Monday, August 25, 2008


I did primary series today, in the front row of the shala. I did it like an old lady because of the wounds and bandages. It was hell at first, but the longer I did it the better I felt. Yoga Chikitsa (primary series) really IS yoga therapy. Somehow even standing up from backbend was possible. During dropbacks Saraswati inquired about what happened and asked, "How many bandages?" She reminds me of her father/Guruji... Tomorrow I'll do my regular practice (primary + a handful of intermediate poses) and then my month here will be finished.

I spent much of the today in doctor's offices, waiting for an ultrasound mammogram (nothing detected. Cost: Rs 600 or under $15) and an exam/pap smear (still awaiting results. Cost: Rs 500 or around $12).

I also spent some time arguing with the hotel manager, who said that I owe the post office Rs 350 for postage for a yoga mat my friend sent to me from the US (to replace the one that was doused in gasoline by the petrol bunk attendant). It arrived today. The postage on it was $30. A few hours later the day manager told me I owed Rs 350, and waited for me to hand it to him. "No." I said. "I want to see the receipt." Then I thought about it. "No," I said. "No postage due. No. That is not correct. I have had many packages delivered in Mysore, and never have had to pay. I will not pay." His response: "Tomorrow madam receipt coming." My response: "I will not pay it." At some point the conversation started sounding like one of the less popular Dr. Seuss books.


Sharath stressed again that we should read yoga philosophy, that asana is just one aspect of yoga. He specifically mentioned the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, which talk about how to control the mind. The goal of yoga is self-realization He also talked again about how the mind and body must be pure. If the mind is not pure, the body is not pure and vice-versa.

He spoke at length about Parampara, or lineage. Krishnamacharya (Guruji's teacher) learned from Brahmachari for 8 or 9 years. Krishnamacharya was a Sansrkit scholar and had read all of the yoga books, but wanted to learn it practically. Someone told him to go to Ramana Brahmachari, who lived on an island. He went, and Brahmachari's son told him to go away. After two years the guru finally came - and gave him two chapattis and said "Eat this and go away." Krishnamacharya did not leave. He started talking to Brahmachari in Sanskrit. The guru was impressed and thought, "This is not an ordinary man. He will learn what I teach." (That was the olden days, Sharath said. "Now you send an application and a nice photo." )

After 8 or 9 years of study, it was time for Krishnamacharya to leave. First he had to give Gurudakshina , and asked the guru how he could pay him back. Brahmachari said to go around and teach this method of yoga. If Krishnamacharya had not done this, we would not have this practice. That is parampara: respect for the teacher....the bond between the teacher and student used to be so strong...

In the past you had to struggle to study with them. Nowadays teachers are trying to attract students.

(NOTE: I am merely reporting this, not condoning it. I recently realized that for me, compassion crushes the ego more quickly and cleanly than tough love or indifference. Perhaps this is because the ego was so forcibly crushed by Xmas Judy at such a tender age).

We also saw a presentation about a local SKPJ Fund recipient called Pratham, which educates slum children by teaching their mothers to be educators.

More conference notes here.

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