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Why go to Mysore...

Updated: May 28

Do you feel pulled to visit Mysore, the heart of Ashtanga Yoga?


I know I did. I was drawn to first visit India 10 years ago and when I went, I knew deep down that I would be back, I just didn't know why at the time. My first trip took me to Mumbai and Aggra and I fell in love with the country. It was 8 years later that I was to travel back to India, this time to do my teacher training in Goa. I had just come out of a long term relationship and wanted to do something for me. The course dates suited me and, of course the opportunity to skip the British winter and instead take the opportunity to study my passion by the beach appealed... but on a deeper level, something about learning at the source of the practise really spoke to me. And so, 8 years from my first trip to India I returned and I did not regret it!


It was in Goa that I first learned of Mysore style Ashtanga yoga, became hooked and later pulled to return to India a third time, to return again to the source of my passion, the heart of the practice that I love so much....


And so, here I am. I find myself sitting in a large conference hall in Mysore, scribbling away in my journal while I wait for my food to be prepared. This is the same journal that I bought ten years ago in Mumbai . This journal was my journal during my teacher training and it has travelled with me here again, to Mysore.


Today, it is 'silence day' in the Shala that I am staying. This means, no technology, no social media, no reading and much to my unease at first; no talking for 24 hrs!



This conference hall hosts large Indian Weddings and Events periodically throughout the year. It also serves lunch time food on a daily basis. The waiter here was so kind when I came here on my first silence day - actually, he took pity on me because he thought I simply could not speak when I first arrived. I will never forget the gentle look in his eyes as tried to figure out what I wanted and offered me water. Using pen and paper I explained that I was on a silence day and he allowed me to use their bathroom. I then saw their amazing menu and through another written note, I explained again that I was on silence day and asked if it would be possible to order some food. It was and so I enjoyed a delicious meal of Thali.


This meal consisted of a buffet of delights for the mouth all in small pots, each carefully created to compliment the other perfectly and accompanied with Chapatti and rice. The meal came to 65INR, which is the equivalent to about 50p. The sweet combined with the sour dish, the spices, the coolness of some dishes teamed with the hotter tastes of others and the carefully crafted flavours brought my taste buds to life. But, although delicious, the food is irrelevant...because it is not why I came. The question of how I ended up walking past cows and the loud constant beeping of tuk tuks (in India beeping is rarely done in an unpleasant way, but usually it is to simply let people know you are there), is a simple one to answer. I was, as mentioned earlier pulled and drawn to India deep inside, like a magnet. It was the same magnet that pulled me to Mysore.


I knew on both my previous trips I would be back. I just knew. It was in Goa that my incredible teachers told me about Mysore. It was in Goa that I fell deeply in love with Ashtanga, which I practise regularly (and usually Mysore style).


In Goa, I truly discovered the magical side to this practice and by practising it daily, I started to go so deep into my practise that I discovered the spiritual side and the incredibly powerful healing benefits of the practise on a deeper level than imagined. There in Goa, I also learnt of the beautiful Indian teachings (the Sutras and philosophies) and discovered the spiritual side of this ancient practice and it was there in Goa that I fell in love with this style of yoga called 'Mysore' (named after the City I am in today).


Mysore style is essentially the practise of Ashtanga, taken at your own pace, with a teachers guidance and adjustments, rather than a led class....where better go than to the very roots of my practice than to Mysore itself, where I could learn at the source?


I am studying under Ajay Kumar, who has 28 years of experience. Ajay owns Sthalam8 https://s8ayvc.com, which is the ashram, where I am training and staying. He has been practising since the age of ten years old and is a wonderful teacher and person and I feel I cannot do his teachings or this experience justice by pen and paper. What I will say is that I believe that my teacher here was absolutely born to teach and I feel so lucky to have come here. Classes are hard, different to my usual style of teaching, but Ajay has helped me to develop and sharpen my practice greatly. 2-3 times a week we hold some poses for one hour in a class called 'movement meditation.' It was a shock on day one, when I thought I was going to be sitting meditating for that class! In the class you move in and out of the pose 3cm at a time. I know this sounds completely nuts, but I can honestly say that I trusted him and gave it my all and that I felt great after.


Ajay's amazing skill is that he knows how hard to push each individual person, and how to protect you from injury, whilst helping you challenge yourself to develop and grow. Mentally and physically. He gets the balance beautifully between challenging his students, yet not adjusting harder than their body can take. He has seen so many bodies, he just knows.


After class, which is a solid 2 hours of practice, we do different meditations and one of those is silence day (I will write a different blog on the benefits of that another time). Most days we also do an hour of chanting ancient sandskript. At first I was not sure how I would find the chanting because I knew the opening Ashtanga Mantra and a couple of other verses, but that was about it. However, I found chanting to be energising and so good for my soul - I loved it and believe that this is an important part of being in Mysore, to fully immerse in the practise and traditions. As I sang the chants with my newfound Ashtangi friends, I felt them vibrate through my entire body - it felt so good, pure, happy, wonderful...so...'yes' to the chanting after all! :)


As I sit here (now on a stone bench in shaded area in a park, where I moved after my meal), I see cows in the street and a group of small squirrels playing together like friends. Children wave and smile (sometimes they laugh at me) as they spot a tourist. They are often dressed in bright coloured clothes if there is a celebration and sometimes I think they are having a laugh at my sunhat and pale skin. I don't mind though, it makes me laugh and I have always found the people I meet here to be very warm and welcoming. I am keeping my sunhat on despite the amusement it causes at times - I need my sunhat today as it is around 34 degrees. Lush green trees in the park offer shade and coolness too. I enjoy my favourite sound - that of birds singing as the sweat drips down my happy body.


Yesterday, I took a tuk tuk to Goklam, where as I wondered around exploring, I was delighted to stumble across Pattabhi Jois's Ashtanga Yoga Institute, which I believe is now known as the www.sharathyogacentre.com


The studio is now owned by Sharath, his grandson, who took over the ropes after his grandfathers passing. It was Jois that developed and popularised Vinyasa Ashtanga and dedicated many years to teaching it. Pattabhi Jois was also Kino Mcgregor's teacher (founder of Miami Life Centre www.kinoyoga.com/miami-life-centreand Omstars www.omstars.com). Kino is a personal hero of mine and of many yogis across the globe. I was so excited to be there and it was a magical moment when I found it by accident after my papaya smoothie post practise. To be honest I was surprised how excited I was!


And here, as I sit and write this I wonder - is it a question of why go to Mysore at all?


I keep thinking, how happy I am that I followed my heart and my passions and came here. I feel centred, grounded, happy, nourished in every way and at peace. Thank you India, thank you Mysore and thank to the lineage of teachers that have been part of my journey.


And so, I sit and I wonder, is it a question of why go to Mysore at all? For me it is no longer the question. The question is simply, 'How soon can I come back?'


So... why come to Mysore?


If not for the sunshine, the amazing food, the cows in the street and smiles of the people that are as warm as the roaring sun here..then the biggest reason to come to Mysore is if you feel deeply pulled to and want to get to the the heart of your practice like I did. If you want to be taught by the masters of this beautiful style of yoga, right in the vibrant city it was born..then I say 'come - your will not regret it'.


Lorraine

Mudra Om Yoga

xxx



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