Saturday, 21 December 2013

Water that is too pure has no fish...

For those of you who don't know, I'm back in Mysore. I need practice and at this point in my life, Mysore is the place I need to do it. I'm also doing another teacher training with Vijay, the group is really great, we're having lots of fun and of course we get to spend more time with Vijay, whom we all adore!

I've been listening to some Michael Stone this morning and there were some points he made in his dharma talk which resonated with me. I've spoken before about the stories we tell ourselves in our practice  and also in our daily lives, where we say we can't do something and use this and that reason not to do something...whether it be a posture, a chore at home, leaving your job, moving house, etc etc... We tend  to speak before we think, but if we spend time analysing these stories or our reasons, then they generally pail into insignificance and what we are left with is no reason. 

So my practice this time around is at 5:15am which seems to be a lovely time to practice. I go through my sequence hardly thinking, sometimes afterwards I even get home and can't remember getting up, going to the shala and doing it! The mind seems to be in the perfect state of ease at this hours. Practicing at 7:30 I had far more time for the mind to wake up fully and activate the sense organs. This is when the stories come... thinking about my practice, the postures I found hard, did I have enough energy today, when will I ever be able to jump through without touching the floor etc. These were then with me throughout my practice and what a surprise, I held onto them and had a shit practice. Stop the desire to create an over-arching viewpoint as you will then fit your day into this viewpoint. 

Little parts of these viewpoints begin to breakdown through meditation; through concentration on them and analysis of them. 

Someone once told me that I saw everything in black and white and I needed to find the 'grey areas'. It's always been a challenge for me! Sometimes I have it and sometimes I don't and it's a constant battle, (actually I am not going to call it a battle as I am trying to practice ahimsa and to battle with oneself is bad and acceptance of what is is better)! If you are too pure you become to aware of yourself and eveything's then about 'you'. You can become too obsessed with your diet and become too obsessed with yourself. That way of perceiving actually affects the what the food then does inside the body. The same goes for your practice. Then you spend the whole day thinking about self. The same goes for your practice. Be careful about ideas of purity. 

Postures do not have an end point, in a linear, materialistic kind of way. The body ages and so the practice is always going to change. The practice does not deepen through adding on more and more postures. Take what you know already and go deeper in them. Tune in to what you know already.

It's sometimes difficult not to have a dualistic viewpoint of practice and life. Like yoga is the stuff you do on the mat, or meditation is something you do when you sit. Do the practice right in the heart of your work. I love this way of thinking and it is making me excited about getting back to a 'normal' life and 'regular' job!! (This may or may not happen and I completely accept that!) Do not have a dualistic view, or separate of the practice and your daily life. You do not need to look outside, you already have everything you need!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Healing Bali

It's taken me until I'm sat the airport with ticket in hand to realise that I have fallen in love.

Remove all the westerners/western influence and Bali, the 'Island of the Gods' is a place of profound healing and spirituality. The welcome from the locals of Bali and the small island of Lembongan I have not found anywhere else in the world. Without asking anything of you, their 'hello!'s are a welcome change to the glares of India. Unfortunately I spent too long in the touristy village of Ubud, should've trusted my gut instincts and left for the coast as soon as the conference was over. But nevermind.

I spent a few days in Canggu at the coast after I dragged by soaking wet self out of the monsoons of Ubud. I found a travelling ashtanga teacher, Nick Evans, from Cardiff of all places and spent a few mornings practicing with him. Ah, what I great teacher and he reminded me so much of my teachers back home which felt nice and comforting at a time when I felt a little lost. Like Manu back home, Nick is very much the 'you must try every posture' kind of teacher, reminding me of how easy it is to fall into the bad habits - using posture variations well beyond when you should be - leaving out postures because this or that was/is injured - leaving out postures cos you just don't like them! So I've started the lotus positions again as the knees appear miraculously to have healed without me noticing! (Nick says Bali has the ability to heal the body and his practice is so great there) and I'm doing all the postures in primary again, including setu bandhasana. Nick says not to avoid the postures you don't like to do because 'that's where the yoga is. Baby steps - there's no rush, just a couple of breaths in the posture then build from there day by day'. 'Nuff said. Wise words. 

