Mysore, where you adorn your scooter with marigolds, and a goat eats them.
Mysore is a medium-sized, picturesque city in southern India. Among Ashtanga Yogis, Mysore is also a state of mind; it’s where you go to become consumed, immersed and washed clean by a month, or two months, or three months of daily practice. Our body clocks are set by what will best support a “good” practice. (Good is in inverted commas because Sharath, our teacher and the successor of legendary Ashtanga Guru, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, recently said, “What is a good practice? Get on your mat and do what you can, that is a good practice.”) We eat, we sleep and we schedule activities (or not), all in a way that will hopefully fuel us through whatever Ashtanga series we’re on. Maybe, just maybe, well enough to be given a new pose.
Being in Mysore, however busy you choose to be, is like a working holiday – you’re there for a reason: to practice. There is also lots of free time, where you’re not tethered to family, a daily work routine, or the chores you’re used to. The chores become a little different – washing your clothes in a bucket and some laundry powder, and sometimes hot water. And this can take all day.
Getting credit for your mobile may be a 5-minute affair or a three day job involving multiple visits to multiple phone shops and it may end in having to buy a new SIM card or even a new phone. Hiring a scooter can take a whole week of “come back tomorrow at 4pms.”
Buying fruit is a trip to your favourite vendor, either a hole-in-the-wall shop or a wooden cart. Life revolves around the Shala (the Ashtanga school), the coconut stand, your favourite breakfast and lunch places, each other’s rooftops, and increasingly, orphanages, animal shelters and other places where yoga students can volunteer time to help.
For anyone who finds this appealing, go find an Ashtanga studio near you and learn the practice. You can turn up in Mysore without any previous experience, but you won’t get nearly as much out of it. Once you’re comfortable with it and you’ve memorised it (give yourself time - at least a year!), find out when the Shala is open and register well in advance. And then…buy a plane ticket, pack up your yoga mat, and take the plunge!