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.

Led Second and Some Poses from Third Series

Something really interesting happened today during the led Second practice. After the last headstands of Second Series, Sharath asked, how many people are doing the first pose of Third. About twenty hands came up and he asked those students to continue the practice. The students looked confused, but kept going according to his count. Some students were shaking, because I bet that they were so surprised that they minds were just spinning around. I was so glad to witness that moment. I bet that Sharath has his master plan too and it is so exciting. The excitement was so thick in the Shala, that we were almoust able to touch it. It was just so cool.

It feels like the things which I see here now are very special, even historical what comes to ashtanga tradition. I am very proud to be Sharath’s student and his oldest students are so amazing. We are part of an unique wave. Sharath is leading a big boat and it’s very interesting to see, where he can take us. I would rather not be anywhere else now. We are diving into the ocean with Sharath, not just sailing the ordinary lines and there are so many miracles to see. He is guiding us well.

My own practice today was hard. I was very tired, when I woke up and maybe because of the cooler weather, my back wasn’t feeling too good. I went anyway for Sunday’s led and in front of me was a man, who had already jumped over my mat constantly during one practice before. I am pretty easy-going person, but with my back and neck problem I can’t take any extra risks, so I slapped his foot every time, when he came over my mat. After two times he got the hint and stayed on his mat the rest of the practice. I bet this wasn’t the most polite shala behaviour, but my health comes first. After the practice he came to apologize me and I wanted to lecture him a little bit about nice shala manners, but Sharath asked our attention, so the poor guy survived without seeing my hot temper.

Today’s conference was cancelled, because it’s a festival day. This is always a bummer, conferences are so interesting and inspiring. But my Finnish yoginis came over for a breakfast and it was good to see them. I am excited about this practice week. This is gonna be a good week!

14 Jan 2012

Strong Yoginis

My dear friend Anriikka just got to Mysore after her adventure in South of France. Anriikka and I met years ago in changing room after practice and our friendship started from that day. We have travelled together before and just talked hours after hours about this practice on and off the mat. We both are very passionate and fiery about things and our opinions often crash against each other. But that’s the reason, why I like Anriikka. She is intelligent, not afraid of an argument and very spiritual. I like to speak with her, because she is talented showing me different sides of matters. Her side is often spiritual, mine is more down to Earth. Anriikka loves to analyze things, I am often too impatient for that. The key of our friendship is that we both highly respect each other. There is a lot of power in friendships like that. Power to test your limits, challenge you and your thoughts.

I saw Anriikka first time here last night and also my other Finnish yogini friends Carita and Anna came over. We had a very good chat about relationships, travels and master plans for the coming years. It will be really interesting to see, where we all are after five years – and with who. If I should describe all of us with one word, that would proparly be strong. Ashtangi women are extremely strong. And this seems to be a problem (or at least a challenge) what comes to relationships. It seems to be rare that men can really stand strong women. Of course we all have our soft spots, but yoginis’ strong will, dedicated practice routine and fearless nature mixed with a good heart seems to be suprisingly demanding for the opposite sex. I can assure you that we don’t bite, but we bark a lot. This practice makes our minds strong and firm. But very lovable, too. What’s the point to agree on everything? Life is just so much more interesting, when you disagree sometimes.

When I earlier spoked about my back with Sharath, I said that I have to become stronger so that my back will last. He smiled. I bet that he was thinking in his head: ”Oh no! One more.”, because he already has a room full of strong Finnish yoginis. Today my practice was strong. So strong that I got fever during the afternoon. The beauty of this practice is to find balance. To be strong and soft, determined and flexible. Scratch the surface to find the hidden beauty.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the balance on the mat and in life. Today I was too strong, but not mindful enough with my practice. Tomorrow I will get a new chance. Time-to-time I like to shake on the mat and shake my life, too. Not having the easiest choice, challenging myself, but in a wise way. This is what keeps this practice, relationships and friendships interesting.

Strong yoginis might not be the easiest choice: they can shake your life, but luckily they know, how to balance, too.

11 Jan 2012

Palms Together

This morning moon was huge on the sky. Sometimes it’s a little bit scary to walk to the Shala during the early hours, because it’s so dark, but this morning moon was bringing light on my path. Early group is now full of new students, but I had no complaints about my spot. I was so focused on my practice, that I didn’t see much else going on around me.

