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)
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”?