So I'm taking that advice and the teachings of the Conference and Therese and I'm implementing them in my practice back in Mysore. I arrived early morning on Thursday after a hair-raising taxi ride from Bangalore, where I was thrown off the back seat numerous times whilst trying to sleep, so now I'm covered in bruises! It was just 4:15am when I reached Mysore so got the taxi driver to drop me outside the shala where I waited until class at 5:15. Yep...5:15 is my new start time! I'm actually loving the earlier class, I can't put my finger on why, but it feels better getting up that bit earlier to practice. Maybe there's something in practicing before dawn after all. Bali has definitely done something to me. I'm a lot less stiff now, my hips feel more open and my knee pain has gone. I've even taken to practicing on just my travel mat which is dead thin, gone is the need for extra padding! I feel more aligned inside and out and my focus is a lot more concentrated. Given the new found concentration and flexibility I am actually looking forward to getting back on second series tomorrow to try to conquer eka pada sirsasana. :) 

Saturday, 23 November 2013


Whilst being left with no teacher last week due to Manju's post-conference workshops, I was fortunate enough to stumble across Satyagraha Yoga Ashram and teacher Therese, founder of the Breath of Hope Foundation. Therese does not offer self-practice classes to westerners, only to locals, but we could use the facilities offered at the ashram whenever we wanted. The ashram has a beautiful yoga platform, a library and a meditation cave next to the river. 

Therese is practicing when I get there in the mornings and when she has finished has kindly given me advice on my practice. Therese is fierce! Her opening mantra is loud and rather a 'call to prayer', she says it should not be sung under any circumstances. Are you ready for this practice? What does it mean to practice ashtanga yoga? She makes us read the meaning in english out loud and she explains it verse by verse. She says we should read a chapter of the Bhagavad Gita every day...wait, I've heard this before, I'm sure Annie Pace said the same thing at the conference. Time to dig it back out...

She reminds me of alignment. Not just in the physical form but says to remember 'Namaste', the bringing of the hands together to the centre, bringing everything, body and mind, back to its centre point. What is the centre point? Sushumna nadi? Mula bandha? Anandamaya kosha? The core, the spine, the central axis of our physical body. I guess it doesn't matter what you call it. Remembering 'namaste' is simple and effective. Heels in line in the standing postures, bringing the knees towards  each other in the lotus forward bends. These things I've heard before and over time forgotten, as with many things, it's great to be reminded and gets the muscles working in the correct way, instantly overcoming the niggles that have crept into my body, my knee, shoulder over the 6 months or so. 

"Study tadasana, read 'Light on Yoga', make sure you completely understand tadasana". I was so frightened I went straight home and read Iyenga's description of tadasana. The mountain. Be the mountain in every pose. 

She reminds me of the practice as an offering, a heart opening practice. Offering the heart up towards the sky, opening to the divine. "That a girl!" She says. Therese can see what I need. This resonates with me deeply. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Legend of Ashtanga Yoga

It's taken me a little me a while to settle in to Bali, or Ubud, life. The pace is a lot different to Mysore, in fact, everything is different. I've refrained from writing any posts until now as I wanted to let the experience soak in, to make sure I wasn't jumping to any conclusions based on the fact I'm missing Mysore. I'm sure many people love Ubud life. They must do as I have met many people who have packed up and moved here permanently. This makes Ubud a thriving expat community as well as a huge spiritual community. However, I never thought I'd say it but I don't love Ubud. Don't get me wrong the local people are beautiful and friendly and the place is beautiful, or would have been if it hadn't been overrun by tourists and commercialism. "Yoga tourism' is massive, but it is not what I am looking for. I might as well be in a big American city like Chicago, complete with traffic congestion, pollution and 4 Ralph Laurens. Nevertheless, the village is thriving on it and the people have embraced it, offering a whole range of eco-tourist activities, massage and holistic therapies and the best healthy, organic food I've ever tasted!!

