Mysore Bum Tips: A dedicated Ashtangi heads to Mysore to see the Guru, and returns with helpful advice for newbies.
By CJ Jenkins
The following excerpt is a list of helpful tips and lessons learned by CJ, who studied with Guruji in Mysore, 2006.
-Don't worry about coming alone, you will make friends easily as long as you are friendly.
-The food is very good, you won't go back emaciated, and you are unlikely to get dysentery or something like that as long as you stick to the good eating stops.
-Don't bring loads of stuff, you can find pretty much everything in Mysore.
-Tell someone if you have a problem, Ganesh can take you to a doc or sort out most things for you, and other students usually have a lot of good advice.
-If this is your first time abroad you may well feel a little rattled by the experience at first, it takes a few days sometimes to get over the culture shock. You might feel unsettled for a few days but this is quite normal. It's not a mystical "Mysore thing", it would happen anywhere.
-Don't recreate the busy schedule you left behind at home by filling your days with classes.
Leave yourself some time to chill out and do nothing. It's ok to do nothing, you're not at work or having to deal with the responsibilities you have at home.
-There is no such thing as "being ready for Mysore". You go and bring your practice to the Shala wherever and however it is whether you have been practicing 20 years or 2 weeks. Beginners are warmly welcomed, what a great place to begin.
-Don't even start to think about where you will be stopped or if you will be stopped. You came to learn and they will take care of it, at the end of the day you pay the institute to teach you so you don't need to worry about it, let them do that for you.
-Don't even begin to try to understand why some people are stopped at different places. If you can't bind in Mari D and are stopped there and someone else can't either and can go on...that's just the way it is. They have their reasons.
-You don't need to be able to do everything perfectly.
-Don't come to Mysore as a "Yoga tourist"; come with a deep respect of the Shala and the teaching that you receive there.
-It can be hard if you're not used to practicing 6 days a week but it gets easier. The early start also becomes a habit; you might even start to enjoy it.
-Ladies, cover your shoulders and legs or you'll get some unwanted attention.
-It's good to respect ladies' holiday (Guruji advocates it and you're in his Shala after all, so even if you don't usually respect it maybe give it a chance). It's also good to miss practice if you are injured or unwell.
-It's ok to stop your practice early if you need to for whatever reason, just let Sharath, Saraswathi or Guruji know. It's not a crime!
-Take the time to chat to the locals, like your rickshaw driver for example, they are very friendly people. Guru who owns the coconut stand is one of my favorite people for example, and Lokesh my rickshaw man.
-It can be hard but the best thing is to come with no expectations.
-Smile. If you can't laugh at yourself, you're taking your practice too seriously. It's meant to enrich your life.
-Don't obsess about the yoga.
Most of all come with a love for the practice and enjoy it. With the right attitude, you can have a very good time indeed. So...go and write your letter to Guruji.
To read more about CJ's experience, please visit www.mysorebum.blogspot.com. To follow blogs of students currently studying in Mysore, be sure to visit www.ashtangi.net.