My best buddy here in Mysore at the moment is a guy named Joe. He’s traveled the entire planet, it seems, and has seen the most amazing beaches, jungles, and cities. He has found the best food and fare for the best prices in the world. Despite all of his worldliness, he remains very English to the core, residing in London for the majority of each year, when he isn’t doing his mandatory pilgrimage to visit Mr. Iyengar in India. He has an amazing asana practice that inspires all who come to the Shala, twisting and floating his wiry body with ease into spidery, lively positions most of us only dream of ever finding ourselves in. He finishes long after everyone else does, so I usually wait around for him and wash up a bit before the two of us have breakfast at one of the many hot spots he’s found.
He and I are both in long-distance relationships, a fact which has quickly strengthened the glue in our friendship. Having a penchant for tutoring Americans in the art of using “the Queen’s English,” he has taken me and my American accent under his English wing. (I’m already quite good at it, I believe. I’ve had loads of practice.) We float around Mysore on his scooter chattering with thick tea-time British accents discussing life, yoga, Mysore, and the complexities of our love lives.
Aside from our parallel romances, the classes we share with the Guruji have made for endlessly scintillating conversation over coconuts. Joe adores Mr. Iyengar, and believes him to be perhaps the only remaining traditional Ashtanga teacher in Mysore, and the best at that. Having traveled as he has, in addition to the spry mechanisms of persuasion he possesses, it’s often hard to argue with him. While I too, have much enthusiasm and respect for my new teacher (and Joe), I do grow a tiny bit tired of all of the incessant masculine proselytizing. (One can only listen to so many males, especially white males with nearly nothing restricting their freedom, talk endlessly about bliss, enlightenment, and “correctness” in yoga.) Ashtanga is already a very male-oriented type of yoga, it seems. The combination of this and the heaps of men already stuffed into this country can make for a bit of a suffocating experience for any yogini (female yogi) in Mysore. Nevertheless, I am quite enjoying Joe and our friendship, our floating around on his scooter discussing enlightenment, our adventures and coconuts, and my fabulous faux-British accent.
The everyday yoga has been opening my body like an oyster, cracking and splitting and prying my whole being apart more quickly than I ever imagined. The other day I dropped backwards into a full-wheel pose, and then grabbed my ankles backwards! Never had I even considered this a possibility for my body! I am so thankful for this yoga boot camp, for the shouting old Indian man who is my Guru, for this crazy place and its balmy magic.