But what about the yoga?! I practiced at Ashtanga Yoga Bali for the first 3 days with Prem and Radha Carlisi. The class was pretty small to begin with, but as it got nearer the conference more people arrived, so there was around 25 students, however there was always someone giving you attention as they also have an apprentice, Siri, teaching.  Prem and Radha's style of teaching is very alignment focussed, bringing me back to the teaching of the BWY. Wide stances in order to 'square' the hips for example, emphasis on knee above ankle and shoulder above wrist, good reminders of safe practice. However, this was hard to take, given my teachings over the past two months in Mysore, where the focus is bringing everything into the midline, heels in line type of thing. It also brought home the importance of practicing consistently with one teacher, over a long period of time, without disruption, something I will talk more about later. However, I did take away some gems from their teaching, in particular correct alignment when going up into urdhva dhanurasana, which has deepened my backbend and taken away a niggling shoulder pain. 

Kati, Me and Danny Paradise - what a human being!


The conference, which I have been waiting for for over 10 months!! What an event! We were joined by David Williams, Danny Paradise, Prem and Radha, Mark and Joanne Darby, Manju Jois, Annie Pace and Eagle from Ashtanga Yoga Kauii. We had a Mysore practice in the morning, followed by a talk by one of the teachers after lunch each day, and 3 panel discussions over the course of the week, where the teachers answered many of our questions. During the morning's practice, the teachers were there to stop and assist you, giving you alignment techniques and tips. Given there were about 100 people in the room, the tips we received were mainly thoughtful and considered at the same time as letting us enjoy our practice. However, it soon became apparent who I would consider practicing again with, go to their workshops... David William's story 'The legend of Ashtanga Yoga' was a particular favourite, hearing how the teachings of Pattabhi Jois came to be known in the west, straight from the horse's mouth is invaluable as a student of ashtanga, in my opinion. And whilst I have never met or practiced with Danny Paradise, his presence and beauty as a human being was one of the most powerful energies in the room. Below are just some of the gems from the teacher's talks and panel discussions.

David Williams: "More pain will not lead to less pain"
"Any intelligent person who sees the practice will know it make their life better"
"The more you practice yoga, the less employable you become"
"Doing just hatha yoga - You'll get older before you get well!"
"Choose the endorphin method or the adrenalin method" - Endorphin being the preferred
"Stretching creates scar tissue - it blocks the body's potential"
"It's not happening to you, it's happening for you"

Kati, Me and David 'the legend' Williams!

Annie Pace: "It's just 'AFLO' (Another Friggin' Learning Opportunity)
"Boys will be boys, men will be boys, and women will be princesses!"
"You don't want a cheerleader leading the class - the lineage is the key" (When asked about teaching yoga)
"If everyone in the world did Surya Namaskar A every day and ate a 51% sattvic diet, the world would be a better place!" (There was one more thing, but I cannot remember it - please let me know if you wrote it down!)
"Always allow the student experience the essence of the practice"
"Ashtanga yoga is not the only practice which can give you a glimpse of spiritual liberation"
"Truth, simplicity and love" - (When asked what are the 3 most important things in life)

Danny Paradise: "You are living the manifestations of your life intentions" 
"You start to practice yoga whenever you are really desperate or if you are really intelligent" 
"Students say yoga practice takes to much time, no! Yoga creates time as you will become more efficient in your daily life"
"Modern communications are magical systems - use them intelligently, embrace them and the evolution"
"You are the god, the creator, the destroyer, the preserver" (When asked how to bring god into to the practice)
"Don't listen to yogananda!"
"Ashtanga is an exposition of consciousness"
"Yogis are freedom thinkers, dream makers, witnesses, initiating radical change"
"Meditation - ask and you will receive, manifest your dreams, become a dream maker"
"Fear - step right into it"
"Petition to the light - taking complete responsibility for your situation and ask for guidance to find peace" - A Hawaiian tradition
"Try the bowl of stones" - Another Hawaiian tradition
"Look for the practice to be a healing force - add on postures from 2nd or 3rd series if they work for you, it's not a fixed practice"
"Find your rhythm, there's no need to get up at 3am to practice"
"Count your blessings, have compassion, find an art you love, stay positive"

Prem: "Plug into the inner net, not the internet!"
"When you are lost you have to ASK for help, that's grace"
"Life is not linear, despite what your head tries to tell you"

Kati, Me and the Darby's! Sweeeet! 

