So the Mysore question is in the air, anyone practicing in a shala probably knows somebody who is there now, went in previous years or are perhaps making plans for next year.
In the cybershala we have the Mysore blogs, posts on practice, on backbends, being given poses or holding them back, Sharath smiling, teasing, frowning, on arriving, departing, Conference, delicious food, being ill, experiencing power cuts, making new friends, meeting old ones, bloggers meeting bloggers...
Mysore, it's in the air.
From a brief FB exchange, along the lines of 'see you next year' a 'possibly' has turned into a 'maybe' and now it's leaning towards probably and even, Sharath willing, likely.
There's always an 'and yet?'.
I can't help myself, can't help asking... Why go?*
Every answer that comes up contains a logical fallacy.
The practice isn't the same, the teacher isn't the same, the room isn't the same, Mysore certainly isn't the same, hundreds of Ashtangi's fill up the little town of Gokulum and an industry has built up around them.
Is it still a place for turning inwards, if we answer yes, then for how long, where's the tipping point. Best to go perhaps before that tipping point is reached.
In my case, I'm a home ashtangi, I don't even go to a shala. I've never been to a workshop. I'm not that concerned about having a teacher, never seemed important somehow.
I've moved house a couple of times, changed rooms, changed mats, my practice space is a 180cm piece of rubber and I visit it pretty much every day, most often twice a day. Over five years that's around 5,000 hours on that rubber mat, or synthetic mat or, in the beginning, beach towel.
And a whole world opens up once we step on that mat, ....of the work, of will and intention, of play, of discomfort even pain, joy, frustration, satisfaction, monkey mind, stillness, silence, peace, at times oblivion as perhaps we notice we're in Finishing and can't remember, aren't conscious of having practiced the last half of a series, ...experimentation, triumph, failure, perspective, banality, wonder, delight....curiosity, expansive wonder, ineffable glimpses of what it might be to understand something in a non intellectual way, that there might be something to actually understand.....glimpses ....self deception ( a good one), conceit, joyous fear, wonder, again wonder, expansive wonder, best of all, when it comes, of peace.
We can all come up with our own lists, different lists one week to the next (What did I miss, what would be on yours?).
All this on that 180cm stretch of Rubber,
We don't, of course, need to go to Mysore or a shala, we can pretty much work the practice out ourselves in our own back rooms with a book from the library and an internet connection. The magic comes in the practicing of it.
...and yet this line from Kino over at Nobel's blog
'Not everyone needs to go to Mysore but anyone who feels an attraction to the experience and craves a deeper dimension of the Ashtanga Yoga method would do well to place their doubt aside, buy an airline ticket to India and come practice.'
I'd argue that the deeper dimension can be found on your mat on any mat, that you don't need to go anywhere for that but rather within.
Still, 'anyone who feels the attraction... would do well to place their doubt aside'.
Perhaps because it's there, still there, for now ....for a little longer and if not the same, perhaps close enough.
And besides, if it just comes down to the mat then it probably doesn't really matter where you unroll it, might as well be there, the food is good I hear.
I was asked, after all this discussion, here and elsewhere, 'So Mysore, Yes or no?
Leaning towards No, or unlikely.
Reason? Too many people, it's just too damned busy. Perhaps November or March when it really quietens down but then it's quiet for a reason, too hot but might look into that now I think about it.
A Manju Workshop is tempting, couple of weeks in Crete perhaps, wonder if that would capture something of what it was like back in the day, Mysore in the 70s, early 80s. Have this idea that Manju represents an even earlier period, Ashtanga (did it even have a name then) before the west became aware of it, of the 60's let alone late 70's and I'm curious about that.
Sharath's next visit to London perhaps, I know it's not the same but good for tightening up the practice.
And what is this fascination I have with THAT room that I always capitalise, something a little silly about that, it's not even the old shala.
Truth be told I'm quite happy practicing alone at home and with the freedom to balance my Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama practices, ...if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Been interesting playing with the idea though.
UPDATE: If I wasn't put off before http://realizingmysore.blogspot.com/2012/01/packed-more-and-more-students.html
* I know the 'Why go' question bugs people, especially if they're shala Ashtangi's. Perhaps it's something to do with the isolated aspect of practicing at home, the protective cocoon we build around our practice that enables us to practice without the support and encouragement of teachers and shalamates, one reason we blog perhaps or often read blogs before steeling ourselves for practice.
Me, I just don't like people. Actually it's more a case of thinking I don't like people.