Welp, it’s been one week since I landed here in Glasgow, Scotland. Flying across the pond last week was quite the endeavor because I had come down with that pesky flu everyone was getting. But alas, I arrived.
I am staying in a very cozy apartment nestled in the West End of the city. Everything I need is practically at my fingertips: grocery, cash machine, pharmacy, coffee shop; I already feel very much at home. The weather has been gray and drizzly, although markedly warmer than my usual Januarys in Boston. I’ve taken advantage of the few sunny days by wandering slowly through some of the many free (and gloriously green) parks, drifting away into my own thoughts and marveling at the beauty that nature never fails to unfold.
When not exploring the local digs, I have been doing what I came here to do in the first place: teach Ashtanga yoga! I’m on for Mysore Tuesday – Friday, with a few Beginner Style classes mixed in during the week. The students are a dedicated bunch, each practicing with an internal focus and without pretense. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming to my arrival, although most have commented that I must be crazy to spend the winter alone in a country I’ve never been to before! I remind them I am coming over from Boston (not exactly a Warm Winter Wonderland itself) and that ‘alone’ and ‘foreign’ were small prices to pay given that I was offered that chance to do what I hope becomes a cornerstone of my future.
Yes, running my own Mysore room is a dream. And thus far, this experience has given me the perfect chance to really find out what this task entails. It’s up early, open the studio, lay out the sign in sheets and turn on the heater. Not too intensive of a process, expect for the EVIL outward facing “porch doors” that literally take 10 minutes of finagling to open in the morning. I was warned on day one, “there is no trick to the doors, just keep pulling and lifting and turning and twisting until they open. One day they won’t open. You might break the door. Good Luck!”
So far, I haven’t broken anything. I’ve readied the room without incident and begin my practice. If I am lucky, I get 40 minutes before the students arrive. If it was a particularly tricky day with the door, 20. I do what I can and finish up this first round once a few students have filtered in and I can hear their breathing behind me. Then it’s up and observe. Move, push, squish, twist. All the usual adjustments apply. It’s surprising how much you can help everyone when there are only 5 bodies to focus on. I’m looking forward to spending weeks with these students, getting to know their schedules and attitudes, their rough spots and breakthroughs.
Once the room is quiet again, and there is only Savasana surrounding me, I once more start my own moving. I miss the community of people to move and breathe around me, the warmth they generate, and the adjustments I get, but there is a peacefulness in practicing alone. I have found that especially after teaching, I feel grateful to have enough time in my day to practice at all, so I try to make the most of it. My backends are stiff, Supta Vajrasana is suffering, and for all of my good intentions, I am STILL looking at the clock towards the end. I really try to practice without attachment to goals, but if I did have a goal it would be to stop looking at that damn clock! Thankfully, everyday is another chance to practice, a chance to try.
I’m already looking forward to reflecting back on this experience, to see what I have learned, and what changes. As for now, I feel fortunate to have been given this opportunity, to have taken it, and to have a few weeks alone to live simply, get to know new people and places, and possibly, finally, to get enough sleep every day.
So far, so good.
Before pushing off, I will leave you with this very Scottish image I found during a visit to the Kelvingrove Museum earlier in the week. Answers the age old question, “What DO they wear under those kilts?”