Saraswathi owns all of "The Shalas" (Yoga Studios). That is the first thing you find out when you say, Sharaths'shala. She owns both of the studios though students who are practicing with Sharath practice in one space and those practicing with Saraswathi practice in a space down the road. Apparently she owns several other properties in Mysore; a girl after my own heart! Well deserved, Saraswathi is 75 years old and shows up everyday to teach her students. Sharath does the same thing. The Jois family are hard core yoga teachers. They start before daybreak and don't stop until the last student has completed the practice.
The studios are very simple. They are carpeted, much to the surprise of many Ashtangis who cringe at the idea of carpet in the states. They are carpeted with woven rugs. The rugs overlap, one on top of another, and you have to be very strategic in laying your mat down so you are not practicing on a seam. Every beginner, me included, puts their mat down on a seam and then spends most of the practice trying to get the courage to move or be content with what is.
There are Images of Guruji (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois who is Sharath's grandfather and Saraswathi's father) adorning the walls. Traditional Hindu puja accouterments are engaged during the practice time. It is a nice environment to spend some time in. The temperature in India is warm, so the room gets quite steamy. Yes, it is a hot room; though not artificially hot, which is an important distinction the orthodox like to make.
The bathrooms have no soap and no toilet paper so the colds and coughs go around from person to person. There are plenty of faucets so i have taken it upon myself to leave hotel soaps everywhere I go! Here comes the soap lady.
Hey guess what, sometimes there is even music in an Ashtanga class. Yesterday, Saraswathi had her headsets on while she was teaching, and she was serenading us while we practiced. So funny, I loved it!
The students come from all over the world, even a handful from India. Some are here for the first time, some are veterans. I have met several people I know and that is very comforting because the culture and the lifestyle is very different from what we are used to. Mysore is a community, a gathering, a town committed to yoga practice. Although, there is something unique about practicing in India, there is also something very familiar, very much like home. Speaking of home, I miss you and will be back soon.