Coming to Mysore has always been a reality check for me. To realise how little I need, how much there is for me to learn, what do I need to let go of and where do I move from here.

At the start of the season, Sharath already made quite a few changes. He is more particular about practice timing, constantly reminding us not to turn up too early, no practicing on mats with the sacred OM symbol and no 3 stripes symbol on the yoga rug; and more controversially, the dress code during practice – no short shorts and sports bra.

Whether you are for or against the new ‘rules’ the fact is he is implementing all the changes. Either you follow them or break them as long as you are willing to bear the consequences.

Being back several times in Mysore (Gokulam) I am beginning to notice something which I have previously not realised. There may be a few more new cafes and malls sprouting up but the town remains conservative and reserved in its ways.

Sharath has always reminded us that it is a different culture here. They (the locals) are not used to the western culture. We need to respect the culture and behave appropriately because we are the guests, we are the visitors. We cannot expect them to accommodate to us but instead we have to learn their rules because we are in their land.

Back home in Singapore, t-shirts, shorts and flip flops are acceptable dress code for most casual occasions because the heat is unbearable. We are so used to dressing down and everyone accepts it as a local culture. We address strangers affectionately by ‘uncles and aunties’ as a common term which some may find it strange and awkward.

Few years back I went on a mission trip to Myanmar and learned a valuable lesson. Coming from a first world country, we are quick and efficient in giving suggestions and ideas to what should be done for the locals. It was until a friend asked – ‘How would you like it if I come to your house and started (re)arranging your furniture to my liking?’ That was an awakening moment for me. Such a simple analogy that made total sense.

Every country has their own unique culture and unspoken rules. Like it or not, it is definitely a personal choice as long as you are willing to accept the outcome of your choice. Yoga doesn’t starts only on the mat, it starts with our actions and thoughts.