It’s only been three weeks in Goa and I can honestly say that this has been some of the happiest and most relaxed weeks of all my time in India, and life for that matter. There is something special about this place, and it’s hard to summarize in just a few words. I wake up in my lovely guesthouse with A/C, I do my Ashtanga practice in the back of a hip café under the gentle and watchful eye of Rolf, I have a wonderful breakfast at the German Bakery, then the rest of my day is typically spent cruising up the Goan coast with the wind in my face to some of the most peaceful beaches I’ve ever been, up until sunset. However, on occasion, I get the daily batch of Russians assuming that I am “one of them” looking for the nearest party, or I’m being completely ripped off at the flea market, or my scooter will break down on the side of the road, but hey, that’s all just to remind me that shit happens and to snap me back to reality.
It’s been one week since I’ve been in Goa to practice with Rolf and Marci Naujokat, a complete change from the busy and dusty streets of Mysore. They teach in a little village named Anjuna, known for its hippie-vibe, plentiful amounts of any drug you could possibly want, and the weird Russian tourists that partake in the nightly raves on the beach. I was told that it’s good I am here for yoga, because of the trance-party scene, but luckily, none of that sparks my interest. I have been completely content spending all of my days lying on the beach, sometimes with a beer or two. Sure does take it out of you.
Today was the last Mysore-style practice before I leave for Goa on Sunday. Tomorrow is led primary, which means just ONE more day of waking up at 2:30am to go bundle up with yogis at the gate. Today’s practice was the same as most, no “last day breakthroughs” or epiphanies. Earlier this week, I had some serious vertigo issues develop during practice that forced me to get up and leave the room for the remainder of practice. The second time I left, Sharath motioned for me to come up to the stage where I was able to explain to him my dizziness. I am pretty sure he let me “take it easy” the rest of the week, which is not too much in Sharath terms. He still expects me to catch at least my ankles in my drop backs, but no new poses, which was fine with me. As I walked out of the changing room, I was thankful that Sharath was not assisting anyone and I was able to give him a quick bow of the head and a “Thank You” before leaving the shala.
After being in Mysore for over a month, you really get the hang of the life here. You have a good idea of where to explore, where to eat, where NOT to eat, and where all the damn creases are from the awkwardly placed rugs on the shala floor. With all the free time you have after practice, it’s hard not to notice subtleness in your daily life, something you don’t have the luxury to do as much back at home. You also become super aware of everyone around you. Ashtangis already have a bad-rap for being A-type anal perfectionists, so you can only imagine what it’s like when some of the most dedicated and talented Ashtangis in the world are thrown into the same neighborhood for months at a time. I’m actually making it sound a lot worse than it is, because in reality, it’s not that bad. I’ve met some of the nicest people here, to the point where I’ve asked myself why I can’t radiate the same utter happiness in my every waking moment.
I’m approaching the end of my first month studying at KPJAYI in Mysore, India and I have to say, it has slightly exceeded my very few expectations. I’ve learned that you can’t have expectations when you come to India, or else you will be terribly, terribly disappointed. First world minds in a third world country are doomed, but to be honest, I really don’t mind cleaning my clothes in a bucket or sleeping on a rock hard mattress. “Welcome to India!” they like to say. :)