There’s a trend in the ashtanga blogosphere (ashtlogosphere?) to discuss the merits of coming to Mysore to practice. Because it’s the source, because it’s magic, because it’s a community of ashtangis, because it’s a rite of passage, because of Sharath.
Today, my reason is this: because it gives me the opportunity to observe my mind when my body is uncomfortable. Sounds very zen, right? Well, it didn’t feel very zen when I was in 4:30am led class, hoping my stomach sickness wouldn’t rear its ugly head, crammed into the second row with mats an inch away from mine on every side, pissed off at the girl next to me for almost heeling me in the head, pissed at the girl in front of me for jumping back SO FAR so that my face was two inches from her toe rings, pissed that I couldn’t find some inner quiet at the ungodly hour that I was doing this stupid practice.
A few things:
1. As I silently railed against all the practitioners around me, I was ever so slightly aware that it was not, in fact, the fault of the girl whose stupid heel was in my face, because she was probably contending with the stupid foot of the guy next to her. And really, so was everyone in that room. That awareness, however small, represents a small step towards that inner peace I couldn’t find; I can be pissed off and at the same time understand that what I’m pissed off at is not really what I’m pissed off at. Yoga!
2. Discomfort is necessary for growth. Spiritual growth, sure, but mostly I’m just referring to growth as a human being. They say that India forces you to learn how to adapt, because your expectations are always being turned upside down. Schedules run late, power goes out, internet doesn’t work, bugs are there, sickness comes. Living in such a situation prevents you from taking things for granted. If your yoga class is always rainbows and sunshine, with an extra wide and long mat so you can really spread out, and you only do the poses that your body wants and your teacher only has praise for you, what are you learning? I’m not saying you should court pain, but running away from uncomfortable situations doesn’t necessarily serve you (me).
3. I say this with the understanding that Mysore, especially Gokulam, is India-Lite. At breakfast, a friend was telling us about his stay in Auroville, just about dead East of Mysore on the coast, during which his traveling partner became sick with Dengue Fever, and then the cyclone hit. The shala where they were practicing was destroyed, the forest surrounding their accommodations was destroyed, and they were running out of water, out of food, with no electricity and no way to get information about how far the damage had spread. (They got out, he came here, she went home to recover.) And I was upset about what? Someone’s foot in my face? Hello, Self Awareness and Perspective, so nice of you to join us.
And speaking of how ridiculously privileged I am here, today I found this: Almond butter!