Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why go to Mysore? Kino's response

It's that time of the year again. In the northern hemisphere, much of the land is covered with snow (I don't know about Japan, though; see previous post :-)). That, however, has not deterred many an Ashtangi from making the trip to the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI) to study Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga at the lineage's source with Sharath.

I have recently noticed a growing conversation in the blogosphere: Many a blog and comment thread have been lively with conversations about how important going to Mysore to practice at KPJAYI is to furthering one's practice. I have been following these exchanges with much interest, but since I have not been to Mysore, I don't feel qualified to really say anything about this topic. Yesterday, I decided to ask Kino about her views on this matter. Specifically, I emailed her the following questions:

"How important is it for an Ashtanga practitioner today to go to Mysore, given that (1) Guruji has passed, and (2) there are so many authorized and certified teachers that one can study with, especially in North America, Europe and Australia? Is there something that one can gain from going to Mysore that one cannot from studying with one of these teachers?"

Kino very graciously and promptly responded, and gave me permission to post her response on this blog. I think her response is very well-thought-out and articulated. I hope you will find it enlightening. Here is her response (please excuse the inconsistency in the font size; blogger seems to be making fun of my less-than-adequate software-handling skills :-)):

"The decision to travel to Mysore to study Ashtanga Yoga with R. Sharath Jois at the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute is something that marks a crucial turning point in an Ashtanga Yoga student's journey into the heart of the method. It is not something that students should force themselves to do, but something that comes as a yearning from deep within. Anyone seeking to teach Ashtanga Yoga certainly would benefit from spending time in Mysore, the birthplace of Ashtanga Yoga. 
I remember talking to students who had been studying with Guruji at the Old Shala when I decided to make my first trip to India. They complained that the Old Shala was getting too crowded, that too many students were coming and that Guruji was too old to really teach. But none of that deterred me--I not only wanted to go to India, but I knew that I absolutely had to go. It was my deep yearning that couldn't be replaced with anything else except actually getting on the airplane and flying across the world to Mysore. When I arrived in Mysore, met Guruji and practiced at the Old Shala for the first time I was so thankful that I heeded my heart's desire. 
There is always an attachment to pleasurable circumstances, but it would be wrong to use those memories to prevent you from welcoming in a new, positive experience. The romanticization of the past has a certain sentimentality that can be both emotional, but also limiting and indulgent. All students who had the great fortune of spending time with Guruji honor his memory and teaching through the practice and sharing of Ashtanga Yoga. As the lineage of Ashtanga Yoga continues it is Sharath's guidance, perseverance and dedication to the life work of his grandfather that has given the New Shala it's energy, organization and spirit. Sharath spent around 21 years studying yoga and living with Guruji and is the only person to learn the full six series of the Ashtanga Yoga method. There is no one else who has gone as deeply into the Ashtanga Yoga series as Sharath, nor anyone who spent as much time in close proximity with Guruji than he did. Sharath carries the light of Ashtanga Yoga with great skill, presence and honor. It is under his guidance that I feel most confident progressing further into the Advanced Series that is my daily practice. 
There are many truly gifted and inspirational Certified and Authorized teachers all over the world and I would recommend students of Ashtanga Yoga to practice with every teacher they feel attracted to and seek out as much information and teaching as possible. You will be inspired by these wonderful ambassadors of Ashtanga Yoga and you will gain technical, anatomical and philosophical perspectives on Ashtanga Yoga that only they can share.  Yet practicing with them does not give you the experience of traveling to India, immersing yourself in the culture, the environment and the practice in the same way. Not only does the city of Mysore itself have a certain magic to it but there is also a deep connection to the lineage that happens when you practice in the home of Ashtanga Yoga at its source, at the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. It is hard to put into words what happens when give your heart to the experience of the practice here in Mysore under Sharath's guidance, but it is precisely because of that slightly ineffable experience that I return. Not everyone needs to go to Mysore but anyone who feels an attraction to the experience and craves a deeper dimension of the Ashtanga Yoga method would do well to place their doubt aside, buy an airline ticket to India and come practice."

26 comments:

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  2. 'Not everyone needs to go to Mysore but anyone who feels an attraction to the experience and craves a deeper dimension of the Ashtanga Yoga method would do well to place their doubt aside, buy an airline ticket to India and come practice.'

    Thanks for posing the question Noble and Thank you Kino, as ever, for the generous response.

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  3. Thanks Grimmly. Glad you found this exchange as helpful as I did. :-)

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  4. Jst what I need in this moment <3 thanxs

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  6. Thank you very much Nobel for this post and to Kino for replying. This post has definitely inspired me even more to do all I can t get to Mysore later this year or at the start of next year.

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  7. Thank you, I have learnt much from Kino's response too. Good luck in getting to Mysore!

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  8. Thought provoking... thanks for asking and posting the answer!

