Tag Archives: India

Deccan Herald: It’s ‘money yoga’ for foreigners in Mysore

Raking in moolah

It’s ‘money yoga’ for foreigners in Mysore

Preethi Nagaraj, Mysore, Apr 15, DHNS:

An American national, Jason Thomas (name changed) comes to Mysore once in two years. A photographer and ‘certified’ yoga instructor, this 39-year-old makes the heritage city home for almost 30-45 days during his visit, as he has been doing since the last eight years.

“I come here to update my yoga skills and back home, I am associated with a yoga school where I teach during the weekends at US $ 20 – 40 per session (two classes) depending upon the kind of yoga our students want to learn,” he reveals.

While he has stuck to teaching simple yoga, his contemporaries who switched over to more popular forms of yoga earn up to US $ 80 – 120 for every session, he says. His yoga school charges him nearly Rs 25,000 as a refresher package.

While in Mysore, Jason stays at a guest house run by his ‘friend’ who is a foreigner, paying about 1,500 per day for a bed and breakfast facility. The place is managed by Alisa, a lady who traces her roots to Greece, and lives in the UK. She is one of the people who manage the place, ‘Nest’ in Vijayanagar, and by an estimate, makes a neat Rs 1.5 lakh per month accommodating her ‘friends’ who book rooms via internet. Locals are strictly not allowed inside this ‘six-room accommodation’ house. Such guest houses are aplenty on Contour Road, VV Mohalla, Lakshmipuram, Kuvempunagar, Vijayanagar, Bogadhi among other areas.

The police, who recently sent out a circular instructing the yoga schools in the city to teach only those who arrive on yoga visa or student visa, claim there is more than what meets the eye. Speaking to Deccan Herald, a top source said, at any given point of time, there are 3,000 to 5,000 foreigners living in Mysore on tourist visa, mostly enrolled with different Yoga schools.

Tracking problem

While they appear before the police when they arrive in the city, it becomes difficult to trace them afterwards. As a result, the police instructed the hotels to provide them with details of their foreign visitors. What then came to fore was the case of a mega ‘business’ being run by some foreigners who visit Mysore on ‘rotation’ basis.

Most Yoga schools are aware of this. Says Sudesh Chandra of Upanishat Yoga Kendra in Kuvempunagar: “The foreigners who come here stay together for security reasons. I am told they run guest houses too.”

The schools which enroll foreigners, certify them which is in turn used to earn more dollars back home. And this, purely, is the prerogative of the school. Yoga schools want the Government to create a central authority to formalise the teaching methods, thus adding a natural check to the system.

originally posted at the Deccan Herald

NY Times: on the 2010 Kumbh Mela

Taking a Sacred Plunge, One Wave of Humanity at a Time

By JIM YARDLEY and HARI KUMAR
Published: April 14, 2010

HARIDWAR, India — Over the bridge they came, Hindu holy men by the tens of thousands, the most devout naked and dusted with sacramental powder, marching toward the bathing pool in the Ganges where the water is considered holiest on this most propitious of days.

Shouting and singing, waving tridents or spears, the naked mystics, or naga sadhus, were granted the first plunge.

Then came the gurus and swamis, wrapped in saffron robes, a few shaded by beaded parasols. One swami was delivered into the water on the shoulders of his disciples. For 20 minutes, they frolicked, as other pilgrims watched from nearby rooftops.

And then time was up. The police tweeted their whistles and began nudging the group out of the sacred water. There were still untold thousands of holy men waiting to take a dip.

Wednesday was the culmination of the Hindu religious festival known as the Kumbh Mela, a staggering outpouring of humanity that also represents a staggering logistical challenge.

Since January, tens of millions of pilgrims have arrived in this city by train, plane, bus or foot for the privilege of bathing in the Ganges on certain auspicious dates. On Wednesday alone, 10 million people were estimated to have entered the water. The crowds are so massive that safety is a serious concern.

Not least is the challenge of managing the rival sects of holy men, the self-described defenders of the Hindu religion for whom the Kumbh Mela is both a sacred ritual and a demonstration of their status.

In years past, they have bickered with each other, or with the government, arguing over issues like which group should be allowed to bathe first or whether their photographs could be taken during the holy dip.

“They are very egoistic,” said Anand Bardhan, the administrator overseeing the Kumbh. “One moment they suddenly become angry and the next moment they will shower lots of affection. You need to understand their nature.”

