Sunday, January 15, 2012

California and Mysore dreaming on such a winter's day

Okay, okay, I live in Florida. It's not that cold compared to the rest of the country, but damn my body reacts to every sudden cold spell that we get. We are going to take practice slow tonight to compromise with the hamstrings.

A few of us from the shala will make a pilgrimage to California in March for the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence, a workshop with 5 senior teachers from the United States. I hear that 350 Ashtanga practitioners will be in attendance, which is a bit overwhelming to think about. I'm really looking forward to sharing the experience with some of my favorite people.

Many folks are in Mysore right now or are actively planning on a trip. Mysore… it seems that there has been a bit of a wave throughout the blogosphere about the benefits of going to India to study- questioning the advantages of uprooting oneself to practice in the bustling and crowded birthplace of Ashtanga (Kino's excellent response here). Why, with so many senior teachers here (175 combined years of practice for the 5 teachers at the Confluence), do people still feel the burning desire to go? I do. I want to go someday. My school-work situation won't allow me to take a full month away right now, but it is something I would like to plan for. The Confluence in March is a way of getting that "full immersion experience" (to borrow the words from Steve at the Confluence Countdown) in the meantime. But why Mysore?

I like the idea of returning to the start of it all to pay respect. Have you ever walked into a place, whether old ruins or a museum, and felt awe because of all of the history contained there? Mysore contains that history- of practice and devotion- of the lineage. Several reactions to the recent NYT article have touched upon the fact that the definition of yoga is being radically altered in the West. A reduction to a form of physical exercise in expensive clothing. My roommate told me last night about the yoga classes offered at the University here- they sounded more like aerobics with no mention of breath or form. Perhaps there's something about keeping the heart of the practice in Mysore that feels right to me.

Until then, I'm very much looking forward to the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence in San Diego. Who else is going?

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