Thursday, July 31, 2008

Masala Magic

It's the Thursday before a moon day therefore we practice as if it was Friday today. Very Indian logic. I woke up early for practice and as soon as I stepped out of bed onto the cold marble floor I felt it. A massive kink in the left side of my neck from sleeping funny. As I slowly got dressed I contemplated skipping practice this morning. I couldn't turn my head at all to the left and dipping my head back was completely out of the question. I got dressed anyway and went out the door.

All you can do, is all you can do.

As practice started even raising my arms over head was incredibly painful. I manged to crawl around on my mat and not make too much of a scene. I was glad when it was over. Stopped and had a coffee and then it was on to the cooking lesson.

I must say it wasn't the most stress free cooking lesson. There was a lot of information, and a lot of people so at times it felt chaotic. I was reminded how India food fits so perfectly in the science of yoga. Every spice and herb has specific healing properties in addition to the flavor for the dish. We made dahl (now I feel I totally get it), and cabbage, and spinach, and of coarse chapatis. Which are easier and harder than I thought they would be. After the lesson my friend Tomas and I took a long walk. I mean a really long walk, and now I am so tired. Tomorrow and Saturday are days off and many people have left Gokulam. It is quiet, and that it good.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"You have 10 new messages"

Something told me to check my voice mail this morning. I left an out going message that states that I am out of the country until the 20th of September, so if you really need me email me. Mike while he is on the road has been calling me everyday and leaving me messages. I listened to my husbands voice over Skpe for 10 lovely messages. It was the best!

Definitely settling into a routine. Even the rain seems predictable (kind of.) My alarm clock seems to be playing with me one minute it is working and the next it seems to be broken. Right now it is working. I enjoyed practice this morning and I like have time to tinker with poses and transitions. Pasasana is coming right along and maybe Monday I'll get to add another. I am not getting my hopes up. Friday is a new moon, so tomorrow will be a led practice at 6am. Showing up to the Shala early is very important. One thing I know I am good at is being early. For the most part in India being early isn't helpful, but on the mornings of led practice it is the key to sanity.

After practice I found Lakshmish and firmed up that Sanskrit Level II is beginning on Tuesday. We meet three times a week for the month of August. I am very eager to begin studying with him again. I still haven't decided about harmonium. The best part about this trip is that there isn't this mad dash to get everything started. There is time to contemplate what you want to study and with whom.

I am getting ready to go have lunch with a friend then I'll be off to chanting. Tomorrow I am taking a cooking lesson with Anu. I know a lot of foodies so stay tuned for tomorrows blog with loads of pictures and information about some South Indian delights.

Hari Om

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Juice

Here is the routine so far:




Bucket Bath


Clean Room


Return Email

Chanting at Jayashree’s

Chat and Chai


The schedule will vary slightly next week Sanskrit starts at the Shala. Chanting last night was intense Sutra after Sutra, one Pada after the next. The energy in the room combined with the vibration from chanting is so powerful. Jayashree is a master teacher. When ever I sit with an exceptional teacher I wait for the gem. I think I started focus on this when I would go to Joan White’s class at home in Philadelphia. No matter how frustrating her class could be. There was always a point, a nugget, a gem that I would catch and ruminate on it for days. I know that there is always at least one. When you sit with Manorama she has at least 108.

Jayashree related the idea of practice like learning to swim. She said with the cutest hand gesture and head bob that when learning to swim we all swallow a little water. I think that I swallowed a little less water in Pasasana this morning. As I began to move into the pose I could feel Sharath’s eyes on me and when I turned to do the right said there he was watching me. I bound on the left and the right and he made his way over to me and just said “better.” I’ll take that. My husband asked for a picture of this mythic asana so that he could “see” the story better. Above is a picture of my teacher in a perfect Pasasana.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Oh what a pitiful Pasasana you have

It is the beginning of week two, and yes one week makes a huge difference. I am sleeping through the night and practicing each morning, chanting each night, and no longer in a state of panic about being here.

I think that I am figuring out that traveling to India no matter how many times you’ve done it, no matter how familiar the destination it is a shock to every system in the body. Thinking that you can just pick up where you left of is just silly.

