Thursday, November 15, 2012

This might be interesting to read if you are a Mysore Virgin...

And plan on losing it sometime in the future. I just came across this recent Elephant Journal article by Genny Wilkinson, in which she offers some hints and tips about what to expect on your first Mysore trip in a tongue-in-cheek tone (at least, I think her tone is tongue-in-cheek; some of her commenters don't seem to think so... sometimes I think that people who comment on blogs and articles take themselves a wee bit too seriously...)

(UPDATE: The link to the Elephant Journal article did not link to the correct article... my bad. It has since been corrected, as of 1:41 p.m. Central, Thursday November 15th. Happy reading :-))

But anyway, I think that at least some of you out there might find Wilkinson's perspective to be useful and interesting, not least because like many of us, she was prevented from making the trip to Mysore for a long time by real-world householder duties. For example, she writes:

"Until a couple months ago, I possessed a dirty little secret: I’d never been to Mysore, India—a pilgrimage for serious practitioners of Ashtanga Yoga...

Hard-core ashtangis aren’t worth their weight in salt unless they’ve been to “the source” where the KPJ Ashtanga Yoga Institute is situated. I’ve been ridiculed, marginalized and ignored when the truth comes out. Not by everyone, mind you, but the judgment that I wasn’t to be taken seriously as a practitioner, or a teacher, was always lurking in the background.

So why hadn’t I gone?

Simple, really. Four children in six years, three intercontinental moves and three career jumps. I simply didn’t have the time, or money to abandon four babies for a month-long jaunt in India.
But gradually the babies grew into boys and became less dependent on me, and I became more financially secure. And this summer, finally, I did it."

That part about not being worth one's weight in salt unless one has been to the source should, in my opinion, be taken as an instance of the self-deprecating, self-directed semi-caustic humor that seems to be characteristic of many British I've met. I don't think  it is meant to be taken as a straightfaced condemnation of Ashtangis who have not made the trip.

In any case, as a sidenote, if you are in the interesting position of being a Mysore Virgin who is a little self-conscious about your Mysore Virginity (and are also understandably nervous about what non-virgins might think about your status), here's something you can do to alleviate this condition: Start a blog, and broadcast your Mysore Virginity to the rest of the world, like I have done. You might still get a few snarky comments now and then from Virgin-haters, but at least you have, you know, come out of the closet. And coming out of the Virgin-closet is an empowering move in and of itself. Just a suggestion.  

Anyway, the rest of Wilkinson's article also offers glimpses of what to expect and do/don't do when practicing in the shala in the presence of Sharath (don't ask Sharath for new poses, for instance), as well as what you can do to pass the interminable daylight hours between practices. All in all, a very interesting and, possibly, useful read, especially if you plan on losing your Mysore Virginity sometime in the near (or not-so-near) future. Check it out.   


  1. great news to hear that you are still planning to lose your Mysore virginity ;-)

  2. I read the article a couple of days ago and resisted commenting because....well, I get that she's trying to be tongue-in-cheek here, but it didn't come across. There are writers who can do sarcasm and satire in a really elegant way, unfortunately it doesn't show in this piece.

    Mysore virgin or not, I think far too much weight is placed on the importance of making the trip here. I've got lots of thoughts percolating about this, need to straighten them out before knocking out another post.

    1. I think that there is a particular brand of British humor that is hard to reproduce in writing (and I'm guessing this is what Wilkinson is trying to reproduce); it is usually delivered with a certain stiff upper-lip and a certain somewhat haughty (at least, haughty to my American-trained ears) tone of voice, but which the listener somehow understands is ironic and sarcastic in a clever way. Not easy to reproduce in writing, because how do you convey a stiff upper lip and that haughty tone without visuals?

      Gee, I wonder if I'm stereotyping British people/humor. I hope Grimmly is not reading this... In any case, I'm enjoying reading about your Mysore experience so far. I'd love to read what you have to say about the importance of making the trip to Mysore.


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