My-sur, My-SUR, MY-SUR!

At the bus station the gruff calls of "My-sur, My-SUR, MY-SUR!" sound more like an auctioneer's call for the final bid than it does for the bus into the quaint city known for its sandalwood oil, incense and silk saris. From Bangalore to Mysore its a mere 125 Rupees ($2.50 CDN) for the semi-deluxe bus. Cheap. Very cheap by North American standards when you consider it's at least a 3-4 hour journey. Mysore is such a lovely city to be as it still possesss an old-world charm. So far the growing population has not ruined it with Mysore's population increasing by 20 per cent increase from 1991 to 2001. A census conducted in 1931 showed there were just over 100,000 people. Today, there are about 900,000 people.

It's always funny talking to any local as one of the first things they will remark upon is how easily you can get around. It's not like Bangalore, which has about 6 million people! But Delhi and Mumbai they say is "too much crowded." I learned recently that Mysore holds the largest number of Indians who were not born here as compared to other cities. It's sort of interesting when you probably assumed that everyone is from 'here'.

I first came to Mysore in 1999. I visited the zoo, roamed around the Maharaja's Palace (royalty of India) and witnessed the 90,000 lights that came alive from the palace. Every Sunday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. the palace becomes a glowing array of lights for one hour. During my brief 3 day visit, I did not know that Mysore was the home of many famous yoga teachers, the most well-known being Shri K. Pattabi Jois. I also never imagined I would continue to return to this city after meeting Yogacharya Venkatesh in 2000. Funny, too, as for years I was saying the name incorrectly. Many local people showed me their pride by shouting at me, "My-sur". But with so many different accents and helpful people, I grew confused as to whether it was My-sur, My-sir or My-sore! Many yoga students have simply stuck to My-"s-o-r-e" and for obvious reasons. Last year, the department of tourism officially changed the name to My-su-ru! This seemed to make things easier, but I have yet to hear anyone refer to it as such.

Right now is a very exciting time to be in Mysore because on Friday, September 18th the Dasara fesitval will begin; a 10-day fesitval that commemorates the victory of good over evil, light from the dark, knowledge from ignorance and bliss from sorrow. There are performances and processions that mark this very special time. Probably one of the biggest event is the last day when the 4900 kg gold "howkah" (seat of the Maharaja) is placed on the back of an elephant. During the festival there are also nine rituals performed that are understood to break the attachment to the body and the mind; bringing forth the divine love of the mother (also known as Navaratri).

The daily scene, however, appears the same as usual. This photo is typical of the Indians who are busy with their mobile phones. Here they call it the "handy". It does not matter if they are driving a scooter, walking along the street or talking amongst friends, everyone seems to be on their handy. If you have any problems, for sure, they will know how to resolve it. Very savvy 21st century crowd.


The Journey So Far

Life is an adventure and yoga is the greatest one of all. Here I share my love of Yoga, travel, practice and becoming a part-time cook. My life adventures have taken me from growing up in Toronto to living and working in South Korea to studying in India, marriage and finally closing my Yoga school of 15 years.

What I can say so far is that I truly believe that it is necessary in life to let go of one dream in order for another to be born. This might be painful to do so but it is the only way to move forward. We often believe that if our original plan does not succeed it is the recipe for failure. But what if it is the door to something new and great? The horizon is wide and life is not a straight line. This is the way I see it and my journey so far. Having also recently given birth to my first child and at 43, it is another new beginning.


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Heather Morton
is a perennial teacher and devoted student of yoga. Having made 18 extended trips to India she studies with her teachers annually. In 1997 she founded and directed The Yoga Way (TYW), Toronto's only school for 6-week yoga programs and not drop-in classes. For 15 years, TYW was a part of the growing Toronto yoga community and supported many charities by offering karma classes. As a teacher she holds many academic degrees including a BFA (Fine Arts in Theatre) and a Masters of Education. With a published thesis on Yoga for Children in School, her post-graduate work was a 2-year ethnographic project in the Indian school system. Heather has produced 2 dvds, meditation cds, a backbending manual and podcasts. Freedom of the Body DVD is the first of its kind as an instructional practice to the backbends of yoga. Heather has been featured in the Toronto Life magazine, The Globe & Mail, Yoga4Everybody and other on-line sources. She contributes to MindBodyGreen, Hello Yoga in Japan and Elephant Journal. She writes to inspire and share her experiences with others on yoga as a life's practice.
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