Monday, January 3, 2011

Registration & Day 1 Practice

I went to register yesterday afternoon. I'd heard the shala clock runs 15 minutes early, so figured I'd get there for 3.15pm in regular time (which means 3.30pm in shala time). Walking up to THE shala, y'know, THE KPJAYI... was a mix of excitement, nervousness and the feeling of I-can't-believe-I'm-here-FUCK-ME!!

It's a modern building in comparison to all the other buildings, I mean, houses, in the area. From what I've heard, the shala's downstairs and the family lives upstairs.

I think I was even earlier than shala time coz I'd walked over and wasn't sure of the way, so thought I'd give myself a headstart. There were already a few students milling about. A local lady entered the building, and then a guy peeks his head out and looks around. He starts pointing at a few people "You - new student?" The person nods, and the guy says "Come". He did the same with me too, and also asked "student of Sharath or Saraswati?"

What I realized later was the Sunday conference was happening at 4pm, so there was a mix of new students there for registration as well as students who have already been practicing. This security/ caretaker dude was pretty sharp in spotting all of us newbies there for registration and was herding us inside!

If you're planning on coming to Mysore, make sure you bring a photocopy of your passport ID page, as well as a copy of your visa page, and also bring another passport photo. The local lady was handling registrations in the foyer and was checking through my passport. She asked "What visa did they give you? Tourist visa? OK." And that was IT. So much for that visa nightmare I had to go through. PFFFFFFFT!

I was given a small sheet of shala guidelines, which I found really handy. I mean, I knew Fridays are led classes, but I didn't realize Sundays are too! And there are 2 led sessions on Friday, so you need to be given your timeslot for that day too.

I had to fill up another form in the meantime, then Sharath appeared and went into his office which is right inside the shala. We all took our forms and went and lined up outside his office. If you're in the practice room and looking in front at the stage, his office is a little room to the left of the stage. Pretty cute! I was quite surprised that he handles all registrations personally - down to counting out your money using one of those note-counters they have in the banks! Because the Indian Rupees go into the tens of thousands, you're dealing with wads of cash at any point in time. A note counter is handy for this!

I dunno what I was expecting, but I'd heard so many people's stories of how Sharath has such a great memory for people. I'd taken a 2-week workshop with him in Sydney in 2009 (you can read the series of posts tagged "Sharath in Sydney"), and though I shared a moment with him in Sirsasana then, there's NO WAY he would've remembered that now. Plus, I'm a Mysore virgin, so this is really my first time properly practicing with him! Once I was in his office, I kinda felt like I was in the Headmaster's office. Y'know... Awkward and shy and not really knowing what to say. HAHAHAHAHAHA! (I feel like an idiot admitting this). I dunno what possessed me to say "Erm... I took your workshop in Sydney last year." He simply nods. Then tells me how much I owe for one month of classes.


He's extremely shy and reserved. I guess I don't know him, right. Ha. Then he says "You start 6.30am tomorrow" and hands me my shala pass.

After that, I joined the others in the shala for the Sunday conference. There was a special guest speaker, AG Mohan, whom Sharath affectionately called "AG Mohan-ji". Yup, the dude who wrote the book on "Krishnamacharya - His life and teachings". He's much older, with a full head of white hair and a matching white beard, but was so sparkly and full of life. He had a really bright quality about him. In typical conference fashion, he spoke briefly about Krishnamacharya and the Vinyasa Krama method then opened the floor up to a Question & Answer session.

I'm not really going to do the conference much justice by talking about it coz I only remember bitty pieces from it (I wasn't taking notes!) He just struck me as a spritely man who looked like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland when he smiled, which was often!

Moving onto this morning's practice report, my first practice in Mysore!!

So I got there 15 minutes earlier than my given time (as instructed on the sheet of Shala Guidlines. I follow rules, remember?) This means it was 15 minutes earlier than shala time, a full half-hour earlier in regular time. There were probably about 4 or 5 people waiting in the foyer before me. Can I just say... Just sitting there, peeking through the one open door at the people practising inside, and just listening to all the deep, Ujjayi breathing - the only audible sound in the room - just being there, witnessing it all in action gave me such a thrill and a tingle in my spine. I'm an idiot, I know. I felt like a kid in a candy store just sitting there gaping in awe, at the simple fact that I was HERE.

Oh, and then I spotted someone I think I recognize from one of Govindakai's Led Intermediate videos on YouTube. I'm sure you'd know who I'm talking about too. I would post the video here to show you who, but that would just kick over into ULTIMATE yogadorkydom. So I'm not doing it. BAHAHAHAHA!

