31 Oct 2010

My 17th Practice and Halloween Lunch

It was very early morning today, because I heard a rumour, that today’s led class would start 4.00 a.m. regular time and I went to the Shala a little bit before. It was just a rumour and the class started as usual 4.15 a.m. I have met here many people, who need time before their practice and that’s why they wake up every morning at least one hour before their practice time. For me, it’s better to move fast after I wake up, otherwise I am not gonna make it. I like to watch other people’s practices, but otherwise I don’t like to wait. I will only start to feel more sleepy.

Today’s practice was weak as I expected, but it started very well. Sharath assisted me with Uthita Hasta Padangustasana, but otherwise I was on my own. In Navasana I was very shaky and after that I didn’t have any energy left and I felt that I wanted to vomit. So after that asana I took it very easily and came down in Sirsasana before others as well as took only one Urdva Dhanurasana up. Tomorrow is a new day and I didn’t want to push too much today.

I am going for a Halloween lunch to Santosha. Ann promised to cook us dishes with pumpkin, so I am excited to see, how orange the table will be. I have noticed, that I need to add some protein to my food, because I feel sometimes quite tired here. I haven’t had any fish here, so I have to be more aware with my food. Indians don’t eat tofu and not much soya either, so the vegetarian dishes don’t include that much protein. I am even considering to continue eating only vegetarian food in the future. My friends here are so good cooks, that even I have good changes to learn to make proper vegetarian food.

Happy Orange Halloween My Friends! And lot of trick and treats!

You Gonna Love It or Hate It!

Almoust one month behind and I can tell, that I love Mysore. I know, this is yoga bubble, where you are all the time surrounded by yogis, yogic lifestyle, yoga books, yoga talks etc. People here go to bed early, wake up extremely early, are vegetarians or vegans, don’t drink that much and hardly go out. Smoking is terrible habit and meat is enemy. They are interested in philosophy, mysticism, meditation, spiritualism, raw food, healthy eating, ayerveda, holistic lifestyle, healing, energy, art, sport, anatomy and the most of all ashtanga yoga. Usually they have travelled quite much, speak at least English and have changed some way their previous lifestyle because of yoga. So we are quite similar people with similar interests, but really different backgrounds. I love this international vibe here, it’s so much my thing. But this isn’t real India for sure.

Some people here are totally done with Mysore. They are just waiting to finish their travel or get authorized and get out of the country as soon as possible. And preferably never come back. Others have been here numerous times, might even authorized by Guruji many years ago and they still want to come back here always, when it’s possible. They love to practice here, they love the life here, they think, that this is home as well as origin of ashtanga yoga. Some people have even bought houses here.

I think that for me life is easy here. I don’t have to explain to anybody, why I don’t eat meat, why I go to bed early, why I don’t want to eat late, why I want to practice every morning or why ashtanga yoga is so special to me. People here speak same language with me. I think, that in Finland most of my best friends are familiar with my weird habits, but here I feel, that I am normal. Nothing special, just like the others. I wouldn’t like to live here forever, because time to time I miss my people from Finland and even Finland, but I know already, that I will come back here many times. I am stuck with Mysore. Sharath is amazing, some people here are unreal, your practice every morning in the Shala is a treat and the rest – you just have to cope with it.

29 Oct 2010

Letting It Go…

In some mysterious way, I got sick. I have been supersupercareful here with the food and I have either cooked at home or I have eaten in places, where yogis eat. I mean I have had only one cup of chai and the rice offered my neighbour outside those before-mentioned places and I got sick. I have drank only bottled water and even brushed my teeth with it, but I couldn’t avoid getting sick. Yesterday I laid on the bed whole day, napping, sleeping and reading. I got a little bit fever too, so all my sore muscles hurted and I was quite shaky.

Today I feel much better, but still I couldn’t practice. Three days off is going to feel like eternity. Hah, sounds familiar? Yes, I know that the next practice will be shaky and stiff, but I have to listen to my body and follow the principle of ahimsa (non-violance). I think that this whole ashtanga system is so brilliant, because we don’t start with yama (moral codes), but asana. Asana will teach us among other things about ahimsa. If I am not going to have day off now, I will be violent against myself. So even when I don’t do my physical practice today, I am actually practicing. First I have to learn to be non-violent against myself and later I might learn not to be violent against other people (this includes nasty thoughts). But it’s so difficult to be without asana practice…

I continued reading Guruji book and John Scott (p. 356) talks in it about the people, who are attracted by ashtanga yoga. He says: ”It [ashtanga yoga] definitely attracts people who have a very obsessive nature or an addictive nature. I think that the practice can be very addictive, which is clever.”…”Now when you start working with the addiction of yoga, the not doing yoga is a yoga in itself.”… ”…, the system is always testing you. So I think that these are some of the reasons why Pattabhi Jois puts in the full and dark moon to give us the opportunity to not practice. So the people with obsessive natures are also challenged within the practice to let go of the practice.”

So today’s plan is to rest, drink water, eat properly, take good care of myself and build up my energy for Sunday’s asana practice. You can see that it’s still too challenging for me live only in this moment and not think about Sunday already… Maybe, one day, I will learn.

27 Oct 2010

My 16th Practice

Good sleep! Perfect, because I knew that after good night, my practice would be stronger and so it was. Nice energy today and great spot, too. The only confusing thing was that the unreal guy was again in front of me. This is like a test for me, how well I can concentrate, when there is something really interesting under my eyes. Today I was more focused, but I have to admit, that I couldn’t keep my eyes out of him all the time.

Today was my best practice during this week. Even Marichyasana D on the left side went better than before this week. I really hoped, that Sharath would have assisted me with Supta Kurma, but someone else came. I can’t close my hands alone, but with Sharath I can. This assistant today didn’t try properly to close my hands, she only said: ”Not possible.” Well, the thing is that it’s possible, when my legs are in right position. Today, my legs weren’t properly done, so I felt pain in my collarbone. I have heard, that Supta Kurma is very difficult asana to assist, but I still prefer assistants who say: ”Yes, you can. ” instead of ”No, you can’t.” Yes, one day I can, maybe not tomorrow, but one day I will close my hands alone for sure.

Sharath told me to go in front of the Shala, up to the stand, to do my finishing poses. I have been afraid of that since I came here. I mean, I don’t like to be in front of all people and on the stand you are even higher than other students. I started immediately think, what if I come over in Sirsasana and fall over the person, who is facing me. Or what if in Halasana there’s no floor, but only the stairs behind me. Yes. I start to think really crazy things, when I have to be in front of people. But actually I almoust liked to be there after I got over my first thoughts. The window was open, so I got fresh air and it was easier to breathe. Sirsasana was very still and Urdva Dhanurasana again very strong. Today I got one step forward, because I don’t have to be afraid of the stand anymore.

My 15th Practice and Unreal People

Once again very restless sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night and was awake 1,5 hour. Finally I decided to eat and read, because I wasn’t sleepy at all. I woke up again a bit before my alarm rang, because dogs were barking so loudly. I think that somehow the moonday is affecting still, because many people said, that they haven’t slept well. I started to read Guruji A potrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois last night and I got so excited, that maybe that was one of the reasons, why my sleep just disappeared.

My spot in the Shala was good again, but in front of me practiced a guy, whose practice is the most amazing, which I have seen here, so I just couldn’t do my drishtis properly. That guy is just unreal. His practice is so in balance and his slim, but really strong figure does justice for each movement. I almoust hope that I don’t have to practice near him, because then my own practice will be a mess.

