As part of Sharath’s workshop last week I went to a Q&A, where Sharath first gave a short talk before taking questions from students.
Here’s a short summary of what I remember! Sharath talked about the eight limbs of yoga, of which asana is the third – saying that asana is actually the foundation of all the other limbs. He said it’s hard to practise yama and niyama unless your body and mind are first purified by yoga – then yama and niyama start coming naturally, and you naturally start wanting to find out more about them (likewise meditation).
He also said you have to have faith in the practice and in your teachers, and that the practice changes you even if you don’t always notice it (other people will!).
He chuckled, laughed and smiled through the entire talk, which was nice – a contrast to his seriousness when teaching.
Questions asked by students included:
“When should you start pranayama?” Answer: “When asana is perfect”, ie, the nervous system and lungs have to prepared first through asana.
“I can’t tell the difference between being dedicated to the practice and attached to the practice – what if I’m too attached to it?” Answer: “It’s good to be attached to yoga as this will stop you getting attached to things that are bad for you. In other words, when it comes to yoga, be addicted!
“Is Mysore only for advanced students?” Answer: “Who told you that? I want to know who told you that?” In other words, a very passionate ‘no, it’s for everyone!’
“When should you start intermediate series?” “When you are perfect in primary series – if you can’t do dropbacks it will be difficult to do ustrasana. You have to master primary series first or you’ll be like a barber who cuts a bit here and a bit there, and ends up making a mess!”
On injuries: “asana is the healer”. Sharath talked about his own injuries and how he got through them with patience and perseverance, cutting back his practice to half-primary at times.
It was great to spend a week doing counted primary series led by Sharath. The last day was particularly dedicated to Guruji, and people brought in flowers and pictures for the shrine. Sharath led us all in a chant to him, which was very moving. I would replicate it here but my Sanskrit is not quite up to the task!