11 Feb 2012

Helsinki Again!

I have been busy, busy, but I wanted to say bye and close Spark's season two in Mysore properly. I came back to Finland in the beginning of February. I can leave Mysore, but Mysore never leaves me...

I was really busy during my last days in Mysore. I really tried not to get too busy, but I have so many amazing friends there and I wanted to see them all before going home. So it was chaotic. And then you must have your last Indian brekkie, say bye to Sharath, do your last minute's shopping, have some chai, drink coffee at Barista, icecream at Coffee House,last conference, last led, last Mysore practice, last riksha/taxi/bike ride, and so on.

My last week's practices were amazing. I found my groove. I was very happy that my dear friend Aimee came to Mysore and I had time to be with her. All those rides with Bubba were special, too. Tasia and crazy rats... Cocos with Maria and days with Finnish girls. Chai with Helena. It was good to meet some new friends, too. The building, where I lived, was full of sweet yogis after some troubles. All the conferences were very important for me and my last talk with Sharath gave me hope. I walked out of his office feeling lighter once again. He smiled, when I said that: "See you in October."

I was expecting to have horrible practices back home, because it had been freezing here. I took four flights back home and the last change regarding my flights was at the airport in Bangalore. So my final itinerary was Bangalore-Mumbai-Brussels-Arlanda-Helsinki. I took one extra day off after those flights, but was back on the mat on Friday, 3rd Feb. And my practice has been fine. It has been solid. My back and leg have been pretty good. I do everything else as in Mysore, but I have been leaving drop-backs out. I do small Urdva Dhanurasana three times and that's it. Maybe when the weather gets warmer, I will have enough faith to do drop-backs again. But I am not in a hurry.

I have been feeling good. My practice has been strong. My body is so much stronger than before Mysore. One teacher here commented that: "Oh, you can do vinyasa again. It just makes me really content." All in all, it was easier to come back to Finland this time. I have my peace with Finland now. And a lovely, new home. And washing machine! I can stay here for a while and then I will fly again. Sharath will be teaching in New York in April and I would love to go. Just dreaming and waiting my money fairy to show up...

But my priority is a trip to Mysore again. Before that I will practice as usual and I will try to do my best to find some special hands to help my back. This practice will heal my back, I am sure about that. I haven't seen a doctor here, it looks to me that this practice is doing more good for me than any doctors or their medicines. I will see one chiropractor here during the coming week, but otherwise I will continue as usual. On the mat six days per week. Purifying my body and mind. Day after day. Sharath counting in my head.

Every morning I am saying thanks to Sharath, Guruji and my Mysore friends. See you here and there. You are in my heart anyway.

Have faith, stay humble, keep practicing. Don't forget the Source! I will do the same.



27 Jan 2012

Rock Bottom and Extreme

I don’t know, what’s going on with my practice, but today I had easily my best led class here. Yesterday’s practice was bad and today everything was like child’s play. My head is actually starting to turn left and my back was very good today. I even lifted one Urdva Dhanurasana up. Sharath wasn’t assisting me today, which in a way is a good sign, because then I know, that he thinks that I can cope on my own. But every day is so different, that next week can be totally another story.

This morning was weird. Coconut man wasn’t outside the Shala waiting for us, so we got out of the track immediately. I had chai with my neighbours Anna and Megan at Amruth’s and then coconuts at coco stand. After shower I was ready to go for a brekkie at SBP. Sun was smiling at me, when I walked along the Main Road. I was just admiring the beautiful morning, when I saw my friend Kaz crying in front of the coco stand. She is going back home in the middle of her trip, because her family needs her. I was hugging her and fighting against tiers. It’s just very very horrible to see your friend in sorrow. We were just hugging each other and telling that we will see during the next season. I am wishing all the best and so much courage for my dear Kaz on her way back home. Her Mysore family can’t wait to see her again, hopefully even this season.

On our way to SBP Sam and I talked about, how intense the practice is here. Anna had mentioned earlier her phone call with her granma, who said that she looks very happy, but tired. Sam said that his left eye looks different, because it’s so tired. When people are asking, what we do here and we are explaining that not that much but our practice, they keep wondering, how lazy we are. But practice here is just extreme, it’s nothing like practice back home. Lucia told me that one morning she woke up and was kneeling on the floor and praying that God would let her survive through her practice. We are on the edge basicly all the time here. I don’t know, what it is with this place, but we all keep smiling in a stupid way and walking around spaced out after practice. My friends, who have been assisting now, are just death tired. They all love to assist, but rocking some new poses from Third Series at the same time just isn’t easy. I think that we all are people, who love to be on the edge. Otherwise we wouldn’t feel so alive. Or tired.