It was very hot and humid today inside the Shala. I don’t mind, if the Shala is quite hot, but humid air gives me really heavy feeling. Ok practice anyway, my back didn’t hurt and Urdva Dhanurasana was strong today. Sharath assisted me with Supta Kurma. I like his style to adjust a lot. He does everything so quickly, that I don’t have time to think too much. His touch is very light, almoust like he doesn’t even touch you. It has been really interesting to read Guruji book, because his students describe Guruji’s adjustments in a very similar way, how I feel about Sharath’s adjustments. Yes. India has brought me already all and much more, what I hoped for. Love, light and lightness really exist here.

What comes to other unreal people here, madam from my next door wanted to make some food for me today. I don’t even know her name, but she just heard from my Indian mother, that I don’t cook, so she decided to cook for me. Every day these people make me smile. Today is an important day for Lord Ganesha, which brings lucky and happiness and I have received plenty of those today. Namaste.

25 Oct 2010

My 14th Practice and Breakfast at Anu’s Cafe

Quite sticky morning again, but good feeling after practice anyway. Today I was in a corner and I felt that I was practicing in the shadows. Sometimes it’s really nice to be in the shadows, but today I felt that I could have used some energy from other people. It wasn’t cold in real, but when I started, I felt, that my body was cold and stiff.

Urhva Dhanurasana was very strong today, but otherwise practice was really basic. My Bhujapidasana is a bit lost here, I don’t know why, but I use to have a strong Bhujapidasana and now it’s very slipery and unbalanced. On the other hand, Supta Kurmasana is a way better here than at home. Sharath assisted me with Marichyasana D on the left side, but it’s still difficult to close. It’s very near, but out of reach anyway. But when I walked back home, I started to smile and thought that it doesn’t matter, that the practice today wasn’t the best one, I had really beautiful day in front of me anyway. Sun was shining and the morning was beautiful. And I heard that one girl, who had a very bad scooter accident here before, came up alone from Urhva Dhanurasana today first time after her accident and it was so cool thing that all the people talked about it the whole morning.

After the practice I had a quick shower and I went to Anu’s Cafe for Indian breakfast. The owners of Anu's Cafe organized this breakfast today exceptionally, because they were collecting money for one of their employee, whose sister is getting married and his family needs to save money to cover all wedding expenses. The place was packed with yogis and we all were really happy to have the possibility to taste different Indian dishes and help this employee at the same time. Food was so delicious and I got a change to try many new flavours and dishes.

The thing, what is really cool here, is that you meet new people all the time and they are really open and social. Like yesterday, I was walking along my home street and one guy waved at me. I didn’t know, who he was (I had seen him before inside the Shala), but I said hi anyway. After a moment, he drove after me by his scooter, stopped, introduced himself and asked, if I needed a lift. This morning I walked back home after the breakfast and one girl stopped me in front of Santosha, started to talk to me and asked, if I wanted to have a breakfast with her. You can only be on the good mood here, because people around you are so joyful and friendly!

Sharath’s Conference, Lake and Glow

I was so tired this afternoon, that I slep over one hour before the conference. I walked to the Shala with Ann and we were laughing, how wonderful it is to sleep during the day and not feel guilty or lazy, because you know, that other people are doing the same. Sometimes you need your beauty sleep and here you are free to sleep, when you like. Awesome!

The conference today was super. Sharath was talking about, how important the healthy body is for your mind. Healthy body brings you the stable mind. It’s important to balance your body and concentrate only to yourself during the practice. Then the asana also comes more meaningful. Unfortunately, it’s often so that a new asana brings you a new pain too, but after a while our bodies change and get used to the asana. Sometimes I feel that ashtanga is like building up a new body for yourself. You have to get rid off old bad habits and weaknesses and start from the scratch. Like Sharath said today, yoga is a lifelong study and experience. I also think that yoga is a lifechanging practice, at least it is and it has been that to me. It’s like opening your eyes and learning to watch more carefully.

Sharath was also pointing out, that first you have to be a student and then you might become a teacher. He said that he has been studying yoga many years, but he is no master and he has still so many things to learn. He also reminded us, how important practice is. He said as an example, that he wouldn’t change his one month’s practice for a million dollar. He is so smart and modest that man.

After the conference me, Maria and Kitty from Chigaco went to the ”Lake”. Lake is great! You can see there Indian ladies wearing sharis and trainers, when walking around the circle. We were really lucky today, because the evening was beautiful and sun was just coming down, when we walked around the Lake. It was very peaceful environment and we had an interesting conversation regarding questions, which the girls wanted to make for Sharath. Often you notice that people are thinking same (or otherwise really interesting) questions than you, so I hope that they will ask those questions later and I will hear the answers.

I think that it’s impossible to explain the magic of Mysore or the feelings here during my own practice or Sharath’s conferences. This is like being Alice in Wonderland or Spark in Mysore Magic World. My friend Matleena just arrived here from Finland and I had a quick talk with her after today’s conference. She said to me, that she had watched me during the conference and she said that I am just glowing. Yes. Mysore is very different, you can’t explained it, you have to feel it.

Organic Food Market

After lovely breakfast (hummus-cocomber-tomato toast and spirulina-fruit juice) in Santosha, we headed to the organic food market near Green Hotel. It’s a small market, where locals are selling for example fresh salads, spinach, basilica, spices and honey. You have to be there on time, because food-conscious yogis are ready to shop, when they see some quality stuff. I was happy to buy some home-produced honey, fresh gouda cheese and strong cinnamon. Now I can have my natural yoghurt with sweet honey, cereals and cinnamon.

It’s quite difficult to find good cheese here, but I got lucky this time. Now I am only missing proper rye bread, which is impossible to find here and I can’t bake it myself, because I don’t have oven. My top five cravings regarding food here are sushi, rye bread, fresh salads, Mami's pulla and candies. Indian desserts are in general too sweet even for me.

You also learn to respect drinkable tap water here. I mean, I am using bottled water to brush my teeth, to have some tea or cook noodles. I have to carry water bottle with me all the time, because I never know, if I get thirsty and there is no shop nearby to buy some water.

I like Indian food, but Indian lunch once or twice a week would be suitable amount for me. I get bored with food quite easily, so it’s great that in Helsinki we have so many different restourants to try. Here is Pizza Hut, which I haven’t tried yet. I have been really careful here with food and I haven’t got ill yet. Yesterday I had my first cup of home-made chai and it was fantastic. When it’s raining or cold, nothing is better than a cup of spicy and sweet chai.

Led Class

This morning was hard. I had a very restless night, I couldn’t get sleep and I woke up many times during the night. The alarm rang at 3.30 a.m. and that was bad. I walked to the Shala and met hyperenergetic Maria. We both watched to the moon and it was big, so this might be one of the reasons, why we both were really over-excited. And maybe after two days off, we just needed our dose of discipline and sweat.

I was practicing next to Ann and I got a really nice spot again. When I started, I felt really tired, but the energy grew during the practice. I got a very good adjustment in Paschimottanasana, which was really deep and I felt that the adjustment was so good for my back. I have been a bit worried about my back, because I have felt light pain in it, but today I didn’t feel pain before or after the practice. I am quite oversensitive with my back, but this is just so long travel, that I want to keep it in good shape. Sharath assisted me with Uthita Hasta Padangusthasana and I was able to touch my knee with my chin. I have to create a lot of more flexibility to be able to close my hands in Supta Kurmasana, but it’s getting better all the time. Today I was very pleased with my Sirsasana, because I stayed up the whole counting and I also manage to keep my Navasana up through the five breaths. Small victories, but really cool ones… But Utplutih, it just not coming yet. It hasn’t been that difficult asana for me in Finland, but here it’s almoust impossible. It’s totally phatetic! And I would really, really like to learn to close my hands in Yoga Mudra, it’s so close, but still so far away. Sharath helped me with it today, too.

