I actually think that the method really starts to take off for you when you become more independent in your practice. I think it's specifically designed in that way. In the beginning, of course, you do need a lot of attention as you're learning the series, and then you go through this process of refinement of your practice.
But gradually you start to tap into the inner teacher, let's say. When you start to tap into that, then you get much more independent. It doesn't mean you're not aware of the room. It doesn't mean that you're not still in a relationship with the external teacher, but there's something else that grows inside of you, and that's, I think, where the yoga is trying to take us to. - Greg Nardi
Greg Nardi on Assisting Sharath in Mysore
What I really, really learned was how well Sharath is at monitoring his own energy in response to the class. Part of being able to be with 60 students at once meant that he had to be extremely clear in his mind, extremely clear about the way that he used his energy. So there wasn't a lot of waste. What that enabled him to do is, when he needed to be somewhere, he was there. When he needed to know everybody's name, he knew their names. When he needed what everybody was practicing up to, he knew what they were practicing up to.
So I modeled a lot on that. I had to let go of everything I thought I knew about teaching for that month, so that I could just be in his energy and observe the way that he taught. He teaches a lot through his presence and the way that he's monitoring his energy in response to that room.
Juan Carlos on First Impressions of Ashtanga
My first time on the yoga mat, Mysore class, I really didn't know what to expect. I didn't come from a background of movement or any kind of physicality. I'm here, and I see people doing their own thing. I'm just going to wait for everybody to sync up and do things together, and it just never happened. It was quite confusing at first. What I really liked is that it was also available. He made everybody available. So I went full-on the first six months of practice, and then, of course, there was a bit of a backlash.
Where I started really asking a lot questions and challenging the system and really going through some struggles, some frustration, feeling a lot of claustrophobia in Kurmasana. That was a turning point for me.
Greg on encouraging Juan to practice
I try to be careful. I joke, but I try to be careful not to make our relationship conditional on what Juan Carlos is practicing, but I certainly told him very early on that, "You should really try to do this at least a couple of days a week. You don't have to do it the way that I do it, perhaps. But if you really want to understand what it is that I'm about, this is a tremendous amount of my time." I live a little bit of an odd lifestyle, I'd say. I'm up early. I have a restricted diet.
Juan Carlos: I remember it was quite a bit of a struggle at first when I was discovering the practice and the transformation that will need to take place if you want to go deeper, in terms of lifestyle, diet, see patterns. It was quite challenging, coming from a very non-yogic background. Why do we have to go to bed so early? And why can't we just do something fun late at night?
Greg: Yeah, yeah. Actually I would probably said that, innately, Juan Carlos is probably a more disciplined person than I am. So like now, there's times where I'm like, "Whoa. What have we started here? "We were in our 20s when we met. Right? Early 20s.
JC: Yeah. I had just finished grad school.
Greg: So he was still wanting to get out and party a bit more than I was. Yeah, that was a bit of a challenge. Every Friday night was, "Well, I've been up since 4:00. I'm going to bed by 9:00." He's like geared up and getting ready to go.
JC: Now it's like the other way around. Now I'm like, "Oh, my God. It's like 8:00 p.m. I need to go to bed."
You can learn more about Greg and Juan at their website Ashtanga Yoga Worldwide. Greg travels around the world teaching workshops and occasionally Juan Carlos joins him when they aren't teaching in Vancouver at Ashtanga Yoga Vancouver (Juan) and Chopra Yoga Vancouver (Greg)
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