Gabi : Castor Oil

 In India

 

I have had 5 practice sessions now, including 3 mysore style practices. The shala is pretty phenomenal.  So many ashtangi’s. My first mysore practice, Monday, was amazing! I felt so good, my dristi was good, I had a fair amount of strength, I wasn’t too tired, I had some great adjustments. Just overall amazing. So amazing that I can home and napped for 1.5 hours. For some reason, you do work harder here. Sorry Al. Sharath is scarier than you. After my nap, I went out for dinner, early dinners, came home and was in bed by 9.30. Brilliant.

Mysore class number 2. Sucked. Almost all of it. It started off well enough. I was jumping back and forward in surya namaskara A and B, and during vinyasas. Then came Utthita hasta pandangustasana. If you could call an inanimate posture a nemesis, then this one is mine. In my first mysore class, one of the assistants helped me, held my lifted foot and acted as a count-balance. Day 2, not so much help. Al always says try 3 times and move on. But Mysore makes you stubborn, makes you want to do better. So I kept trying. Minimum 5 attempts at each section. 5 times w my leg up holding my toe, 5 times moving my leg to the side, 5 times with my leg at the side. Finally an assistant came to help. But he pulled my leg up too high, and pushed my body down a little too low. Luckily, seated postures weren’t far off. But by then I was knackered, but, stubbornness again, determined to keep jumping through the end of the janu srisana’s. Which, I did (For the Win!!). Then marichyasana B. It had been suggested I trying moving the leg that was in lotus so the knee was further out. So I gave it a crack. Bad idea. It was so incredibly painful on my ankles. I nearly cried. I wish I was joking. I was so exhausted, emotionally and physically, by this point that I did the most pathetic attempt at closing sequence ever. Food, home bed.

Another day, another class. Mysore 3. Class was so much better. I felt stronger, jumped all the way to the end of marichyasana, attempted head stand, uttplutih, all of it. Still couldn’t do utthita by myself, or still cant bind in marichyasans B, but whatever. The practice felt good. And luckily the next day was a moon day. No rest for the wicked, which means ashtangis must be angels! Every full moon and new moon we get a day off, plus day off on Saturday.

For moon day, most astangis run errands, go to the pool, sleep in. Random stuff. But I decided to try a castor oil massage. In conference Sharath was talking about castor oil baths and how good they are for yogis, so a massage cant be far off. And the place to go is the Three Sisters. To say there house was modest is an exaggeration. This is no hotel or resort spa. After chatting to 2 of the 3 sisters I was lead into the massage room. The room is narrow, maybe double bed width. On the ceiling is a rope and on the floor is an Indian thin mattress with lino covering it. One of the sisters ties a rope around my waist and adds a loin cloth, then tells me to undress and lie on the lino face down. Which I do. The sisters, 2 of them, then come back, cover me in castor oil and then set to work massaging me, with their feet. Im, oddly, not overly squeamish about massages. I actually love them, and don’t have a problem being nude during them. But having someones toe slip into your butt crack and squelch with castor oil, is just plain weird. An hour goes by. I’m happily chatting to the sisters about their lives and ashtanga. They love my Guruji quote tattoo. Both of them started quoting him after that. All 3 sisters used to practice with Guruji and have now started teaching at home. After the massage, I was lead into an old school India bathroom. Just a water heater, wood heated, and a stool. The sisters then bathe me to get the castor oil off. They do that using a special paste, that looks like hot chocolate and smells pretty, but can sting the eyes and shouldn’t be swallowed. After having the massage and being bathed, I can see why having handmaidens would be appealing. It was lovely. Being in the room, chatting happily to these 3 women, then being introduced to their 7month twin boys was so lovely. They called me sister as I left and I will go back for another massage before I leave.

Note: Here is the deal with castor oil. It is supposed to help remove the bad toxins and heat from your body, think like lactic acid that has built up in your muscles. But it can also help with general joint pain. The good side. The massage itself feels awesome and so do my muscles. The bad side. I’m cold. The sisters said this could happen. Each body reacts differently to the castor oil. For me it removes a lot heat. Anyone who has seen my practice may have noticed I sweat like a pig. That’s part of my excess heat. Another down side. Castor oil is also a laxative, given to people who are constipated. So after the massage you may find yourself running to the toilet. Personally, I started to get stomach cramps about an hour after my massage finished. Ohhh they hurt. But I will just have to suck it up. Led class at 7.30am tomorrow morning. So with that, it is goodnight Mysore!

~Gabi

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