“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
― Lao Tzu
Six times down and now a seventh on the way. Not one trip to India has ever been a simple decision. I have lost family while there, missed major moments in friends’ lives, skipped seasons and all the sounds and colors that go with those seasons. Never before have I surrendered Autumn though. And now my heart aches for the crunchy leaf New York days I’ll never get back. Can you be nostalgic for future nostalgia? Miss moments you would have spent missing moments?
Each year New York threatens to own me, to tie me down in attachments and pleasures and feelings about things imagined and unreal. And then India comes and takes me away and takes everything away from me. Home, family, friends, feelings, personality even. Gone. Left there with nothing but my soul surrendering I have become my strongest me. And now India is coming again to take me and shake me and show me who’s boss. But this time, this seventh time, she’s given me an even loftier mission than leaving it all to find myself. Now the purpose of this journey, all these journeys has become clear. For the first time, I will be taking a student with me so that she can have a journey of her own.
Below are the questions I asked first time India traveler, Allison Lafferty, and the answers she gave me. At the end are her questions to me, which I will address in the next post.
Lara: What is the farthest you’ve traveled to date? What is the longest you’ve been away from home?
Allison: Well, I have travelled within the US and to Canada, but never further. The longest flight I have been on was to Las Vegas, but never experienced an international flight. I think the longest I have been away from home is a week or two, but that was a while ago. Most of my travel plans had been derailed during the last couple of years when I decided to go back to school to study Occupational Therapy, so this is a big trip for me.
Lara: How long are you going to India?
Allison: I think it works out to be 19 days, so just shy of 3 weeks.
Lara: What made you decide to take the trip to India?
Allison: The Sharath and Saraswati led class in April in NYC was such a meditative experience that energized my practice and me. After, I started to think about how a trip to Mysore could impact my practice and how it could allow me to experience the deeper dimensions of the practice. Being in sore need of a vacation, I am very lucky to have this opportunity to travel to Mysore with Lara and it was a blessing to be able to go.
Lara: What does your family/significant other think of you going to India?
Allison: My parents and brother are very excited and instantly thought I should go, without a doubt. My boyfriend, Bill, can’t believe the trip is coming up so soon and he is excited to hear about the experience! I initially wanted to take the trip with him and share the experience, however, Bill didn’t think he was ready for the trip.
He is open to the idea in the future and maybe our next trip will be together!
Lara: What did you do to prepare?
Allison: I didn’t realize there would be so much preparation – guess it’s because I haven’t travelled in a while! Getting an Indian Visa, all the shots/immunizations, getting electrical outlet converter/power adapter, deciding on the kinds of clothes to pack so you don’t offend anyone, how much clothes to pack to limit washing clothes in a bucket, deciding what mat to bring, and a lot of little details. Being away from home for 3 weeks you want to bring a lot of stuff, but not everything is practical! Thankfully, Lara has been very helpful in giving me tips on what to bring.
Lara: What do you most want to do/see?
I want to experience Mysore fully – including taking chanting/Sanskrit classes at the Shala. I would also like to visit the palaces in Mysore and other local sights. Most importantly I want to be open to new experiences!
Allison: What do you expect Mysore and the yoga shala to be like?
I am trying not to go there with any expectations, however, I am expecting the shala to be busy and possibly crowded.
Questions for Lara:
What are some of the things to do that you recommend for first time yoga students in Mysore?
What made you decide to take your first trip to Mysore?
What are some memories from your first trip to Mysore?
Is there any special yoga ‘etiquette’ at the shala?
What is a typical day for a yoga student in Mysore?