I arrive in town at 7:30. The morning mist has disappeared and although there is still an autumnal chill in the air, the sun is bright over Brighton.
Yoga mat – check
Yoga towel – check
Nerves and excitement – double check
It’s day one of my Manju Ashtanga Intensive Teacher Training at the Brighton Natural Health Centre. I am just about to meet a living legend of the Ashtanga yoga world.
Cool, calm and collected
We all meet at the BNHC reception and are told to go up to the smaller studio room of this amazing yoga haven in the heart of Brighton. I have been coming here every morning for a couple of months attending the daily Mysore classes with Sarah Miles, but today we have been told to wait for the man himself before starting our practice.
The scene is set, mats are laid out and before I have a chance to look up, the door opens and in walks Manju Pattabhi Jois. He is so cool and down to earth it surprises me. There is no big affair, no dramatic music backdrop, just a yoga teacher coming into a studio to share his practice.
Getting down to business
Every day for a week we begin with a Mysore style practice of the whole primary series, then a coffee or tea break (coconut water and bananas a-go-go for me please!), followed by an adjustment class on each posture and finally pranayama and chanting.
Manju has this presence, this fun, silly, almost rebellious presence about yoga and teaching it. I love it! He smiles and giggles but also gets very serious about what needs to be understood, what is important. We often forget about loving the practice and get very serious with it, like a dissertation to finish or a job to tick off our to do list. Manju reminded me that with the practice comes the breath and the breath is everything. The breath brings strength and calm which is not only essential for the practice but also for everyday life.
On the last day we have a full led primary class (handstand included) and finish the week with a beautiful group chant and lots of stories from Manju. He tells us about his life, his father and mother, his wife and beautiful daughter.
An inspirational experience
When we part ways in the streets of Brighton I am so emotional but also so filled with inspiration and light for the practice. It has truly been an amazing week and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to deepen their practice at any level. An unforgettable experience which I look forward to repeating next year!
– Laurene Anstee