After my practice, it was time for a coconut. It’s very good for my recovery to have one coconut after the practice. It gives me enough energy to walk home…hahaa. Today, I watched again the other group practicing Second Series. I really enjoy following their practices and today quite many of them got new asanas. It is also good to see that some of the girls are so strength as well as flexible that they can easily do the Second Series as well as the guys. My favorit asana from Second Series is Karandavanasana. It is so beautiful, when somebody has such a control over his body. It’s very interesting to see, how different body types have their own challenges and how they learn to pass the obstacles and make the best out of their bodies.

23 Oct 2010

Shopping and Indian Head Massage

I think that I made my personal record here, what comes to sleeping. I slept until 8 a.m. Hah. Of course, I woke up around 5 a.m. but today wasn’t a practice day. I saw Ravi later afternoon and we went to the downtown with his bike. I wanted to see, what kind of mats I can buy here and what is the variety of prices and quality. I found really nice cotton mats and the prices varied between 120-350 r. That isn’t a bad price for a mat, which you can basicly use as long as you want.

After that I went to Himalaya shop. I was positively suprised by Himalaya products here. I bought some muscle and joint rub in Goa a couple of years ago, but I started here to use footcare cream and I am now a big fan of Himalaya products. And the prices are so moderate here!

It was raining today in Gokulam, but the rain isn’t really making the air fresh. I am always so dirty after a motorbike ride, because of pollution and dust, that I have to wash my face. I always forget, how clean Helsinki actually is. When I lived in Paris, my skin actually started to react because of all pollution. Gokulam is quite green, but the amount of dust is big, because here isn’t so many asphalt roads.

I met Maria and Ahu later and we went to a beauty spa next to the Shala. I had a head massage with oil and the treatment was quite rough. You know, how it is, when you go abroad to a beauty salon and the level of conversation is ”Where you from?”, ”What’s your name?”, ”Pressure ok?” and that’s about it. I wouldn’t mind just sit still and be half-asleep, but abroad the culture is of course different and you just can’t be impolite Finnish person sitting still and mute. I have to say that the head massage was quite painful. The lady was literally pulling my hair and mumling: ”Lot of hair falling. ”, when she added the oil to my hair. I think that I have never loosen so much hair during one hour, but at least the coconut oil smelled really good and my hair (what was left after the treatment) was really soft.

However, I love to go to beauty salons abroad, because it’s so cheap comparing prices in Finland (my treatment here was 150 r) and it’s always very exotic experience. My absolutely favorit is foot massage, because it’s so relaxing after long tourist walks and nobody can really hurt you, when massaging your legs. I think that I have to now start to build up my courage, because I know that at some point during this travel I have to cut my hair somewhere. My hair was cut so badly in Italy, that my hairdresser in Finland couldn’t stop laughing, when I returned to Finland, and I really hope that I don’t have to go through that again…

Who are they? Wizards!

It doesn’t matter, where I go, I always find the most amazing people. I have always been very blessed with lovely friends, with people, who are real and who have a good heart. I don’t know, why I am so lucky with people, but it seems that all the good ones always come and share their way with me.

Before this week I got a dinner invitation from my American Aimee (I spelled her name wrong before, she is actually called ”the loved one”) and tonight was my first meeting with Supper Club. Supper Club includes great company and delicious food. Me, Turkish (American) Maria and Turkish Ahu gathered to Aimee’s mansion (yes, we call it mansion, because it’s great studio up there and there is actually some open space, which I love so much) and the girls cooked a dinner.

And who are these wizards? There is a little wild cat Aimee, whose heart is pure rock’n roll and yoga. Maria is that girl with big smile. When she steps in, you won’t miss her great legs and exotic eyes. Ahu is a girl with something divine in her appearance. She is so elegant with her beautiful brown hair and colorful tattoos. These wizards are cooking their poisoning dishes, but this poison is good. It makes you smile.

And I can tell that the dinner was easily the best vegan dinner, which I have ever had. Aimee’s tofu-orange-vegetables mix was so good, Maria’s lemon rice with roasted nuts and ginger-vegetable soup was spicy in the way I like, but perfectly soft at the same time and Ahu’s chocolate-coconut milk pudding was the cherry on top. I mean seriously, these girls can cook! I was speechless and loving every second. There is nothing, what would make me more welcomen or happier than smiley girls, laughing, chatting and sharing a meal together.

It’s so perfect to hear about new friends’ lives, their yoga histories and experiences, which they have had before herein Mysore and all around the world. Those girls are real gems and I will save the memory of this night to face the more challenging days of my life. There is no better reason to be thankful every day, than your family, friends and all sweet people around you.

21 Oct 2010

My 12th Practice / Led Class

Tomorrow is a moonday, so we had a led class again. Today, we had two groups, but both did only Primary Series. I was in the second group, which started at 6 o’clock. I woke up quite early and I went to the Shala, because I thought, that I could watch the first group practicing, but the door was closed and I waited outside. Soon came another girl, Mexican Sofia, and we sat on the stairs and talked about yoga. She had practiced rocket yoga before ashtanga. Here is so much fun to hear about other yoga styles, which exist around the world. People have created some pretty interesting yoga styles abroad. Sofia told that rocket yoga is a mixture of asanas from Primary, Second and Third Series.

I am happy with my pure ashtanga and strict limits before new asanas. It just fits better for me. I think that all the time I figure out new aspects towards ashtanga. It’s so brilliant system, that I really want to keep my practice as pure as possible. It’s like behind every asana, there is a meaning. It’s purifying your body some way, it’s a counterpose for another asana, it’s preparing you for the coming asanas in the sequence. Of course, modifications are ok, if you have injuries, and sometimes you can get wild breaking the rules, but generally speaking, I don’t like variations, specially if you still call it ashtanga. Because I am beginner in ashtanga, I also think, that I am not ready to break the rules. If I know the asanas and vinyasa completely, maybe then I can consider some variations, but I am quite sure, that then I will respect this system even more. I like very much the style, how Hanne is teaching ashtanga. She is very demanding, when she knows, that you are able to do the required asanas correctly. And if you are not ready or you have injuries, she will give you good tips, how to manage with the current situation. All our bodies are just so different, that it takes very long time to do even small changes…

Australian Susan gave me a nice tip, what to think about during led class. She said that think that it’s like metronome. Swinging back and forward. When you catch the rythm, the class is definitively easier. For some reason I get easily over-exicited with led class and I want to go forward before the countings. I wanted today twice start the next asana, before we had finished the previous one. It’s like at school, I never listened the teachers. My mind started easily wander outside the classroom and I had no idea, what the teacher was talking about. For me, it’s very difficult to be actually present, not just physically present.

Today Sharath assisted me with Uthita Hasta Padangusthasana and it actually went a bit better than before. And unfortunately, he wanted to assist me with Sirsasana, too. I mean Sirsasana is a killer here. You have to stay there ages and when Sharath is standing next to you, you don’t really want to take it down. I had decided before, that I am not going to be the first person to take it down today, but I didn’t plan to be under Sharath’s eyes all the time. When we did the second variation, Sharath wanted me to take my legs even lower. I was so dying there, but luckily I didn’t faint. And what comes to Utplutih, I am totally hopeless. I mean, I came down before Sharath said one. His one breath in Utplutih is my breath ten times.

But all together, today’s practice felt a bit easier than last week’s led class and I feel now that my two days off are well-earned. Dinner with the girls tonight is so needed!

20 Oct 2010

My 11th Practice

Exhausted. So tired body, my muscles are sore. I had absolutely no energy this morning, but I went to the Shala anyway. I think, that this is one of the things, which people, who don’t practice themselves, don’t understand. That it isn’t actually so difficult to do those postures once a week, but it’s really hard to repeat those postures six days per week. Every morning, even when you don’t feel like it, even when it rains, even when you ate too much last night, even when you have a headache, even when your back is killing you, even when you couldn’t sleep, even when you feel that you can’t breath properly, even when you want to be childish, lay on the floor and cry. Even then, and specially then, you go to the Shala and do your best. And sometimes after that everything magically changes during your practice and you feel ok (or even great) afterwards.

