August 1, 2012

10 Ways Mysore Practice Is Just like a Partnership.

The Mysore Relationship

1. Just like any romance, Mysore practice starts off as perhaps odd and uncomfortable, but there’s this feeling, and you increasingly want to spend more time together. A two-week immersion later, and you find yourself committed, in a full-fledge passionate embrace, overflowing with happiness that you found each other.

2. For the first year, it’s bliss mixed with challenging, boundary testing, arguments and subsequent make-out sessions, but there’s no doubt at all that you are benefiting from the whole process. It still purrs.

3. About a year and a half in, you hit the plateau. You kind of forget what it felt like before you met. You’re not sure why you’re in it. You might neglect it and it responds to you with an almost reluctant forgiveness as you approach the mat after, for instance, a trip to Europe, eating cheese (and even dabbling back into red meat) and drinking red wine, sans yoga mat. Not that I’ve ever done that… okay, I did, and I regretted it. (For the record, I always, always find a Mysore venue whenever I travel now and work that into the whole experience—you meet a new community of yogis you never would have otherwise.)

4. Like the various moods and attributes of a lover, each asana represents a specific interaction. You realize that it is best to learn to love every part of your practice, not just your favorite sides of it. The ones that are the most challenging will likely be the most rewarding to get close to and understand.

5. You will test the limits and sometimes too much. To the degree you do, you will be forced into a bit of an awkward dance of sensitivity as you come back to closeness again. It’s a time to reflect on the dynamics at play and take ownership of your issues as you move carefully forward, a bit slower, making adjustments. This is how we learn limits and in awakening to them, become more mindful, more mature, less about what we want from it and more about how we exist in it.

6. If you ignore one little problem, other problems develop until you can’t recall the origin. Work with intelligence on the asanas that cause any discomfort, and with the intention to rebuild it if you must. Forcing yourself through a problem without resolution will just create a mess. A power struggle with the body facing multiple injuries mirrors a power struggle in the relationship, where nobody wins.

7. There are days where it all clicks, the romance is back; it’s just like in the beginning only better, because now you have this history, this deep knowledge. The whole thing sings a bit more than it ever did before. The most important thing to remember is that these are days scattered among ones that are not always so flashy—it’s the days in between them, dedicated, present, working on things, that lay the ground for them!

8. An Indian proverb goes: “Better to dig one, deep well than 10 shallow ones.” Here is the perfect example. Mysore, even for the most dedicated, can feel monotonous at times. But it is up to the practitioner to constantly seek and find ways to become more intimate and in touch with it. It’s only monotonous if you approach it mechanically. In this case, other styles and options look and feel much more exciting and fun, but the depth and height of where you can go with them could be as much limited. A comparison: There’s nothing so breathtaking as to see a loving couple who have been together for 50 years.

9. Challenges can come out of nowhere. A new job, a new baby, a loss in the family. These things will rock your practice, but you have to tease your life and practice apart. As you continue to give to it, through thick and thin, the practice will help you stay awake and heal faster through anything. Setting it to the side (shoving a good partner out of your space) when the heat is on in your life, will likely make the whole thing worse in the long run. Keep the door open, show up and don’t be afraid to say you are weak—your practice and partner will realize the most important thing: You are going through something together and for this reason are more awake and reflective about it.

10. It can only last if you balance fun and discipline, work and rest, time together and time apart. If you force the practice to a degree that is not in tune with your feelings (or the healthy functioning of your body), you will gradually create an aversion. If you are female and you keep cranking out all your Vinyasas through your cycle, if it gets too serious for too long, it’s hard to break out of the rut, and as aversion sets in you may just need time away to gain perspective. Best to keep things balanced. For example, my most trusted teacher, Paul Dallaghan, swaps mini Shavasanas in for Vinyasas on our last practice of the week. The balance that results makes the whole relationship way less panicked/straining and way more centering and sustainable. Approach the mat and each other with less expectation and more intention, with a sense of “hmm, wonder what today will be like?” Listen for the answer. Interact with it. Be present. Leave room for expression and surprises!

I’m sure there are more—want to add some? Please leave a comment if so!


Editor: Brianna Bemel


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