What a week. It is amazing to me how in this magical place, where all there is to do is practice yoga and talk about yoga (in one way or another), the days can feel so full. In the past week I’ve started daily 2-hour studies with Jayashree and Narasimhan, scholars of Sanskrit and the Vedas, in which one hour is spent chanting the Yoga Sutras and one hour discussing yogic philosophy. They are both joyful, radiant, knowledgeable, enlightened (in my narrow understanding of the word, as well as perhaps in a bigger sense) souls and it is inspiring to be in their presence every morning. I’ve taken short workshops with them twice before, once in Chicago in 2008 and once this past November, and have been looking forward to seeing them again in their home. The course continues for one more week, and beginning tomorrow night I will be spending another hour or two at their home in the evenings, learning transcendental meditation with Narasimhan.
The practice, which I haven’t written much about, continues smoothly. The energy in the shala is lovely. Many people have left so the room is not overflowing with students, which means I’ve been going a bit earlier than my scheduled time and getting in right away. No line, no waiting, no practicing in the changing room or on the stage, even in the led classes. Saraswathi has a maternal, firm presence in the room, and while it’s endearing to hear her yell across the room “YOU MAKE MISTAKE!” or “NO SHAKING!” or (as she said to me in pasasana) “SIT PROPERLY!” you do your darndest to follow her instruction.
Saturday was Yoga Stops Traffick, an annual event to benefit Odanadi, an organization “working for the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficked women and children.” Along with Magnolia I organized and led the YST event in San Francisco last year, and it was wonderful to attend the main event at the Mysore Palace. We did 27 Surya Namaskara, and each one was led by a child from the orphanage, reading the instructions in English and Sanskrit into a microphone for over 100 yogis, adults and children together, to follow. Inspiring.
Today, a leisurely breakfast at Santosha, followed by a leisurely afternoon at a nearby hotel pool, followed by my third conference with Sharath. He addressed the benefits of Ashtanga Yoga: the body and mind are purified, which leads to jnana (knowledge), which leads to the wisdom to know right from wrong. He added that “The purification process is not instant; it’s not like making noodles. It takes patience, dedication, trust in the teacher and trust in the system.”
Some more (paraphrased) gems:
-When you take birth, you must also take death. Between birth and death we act so crazy– we think everything is ours.
-Has anyone told you what happens after death? Nobody knows. Soooo many people have died.”
And, adding to the Sharath Yoga Sutras:
1. No coffee, no prana.
2. No pain, no gain.
3. No chapatis, no strength.
4. No fear, no fun.
(This last one was in response to a student who asked why shaking was there in some poses. Sharath said it was because of fear; and that before doing a pose that gives you fear, you should chant the mantra “Jai Hanuman,” because Hanuman is the giver of strength.)
So. Full weekend. And next week, more to learn.