I did my regular practice, but I modified the poses, where the pressure is big on neck. I felt good, strong after four days rest. I did Supta K, I started slowly and then I felt hands on my back. I checked the toes and I knew, that it was Sharath, so I relaxed. I didn’t do maximum pose, but Sharath closed my hands and I did very strong Bakasana afterwards. Sharath came to support my back, when I was doing Urdva Dhanurasana and then all of the sudden, he lifted me up. Sometimes he does things like that. That he does something new before I can think about it or start to resist the pose. But my back felt good and he asked: ”More?” and I said: ”Enough.” He respects my limits very well, but if he sees that I can do something more or new, he won’t hesitate to make me do it. I think that this kind of teaching method only works, if teacher knows the student completely and the student trusts his teacher totally. I don’t need so many words with Sharath (even his English is good), I just need my faith.

I know, that in many yoga schools they don’t teach opening and closing mantras and I remember, when I started practicing, it felt so ridiculous to do the mantras. I was even laughing, because it didn’t make any sense for me. But after I got over that, I started to love opening and closing mantras. I feel that opening mantra brings the energy of the group practicing together. Sharath said during the conference on Sunday, that even when Guruji is not anymore present here, he can feel his energy in the Shala.

With the early group we start our practices on our own and Sharath walks in about 15 minutes after that and then we do the opening together. Practice feels a little bit different after the mantra. It feels like some force is taking me over, my mind turns inside and I am starting to feel the breath in my body. I am doing my closing mantra alone before Utplutih, so that I can have a little break before last demanding pose and then totally relax in Savasana. I don’t know what other students do during their mantras, but directly after mantra I always say thanks to Guruji, Sharath and my Mysore friends. I do the same, where ever I practice. I am very thankful to share this practice with the people in the Shala now and with my other friends, where ever I practice. Sometimes their energy is keeping me up, sometimes I carry them. We all are here together. We all are the same.

9 Jan 2012


I went to see a doctor on Saturday and he did the normal exams for me, where he is stretching my legs and checking out the mobility. Everything was normal again until he had a look of my scans and I could see based on his facial expression that it was bad. The bulge is really big and it’s pressing the nerves, so the worst scenario is that they have to do an emergency surgery. Of course once again the doctor wanted me to take medicine and do some physiotherapy, but I only take medicine, if I feel really bad and I don’t see a point to start physio here, then go back home and do it again with somebody else. Doctor also talked about bed rest, wearing a support belt all the time etc. but honestly I thought that it was just old-fashioned. But of course I freaked out, when he talked about the worst scenarious and should I stop yoga. But he wasn’t telling me to stop, just said that I shouldn’t bend my back.

I didn’t do led class on Sunday, because I have to be more cautious about my practice and I didn’t sleep well. I am planning to do the led classes later here, but I have to feel full-power to go there. Mysore practice is ok, because I can control the speed and I don’t get so easily carried away. But I watched the led Second and now it’s so full that people are practicing on stage. Teija and Pia were doing Karandavasana on stage and it looks scary, because the spots are so narrow and the wall is close. Maybe next week folks will be practicing in changing rooms…

Sunday’s conference was mind-blowing. My only advise to people, who have heard something negative about Mysore or Sharath is to come here, practice and make your own decision after that. Half of my friends including me were in tears during the conference, because Sharath just spoked so beautifully about this practice. Sharath said for example what’s the use to have a beautiful body, if you don’t have a good heart. He talked about commercial yoga (he asked among other what is hot yoga) and talked also about how people are critizising that he doesn’t teach pranayama or meditation. People nowadays just want instant results. He said that his duty is to teach us, he could be promoting, how many students he has, but that’s not what he is doing. He also sort of pointed out, that some people just don’t get this practice, they come here because of authorization or even call him to get it.

There was also one a little bit unpleasant moment during the conference, when some girl asked about teachers, who are teaching in a different way than Sharath and she mentioned for example Tim Miller and Tim Feldmann (who was actually present in the Shala with his wife Kino MacGregor). I think that the girl was either total beginner or otherwise she had something against those teachers. I haven’t practiced with those teachers, but I know that Tim Felmann’s reputation as a teacher is excellent and also the fact that he was present in the Shala during that time should talk on his behalf. I also have many friends, who have practiced with Tim Miller and I can tell that they have learned a lot from him. It seems to me that part of being teacher is to keep your own strong teaching style (even when some students will never understand it or this practice).

Sharath was also talking about the dilemma of two gurus. Two gurus are going to kill the student. That is so true. It is very confusing to practice with teachers, who don’t know this system and who haven’t studied here or learned this practice from somebody, who has been here. This is not some promotion talk for Sharath (because he doesn’t need that), but more a promotion talk for traditional ashtanga yoga practice. We choose our teachers (and our teachers choose us), so I think that it’s good to have a minute to think about that. How deeply you really connect with your teacher?

