We had conference with Sharath last night here in Mysore, India. Each week he takes some time to teach us about different topics concerning yoga philosophy and also answer questions. It does feel like it's getting a little bit quieter here than in February but it's still really busy and the shala was packed full. Just 3 weeks left before he closes for April and we all head back home with the knowledge and inspiration we've learned right from the source. It's been a great experience and no matter what people tell you about it you really have to do it yourself to know. With these notes I try and convey what he has said the best that I could understand it.
Often Sharath's son will join him on stage and tonight he was sitting beside him in padamasana. Sharath lifted up in Ut pluthi and then his son did as well. Everybody clapped. It was a really touching moment. Sharath said that this was how yoga came to him. He was surrounded by it and would try Ut Pluthi and swing back and forth because it was fun. In a previous conference someone asked if his son would take the place of Sharath. He replied that his son would have his own place. He said that the yoga has to grow inside of him.
Sharath started the conference by saying that the first four limbs of Ashtanga Yoga (Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama) are the external limbs that you can practice. The next four (Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) are internal. He went on to explain the Yamas and Niyamas.
Ahimsa (nonviolence) - "it should come from within you, nobody can force you" Your teacher can't watch what you are doing all the time.
Satya (truthfullness) - "to be true to yourself and be true to others"
Asteya (nonstealing) - "Shouldn't steal - even asana stealing, which you have not been taught - doesn't come from the parampara to you. Some people create their own yoga, which is happening now - this is not being true to yourself and not being true to others - the yoga should come through parampara as many manuscripts say like (he mentioned some texts but I didn't catch which ones) it says it should come from parampara - it's not only Asana - generally you shouldn't steal anything"
Brahmacharya - "Very important. celibacy. devoting yourself to your partner and your partner to yourself"
Aparigraha - "don't accept anything which you don't own"
Saucha (cleanliness)- There are two types of Saucha - internal and external. Internal cleanliness comes from asana practice, eating clean food (vegetarian). It's related also to ahimsa and you need to make the choice once you know about ahimsa on how to eat. He talked about how if you eat bad food with too much sugar or cholesterol it will affect your body and your organs. "Be very careful what you are eating. Some food will give lots of toxins - so your body also will get sick".
External Saucha - "how to keep yourself clean, your environment clean, how to keep your clothes clean, how to keep your mat clean - mat clean is very important (laughter)"
Santosha (internal happiness) - he talked about how this is disturbed when you want more than what you have.
Tapas (discipline) - Very important for yoga practitioners. When you have to get up early to do your sadhana you need to set your timetable to support that. This means figuring out when you will eat, what you will eat, when you will go to sleep, what you will and won't do.
Svadhyaya (self study) - He said this can be very confusing for many people. It's not watching videos on how to do a handstand. What it means though is reading the manuscripts. The yogic manuscripts. "Just by doing asana practice you won't gain any knowledge. Once you read yoga related books then your knowledge will also increase, you'll get a better picture of what yoga is, you'll get more clarity in your practice, in your sadhana - if you don't do it it's like going to the gym and lifting weights." This knowledge is not to impress anyone it's just for your own benefit to understand what is yoga.
Isvara Pranidhana (surrender to your god) - "how you get connected to one divine. Japa is the best example of how you do this - when you do Japa it should be meaningful with good Bhavana - good heart within you"
Questions followed next and one student asked about how to choose a deity and how he found them all interesting. What Sharath said about this I found is common theme that keeps coming up. He talked about how to the western person it is all fancy and colorful. In India they are taught to surrender to one. To have faith in one. He talked about how faith and trust were so important. He said the people who were very poor and suffered horrible things could still keep going because they had faith and internal strength. In the west we challenge everything. The way I understood it was that It's the same has having many teachers instead of sticking to one lineage. It get's confusing.
Another student was asking about what to do if she had no teacher back home. She had three kids and wasn't able to go to a teacher so she came to Mysore to learn from the source and wondered what to do when she got back. Sharath said to just practice what she learned here in Mysore. He said "Put one photo of Gurugi in your practice room - when you put that photo in front of you that energy is going there". He talked about how having a family was the biggest yoga. He said one child is 8th series and two was 9th series, he didn't have 3 so he didn't know about that - the student said - it's 10th series."
This was just a small excerpt of the conference. If you want a really detailed account check out Priya's awesome blog
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