I highly admire those people, who are practicing alone every morning at home. They must have so much more discipline than I have. In Mysore, you meet those people a lot. Some of them have even started ashtanga alone, reading books, watching videos and trying asanas themselves. I feel here ridiculously spoilt to be able to practice in Helsinki every morning with extremely good and experienced teachers. In Helsinki, we have great possibilities to practice ashtanga and we can actually choose the shala (and the teacher) which is the best for us. My home shala has always been in Annankatu (Helsinki Ashtanga Yoga School), but many Finnish students are pleased to go and practice in Moola, Studio 8 and Shanti, too.

I am every day thankful to Annankatu’s teachers. To Taina (Sandelin), who was my first teacher and showed me first time, how to practice Sun Salutations. To Virpi (Karjalainen), who watched over one year me trying to close Marichyasana D, supported me and gave me a big smile, when I finally did it alone. To Marke (Murtomäki), who is so patient and so mellow, that you can only admire her beautiful personality and hope that you could get one day even small portion of all those good qualities, which she has. To Sami (Mälkiä), whose adjustments are so good and to Pia (Lehtinen), who always sees something else than the other and gives you so good advices. And to Juha (Javanainen), who taught me a lot during my first yoga retreat in Houtskär.

And every morning, when I stand up, I think about Fatima (Witick), because Fatima is one of the reasons, why I am here and why I can walk as well as practice yoga without pain again. Fatima is a huge personality, quite character and very inspiring person. During last spring, I learned from her so much about pilates, proper breathing technique, good posture and deep stretching that I will always owe her a million. I can guarantee, that if you take her lesson, she will give you very much hard time, but afterwards you will feel like somebody gave you a jackpot. My advise is that every Finnish yogi should try Fatima’s deep stretching class. After that you are like a new person!

Yes. Today’s practice wasn’t flying. It was sweaty and tired. I did the whole practice anyway, Sharath assisted me with Supta Kurmasana. And I got ”good” again, when he saw me sweating like a pig as well as pushing like a maniac to close my hands (which I actually did) in Supta Kurmasana. I was laughing aloud finally, when I jumped back last time, because I was so tired and sweaty, that I was hardly able to see anything. But hey, it was totally worth it!

19 Oct 2010

My 10th Practice

Today, all in the Shala was very quiet. I got a nice spot near Guruji’s picture. When I started, I had to watch out a bit, because one woman was practising flip-flops in front of me, so I backed off a little and gave her some space. Still every time when I heard her landing, I watched her heels in the level of my eyes. And I hit accidently the guy next to me three times today during my practice. I bet, that he wanted to be next to someone else…

I had very strong and deep practice today. I am trying to learn, how to jump through and I am looking for my point of balance. I am reading John Scott’s Ashtanga Yoga book and I think that jump through is very well explained in that book. This might be the first time, when I got the idea, that I don’t actually have to jump through, but ”jump up to the point of balance, and then sit down”. I have a feeling that jump through is more about good technique than strength. So I just have to repeated it one time after another, so that I will find out, what the trick actually is.

I also like the way, how John Scott explains in his book Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana. He says that: ”The very nature of a tortoise is slow – an indication that this posture is not to be rushed.”. He writes also that: ”In addition, this asana is the ”gateway” pose to Nadi Sodhana, or purification of the nervous system.”. I totally agree with him. Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana are so heavy for me. I was yesteday so tired before lunch and today I fell a sleep after breakfast. The practice is so intense now, that it really eats my energy. I am getting my energy back during the afternoons, but I can already see, that it isn’t really a piece of cake to get my strenght back. I mean, I can remember the time, when my Primary Serie was actually light. Luckily I don’t have to do this in the middle of busy work days and cold weather. And I really feel that I am getting stronger here.

Sharath wasn’t assisting me today, but he still asked, when I was moving to my finishing poses, how everything went, was I able to close Supta Kurmasana and who assisted me. He is so watching me! I have to keep him confident and build up my strength. I am not doing my practice for my teacher, but when I can show, that my asana is stable, it shows at the same time, that my mind is stronger, too. Sometimes I think that ashtanga is like a school for stubborn people. You have to accept your weaknesses, be quiet, take yourself to your physical and mental limits day after day, face enourmous difficulties, repeat same asanas thousands of times, collapse and start all over again. And finally (if you are smart and patient enough) you might realize, that there is no hurry and you actually learn to listen to yourself.

18 Oct 2010

My 9th Practice

Many people were running late today and Sharath wasn’t too happy about it. In Finland, we have been taught, that when you go to a new shala, be always on time, tell the teacher names of your previous teachers, your own name and take a place, which the teacher shows you. After the practice I always try get teacher’s attention to say thank you for the class. I think that nothing really upsets more the teacher, than people who are running late and who don’t listen the given instructions. I also think that it’s so rude regarding other students, if you are late. I don’t want to steal their time with the teacher because of my excuses. It’s also nicer for myself to be on time, so I don’t have to rush so much around.

After the practice I heard quite many people saying that they were upset or tired. Some people said that Monday's practice always tough one for them. I don’t have problems with Mondays. I think that for me the last days of the practice week are always the hardest, because my body is so tired then. Cold weather and darkness affects on me more than the exact date.

For some reason Sharath called me in before the other students again. I practiced this time quite in the middle of the Shala, so there was people everywhere around me. I can see that I am getting used to it and it doesn’t bother me so much anymore. Seems like I am taking baby steps forward what comes to my curious mind. Okey, I have to admit, that there is one guy, whose practice is just so amazing, that it is so hard to resist watching him. I mean, I would almoust like to stop my practice, walk there, touch him and ask, if he’s real. Here you can easily understand, why the drishtis are so important...

I had a good practice again. American woman Lauri was assisting me with Uthita Hasta Padangusthasana. I think that Sharath showed her a mark to assist me with it. She also helped me with Marichyasana D on the left side, which I tried to close first time here. My ankle still hurts a bit, so I have to be really careful with that pose. Lauri assisted in a very soft and nice way, but she made me to work myself, too. Sharath assisted me with Supta Kurmasana. I just started to laught, when he started to move my legs and my hands opened at the same time and he said, that oh, you are doing it in a fast way and pushed me to the sitting pose within a second. Sharath is very funny. Like yesterday, when he kept the led class for the second group, he said (when the group was going forward too quickly) that who said Chatvari? Go back. You hear also often in the Shala: ”Don’t hurry!!” or ”Why you hurry?”, when people are doing extremely demanding asanas and trying to hang on there. Sharath is demanding, but in a really funny and friendly way. All his adjustments have been very light and soft here.

Here every practice is a treat. You go to the Shala, you do your best and if the practice is terrible, you just will accept it and move on. Petri once said that when you are practicing, try to keep a little smile on your face. I love that advise. Ashtanga is serious, but it isn’t that serious.

17 Oct 2010

My Religion Is Love

In Finland, there is going on a huge debate about gays and church and their opinions about each other. It’s written on newspapers, that over 15 000 Finnish people have resigned from church, because of one talk show showed on Finnish television this week, where high profile Finnish politicians and authors of church shared their strict opinions about gays.

I haven’t seen that TV show, so I can only tell that I have nothing against church generally speaking and I have nothing against gays. But I have very much indeed against people who don’t tolerate each other, who don’t respect each others’ opinions and who can tell that their opinions are better than other person’s views. For me, life is too short to argue about religion or sexuality.

I think that quite many of us yogis have faced those wierd looks, when we have told new people, that our hobby or job is yoga. I have heard enormous amount of comments regarding hippy yogis using drugs in Goa and eating only grass. One guy even told me, that he can’t be with a vegetarian. Before this trip, I also received quite many warnings not to become a member of some crazy religious clan in India.

