The Intangible Stuff by: Cara Unrue
Yoga is good for you. Ashtanga yoga is, in my opinion, the best option for a strong and meditative practice. No matter the type you practice, it is likely to bring you some type of benefit, whether it's physical, mental, spiritual, etc. There is a piece; however, that can only be found in a Mysore room specifically, the intangible and unnamed piece, which I will attempt to explain here.
The world we live in is full of bullshit. Bullshit relationships, bullshit marketing… most days we even bullshit ourselves in some way or another. There is a certain something about the Mysore room that strips the bullshit away. There is no talking, which is the first step in the “cleanliness”, if you will. Although we may tout “community” or “inclusiveness” in other places, even a group of people talking with each other can make a new person feel isolated or not welcomed. Through no fault of those chatting, they have inadvertently excluded someone without even trying. When we are asked to refrain from talking, it puts everyone on an even social plane. For those of us who struggle to make small talk, this can be a great relief. For those who use their extroversion as protection and armor, they can take off that mask for a little while. When we aren’t talking, but we show up most days, there begins to form a solidarity, as if these people not only are practicing for themselves, but for you as well. It is sometimes easier to practice alone at home, but a wise person once said, “Sometimes you practice yoga for yourself, and sometimes you practice yoga for other people.”
I’ve come to the Mysore room in bad shape, recovering from surgery. Everyone there kept practicing. Maybe they noticed my shaky and drastically modified practice, maybe they didn’t. It didn’t matter. I was happy to step into a room full of people working for themselves and for those around them. I’ve seen a strong, tall man come to his knees and weep in the room. He knew no one would rush over and ask what happened, there was no pressure to explain. No one stared. He knew he could do that there, no questions asked. It was better than being alone, and better than having to explain. People fall on the floor... hard. No one stares. We all might send a little bit of concern in our hearts, and that person gets back up and goes again because there’s no shame in the room.
People of all shapes and sizes, young and old, rich and poor working together, for themselves and each other. What happens in the room stays in the room, for better or worse. When people aren’t pressured to perform, or put on a social facade, the realness comes out. We practice to lift each other up. That type of real kindness and compassion comes with us as we leave the room, and integrates into our lives, real and true support we can offer to the rest of the world as well.