Sharath comes out and says to the guy next to me "Too crowded today. You come back at 7.30". I wasn't sure if he was referring to the guy only or to me too. After the guy leaves, Sharath comes out again and says to me "You also - You Saraswati's student?" And I said "No. I'm YOUR student." Of course in my head I'm a bit annoyed, thinking "WTF?! You just registered me yesterday! And and and... We had a moment in Sirsasana in Sydney! Am I THAT forgettable?!!!" But then he says "OK, you sit and wait". So... Phew! All is forgiven. :)

My friend who goes to Mysore every year told me "try not to get a spot in between the carpets or you'll be unbalanced." The floor in the shala is marble and they lay thick rugs over each other. There's a point where the carpet edges line up on top of each other and create a long line of carpet-bump. So of course on my first day there, the first spot that opens up when Sharath calls out "One more!" has to be a spot right in the middle of the room, right on the spot where the carpets line up. I brought my thinner Manduka ProLite mat with me instead of the regular black mat, and after laying the mat on the floor, I could still see the big line bump down the middle of my mat. ARGHHHHHHH! I ended up practising on the side edges of my mat during the standing poses, to avoid an uneven floor. HAHAHA.

So then I start my practice and HOLY. HELL'S. TITS.

I finished Full Primary without being stopped by anyone. HOLY. FUCKING. HELL'S. TITS!!! I still can't quite believe it!!!!!

Sharath and Saraswati are adjusting, along with another 2 or 3 assistants, all look like foreigners. I got an assist in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, and was left alone until Supta Kurmasana. I was already dreading Supta K by the time I got to Mari D. I got all nervous and anxious in my belly thinking "Dammit, I can't bind Supta K on my own anymore! What's gonna happen?!" Then I caught my monkey mind and had to tell myself to "STOP IT! Just be here NOW."

When I got to Kurmasana, one breath into it and someone had come round and was helping me stretch deeper into it. This automatically led to them binding my hands and legs in the Supta version. While I can no longer bind on my own, once I'm assisted into the pose, I'm OK and can hang out in it. I got flipped up and managed to lift myself up into the Dwi-Pada vinyasa-out exit. Extremely sloppily, but I did it.

Then I continued to Garbha Pindasana, found a water spray and carried on... And I couldn't believe nobody stopped me. Sharath was assisting the person right next to me at this point, and I was expecting him to yell out something like "You! What do you think you're doing?" but HE DIDN'T!! WOOHOOOOOOOOO! I don't know how this is determined, coz I've heard that sometimes they ensure you can bind on your own before they'll let you move on, but other people have said sometimes even if you need help being bound, as long as you can remain bound on your own they'll move you on. I guess I fell into the latter group. I am sooooooooooo not complaining!!! ;p

The next time I had an assist was after backbends. I'd heard that after your 3rd backbend, you're expected to stand up on your own before getting to dropbacks. I have never in my life done this before. I've always only stood up from dropbacks, after the back's been opened up a bit more. Today, I thought I'd attempt to stand up cold from the 3rd backbend anyways. FAAAAAARK. It's terribly hard! My back felt so stiff and my body felt like it had no clue what to do with itself. On my second attempt, I stood up and dropped to my knees. HAHAHA!

Then Saraswati hovered around me at dropbacks. I told her "Can I try on my own first?" And she nodded. I thought it was pretty sweet that Saraswati was the one who had helped me get my first dropback EVER in Sydney, and here I was in Mysore on Day 1 and she was assisting me with them again. :)

Here's the thing. I'm used to hanging back 3 times and generally faffing around a bit before dropping back. While Saraswati was watching over me, I hung back half way, then came back up again. She said "You bend your knees some more and go down to the floor".

Dammit. I think she wasn't allowing me to hang back! FAAAAAAAAAAARK!

So then I went for it on the next go. My heels lifted before I landed. Oh well. And then she made me do it a second time and a third with PRACTICALLY NO BREAK IN BETWEEN! Bloody hell. I NEED TO FAFF IN BETWEEN DROPBACKS!!! Y'know, just to catch my breath a bit; Wipe the sweat off my brow a bit! Y'know... FAFF!! Saraswati was really knocking the wind out of me! She helped pull me back up again so at least I could "cheat" and not attempt to stand back up on my own. HAHA. After the third one, she said "Day after tomorrow, you stand up on your own" (it's Moon day tomorrow). OK Lady, I shall try.