Darbys: "Stretching is bad, extension is good!"
"Go back where it began - inside"
"Truth and contentment - give yourself over to god and be thankful for everything you have"
"Question everything - try to experience everything for yourself, don't just trust what others tell you"

Manju: "Ashtanga is based on maths and geometry, angles, these are our foundations and our architecture"
"Chanting is good for the memory"
"Chanting has the same benefits as asana, if you don't feel like practicing asana, just chant, don't feel guilty!"
"Drishti is the most important, having a focal point" "Nasargai is most important drishti"
"Vinyasa and bandha have always been there (in asana practice), it's just that Guruji really emphasised it"
"Saturdays are taken as a rest day, do oil bath. This practice is not just for yogis, its an ayurvedic practice"
"Utthita Hasta Padangustasana - is an L shape (geometry) as you bend forward keep the angle as 90 degree"
"Supta Kurmasana - no leg behind head, ankles crossed in front of head"
"Smile x 5!"

Eagle: "Love god with all your heart"
"Practice non-violence"
"Help someone - always be in service"
"Remain humble"
"Have gratitude and appreciation for your life"

The crew!

These are just a few snippets from the conference, there were so many more I've hardly grazed the surface, so much more teaching and sharing from this bunch of yogis. I am full of gratitude for being able to be here, to have been here, for this meeting of minds, some of the legends of ashtanga yoga, as David Williams puts it!! Biglove to all who shared the experience with me. Aloha!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Mysore 'thank you's...

I have three days left in Mysore. 

I never thought I'd say this but I am really sad to be leaving India this time. Following my previous two trips to India I came back ill, vowing never to go back and informing my mum that if I ever mentioned travelling to India again to give me a smack around the head! (She has saved the emails I sent her during my 2005 trip, they'll be a good read in a few years :) 

The last trip my friend and I were so ill with bacillary dysentery that we were both willing to spend the 500 GBP we were given as compensation for an overbooked outbound flight to fly home early from a David Swenson retreat in Goa! Sounds ridiculous, but it was that awful! But despite food poisoning and a subsequent case of giardia, I have had no other illnesses *touches wood*, (apart from a bit of nut stuck in my tooth resulting in a trip to the dentist), and I have lived to tell my Mysore tale! 

This time there is no doubt about it, I am coming back, the only question is when. I have a ticket booked for the 10th February from Thailand to Chennai. But it gets HOT in March and that would give me only around 6 weeks to practice (and live) comfortably, you need 3 months minimum to get the most out of a trip here I reckon. The other option is to forfeit the ticket completely and head east to west to Aus, Hawaii and LA, Colorado and Toronto/Montreal. Then work for a couple of months to save up and come back out in September for the season. I'm erring towards the latter because it gives me more time and I get to see the rest of the world as I had planned for this trip and allows me to change my life for a while at least to begin to incorporate a stint in Mysore every year to study with Vijay. This of course would be in an ideal world, but I am optimistic, lots of people here do it, this life is completely do-able. 

I could even teach Mysore Style painting to help pay for it! Tomorrow I have the last day of a course I've been taking with a local artist Anand, learning the techniques to paint in the Mysore style which uses elaborate gold embossed patterns and very fine detail. I even got into the Mysore Times rag, as a local journalist was interested in us westerners learning the Mysore technique! I am painting a 'Patanjali', it's already looking awesome, I cannot wait to see the finished piece! Anand has just finished his biggest commission for a two sided 13 x 7 foot piece for Bangalore Airport! It's amazing...and he's just about to begin one for Mumbai Airport - exciting! He also has a huge old dog called Rocky who lies in the centre of the room most of the time asleep and dreaming with his limbs jolting around every time he dreams or one of the Spanish girls mentions cats...or bones! So Anand lives in a 3rd floor flat with outside terrace. Apparently Rocky has fallen off the balcony no less that 3 times chasing cats and birds and has broken numerous limbs bless him. Thankfully Anand got him an acting job in a Bollywood film which paid for his operations! 

Our little Spanish Art Group

So my days recently have been consisting of Practice, breakfast, art class, lunch, nap, catching up on emails/Spanish homework, dinner, bed. Days appear to be getting shorter too...a trip to the Regalis for a bit of a swim/sunbathe was cut short as the sun went behind the hotel building at about 3:30pm, not ideal! Sunset is about 6:15 now, so after that it's not long until bedtime! It sounds strange, but Mysore literally shuts down at 9pm. You'll find it hard to get an auto after this time, or a driver who doesn't charge extortionate prices. Mind you, last night on the way back from a friend's house all I could hear was some kind of dance music which literally resonated rave-esque across the whole neighbourhood! Sitting on Mary's roof terrace we were all like, 'where's the party?!' Mysore is strange like that sometimes. Never know what's going on!