Silly Jilly

Conference last night was so nice. All the students came to the Shala and sat waiting for Sharath. Sharth took a seat at the edge of the stage and we all sat in silence for a bit then he chanted and began to speak about yoga. What a great teacher. This is my first time really having an opportunity to work with Sharath. He is giving me poses, and dropping me back everyday. He is teaching me. I didn’t bring a notebook which I will surely do next Sunday so when I came home I just jotted this in my journal.

Yoga must be connected to Shastra (spiritual text)

Proper breathing (in asana) is breath through the nose





The point that which you focus, the dot, the dot is your soul. Focus on that union.

Sharath after back bending told me he’d help me with Pasasana tomorrow. Can’t wait.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Monsoon Madness

I have never in my life seen such rain. It comes down from out of nowhere hard and fast with a sound quite like a train. And just as quickly as it arrives it ends leaving nothing but blue sky. It is a great metaphor, "nothing remains the same" no matter how rainy. I am really growing into being here and very grateful that I have this time and space to practice and grow.

Today was another led class. Here is the rhythm, Monday through Thursday is a Mysore Practice and Friday and Sunday the class is led. Sharath's led nearly killed me so I took comfort that Sarasvati would be leading my group this morning. Just as I sat down on my mat Sharath came blasting out of the office and heralded, "Samasthitih." I literally looked at the girl next to me and said, "oh shit." Thankfully Sharath just led the chant and then Sarasvati took over. She leads like Guruji with some serious quickness to her count.

This afternoon there is conference with Sharath. I haven't been to a conference since my first visit when Guruji was still so vital and present. I have no idea what to expect, but I'll be sure to write about it tomorrow. Tomorrow I am starting Intermediate with the addition of Pasasana, of all the 2nd series poses I have to work with this is my least confident. Who knows just having Sharath standing in front of my might change everything. Let's hope.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Chamundi Charm

Finally I slept through the night. This is a good thing because today is Saturday and there is no practice so getting up at 2:30 am would have really been bad. I got up and went to have some breakfast and coffee and what used to be Shakti. It is not there same there. Junita still lives there and it is always so great to see her. When I came through the gate she did this little happy prance dance and thrilled me, but also broke my heart because I would love to remove her from this place and bring her home. After breakfast I decided to go with a group to Chamundi Hill. This is the third time that I have climbed this monster of a hill.

Trip #1

Trip #2

This is trip number three. I am in a strange place here in Mysore. I have been here before, but not so many times that I have like "Mysore Peeps" connections. I guess that is what it feels like when I hang out with Michael from last years Sanskrit class. We know each other from here and now we are here together again, so there is none of that weird first time getting to know someone. I am shocked that I am not sorer from led class yesterday, and I am looking forward to getting back to practice tomorrow. The practice here anchors you, so that you don't get caught up in the drama of it all. I just had a lovely lunch/dinner. They tend to bleed together. I am looking forward to a semi hot shower and another full night’s sleep. Hari OM

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Love, Love

First led class. It was a doozy. No, it was a Doozy with a capital D. The second group was to begin at 6am which is really like 5:45am and I know from times past you better get there early or you'll have to practice in the lobby or even worse the changing room. I think I arrived on the steps at about 5:15am. I was the first one there. Our group was not quite that big we utilized only the lobby no need for the changing room. Talk about mat to mat it was the biggest group I have ever practiced with.

The chant was amazing.

When you practice alone or in some very small groups being in the company of so many people, for me is "the juice." Sharath was brutal this morning. The count was so slow. If students came up from caturanga before the count (which happened more I thought it would) we had to hover and wait, and wait before coming up. I think we were in headstand for at least three minutes before we came down half way and then back up. I am going to be sore tomorrow. I don't even want to talk about Utplutih.

Tomorrow is a day off and I have no idea what I will do. Maybe laundry? When I first arrived on Monday morning I doubted everything. My decision to come here by myself, my decision to stay for so long, I couldn't remember what exactly I was here for. Now, I remember I am here to study and rest. I am here to work on the practice of yoga inside of its homeland. I am here to play with effort and surrender. As Mike's mom says, I am here to rearrange the furniture of my mind.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Power Restored

I can't believe how many power outages there have been since my arrival. I count at least four a day. But, nothing feels better than when your battery on your computer is just about to die and the power kicks back on. Somehow it feel just perfectly cosmic. Just got back from having lunch with two lovely ladies. We decided to walk home and for my second time this trip waked into a Monsoon rain. When you only bring two pairs of pants one needs to be dry at all times.