But back home we need to rest. This is the place to break the walls and at home we will get everything in order. And then it’s time to come back here and jump over new barriers. People who think that ashtanga is boring, because it’s the same practice everyday, have no idea, how different every practice day is. Salty, sweet, sour, plain. All the flavours are there.

Mysore State of Mind

This practice week has been a rollercoaster again. Monday was a moonday, so this week isn’t full. I prefer full practice weeks, then my mind is more practice-oriented and I don’t allow myself to get distracted. When my routine is on, I don’t feel tired during the mornings and eating schedule is working better, too.

Tuesday’s practice was pretty ok, Wednesday’s practice was full-on and today’s practice was disgusting. Hahaa. That’s exactly the word, which I used, when I walked outside for a coconut today after practice. My whole body was hurting today and I didn’t do drop-backs. I was very stiff and it was hot in the Shala, but freezing outside. It was difficult to breathe and today as well as on Monday my body felt superheavy. Today was also the first day, when I felt asleep after my alarm. I slept only a couple of minutes, so didn’t really miss anything.

I normally don’t sleep after practice, but for some reason during this week I have been sleeping a lot after practice. Totally passing out, seeing strange dreams (I don’t normally remember my dreams, only my nightmares) and having difficulties to wake up. Practice has been demanding this week, I have been pushing myself to lift up properly, because my neck has been better. I love working with my strength, but I still have to take it easy for example with Sirsasana. I am actually looking forward to tomorrow’s led.

Otherwise I have been running around Gokulam. I had a long lunch with Hanne on Tuesday and afterwards we went to see some really cool yoga clothes. I have been sending emails back home to get my move in order there, closing insurance and electricity agreements, preparing my exit here with my maid. And trying to fit all my Mysore friends into my schedule before I go. On Wednesday I had tasty Indian lunch prepared by Mane, Anna+Sam and tomorrow I will have sushi at Vivian’s with Finnish girls. Anna L will arrive tomorrow and I am very happy to see her, too. Everyday I have lunch or brekkie date, sometimes both. I am trying to keep my weekend pretty free, so that I can chill out a little bit. Last days here will be really busy, just so many dear friends to see. And I want to take everything out of my last practices next week. My exit is actually perfect, because I will get the best practice days of the week here. Normally Monday and Tuesday are the strongest practice days for me, so I am hoping to do the drop-backs with Sharath two more times before my flights back home.

My Mysore state of mind is always good. For some reason I feel very free here. I don’t take pressure about anything. My practice is what it is, my days are what they are. Everything feels very cosy and easy. My very wise friend Aimee said, that it’s because we don’t expect anything from these trips. We know that we will be back. If this trip is not about new poses, next trip will be. If this trip is hard, next one can be better. If this trip is great, maybe the following will be good, too. Sharath is the same, practice is the same. We just will try to take the best out of everything. Then we will go home, make some money and prepare our next trip. When you are in this Mysore circle, your Mysore life will always be here waiting for you.

When I am doing opening mantra back home, I often feel that my Mysore friends are with me. Sharath is with me. Sharath said that he still feels Guruji’s energy in the Shala. I feel Sharath’s and my Mysore friends’ energy wherever I practice. This Mysore energy will keep me warm, when I am back in Finland in the middle of snow storms.

23 Jan 2012

Mysore Magic and Mind Games

Sunday’s led was really hard. Back was hurting, maybe because of crazy sugar overdose during the last days. I have had so many meetings and Mysore dates always include food. And my back really hates sugar, which my mind loves...

Otherwise Sunday was great again. We had an early conference and we watched Alex Medin’s new documentary called Mysore Magic. It was beautiful to see my friends talking about their practices and it all just souded so familiar. Something pulls us here, there is strange energy inside the shala and we learn about our minds more and more day-by-day. The documentary includes Sharath’s and Saraswati’s interview, it’s short, but there is everything in a nutshell.