I have repeated to people one time after another, that yoga is for me a beautiful Indian philosophy and an amazing practice, which keeps me happy and healthy. I don’t use drugs and I don’t consider myself as a member of some strange religious group. Yes, I have yogi friends who are religious, spiritual and some of them are even atheists. I love to talk with them and I love to learn from them. I don’t always agree with them, but I respect them anyway.

All I can tell is, that I lav mi gays, I lav mi straights, I lav mi blacks, I lav mi whites, I lav mi reds, I lav mi yellows, I lav mi blonds, I lav mi brunets, I lav mi redheads. I am trying to love my enemies, too. We are all unique, but we are all same. So let’s give some space to each other and try to love a little bit more, please!

My 8th Practice / Led Class Again

So it’s fresh yoga week ahead and new start again! I slept like a baby and I wanted to sleep even more, when I heard the alarm clock this morning. This time I walked to the Shala on time and there was already a good group of people waiting in front of the gate to get a perfect spot from the Shala.

Yes, we are having a led class twice a week now (on Fridays and Sundays) and I can tell that, if this isn’t improving my shape, then nothing will. I was lucky to get a good spot inside the Shala again and this time Sharath let me practice until Supta Kurmasana. I am still amazed about his skill to remember all the students’ practices. I mean, there must be around 60 students practicing at the same time and there he was again next to me, when I needed help with Uthita Hasta Padangusthasana. He was again standing in front of me, when I did Bhujapidasana (which has been my last pose here) showing me with his finger that I can do one asana more today. Sharath is such a professional! He is there, when you need him and let you otherwise flow, when you are capable to do it alone.

It feels like my practice is taking huge steps here. It’s so unbelievable, how much more focused I can be here. There is totally something different in that Shala. I have to agree with Canadian Dave’s view (who has travelled a lot) that nowhere else practice is so focused and intense than here. The energy just is so good in the Shala!

Sharath decided during this week to share our group in two, so after my practice started the group, which practiced Second Series. I didn’t know that we are allowed to watch them, so I was happily suprised after my practice, when I heard that we follow their practices.

OMG! They are so good. Both men and women are extremely flexible and strong at the same time. The group included two ladies, who were a bit older (what comes to yoginis, it’s always so difficult to tell their age, but I would guess that they were 50 something) and I was just speechless to watch their practices. It was so inspiring to see them flying there. Yoga (as well as asana) isn’t about the age indeed!

No Proper Shower, No Washing Machine, No TV, No Internet, No Drinkable Water on Tap, No Makeup…

And I am still alive. I don’t watch so much TV at home either, so I don’t really miss it. I admit that it’s annoying walk to the internet cafe every day and be under those hungry eyes there, but on the otherhand, I feel quite relaxed at home, because I am not online every second. And now I have more time to read proper books.

Yes, I have a shower, but it’s a hand shower and I have hot water only on tap. I can’t drink the tap water so, I have to walk to a shop every week and order water from them. Like I mentioned before, I don’t have washing maschine either, so I am hand washing my clothes every day after practice. If it rains, I will wash the clothes again and hope that it won’t rain again.

I don’t wear makeup, because it’s so hot that it would melt away anyway. I have to wear clothes which cover my knees and shoulders every single day. Microwave? Doesn’t exist. Oven? What is that?

This maybe sounds difficult, but I think that it really isn’t. It’s actually quite relaxing. When you keep things simple, you will have more time to focus on important things. I don’t say that I don’t miss those gadgets, but here it’s okey to live like this. And when I am back to Finland, I promise, that I will love and respect my washing maschine and shower highly!

Like my Australian friend Claire cleverly said one day, part of our daily yoga in India is manage with this India. And smile at the end of the day.

15 Oct 2010

Hunry Dogs Hunting

On my way back home the thing, of what I have red and heard rumours about, happened. Indian, middle-aged man grabbed my breast in the bright daylight in the middle of the street. He was cyckling and I was walking on my thoughts, so he took advantage of the situation. I just walked straight on and didn’t say anything. Everything happened so quickly that I didn’t really have time to realize, what actually happened. I was only a few steps from my home, so I didn’t panic either. I was dressed up according to local standards (shoulders and knees covered always) and didn’t do anything provocative either, but that disgusting dog was only after white meat.

When you walk around here, you can feel the eyes on your back all the time. It doesn’t really matter, what you are wearing, you can still see hungry eyes around you everywhere. It’s enough that you are white and female. It’s so sad that all the people here haven’t used to white females. Some of them have seen they only in pornography films, so they behave according to that.

I have a picture on my laptop as background photo, where me and my friends are in Thailand wearing bikinis, posing in Padmasana (this shooting is one of the coolist yoga memories of mine) and even that picture provokes the guy in the internet cafe to stare at me like crazy. It’s so unbelievably, how forbidden things start to hunt people.

Hopefully one day also women can dress up in India freely without fear to be touched against their will. Before that I can’t move here alone after 6.30 p.m. when it comes dark and I have to watch out even during the days. Otherwise I can be surrounded by thirty guys shooting and touching me like it happened to my American friends here in the zoo. Even permission to take one picture is too much, you have to set up very strict boudaries. Otherwise the dogs will eat you alive.

About Pranayama and Commitment

Today I went to JJS Hospital to see yoga demonstration by our school’s students and to participate to yoga lectures by local doctors and meditation experts. Students did postures from Primary and Second Series and Sharath was at the same time explaining the healing effects of asanas in question. It was awesome to watch closely some nice postures from Second Series. One Indian female doctor gave us quite promoting speech regarding positive health effects achievable through yoga. Yoga among locals here is so much more spiritual practice than in Finland, so the speech was very much indeed focused on, how you can achieve moksa through yoga. It felt that locals were happy to have us here, because all speakers mentioned us on their speeches.

I went for a lunch to Anu’s Cafe again and shared a table with Australian Claire as well as Irish Susan and Simon. We talked among other about Sharath’s view regarding the starting of pranayama. I heard that Sharath’s opinion is that we shouldn’t start pranayama before we have finished 3rd Series. I am not in any hurry to start pranayama or meditation (I see asana practice very meditative anyway), but for some people this is really important topic here. I believe that asana practice is way enough for me, so I can easily agree with Sharath on this.

I think that Finnish people usually don’t disagree with teachers a lot. For us, it’s natural to respect teachers’ views, but quite many other nationalities seems to know all things better than their teachers. At the moment my opionion is that after (if ever) I have finished 3rd Series, I can tell, if Sharath was right or wrong regarding pranayama. Before that I will respect the teachers, whose practices are more advanced in every level than mine, be quiet and just practice. I am not so much in a hurry with my practice anyway. I really appreciated Susan’s opinion, when she said, that Sharath is her teacher and she made a promise to work hard, save money and come back to her teacher every year. So she has been here every year since that and met Sharath also once in London. I think that commitments like that really show, how seriously you take your teacher’s teachings.

Torturing Myself with Led Class Again…

So the beated dog is back. Yes, it’s me. I can feel that I have used some muscles this week. Today breathing wasn’t flying, body was heavy, but the mind was suprisingly ok. It takes quite an effort to motivate yourself for the led class at 4.15 a.m. but it always pays back. Led class is torture, but when you have finished, you feel like queen of the world. During the led class I mostly feel that I want to hit somebody or walk out. Preferably both.

Because I am only doing the Half Primary now, I have to wait that the others have finished the whole Primary. It’s nice to watch others, but at the same time I am getting cold, so I am hoping that I will get all asanas of Primary Series and I can go through the whole torture. Yes, I believe that ashtangis (including me) are sort of masochists and I am sure that ashtangis weren’t present, when the gift of mercy against yourself was offered. This doesn’t mean that everything should be done in a hard way. Of course real pain is different. Then you have to stop immediatly and I suppose that even most of the ashtangis get that. Like Dena wisely said in her workshop, we only have this body, we have to protect it and made the best out of it.