I rode that practice high all day yesterday. In the evening I went to Jayashree's for chanting. It is a great group and some tough chanting. I think that Ashtangi's get a bad rap when it comes to the more meditative practices. Here Jayashree's small room is full of yoga students chanting their hearts out and swaying with the divine. It is so nice. We worked on a favorite chant of mine and Jayashree went word by word over its meaning.

I am still not sleeping all the way through the night. I woke up at 2:30am and have been up ever since. My practice this morning felt tired, heavy, and sluggish. Those words are just qualities and I try not to give each practice like a thumbs up or down, but to dive into the feeling. I think a full night sleep would really help.

The sound outside my window soft South Indian rain. It's so sweet.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Here it is the blog with pictures. Are you ready? So, it is day three here and it is getting better, much better. I can’t emphasize enough the sad feeling I had in my heart and in the pit of my stomach upon my arrival. Really it feels like the first time. The only difference it wasn’t that India knocked me on my butt. What knocked me down like the biggest wave at the Jersey shore was my own lack of confidence in myself. And with the jet lag fading and the yoga practice grounding me I am happy to say that I feel “the point” of my being here is coming into focus.

Last evening I went to Jayashree’s to do an epic chanting session and it was awesome. I went with a Finnish woman who has been so sweet to me. She is a long time student and an Authorized teacher. Really just a gift. In the last minutes of the chanting class it began to rain, no downpour, it was the biggest Monsoon rain I have ever seen. Our Rickshaw driver was supposed to come and pick us up, but he never showed. Another Rickshaw did arrive to pick up two other people and they were so nice and let me and my Finnish friend hop on in from the rain. So four Western adults were squeezed into this ride and the water was just flying around, huge puddles in the street. Cars were stuck, rickshaws couldn’t make it and all four of us were getting soaked. I really wished I had my camera. Next time.

Practice this morning was intense. I bought some fresh millet bread and home made peanut butter (110 Rs) so that I could have something in my stomach. It is so weird practicing that late in the morning and much sweatier. At the end of my drop backs Sharath came over to assist me with the deeper backbends and really just went for the ankle grabbing stage. I think as my fingers lightly touched my heels I whimpered a bit. After the forward bend squash Sharath smiled and said, “Crying?” It is going to be an intense practice with Sharath heading the Shala everyday.

After practice I asked Sharath if I could pay him the balance of my registration fee. He brought me into the office and smiled because I had the exact balance with my registration perfectly wrapped up to present to him. Then the exciting part happened! He looked at me and asked if I was doing Intermediate the last time I was here. I said no. Then he said (are you ready), “Monday you take Pasasana.” I feel great. I thought that I’d have to wait one month before that might (or might not) happen. So there you have it the longest post ever. I am going back to Jayashree’s tonight and most likely every night to bask in the vibration and memorize me some Yoga Sutra’s.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Practing for what?

So, I know the pictures where are they? I haven't had the chance to get my camera out and carry it with me. It has been a bumpy ride in my mind. I am dealing with loneliness I think for the very first time in my life. How do I turn loneliness into aloneness as a way of dating myself?

Practice this morning was great. I felt great in spite of all the other insecurities I have about everything else. It put the spotlight back on what I am here to do. The shala was so full. When I arrived at my given time 8am. I know, no dark predawn walks to the shala. I am really working on how I think this experience is supposed to be. I waited along with about thirty other Main Shala student for the call of "one more" for about another 45 minutes. I need to figure out a small breakfast to eat. Thank God I had a couple of cookies to bite on in my room otherwise I might have been forever known as "that girl" that passed out in the shala. As usual the first practice was a little fast. I'd love to say that I was one with the breath, and with an internal count like a metronome, but alsa I was not. I was however binding in every Marichasana nicely and dropping back and standing up with ease. When Sharath worked with me he just laughed a bit. At least he didn't reiterate the many mistakes making theme from last time.

