It's been 2 weeks and I have been so busy living, learning, and expressing myself in so many ways that it has been hard for me to sit at a computer and write my experiences. I have not known how to say what I am going through. I imagine when this 6 week yoga teacher training is over I will sit back and need to spew my knowledge like vomit out into the world because there is so much of it filling me right now, and I have so much more to take in. I promise it shall be healthy, delightful vomit, maybe more like rays of light and sunshine beaming from me than my previous description. But anyhow, until then I shall promise to write what I can manage when I can manage the energy.
So, here goes....a day in the life of an american yogini living in mysore india:
I wake up at 4:30am 6 days a week. For anyone who knows me, this is not NORMAL, I am a sleepy monster in the wee hours of morning, but somehow I manage here. I run to the bathroom and flip on the switch that shall heat a large metal pot of water that shall be my "hot bucket", or makeshift shower, for the day. I need this shower before yoga for many reasons. One, because I don't think my body would want to move at all at 6:00am when yoga starts, without some awakening. Two, because my yoga practice has become so intense that I generate massive amounts of heat, and the cool wetness of my head keeps me from overheating. Three, because the routine helps me to stay focused!
After my shower, I stumble to the Mandala Yoga Shala in the quiet darkness of early morning. During my yoga practice I do every single vinyasa, which is a great thing for a girl who love's her flexibility while in the poses, and tends to avoid the hard work of strength building which vinyasa offers. Every single vinyasa, and now I can't imagine why I was so lazy. It's hard...but not that hard, and I am getting strong and I love it. The vinyasa prepares me, it cleanses the pallate of my body, it connects the different postures weaving a well designed web of wealth for my whole body and breath.
My teacher is named Shishadri, and is a small, bright eyed, sweet, challenging man who once was a world renowned yoga champion. He is gentle with me in his words, not as hard on me as he is with others. He's a great teacher, & gives each the level of strictness or sweetness that we need to be challenged to learn, to expand, to grow. He noticed quickly how well I respond to positive reinforcement, and even though I sometimes get a sharp order to move this way or that mostly, he eases my limber body and self into some very wild and exciting positions which I have never been able to take as far. After this he smiles down on me, and his eyes ask, "Did you like my gift? Are you happy? I am happy for you!" His sweet smile and intensely challenging nature inspire me with full amounts of devotion and joy to this ancient practice which I am climbing the ladder of. Thank you, Thank you, Shishadri, I want to be all this and more!
After yoga I head home to clean up and have some breakfast. I head back to the Mandala by 10:00am for philosophy class. We study for 3 hours, which were only supposed to be 2 hours...but we are so inquisitive that we ask thousands of questions getting us off track. Our teacher Dr. Nagaraj is so inspired by our curiosity that he feeds us knowledge with such patience and kindness. I sometimes imagine we are infants screaming and crying for our breakfast of yoga sutras and yoga therapeutics and such, and our loving teacher/parent Dr. Nagaraj sings us songs while swirling the airplane of a baby spoon of ancient knowledge towards our ignorant starved mouths and minds. After the first two and three quarter hours I start to feel a little overwhelmed as though I ate too much knowledge and need a rest and some pepto to ease the intensity of over indulging! The things we are learning are specific, precise, ancient, deep, philosophical, spiritual, and our teacher is so practical holding us to standards so that we may exist and represent ourselves as truely trained, developed, and sculpted yogi's of a high quality! I have come to understand that my whole idea about the purpose of yoga was incorrect, and am overjoyed to be coming to understand truely for the first time in my twelve and a half years of practice! Thank you, Thank you Dr. Nagaraj! I want to be all this and more!
After this intensity we are blessed with a three and a half hour break. Usually we go home to eat some lunch and then head out to do errands. There are always errands to do. From the bank, to the post office, to the grocerie store to get fresh food, to the mandala to practice our instruments. Sarah has taken up mirdangam, an indian drum. I am fully devoted to my didgerie doo, and my guitar! Errands, practice, a small rest for fifteen minutes or so, and the time between classes flies by!
At 4:30 I have been going for a full 12 hours by now. This is thime we are doing pranayama practice. Shishadri teaches these ancient practices of controlling the inhalation, exhalation, and retention of breath. These practices are designed to channel and influence the energy flow within both gross, and subtle bodies! Its difficult to focus, but amazing, and afterwards I always feel as though I am floating. I have now come to see that the art and practice of pranayama requires a competantly trained teacher, which I haven't had many of in this category. The depths of this practice are so vast that many of my american teachers have never been trained to understand, practice, or teach such levels. In america, I only skimmed the surface of this deep subject!
After pranayama, I am spaced out, hungry, floating my way back to my spiritual haven of a home. Our home is almost nicer than my home in america, and yet much more simple. It has a veranda where there is a little peanut swing for sitting and cotemplating. The kitchen is the one thing I have not become accustomed to. It has a simple two plated gas burner, a small fridge, a water purifier, and a small sink. All this is crammed into a small space. The burners aren't enough to cook the elaborate meals Sarah and I are famous for, but we get by. The water always leaks onto the floor when we wash dishes, but we get by. The fridge decides not to work, every so often, and then water leaks all over the floor, but we clean it up and somehow get by. It's not ideal but we get by. Originally we were sharing the bedroom, but when sarah got sick I started sleeping on the matress in our our common space. I wanted to give her some privacy and space to sleep well so she could heal. But during this time I came to enjoy the moments of privacy to contemplate and just be alone for a short time. We are with people and each other all day. I am taking in so much, that it is nice to be alone and let my mind drift, and my energy swirl inside itself.
So each night we retreat to our haven and cook dinner, & clean up...so as not to lure the big bugs that india so lovingly grows. Usually our new friend Gaura joins us for our evening unwinding and eating ritual. Gaura is a beautiful russian man who is highly spiritual and a wonderful addition to our little family. He left home at the age of fourteen to join the Hari Krishna's. He was a monk for many years, but his open heart prevailed always resisting the renunciation of a monks life. His elders and himself eventually came to see this struggle as a sign that he made serious vows before he was mature enough to know himself and his true self and where on the path to spirituality he truely was. This struggle has caused him great confusion, and he is now on a journey of exploration into his true self, struggling to preserve the wonderful knowledge passed down to him by his elder monks, yet seeking to be who he truely is and accept that he is not as close to the spiritual liberation that these monks were priming him for. Yet, he remains highly pure and inspiring as an individual. He has joined the rest of us on the material plane and on our path to self understanding and integration of our spiritual self into our worldly life! He has lived in india for many years and is deeply philosophical, kind, pure, and silly! I admit that our hearts are connected in some way, and I shall speak more of this fascinating human as our story unfolds, and my mind and heart are able to better understand and express what we share.
And that is it for now...what else can I say about a day in the life of a spiritually inspired woman, seeking to expand, seeking to learn, seeking to challenge herself and all her previous understandings of everything, seeking, seeking, seeking both out and in!