After the documentary Sharath talked about the idea of guru or having a guru. I loved that because it’s so interesting topic. Guru never says that he is a guru. And somebody can be your guru, but not my guru. I think that almoust every Indian has a guru, but for Westerners in general it seems to be hard to surrender and actually take somebody’s advice. For me personally guru is a human (Sharath also said that gurus are human, too and that they even get tired sometimes), who is my role model, somebody, whose lifestyle and values I can respect and learn from. Guru knows better than I do. Sometimes it’s very very hard to surrender and keep in mind all the things which I have learned here. This practice includes many sacrifices, too. Nothing comes easy, but when it comes, it’s good.

Maybe blind people have a little bit the same experience as yogis. They walk in darkness and they need somebody time-to-time to guide them. Sometimes the walk can be pretty desperate, but when you can’t use your eyes, other senses become stronger and with the help of other people as well as your imagination, you actually start to see things. Everything becomes clear. Everything is clear, if you just learn to see that.

Sunday was also Chinese New Year and my friend Yan organized us an amazing party. Her new place is gorgeous and we had a good group of friends on her roof eating and talking. We all got personal horoscopes, learned a little bit about Chinese traditions and saw the wildest fireworks I have ever seen. What a special night!

In the party I spoked with my Brazilian friend Lucia. Lu is one of the most advanced female practitioners here and her practice is stunning. It’s very precise, beautiful and strong. Everything seems to be effortless. When she is not here, she is teaching in Frankfurt and practicing every morning before teaching. Which means that her mornings start 2 a.m. It was funny to hear that her mind is often giving the same excuses as mine. It’s crazy to practice so early, I am gonna hurt myself etc. But because we know our minds so well, it’s also easy to trick our minds. We both agreed, that if we just assure ourselves to do one sun salutation, we will actually do the whole practice. It’s interesting to notice that our minds work actually in a pretty similar way. The difference here is, how we react on our mind’s games. Do we play along or refuse to play? Every morning the same game, but always a new chance to choose differently.

Indian Breakfasts and Indian Maids

My Saturday morning routine is that around eight me and group of my friends are taking bikes and heading down-town. I love the ride there during the early morning, when there is hardly traffic and air is fresh. Bubba, my friend is always driving me and we have time to chat on the way. Everything is peaceful and I can enjoy the wind on my hair.

My favorite Indian breakfast place here is Mylari. Their dosas are the best, which I have ever tasted. Indian breakfast is very heavy, so I can have it only once a week, but it’s so delicious. Our other favorite place is Secret Breakfast Place, which only certain people can find. That place is famous for its idlis, which are Indian pancakes served with coconut chutney. And chai on the side just makes this meal perfect. After breakfast our bellies are full and sugar high from the chai is guaranteed. Sharing a good meal in lovely company makes my day every time.

As a Western woman I often feel sorry for the Indian housewifes. They stay almoust all the time at home. Their task is take care of the home and children. And for me it seems that it’s extremely boring and exhausting. If they are using maids, they won’t have that much to do. And that creates a situation, where they are very bored.

In my building the family has two maids, but I am using my own maid Sakhi. Sakhi is a funny girl and brings a lot of joy for my days. But I have a feeling that the host family would prefer me to use their maids and that’s why, they are giving hard time for Sakhi. Maids know very well, what is going on in Mysore and it’s very useful to have a loyal maid. She can for example share information, if somebody comes to my place, when I won’t be at home or if Indian family is complaining about something, which they won’t say directly to me. Sometimes it really feels that Indian housewifes don’t have anything else to do than spy people and gossip. Or give hard time for their maids, because they really yell at them. I gave my maid extra days off and the host family (or their maids) seemed to be jealous because of that. Poor Indian maids, if they get anything extra, other people will get jealous.

I would love to take my maid to a local beauty parlour before I go home, but I don’t know, what kind of chaos that would create. Indian society is full of rules and as foreigner it’s hard to keep up with all of those. And sometimes I would like to rebel a little bit.

But luckily India is changing, too. I am looking forward to that someday I can wear my skirt without awful leggings and I don’t have to boil everyday wearing long-sleeves. Mumbai is already very different than Mysore and slowly slowly everything starts to loosen up here, too.

