I am very lucky to have a very special neighbour. Her name is Jocelyn and she is married to Eddie Stern. They have a shala in New York. Eddie is a highly respected name in Ashtanga yoga and both he and Jocelyn have been on the yoga circuit for years. Jocelyn, learnt ashtanga from Derek Ireland and later began going to Mysore. She has been coming here for 20 years. She’s one of the earlier generation of Ashtangis who practised with Gurruji ( Sri K. Phattabis Jois founder of Ashtanga yoga as we know it today) when there was only a handful of westerners travelling out to Mysore. She is a petite, delicate, blonde lady from Paris. It is fascinating to talk to her. She advises me to put mustard oil on any aches and pains and then tells me about the Castor Oil bath. Gurruji used to make his students do the castor oil baths every Saturday. There is even a detox option that they also had to do, which involves drinking castor oil and coffee! But we will stick to the bath for now. Later I talk to my security lady, who also does these baths so it seems to be something that is not particular to yoga, but something that is cultural. I do some research and then pop to my local shop to look for the necessary ingredients - soap nut powder and green powder. This is what will get the castor oil off my skin and hair. There is an online article by Kimberly Flynn, (http://livingmysorejournal.blogspot.in/2008/09/oct-08-health.html) another ashtangi from the earlier generation. I use this as my guideline. She says not to leave it on for more than 5 mins, if it’s the first time you have done it. I scoff at this, because I am quite compulsive and very all or nothing. I know I’ll be going for the full half hour……what would be the point in anything less?!
The steps are as follows:
1. Heat castor oil til warm
2. Soap nut paste with green paste (in uk this could be substituted for a washing detergent that is organic and natural, I am told)
3. Pour castor oil on head and shoulders and mass’age in
4. Pour over rest of body and massage in, paying particular attention to joints
It feels AMAAAAAAAAZING! However quite unexpectedly after 10 mins I feel incredibly hot and my body is screaming at me to get it off, I’m surprised at the strong reaction I’m having. I listen to my body and use the paste to scrub it off.
Afterwards I feel very relaxed. Which is the point. In the old days, this was done every Saturday (which is the one day we Ashtangis do not practise yoga) and then you took rest. The Jois family still do this bathe, even when touring. As the day goes on, I feel more and more relaxed and then actually wiped out. I am thankful that I have cleared my day, so that I can just go with this feeling. I spend the entire lovely day, snoozing, relaxing, and generally re-energising for the beginning of the coming week. And I am someone who usually can’t sit still!
I took my first yoga class in 1997 and practically fell asleep. Yoga was not for me! Fast forward three years and I go to my first Ashtanga Yoga class. I am blown away. I LOVE it! The only problem is it's a 30 min drive away and I now have a 2 year old son, and no child care at home. Fortunately, my then teacher - the wonderful Alex Medin, lets me bring him along. I wake him up at 5.30am and sling him in the back of the car in his baby blanket. He sits in the corner of the shala looking at books and listening to story tapes, and I practise. We don't manage it every day nor even sometimes every week, but we go when we can. It is not until many years later after the birth of my second son, when both boys are much older and in full time school, that I finally find my daily practise. And many years after that, that I finally get to Mysore.
|Corrie Ananda Yoga||
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