Sunday, January 23, 2011
Banana, Coconut, Yoga. Repeat.
I was the first to arrive by 6:00 am to my new Yoga Shala in Mysore. The new kid has to be extra on time for her first day. I kicked my rainbow sandals off under the bench that I sat cross-legged on, and faced the door to my new space of education, alignment... and maybe some torture. Slowly over the course of the next 15 minutes, 10 practitioners emerged from bicycles, rickshaws and motos out of the dark morning light. Each individual sat on a respective bench, tucked their legs into lotus and closed their eyes. Not a single individual gave me a little "good morning!" wink, nudge, half smile... nothing. They moved over the pavement almost motionless, AND to top the strange behavior... they all wore matching tee shirts. The teacher opens the door. I grab my displaced flip flops and place them at the end of the perfect shoe line next to the shala door, as I enter the realms of unknown.
As the new kid, I sit in the front row to receive special instruction on whatever I just signed my life away to here. The row of folks behind me begin to chant in unison, then they each get up and begin a designated practice. I can feel the movement behind me as these cult-yogis whip through sun salutations. My curiosity is killing me, as I am just focusing on seated leg lifts and toe points. Baby stuff! So I slip a little eye over the shoulder maneuver to take in some of the chaos behind me. Before I can even focus my eyes on a moving yogi, I am blindsided by my straight-faced, no nonsense, yoga teacher- "focus on your breathing, keep your eyes on your practice, how can you master a pose that you are not thinking about? Think about it. And breathe." Caught cheating the first day. Great.
A breakfast is provided to us after the pranayama meditation class. I sat there in half lotus, suppressing tears of pain as my hips burned and feet turned a cold blue color. Pressing my hands harder in mudra, and trying to focus on anything but the severe discomfort in this 30 minutes from hell... I began to think about this soon to be breakfast hour.
"What will they serve us!?"
"My tuition was awful expensive... this must be good food then!"
"I need a chai.. like whoa"
I hear a motor running close to the shala walls- "mmmm...banana cashew smoothies, I bet!"
30 minutes finishes and I unwind my cold, limp legs which slap down on my mat like dead pieces of meat. And continue my daydreams on breakfast outside the Shala's Door of Doom. Feeling light headed, and avoiding an obvious limp (gotta impress my fellow yogis with my fierce, first day strength) I exit the shala to find my breakfast- A perfect row of small 3" by 5" foil containers lay in a perfect line on the outside bench. A brown spotted banana lay atop each.
"You've got to be joking me?"
I soon find out after my first practice that it is highly recommended for all students to consume 1 cooked vegetarian meal a day (provided in the tiny foil box) and 2 meals of 10 to 15 bananas each, followed by plenty of young coconuts to replace our water. Ok, now you've just gone too far Mr. YogiGuruSan!!! What am I supposed to focus on in class if it's not the next meal to follow??
First week down in my intensive banana, coconut, yoga training alongside the matching tee shirt, silent-Sally, yogis from around the globe. My body aches, my ego is suppressed, and my intrigue heightened. I'm in awe of how this teacher can bring awareness in, and push me to levels I've never explored before. But damn straight, I'm sneaking some onion dosas, palak paneer, papaya lassis, and cardomom pastries in this yogi diet mix!
You can take a chef out of the kitchen. But you can never take the foodie out of the chef!