Mysore Musts : Ayurvedic Massage

India has not so subtle way of teaching you to go with the flow… you may not get what you want but if your open to opportunity it has been my experience you will get exactly what you need.

This evening I headed out for dinner… 6:15 pm not early by my standards but here in India it is impossible to get a curry before 7:30. Disappointed and very hungry I started to wander. The moment I became conscious of my annoyance I reminded myself that good things happen when we embrace the natural flow of things. BOY OH BOY did great things happen.

Not even 10 minutes down the road I stumble across the find of all finds Santhigiri Ayurveda & Siddha Hospital. For the nominal fee of 800 RS I had an experience to write home about… literally. Two skilled Ayurvedic practitioner Shreekala & Chinchu gave me a hot oil massage followed by a steam that still has be buzzing. Talk about getting the energy flowing these ladies have massage in their genes, literally. Both born and trained in Kerala, Ayurveda Mecca and the state to the south of Karnataka , come from long lines of therapists and it sure is evident in their skills.

Click on photos to see a larger image.

I guess you’ll know where to kind me most nights this week. Check them out next time your here in Mysore.

Santhigiri Ayurveda & Siddha Hospital Mysore :: #141, 1st block, Adichunchanagiri Road. Kuvempu Nagar, Mysore 570023.  Phone 0821-246-2344  Mob 903-547-5590


What Makes You Stronger?

This is what Acharya (short for Yogacharya, translates to spiritual teacher, and is what we call Mr. Venkateshe) asked me today. I answered the mind. He paused, and asked me what makes the body strong? Like most of his questions you are left to answer them yourself. He wants us to figure it out for ourselves, to be our own teachers and make our own conclusions. He wants us to struggle to have to learn in order to deepen our understanding.

What makes your body strong? I know how to make my body strong by challenging it. By studying myself through asana, often with the help of a teacher to figuring out where i am physically weak, and then through hard practice and discipline strengthening those areas. I believe he asked me this question because I know the answer and it’s a metaphor for the question I’m here seeking an answer to: How do I make my mind stronger?

A basic example of this is evident in his response  to Yoshiko, my Japanese house mate, when she asked him where she could buy the standard plain white t-shirt required for classes. He said you can buy them in any shop around here. She spent the whole day searching our local area until finally she discovered the one shop which sells plain white shirts.  What’s the lesson here? Through that exploration Yoshiko learned every inch of our neighbour hood and what it had to offer. As a new student this understanding of her surroundings would prove be a life saver as her body and mind would not be up for the challenge of seeking out other basic needs once classes had begun. Lets just say after a practice with Acharya you don’t want to make any wrong turns and walk any further than you have to or make any major decisions (yoga brain!). Through her struggle finding her shirt she gained the awareness and independence that she needed to survive the first few days as her body detoxed and became accustom to the intense physical nature of the Asana here. He could have easily told her exactly where to go but that would have encouraged her to depend on him for answers to unnecessary questions. That day’s struggle made her stronger. Thankfully her lessons were not my lessons and after he gave me the exact same shopping directions she kindly guided me to the local white t-shirt store, and to Kumar, our coconut hero who always serves up only good coconuts and never rips you off. She also introduced me to a restaurant so fabulous that I’ve had every meal there since. You never know who’s going to teach you what you need to know to make that next step in your journey easier. We all have our own paths and our own lessons, and it’s important to realize no one’s journey is any less important than another’s.

Calm seas don’t make skilled sailors
In order for us to go beyond our current blockages we need to face struggles. Whether that struggle be physical like in Asana or perhaps less apparent like a mental, spiritual or emotional weakness that we wish we didn’t have to see in ourselves. Observing our role in the drama or disease in our lives enables us to identify where we need to strengthen our character to prevent similar struggles in the future. The Sutras teach us to prevent the pain that is yet to come. It’s hard and gruelling work!
Nobody wants to do what they are not good at, and I for one had to fly across the globe to enlist my teacher’s help to do what I know in my heart I need to do, but was to darn stubborn to do on my own.

