I woke up at 5am, determined to keep vigilant at being productively occupied with myself. Edited some photos and wrote. At 9am I walked to the Shala, unsure of what to expect. Anxious. The entryway was full of others waiting for their turn. Watching through the open door as people moved through their practice. “One more.” Sharath called, and someone would jump up and hustle inside.
Eventually it was my turn. I got up put my mat down and tip toed to the changing room to put my stuff down. There were ladies everywhere closing out their practice. I was so nervous! What was I supposed to do? Ok, don’t panic. Just put your crap down and go start. One woman in the changing room noticed the look on my face and told me to relax and enjoy my practice. Good advice.
I started like I normally would. Opening prayer. Sun Salutation A. Sun Salutation B. All the while trying not to notice everyone still in the entryway watching, waiting. Somewhere around Tiriang Mukha, he told me to move up to the front. Crap. I’m thinking he wants to keep a close watch on me. I’m certain this is true. Marichyasana D was just around the corner.
I kept going, caught a bind in Marichyasana D (wasn’t sure that was going to happen) and then kept going… Garbha Pindasana.
“Wait.” He says from a few mats over. Coming closer he asks, “You bind Marichyasana D?”
“Yes.” I replied, thinking barely.
He looked like he didn’t believe me. “I must see it. Sorry. Tomorrow. You stop here.” He paused. “You bind Supta Kurmasana?”
“No.” I said feeling a bit embarrassed.
“You stop.” He said knowingly. “Slowly you go. Backbends.” So I stopped and moved into backbends.
Was afraid that would happen. It was humbling. Started Reminding myself that I wasn’t good enough. That I used to be able to do more. I was better before.
“Joanna, no coming up. Don’t move your feet. Three backbends then you fold forward. You go slow.” He said.
“No coming up?”
“No.” he said.
“Ok.” Dropping more deeply into a place of believing I’m not worthy.
I did my best to limit the tears. Embarrassing. Crying at the Shala. Come on!
As I left, I stopped to thank Sharath for class. I put my hands together and dropped my head with a slight bow; he did the same. His smile – beautifully genuine. Something in his face, his eyes said to me, slowly it will come.
It seems I may have to remind myself a few times that there is no actual evidence supporting the belief that I am not good enough. That statement is just not true. Things have changed. This is true. My practice has changed and so perhaps it comes from a different place than it did before. I am here to learn more about that. That is exactly why I am here. Slow down and learn.
Our driver, Vali, dropped us off at our house #15, 3rd Stage, Contour Rd, Gokulam, Mysore. It was 6:30am. The sun was just coming up; a modestly lit sky. We talked with our landlords, dumped our stuff off and headed out. Breakfast and a walk-about… get the lay of the land.
We walked a lot that day. Not sure where all the energy came from. Excitement. We went to a couple restaurants eager to try the local fair. Found some ATMs. Picked up some supplies for the house. Had my first coconut from the coconut stand. Saw more poverty and garbage. This time, unlike the dark drive through Bangalore, I could see the beauty among the poverty. Brilliantly colored Saris, vibrant flowers hanging in doorways, smiling faces, patterns drawn on entryways… tradition; it was both magnificently beautiful and crazy humbling.
It was an early night and I slept hard.
Next day I woke at 5am and took practice in my room. It was amazing. No heater needed. The sound of morning prayers floating through the windows accompanied my solo breath. Beautiful. Grounding. Later, after wondering down into a particularly poor part of town and getting pointed at several times we hopped in a rickshaw that took us downtown – the market – Mysore. We stopped for lunch and apparently it is customary to just sit at a table even if there are others there. So we sat and ate with two Indian men across from us. A little weird: also, oddly awesome. Good food too. Masala Dosa. Yum! We never actually make it into the market. We ended up leaving shortly after being led down a shady path by a Muslim stranger, Salim, and our jet leg caught up to us.
Short rest then to the Shala: register for class. I was the second person there. Waiting patiently. We started getting called in around 3:30pm. Conference was to start at 4pm. There where a lot of us and as it turns out it doesn’t much matter who got there first. So I ended up being there for Conference. I wasn’t really prepared for that and franticly searched for a pen. Which, I did not find. It was a good foundational talk about the Yamas and Niyamas. Questions were asked towards the end and in response to a question regarding ahimsa in our own practice Sharath said, “Enjoy your asana.” Simple. I will be referring to that many times over the next few months.
After conference, I registered, handed over a pile of rupees for a month’s tuition and a chanting class (that I didn’t know about) and got my start time. 9:30am. … Man.
We left Spokane at 6am Thursday, December 8, 2012 on a journey to Bangalore. It was a short flight, not a lot to report on; read a book… Siddhartha. I think I will be reading that again…
We had a long layover in the Denver airport. A campout. We watched the plane pull up that would take us to Frankfurt, Germany and waited. No problem. 7.5 hours. Gave us plenty of time to walk the entire airport in search of soup. Which, we never found.
Man… lets go already!
Plane number two: fairly uneventful flight. This is a good thing. I watched three movies, dozed off a few times, ate airline meals (a story in themselves) – even had a beer. Good beer too. Something German. The Frankfurt airport was insane. It seemed extremely unorganized and super slow. And there we were, in another airport. Camped out. Watching the plane we were about to board that would take us to Bangalore.
Plane number three: another 8 hours on board. I slept, chatted a bit with the Indian woman next to me, slept some more, ate airline meals – skipped the beer.
Finally, we get off the plane in Bangalore, get in line and wait. Immigration. I think we got into the slowest line imaginable. After two hours we got through and our driver was there to pick us up. Vali – a very nice man. It was about 3am Saturday, December 10, 2012. Things were still pretty surreal at this point.
It was dark but the moon was full. Shadows cast across billboards and construction sites. Piles of garbage, everywhere. Cows. Dogs. More garbage. People sleeping on the street or in small tent like huts. Most constructed directly next to a business or house. Poverty next to plenty. Surreal. This was Bangalore… first sight. I was both thrilled and saddened. I will see Bangalore again, perhaps after my time here in Mysore it will be with new eyes and a better understanding of things.
Through dazed eyes we continued the 3.5 hour drive to Mysore.