysore mornings are sweetly tentative —all soft pastels before shadows, sounds, colors, and—life solidify. In those early moments near dawn, the street vendors begin their calls. My morning is not complete until I hear my favorite cry, an achingly plaintiff one. It sounds a little like "hwhaaaaai"with the sound dropping at the end. And it makes me want to go out and buy whatever this vendor is selling (which could be anything from eggplant to plastic buckets!)  

Other calls are shorter and more urgent or aggressive sounding. Sometimes you can hear three or four calls in serendipitous concert from various parts of Gokulum. It is the most beautiful way to wake up!

I've had plenty of time to enjoy these performances. On the flight over I sat next to a young guy, probably in his early teens who sneezed and blew his knows for the ENTIRE 9 hours. Since I am invincible (ha!) and healthy, I thought no problem. Oh, so wrong!

Lying in bed without a choice—for a few days was not fun, but it was a great way to step back from the energy of the "world" I have entered here. All the aches, coughing, headaches, fever certainly put me in the present moment. Grounded now, when I return tomorrow to my first class in a week, it will be without the unnecessary anxiety/energy I had before falling ill. 

 It will probably take at least a week to get back up to speed. 

Another blow to ego. 

You gotta love it. 

(I will buy something from this vendor no matter what he's selling.)


KPJYRI in Mysore

On the day we arrived in Mysore after over 30 mostly sleepless hours on the road, I was pretty much fried. However, at the appointed time I went to the shala (photo above) to register, pay, and find out my practice times.  

There was a large crowd waiting to be interviewed briefly by Sharath himself and most of us sat on the floor of the entry way outside the practice room, which one crosses to get to Sharath's office.

My eyes were red and sore from lack of sleep, and I closed them and made note of my acute  discomfort.  I could see through the open door of the practice room where Saraswati was teaching an afternoon class, and I watched the practitioners off and on until my eyelids would sag and close or a judgmental thought arise. The waiting group changed positions as people left for their interviews. At one point I was sitting  directly in front of the open door, and I noticed a lean Indian male practicing. (I thought at first he was Sharath.) 

I was fascinated and astounded by his practice. He was quietly doing very, very advanced asanas, but it was if the poses were doing him. How else can I put it? There was no flash nor flourish here, no concern with or awareness of a viewer, only the quiet light of devotion. Here it seemed was a yogi who —whether temporarily or not—had transcended ego. And dare I say it? Someone who appeared to have reached Pantanjali's 8th limb: samadhi. 

Seeing this man practice made me realize why I have come to Mysore. It is not to "get" poses or achieve anything other than deeper, clearer awareness. 

 What an amazing beginning to this journey and what an auspicious gift.