I had a word with Sharath after conference about doctor’s consultation and I told him, that I still want to practice, because I said that I have to keep my muscles strong to keep my back together. Sharath said that I can always stop my practice, if it hurts. He also said, that I shouldn’t stress too much. I should just focus on my breathing and relax. He also said something personal, which I don’t want to share here, but which just shows me, how special man he is. Why I love Sharath so much as my teacher is that he is able to come on my level (either literally helping me to do the poses on the floor or on conversational level). This is a huge thing with Indian man and guru, because often in Indian culture guru is something very superior.

Sharath has deserved my respect being so humble. His body is beautiful, his mind is strong, but his heart is sensational. And I am connected to that heart.

8 Jan 2012

Half-Primary, Primary and Indian Hospital

I couldn’t get any sleep between Tuesday and Wednesday night, so when my alarm rang at 3 a.m I wasn’t ready for my practice. It was so hot night, but I couldn’t decide, should I keep the windows open or close and my fan on or off. If windowns are open or fan on, I can catch a cold very easily and I made that mistake already once here. But now it starts to be so much warmer that I can actually keep my windows open all the time.
I slept a couple of hours and then practiced at home half-Primary. Practice was better than I expected and I did some extra stretching for hips, too. For me it’s always so challenging to practice alone, I just really like to practice in the middle of the packed room. But it was okay to be at home, keep the door open and see the sun rising while practicing.

I had lunch with Bubba, Yan and Maria. Our Mysore family got a new member, when Shanti from Melbourne joined us. It was funny, because my friend Maria is called Shanti too, so we had female and male Shanti. We went down-town, to one restaurant, which used to be Guruji’s favorite restaurant and the thali there is so good. It was fun to see that group, because it has been a while since I have hang out with them.

This morning when we were waiting outside the shala around four, one Asian girl looked pretty lost, walking around and having a scary look. She came to look at us (about thirty students packed in front of the gate) and Aki, a Japanese girl, stood up and asked, what was wrong. It was so funny, because the girl started to speak some strange language and Aki said to us that she is Corean. No problem, two students stood up and the problem was solved. This just shows, how international it really is here.

My practice today was ok. I got very good from Sharath in Supta K, which of course made me smile. Urdva Dhanurasana is still horrible, but every second upward-facing dog starts to be better. I feel quite strong during the practice and the practice is more stable than in the beginning here. The energy with the first group is so good, we all are quiet, Sharath’s just walks around, does adjustments and you can hear only breathing or every once in a while ”Head up!” or ”Straight legs!” or some other small advices. It’s intense and deep, there is no show, it’s just very basic practice shared with many students. Beautiful…

After practice I took my friend to Vikram hospital. She injured herself outside the shala and we went together to the hospital, because nobody wants to go alone to Indian hospital. Her toe is broken, so it’s going to be around six weeks modified practice for her. After her X-ray, we went to another wing of the hospital, so that I was able to get my MRI. This time everything worked pretty fast and I was standing the scans in my hand within half an hour. And the final bill with doctor’s written report was under 100 euros!

The report was pretty horrible to read. I have four buldging discs on my lower back (L2-S1) and two of those are large plus compressing nerves. And my neck is not strained, there is one bulge (C6-C7), too. I knew that my back is not okey, but I had no idea, that now my neck is also falling apart. And there was reported also lumbar spondylosis.

I went to speak with Sharath about my results and we made a plan, how we will continue with my practice. I will leave some poses out and Sharath will be specially adjusting some poses for me. He understood well, when I said, that I don’t want anybody else to touch me. He asked me, if I have a lot of pain and I asked, if he could recommend some doctor specialized in back injures, who could check my scans and talk about, how I should continue with everything. I mean, I am going to practice for sure, but I want to know, which poses should be left out, should I have a break and is there a risk that I could get paralyzed.

I can take a break from yoga, if it’s so serious, but I won’t do that without good reason. I have tried so many things with my back, that I know, that taking time off isn’t really going to help me. I will get really nervous, I don’t sleep and my body will get stiff. My back likes me to move and be happy. I know, that I won’t lose any skills, because those asanas, which I have already learned are always there (at least in modified form). But I need to get a professional opinion, what I can do and what I can’t do.