This year, the police assigned a special officer as a liaison to the various sects who helped negotiate a consensus on the bathing schedule. The first in the water this year were followers of the order known as the Niranjani.

But tragedy struck Wednesday morning. The police say the Juna sect was beginning its procession toward the Ganges when one of their vehicles hit several people in the crowds. People panicked and stampeded. Seven people were killed, though it is unclear if they died from the accident or the stampede.

Leaders of the Juna canceled their procession, instead choosing to bathe at a different spot on the Ganges, and blamed the authorities for failing to adequately clear their route to the river.

Mahant Hari Giri, general secretary of the Juna, said that leaders decided it would be inappropriate to resume their march through the city but that the group had not boycotted the ritual, as some had reported.

“It was not possible to take the whole procession,” he said. “But we have not boycotted the holy bath. We did take a dip in the Ganges.”

The Kumbh Mela derives from Hindu mythology, which holds that gods and demons struggled over a pitcher, or kumbh, containing the drink of immortality. As the gods raced toward heaven, drops of the sacred nectar spilled out onto four locations on the river: Allahabad, Ujjaink, Nashik and Haridwar. Today, the Kumbh Mela is held every three years, rotating among the four cities, meaning that each hosts every 12 years.

Tucked in the foothills of the Himalayas, Haridwar is a challenging place to host tens of millions of people. The Kumbh Mela is conducted in the middle of the city, and many pilgrims insist on taking their dip in the holiest spot, known as Har Ki Pauri, which is roughly the size of three Olympic swimming pools.

Authorities estimated that roughly 100,000 people an hour entered the water at Har Ki Pauri on Tuesday and Wednesday. Many pilgrims believe that a dip in this spot on the appointed day will allow them to break the cycle of reincarnation.

continue reading

Sex, tapes, and scandals: yes, another guru

Swami Resigns Over Sex Tape Scandal (VIDEO)

First Posted: 03-30-10 12:24 PM
The Huffington Post

Paramhamsa Nityananda, the popular Indian Swami who faced protests after a local television played a video that appeared to show him in bed with two women, has announced he’s resigning as head of a religion organization.

“I have decided to live a life of spiritual seclusion, for some indefinite time…,” he said in a statement on his website.

The 32-year-old Swami had been under siege due to the sexually suggestive tapes earlier this month. The Nithyananda Mission ashram released a statement calling the video “a mix of conspiracy, graphics and rumours”, but followers attacked the building.

A Hindu holy man, Swami Nityananda was reported to have over 2 million followers and has over 11 ashrams in India and 26 in different countries around the world.  click for full article.

Live from India (mysore blogs, gettem while they’re hot)

Finding the Strawberry:

Tales of an ashtanga midwife-to-be

…There is a lot that I never imagined possible that has happened on this trip. Unfortunately, I dont think that it would all translate in a blog. I have had numerous “ah-ha” moments and really grown in both my practice and in my spirit...

A Second Dose of Ashtanga from Mysore

…So, here I am, milling around waiting to wander down to the shala to do the only part of the Mysore routine that I really, really don’t like doing. For a led class, it’s prudent to arrive very early, at least 45 minutes, and wait on the steps with all the other people in your group. This pretty much assures you of a reasonable space i.e. not on the stage or, God help me, in the washroom as happened last year…

Queen of the East Village:

My home town is calling me back

…Ya, ya… not five minutes after I’d gotten under the net & into bed last night, at 8pm, the power went. Fuck YOU Mysore! I said. I got up & lit a candle & incense. For some reason, I always do this when the power goes at night. You’ve gotta take periodic cold showers too and readjust the pony tail to top of, rather than back of, head…


Insideowl

…Depth at the expense of complexity? I dunno. But my friends the hashtangis are a warning to me: empty mind not same as quiet mind.

The last few days I have fumbled around for the off switch and found it, gotten back in to work. It seems my subconscious is willing to get behind that decision, more or less. That said, I love a little steam of devotional babble. Maybe there is something to the notion of praying without ceasing…

Ashtanga Journal

…he said “you come to Intermediate led class this week”! I could not believe my ears, I was so excited and this was so unexpected! After Chakra Bandhasana and a squash, I grabbed my mats and walked to the changing room for finishing postures…. After doing the finishing postures, resting and sitting for a while, I was already doubting myself, “did i hear correctly, did he really say that, did he really mean that I come to Sunday intermediate led?”…

2010: The Year of Ashtanga Books

The uncertainty of practice in 2009 and 2010 – Is the shala open?  Will Sharath be teaching?  etc. – seems to be coinciding with a sudden surge of literature on and of a yoga that has been notoriously silent (except in blogs and secret chat rooms of course).

