A Day in the Life of Mysore, India
Interested in going to Mysore, India to study and practice Ashtanga Yoga intensively? I asked Sarah Walsh what her typical day was like for the 5 weeks she was there. We decided to turn her response into a blog posting for those of you interested in what A Day in the Life of a Yoga Student in Mysore, India is really like.
People have been asking me, since returning from my five weeks in Mysore, India how I spent my time. I thought I would share a typical day for me as a Yoga student studying at KPJAYI.
I arrived to Mysore on September 27th in the wee hours of 5:00am by taxi from Bangalore. As my new roomie was giving me a sleepy tour of our “Mysore Palace” sized home, all I could think of was an early morning freshly made South Indian Dosa. After we exchanged some pleasantries I blurted out “So where is the closest place to get a good Dosa?” A smile crept across her face probably partly for the early morning assumption of an open establishment in the sleepy suburbs of Mysore and also partly because a Dosa request was an indication that I was clearly not an Indian traveler rookie. She replied that nothing was open at this time, but she knew a local place and would take me in a few hours, this satisfied my nostalgic craving. It was from that moment we both knew we were destined to get along. It took a few days for me to settle into the Indian rhythm once again. I packed my patience as I ran around town taking care of errands to ensure a comfortable stay. I secured a scooter rental for independence and mobility, I visited the Indian Wal-Mart for all my household needs and I registered for my month at KPJAYI and for chanting and philosophy classes.
I lucked out with not only great roommates but had a spacious place to call home for five weeks. It was a unique experience in that we were directly underneath Saraswathi Jois’s Shala and it was the house that Sharath Jois grew up in. I was grateful for the comfortable accommodation and for the friends I made who had been to Mysore before and new the ropes and helped me to acclimatize.
Upon the advice of one of these new friends, I went early to register to assure that I would get an early start time, which was ideal according to the census. To my horror, I was given the start time of 4:30am Shala time, which was actually 4:15am real time. This start time meant I was waking up at 3:00am and driving my scooter to the main Shala in the pitch dark. The first few days I dreaded being in the first group to practice. I quickly accepted this reality and learned to appreciate it to the alternative of a later start time, which meant waiting in the crowded hallway until a spot opened up and the heat and odor had risen to an almost unbearable degree. Starting early meant a cooler and calmer room and partaking in the opening chant with Sharath.
I finished practice between 5:30 – 6:00 am and drove my scooter back home in darkness once again. There was a lovely coconut vendor outside my house waiting for the thirsty Saraswathi students and I was always the first customer. I would gulp down the re-hydrating liquid gold, strip off my sweaty clothes, hop in a cold shower and collapse into bed for a longer savasana. A post practice nap was necessary to carry me through the rest of my busy schedule.
After waking up for the second time in the day, the sun was finally up and it was time to refuel with a delicious breakfast. Most days I went out to western cafes for western breakfasts, but often I would switch it up with an Indian breakfast of Dosa or Idli. Sometimes my fabulous roomie would indulge us with homemade ragi pancakes (which took a few times to master cooking with foreign ingredients in a foreign kitchen).
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we had mandatory chanting at the main Shala around 10:30 am. After, a group of us jumped on our scooters like a biker gang and braved it into the city for more chanting and philosophy. The drive into the city of Mysore was probably the most stimulating part of the day as I dodged cows, traffic, potholes, people and street dogs while navigating the windy back roads to get to Dr. Jayashree and Narisama’s house for class.
After 2 hours of chanting and discussing the Bagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras I was ravenous for lunch. Our biker gang would usually gather for lunch often for delicious Vegetable Thali, a south Indian medley of curries. Once refueled I was ready to conquer the Mysore traffic and head back to the calm suburbs of Gokulam for Sanskrit class and Philosophy on the Hatha Pradipika back at the main Shala. I finished classes around 5:00pm and would stop off to pick up fresh fruit to make a light dinner of smoothies before I crashed after a long day. My roommates and I would catch up over our tasty and creative smoothies before I would wind down and try to get myself to bed by 8:00pm. The day was full of learning and it was time to rest my head so I could get up early and do it all over again!