Shiva Spray Painted portrait

My First Mysore Style Practice and a New Friend

I have to admit that I am always a bit surprised when I meet people in other countries that I connect with. It always seems like such destiny, like I had already known them for a long time.

Two days ago when I first arrived, I kind of blew off a rickshaw driver He was pretty close to my age, but I felt like I wasn’t sure if he was trying to swindle me or not. He tried to make a plan with me where he would take me to the palace, then come back to pick me up and show me other stuff. It was a pretty sweet deal honestly, I was just very skeptical and wasn’t sure about how much rupees were actually worth. Well, today I passed him as I walked back from Gokulam and he was a little disappointed that I didn’t come back to his rickshaw. He just wanted to be friendly.

In the afternoon, I went to Gokulam, in the Northwest of the city, which is where all of the yoga shalas are (I didn’t know this at the time), there  where I met Sharath’s son and we got to play a little soccer outside of the yoga shala. I think Sharath might have walked outside, but I wasn’t sure, then Saraswathi came out to meet me and tell me what to do. Arrive at 9am tomorrow, practice at 9:30. Then register in the afternoon. They are also giving me a break on the price without even asking, which is extremely considerate of them. I think they probably do well for themselves and their kids, but it always nice to be considered for my age, because I really don’t have a lot of money and this is going to make things much easier as my bank account dwindles down.

On my way back from Gokulam, which is on the
Northeastern part of the city, and I was planning on walking the whole way home to keep strengthening my legs. I was pretty close by the palace, but completely lost and pretty tired when I saw the rickshaw driver again. I still can’t remember his name.

We got to talking and he started to tell me about his friend who is into Ayurveda and they showed me their awesome essential oils, made completely from plants. Sandal oil, Lavender, Amber, you name it they have it. I bought some lavender, but I’ll give you the full details in my next post on Ayurvedic medicine. We made a plan for real this time and I decided that I would give a little trust because he seemed to just genuinely be interested in me and in general liked foreigners. He took me to the palace to see it at night, with the lights, which is pretty incredible.

We then went to his friends medicine shop, where I found all kinds of awesome oils and medicines. They had a ton of marijuana oil for therapeutic and medicinal benefits, but I didn’t try any cause I didn’t want to pay for it. Then we went to dinner and I ate like a freaking king for under 4 dollars.

Afterwards, we went to a restaurant that has the best Indian food I’ve ever had, hands down. We hung out for an hour or so and I got to ask them all kinds of questions. Indian people are so laid back its incredible. Apparently, the Jois shala is currently the top school of yoga and Saraswathi the best teacher, though they spoke a bit about the elite nature of the shala. That means there are a lot of arrogant white people around, though I haven’t really seen this side of things and really don’t want to. Learning about Saraswathi’s unique method from the outside was pretty cool to hear, especially considering that I met her earlier and I will be practicing with her for the entirety of my stay. One woman named Katie that was studying under her told me that Kino McGregor and some other semi-famous yogi were here and she said that the Jois fire was the hottest around. It’s also the most expensive. Cool, I guess.

Back to the rickshaw homie; this guy was just totally showing me India and just being my friend for no reason other than he knew I was foreign! It was awesome! I think that foreign people must be extremely interesting to them, because it is very expensive to travel outside of the country. But the driver and his friend were cool enough that when I couldn’t take money out of the ATM, they lent me some dough for food! I will repay them tomorrow, but wow it’s really amazing how generous they were. I am so grateful that I got to eat good Indian food and make a couple of friends!

There is a really interesting juxtaposition between acceptance of poverty and greed and it all has to do with expectation. Some seek to receive, others seem to avoid it for no reason. I tried to give one guy an extra 10 rupee for a raw coconut and he refused. On the other hand, the dinner server couldn’t seem to wait for his tip. He was standing over me as I got out my wallet and paid.

I came back to Gokulam this morning, but my friend didn’t show up on time so I had to take a separate rickshaw, which sucked. Some rickshaw drivers really can be jerks, they try to take advantage all the time. But I got to the Shala at 9, walked in and started the primary series.

I practiced this morning so I finished my 5 sun salutation A & B, then started working towards standing postures, triangles and side angles. That’s really all I have been taught in the strict traditional method and I forget the order of poses, so Saraswathi started telling me what to do, in spite of everyone else in the room. It was kind of awesome, to receive that kind of attention while she was assisting others she just kept talking to me, trying to tell me what to do, how to go about the postures and such. At the end her assistant came up to me to make sure I was okay and I think she was surprised that I didn’t understand what she meant. I’d rather be critiqued completely on something rather than left to stagnate in bad habits. Yoga is truly a practice where bad habits can be formed, whether it’s a thought process, or an alignment issue, or whatever.

The traditional Ashtanga method have some particulars that I am very unused to, in transitions and even in the postures themselves. It’s probably going to take a few days to get it all down, but the standing postures are rad, I’m happy to do them a bunch. I’ll probably practice the order mostly, rather than working with my breath tonight, just to get my body used to it so I can stop thinking about it. It’s kind of weird for me to think about my practice while I do it because I am used to just flowing with what my body wants. This is more disciplined and more rewarding as a result.

I am very excited for tomorrow, and for hanging out tonight, I am on a mission to find my friend, but I can’t remember his damned name!

Also, I saw my first monkey today, from a distance, in a tree above the city. Next quest monkey pictures!

In the meantime, check out my latest pictures below:

cows and dogs eating trash




calves on the street







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