Browsing Tag

saraswati mysore

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Mysore Diaries – Day #15

December 14, 2015

‘Twas my last class with Saraswati and I was super excited.  Because she’s a woman of few words, we have to glean whatever we can about her personality from the little interaction that our practice sessions afford us.  Saraswati is very equanimous.  She has never displayed ego.  She has never displayed displeasure.  Sometimes (rare and delightful occasions) I have seen her smiling.  And never have I heard her rebuke a student, until this morning.

When I walked into class this morning Saraswati was reading a book.  Very intently.  If I wasn’t a huge fan before, I was one now.  Who doesn’t love a person who can’t tear themselves away from a good book?  (Personally, I love all those who try to get in a few more paragraphs in the middle of a work day.)  Finally she shut her book walked into the main hall.  I was up to the seated postures when I heard her speaking to a student:

“Yooouuuu, you don’t want to pratice?!!!”

Student mumbles something.

“Yes yoooouuuu sleeping.  Don’t want to practice?!”

Student mumbles a bit more.

“Always missing from led class.  Sleeping sleeping all the time missing led class!!!”

Student giggles and mumbles something.

“LAZY BOY!!!”

Saraswati walks away and a bunch of us are trying hard to control our laughter.  Someone falls out of the Ardha Baddha Padma Padmottanasana, clearly unable to contain their laughter.

 

Saraswati is sweet like that.  Even when she’s strict and rebuking a student (I’ve been on the receiving end), she doesn’t lose that gentleness.  I get the sense that when she teaches us she does as she would her own children.

When she came to adjust me today, she told me that I now need to start raising my leg higher in the Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana.  She gently raised my leg to show me how much farther up I will be able to lift.

She was clearly in high spirits today.  She asked me how far I’ve gone and I said “uh marichyasana…” and tried to think of whether it was C or D.  “C” I said halfway between a statement and a question.

“I don’t teach Marichyasana C,” she said to me imitating my statement-question tone.  This time I didn’t bother controlling my laughter.  You’ll only know how cute Saraswati mimicking you is when she mimics you.

Then she sat down to help me with Marichyasana D and asked me, “Your last class?”  Yippiee!!!  Saraswati knows my last day!!!  She knows I exist!!! She may even know my name!!!!  I think I detected a slightly puzzled look in her eyes in response to the huge smile that broke across my face when I was contemplating that fact that Saraswati may actually know my name.

Her high spirits remained even when I was leaving.  She was chit chatting about the heat with some students who were standing outside the door waiting for their turn.  When I came out I thanked her.  She asked me if I was going back to Bombay.  I told her I’m going to Bangalore.  She told me her daughter is in Bangalore.  I told her yes I know.  She asked me where I am staying in Bangalore.  I told her and I also told her it’s close to Purple Lotus where Sharmila teaches.  I asked her if she comes to Bangalore.  She said many many times.  I told her I will see her in Bangalore.  She smiled.

IMG-20151213-WA0088[1]

As I was leaving I heard her calling out to a guy standing near the naariyal paani wallah.  

“Where you from?”

“I live in Delhi,” said the guy who was originally from Manipur.

“Ooooooohhhhh I thought Chinese,” said Sarawati before heading back into her shala.

My journey with Asthanga yoga continues in tomorrow, in Bangalore at the Purple Lotus.

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Mysore Diaries – Day #5

December 4, 2015

The irony of practicing here is that even though the asanas are the same every single day, every day is different from the one before.  So today was an exceptionally long practice session for me.  I started with the warm up and then started practicing the asanas.  It felt like it was a long time before Saraswati came to me and taught me the Utthita Hasta Padangushthasana.  And then she left me to practice for what again felt like a really really long time.  When she finally dismissed me for the Savasana, I was surprised to note that I didn’t feel tired.  Instead, despite the intense practice, I felt stronger.  Maybe now I’m getting attuned to the subtle changes happening in my body.

IMG-20151123-WA0015[1]

We had chanting class again today.  So far we’ve just practiced chanting from the same handouts.  Some of the shlokas are ones that I’ve done before in other classes/workshops, but for some reason I’m not too crazy about the slow sonorous pace at which we chant here. 

Also, I’ve finally started to read ‘Yoga Makarand: The Nectar of Yoga’ by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.  This book has been on my TBR list for so long and I finally pulled it out because what’s a better time to read it than when you’re immersed in Ashtanga yoga in his ashram.  The book has a forward by Shri BKS Iyengar!  And it has an interesting foreword (yes I read books cover to cover).  The foreword covers the history of how T. Krishnamacharya started to teach.  It mentions titbits about the attempts of translating his works by his students.  It has old pictures!!!  I have this book on my Kindle, but I think it’s worth getting a hard copy as well!