Oh, and between places you'll find me driving down the wrong side of the road! Yep, I went all out and learnt how to drive a scooter! One of the best things I've done...and it made the whole Mysore experience so much easier and less stressful. Turns out having to deal with rickshaw drivers is the No.1 bug-bear of westerners. They are just downright nasty, give or take one or two, and will rip you off at any given opportunity. Take this out of the equation and Mysore life is sweet. It's one of the most liberating experiences I've had here. I can flout the western driving rules, but in a strangely safe way, go round islands the wrong way if I want and drive down the road the wrong way for a short while whilst I'm joining the rest of the traffic! Feeling the wind in my hair/on my face whilst driving a two wheeler has, like surfing, been missing from my life. As a result I will be taking my motorbike license as soon as I get back to the UK.

So it's Diwali on Monday...guess where I'm going to be? That's right, sitting at Chennai waiting for a flipping flight out of the country! Grrrr! I will miss all the festivities! Gutted. 

But I won't be as gutted as I will be leaving this place... I've fallen in love with it. I can't leave without saying thank you to all the people who I have met here who have made this past 9 weeks one of the best experiences of my life. 

Katy, you are so inspirational and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for introducing me to your guru :) Anna, sweet, sweet and intelligent beauty, thank you for teaching me to drive the scooter and gain my independence here! Mary, Footsie, beautiful, hilarious and a pleasure to be around especially for shopping and good times, you have kept things real for me, thank you for looking after me and preventing me from overdosing on antibiotics! Isabelle, you beaute, my angel in Goa :) and thanks for introducing me to Melanie, the curious, cute '27' year old, I can't wait to come to see you both in Quebec!! Kamilla, always great to see your stunning smile and enjoying 'good' yoga teachers! Crazy Matthew, thanks for introducing me to the phenomenon of 'shaking' - I will definitely try it and I will never forget you in your women's yoga pants ;) !! The stunning Lisa - it's been a pleasure enjoying breakfast together and seeing your practice progress unbelievably - you should be so proud of yourself! And to Vijay for recognising what I needed from day one and pushing me just enough to keep my practice progressing at a pace I can cope with without breaking me - although I've been close...thank you for making me believe I can do things when my mind and body have thought otherwise... 

I'm ending this before I cry.

Who knew Mary and  would find a wine festival in Mysore?!!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Magic Mysore

I wish I was going to be in Mysore one more month. I spoke to someone who said a 3 month trip to Mysore normally goes, 'first month broken, second month pain, third month flying'....and I whilst I haven't and won't get to experience the 3rd month of an extended trip to Mysore, I can believe this. The first month I was all over the place, my body just did not feel like my own. Having spoken to my massage therapist (yes I have my own massage guy now;) my circulation isn't great and long periods of sitting, on planes, trains etc wreaks havoc on my body, causing inflammation of the knees, feet and ankles. 


Just as the inflammation had gone down I took a trip to Gokarna, supposedly to surf, however unfortunately due to the heavy rain, the decision to move up the coast to south Goa was taken and we ended up spending the rest of the time there. Thankfully the rain stopped earlier than forecast and we were able to enjoy a few days of scorching sun on the beautiful beach of Palolem. But I was miserable, I'd only come to the coast for the surf and this threw me and I had no way of getting back to Mysore earlier than scheduled. Then out of the blue I met another friend from Mysore who had left a week previously and had just arrived to Goa. It was so good to see her....

Monsoon on Om Beach

But more inflammation! Luckily this time I went straight for a massage and the swelling has gone down again. So, my practice is back to normal! I feel inside myself again and I'm enjoying it, able to try out new postures and deepen others. I'm even back to grabbing my ankles in chakra bandhasana which I'd thought I'd lost for ever! Vijay is convinced that in just 3 weeks of practicing every day that I will be able to grab them on my own...however my mind has other ideas! Vijay's teaching style is hardcore. He will crouch at the side of you and watch you whilst you are doing the postures you hate and will make you do them again, maybe 2 or 3 times, just to make sure you're really putting the effort in and not cutting corners. However, as a result of this 'tough love' I can now jump into bujapidasana and touch my chin down with feet off the floor and transition out which I have never been able to do before and jump into tittibhasana and lower down to kurmasana. They're both messy and work in progress, but who cares!?

