Reading other students conference notes while I was sitting in Canada was big inspiration for me finally making the trip to Mysore to study with Sharath and KPJAYI. The conferences give some insight into our teacher and everything he has learned from years of dedicated sadhana and teaching. Being here now and listening to him speak each week is one of the things I look forward to the most. I've compiled some of what was said yesterday as I interpreted it. I hope it will inspire you to make the trip and experience first hand studying in Mysore. Apply early. Its busy here.
Build your foundation to create balance in the body.
Sharath started the conference talking about the number of asanas in the world and how the yogis had interpreted them by watching nature. There are so many asanas that it is impossible to do them all. Some asanas are used for different things like healing diseases. In Ashtanga the primary series, yoga chikitsa, is used is used to build a strong foundation. Once that is accomplished then the intermediate series, Nadi Sodhana, is used to work on the nervous system. You must go step by step. Build a strong foundation of strength and stamina then slowly add on more postures. He talked about how many people don't have the patience and just want a handstand class. This creates imbalance in the body. Without the proper openings (shoulder/chest) that you would get from poses like Marchyasana C and D the body won't be open. You will need these openings for the postures that follow like Bhujapidasana, Kurmasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana. So the method must be applied. Each posture completed one by one, slowly with the guidance of good teacher. It takes time. Guruji often said "it takes 1000 times to perfect an asana". Sharath said to allow the body to change year by year and not to go to the gym. The gym and other activities will cause tightness in the body.
What is easy for one person is hard for the next but with practice anything is possible
The second point he made was that everybody is different with different flexibility. Some postures are easy for one person and difficult for the next. You may find Marchyasana D or backbending difficult but with practice anything is possible. When you work at it everyday you will bring flexibility and stamina to the body. He spoke about how he used to practice 4 to 5 hours a day with Gurugi and was so tired. Every time time there was a new asana there was new pain and the body had to change. His advice was "don't hurry, you have a 80 or 100 years to practice - slowly build your foundation of stamina and flexibility".
Asana comes before Pranayama to prepare the body
Next he went on to talk about pranayama. If the body is ready and prepared then pranayama will cure all diseases but if the body isn't ready then it will cause diseases. First you have to master asanas, build your foundation and then the body will be ready for pranayama. It's not something you can learn in 15 days. When the body has been prepared and you have a good teacher to guide you the whole nervous system is purified. When you can do Kumbhaka, breath retention, there will be no sound or noise from outside and the inhalation and exhalation will circle in your body - this is the sound of the divine and pratyahara.
Meditation (Dhyana) is a state not something you do
Another point that Sharath brought up, which he had spoken of before, was how you can't do meditation. Meditation is a state. It's something that happens when the fundamentals are there. The analogy he has been using is that of a flower and how you must nourish the roots then it will blossom. You nourish yama, niyama, asana and pratyahara and then dhyana will occur. This state of mediation can happen at anytime.
If you have two doctors the patient will die
A student asked "what if I have been taught a pranayama from another type of yoga? Should I still do that?" . Sharath said that there was already pranayama happening when you are practicing Ashtanga and it was not necessary to do pranayama until the body was ready. He made another strong point that really resonated with me. He spoke about how Guruji would quote a sutra that basically said " if you have two teachers the student will die". Sharath used the example of if a patient had two doctors and they gave conflicting medicines the patient would die. We should stick to one method and one teacher. I think this is a big problem in the west where there are so many sources of information and we flip flop back and forth between techniques always second guessing what is correct.
The power of Bhakti
Sharath touched on other topics throughout the conference as students asked questions about bandha, Krishnamacharya mantra and the different series. He finished though with a powerful message about bhakti (devotion).
Sharath asked "what makes me get up at 12:45 am (to practice)? It's lots of work, I have a wife, family and 400 students to take care of - without bhakti - devotion to the practice - it is not possible".
He said "try to do what I do for one week (laughing) then we'll see. I'm not saying I'm superman - bhakti, devotion keeps me going". He would do this practice no matter what. If he went to the forest he would still do it. He's been having back pain for 2 months but he still gets up and does his practice then teaches for 6 hours. He said he has to. Personally I find Sharath's dedication and hard work to teaching yoga and doing his sadhana very inspirational. Its been my experience as well in that after many years of practice there is force that grows in you that gives you the energy to practice no matter what life throws at you. It only comes though if you put in the time day after day. Year after year.
Sharath finished with saying he was going to spend time with his family and also how there was new version of his book Ashtanga Yoga with corrections from the first. I'll see if i can pick one up today and post some pics on Facebook and Instagram. I'll also let readers know where they can get it if possible.
Hope these notes were helpful to you and please share or like below if they were.
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