Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Mysore Dream, and some neither-here-nor-there musings about Mysore

The end of the year is a time for reflections on the year that has gone by. For many, it is also a time for setting goals or intentions for the year to come. Since this is an Ashtanga blog, it seems appropriate to use this blog to reflect upon developments in my practice, and in life as it relates to the practice this past year.

Let me start by talking about one thing that I definitely have not done this year: Go to Mysore. If you practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (or even if you don't), you will know that Mysore, India is the birthplace of this style of yoga. As such, among many an Ashtangi, Mysore is regarded as the World Capital of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, and going to Myore to study at the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI) is seen by many an Ashtangi as an important rite of passage.

This brings up the question: Rite of passage for what? One certainly does not need to go to Mysore in order to practice Ashtanga, or even to teach it (although one does need to be authorized or certified by the KPJAYI in order to, well, be an authorized or certified Ashtanga teacher). So it is kind of hard to pin down just what going to Mysore is supposed to signify. Having said this, however, I think it is safe to say that going to Mysore definitely signifies a strong desire on the part of the Ashtangi to deepen his or her practice by seeking it out at the source (or the Mothership, as it is sometimes called).

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I have written about this topic a couple of times in the past (see this post and this post). And if you are familiar with what I have written about this topic, you might be cringing right about now. You may be thinking to yourself: Oh no, he's going to go all existential-angsty about never having been to Mysore and all that jazz again... help! But not to worry; I like to think that I am now past all this angsting. Besides, if I go to Mysore one day, I go. If I don't, I don't. Either way, no amount of angsting is going to change anything, I would think. So I may as well stop angsting. What I'm going to do here is to share a little dream about Mysore that I had recently (a few weeks ago). It was a pretty interesting dream. I don't know what it means. If you are into dream interpretation, I'll love to hear your interpretation of it. By the way, it just occurred to me that Ashtanga is the only style of yoga in which I have dreamt about the practice and its birthplace and its guru: I have had a few dreams about Guruji over the years, although I have never met him in real life. I like to think that this signifies that I have some kind of strong and powerful bond with Ashtanga that I don't have with any other style; for instance, before I became an Ashtangi, I did my own Iyengar-inspired practice, but to this day, I have never dreamt about B.K.S. Iyengar or Pune. Or maybe this is just me being self-important. In any case, here's my recent Mysore dream:

"In the dream, I was in Mysore with my fiancee. We were living in this really luxurious and well-appointed house in a very fancy neighborhood of Mysore, and this house is supposed to be within walking distance of the shala. (I really don't know if there really is such a fancy neighborhood in Mysore within walking distance of KPJAYI; in any case, my dreaming mind succeeded in convincing me that there was such a neighborhood in Mysore, and that we were living in a fancy house in such a neighborhood.). It turns out that the house belongs to this really well-to-do Caucasian couple who live there only at certain times of the year. They have very generously rented the house to us for a very affordable price for the duration of our stay in Mysore.

So anyway, in the dream, it was early Friday morning, and we were planning on going to led primary with Sharath at the shala. But we couldn't remember whether led primary started at 7 or 8 a.m. (I know that it starts way earlier than that in real life, but whatever: This is a dream.). So we tried looking up the information online. It turns out that there were two computers in the living room of the house. We each got onto one computer, and started looking up the information online. Somehow, instead of looking up the information online, I started watching this video-clip. In this clip, my teacher in Milwaukee was explaining in great detail his wake-up routine when he is in Mysore. He was wearing this funny-looking headgear which looked like a cross between a turban and a beanie (a turbnie?!). Anyway, in the video, he jumped out of bed wearing this turbnie, and started doing Kapalabathi while seated on the floor of his room. He was doing it so rapidly and intensely that his eyes started glowing! I was transfixed by the video, and forgot for a few minutes that I was supposed to look up the start time for led primary online. In any case, we couldn't find any information online about what time Friday led primary started at KPJAYI.

At this moment, we looked at the clock, and saw that it was slightly after 7 a.m. Which means that if led primary started at 7 a.m., we were late. But we decided to take a chance anyway, and started out for the shala. We made our way through the neighborhood, which consists of a series of well-kept paths winding among lush landscaped tropical vegetation and ferns. A few minutes later, the shala came within sight. It was a beautiful colonial-style house, in a similar design as the house we were staying in. I was really excited at finally being able to practice in the shala, even if I was going to get chewed out by Sharath for being very late. But then, at this very moment, I suddenly remembered that the shala does not look anything like that in real life. And that was when I woke up from the dream."

      This is NOT how KPJAYI looked like in my dream.
[Image taken from here]

So, well, I hoped you enjoyed my telling of my rather strange dream. If you have any thoughts and/or interpretations, I'll love to hear them.


  1. Great dream! you are the authority of course, the 5 steps I follow for interpretation are 1- First feelings, what did I feel like as soon as I woke up? 2- Write it down and do word association with each word for example:

    I was in Mysore with my fiancee. We were living in this really luxurious and well-appointed house in a very fancy neighborhood of Mysore, and this house is supposed to be within walking distance of the shala..

    I would write the word Mysore, and then any associatioins... in my case, and I am going free association here so watch out, it would be:

    Yoga Shrarath Saraswatti Guruji, old students, teachers, energy, crazy, lovely, want to!, heat, waiting lines, one more!, no coffee no prana... and so on

    for each word, of course you would have your own specific associations

    Then 3- read all the associations and weave a story

    4- See what messages you did not know where there appeared... it might actually not have anything to do with Mysore...

    5- write what you learned

    I love reading about dreams, thansk for sharing this one, a very meaty one!

  2. Thanks for sharing the process of free association, Claudia. Sounds like a long and involved process, but also very rewarding and self-enriching. I'm in the middle of something right now, but I'll take some time soon to free associate :-)

  3. Just loved the :"If I go to Mysore one day, I go. If I don't, I don't"