There are different kind of pains. One of my teacher has defined one sort of pain as sweet pain. For me, sweet pain is like playing with fire. If you take it too deep, it burns you, but if you go only close, it warms you. I have always said that ashtanga in fact makes me as a better person. Ashtanga isn’t only asanas, it’s also challenging myself outside the mat, in real world every day.

I spoke an other day with Australian Claire and we both agreed, that what we ashtangis really like and need is discipline. Quite many of us have spent many years (and some of us still do) in demanding jobs like professionals in dance, music, law or medicine. You need the same discipline with ashtanga, which you have experienced during your previous studies. Ashtanga isn’t so much work with your body, it’s mostly work with your head.

So every time when I open my mat, I am fighting. I am fighting against my laziness, weak body, restless mind, too big expectations, stiffness, sore muscles and disappeared balance. I am actually not fighting against my body, I am fighting against my mind. My body is on my side already. The difficulty is to get my mind next to it.

14 Oct 2010

Smelly cat, smelly cat…

Okey, 5.45 a.m. and it’s my Shala time again. The waiting room starts to be packed. I don’t mind waiting, because I will have time watch other students’ practices. But I can’t really concentrate on watching practices, because I can smell pee in the waiting room. Yes, literally pee. Holy crap!!! I heard about this from my American friend, but I thought that it was some kind of like joke. No, it isn’t. Some people here are doing some kind of like urine therapy and I heard that they put their own urine over their body before the practice. This is so disgusting. I can’t breathe and I think that next time I am going to wait outside, if I see those freaks around me.

I consider myself as quite open-minded person, but this goes totally over my limits. I mean, if you want to do that kind of therapy, please do it at home and stay away from other people. And have a shower before your practice!

So today my practice wasn’t the best one, but it was ok. I started from the first row and was next to a guy, whose practice was just amazing. I just wanted to peek his practice all the time. He was one of those persons, whose practice is literally flying. They are like kites or ghosts doing amazing stuff completely effortlessly. Later Sharath moved me next to a cute guy, who did Primary Series, but in so soft way, that my eyes were again watching on wrong direction. Some people and their practices are just so beautiful.

I was tired today and tomorrow will be the real test with led class, so I suppose, that I will face some shaky moments tomorrow morning. But I just have to practice and all will come (unfortunately nobody said that it will come easily…).

13 Oct 2010

I Got ”Good” from Sharath!

I didn’t get much sleep again, but I felt okay, when I woke up. My inner clock is now waking me up around 5 a.m. which is great, because I have to be at the Shala at 5.45 a.m. I think that I got the best practice time, but Sharath might change it earlier later. That will be fine then, because when I will get my sleeping routine normal, I won’t have any difficulties to wake up early. It’s so nice to start my practice, when it’s still dark and come out from the Shala, when the light is there already. Then nature around me is awake and I am awake, too.

This morning there was a little group of students waiting to get inside the Shala, but for some reason Sharath called me in directly when I arrived and I got on the mat before other students. The practice was so good again. My back felt a bit stiff today, but when I walked inside the Shala, everything was fine. I know now during the practice, which muscles I have used during the previous days. It’s interesting that my body feels tired, but at the same time I can already feel that I have got more strength. It’s great to see some results even after so short period. I am trying so hard here, focusing better than at home and the practice is coming back slowly, but very well.

When I closed Marichyasana D alone on the right side today, Sharath was standing behind me and said ”Good”. I felt ridiculously happy after that, because I have been struggling with that asana for so long time and I finally got the asana right. So I felt very special today and now I am fighting with Bhujapidasana to get that good again. I am so gonna beat the Bhujapidasana and let the energy flow! It’s so great to challenge yourself every morning on the mat.

For me, big part of the fun here is talking with other students after the practice. There is ”the coconut man” waiting us outside the Shala every morning, so after the practice we stop there to drink fresh coconut water straight from the coconut shell and chat. I love to hear stories, how people have ended up here, how long they have practiced and which teachers they have tried. It’s so inspiring to hear, how ashtanga is in the States, Canada and Brazilia. I met today an amazingly beautiful Lane from the States, who is missing her kids from home, but who anyway decided to come here and practice. And I spoke with an other American Amy, who is working as theater director back home and who wants to bring her kids here next time. Sharath had promised to teach her kids then. I like the idea that there is growing a new generation of little yogis already. Ashtanga is getting strong everywhere.

Crashing a B-day Party in Green Hotel

I made a lunch date with Amy and found myself in Green Hotel spending Susan’s birthday. I didn’t know that someone was celebrating a birthday, so there I was in the middle of the people without a present or anything. And I thought that I was going to only a casual lunch, but the other people had dressed up, so there I was standing in my T-shirt/skirt/leggings-outfit. Well I got over the shock and told the birthday girl my congrats.

Green Hotel is so beautiful restaurant. It’s a garden full of flowers, where you can sit down under a shed, and have some Indian food. I had Palak Paneer, naan bread and some rice. Food was good, but next time I’m going to have the tandoori salad, which Amy had, because it looked so delicious and Palak Paneer you can have everywhere. I have quite much difficulties to order food here, because I don’t know the dishes, so I am just ordering something what I have had before. I love to eat outside. When I was aupairing in France, we used to eat on the terrace every day until late autumn. In Finland we have to spend so much time inside, specially during the winter, that I want to take every chance to stay outside here.

Our bills where totally mixed up and the dishes came in hazardous order, but it didn’t matter. Nobody was in a hurry and we just enjoyed the day. It was a lovely lunch, but still nothing beats our Ponikerho in Helsinki which is a group of my best friends. We go out for a dinner every second week and talk about life as it is with all its unexpected moves. Oh we girls have had so much fun sharing stories about crazy boyfriends, bad dates and happy marriages! A dose of a dirty girltalk is totally needed and higly recommended every second week. Miss you my sweet candy Marianne, outspoken brunette and hot dancing blond.

My 5th Practice

I slept so badly. I was so energetic yesterday, that I coulnd’t take it easy even during the night. Sometimes yoga does that for me. When it’s the bedtime, I can be full awake, eyes sparkling and mind twisting. I am sure that after a couple of more practices, this problem will disappear, because my body will be so tired and eager to get its’ strenght back during the night. So I woke up this morning 5.15 a.m. as usual and faced the old panda bear on the mirror. Uuh! I hate that panda bear. I put my favorit shirt (there is an owl, which waves its wing, printed on it) on to comfort myself and walked to the Shala.

I thought that my practice would have been a disaster because of the night, but it was good again. Now I was practicing in the middle of the people, but I was able to concentrate on my own practice, which made me so happy. When I am practicing in my home shala, I always want to have a certain spot. I want to be next to the window and preferably next to someone whose practice is slow. If I am next to someone, whose practice is fast, I will get over-excited and my energy goes wild. Then I am jumping like a crazy rat and everything goes mad.

So I found my peace, even when one guy was practicing flip flops so near me, that it almoust felt, that he is going to land on my back and the toe of one assistant was likely to touch my nose, when I did Chaturanga Dandasana. And it’s not even crowded yet! I think that it is so good to learn to practice really near others and later be able to practice everywhere, no matter what. I would like my mind to be so strong, that I wouldn’t really care about, what is going on around me during the practice.

Sharath’s assistant was adjusting me in Padangusthasana. I rarely got adjustment with that asana in Helsinki. Sharath helped me with Uthita Hasta Padangusthasana, which is still so wobbling. After the flights it’s always completely lost, but for me it only shows, how grounded I am. So, not so grounded yet… Sharath’s assistant wanted me to take a grip of my toes in Yoga Mudra, but the problem is that my lotus isn’t normal yet, because I can’t bend my ankle as usual. But Yoga Mudra shows easily, that I am much more flexible here. I think that when the ankle will be normal, I can close the asana.

