The 2nd week of yoga in Mysore

Well, well, well… what do you know… I’ve been in India for over 2 weeks now. We finished yoga school early this week because of the moon-day, new years eve and then it was a Saturday, so Vinay has given us 3 whole days off.

My 2nd week on the intensive course was a bit rough as I managed to get a nasty chest infection. You know the kind when your body hurts and you feel the need to spend all your time coughing up your lungs. Yep, within 2 days I was sounding like an 80year old chain smoker. Nice one.

On Sunday morning as I struggled to finish my 2hr class I wondered if this is another ‘cleansing’ phase of my yoga journey. My teacher must have been reading my mind because when he sent me home early he kindly informed me I was not going through any ‘re-balancing’ (like I went through last year), he told me I was sick and suggested I get some antibiotics. Phew! So I skipped class that afternoon, got lots of rest and took plenty of cheap Indian drugs and slowly, after a few days got better.

By the end of the week I was almost back to my usual self. My body has been more tired this week (understandable) but my morning practice has made a little bit of progress. I am starting to get the hang of the primary series again, getting into the flow of things and starting to remember what asana goes where. Back bending this week was pretty good – I did a full drop back (from my feet) and with Vinays help I got into what I think is one of the most beautiful poses (not sure what its called, its like a pigeon but you grab your foot and bend your back). That was pretty cool. Here is a photo from the net (nb:Mine wasnt half as pretty as this one!):

The best thing about it was that in the last few months pigeon pose (the non back bend version) was the most painful thing because of the hip. I was absolutely flabbergasted that I can now do it without pain! Yoga seems to have really helped my hip heal… how cool is that!

So… that’s another week of classes over and I am officially halfway thorough my course. I now get 3 days off before I start the 3rd week, which will be a full 6 day week.

Ps – I just wanted to say, I hope my posts aren’t coming across as showoffy…. The reason why I am sharing/recording my yoga milestones is because I have really enjoyed having my old yoga blog posts from last year to re-read, they have really helped me to reflect on my practice and remember how I got to where I am.

The end of my 1st week of yoga classes

I can’t believe it; the week has passed so quickly! I have already finished my first week of the course. It’s been a great week.

The start of the course was a bit rough as the hip was quite painful for a few days as we tested what I can and can’t do. Then towards the end of the week it started to come right and now I can do a lot more with it than before. What a relief! I was really worried I would get over here and not be able to do much at all. Phew. It is still a bit iffy and it’s very clicky but it doesn’t hurt half as much as it used to, hopefully as I get my strength back it will continue to get better.

The best news is the preparation I did before the trip was well and truly worth it, except for the hip injury and my flat feet growing some arches – my body isn’t hurting much at all. This is a huge contrast to last year when I felt like I had been hit by a truck (check out blog entries 3rd Dec 2008 until 15th Jan 2009 for the gory details). My flexibility is coming back fairly quickly too. This week I was able to get my chest on my thighs for a forward bend, get my chin on the floor in something-aratha-asana (this is a first for me) and I even managed to do a drop back on my knees. It really has been a great first week.

The Pranyama this year is just as challenging as it was last year… I think I have a bit of a mental block I need to break through. I am able to sit for 40mins without pain which is much better than last year but I still find it so hard to concentrate and control my mind. I also struggle to breathe which doesn’t help – who would have thought breathing would be so difficult! All in good time, hopefully next week goes better.

Other than yoga class I haven’t really been doing much… reading, eating, sleeping, washing, shopping for various bits and bobs… etc. Next week is a lot shorter because we get 3 days off in a row (moon-day + holiday + Saturday) so I plan to go and do some touristy things in Mysore. That will be fun… I am thinking the market, the palace, the zoo and the swimming pool at the hotel.

Merry Christmas from INDIA!

Once again, it’s another ‘Merry Christmas’ from India. I hope everyone is having a lovely day with friends and/or family where ever you are. I worked out today that it has been about 8 years since I have spent Christmas in New Zealand, I think next year I’d like to spend it at home. Today I am thinking of my family, scattered around the world.

Christmas in India is nice though, it’s very non-Christmassy…. almost like any other day but there is something a little bit special in the air. It looks like it is a public holiday today, everyone seems to be in a semi-festive mood and the women are wearing the most beautiful saris. What I like about Christmas in India is that there is no overkill of Christmas consumerism. In fact – there is very little Christmas paraphernalia at all, I haven’t seen a Christmas decoration or heard a carol since I left Singapore airport. I did however spot a Christmas cake in Nilgeries (our local supermarket) and I will confess I did buy some for pudding tonight!

So today started like any other day… I boiled some water for my hot bucket shower, I opened the few wee gifts from Kiran and Tony (thanks guys), walked to yoga class, said hello to a few random people (and a few cows too), I did my yoga class and then had pranyama. Then a group of us went to the Mahesh (our local restaurant) for breakfast. My Christmas breakfast consisted of set dosas, grape juice and tea. I did notice the lack of champagne.

Christmas Breakfast at the Mahesh (set dosa)

So now I have some time to kill before my back bending class this evening. So I will do the internet thing, do a bit of shopping and then have a little nap. : ) As far as I am aware there are no plans for a big Christmas dinner. Having said that, it is Friday which means no class tomorrow… which means I can eat less cautiously, hooray – curry and nann for dinner tonight! Followed by a piece of Nilgeries Christmas Cake. Yum.

