"If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you pass through this door, I’d embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already."
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Grimmly's recent post has sparked a lively conversation about going to Mysore and getting authorized. As usual, I'm going to piggy-back on this conversation, and say a couple of things here.
I have previously written quite a bit about my feelings about going to Mysore (see this post). For me, the Mysore bug, if I may call it that, is something that arises more intensely at certain times more than others. When I wrote that earlier post about going to Mysore, I was going through this very intensely contemplative phase in my personal life/practice. Right now, the intensity seems to have subsided somewhat (being in the middle of the semester, and having a ton of things to do probably also helps to take my mind off too much existential Ashtangic ponderings). In addition, the fact that I have gotten so much valuable guidance from great teachers in this country in the past few months (especially Kino) has also given me a sense that perhaps, just perhaps, going to Mysore might not be so vital to the continued development of my practice as I thought it was.
But what do I know? After all, I have never been to Mysore, and there might be certain irreplaceable experiences that one can only get in Mysore. So maybe I should not say any more about this issue. I'll just make a couple of rather obvious observations here, and see if these get us anywhere. So here are my humble observations:
(1) One does not need to go to Mysore to practice Ashtanga. I think this is true even if one's intention is to practice Ashtanga in its "pure form", as it is practiced and taught in Mysore. Of course, you need to take this observation with a pinch of salt, since I have never been to Mysore, and have no first-hand experience to back this claim up with. But given the number of authorized and certified teachers in North America and Europe (and the rest of the world) who are committed to teach the tradition as they have been taught (and I have no reason to doubt their sincerity in this area), I think we are in pretty good hands on this count.
(2) One does not need to get authorized or certified in order to teach Ashtanga. Being authorized or certified indicates that one has been entrusted (I don't know if this is the right word, but this will have to do) with the responsibility and the expectation that one will teach the Ashtanga tradition as it has been passed down to one by Guruji and Sharath at the KPJAYI. But this does not prevent someone who is not authorized or certified to teach and pass on the tradition out of his or her own spontaneous desire to share it with others. Nor, in my opinion, should people be prevented from doing so.The first person who taught me the primary series was not authorized (she had been to Mysore once). And she was no less a good teacher for not having been authorized. And although my desire to teach yoga has somewhat lessened in intensity in the past couple of years (this will take another post to talk about), I will be most happy to share this practice with whoever wants to learn and practice it.
Of course, none of this is meant to put down the value of going to Mysore and/or getting authorized. And I do not know when I will finally make that trip to Mysore, and if I will ever get authorized. But really, if we think about it, there are too many things we simply don't know, and will probably never know until the appropriate time comes. I don't know if I will ever get to third series. Actually, in light of my recent posts, a better question to ask would be: Will I get to do Karandavasana in the near future, or even ever again in this lifetime? I don't know. Actually, come to think of it, every morning, when I wake up and step on my mat, I don't really even know if I will make it past the standing series. I just take things breath by breath; miraculously, even on my most tired days, things always open up, and I always find the energy to go forward.
So when all is said and done, going to Mysore and/or getting authorized is great, but not having these things will not (and should not) stop one from practicing and gaining the benefits of the practice. Once again, do your practice, and all is coming.
Then again, you probably already know all these things anyway. Thanks for putting up with all this repetition ;-)