What you will learn from watching this video from Authorized and Certified Ashtanga Teachers Jeff and Harmony Lichty of Calgary Ashtanga School:
1. The four components necessary for learning yoga (or anything really)
2. How Yoga is taught differently in India compared to the West
3. What quality to cultivate to maintain a lifelong practice.
Ready? Click play to see the video
(If you enjoy this interview you can find others from Jeff & Harmony on the Ekaminhale blog. To get the newest videos plus more sign for the Ekaminhale Email List by Clicking Here - Clint)
That's sort of the essence of what we're trying to understand and become aware of through this practice, is that we are not the doers of the yoga. If you get out of the way, the yoga will happen through you naturally, right? It will arise. Things will happen. Things will take place. The yoga's doing us, in a way, rather than us being like the doers. And then at the end of the day, you can't really take the credit for it either cause you didn't do anything. It just happened. - Harmony Lichty
Modern Yoga: Easter Way vs Western Way
Jeff: Yeah, I don't even know if it's a story so much....
Harmony: Mysore teaching versus Western
Jeff: Like an observation that we have. We come from the west and we have a lot of different ideas about how teaching should be. How the education process should be. You know, specifically, what a yoga class looks like. But when you get here, you realize that the Indian way is very direct and frank, and they don't pull any punches. They basically yell at you until you get it right. It just translates to, you know, to Guruji. Like when Guruji was around, he'll just yell at you "You stand up. You do this. You take practice. You think God." You know whatever, but often it was quite a forceful.
Harmony: It's sort of you get shocked into doing something that you didn't think was possible. So instead of using your mind to be like "Okay, I need to engage this and do this," then it becomes a very intellectual exercise. It's like something from inside of you, some kind of energy just like does whatever it is that you're working on. And you're like "How did that happen?"
That's sort of the essence of what we're trying to understand and become aware of through this practice, is that we are not the doers of the yoga. If you get out of the way, the yoga will happen through you naturally, right? It will arise. Things will happen. Things will take place. The yoga's doing us, in a way, rather than us being like the doers. And then at the end of the day, you can't really take the credit for it either cause you didn't do anything. It just happened.
Jeff: Yeah. I also think though that it really says something about our approaches in the West versus here in India.
Guruji always used to say yoga's about mind control. So it's even just great from the very start. It's the difference between making yoga about the journey in the mind and what's going on in your mind. And also the contrast to yoga's purely about the body and "What's my next big YouTube shot?" and "How do I look?", and "What's my body look like? Is it aligned? Is it this and that?"
Harmony: For me, it's just always the way it was taught so I really didn't have that like battle or that tug-of-war between "Oh, but my teacher's says it's this way. This person says it's this way." It was just that's the way Guruji says, or that's the way Sharath says. Sometimes people will say "What muscles are working?" and I'm like what does it matter?
Jeff: Squeeze your anus.Harmony: Do what you need to do. People ask, "So this muscle is doing this and that" I'm like, just push down and go. So for me, I never really experienced my yoga from an anatomical perspective. When I came to the practice, I really felt something is happening here that what was going on at an energetic level. At a pranic level. At a psychic level.
The Four Components of Learning
Jeff: Jayashree and Naransimhan, the two teachers in town that teach chantings and philosophy. They were the ones who basically emphasize the point about, to learn something there's four things and basically in equal qualities. Give or take.
The first thing is you need the student, so the student effort. Student effort is 25 percent of the learning process, but only 25%. So you know in the west, I'm gonna do my 125 percent of my 25%. Or 110 percent, I got to put it all in. But it's still only 25 percent.
The second part is teacher input. Again, the equal quality of 25 percent. So student, teacher... the teacher is 25 percent of the learning process.
Then sangha, the community you're surrounded with. That's one of the magnificent things here which is different in the west. Everyone who comes here to Mysore is here to do yoga. Everything about even getting here, it's like full commitment to make this the most important part of your day. Whatever sorts of different quality here in Ashtanga summer camp, we come and you have to commit right from the very beginning.
The last 25 percent, and this is the best part for me, is time. I think that may be the biggest thing, because my first trip is the same trip where Sharath is yelling to stand up and back bends. I remember doing Uttihita Hasta Padangusthasana Has and looking like my Drishti's all over the room. I'm like, this is a freak show. This is what I was sort of thinking on my first trip. You know six, seven, eight years later... nine, ten trips later... it's been more a gradual process of letting go of some of my pre-conceptions and trying to work with those. Just really allow the time factor to kick in.
Listen to what people know from this community because there's so many good practitioners and they have all kinds of wisdom. A bit like what you're doing with these interviews.
Harmony: I think if you want to maintain any kind of practice, this practice in particular over the long term, you have to learn how to practice in a way where you're not causing pain to yourself on a daily basis.
Jeff: It is day to day.
Harmony: Learn how to make the practice a more nurturing practice.
Peter Sanson was here with us practicing probably 8 years ago now. His wife was just newly pregnant, we're talking about practicing while pregnant. We said something to him like, we really have to make the practice a very nurturing practice that will really nurture yourself and your body. He said, "Isn't that the way we should always practice?"
Something really clicked for me then. We were then just coming through becoming pregnant, myself a couple of years later and practicing through that. Then afterwards, it really changed the way that I was practicing also where it became much more about creating sort of more of a holistic feeling within myself, like bringing things together instead of trying to like pull things apart. Did that make sense? You know, like trying to keep that energy inside and hold that energy through the practice, rather than expend it. So that at the end of the practice, I have more energy rather than less.
Learn more about Jeff and Harmony at their website Calgary Ashtanga Yoga School. Jeff and Harmony Lichty, founders and primary teachers at Calgary Ashtanga Yoga School. They are Certified & Authorized at the highest level, directly from the K.Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, South India. While spending many years studying in India with the late Sri Pattabhi Jois, his grandson Sri R. Sharath Jois, they also traveled internationally and taught Ashtanga Yoga to students from all over the world. Follow Harmony Lichty on Instagram @harmony_lichty or visit her website Harmonylichty.com