Merry Christmas everyone – I hope you are having a wonderful time where ever you are!

The intensive yoga course begins

Tomorrow I start my intensive yoga course with Vinay Kumar. Vinay teaches Pranavashya yoga (website), it is quite an energetic/strong style of yoga that utilises the breath to get the most out of the practice. Pranavashya Yoga is a fairly new style of yoga that Vinay has developed so India is really the only place I can study it, this is rather convenient because I really like travelling to India!

I first studied with Vinay as an absolute beginner last year, so the purpose of this trip is to build on what I learnt last year and hopefully develop a good self practice I can do at home. I’ve signed up for the intensive course again, so this means my days for the next month will be as follows:

  • At about 5.30am get woken by the sounds of the call to prayer at the various mosques/temples in the area. I get up, have a bucket shower, have a gentle stretch and then walk to class.
  • Class starts around 7am, we have 1hr 45min -2hrs of Pranyavashya yoga. This is followed by about 40mins of Pranyama (breathing meditation/exercises).
  • I get a big break in the middle of the day to relax and do little chores.
  • At 5pm I go back to the yoga shala for a backbending yoga class which usually last another 1hr45. I love backbending, it’s quite different to the morning class, it’s more relaxed and we get to do lots of back bends which I really enjoy.
  • After class a group of us usually go for dinner at a local restaurant, then after filling up with curry I head home and get ready to do it all again the next day.

So this routine generally happens 6 days of the week. We get Saturdays off to rest, and we get ‘moon days’ off too, this is when there is a new or full moon (something about the energy from the moon not being right for yoga).

The only glitch in my plan is my dodgy hip, I injured it a few months ago and it’s been very painful since. So I am going to have to work around that. Vinay seems to be confident that it’s going to be ok, I am not so sure. I will just have be patient and see how it goes. I am sure it will be fine.

The first few days in Mysore

My 1st day in India I had to get things done. I sorted out my accommodation for the month, met with my teacher, caught up with friends from last year and soaked in the Indian-ness of Mysore. It was fun zipping around in the autos (tuk tuk) watching life in India with fresh eyes. I love city life here, it is so crazy – cows wandering in the middle of the street, crazy traffic, trash all over the place, plenty of pollution and people just going about their daily lives. There is lots of colour, there is chaos and there is order. It is great. I love India.

On my first night I had a pre-yoga massage. I went to see Paramesh and he managed to clear away the jetlag in one session of painful pummeling. It wasn’t quite the relaxing massage I had hoped for, but it was effective! I guess at $25 nzd for 2hrs you cant really complain.

My 2nd day was more chilled out, my friend Gia came over and we spend the day lazing by the pool. It was LOVELY.

Then I moved into my little studio ‘apartment’. I am living next door to where I was last year, it’s simple but nice… at $125nzd a month, it will definitely do.

A little bit of luxury to start my holiday

Wishes for sweet dreams, health and quiet breathing
Somehow when planning my trip to India I knew it would be a mad dash to get everything done on time. So I had correctly predicted that I would need a few days to relax, unwind and slow down before the yoga – so I booked myself into a posh hotel for a couple of nights.

When I say posh, it wasn’t a really really posh hotel. But it was a lot posher than the manky backpacker type establishments I usually stay. This place had real beds, clean sheets, a hot shower, room service and at night they put lovely little mints on my pillow. But best of all (the main reason why I chose to stay at this hotel) is that they have a swimming pool!

The long journey to Mysore

As predicted, the night before my trip I was up till 2am packing getting ready to go. The flight to India was long and fairly uneventful. I wasn’t late (for once) to the airport and I even managed to buy a bikini and some gifts in Auckland before my international flight. Ah, nothing like leaving everything to the last minute!

The flight to Singapore was long but I managed to get moved up to the emergency exit because they had allocated me a non reclining seat which was a disaster for the sore hip, so I ended up having plenty of leg room! I had about 30 minutes in Singapore to get my connecting flight to Bangalore and managed to get a new camera in this time (my old one broke). Talk about power shopping, I was very decisive and picked out the new camera within 3 minutes.

From Singapore I boarded the flight to Bangalore – the kid in front of me was proudly telling his dad in English that all the flights to India ‘always have only Indians on it’. I coughed loudly. But the kid was nearly right; I could count the number of foreigners on the flight on one hand. At this stage, while queuing to board the flight I started to get very excited about my holiday.

I arrived in Bangalore at about 10pm and had arranged a driver to pick me up and take me straight to Mysore. This was a very good idea in theory, but in hindsight it probably would have been better to stay in Bangalore the night. The driver clearly needed some caffeine, he was tired so his driving was erratic and rather scary, he either drove very slowly (30km/hr on a highway) or very fast (110km/hr dodging trucks that were travelling around 70km/hr). I was also tired so kept dozing off… every time I woke up it looked like we were about to crash. Needless to say, it was quite a stressful 3.5 hour drive!

Anyway, I got to Msyore in once piece so I can’t really complain. The hotel was great, they checked me in around 2am and over 24hours since I left New Zealand I got to go to bed in a reasonably comfortable bed…. biss.