I'm working on articles about Manju Jois and Tim Miller - who were a couple of the first Ashtanga teachers in Encinitas, California (the first was of course David Williams, followed by Brad Ramsey and Gary Lopedota [pictured with Guruji, above]. You can read about four of these fellows in the heavy, hard-to-put-down new book Guruji: A Portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Through the Eyes of His Students).
Here are a couple of choice bits from my upcoming workshop reviews:
During a Q&A, someone asked how to practice when you don’t want to. Manju said you have to have a passion for it. “No matter what your mind says, go and do your thing, and be glad you did it.
“Once the mat goes on the floor, the hands automatically go up” into the first sun salutation.”
He said he could never talk his way out of practice with his father. “He’d get me up at 3:30am and we’d do the work. He’d bribe me with coffee in the morning.
“Some postures were tough for me. I wanted to be excused. It was me and my sister and one guy – it was like boot camp. Baddhakonasana was a problem for me. Every time it came to that posture, I’d have to go to the bathroom and I’d hang out there and I’m come out and everyone was still in the posture. ‘We’re still waiting for you,’ my father would say.”
He first met Pattabhi Jois in 1978, on Guruji’s second trip to America.
“He looked kind of ordinary – a smallish man wearing black loafers and horn-rimmed glasses and a white lungi [sarong] and white dress shirt,” Tim said in an interview. “Once he took off his shirt and lungi, you could see he was a powerful little guy. He inspired some fear. At that time, he was 63 and still quite strong and vital.”
The classes were self-practice, and Guruji’s adjustments were strong. “When he came into close proximity, we would put forth superior strength to avoid being adjusted,” Tim said. “We lived to avoid being adjusted – but we also loved it.”
Pattabhi Jois’s residency in Encinitas, California included theory classes at the home of his son, Manju, who acted as translator. “We could see that he was extremely well-educated and deeply immersed in the yogic texts and was a deeply spiritual man,” Tim said, “He had a very devotional nature. When he recited the text he would become so emotional he would laugh and cry.”
(c) CK 2010
The full workshops reviews will appear in the September/October issue of Yoga Chicago magazine.
In the meantime....
-Read excerpts from the Guruji book here.
-More on the old days in Encinitas here.
-David Williams will give a workshop at YogaNow August 5-8. Read my 2003 article about him here.