A month with my teacher by Matt Ryan.

Week 4

So into my fourth and final week and you know what…? Practice wise, things kind of clicked into place. I wouldn’t say it got easier but maybe I just got used to the heat and I was no longer questioning my sanity each time I got up at 3am. Ashtanga Yoga (I see some people like to add the word ‘vinyasa’ in-between Ashtanga and Yoga – did I miss a meeting?) changed my life for the better – it gets wrongly tagged as some kind of power yoga – yes it is powerful but in the fact that it’s power transforms both mind and body, and this month in Mysore (my 8th trip) again proved to me why I keep coming back to the ‘source’. Think next trip I’ll choose a slightly less hot month…

This last week in Mysore we (Lina, Agnes and I) were joined by my sister Hayley, which helped us to get our backsides in gear and get out of Mysore and do some more ‘touristy’ things. I’m not one for walking round with a union jack hanky on my head and wearing socks with sandals but I actually enjoyed it.

First stop was the tour of the beautiful Mysore Palace. There’s plenty of ‘no photo’ signs dotted around which everyone seem to ignore, people happily snapping away, so I decided to join them. And well you can guess what happened next… a firm hand on my shoulder and a whisper in my ear which I think roughly translates as ‘come with me sonny’. Caught in the act by the Palace Police! After plenty of pleading my innocence I was ‘let off’ with a fine of 100 rupees -which is about £1 (I say a fine, but it’s basically a bribe which goes straight into the ‘sky rocket’ of the officer) The rest of the tour went off without incident, camera kept tucked well away in my bag.

ashtanga yoga mysore elephant blessing india.We also finally got round to visiting a temple, and the ‘Shiva Temple’ at Nanjangud about 30 minutes out of Mysore was a real beauty. Over 1,000 years old it is one of the oldest temples in South India and on certain festival days, devotees from all over India will make a pilgrimage to pray and make ‘Parikrama’ (which means to walk or even roll around the temple in praise of Shiva). Luckily for us we went on a Tuesday morning on a non-festival day – so it wasn’t that busy. I also had the good fortune of being blessed by ‘Gowri’ the scared temple elephant – who places her trunk on your head in a blessing fashion, I didn’t get enlightened but it felt pretty cool. We also bumped into a lady who is said to be 110 years old – apparently she visits the temple every day to pray to Shiva (maybe for a long life).

So I’d like to finish off with a few words in praise of my teacher Sharath Jois. Sharath took over as the sole director of the Shala when his grandfather Guruji Sri K Pattabhi Jois sadly passed away a few years back. Guruji was a man mountain of a person and teacher, I had the good grace of being taught by him a few times before he ‘moved on’ to his next life. So for Sharath to be able to carry on the Ashtanga tradition from his grandfather must have been a huge challenge for him. There’s a great Beatles song called ‘carry that weight’ which is about bearing the burden of people’s expectations, and Sharath is carrying the weight of the Ashtanga tradition with grace, humility and most importantly with his granddad’s sense of humour (the guy is laugh out loud funny – he could almost be a Mancunian). So until next time, a big shout goes out to my main man Sharath Jois –thank you kindly dear Sir, I’ll be back.