When I first moved to Vancouver about 4 or 5 years ago now Geoff was teaching at Ashtanga Yoga Vancouver. I really appreciated learning from him. Since then Geoff has ran the Mysore program on and off at Babylon Yoga in Vancouver. He has also travelled to places like Whitehorse, Edmonton and Spain to help run other shalas Mysore classes while their teachers went to India. I caught up with him this summer after he has just returned from Mysore and a special class that Sharath had offered only for teachers. Here's what he had to say........
On Practicing in Mysore
Geoff Mackenzie: That institute, that room (KPJAYI) is charged with prana. So I think we have the access to that immediately upon arrival. And if you're open to it I think it's there for our use and absorption. The camaraderie I found in the mountains amongst the skiers and the snowboarders who basically dedicate their life to being in the mountain all season long. And arranging their lives so they can be on the hill as much as possible day in and day out. I found that same sense of community and camaraderie amongst the people in Mysore. They were people who were prepared to make sacrifices and travel to go to a certain place where the activity that they're interested in is happening at the highest level. And it's a very concentrated spot. And that they're dedicated to going there and doing that on a regular basis. So I found real parallels. As soon as I picked up on that, which I did quite quickly, as you know it's very easy to connect with people there. You have a few practices and you're making friends all over the place.
On Yoga Asana
The purification pair of The Asana Practice that we do is, it's really overlooked. I think in general It's internal cleansing. It's ultimately about nothing to do about what shape of the body you can make cause we're all built different. You line 10 people up along the wall of different builds and tell them to all do the same pose and they'll all look completely different. So it's about what's happening on the inside. You take responsibility for your practice from day one. You learn what you learn and you memorize it. It's yours. Therefore it becomes an internal practice. And you basically don't need instruction until it's time to learn something new. To me this is how Asana is supposed to be taught. I now realize that. I didn't realize that when I first started going to yoga classes. But since I took up this practice I think like a lot of people making perhaps making that directional switch from always lead classes to self practice we're kind of like, "What do you mean I have to learn the practice and do it by myself? I want you to walk me through it every time." But after that short little period of time that it takes to memorize it, the sense of freedom is incomparable. The other great thing it allows for is the individualization of the practice. And allowing the practice to be taught in such a way that's therapeutic for the student that's receiving it.
On Teaching Yoga for Money
Without turning too cynical I'm a little bit, I find myself a little torn. About using my role as a teacher and sharing yoga as my primary source of income. I feel a little torn with that. It seems, you know as yoga teachers these days unfortunately the only paradigm we seem to have to operate in is the commercial business entrepreneurial paradigm. And that to me doesn't fit and so.
Interviewer: It doesn't fit teaching?
It doesn't fit the purpose of yoga. To me. And so I'm, I'm moving towards looking at different ways of A, Sustaining myself. So that B, I can be freer to share the yoga on my own terms. And not on kind of commercial terms.
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