Sunday, July 27, 2008


I went to bed at 10 on Saturday and awakened just before the 5AM call to mosque on Sunday; then I crashed again until 8.

At first I was disoriented; Why am I here? Isn't it a bit selfish to keep coming back to Mysore?
But then I called down for chai and drank some lemon water while I waited, and sniffed the air and realized that I'm exactly where I should be right now.

The chai came just as I finished the jala dhauti.

After a very soft home practice I visited the Three Sisters, who had kept my trunk for me; it turns out that some bugs infiltrated some of my clothes-bags. I went on the roof of the Kaveri
and shook them out; ick.

After changing money (41.7 rupees to the dollar. In 2002 it was 48), Ammu and I went to lunch at Desprakash, a huge restaurant/hotel with fresh, excellent thali (meals with rice, curd,
vegetables, sambar, rasam, chapatti, pappad, etc) - where Joseph and Jeff-from-NY were also dining.

Then we drove to Gokalum to pick up the scooter. The Honda Activa I usually drive has been sold, and the new one is a Scooty Pep -an Activa copy that works just fine.
After chai at Chakra House I went to the shala, hoping to register and attend conference with Sharath.

Guruju was behind his old desk at the shala, looking fit. Sharath was behind his adjacent desk, looking a bit beefy. I tried to chat with Guruji as I filled out paperwork. He laughed when I said
"Josti malay" ("Lots of rain" ; it's been pouring like crazy on and off all day).

Sharath talked for a long time during the conference (Guruji was nowhere to be seen). He was quite funny, and said many important things; also he never lost his cool, despite being badgered rather rudely with an avalanche of questions from a female student.

Among other things:

-When you do this, you build strength. But it's not like the strength you build at the gym. It's internal strength. The body becomes very light, but strong. It purifies the system, healing
the body and mind. The mind is very important. If the mind is not healthy, you cannot do anything; it is not possible to achieve your goal (the goal being of course self-realization, although he didn't aspell it out).

-If your teacher does not have the correct foundation, how is he able to teach students (he then gestured towards Wendy (I think), who has been coming for 15 years and has the correct foundation. "Faith is important." Some people come for six years, create their own kind of yoga and put their name on it. The shastras do not say that. It's important to follow the Yamas and Niyamas (ethical roots). You pratice yoga as a spiritual practice, not in order to become a teacher. Yoga should be like eating very day; it should be like, without yoga you cannot survive.
Many yoga teachers say they don't make enough money teaching yoga. "Then do something else." It is your karma to do. Don't expect anything from it.

-In the olden days, nobody had any money. Krishnamacharya lived in a small house. His grandfather (Pattabhi Jois) begged for money. They were very poor, very simple. HIs grandfather doesn't even know how famous he is. As simple as possible, that is the ashtanga tradition. Everyone wants to compete. If you have a good heart and faith in what you're doing, you will get everything. You don't have to worry.

-When your thinking is always on good things, the mind is very clean and becomes strong. It will help your daily life and practice also.

-There is only one goal of yoga - to realize what we are; to become enlightened; to connect with the supreme god, the supreme self. If not in this lifetime, then maybe the next if the karma is good. The body is like a set of clothes, but the soul does not die. Do good in this life so the quality of your next life is better.

-Then he took some questions. "Sensible questions," he reminded us. One woman with a fairly thick accent kept hammering away at him about diet and whatnot. She'd hit him with a followup question even before he finished talking about the previous one, but he never took offense.

He was asked about the importance of Dristi, and said that it improves concentration and can also be an important kriya in the form of trataka - which can be done in headstand. He said that there is meditation in the asana.

A longtime student from Florida asked about breathing, as in, How do you know when a student is breathing correctly? Sharath said that breathing deeply is correct (and demonstrated it). Then the heat will increase and make the body flexible. "I can tell when a student is not correct." If a student is not breathing correctly in backbends, they will get pain in the lower back. It will eventually go away. Then he told a story about when he was working on Eka Pada Kapotasana, when he was 23 (he's a rather gifted storyteller, by the way). Guruji was helping him and he told him Guruji he could go further, further. Then there was a pop in the upper back, near his shoulder. He could not raise his arm after that. But he was scheduled to give a yoga demonstration at a college the next day. Guruji wanted him to do it anyway. Amma (Guruji's wife) scolded him: "You will kill my grandson." But of course he did it. After one month there was more pain, and he cold not lift the arm. He could barely do half primary series. Guruji told him his breathing was not correct. Finally the pain went away. The body changes with time. It will not be the same now as it was a few years back. Every body has some limit. But you have to keep trying.

Many more questions were asked, and his answers were well thought-out. I've removed them from this post, as I'm trying to sort out whether or not posting everything Sharath said connotes a form of stealing (yogis are supposed to practice asteya, or non-stealing). If you would like this information, please consider coming to the AYRI yourself or studying with a direct student.

Then he spoke about the Sri K. Pattahi Jois charitable trust. They raised 170,000 rupees at Guruji's birthday party last week. There will be a live auction soon, featuring a signed, framed photo of a young Guruji in Samasthith. There are also t-shirts for sale. For more info click here.

1 comment:

  1. love the advice! even tho I have never done astanga, not even Suddha's -- altho I did take Manju's workshop once....:)

    love the advice about the breath creating heat. I tell my students that all the time, that they don't have to jump around like monkeys to sweat. just breathe! deep!