Namate Bharat Shetty

imageAnchovies Masala. I’m a greasy anchovy packed between five others on a single train seat. It’s a three-day roller coaster from Luknow on top, to Mysore on the bottom of India. This is like taking the A-Train packed to smushing-capacity at rush hour, but instead of stopping at 42nd and 8th you keep riding to Florida.

Most of India can’t afford Air conditioned luxury, or triple-decker bunk bed Sleeper Cars. Neither can I.

Sleeping arrangements intrigue me. After mindlessly throwing their peanut shells, plastic bottles and rubbish on the floor for the whole trip, that’s where some choose to sleep, crawling under the seat where I sit like scolded dogs, crawling up into the luggage racks, or down the aisles. The rest sleep together on the seats. Complete strangers lay down with each other, spooning, or feet to nose, or  legs entwined. I sit up the first night and watch, wearing my Western prudishness as an English-tailored, tweed suit with those patches on the elbows. I haven’t gotten up once to pee, until everyone else is snoring because I would have lost my few inches of space. The second night, I’m lying down too.

The train to Mysore, which I fought so hard for, stops in Bangalore. I’m the only one on the train when the conductor starts locking up. “Mysore?” I ask, looking at my ticket that says Mysore.

“Last stop.”

I don’t even question him. Of course the train to Mysore stops in Bangalore. This is India, it would be absurd any other way. Mysore is another train and two hours. Fine.

My mission in Mysore is to find the internet. I don’t have the address to my teacher written down, or my Couch-surfing contacts, or the Youth Hostel, or any of the recommended yoga student housing. I haven’t e-mailed Meredith or even started this blog. I’ve got things to do.

I had signed up for Boingo at JFK, which oddly in the 21st century doesn’t have wifi, because they offered for a mere nine dollars, free wifi hotspots all over the world. Here I found two hotels with Boingo, One is Hotel Ginger. I take a tuk-tuk across town and realize this is not I my budget. It’s a Western-style faux-trendy money bucket. When I’m told the room, instead an average 300 R’s is 1,150 R’s. (That’s the equivalent of thirty meals here; a month of food. ) I have to take some time to justify it.

I sit in their restaurant and have their Golden Corral-style buffet not realizing it just cost me 175 R’s (an average meal price is 50 R’s)

I haven’t slept, gone to the bathroom or showered in the five days I’ve been here. That’s my justification. And by the way, my unlimited Boingo cost me twelve cents a minute. (that’s $7.20 an hour as opposed to the internet café where I found this place that charges less than 70 cents and hour.) That’s my advertisement for Boingo. I just got boingoed.

“Namaska, Bharath Shetty.” The next morning I greet my teacher. Yoga India, ( is where I am being certified as a Yoga Alliance certified teacher each day from 5:45 in the morning to 8 p.m., for month and a half; Sundays off. Bharath, my teacher is immediately fantastically fanatical about each muscles placement as I strike a Tadasana, “Bend knees a bit, yes? Lift ribs, more, lift more. Breath deeper, Breathe with whole chest. Don’t move chest, breath. Stiffness in neck? No? Reach higher. Do you feel it in the abdomen? O.K.?”

This is exactly what I’m looking for. Training focused on personal perfection in the physical form. You see, in my experience, the position of the body during meditation practice effects the vibrational quality of the transmutation. Once I had a strong practice through years of continuity, I could always regain my state of calm consciousness, simply by returning to a certain posture. When my mind is running away with the spoon, I simply sit strait and my body remembers to breath deep, my mind, like Pavlov’s puppy, sits quietly waiting, my antennae turns on and I’m hotwired to the Absolute. I’m super-duper torrent-drive downloading consciousness energy for the evolution of creation. As a straight antennae works best, so does a yogi who’s body has become completely harmonious.

Very little training yogic training is body-centric. The perfect Downward Facing Dog is useless unless it is done with the body in harmony with the mind through prana. (There are so many definitions of prana it should be experienced rather than explained.) I practiced meditation for ten years before I started the physical aspect of yoga.

Patanjali explained yoga, in his Yoga Sutras, as an eight–limbed tree. The highest aerie in the tip-top twigs is Samadhi, or perfect bliss from the transcendent union with the All. But the base holding everything erect is Yama and Niyama, codes of conduct.

Out of the ten demand-ments, for me the big daddy is Truthfulness. It doesn’t refer to always telling the truth, there are instances when the truth is hurtful, and the first demand is non-violence. It’s ‘Living what you say.’ If you say you’re a yogi, be the same person in front of your friends, at the bar during foam night and when you’re alone, that you are when you’re on your yoga mat. Or conversely if you say you’re a drunkard, be the best drunk you can be, always. You can’t drink all day unless you start in the morning.

As my teacher years ago berated me, It’s all about continuity and focus.

Rama’s archery teacher at Ayodhya Junior High exemplified Rama as the perfect archer, being god-like and all, by asking each student to aim at an endangered bald-headed eagle far away in the tree branches of a sequoia tree. He asked the first, “pull back you bow, aim and tell me what you see.”

“I see the beautiful day full of sunlight…”

“Unstring you weapon” the teacher insisted. Turning to the next pimpled pupil he instructed, “pull back you bow, aim and tell me what you see.”

“I see the bird, the tree, and the milky maiden standing beneath…”

“Unstring you weapon” the teacher insisted. Turning to the next pimpled pupil he instructed, “pull back you bow, aim and tell me what you see.”

“I see the bird, the tree, the blue sky…”

“Unstring you weapon” the teacher insisted. Turning to the Rama he instructed, “pull back you bow, aim and tell me what you see.”

“I see the birds throat.”

It’s all about focus, vigilance every moment of the day. For years I waited for the grand cloud-parting thunder-roaring, Charlton Heston proclaiming enlightened change in my life, until I realized it’s not a single moment but all the little ones. Do I choose not to express my negative emotion when my coffee is bitter at Starbucks, do I hug my lover even when she pisses me off, do I make time to meditate even thought the Office is about to begin. All and each of these seemingly superfluous actions and choices are yoga. Yoga is practiced off the mat. It is.

I am happy to finally reach the destination of my journey, so relieved to begin some form of work and to meet my next teacher on my own Ramayama, my whole body tingles with consciousness energy, either that or I gotta’ pee.

One thought on “Namate Bharat Shetty

  1. It amazing how easily I can forget that yoga is not just about being in a class or fallowing a video in my living room. It is like you said something we choose to all the time. A choice we make from each moment to the next. Thank you for that beautiful insite to how yoga should be practiced. It truly was a beautiful eye opener. ❤️


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