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  9. I'm going to Mysore for the first time in less than 2 months, and I can't wait. I've tried to explain to my dear ones how important it is for me to go and the only relation that I could make to put it in the simplest terms is "it's kinda like the MIT of yoga" or something along the lines of "it's like studying with Jesus", and still I don't think I came close enough to painting a clear picture. But Kino's answer beautifully explains what I could not put in words. Thank you for sharing this, Kino has been an inspiration to me ever since I got on the path of Ashtanga Yoga. And if you don't mind, I'd like to share your post on my blog.

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  10. Still saving up, one day I'll go and study and I can't wait. It's answers like this that spur me on to keep saving, even though my loved ones don't understand it, their response is 'but your teacher is authorized by the founder and you've studied with other authorized teachers so why spend all the money?' I'm going to direct them here the next time they say that. Namaste

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  11. Thanks, confluencecountdown. I really enjoy reading your blog :-)

    Hello Joumana, it's so great that you are going to Mysore soon. My own life circumstances prevent me from going right now, but I will get there some day. I think your explanations about Mysore being "the MIT of yoga" and "studying with Jesus" are very creative: My sense is that it is probably a little of both :-) And yes, you are more than welcome to share this post on your blog (nice blog, btw).

    Thanks for sharing, Jules. I hope you save up the money you need soon. On some level, I think that the fact that your lived ones are not yet able to see the importance of what you are doing is another indication of why what you are trying to do is important and life-changing; it goes way outside the box of conventional thinking ("What?! You are saving up all this money so you can go to some obscure little city in India, live in Spartan conditions, and wake up super early every morning and get bent into funny shapes by this Indian dude? Where's the logic in that?"). But that's why it's worth doing. Namaste.

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  12. Dear Kino,
    I have noticed your posts in the past and your sincere connection to the Ashtanga practice. I read your comment on going to Mysore and that Sharat is the only one that knows the six series. As a young practitioner, I wouldn’t expect you to know the history of this practice. The early practitioners that have studied with Professor K. P. Jois for 30 years or more learned all the six series in four segments, at the time they were called Primaries, Intermediates, Advanced A and B (3, 4, 5, 6 series). In the very early eighties I had the rare opportunity to study in private with Guru Ji for 3months. The practice was approximately four hours to do A or B series which is now as previously mentioned third, fourth filth and sixth series. The system did continue to change from the time he wrote the first syllabus.

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  13. Thanks for sharing, Mr Lopedota. I think I have heard somewhere that what is presently the six series of Ashtanga yoga was previously Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A and B. Although I have never met Guruji, I would also suppose that changes have occurred in the system since the early 80s. Again, thanks for sharing.

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  14. Yes thank you for jumping in on this Anthony, 3-6 as Advanced A and B was how I'd thought it was and as we know there are several of the long term practitioners who have covered them. Wonrdeful pictures on your website of that period too btw, thank you for sharing those.

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  15. I'd also add, that even if you have fears about going to India to practice or about being away from your home, if there is still a desire to go...put those fears aside and GO. I was very nervous my first time going, but am so thankful I was able to put all the fears aside, because it was a great experience and I hope to return.

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  16. Thanks for sharing, Anonymous. I think that having a desire to go to India, setting the intention and then following through on it is a whole practice in itself.

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  17. hii..nice post.Thanks for sharing with us.I liked the way you put up the information.I am panning to visit br hills resort and also bandipur resorts this weekend with my family. because their facilites,sevices offered at low cost,Wildlife Safari really really awesome..

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  18. As a Mysorean, I feel proud knowing how Mysore is considered as land of Ashtanga Yoga. All because of Guruji and his relentless, selfless efforts.

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  19. I am a Mysorean, and appreciate the blog post here. The sincerity in practice by the Yogi's, has translated to sincerity in communicating what you all feel. Wonderful. Please do visit Mysore, and it's one of the best places in India.

    I run a daily update on Mysore through Social Media (bit.ly/MysoreDaily ), and a lot of which goes in is about yoga and ayurveda. Some great videos, pictures and blogs by ashtangis are generally part of it.

    Mysore, I feel is great not just for Yoga, but also to a lesser extent for Ayurveda. Yoga and Ayurveda are two sides of the same coin, according to some. There are some great places to experience Ayurveda, like Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you are in Mysore and are stuck. I have been a journalist and my wife is a Doctor. We would be glad to help. Here's the twitter id @ pramodh

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  20. Thanks for detailed and well researched blog post. The famed home to Tipu Sultan, Mysore is a city replete with royalty and regalia. Travellers have a galore of options to choose from in terms of hotels in Mysore.

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  21. Quite interesting and useful article. Thanks for sharing.

    http://www.arpityoga.com

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  22. thank you for sharing your journey in such lovely words. you have been helpful with your knowledge y encouraging with your word y practices. it is good to read in the post above your are feeling at least somewhat better~bless.Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training Rishikesh

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