Why we chai at Live and Breathe Yoga
India runs on chai. It’s everywhere! There are chai wallahs on every corner, on every train and you are offered chai in just about every shop you visit. It’s best never to turn it down as it’s one of the best things about India. If you are lost, too hot to know what to do next, or overwhelmed by the assault on the senses, then find a chai stand and relax. Sit back and watch the splendor of Indian life in all it’s glory as you think about what you will do next.
This is me doing just that in Mysore a few years ago…
Every Saturday and the last Friday of every month we serve chai after class at the studio. The night before, Harry (our very own chai wallah) is busy preparing the ingredients in very specific quantities that make up the well-researched and tested delicious chai recipe. People from far and wide come for Harry’s chai and if you read back over the yogi of the month interviews over the last 5 years, almost everyone admits it’s one of the things they love most about the studio.
Harry declined to reveal the secret combination of spices (even to me and I’m his wife!). I do know that we only ever use local spring water, biodynamic milk from the nearby Tablelands and the best organic spices, ginger and turmeric available. We put the pot on before class begins and it brews as we practice, infusing the studio with the sweet aroma that calms the mind and brings us back to what’s important…the simple things in life.
When asked about the chai making process Harry says
“I just feel it’s a real expression of who I am as a person – I am rather spicy, hot and sweet and so is my chai!”
Hmmmmm I’m not sure he took my interview seriously…..anyway……
Sangha is a sanskrit (ancient Indian language) word for community or gathering of those who practice and I feel, is possibly even more important than the yoga practice itself. One of the main reasons behind me opening the studio was to develop a community that connect over the beautiful practice of ashtanga yoga and support each other along the way. I have seen the power of the ashtanga community on a global scale and wanted to have that on a local level.
I love bringing people together and I’ve done it all my life. It’s our chance, once a week to slow down and savour good conversation over homemade chai – quite a spectacular combination. Flatmates have been found, babies have been fed, jobs have been offered, love has sparked and incredibly strong friendships have been formed, all because of this small but powerful cup of magic.
If I can help people for an hour a week to take time out to connect with others in person, making eye contact and listening to each others’ stories then I am happy. So much of our lives are online and virtual that the opportunity to hang out with real people is becoming less and less. I have had the most fascinating conversations in this space and wouldn’t miss it for the world. I encourage everyone to grab a cuppa, sit next to someone new and say Hi what’s your name? You never know who you might meet or what you might learn.
ps – On the last Saturday of every month, I host a question and answer session over chai. This is an informal opportunity to ask a specific postural question, or something wider to do with the ashtanga yoga practice, or yogic philosophy. It’s also a chance to hear what others are curious about and to gain insight into each other’s practice trials and triumphs.
pps – Here’s a wee video of my good friend Richard and I searching for chai on top of Chamundi Hill in Mysore. I rode my scooter there with Richard on the back…we didn’t even really know how to get there and got lots a few times. We left when it was still dark to climb the hill at dawn. It was fun (everything is fun with Richard) and we were rewarded with sweet sweet chai at the top.