Yesterday I arrived in Gokulam at 5:45 am. After a long journey - I felt incredibly tired but grateful to have finally arrived. This is only my second visit to Mysore, India, the first time was so emotionally difficult that it is a bit of a surprise that I am back again this year. Last year, being apart from my family was so painful for me, that instead of staying the entire month, I ran away and went home a week early.
This time is different.
This year, emotionally, I am stronger. This year, I have come to realize that the fear of geographical distance, of literally living on the opposite side of the world from my family is perfectly normal. This year I am slowly learning how to transform this fear into faith. Though with all this emotional preparation to set aside a month to practice with Sharath at KPJAYI, this year decided to offer a different set of challenges.
Emotionally, more balanced - physically - well not so much. I am talking physical challenges that were unexpected. The first leg of the flight from SFO to Hong Kong was LONG. Throbbing pain in the low back. Cramping and soreness in the legs. All the regular positions I could take to provide comfort during the long journey, well inaccessible.
When I initially applied to study at KPJAYI for October 2016, I was looking forward to the discipline and rigor of practicing with Sharath. When I hit “submit”, I was ready to hike up my sleeves and get to work. Yes, expectations and assumptions abound, I was ready to rumble.
Well, hello universe. Thank you for another lesson in letting go.
Two weeks after I received the confirmation to study with Sharath, I started feeling sick. Really sick. The symptoms of being pregnant evident, despite my heavy denial that it could possibly be true. But there it was, the TRUTH of the pregnancy test in my face. Positive!
This time - I find that I am asked to let go of this expectation of my "regular" practice.
It started right away when I emailed my teacher, Magnolia who advised me to cease practice in the first trimester. Say, what? No practice? What the f*%k am I going to do with myself?!
It was the first lesson in letting go. I slept a lot. I felt sick a lot, even the occasional attempt to unroll my mat to practice, it became evident that it was NOT going to happen. I felt stiff, moody and turned into pregnantzilla - I felt incredibly "un-yogic" in every way.
(It’s funny, how the timing of this pregnancy lined up. I had eased up my teaching schedule to allow for more time for family, a balanced work schedule and more time dedicated to just being a student for a while. Well, as soon as I went down from 9 classes a week to 2, the morning sickness really hit. Thank you again universe for this fortuitous timing.)
So here I am, in Mysore facing a different set of challenges.
Physically, my first priority now is to nurture and honor the life growing inside me, to maintain balanced health. Even my travel preparations were different - focused on bringing items to maintain a healthy body to support the baby’s health - rather than what yoga outfits would look cute for practice.
So, during registration on my second day after arrival, a funny thing happened which is the inspiration behind this note. After a 3.5 hour wait to register for classes with the boss, I told Sharath I was 16 weeks pregnant. He replied quietly - “so why did you come?”
Initially, I was a bit shocked, second came a sense of hurt. I froze up - even though I knew the answer in my heart, the question just took me by surprise. Mind you, the question was not posed in malice, more in curiosity. Nervous, exhausted, jet lagged and overwhelmed, I muttered something like “oh I didn’t know I was expecting when I applied.”
Heck, I didn't even know when I received the confirmation letter.
So why did I decide to take on the long 30+ hours journey across the world, again missing my family back home to study in Mysore?
To learn Ashtanga yoga. To really learn more about the other 7 limbs, not just the 3rd limb.
Yama - Niyama - Asana - Pranayama - Pratyahara - Dharana - Dhyana - Samadhi.
I came all this way to take the time to learn the Yuga Sutras and to study the Bhagavad Gita under the guidance of a guru. In truth, if I was just simply coming to Mysore for the physical practice, I probably would not have come at all.
Because back home, between being a working mother, wife, daughter and everything in between, there isn’t a whole lot of time remaining each day for studying, chanting, and reading and reflecting on yoga texts.
So, why DID I come to Mysore? Well, truly, the answer is simple. I've come to learn more about YOGA, not just yoga.
With love and gratitude to my teachers and sending lots of love to my family and friends back home.