By the time she came to Chakrabandasana I was super exhausted and wasn't trying very hard at all, I felt like I was going to die. She had to say "walk hands in" twice before I did it, coz I was just refusing to. Haha.

Before I knew it, backbends were over. It was probably the fastest turnaround of backbends I've ever managed. I don't think this was actually good for me though, coz I was super lightheaded and felt like I was gonna pass out. I quickly grabbed my things and headed to the Changing Room for the rest of the Finishing poses. I remember thinking "FUCK IT!!! I'm cheating and just lying in Savasana. Fuck the shoulderstands and headstands, who's gonna know?!"

HAHAHA! I can be a petulant child.

It's dark in the changing room, but I could still see the marble floor in there was covered in damp moisture from everyone cooling down. YUUUUUUUCK! I lay there for a couple minutes then thought "Who am I really cheating but myself", then proceeded to do my finishing postures. HAHAHA. I probably raced through them pretty quickly but at least I got them finished. Heh. By the time I surfaced, it was 8am. I have no idea what time I started, but it was probably just a little after 6.30am. HUH?! I finished Full Primary in just under 1.5 hours?! It felt like waaaaaaaaay longer than that. Plus, I lay in Savasana for what felt like a LONG time. I dunno, I'm beginning to have ZERO concept of time in Mysore.

After practice, I had TWO coconuts from the infamous coconut guy outside the shala. I think I was too spaced out to take a photo. That, plus I was probably more embarassed to be caught with my touristy camera. Heh.

WOW, I sure can ramble when given the time to blog! And here in Mysore, time is what I've got a lot of! HAHAHA! Sorry for the long and navel-gazing post. This kinda helps me process the experience too.

Have a Happy Moon Day tomorrow! I have no idea what the heck I'll be doing. :)



  1. Hey Owl! Aren't you in Mysore too? Arturo mentioned it. Let's meet up! :)

  2. I'm very envious that you're in India, deepening your studies! Thanks for these updates, I look forward to more of them :)

  3. Yes, I'm here. Female, two long braids (down in practice, pinned up in daytime), carrying either black square tote with red Bohemia lion or blue/gold mat bag with Gravis cell holder, purple scooter. Today was also my first practice, so our rhythms are likely to overlap someplace...

  4. Hi J, thanks for sharing this and the info on bringing copies of the passport, visa and extra photo... I am coming next week!, hope to meet you and OvO

  5. Hey Svasti! I hope you'll get the chance to do so too, one day soon. Then I'll get to read all about your experience in a different style of yoga!

    Owl! Woooo! Cool, will look out for you. I've usually got my hair up in a big knot on top of my head. No more bangs, all pinned back now. This feels like a blind date. HAHAHA!

    Colleen - Thanks! Nice to see you here, nice blog you've got. Go Dems!

    Claudia - That's awesome! Cybershala's all coming together! Can't wait to meet you in person! :)

  6. OMG. This is going to be SO FUN reading your Mysore blog, I loved this post!!! I'm also really excited about you and Owl meeting, cos I've met you both and that somehow makes me feel involved (well sadly that's the closest I'm getting to Mysore this year... er, well except for Goa).

    Also happy for you, but not surprised, that you didn't get stopped!

    Have fun!!!


  7. Hi, how exciting! Your bringing back so many memories, great writing as always. I was on one of the bumpy bits on my first day there, it was led and I wobbled all over the show. Glad your having such a great time and you all getting to meet up. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Dear Jayme
    Great post! Wow, besides Owl, Claudia is joining y'all. That's great. My body is out of shape I think they'd stop me at Mari-D if I went now. haha.

  9. I saw that you'd posted this morning and have been waiting till I had time to sit down and read it properly...definitely worth my wait!! I love that is was Saraswati who started you off with dropbacks and helped you again today, and it sounds like your practice has just been there waiting for you while you did your busy thing the last few months :)
    And yay for the cybershala meetup!! Someone from our shala is leaving for mysore tomorrow, no doubt you won't meet him as there are gazillions of people there, but still nice to know you guys will be there together.
    And Claudia, you kept that one quiet!!

  10. ...sorry, i have to stop spelling your name with a why? haha. i'm still jetlagged after 3 days or returning to China. oh, the bean counter machine, it's found in the simplest to the most complex businesses here in China as well, where the biggest note is the 100rmb note. i once went to pay a major expense with wads and wads. the machine also serves to shed light through the notes and identify a fake one. it stops on its tracks when it finds a fake one.