Palolem Beach

I'm not sure what it is about being in Mysore that makes your practice grow, maybe it's the language barrier- complaining/moaning doesn't work here, they just don't get it, you just have to do what they say, or maybe it's the fact you are really giving time to your practice, you don't have to rush to a job/home etc, (I was practicing from 7:15 to 10am this morning!), or maybe it's just the great teaching - my teacher is in his twenties and has been studying yoga for the majority of his life, his knowledge of the practice is immense and his teaching is completely sincere and from the heart.  (I heard a lovely story about the brothers, my teacher Vijay and his elder brother Vinay at a bhajan the other night...apparently all throughout they're childhood they were made to chant even when playing with their toys...I loved this..) Nonetheless, there is something magic about Mysore which can transform your practice (if you let it - I've heard stories of people coming and leaving after 2 days) and this goes for all students across all the shalas, not just for students at KPJAYI. 

As an aside, whilst still young, the Kumar brothers are excellent teachers and whilst I have not practiced with Vinay, the students who have rave about him...everyone loves Vinay! These brothers are really the yoga teachers to study with, no-one knows who their teachers were, I think it's a bit of a secret, but they are both shining stars!! 

This week has been the festival of Dasara in Mysore. Its culmination being the procession which some friends and I attended yesterday. The brochure said expected to be seated for 4 hours, I think we were there for a bit longer! However, it was great to see that an organisation in Mysore who care for their visitors put on a special 'foreigners section', complete with shade, seats and free water and biscuits, especially to protect us (women especially) from intimidation, groping and general molestation! I have to give it to them, the Mysoreans do know how to how to put on a parade! 

Everyone loves the elephants!

More elephants

Just one more elephant photo!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

First it giveth, then it taketh away...

# The practice: "If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it, that surfeiting; The appetite may sicken, and so die". (Thanks Richard for this possible explanation of how I'm feeling about my practice...oh, and to Shakespeare of course..;) And so this is how I'm feeling; too much yoga, too much yoga commentary, too much yoga on my fb news feed, too much bull**** talk about yoga...I thought this is what I wanted, the reason for coming to Mysore, but this much yoga it takes it toll!! 

Of course I am eternally grateful for the yogic path and what the practice has given to me, but I am at the stage where I could very easily just take myself and my half-arsed yoga practice off to a cave where I would stay for a few months, possibly a year (OK, 1 yr might be excessive) and have it be just the two of us with no-one to stick their two-pence worth in to what is essentially MY practice. I'm being over-dramatic here, but I hope I've got my point across. Too much of something makes you sick. 

# Being sick: I am now on anti-biotics for giardia. Eurgh. Parasites. Eurgh, 'nuff said. I have a weak constitution, clearly. I have also been damaged by an incompetent massage 'therapist' here in Mysore. For those of you coming to Mysore in the near future, please feel free to contact me regarding my experience, hopefully I can prevent him from damaging anyone else. I have been left with two very painful and swollen knees, my body is closing down to try and protect them and I can now hardly do a forward bend...hideousness. I'm really annoyed about this, having done my knees in in 2011 and following a slow and painful process of recovery and rehabilitation over no less than 18 months, only to have them damaged again. Just shows, you think you have your health and then it can be taken away in an instant. Be aware, very aware.

# The cleanest place in Mysore: Is the Silk Factory!! It saddens me that India could be so beautiful if only the people living here had the same respect for their built and natural environment as they do for the Silk Factory. I've never seen a factory like it, it was pristine. Not to mention the beautiful saris that emerge at the end of the process.  

# Nandi the Mysore Bull: Finally visited Chamundi Hill on Friday. Didn't get into the temple as the queue was ridiculously long, but Nandi the Bull was cute, the 'gatekeeper' to Shiva and Parvati apparently! Didn't stay long enough to get any yoga shots in front of Nandi due to the throngs of Indians taking photos of us. Hiding behind a temple was the only course of action!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Monsoon and the Mundane

#Monsoon: I spoke to someone yesterday who has been in Mysore for a few years and has never known weather like it! It has not stopped raining for days now and to be quite frank, I'm bored of it! In weather terms, I might as well be at home! Grrrr. Saying that, I am sat in bed with my window open, gazing out across the yard onto the park where the haze is slowly lifting to reveal hundreds of dragonflies hovering by. The sun is out! Happy! I will make the most of it this morning and walk to the cafe for breakfast!