Speaking of which, the blog “On the Ashtanga path while on mother Earth” cued us in on a couple of recent additions to our Yoga Reading List 2010

(clipped from industry press releases, although we’d be happy to review some copies…)

“A BOLD, EYE-OPENING CHRONICLE OF YOGA’S RISE TO UBIQUITY IN AMERICA”

THE SUBTLE BODY:  The Story of Yoga in America

In The Subtle Body, Stefanie Syman tells the surprising story of yoga’s transformation from a centuries-old spiritual discipline to a multi billion-dollar American industry.

Yoga’s history in America is longer and richer than even its most devoted practitioners realize. It was present in Emerson’s New England, and by the turn of the twentieth century it was fashionable among the leisure class. And yet when Americans first learned about yoga, what they learned was that it was a dangerous, alien practice that would corrupt body and soul.

A century later, you can find yoga in gyms, malls, and even hospitals, and the arrival of a yoga studio in a neighborhood is a signal of cosmopolitanism. How did it happen? It did so, Stefanie Syman explains, through a succession of charismatic yoga teachers, who risked charges of charlatanism as they promoted yoga in America, and through generations of yoga students, who were deemed unbalanced or even insane for their efforts. The Subtle Body tells the stories of these people, including Henry David Thoreau, Pierre A. Bernard, Margaret Woodrow Wilson, Christopher Isherwood, Sally Kempton, and Indra Devi.

From New England, the book moves to New York City and its new suburbs between the wars, to colonial India, to postwar Los Angeles, to Haight-Ashbury in its heyday, and back to New York City post-9/11. In vivid chapters, it takes in celebrities from Gloria Swanson and George Harrison to Christy Turlington and Madonna.

And it offers a fresh view of American society, showing how a seemingly arcane and foreign practice is as deeply rooted here as baseball or ballet. This epic account of yoga’s rise is absorbing and often inspiring—a major contribution to our understanding of our society.

STEFANIE SYMAN , a literature graduate of Yale, was a founder of Feed, an early, award-winning Web magazine. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Yoga Journal. A native of Los Angeles, she lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and has practiced yoga for fifteen years.

“AN UNPRECEDENTED PORTRAIT OF A GREAT YOGA TEACHER AND THE WAYS IN WHICH TEACHINGS AND TRADITIONS ARE PASSED ON”

GURUJI:  A Portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Through the Eyes of His Students

Guy Donahaye and Eddie Stern
NORTH POINT PRESS
It is a rare and remarkable soul who becomes legendary during the course of his life by virtue of great service to others. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois was such a soul, and through his teaching of yoga, he transformed the lives of countless people. The school in Mysore that he founded and ran for more than sixty years trained students who, through the knowledge they received and their devotion, have helped to spread the daily practice of traditional Ashtanga yoga to tens of thousands around the world.  Guruji paints a unique portrait of a unique man, revealed through the accounts of his students. Among the thirty men and women interviewed here are Indian students from Jois’s early teaching days; intrepid Americans and Europeans who traveled to Mysore to learn yoga in the 1970s; and important family members who studied as well as lived with Jois and continue to practice and teach abroad or run the Ashtanga Yoga Institute today. Many of the contributors (as well as the authors) are influential teachers who convey their experience of Jois every day to students in many different parts of the globe. Anyone interested in the living tradition of yoga will find Guruji richly rewarding.

GUY DONAHAYE and EDDIE STERN
became students of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in 1991. Donahaye is director of the Ashtanga Yoga Shala New York City. Stern is director of the Ashtanga Yoga New York and Sri Ganesh Temple, and copublisher and editor of Namarupa.

MARKETING:  Author Appearances

Releases July 20, 2010

Krishnamacharya:  His Life and Teachings

Written by A.G. Mohan

Krishnamacharya

Krishnamacharya was a renowned Indian yoga master, Ayurvedic healer, and scholar who modernized yoga practice and whose students—including B. K. S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, T. K. V. Desikachar, and Indra Devi—dramatically popularized yoga in the West. This personal tribute to the father of modern yoga, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989), is written by one of his longtime disciples, a well-respected yoga teacher and yoga therapist in his own right.