  11. Is it bad form to ask for a cybershala group photo eventually?

  12. Jaime!
    I hope you can keep up with this excellent writing... it's SO fun to read. Glad you're having such a great time and rockin' the primary.

  13. Bring on the long Mysore posts I say, it's the closest I'm going to get to India....well, this year at least ;) I could sense your anxiety throughout the post, especially with Saraswati chugging you along for backbends? Phew, that must've been tough. But you did it, yay!

  14. I am so excited! for you AND for me getting to read this... and yes Claudia,what's with the no telling people you are going to Mysore?? PHOTOS PLEASE

  15. Finally got to a frigging computer, can't comment on your blog from my Crackberry and that is ANNOYING. Totally awesome that you were allowed to do the whole thing. Wheeeee!!!!!!

    See you Friday!

  16. Ooh yes, cybershala group photo pleeeeeease! Just had to pop back as I can't believe I forgot to comment on you having the krishnamacharya book guy at conference - how amazing! Love that book! (p.s. I am sure he is a lot more than "the K book guy" but you know what I mean ;)

  17. Jaime,
    I actually asked Sharath if it allows him to count the 500rs bills 1st and then add the 100rs bills to the tally. Alas, he said it doesn't. He has to manually add that up himself.
    So, if you want to get into his gd books, u know what to get him as a farewell gift.. haha

  18. Hey Susan, glad to be of service! ;p

    Helen - do you think you'll be back here again soon? It would be interesting to see how one's impression of Mysore changes/ deepens or not, over time.

    Arturo - who knows, you might surprise yourself. I was totally convinced I would get stopped at Supta Kurmasana, and am actually still convinced it will happen tomorrow or another day soon. But even if it does, so what? I'm in Mysore! haha.

    Mel - I might just meet him somewhere along the way. And if it happens by chance, of course you'll be the first to know about it! Even though there are hundreds of yogis here, it's still a small enough place where you bump into other yogis everywhere you go. :)

    5'2": why would it be bad form to ask for a cybershala photo? I'm a cam-whore, remember? ...I can't speak for the rest of the cybershalamates though. haha.

    HEY EVELYN!!! I'm just catching up on my blog reading now that I've got time and yours was the first one I went to. I have yet to comment on your holiday posts though, LOVE YOUR AUNT'S PRESSIES! hehe. As mentioned earlier, I still have this sinking feeling that at some point I will be "caught out" and made to stop earlier in the series. Ugh. (Sharath has been known to take Pasasana away from people who can't stand up from the 3rd backbend, so who's to say he won't take some of primary away from anyone else?!) I need to get over this anxiety. I mean... So what, right?

    Danielle - Yay! So... when are you coming to Mysore? Hehe. Denise was bugging me for the longest time to get my arse here. So now's my turn to keep bugging you!

    Loo - hahaha, you are funny!

    LiAsh - Wooohooo! And lady, really, you don't need to pack THAT much. Save some space for all the shopping you will no doubt be doing while you're here! I find myself being drawn to the same few pieces of clothing while I'm here. I mean... there's no one to impress, and no one gives a shit what you look like! (after a few days, I found I didn't really care either. I dunno anyone here! Who cares?! HAHA!)

    Denise - HAHAHA! Teaching me how to become teacher's pet already! Well... At the rate that he's remembering me... or NOT... I might just need to do something to jog his memory of me a bit! HA!

  19. Ahhhh Mel... for sure T from our shala WILL meet Jaime and the others, I just know it! I feel it in my bones, so awesome!!!

  20. nice post!!

    I live in Mysore and its been a couple of weeks since I've joined Saraswathi's classes in the evening. We are just ard 4/5 in the whole hall. So I think we must feel pretty privileged to be getting personal attention from the teacher :)

  21. Hey Susan, haven't met T officially yet, but he's definitely in my Sanskrit class. :)

    Hi wineye! WOW! I must walk past you every Monday, Wednesday, Friday on the way to the changing room for Sanskrit class! And yes - you are VERY privileged to be getting such undivided, individual attention from Saraswati. Sharath was there too this afternoon, so 2 such experienced teachers for such a small group is a super privilege. Enjoy! :)

  22. Yep, I agree!! In fact students like you who drove the point home tht I shud be joining yoga here, if not you are surely missing something :)

    I have been trying to focus while doing yoga.. but I can sure hear you chants, they are loud yet pleasing :) hope to meet you at the shala sometime.. until then enjoy your practice :)


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