Thursday, December 17, 2009

10lbs In Two Hours - Mysore, Karnataka

First thing Jen and I did in Mysore was sign up for a 8 day Ashtanga yoga course. Ashtanga yoga is a series of postures (asanas) that are linked by a dynamic movement called the vinyasa. Emphasis is put on combining movement to breath and the journey between the asanas, not just the postures themselves. I've only done a handful of yoga classes back home and was excited for the opportunity to practice yoga in Mysore, the birthplace of Ashtanga Yoga.

My excitement quickly faded during the first class. Ashtanga is generally a self directed form of yoga in which you go through the series on your own with occasional adjustments from the instructor. I knew only a few asanas and quickly lost my way. The instruction from Ajay Kumar was very abrupt and firm with painfully deep adjustments. The cramped shala held 20 practitioners during class leaving little room for my usual theatrics. I easily lost 10lbs of water from the copious amount of sweating you do. It is definitely a rigorous two hour workout for strength, flexibility and calmness of mind. After the session I thought to myself, "F**k this noise! I'm out."

Once I got over my initial reaction I decided to hang in there. To my surprise I loved every moment there after and was shocked to see how far I progressed in eight short days. It was an amazing way to start the day. I was disappointed when it ended and wish I could have stayed for a month.I 'm looking forward to making this a part of my day we I get back home.

Mysore as a city has some amazing sights: Mysore Palace, Mysore Zoo, Chamundeshari Temple on Chamundi Hill and the boisterous market. Even though I enjoyed all of these excursions, the Ashtanga Yoga is by far the highlight of the city and even the country.

"Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind. "

Saturday, December 12, 2009

They're Dressed Better Than Me - Bangalore, Karnataka

With 7 million people roaming Bangalore, it has all the hazards you would expect: stifling traffic, choking smog, copious amounts of touts and expensive rooms. On the other hand it also offered many creature comforts we missed: real coffee, good restaurants, wide range of shops (including a Lacoste store, still expensive) and bowling.

Matt's friend Monique arrive in Bangalore to make our group four and the next night we embarked on a "regular" night out that included a nice dinner and two games of bowling. To make things more interesting we agreed that the person with the lowest bowling score had to dance in the middle of the bowling alley for twenty seconds. Amid the hectic lanes and thundering techno music Monique was true to her word and put on quite a show.

Monique wasn't the only one that stood out. To immerse ourselves into Indian culture Matt and I decided to grow mustaches, as is the style here (I'm pretty sure it was Matt's idea). The day before arriving in Bangalore we shaved our goatees and beards to reveal two glorious symbols of manhood. The agreement was to keep the mustaches for one week. To our disappointment we discovered that Bangalore men are much more modern in their style and opt to look good instead of ridiculous like the rest of India. Once again we stuck out from the crowd. Even westerners gave us funny looks. Most people dress quite nicely and that definitely enhanced my dirty backpacker look. The only thing I was missing was some patchouli oil.

"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha "
Jen Allen