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Life in Mysore, India.

One Month in India to Study Yoga

In March 2014 I took the decision to go to Mysore for 30 days during the month of August and follow Acharya Venkatesh and his wife Hema's guidance to improve my practice. What I got after this month was more than I could ever imagine!

I went to Mysore with some expectations but nothing really definite or precise. I wanted to "improve" whatever I already knew and maybe add a bit more knowledge to the overall Yoga practice I was familiar with. I wanted to leaner more about asana, about chanting, philosophy and meditation which was a chapter for me almost unknown and unexplored.
I knew that my self-practice was close to non existent, as I was teaching almost everyday hence I used the
teaching as practice but deep down I knew it wasn't right but I could not get myself into do self practice at home.

On July 30th I arrived in Mysore. Hema and Acharya welcomed me with their nice calm smiles and warm words of support. We (people in the group) were given few but strict rules. Every day class would take place at 6:15AM until 9:15AM, and then again we had a session at 3:30PM till 5:30PM.
We were asked to drink a litre of water after every session. It was clear that food was very important to have a good practice and a good meditation, hence we avoided from our diet coffee, tea, sugar, spices, alcohol, animal products, milk, white flour and olive oil. For each item listed we were given a clear explanation why it was better not to eat or drink those things. I allowed myself fruit juice in case I
was hit by a severe hypoglycaemia, which only happen few times.

I understood that I had to immediately adjust my insulin doses and that I had to pay close attention to my body adjustments during the first week. I do not hide it did stress me a bit, but I managed.

At 5AM I'd wake up, eat one banana and inject my 1st two doses of 5 daily injections.We were cycling
4KM to reach the yoga shala. After morning practice I would inject my second dose while eating fruits and early lunch. In the evening I would inject before dinner, and then again before going to bed. In average we
were cycling between 8 to 16KM a day. I noticed that after the first 3 days I had to seriously reduce all the insulin doses to avoid low blood sugar.
The combination of daily bicycle, the asana practice, the food intake, the meditation and lots of rest helped me to shed off 4 kilos and to reduced the doses of insulin of 50% in the morning and 30% at lunch and dinner. It all happened slowly in the span of 30 days.

The daily practice was 3 hours of yoga asana focused on Back Bending. We would warm up practice a couple of standing back bending and proper counterbalancing poses. Then we would do 4 rounds of Surya Namaskara, each of them focusing on arching the lower back. We would then move on working asana such as Kapotasana, Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana, Shalambasana, Chakrasana, Chakrasana in Chakrasana...and then forward bending such as Halasana, Kurmasana, Pashimottanasana, Upavistha
Konasana  and twists with are essential to realign the spine and avoid any pain or injuries Pasasana was my deepest nightmare.

Each pose was repeated for three rounds to give the body the time to understand and adjust, to gain strength and confidence, to focus on the breath, to try to go further. Not only that but also each asana was kept quite a long time...which was also incredibly challenging. Finally Savasana time arrived and it was a long Savasana and despite the easiness of the asana even then Acharya was making sure we would not fall asleep, which was quite hard not to.

My emotions during the month were of different nature. The root of my emotions was all very much full of gratitude, but I cannot hide I burst into tears at least twice during morning yogasana practice. I later understood my ego was completely and totally crushed under the demanding asana we were taught by Acharya. The day I realized that I could not even properly do one full asana of all of those we were
taught I had a hard time not to feel a complete waste of space.

Luckily I didn't keep this feeling for me but I shared it with Avharya who very seriously told me that my way of thinking was typical of western practitioners. I was overlooking, over thinking, over judging myself basing all of my thoughts on wrong parameters. What mattered was practice every day, focusing on "never give-up" attitude which was part of my daily practice. Everything else comes. It is of course a great achievement being able to fully perform the asana but if things come too easily I would miss the point of what it means practising yoga FOR ME.
"Do -it-fast" is a concept we are brought up with forgetting the importance of patience and forgetting that there s so much to learn on the way. I never felt again a looser from that moment, on the other hand I focused even more. Everyday I was learning something new about myself and this life style. Deep down I knew I would have realized the impact of Acharya's teaching once back at home.

Two weeks after I came back I went to the hospital to go through my regular quarterly check due to
diabetes type I. My doctor's face was beyond surprise when he saw the results. Apparently the level of blood sugar reached the historical minimum I ever had in 24 years of dealing with type I diabetes. The
cholesterol as well showed incredible improvements. The LDL bad cholesterol decreased of 70% and the good one HDL increased of 50%! I was speechless. I did not do anything in particular to improve these
results, I have simply followed the advices of Acharya and Hema. It obviously worked!

Everything that I have experienced with Avharya and Hema goes beyond the simple description of our daily routine. It s much much deeper and it s only the beginning of my personal path, where dedication, love, passion and discipline are to me essential ingredients to be able to appreciate what Yoga is and what it can do and how it can transform people's life. Acharya and Hema are absolutely dedicated teachers and deeply care about each student and their development. They never fail to support their student in their path even when we are back home.
I feel very grateful to have had the chance to practice with them. Thank you. I know know I have the tools to make my life healthier and my practice stronger.

I do feel more in charge than ever before.

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