Sanskrit level 2 doesn't begin until August which saddened me a bit, but I found out about some other juicy stuff in which to become immersed. In a couple of hours I am going to head over to Jayashree's for chanting the yoga sutra. I miss home. I miss the yoga community that I am so grateful to be a part of.

Practicing for what? Practice for Living.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pictures and More Coming, I Promise

I have landed. I am right now in my room that will be home for the next seven weeks surrounded by the best sounds of South India, and experiencing the first power outage of the trip. Luckily, it is just after noon so that my biggest concern is finishing this post before my computer battery dies. My other big concern is falling into an afternoon nap. No napping is allowed at least until the end of the week. I am going to do a small practice just to get the plane out of my joints, register at the Shala which I am sure will provide good material for tomorrows post.

Traveling to Mysore:

Movie that was awful to watch 21

Movie that looked to awful to watch Fools Gold

Movie that was “ok, okDefinitely,Maybe

Movie that had not one likable character in it, not ONE The Family Stone

I already failed at the no napping rule. I just woke up from an hour nap. I really needed it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ok, it's time!

Here we go. Here I go. This is my third trip to Mysore and I can't figure out why I am freaking out so much. This is me packing. This is me trying to fit 9 weeks of material into that smallish carry on bag. This is me freaking out!
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Does anyone do yoga?

OM is nothing but music which is subtle and pure. OM cannot be chanted. Whatever we chant is linguistic OM. Can we keep the moon in our pocket? We can see it, we can point to it, but we cannot capture it. Similarly, the linguistic form of OM is a useful pointer, but the real OM we must experience.

Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati
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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Magic Men

Ahhh, India. Am I excited? Yes. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I ready (whatever that means)? Nearly. I have no idea how this trip will change me. I know it will impact who I am, how I teach, how I practice. What I don't know is how it will re frame what I think I know and what I thought I didn't. At practice this morning I felt myself annoyed with the chaos around me. Chaos, let me define this term. Chaos in practice is students adrift without the anchor of the method. Practice without seed, no breath, no energy connection, and no focus. No seed, no fruit, no Ashtanga Method as Guruji intended.

What to do?

Giving an adjustment in Marichasana C and or D

Step one hips

Step two binding

Step three twist

(I'm just saying)
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Vibrate the heart, practice aaasana on the inside, stay engaged make sounds...Sanskrit Club tonight 7:30pm at Wake Up Yoga Fairmount!
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Thursday, July 10, 2008


I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I loaf and invite my soul, I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, Hoping to cease not till death. Creeds and schools in abeyance, Retiring back awhile sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, Nature without check with original energy.

Walt Whitman
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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Juice

"One hears many things about Pattabhi Jois and the Ashtanga practice but after one engages The practice or is blessed to encounter Guruji, all the talk is nonsense. They are both experiential. It is futile as trying to tell someone what it is like to jump out of a perfectly good airplane."

Joseph Dunham

AKA My Scooby

As it gets closer and closer to departure, I am trying to brush up on my technical skills. I haven't posted with pictures for a very long time and I always need a little practice. Yesterday I posted my favorite picture of my husband from our Yoga/Mexico retreat this spring. I talk about her often in class, here she is my Angie dog!

July Updates:

Sanskrit Club this Friday July 11th 7:30 pm. Come practice your AAAA's, IIII's, and UUUU's

My final class before I become a full time student again is July 19th come and play

I am putting together some workshops that if you have a yoga studio you might just fall in love with! Check back for more details, topics to include, Sound and Silence, Intro into the Traditional/Current Ashtanga Yoga Method, Mysore Weeks, Life (and practice) is full of DropBacks, and vinyasa counting as an entry point for creative sequencing. Email if interested
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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It feels like the first time

As I flipped the calendar in my kitchen ( from June to July I had a mini panic attack. There it was staring at me, "Jill leaves for India!" In some ways I am very ready. I feel like I am teaching on fumes, like there is nothing left to say. My body hurts, it feels tight and tense, so practice is slow and sluggish. I need a boost, I need to relinquish the teacher role entirely and dive back into studentship. I can't seem to catch my breath when I ponder the other side. Leaving this life. Saying goodbye to my comfortable home and the love of my friends and family. My husband and I have been together for nearly 6 years and in that time we have not been away from each other for this long. Here it comes, the panic. Now I remind myself, "whole body relax, whole body relax."