#Breakfast: If you ask any of my friends here about what they do all day, it is eat and do yoga! Breakfast is the biggie though, as the two cafes we frequent alternately have a scrumptious menu. I generally alternate between pancakes with banana, cinnamon and chocolate sauce or spinach, tomato and cheese omelette. Washed down with a coffee and an Ardash smoothie. Some days I have all of it, plus chai (bottomless), depending on the time. Breakfast has turned into a 3-4 hour affair! I've never experienced anything like it! If this isn't a totally self-indulgent lifestyle I don't know what is.. and then more hunger sometimes even resorts into manoeuvring to a cafe for an actual lunch! It is probably a good thing that a) my practice is a sweaty mess and lasts for 2.5 hours and b) that I have had dysentery for the past 10 days.

#Shopping: More self indulgence, post breakfast/lunch someone generally needs to buy something, so an hour or two browsing the little boutique shops created for westerners or the local wallers selling crafts and chocolate! On our way from the chocolate man's shop the other day we came across some puppies, followed closely by a cow! Soooo cute! All the cows are pregnant at the moment though, so I've been informed, so can get a bit feisty! We ventured down town a few days back and found an oil shop, hidden in a back room...felt like we were in a drug den to be honest!

#Photoshoot: Yesterday I splashed out and had a photoshoot done by a fantastic and talented photographer Christine Hewitt. ( Check out her website, she's fab! It was very hard work but she and her assistant made the whole experience awesome and fun, I think we got some great photos which I will share later on the week and hopefully which I can use when I get back for a website or such like. I would highly recommend Christine, without hesitation and her prices are ridiculously cheap compared to what you'd pay back home.

#Art: I have also met a crazy American artist who is doing some awesome stuff which I really like! (

and oh yeah, nearly forgot...

#yoga: Don't come to Mysore thinking your practice will get any better! I'm obviously talking for myself here, still...I think mine's getting worse, it's hilarious! I never expected my teacher to split my practice so soon. So I'm now doing second series up to yoga nidrasana (both legs behind head) every day apart from Fridays and Sundays, without the 'warm up' of primary...and it's killing me! Talk about 'Beginner's Mind', my entire body feels as if it has only just begun the practice! But I'm loving the physical practice again, albeit slowly and hopefully my desire to delve into the other aspects of yoga might come back again too...who knows. I still don't really want to talk about yoga or read about yoga, or do anymore yoga classes here, the physical morning practice is enough right now and I'm in the right place for it, so I'm content just to let it be as it is. I did buy the Selected Writings of D.T.Suzuki, Zen Buddhism, at the bookstore the other day in an attempt to coax myself back into the whole thing, it's next to my bed. I may read a chapter tonight. I may not. Who cares?!

#Lazing: What yoga people here do all day ;-p

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Being in the World

To “dis-cover” enlightenment means enlightenment already exists, however it is "covered" by opinions, emotional patterns and habits. Through sitting, meditation practice or mindfulness practice, you can begin to notice how you cover this incredible potential within yourself and with your interaction with others. Through these practices you begin to have these “enlightenment” moments when the lid is suddenly lifted and you are able to see this incredible innate wisdom. A couple of these enlightenment moments or insights into your true nature can help to build a strong confidence that it is there all the time. It gives you confidence that you can deal with your humanness and the humanness of others and reminds you that everybody has this basic intelligence, which has the potential to shine forth.

I've missed my sitting practice badly over the past month, I've missed the minute glimpses of enlightenment it provides and need to get back on it. Being in Mysore has helped though...not through the yoga even, but through the continuous human contact, new people, new conversations, new experiences. Since meeting my surf family in Baleal, the kindness and the compassionate potential of human beings have blown me away!! Every day I experience something else that helps to re-build my faith in human nature and (slowly) break down my cynicism! Finally I am enjoying being-in-the-world!!!