Reality Bites

How not to reintegrate into the “real world” after months of doing nothing but yoga in Mysore:

– Don’t do any yoga. At all.

– Don’t even talk to people who do yoga. Only associate with those who have never done yoga/scorn yoga and its principles.

– Recognise you do not have the faintest clue what people are talking about 99% of the time.

– Stare at the TV for at least a week in pure fascination.

– Eat everything you’ve been pining for the past 5 months within the first few days of landing.


–  Five weeks after flying out of Indira Gandhi still experience ‘Delhi Belly’.

– Agree to go shopping at Asda and find yourself spellbound by the aisles of ham in plastic and trolleys full of Asda own brand products in their putrid green and white packaging.

– Begin orientating your life around what time the Jeremy Kyle Show is on. (this includes the repeats on ITV2 and ITV2+1).

– Actually experience real excitement at the prospect of Saturday night TV (The Voice and Take Me Out).

– Keep trying to correct people: ‘I wasn’t at a yoga retreat…’

– Get annoyed at people’s lack of knowledge of India: ‘Erm no Indians don’t have afro hair’, ‘Oh yeah that’s right, because they all wear turbans don’t they?’, ‘Umm…’

– Fill in job applications.

– Go for interviews and act really charming so that they give you a job.

– Accept a job.

– Realise your days of doing nothing are over and the time to re-enter the conventions of what us humans in the capitalist world describe as an acceptable life has finally arrived.

– Feel bewildered by the onslaught of information and introduction of responsibilities and obligations.

– Wonder why the hell anyone hired you.

– Start thinking about escape again.

– Forget all the things you learnt in Mysore.

– Allow the confusion to once again descend, forming the familiar fuzziness in your mind.

– Get worried about the future.

– Lie up at night in panic wondering what the hell is going on.

And so as a new routine establishes itself, the self is in limbo – a quandary of expectations, of shelved dreams, of familiar frustrations, of attitudes that haven’t changed, of new dreams, and hopeful resolutions.

No-one ever told you it would be like this.

And rightly so, for there is something inexplicable about the experience – perhaps I am seeming too grandiose – but there is a story which can never be told, a part of the self that can no longer relate to its environment; a part of the self that is still sitting in that shala listening to Sharath; a part of the self that still walks to the shala at 3am everyday; a part of the self that is sat outside the shala and feeling for the first time at home. Oh of course nostalgia plays tricks on the mind and it all seems so quaint from a distance. And it feels so small and insignificant in amongst the greyness, and paying bills, and learning how to sell expensive yoga clothing. But its there. And the practice is there. And it all comes back to life through the practice.

All I know is this: It’s time I got back on that mat.


8 thoughts on “Reality Bites

  1. Amen. Back in the real world it’s much harder to “not get disconnected”. Hope you’re well lovely lady 🙂 There’s always tomorrow morning.

  2. Nice post, Caroline! Sad to say I have done many of those things. You know, I got salmonella poisoning 9 weeks after coming back from India! I wasn’t sick the whole time I was in India, except 1.5 days when I had a little cold/flu. I never had delhi belly, but I came back here and got sick as a dog for 3 days and had to go to the emergency room. That was a month ago and I’m still recovering!

    Fortunately, getting on the mat on a somewhat regular basis does help a lot, so at least there is a cure. But the best cure may be going back to Mysore … 🙂

  3. Thank you lovely girls for your comments, you made me feel a little less alone! I’m so sorry to hear you have been sick Jami! Sounds horrific. My ongoing delhi belly seems mild in comparison, I have started to look upon it as my daily reminder of India. And yes the ‘Mysore cure’… or is it searching for a cure from Mysore??

  4. Hi Caroline, I can definitely relate to this post. Pleased to hear you have a job, I hope it’s one you enjoy. Getting back on the mat after Mysore is hard, especially when it has to be fitted around life and responsibilities,not to mention sub zero temps in the mornings after the nights before, of indulging in all you no longer need to crave and can now have and then have some more. Though suspect your cravings were different to mine 🙂

    I hope Mysore was as good for you as it was for me, though I suspect like me you are thinking about how and when you can go back. Mysore was my catalyst to change many facets of my life, my job, my relationship to others,my health and for the most part it’s worked.

    The fun is when you turn up to class as I did last Friday at TY and see someone on the mat in front who you last saw at Santosha the day you left. Mysore vet’s, there are people you can talk to who know both about Ashtanga and India and whose eyes don’t glaze over after 2 minutes.

  5. Thanks Kevin for your lovely comments! Yes it has been a struggle and I am glad I wrote the post now as a healthy reminder that I am not the only one! Mysore has definitely brought about many changes – mostly good – and yes I am thinking how and when I can go back to Mysore as the realities of a job and London and tube commuting etc begin to set in.

    And as I am set on getting back on the mat I hope to be practising around London – maybe see you at YP or AYL one weekend? 🙂

    1. Alas I can’t see another trip to Mysore in the next couple of years at least, no way could I get a month off,let alone three. My new Co is very small, just 4 of us + the Boss, but a much less stressed environment and the bonus of a walk to work instead of the commute.

      I will be at The Lifecentre on Saturday (hopefully strained back permitting) and at YP this Sunday, then AYL the following Sunday, so let me know if you will be around, you can join us for Yogi breakfast. Pret or Gallery Cafe may not quite be Anokhi garden, but the Pain au Chocolat are not bad!

  6. Great, be good to see you. YP is 8-10am, Cary is a brilliant Teacher.
    I’m staying in the city Saturday night after running Globetrotters in the afternoon.

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