Isabella Nitschke

Yoga & Coaching

Happy day

happy 5

Happy – a box of Indian matches – the dogs don’t really look that happy to me…

Today is Sunday – the first day of practice in the Ashtanga week. In Mysore this means either led Primary class or led Intermediate class depending on how far you are in your practice here in Mysore which often also corresponds to how many times you’ve been here. On Sunday’s Sharath also always holds his weekly conference. Today it was exceptionally held in the morning rather than in the afternoon. On Friday, during led class he was in a bad mood, maybe due to the huge influx of people now in January and consequently a huge increase in work load for him. The atmosphere in the shala – also among the students – seemed rather tense that day (Friday). But today it was totally different. It is Sunday=Happy day :). Sharath was making lots of jokes during his conference and introduced (as many times before) the Shala shastras (rules):
1.1.: No pain, no gain
1.2.: No coffee, no prana
1.3.: No chapati, no strength

Together with his son on the stage Sharath also imitated the sounds of tigers and lions. It was very sweet to see this father-son relationship. Someone asked if his son would be the future teacher when ‘our’ kids come to Mysore in 30-40 years time. But Sharath seemed to have other plans for his son – he wants him to save the planet by becoming an engineer! (Sharath is very interested in preserving wildlife and the forests)


Sharath wants his son to save the planet and protect all the fantastic species that we have on Earth. This was a visitor to my home yesterday. Does anyone know what insect this is?

Today Sharath didn’t really have a specific topic to speak about and he invited people to ask questions straight away. One related to how to maintain practice if one is travelling a lot. Sharath said one should preferably not travel. Sadhana means maintaining one’s practice over a long time in one place. If one travels the practice will be affected as every new place has a different energy. When we do our practice for a long sustained period of time we cultivate a good energy. This energy takes time to recreate in a new place.

Other questions related to if one can maintain another sport/physical activity while doing yoga. The answer is no. Sharath said “Once you start doing asana practice you keep only that practice other sports will be counter-productive and make you stiff. If you want to proress in asana practice you need to stop other sports”. Asana practice is holistic, it works on the whole being including muscles, internal organs, the nervous system, the mind and so on. You will not need another practice. Asana is very powerful. If practices properly it can heal any injury or illness. Also, since Ashtanga yoga works with the method of vinyasa krama (breath and movement synchronised) the nervous system and the mind are affected. If one can control the breath one can control the mind.  Moreover, vinyasa krama creates an inner strength and changes the energy level in the body. Try to practice without the focus on the breath synchronisation and see how different the practice will be!

While sitting there amongst all the students and listening to Sharath, I had this immense feeling of happiness, of wholeness.  I don’t know what caused it or why I suddenly felt it but I felt very calm and contended. One could say I felt complete. In Sutra class after the conference we suitably spoke about non-attachment and its relation to happiness. The one who is free from craving objects becomes free. He or she becomes the happiest. Happiness comes from giving everything rather than taking. Once one has ones basic needs fulfilled one needs nothing more. All other things that are in excess of the basic needs are like poison for the mind – meaning that when we have other things we tend to get attached to them, crave them, desire them and being attached to these things will always lead to feelings of unfulfillment and grief in some way. We will always want more. But it’s through sacrifice that liberation of the mind comes. By renouncing all excess we will find happiness. Happiness is always “small” as Lakshmish our teacher says, meaning happiness doesn’t come through the possession of or attachment to great monetary wealth.  And it’s true. Don’t you feel better giving to others rather than receiving? Does the second flat screen television really make you happier. Don’t you really become a prisoner of all your stuff?

I feel that when I’m in India my heart is much lighter, my mind is much freer and I’m a lot happier. I have only the clothes that I brought, a room that I rent and the necessary food for the day. When I think of my apartment back home – which I do love, don’t get me wrong – I feel it’s rather keeping me from being the free spirit I would like to be. Sometimes my furniture, books and memories actually hold me back because I feel attached to them and although they keep me from living in the “now” I have difficulties letting go. The attachment that is an obstacle that creates worry  – “what to do with the things?”, or “I need to pay  my rent to have a place for all my stuff”. Not that I wouldn’t have to pay rent if I had no things, but it feels like now I have an apartment to store my stuff and it costs me a small fortune to maintain that. Unnecessary money and unnecessary worries. I think life is probably happier without stuff. What do you think? What makes you happy? Which day is your “Happy day”?


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  1. I can really relate to your feelings of liberty when you are away from your apartement and all your stuff. About 3 years ago I went to Schumacher college which is a place where they work alot with sustainable development and I felt so light only having my bed and some clothes and being outside walking all day or inside helping preparing food or outin the garden working… What I find difficult in order to live as lightly materially as possible is the interaction with other people especially now during the holidays. I watched the members of my partners family stressing to buy presents for everybody we had to meet and for preparing food etc . I try to not participate to this but not all people understand… I do not think there is an easy answer to this question but would definitively be interesting to here your thoughts on this!

    • I agree with you Terese – I also find the big holidays in particular Christmas very difficult. It’s nauseating to observe the shopping-en-masse and the amount of food consumed (or thrown away) during this holiday. I myself stopped participating more than 13 years ago. I always try to be as far away from it as possible – then the family cannot complain. I don’t oppose the giving – it’s wonderful to give things (not necessarily material stuff though, helping someone, saying something friendly or doing a nice gesture counts as well) to others. But Christmas has become more “giving for the sake of it” and many presents are bought that are completely unappreciated (Swedish newspapers wrote about how even on X-mas eve presents were already being sold on Tradera and Blocket….). I agree that many people don’t understand – but I try to stay true to myself and not fall into the guilty-feelings that family might try and provoke.

  2. For me it is a bit difficult to avoid christmas since I live in a different country than my husbands family and for them it is really important that we see each other for christmas. We do not eat a whole lot of things and I do not buy any gifts but my husband I get gifts even if I have asked not too ( not the closest family) which I have a bit difficulty swallowing since It feels a bit agressive to me

    • Well, on the other hand – family is important. One should nourish one’s relationship with other people. If you can stay away from the “buying stuff” and just be together I think it’s beautiful. But I know – in-laws and parents are not easy to deal with either…and we often need to compromise. Just breathe and try to do what is closest to what is right for you.