How do you prevent the pain that is yet to come? For some of us it may mean following an online yoga video because we know we’ll never do brain washer series as long as I’ll make you do it in the video, or driving across town to go to a new studio. It could require letting go of whatever’s holding you back from picking up the phone and calling that friend you know you miss but had an argument with. Perhaps cutting ties with a person or a habit that you know in your heart is causing you pain. All and all it’s about doing the work, facing your challenges, knowing your habits and facing them head on in order to create the happy, healthy life of your dreams. Learning to embrace the struggles life sends you as best you can is the best way I know of to get through the tough times. See your role when the ship goes off coarse and make a solid effort to adjust your actions in the future to weather each storm with more ease and grace.
With that said, I’m going to embrace my aching muscles and haul my tired ass the 15 minutes to my restaurant and eat Idly because even though I would rater curl up and not move, I know without that effort I won’t make it through practice tomorrow. After today’s 20 minute holds in my nemesis poses, this girl has got to eat.


Day 1 India:


After 2 days of travel I jumped in a taxi at the Bangalore airport and began the 5 hour overland adventure to my new home for the next 5 weeks.

Indian Livestock

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I’ve learned from past experiences that when traveling to India, make the arrival as easy as possible. I’ve spent too many nights in dirtbag hotels to save a couple of bucks.  The extra splurge of hiring a driver and a decent hotel may or may not buy you the comfort that you’re used to, but in my opinion it’s best to be gentle on yourself and make arriving as easy as possible.

My last trip to Bangalore consisted of me rocking up to a Lonely Planet recommended hotel at one o’clock in the morning, which I had a reservation at. It had been one hell of a taxi ride to get there as the driver who had assured me he knew where the hotel was did not.  After 5 planes, a ferry and a bus tour in the dark, the sketchy Bangalore streets with a lying Taxi driver was NOT the stress free Yoga experience I was hoping for. Upon finally arriving at our destination (I THINK), I discovered that there wasn’t a bed reserved reserved for me and there were numerous men sleeping in the lobby. After much negotiation (AKA I was not going ANYWHERE) the Hotel manager offered me a small cot off the front desk where I lay fully clothed, head on my backpack eagerly awaiting the light of day. I took the train to Mysore the next day which was wonderful and found what seemed to be a step up, if only a slight one, from the night before in an affordable hotel. It wasn’t until after dark that a fire was lit beneath my window causing billows of black toxic smoke to stream into my room and men were banging on my door ALL NIGHT – I’m sure happy to assist me in finding alternative accommodation. Yet another sleepless night awaiting the light of day . So my top tip…. Just get to Mysore & stay wherever Hema from the Atma Vikasa school recommends.

That being said, my current adventure though not quite the sleepless adventure of my past trip… was a mission in itself.  Once again the taxi driver who for sure, absolutely,  knew exactly where he was going DID NOT. Our journey together included a side line off the highway into a sketchy deserted parking lot to collect “documents” which had me strongly demanding he return to the well lit roads around the highway. After 50+ pit stops to ask for directions, we finally made it. He then proceeded to demand a tip as I retrieved my maps which he had graciously horned all over when missing the window.
My New Home:

I decided to take the easy option here in Mysore and stay a 3 minute walk from Atma Vikasa Yoga School in a local family’s home which came highly recommend by Laura whom most of you will know since she has been a well loved (and stretched) fixture at my home and studio since she took her first yoga class in the first real (as in indoor and for money) class that I taught. Quite the location in the quiet suburbs of Mysore… And a major step up from the downtown intersection location of where the School was located last time I was here. I love it the area. It’s cleaner, quieter, full of parks and open fields… but I do miss the old hood. I knew the old hood and the people in it! So I have begun making new haunts, trying out different fruit vendors, restaurants and shops. Thankfully I have a sweet house mate (also a Yoga student) who has been here for 3 weeks and knows all the “hot spots”. Great tips like ” the young coconut man will be sure you get a good one and won’t try to rip you off”, best place for Masala Dosa and treats all within a 15 minute walk from our home… Ahhhhh, India. The home I am living in has 3 grown daughters with 3 children of their own, their father, a friendly jovial man who I don’t understand a word out of, and my sweet friendly yoga friend from Japan. My mantra since the moment I arrived has been ‘I think i can, I think I can’ and it’s 100% directed to learning all of their names. It’s the hardest practice of concentration and memory that I’ve faced in years!!!


School starts tomorrow. Only slightly terrified… He wants me to do my own practice while he watches!!!!