So I will speak with Sharath’s doctor friend and let’s see, what he will say. Yoga is always there in some form and I am fighter. This is just one more bump on my yoga road. And there is so long way to go…

3 Jan 2012

Crazy and Competitive People

Even Mysore is not immune for crazy or competitive people. All yogis are not so yogis, even certified teachers can time to time suprise you with bad behaviour. Sometimes it even feels like that some people come here only to have drugs and sleep around. And then they go back home to their spouses after relaxing and refreshing yoga retreat.

During my last trip here two girls went nuts and this time one is pretty close to loose it. She keeps following people, attacking the dogs and shows some body parts, which normal people keep covered. I feel really sorry for her, but there is nothing much to do. I think that some people come here and stop having their medication. As healing as yoga is, it’s not an instant cure for everything. I heard that one year some girl ended up climbing up the tree – naked. So it will better to stay home, if you don’t feel pretty stable already…

It can make you very sad to see those people fighting over spots, not getting along, bossying and bitching others as well as to do anything to get one more pose (or just being jealous, if somebody is getting the pose before you). Unfortunately bad mouthing and backstabbing are here, too. My solution for all this nonsense has been to keep my closest friends very close and let the other people keep going with their drama. When my own friends are fighting, I don’t take sides. It’s not my argument. I am trying to only mind my own business here as well as back home.

Today’s practice was pretty hard. Neck is getting better! Hip/back area is still crazy, but I didn’t do all up-dogs, which helped. I took up two Urdva Dhanuras today, which is still so hard and lifted Setu Bandha, too. Sharath was finally assisting me with Supta K, which made me so happy. His adjustments are just so good. Nothing hurts, it’s just light and right into the spot. First group’s energy was today calmer than yesterday. I think that all those cameras just made people very nervous.

Fingers crossed that this will be my first full practice week. And I am in one piece after it!

New Year’s First Practice and Back to the First Group

My first practice during this year was Sharath’s led. People were going too fast and Sharath kept shouting us to slow down. If we go too fast, he will slow down counting. I am used to this rythm and I know, that I have to wait that he is calling the pose or counting the breaths, so I don’t have difficulties to follow. Sometimes when he forgets to count something, we who are used to his countin keep standing there and wait that he calls the next pose. The count is interesting thing, because once it’s in your head, you can’t really get rid off that. I hear Sharath’s counting in my head often when I am practicing in Finland, too.

Sharath has been waiting me to do Urdva Dhanurasana and he was standing in front of my mat again before that pose. I told him that I am gonna lift up the last one and he gave me the most amazing adjustment. He hasn’t really been assisting me during this trip because of my back and it was just really good to feel his hands and all the support there. He is so soft, it feels like feather is touching you, but the pose is rock-solid. When I was doing the counterpose and bending forward, he wishpered: ”Tomorrow, five o’clock.”

Sunday’s conference was great. I specially liked when Sharath was talking about, how people often critizise that astanga and many other yoga styles are so asana-focused. People keep asking, why we don’t do meditation. Sharath said that dhyana and pranayama are part of asana-practice. Breath and gazing are important, too. Sharath said that yogi without asana is like sailor who doesn’t know to dive. He is missing all the beauty of the ocean. But Sharath was pointing out once again that it’s not about which series you do. Primary is enough, for some people even less. I am so happy to be diving here with my friends and Sharath. And I can tell you, that the ocean is there. It really is.

This morning I woke up 3.45 a.m. I was a little bit nervous, because when I told my friends that Sharath asked me to come five, they were really surprized. And if you go on wrong time, he won’t be happy. But he was really talking to me on Sunday, so when I arrived to the Shala, he called me and Catherine directly in. I got a good spot between Adam and Julia, who both are doing third. I was already a little bit excited about my first practice with the first group (I feel personally that the energy is different with the first group, because most of the people are really advanced and they have been practicing with Sharath for a long time.), but then I noticed the cameras. They were shooting the whole practice as they shooted the led Second on Sunday. And I was in the middle of the room and between advanced practitioners, so I felt like they were shooting us all the time. I was strong today, my hip and back still hurt (and neck is not healed properly either), but nothing really awful at the moment. I still do my little modifications, but I did two Urdva Dhanurasanas today. Really short ones, but at least I lifted up twice. I was very happy to be back and when Sharath was assisting me with Uthita Hasta Padangustasana, he said: ”Tomorrow, 4.30!” So no more sleeping, no more holiday yoga, it’s full on now. And I am loving it!

New Year 2012

… is round the corner. I am in peace with year 2011. It was a good year, full of adventures and great friends. I travelled almoust around the world, found my yoga home in Mysore and valued Finland day by day more and more, too. So many highlights through the whole year. The biggest harm was a struggle with my back, which still continues, but also keeps me more grounded. Life is here and now, you never know, what happens tomorrow, so it’s better to enjoy this moment. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the way.

