Just over a week till India trip 7 and I am getting excited. Those who have never gone ask over and over about certifications and greater permissions and will never know how impossible it would be to quantify this annual transfer of knowledge and self realization. But one more person will now get to experience it for herself. This trip I am taking my student Allison with me.
Answering Allison's questions about making the trip to Mysore has brought back tons of memories and reminded me of all that makes India so special. I hope the answers will help you whether you are traveling to Mysore or simply envisioning this great journey.
Questions for Lara:
What are some of the things to do that you recommend for first time yoga students in Mysore?
1. Get a massage at the 3 Sisters
2. Walk up Chamundi Hill
3. See the Mysore Palace lit up
4. Go to the Market
5. Eat at the Green Hotel
What made you decide to take your first trip to Mysore?
It was my teacher who influenced me to make my first trip.
What are some memories from your first trip to Mysore?
I remember exiting the airport and smelling the air thick with incense. The car ride from Bangalore to Mysore was like a feast for my eyes. I was amazed at all the animals in the road. The first taste of chai was equally unforgettable. I remember going to the shala for the first time and being overwhelmed and under dressed for Guruji's birthday celebration. Feeling shy and dirty! Practice was amazing every day. After that we'd have long breakfasts at Green Hotel and go on day trip after day trip to temples and waterfalls and to visit Indian friends of my teacher. It was exhausting but also invigorating. I stayed with an Indian family. I remember the sounds of the family eating dinner and watching TV at 10PM and the vivid Malaria pill induced dreams. Mostly I remember feeling unbelievably happy and free.
Is there any special yoga ‘etiquette’ at the shala?
Oh, yes. First thing to remember is the shala clock is 15 minutes fast. Set your watch to it when you arrive. If you make plans with someone you have to ask if they mean regular or 'shala time'. Arrive about 15 minutes before your assigned time, which means a half hour before that actual time. LEAVE YOUR SHOES OUTSIDE! You will wait in a little room for people in your time slot to be called. Be quiet in this room. You move closer to the door as it gets closer to your time. It's important to be patient and kind letting those who arrived before you go first, but also to go when it is your turn so you don't hold up the flow. You put your mat down and then go in the changing room to leave your extra things. Make sure to always close the changing room door behind you. Mats are close together. Try not to be in another student's space, but don't fixate on this as it is nearly impossible and you are there to practice not stress. Don't do any poses that haven't been given to you by your teacher including during led classes. After back bending go to the changing room to do your finishing poses. Be silent in that space.
India is conservative. Cover your arms and legs when outside the shala with scarves and skirts over your yoga pants. It's best not to touch people of the opposite sex. A simple Namaste is best for greetings and goodbyes. Stay out of the middle of the street as this bothers India's famously fast drivers.
What is a typical day for a yoga student in Mysore?
There is no typical day, as the trip can be anything you want it to be, but there are common practices. Most people get up well before their time to wash, drink coffee and prepare for practice. After practice it is customary to have a coconut or two or three and sometimes a chai. Breakfast is the biggest and longest meal and there are a couple options of where to go. After that there is time for chanting, studying, reading, touring, volunteering, resting, etc. Around 5:30PM you'll usually see students at the coconut stand for 'Happy Hour' before heading home to watch a movie on their computer or read before an early bedtime. Getting crazy in Mysore might mean getting an ice cream or going to swim at the pool in one of the local hotels.