Manju’s Sunday workshop

I’m a bit behind the curve this week and there’s been so much going on.

The week started with Manju’s workshop here in Brighton. The workshop included a led primary pratice in the morning, a led 2nd series practice in the afternoon followed by pranayama, chanting and a Q&A session.

In the break there was also a demo by the London AcroYoga crew which was awesome. I did some AcroYoga at a recent yoga festival near Glastonbury, so I was keen to do a bit more “flying” which was pretty cool. AcroYoga is so much fun and is actually easier than it looks. There’s a workshop at BNHC in early September so be sure to check it out!

On Sunday I only did the afternoon sessions so if anyone has any comment on how they found the led primary lets hear it! Judging from the damp patches on the ceiling I’ll bet it was a good one!

The most interesting bit for me was the Q&A session and hearing Manju talk about Yoga and practice in general. He spoke about the need to relax, breathe and enjoy practice. He also said that if you don’t want to practice then don’t, saying that forcing yourself to practice asana is not yoga. My interpretation of this is that forcing yourself to practice can be regarded as himsa (harm) and we’re supposed to be practicing ahimsa (non-violence). Bringing awareness of how we are in the moment will determine what action would be harmful or not. Basically, chill out!

Manju also spoke about it being acceptable to mix asana from different series and have a more varied practice. Again my interpretation on this is that you need a sufficiently developed practice and relationship with your teacher to gain the most benefit.

Manju didn’t learn asana in any set series but started out copying his father when he was about 7 or 8 years old. His father then gave personal tuition to him and his sister. Most of us don’t have the advantage of learning yoga in this way. To me it really points again to the importance of the relationship between student and teacher which in Manju’s case was father and son too.

Manju also emphasised a balanced approach to practice. Asana is only one of the limbs of yoga. He said pranayama, chanting and scriptures should also be practiced these would then naturally lead to the development of the other limbs of yoga: Yama, Niyama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana leading ultimately to Samadhi.

Another interesting statement was “mantra is more powerful than asana.”

The question: “What should I eat after practice” which was met with the rather sensible “Your body will tell you”.

There was lots more that I can’t recall at the moment but in the interest of getting this blog up I’m going ot post now and add comment later as stuff comes to mind.

I also interviewed Manju this week and part of the interview will be available for download next week some time.

In the meantime here’s a couple of links to interviews that I read before I interviewed Manju:

Guy Donahaye interviewed Manju in NYC, March 2008

And another excellent interview by Richard Clark, Australia 2005 available as a PDF.


One Response to Manju’s Sunday workshop

  1. Laura 9th September 2008 at 10:55 am #

    Hi Guy. Thanks for these reflections on the “Manju week”. I’m just getting round to adding some of my reflections that I wrote elsewhere at the time …

    Manju Jois arrived in town on Sunday. Around 40 of us turned up to his workshop. This meant very little space! In the morning he did a lead taught primary. The heat was intense; it was the most sweaty practice I have ever done. Some people actually had steam coming off of their heads! My arms went into Gaba Pindasana in two swift moves, a first for me as usually I have to spend time with the water spray. I can now understand that if you were doing this practice in these conditions every day you would go through a very fast and deep cleansing and detoxification process. It was kind of a no messing practice, just get with the (gentle) count and keep going if you can. There is something that seems quite “matter of fact” about this style of teaching. Just kind of get on with it, stops thinking about it, and you will reap the benefits, end of. Although there was no tyranny in Manju at all, rather a soft presence and gentle touch that felt hardly there at times.

    The first part of the afternoon I found hilarious, but maybe I was just a bit delirious by then. Manju said that he we were going to do some chanting, pranayama and some asanas to help with back problems. Great I thought nice and easy after the morning sauna. Except he lead us all through the second series. The class was roughly split between maybe half who had done the second series before and half who had never touched it (me included). It was quite a funny moment when all of a sudden I found myself pacing through the second series. It got to the asanas half way through when I just had to stop and have a look around at the expressions on people’s faces. It was sweaty mayhem!

    This was yoga of a certain something about his style. I don’t believe that anything can necessarily be classed as ‘authentic’, but I felt it had a certain attitude, on the surface less serious, more playful maybe, but really just more unspoken. I feel sometimes I have a great need to talk and analyse my yoga (often along with others!), but I sensed from Manju that a lot of this analysis is unnecessary. This was relfected in the Q&A sessions where he was very to the point, giving very common sense and practical answers.

    I really enjoyed the week, many thanks to Manju for visiting us and to the the BNHC organisers and to my teacher for all the hard work that must have gone on behind the scenes.


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