19 Jan 2012

Mysore Family and Parties

This week has gone so fast. I have been practicing every morning with Sharath and doing those extra exercises at home. My practices have been good, sometimes I don’t have that much pain after practice. Only my leg keeps bothering me and it’s the problem with the drop-backs, too. I can’t keep my heels down and because of the nerve pain on my right leg, the toes ain’t staying on line. But the extra exercise is building more strength on my legs and keeping my back more aligned.

Yesterday was a fun day. My unbalanced neighbour is now gone, so this building is full of supernice yogis. My neighbour Anna had her birthday yesterday. We organized a suprise party for her and had Indian Mane cooking for us maybe the most delicious Indian food I have ever had. During this season we have been totally spoilt, because we have had our own pastry chef Sam here. He had again baked the most amazing B-day cake. Anna was in tears, because the food was so good and the cake was her absolutely favorite. I think that partly she was in tears, because it was her first birthday during ten years away from her husband. Birthdays and other traditional family parties here are hard. You miss your family and friends so much during those days. People who don’t stay here for a long time, don’t get it. This is not some relaxing yoga retreat, where you just rest, this is actually an ordinary life with ups and downs. But Mysore family is very strong, too. Because we all go through similar periods in Mysore, when practice is hard, you are injured or sick, India is just too much or people are crazy. We know what it is and everyone of us takes turns to support each others and tell them to wait brighter days.

Yesterday I got good support from Anriikka. I was supposed to do the exam regarding my distance studies, but the exam was so late local time, that internet cafés were closed. I went to Anriikka’s house to use her WIFI and did the exam there. When I left, it was so dark that she gave me her flash-light and literally lifted me and my things over the gate. When I got home, she called that I was back home safely.

I got to my bed around midnight and my alarm rang after three hours’ sleep. I felt like I was totally waisted, so I thought that it’s too risky to practice with my back. So this morning I got three calls, where I had been. People thought that I missed the class because of my back. And because I don’t normally miss classes, they all called, what was going on. This is, how my Mysore family works. Without all these special friends, life could be hard in Mysore. Now it’s mostly just fantastic!

16 Jan 2012

Light Is There!

This practice is so strange. It hits you in the face, it doesn’t slap you, it really hits you. You cry and you crowl, but something keeps you going. People around are telling you that you are mad to continue, but you just keep going. You cry more, you crowl in the mud and even your mouth is full of it. You close your eyes and you just keep going. You are tired, wreck, fed up and angry. There is nothing left. You are begging everything to stop. And all of the sudden everything is easy, beautiful and peaceful. You feel strong, you are perfect, everything is perfect. Just one glimpse of that and you are ready to crowl more.

Today I got my glimpse of light. I woke up, my body felt awful and I had headache. I crowled to my living room’s mat with my blanket and twisted my body into first yin poses. Right side, left side, core exercises. Pain in my body, pain in my head. Breathing. Slowly and weakly. It took so much willpower to drag myself to the gate, but when I am there, I am there. Small group of people, because it’s the mid of the month. New people coming, old friends leaving. I got my spot and a very lovely shala neighbour Shelley. Our pink mats were matching and her practice was quiet, beautiful.

Practice was ok, I started slowly and did sun salutations slowly, movement by movement just focusing on my back and breath. My body started to feel better and I found my focus. Practice went fast, I was amazed to be in the end. Urdva Dhanurasana was hard, but I stood up afterwards to wait Sharath. I said to Sharath, that I will do only the small ones. I did four and before the last one Sharath asked: ”Hands together?” and I said yes. But on the contrary I went all the way down, took my five breaths there and he lifted me up smoothly. No pain. I told him that it wasn’t too bad. He asked me, if I can come later. So he is going to show me some extra exercises.

I think that I would be terrified to do drop-backs with anybody else. I would propably just totally refuse to even try. During the practice I trust Sharath 100 per cent. Hundred, not ninety-nine. It takes time to build up a relationship like that. It’s a huge effort from me and an enermous one from him. Specially with me, because I don’t trust people easily. He didn’t gain my trust forcing me to do things or yelling at me. He gained my trust giving me the time I needed, not harming me, but giving his support and love for me. I will never forget that. And I will be grateful for that the rest of my life. This is my understanding of guru-student relationship in ashtanga yoga tradition. And this is only the beginning.