A. G. Mohan draws on his own memories and notes, and on Krishnamacharya’s diaries and recorded material, to present a fascinating view of the man and his teachings, and of his own warm and inspiring relationship with the master. It’s a valuable read for all yoga students, and an essential one for all experienced yoga teachers and yoga therapists who want to understand the source of their tradition and practice.

A. G. Mohan studied with Sri T. Krishnamacharya for eighteen years until the master’s death in 1989. He is the author of numerous books. He lives in Chennai, India, with his wife, Indra, and son, Ganesh. The Mohans also teach workshops in the United States, India, and Europe.

Releases July 13, 2010

No fear, no paranoia

“Mysore: Here, The Mind Is Without Fear

People of various nationalities, their well-toned bodies glistening with sweat in the early morning sun, gather around Imran’s mobile tender coconut shop for a ritual drink in an upscale Mysore locality. There is natural as well as a cultivated calm as they respond to questions about their safety following the blasts at the German Bakery in Pune last week.” (read more)


He who thinks him (the Self) to be the killer, and who experiences him (the Self) as the killed - both of them know not. He (the Self) neither kills nor is killed. [Bg. 2.19]

Yoga Stops Traffick

[from the Odanadi website]

Over the past 20 years Odanadi Seva Trust has rescued and rehabilitated more than 1850 children, carried out 57 brothel raids and brought 137 traffickers to justice. With your help, compassion and cooperation, Odanadi will continue to provide a place of sanctuary for the survivors of human trafficking and offer them a chance to rebuild their lives.

From the grand entrance gates of Mysore Palace, YOGA STOPS TRAFFICK INDIA will be led by a group of young people from Odanadi, many of whom are survivors of slavery, domestic abuse and forced prostitution. Over the years Astanga Yoga has come to play a vital role in their rehabilitation program: building their physical and mental strength, restoring a sense of peace, confidence and self-worth.

Odanadi residents will be accompanied by 200 visiting yoga practitioners, politicians, parliamentarians, social activists, members of the press, local and international supporters.

You can join Odanadi on March 13th by organising your own YOGA STOPS TRAFFICK event at your local yoga centres, living rooms, parks or any other public spaces – just use your imaginations!

Click here to find out more about this organization and how you can get involved

Ongoing Reading List: India + Yoga + Hippies

Just got finished reading the latest in the Indiafile genre, which surprisingly, was not chick-lit.  It was a bit boring though.  Sorry. Magic Bus

And the list begins:

The Age of Kali: Indian Travels and Encounters by various

Are You Experienced? by William Sutcliffe

Asia On My Mind by Sally Hovey Wriggins

Dork Whore: My Travels through Asia as a Twenty-Year-Old Pseudo-Virgin by Iris Bahr

Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Fear and Loathing in New Jersey by Debra Galant

First There Is a Mountain: A Yoga Romance by Elizabeth Kadetsky

A girls’ guide to India – a survivor’s handbook by Louise Wates

The God of Small Things: A Novel by Arundhati Roy

Holy Cow:  An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald

Karma Cola: Marketing the Mystic East by Gita Mehta

Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta

Midnight’s Children: A Novel by Salman Rushdie

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America by Stefanie Syman

Wanderlust and Lipstick: For Women Traveling to India by Beth Whitman, Amy Scott, and Elizabeth Haidle

Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton

Yoga in the Modern World: Contemporary Perspectives by Mark Singleton, Jean Marie Byrne

Yoga School Drop Out by Lucy Edge

The Yoga Teacher by Alexandra Gray

NB!! Yoga Visa

Planning to study yoga in India? From now on you will need a yoga visa. Check out the latest news from the KPJ Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore:

# From March 2010, all students coming to study at KPJAYI must enter India on a yoga visa, as required by Indian law. You may email shala@kpjayi.org for admission letters from our Institute to include with your visa application form to the Indian Embassy in your country. Upon arrival, students should follow the relevant registration formalities with the Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) in Mysore.

# Please note, according to Indian law: There should be gap of at least 2 months between two visits to India on tourist and other visas.

# For more information on visa and registration requirements, please refer to the Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs, India. They have published clear rules and instructions for foreigners coming to India.

Mysore Memorial for Pattabhi Jois

posted by ebean

If you couldn’t jet to Mysore or happened to forget your camera, here is Guruji’s Vaikunta Samaradhane (marking the end of the mourning period) in words and pictures…

Mysore Life Blog

Flickr Photostream