…he was enlightened – but the people didn’t realise….Enlightened people (and superpowers) have always fascinated me, Sharath said at this Sunday conference. “When I was a child we used to attend film screenings in an old church in Laksmipuram. At Christmas they showed the film about Jesus and I used to think “Oh, he’s a big yogi”. But yoga neither is a religion or has any religious attachment, it is for self-transformation only. Religion was created by man and in the end all religions have the same goal – enlightenment. One could see it as if we all travel in different vehicles but with the same direction. If one drives properly one will reach the higher levels of yoga. Just like all rivers eventually merge with the same sea, whichever way you pray it will reach “God” – the supreme power that is within each and everyone of us.”
As usual Sharath’s conferences are filled with humour and humility. But also much seriousness as Sharath wants all his students to learn yoga in a safe way. Today he underlined (as so many times before) that everything is dependent on the breath. Many people do asana practice but don’t follow the correct breathing technique. Only through proper breathing the mind will be pure. If the breath is not correct, the mind will be scattered and the body unstable. In practice we should aim to practice “deep breathing with sound” with normal inhale and exhale. It is not “Ujjayi breath”. Ujjayi pranayama is one of the eight kumbakhas (breath retention) techniques. In asana practice there should be no retention or force of the breath – it should flow freely. A free relaxed breath generates heat in the body which helps the circulation and the elimination of toxins through the sweat and the exhale.
Asana and breathing practice help cleanse the 72000 nadis. With time the body will also change shape and lose weight. However, it is important to maintain a balance between strength and flexibility in the body. Some people more naturally do arm balances but have difficulty back bending, others find back bending easier and arm balances hard. In Ashtanga we learn the back bends before hand stands since arm balances tend to tighten the shoulder girdle. That is why I never teach hand stand until the student masters intermediate series, Sharath said. Back bends are very good for the heart and it is important to open the back first.
But – as Sharath always underlines: Yoga comes slowly and steadily. If one hurries injury will come. It takes time for the body to adjust. And yoga is Sadhana – it is more than a practice. It’s a devotion where the aim should be self-realisation and the realisation what yoga actually is. It’s about the change that happens within you and this takes time. You need to study for 15 years or more. Sadhana keeps on happening – yoga doesn’t stop. And as a teacher one has to keep learning, keep doing research. “I’m not perfect” Sharath said, “I keep studying to do my best and help the students that come”. Sharath reminded that it’s not the number of students one has, how famous one is or how much money one makes that show success in yoga. Success is when you realise what yoga actually is. Fame and money are not important. Guruji didn’t change when he became famous – he always had the same calm state of mind. And that is what we should aspire – nothing should bother us. We get carried away with too many things around us Sharath said.
“If you say ‘I know’ your learning is over. If you say ‘I don’t know your learning will go on and get deeper and deeper” ~Sharath R. Jois