We finally arrived in Mysore last night at midnight after two planes, three buses, and endless wrangling of our backpacks. Our hotel is beautiful, though, and we were both able to sleep through the night in hopes of defeating jet lag.
The following amazing things happened today:
1. We showered
2. We bought bottled water to brush our teeth for the first time (I KNOW)
3. We found an apartment, and our landlords are the kindest people ever.
4. We are officially registered with the KPJ Ashtanga Yoga Institute!!
The registration process was quite the lesson in being prepared and keeping our expectations loose. First, we arrived at the Shala and learned we needed passport pictures, passport copies, and payment in cash (also known as a shit ton of rupees). Maybe next time I’ll actually check the website to make sure I’m prepared for registration. Once we had what we needed, we finally walked up to the shala. We were greeted by a room full of Westerners, sitting on the floor and waiting for….something. So we sat too, filled out the paperwork that was handed to us, and peered into the room where a handful of people–including a little KID–were practicing as Saraswathi, one of the two teachers, looked on. Watching a Mysore practice is so peaceful: everyone goes at their own pace, each person getting themself through the practice as best they can, concentrating and breathing and moving. Each person fighting their own battle and dancing their own dance.
We soon realized that we had a choice: practice with Sharath, the current guru of Ashtanga yoga and the man we expected to teach us, at 11 AM; or practice with Saraswathi, his mother, at 5 AM. Thus ensued that excruciating, decision-making, turmoil, unsure feeling, where you can’t get a hold of your priorities and you feel utterly helpless. 5 AM was a better time slot, and practicing with Saraswathi would likely get us more one-on-one attention from our teacher, but everyone else wanted to practice with Sharath, so shouldn’t we want that too?
Finally–after going back to Sharath’s office THREE TIMES to change our minds, ensuring that he knows who we are even if he thinks we are imbeciles–we decided to study with Saraswathi. I feel so at peace with the decision, so happy, so excited. I feel joy, and gratitude to be able to study with such a revered and knowledgeable teacher.
If the last year has taught me anything, it is that expectations are irrelevant, unnecessary, and can only do us harm. Getting excited about the future is inevitable and fun and positive, yes. Excitement is good for the soul! But resting your happiness on one singular outcome is never useful, even if things go just as you expected. I thought the true, authentic “Mysore experience” meant studying with Sharath and being squeezed into a room full of 70 people, doing my best not to kick my neighbor or get distracted by the person in front of me because I couldn’t figure out where they had put their foot. While I respect and honor Sharath and cannot WAIT to take led class with him once a week, I am so happy to be learning from a woman, a mother figure. I think it’s going to be so special and I can’t even express why.
As we relax in our hotel room for one last night before our first day of yoga and our first night in our new apartment, I feel like a kid before her first day of school. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I don’t know what to wear. I hope my teacher likes me. I hope I make friends at recess. And I’m loving it.
I have felt more free today than I possibly ever have. Speeding through the streets of Mysore, being surrounded by such kind souls, going through my day as I want to and not as I have to: it’s the most beautiful feeling. The gratitude hasn’t stopped yet, and I hope it never does. Any fear I had that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate this experience has been quieted and subsequently laughed at. And thank God, because gratitude is the shit.
P.S. the name of this post is a hilarious play on words because we are studying at the K Patthabi JOIS Ashtanga Yoga Institute. I am a wordsmith!!! You’re welcome.