Hello Brighton Ashtangis,
Here are some comments on Sharath’s conference this weekend:
Sundays conference was insightful as always. Sharath spoke a lot about asana and reviewed many things he has gone over before – but with so many new people in the shala, the transience of people makes it necessary to reiterate certain points often.
– When you do asanas, it is VERY Important to know the names of the asanas you perform and also how many vinyasas are in each asana.
– This is why we do led class, to understand vinyasa and when to inhale and when to exhale
-Breathing is extremely important…It doesn’t come automatically, but over time. You must concentrate – your mind should be with your practice
– Alignment is important…It comes properly through PRACTICE – no need to use props for alignment
– Practice makes man perfect
– Sharath stated that Guruji used to say, “Do an asana 1,000 times and then the asana becomes perfect.” Thus, the key is in doing the practice…
– If you are able to do all the asanas it doesn’t mean you are a perfect yogi. Yoga means to get enlightened – the mind, sense organs – you should control the sense organs
– Asana is the foundation, we start here. It will transform your minds, your thoughts will change; you will start yearning to learn more, what is yoga? Only possible through practice and reading books.
– This is a lifetime study, you MUST keep on studying.
– 1st with asanas we have to purify our body and mind.
– Yoga is Universal, anyone can do regardless of race or religion
– When you leave AYRI often people get distracted if doing self practice – Sharath offered this advice to those of us without teachers at home: “Think that Guruji is behind you, think I am there!”
– Jalandhara Bandha is only used when doing pranayama
– Uddiyana and Mula Bandha very important in the practice. Uddiyana bandha is located four inches below the navel; mula bandha is anus control.
– Bandhas will come slowly, after many years of practice
– Utpluthih is a very good asana to practice – helps tremendously in gaining mula bandha control
– Always breathe through your chest – do not breathe through your stomach
– Practice mula bandha even when you are not doing asana
and some more:
On days when the student is uninspired (or back home, after being in Mysore) and would prefer not to do asana practice, they should think that Guruji, Sharath and Saraswati are in the room with them. They should get used to doing it every day, like how we brush our teeth as soon as we get up. Without brushing the teeth, we cannot go out and talk to anyone. It is difficult to do this. Eighteen years ago, he got up and did not want to practice after just three hours of sleep. On that day you should push a little harder. That day will be the best practice of your life.
DAYS OFF AND FAITH
You should rest one day each week. You should not even stretch. In general, no other exercise should be done. Period. Because your body becomes very stiff if you do other exercise (funny, I was telling someone just last week that I rode a bicycle my first year here in Mysore, and it did not help my lower back and hamstrings – which is why I wouldn’t do it again). Yoga is the opposite of other types of exercise. He got into the jogging craze when he was 17, and Eka Pada Sirsasana (a leg behind the head pose) and Kapotasana (the intense backbend I’m working on) were a struggle. He has struggled the whole time with his practice, especially since he had Rheumatic fever as a child – which affected his joints. “You have to keep struggling, because once you get [it], there is nothing like this.” You should have dedication and faith in the practice. The guru can only do so much. It depends on the students’ dedication to the practice, and faith.
You do not need props. If you use them, you will be your whole lifetime using props. Guruji said you do an asana 1,000 times, then it becomes perfect. Life-long we have to do it, and it will come correctly. There are 100’s and 100’s of asanas.. In ashtanga we do 400-500. “I think that is enough for us to work on, in this lifetime.”
WHAT IS YOGA
Even if you do all the asanas, it doesn’t mean you’re an important yogi. Asana is just one aspect of it. Yoga means to get enlightenment, to control the mind and sense organs. If someone pokes you with a pen, if you are controlled, you will not scream…..Enlightened men only think about God. They don’t have any other thoughts or feelings or anything. It is easier to do this if one is not a householder (ie does not have a family).
Yoga means not just asana. It is the foundation. If you do asana, you will get good thoughts. But it is not just practice BUT READING BOOKS. PAST ENLIGHTENED PERSONS HAVE LEFT KNOWLEDGE. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THEM, BUT FIND YOUR OWN WAY (emphasis here is mine, since I’m a huge fan of the book-reading, and this is the first time I’ve heard the AYRI recommending more than doing asana, thinking good thoughts and thinking god / being god).
Yoga is a lifetime study. It doesn’t come at once. First the body and mind should get pure. IF the mind is not healthy, the body becomes healthy… try to think good. The main thing about yoga is to get purification to realize who we are.
The Inquisitor asked if a student could have a social life and become enlightened. “No. that is why yogis go to the Himalayas to meditate.” That contained her – until she asked about Utpluthith (an arm balance that requires abdominal strength), and he suggested she may have some fat, which is why it can be difficult to access Uddyana Bandha (lower abdominal muscles). She was quite quiet after that.