It’s fun to be more flexible, but it feels like the heat melts the muscles, too. It feels sometimes here, that I am an over-cooked spaghetti wondering, how I can get fit again… So enjoy your day and have some spaghetti for me!

Chanting, New People and India’s People

The school offers also other studies than asana practices. It is obligatory to participate to chanting (singing) lessons. We have chanting three times per week and today started beginners’ class. We are chanting for example mantras, asana names and numbers in sanskrit. Nobody does it alone, so it doesn’t really matter if you are just humming along. I like chanting a lot. It’s nice to sit still for a minute and just concentrate on something. Chanting calms me down and it creates nice group energy. The school offers also sanskrit and yoga sutra studies. I participated here once to a yoga sutra class, but it wasn’t for me. I think that it’s nicer to study terms and sutras alone. And in every case I will be studying philosophy in Thailand, so I thought that it will be enough for me. Sanskrit sounded a bit too demanding, but maybe I will give it a try later.

Today I went to Anu’s cafe again and I met Turkish Maria and American Amy. Both were really nice and it was fun to chat with people whose mother tongue English really is. Maria had been in Purple Valley (yoga retreat center in Goa, which I can higly recommend), so we had much to talk about (mostly about the incredibly delicious food there…). Me and Maria were jealous about Amy’s washing maschine and blender. What comes to Mysore style, she is living in a mansion with all gadgets, when me and Amy have to hand wash our clothes and dry those outside. I have also found the only Finnish people practicing yoga here at the moment. Tom, Juha and Anna are Ilpo’s students from Helsinki. We all had noticed that Helsinki Ashtanga Yoga School really follows the tradition of Pattabhi Jois, because the led class here was held exactly in the same way than it is done in Helsinki. An interesting chat with them too and always nice to use our beautiful, secret language.

I bought an Indian version of People magazine for my evening’s entertainment. The film Eat, Pray, Love is in every cover here right now and they had created in People’s magazine new mantras for celebrities based on that film. For Demi Moore it was: ”Tweet. Shrink. Cleanse.” and for Mel Gibson: ”Yell. Curse. Pant.” Everything is so global nowadays, that there isn’t really a place to hide… Poor Demi.

11 Oct 2010

I Am The Luckiest Girl in The World...

Or at least it feels like it… I love it here. This was my fourth practice here and it feels that I am starting to settle down. I feel more grounded and I wasn’t observing so much voices and other people’s practices in the Shala today. I was focusing on my own practice. For me, it always takes a little bit time to settle down and forget others in the room. I am so curious person, that I would like to see my friends’ practices.

Today everything felt so good. I was practicing next to the door of girls’ changing room. Usually students don’t like that spot, because people around you are coming and going as well as you can feel little breeze, but I just heard Dena’s words in my mind, which she said during the workshop in Stockholm regarding asanas, that just accept the pose. So I accepted my spot and everything went well. I felt the energy between my fingers when I bent down for the first Sun Salutation. Energy is very difficult concept to explain for the people who don’t practice. You just feel it. It’s like touching a cloud. You want to reach for it, but you can’t really touch it. It’s there and it attracts you so much. I think that I have started to feel the energy more and more. It’s like every practice of mine increases the feeling of energy.

And Sharath. He is just so wonderful. I don’t usually bond with the teachers very quickly. For example with Petri (Räisänen) it took two or three courses before I felt that it was okay to be with him. Now I feel that my connection with him is very strong and I can just enjoy my time with him in the shala. With Dena, I felt the connection in the final circle of the workshop in Stockholm and made the decision to see her again immediately after that. With Hanne (Sydänmaa) it feels like the connection has always been there. I don’t have to make any number of it. It’s just there. But with Sharath everything felt so right from the first practice. Maybe it helped that I met him in Helsinki last year. I didn’t expect anything from him, so maybe that’s why everything came so easily.

I am here, it’s good to be here, it’s right time to be here. I am with my teacher.

Sharath’s Conference

On Sundays, Sharath is always keeping a meeting which is here called conference. It sounds so official, but we are just sitting on the floor at the Shala and he is answering to questions as well as talking about topics which he sees important.

Students asked today for example about mantras and speed of the practice. Sharath repeated many times that yoga is a spiritual practice, not competion. You can’t really compete with other person’s spiritual practice. He also explained that ashtanga is a long process and we should take it slowly. Sharath gave us an example that Guruji once gave him an asana and said that practice that asana two years… We can read books about ashtanga, but that isn’t enough. Experience is important in yoga, so we have to go through asana and vinyasa. Asana should be supported by yama and niyama.

It’s nice to hear stories about Guruji and Sharath’s childhood. I think that sometimes I forgot that Sharath and other amazing teachers have repeated asanas day after day and they just haven’t born with their beautiful asana practices. But what can I do, it just looks so easy and light and beautiful and graceful… So Sharath also talked about pain. No pain, no gain. I got the impression that he wanted us to realize as well as remember that yoga isn’t always so easy, but we shouldn’t give up. Even behind beautiful practices, can be lot of pain – and for sure great amount of hard work. I have seen a very cool video by Kino Macgregor related to this topic, where she shows us, how to celebrate little victories. Two steps forward, one step back… Sounds quite familiar, but hey, there is that one step forward still. So my dear yogis and yoginis, let’s bear that in our mind, when we will face boring practices, bad days, ignorent people, arrogant behaviour or annoying injuries. Do your practice and all is coming.

10 Oct 2010

Led Class

I am sure that all my Finnish yogi friends, who haven’t been here yet, are eager to hear, how it is to practice here. This morning I went to the Shala at 4.15 a.m. I was running late as usual, because I didn’t realize, that you have to go there really early, if you want to have a good spot. So I ended up practicing in the girls’ changing room. I didn’t actually mind practicing there. We had only three girls practicing in the room, so I had enough space and I heard well Sharath’s countings. Shala wasn’t extremely hot, but hot enough for me.

I did only Half Primary, so I had time to watch other people’s practices before we did the finishing poses together. Shala isn’t packed at the moment, we have only one led class group. During the Christmas time there will be three groups for led classes. Practice wasn’t different than at home. Sharath’s countings were slower for example regarding Navasana, Salamba Sarvangasana, Sirsasana and Uttana Padasana than at home, but all the exhales and inhales were as usual. I am in very lousy shape after my back problems, so for me Half Primary was totally enough. It only feels so short, but it is still very heavy. I am more flexible here than at home and all little injuries seems to recover during the daytime. Warm weather is doing so good for my body.

Sharath is quite strict with asanas. I can’t close Marichyasana D on the left side at the moment, because my ankle hurts, so I have to stop to Navasana even if I am practicing the whole Primary at home. I think that it is really good that Sharath is so demanding regarding asanas. I suppose that I have got most of my injuries, because I have proceeded too quickly or I have pushed too hard. Everything is in Sun Salutations anyway and I am sure that I will get more asanas, when he thinks that I am ready.

Energy in the Shala is excelent. It’s so nice to practice in the middle of different cultures (only Indians are usually practicing separately during the afternoons). Sharath has an amazingly good memory. He was able to remember my practice after I did it once in front of him. I got the feeling, that he is very demanding teacher, but at the same time you can see that his eyes are full of love. He is joking at the Shala and telling us all the time not to cheat. He has been very present during these first days of my practice. Even when he goes out of Shala sometimes, his assistants (who are participating to the teacher training program) are watching us carefully and then he can come and tell me to do some asana which I forgot before.

So far, so good. I am enjoying the energy in the Shala a lot. I have so much work to do with my practice, but that’s why I am here. I feel very privileged to be able to stay here so long, even if some people are asking me, am I not getting bored staying here five months. Well, some Westeners are living here the year round, so I think that I can cope with a couple of months… And no matter what, this beats Finland’s winter easily!