Saturday is a holiday at the shala so I think I’ll spend the rest of the day parked in front of the TV binge watching Bollywood movies!

IMG-20151124-WA0000[1]

 

Lifestyle Travel Yoga

Mysore Diaries – Day #4

December 3, 2015

I’ve been sleeping so much during the day that I’m unable to fall asleep in the night.  When I finally fell asleep last night it was after 12 and I only got 4 hours of sleep.  The funny thing is that I was still able to give a 100% during class.  I didn’t feel fatigued or tired.  Plus, I got there early enough to not have to place my mat right in front of the door!!!  I pushed myself through the 20 Surya Namaskars, practiced the Pada Hastasana (from yesterday).  As if on cue, Saraswati appeared to guide me through the Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Utthita Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose), Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend), and the Parsvottansana (Intense Side Stretch).  I’m glad we’re not doing more than an asana a day!    During the practice a lot of questions fill my mind.  The style of teaching here is very different from what I’m used to.  In my Iyengar class we pay minute attention to detail.  Here we focus on breath.  There we use props, here the most I’ve seen people use is a yoga towel.  There the teacher demonstrates, here the cues are all verbal.  There the instructions are detailed and very specific, here the cues are not even complete sentences.  The differences are more than I can verbalize, but the interesting thing is that these differences don’t dim my enthusiasm for the classes.  I’m still eager to learn and internalize and haven’t dismissed this style as ‘not for me’.  I’ve read in other blogs that there is an energy and a power in this place that transfixes you.  Maybe I’m under the spell?

And truth be told, I’m kind of surprised at my approach to this class.  I’m sort of a type A personality.  There are always a million books to be read and many more to be written.  There are 840,000 asanas to be learnt!  My practice barely scratches the surface.  However, here at ‘the source’ of Ashtanga yoga, I’m completely laid back.  I only practice once a day, I’m hardly reading about the practice and philosophy, and I’m not even badgering the teacher to teach me MORE.  I’m kind of allowing the teacher to set the pace for me.  And today, post the Savasana, when I heard another student asking Saraswati to teach him specific asanas he was interested in, I realized what was the matter with me.

I believe a yoga teacher is a yoga student too.  And a good student is a good teacher.  I’ve noticed that over the years I have become intensely selective about the yoga classes/workshops I attend.  If my heart is not in it, I won’t go.   The teacher may have a large following and might have a million publications.  The teacher may have huge hoardings all over the city and lots of endorsements.  However, I will only go to a teacher who I feel a sense of grounding with.  A sense of living in this world in spite of the problems, and not as a means of escaping from the problems that plague our world.  And over the years I feel I’ve managed to ‘hear’ such teachers out and I’ve tuned out the rest of the din.  And I’ve tried to cultivate a practice which rings true with me, under the tutelage of all the teachers who I resonate with.  After all, if you want to build something, the most important thing you need is a strong foundation.  So perhaps it is with this mind-set that I came here.  I know all these teachers are experienced and reputed.  I’ve read a lot about the lineage and the method (although I’ve discounted stories about how ‘power’ and the ‘energy’ and the ‘vibe’ because that’s purely subjective).  And when I finally applied to practice here, I came as a student would come to a guru.  For guidance.  Because I don’t ‘try’ teachers or ‘experiment’ with teachings, I feel that when I go to a teacher I’m open and receptive.  I feel that it is not for me to question the teacher or to tell the teacher what they should tell me.  As a student I listen a lot and I will do whatever the teacher asks of me.  As a thinking person I sift through what the teacher has imparted.  Some things I retain and incorporate into my personal practice, while others I retain as philosophies that also exist.  I’ve read somewhere that a student has to surrender completely to a guru.  I think that makes sense to me now.  When I go to Saraswati’s class I’m just a student awaiting guidance.  She has been teaching for long enough to be able to observe a student and guide her accordingly.

Also, at some level I feel that if you bring the ‘I’ to a teacher, then you are at some level obliterating the teacher.  And that’s a pretty valuable thing to obliterate.  Which is why I don’t go to teachers to tell them that I can do so and so asanas.  A good teacher can tell.  In fact, a good teacher will make you realize that you can do even that which you weren’t aware you already could.