During the coming year I am hoping to build up my homebase in Helsinki. Even this gypsy girl needs a home. And maybe a cat with her in that home. After this trip to Mysore, it’s time to take a breath in Helsinki and work. Practice will continue as always, hopefully back will heal totally during the coming year.

I wish that my coming year will be full of friends, family, yoga, travels and love. I am ready to stay still for a while. But I wouldn’t be me without constantly planning new travels. It’s sure that I will come back to Mysore, but Paris has been in my mind a lot lately, too. Paris is always option for me, I love the city and I love the language. Maybe I should sign up for a French class again. New York with its yoga megaworld sounds also tempting and so many of my good yoga friends are in California. Today I pictured Barcelona’s summer nights in my head and that carneval feeling surrounded me. And what about tango in Buenos Aires? And geishas in Japan? So much to see, but limited budget.

But the beginning of my New Year will be more work and study based. I have to prepare for one exam and focus on work matters, too. The coming year will be full of excellent yoga workshops in Finland and I am trying to decide, which are possible for me to attend. I am going to practice with Kino for sure, hoping to learn from Maty Ezraty about teaching and maybe get a chance to meet Louise Ellis and Mark Robberds again, too. The coming year will be busy and awesome!

Gypsy Sisters and Hectic Moments

On Thursday my practice was full on. Todd was practicing behind me and noticed that I was totally on fire. I was in front of Sharath’s seat, facing my Guru’s feet time to time. This was my first practice here, when I really tried everything. I have been very careful with my practice not to push too much, just keep it together and heal my back. But on Thursday I wanted to test my limits, strecth my back a bit more than usually and just let my practice fly. It felt so good to just do my maximum and forget all the pain.

Of course this morning I felt my yesterday’s extra work on my spine, but I did some yin yoga before practice and went to wait for Friday’s led class. Saraswati was brought to the Shala (this is so funny that you should see it on your own eyes, because nothing is so cute than Saraswati brought to the shala behind a scooter, wearing her sari and smiling broadly like a little child, just so exited to teach us a class) and we hurried inside to select good spots.

This time class was pretty small and we had more space than usually. But I was in the middle of two men, so the masculine energy was thick and I was ready for the challenge. Almoust nothing is so enjoyable than a led class, when you are in shape. You sweat, you swear in your head and you enjoy every second. Playing with fire, playing with your limits. Hearing the count, knowing the count, feeling every breath and just waiting the pleasure to stretch and feel your muscles in every asana. Nothing else is in your head, just the asanas called one by one and the numbers in sanskrit.

After practice I went home, had a quick shower and went to Santosha with Noora and new Finnish guy Antti. I had my regular bread (fresh bread with spinach, cheese and cucumber), banana lassi with spirulina and chai. And a Skype call with my best friend. Some gossip from Finland after one month was totally needed! I miss you, MJ.

After brekkie I took off with Anna and we headed down-town. Almoust nothing is so exhausting than a day in Mysore city. It’s hot, it’s so noisy, you have to try to stay alive in the middle of insane drivers, cows and yelling people. We went to Fab India to buy some beauty products and then to a bookstore. I got three new books and got pretty excited about that. I have been reading a lot lately, otherwise I think that my brains will vanish on air. After all that fun, real mission impossible started. We were trying to buy a memory card for Anna’s camera as well as adaptor for UK camera charger. I can tell you that this isn’t a little task in Mysore. You walk, you ask, you walk more, you ask again, you try to understand the directions, you walk, you try another shop, you try again, you get the instrucions on paper, you walk, you take a riksha and then you hope that those gadgets, which you found, will actually work. But we made it!

After all that we were so ready for a coffee. It started to rain, but our timing was perfect and we turned in front of Pascuzzi just before the first drops touched our skin. I am so happy that Anna is here. I feel that she is my gypsy sister. Anna is actually Finnish (or Finnish-Swedish), but we met first time herein Mysore. Like my gypsy sister Nea back home, Anna shares my passion for yoga and traveling. Anna has been living in Barcelona since we met here last season and her experiences there remind me about my life in Rome. The beginning in a new city is always a challenge. Get a place, learn the language and find some friends. Sounds easy, but ask more guts than you could think of. But that girl is rocking Barcelona and taking some Spanish classes here, too. It’s so good to have a fellow pitta here. I like smart, lively people around me. Mysore friendships are strong, you hardly speak with the people outside Mysore, but the friendship is there, when you walk through the customs in India to your second life.