Santosha and New Neighbours

Oh! I just came so happy. I was walking back home and I saw some familiar faces. I met a Swedish woman Ann, who was with her daughter Emma in Houtskär yoga retreat two years ago. Ann is taking care of Cafe Santosha, which is located next from my door, and she is living in Mysore with her family until March 2011. Now I know, where I can get a good breakfast and great company!

I always love to meet Scandinavians abroad, because we usually have so similar way of life. In Italy my Swedish friend Malin saved me from being homeless and let me move to her place, when I couldn’t find a new place to rent. I am always thankful to her and I specially remember her every Christmas, because we celebrated Christmas together in Rome and Vatican a couple of years ago. And in Stockholm lives my other dear Swedish friend Peter, who was hosting my sister during her exchange year and who became our family friend. Peter has been hosting me and my friends after that quite regularly and I just have to say that Swedish people know, what is hospitality. Even my yogi friends were amazed by Peter’s kindness and friendship.

One of the best things with yoga is the whole yoga community. It doesn’t matter to where I travel, I always find some yogi friends. I came alone to Mysore, but I didn’t worry about that at all. I knew that I would meet here wonderful, new friends. It’s nice to be part of something bigger and see yoga families raising their children among other yogis. It feels like we all yogis and yoginis are brothers and sisters.

I am always thinking all my yogi friends, when I am saying opening mantra every morning. Like I learned from wise Dena Kingsberg in her workshop in Stockholm this summer, this isn’t a lonely journey to take. All yogis are praying together every morning around the world in sanskrit. We are on this road together. Om shanti.

Anu’s Cafe and Rain

It’s Saturday and the ordinary day off of yogis. I woke up here as every morning, when my neighbour was burning his trashes. So I have to light an incense quickly, because I wanted to cover the smell some way. Otherwise, I am sleeping here well. The nights are noisy, but I am using earplugs to cover the barking dogs, construction men and motorbikes. Gokulam isn’t really so peaceful place what comes to the voices.

But today I found this really nice and peaceful place, Anu’s cafe, near Shala. I was having my lunch sitting on the pillows on the floor and listening the rain outside. It poured heavily, so I knew that the laundry, which I washed this morning, was washed again by nature. But it was okay, because rain makes me happy. Air is so fresh after rain and rain also reminds me about my childhood. I used to run outside, when the rain started and jump and feel the mud between my toes.

I love summer, but autumn is a good season, too. My godmother sent me some nice autumn pictures from Finland and I was able to see all those beautiful autumn colours: yellow, orange and brown. What I have noticed here is that India is an extremely colourful country what comes to clothes. People dress up cheerfully. Here everything isn’t so black and white. I think that for me the life was for a long time very black and white, too. But then I found grey and now there is obviously a chance that I will find all funky colours of India. Pink, purple, yellow, red, turquois and blue are easily going to beat the boring black and white…

9 Oct 2010

Moonday, Temples and My Home

Today is a moonday, so there is no practice. During moondays we yogis don’t practice, so it’s like extra day off. Usually that day is needed, but today I didn’t feel tired, because the week has been so easy-going for me. But like they say, sometimes you feel energetic, but you are actually not. So I enjoyed my day off.

I met Ravi and we went to Chamundi hill by his motorbike. I love driving around. The traffic in Mysore is ok according to Indian standards. I think that the traffic works well here. When it’s a rush hour, you can see it, but if you know the ways, there is nothing to worry about. It’s like in Italy, it seems pretty bad, but after a while, you realize that it’s actually working. You just have to know the rules. Maybe later I will learn how to drive myself, but now I am happy to go around with Ravi. So we went to see the biggest temple nearby. Now it’s the beginning of carneval season, so the temple was busy. We drove up to the hill and walked around a bit.

After the temple tour, we went to the place called ”Lake”. It’s like a secret garden in the middle of the city. It seems that young Indian couples like to hang out there. They can be alone there and avoid the curious eyes of their parents. It was a beautiful place, mostly built up, but nice anyway. And I saw there white peacocks first time in my life! You could walk among the birds so that it was almoust possible to touch them. Pollution is here quite bad, so it was great to be in the middle of the nature and actually breath some fresh air. The park was very quiet comparing to Finnish parks. Maybe people didn’t really want to disturb the birds, like it was asked in the signs around the park…

I have already met many really nice people herein Mysore. I am renting my studio from an Indian family (mum, dad, grandmother, a little boy and a jumping dog) who lives downstairs. My home is about 5 minutes walk from the Shala. I love to live upstairs like I lived in Helsinki. There is a school next to my place, so I can hear children playing outside every school day. My Indian family has a little boy, 2,5 years old cutie, who already goes to school. My Indian family is extremely friendly. For example today, when I needed to see a doctor so that I could get the final shot of my vaccination program. The mother of my Indian family came with me to see the doctor, so that I didn’t need to go to a clinic, wait and pay more. I have felt so welcomen here from the first moment I arrived!

8 Oct 2010

What am I looking for?

I had a brunch with my yogi friends in Helsinki two weeks ago and one of my friend asked me, what am I looking for or expecting from this travel. I answered that nothing special. I just want to practice.

After the brunch I really started to think about this question and on the first day of my trip I wrote as my status that I am looking for love, light and lightness…

As long as I can remember I have been searching for love. Love is so pure that I can’t get enough of it. So I am going to follow one of my teacher’s advise and fell in love during this travel. Is my love gonna be India, Thailand, Australia, yoga or what… only time can tell.

So I am looking for light, too. For me, light is the sun. I love sun and summer and I can’t stand winter as well as cold. Sun gives me energy and I am a real summer babe, born in July. For yogis, the concept of light is very interesting. I hope that I am going to see some glimpse of that light during my travels, too.

Lightness is the flow which sometimes comes with my practice. It’s the reason which makes me wake up extremely early in the mornings and practice after practice. It’s physical lightness, but it’s also mental lightness. Nothing to worry, nothing to look after, just stay still and breathe. Like it is written in my best friend’s tattoo: ”Enjoying while breathing.”

Home and settling down...

Friday 1 Oct 2010. First day of my adventure. Helsinki is left behind and I am sitting at the Heathrow airport. Sun was shining in Helsinki today, but London is rainy as always.

I love airports, specially Helsinki-Vantaa. I love to watch people passing by. I can wonder, where they are coming from and where they are going to. My mind is always peaceful at the airports. It is interesting, how very busy environment actually calms me down. I am always happy at Helsinki-Vantaa, because I am either leaving my home or coming back to Helsinki. Nothing beats that feeling, when I am coming back home and I can hear Finnish as well as read all the signs in Finnish at Helsinki-Vantaa. The other possibility is that I am leaving and I am so excited to start my travel. I have joked that my home is actually at Helsinki-Vantaa.

My mum asked before I left, when I am going to settle down. Well, I don’t see that coming… there’s too much to see. And what is settling down anyway? For me home is always in Finland, but I don’t feel that I need a house and some land there to settle down properly.

I like to be moving. I have always been like that. Maybe it is because I have lived in eight different cities so far and I don’t consider any city as my real home city. Or maybe it’s because I left alone for my first summer camp, when I was two years old and I loved it. I never understood my friends who were homesick during the summer camps and called to their mum all the time. I was happy being without my parents as well as I liked to go back home.

Nowadays, I think that my home is, where my family and friends are and they are always in my heart. Like I wrote to the postcards for my friends today, they are traveling with me… in my heart. This doesn’t mean that I don’t miss home or consider Finland as a cool place to live. I think that the difficulty is that when I am in Finland, I miss abroad and when I am abroad, I miss Finland. Who said that I am easy to please?

But for sure, before settling down I wanna travel a bit… and a bit more.