One of the things I love about Climb Cleveland is that it attracts a community of explorers and adventurers. This admiration of adventure seeps through every inch of the gym. So, just as the climbers go on far-out ventures, it should come as no surprise that the yogis do the same. This week, I spoke with Becca, one of the yoga instructors at Climb Cleveland, about her upcoming trip to Mysore, India. Becca first went to Mysore early last year, before Climb Cleveland’s opening. On that trip, she went with Ashley, another yoga teacher at Climb Cleveland, and Marque Garaux, owner/teacher at Great Lakes Ashtanga Yoga. At first, she was supposed to be there for a month, but that “wasn’t enough time,” so she extended her stay by another month. This time, she’ll be off in February, this time going solo, for three months.
For those who aren’t familiar with the yoga practice, Mysore is sort of like, “the yoga capital of the world.” It’s where the Ashtanga practice was passed down from Krishnamacharya to Pattabhi Jois, who was a central figure in popularizing the practice. Pattabhi Jois eventually established the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute, where Becca will continue her training. The classes are taught Mysore style, meaning that it is a self-led practice under a teacher, where the teacher will give their student a pose to master. Once completed, the student will learn a new posture; it’s a practice that builds on itself.
While Becca is there, she’ll be given a pass card, which will tell her when to arrive at the shala, or studio– sometimes as early as 4 am. There, she’ll go through her series until she stops at the current pose she is in the process of mastering. Learning a pose can take months up to years. Becca will be practicing her series with as little as 500 people, to as many as a thousand. This collective mass will go through their practice squished together, lasting a few minutes or a few hours. Becca tells me that it depends on the person and where they’re at in their practice that determines how long the session will be. After the session, it’s quite common to cool down with a freshly opened coconut and spend the rest of the day exploring the town.
Apart from practicing Ashtanga, Becca will able to further practice in ayurvedic massage and diet. Much of the food in Mysore is vegetarian. Her favorite meal is Thali, which is like a big lunch with different foods typically served on a banana leaf or in metal bowls on a large platter. The meal is a balance of the six flavors based on the Ayurveda diet. Becca describes Mysore as a place to exercise balance. Its marble structures and temples permeate the environment with a heightened sense of spiritualism. Dogs, cows, and monkeys (watch out for them—they’ll steal food from your hand), roam the streets alongside their human counterparts.
Above all, Mysore represents a place of community and growth. Mysore style studios aren’t all that common in Ohio, so it’s refreshing to be in a place that revolves around this practice. In Mysore, she’ll be able to meet other yogis, stay with families, and be able to grow in her practice. When I asked what the most challenging part was about her previous trip, she smiled and replied, “leaving.”