Jul 21, 2012

Mysore Conference Notes: 1st Conference of Season by Suzanne El-Safty

Sharath’s First Conference of the Season 
By Suzanne El-Safty
22 October 2011
Source http://suzanneelsafty.com/2011/10/22/sharaths-first-conference-of-the-season/


Last Sunday Sharath gave his first conference of this season (it’s taken me forever to write this up – too many classes and too little sleep this week). The conference was short as it was the first day and Sharath didn’t want to overwhelm the new students (‘lot of new students, is good, means Ashtanga Yoga is spreading’).

He started by speaking about appropriate behaviour in Mysore – appropriate dress (not beach clothes, women should wear a shawl to cover themselves), not standing in big groups at the coconut stand, avoiding making unwanted ‘friends’.

Sharath then described how yoga first came to Mysore (I’ve added a few details here in order to be precise and complete; additional details have been taken from the book ‘Guruji’):

In the early 1900s Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (a yoga teacher and scholar, often referred to as ‘the father of modern yoga’, his students include Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar and T.K.V. Desikachar) was touring India to try to spread hatha yoga. In 1927 he went to Hassan to give a yoga demonstration and, fortunately for us, watching in the audience was a 12-year old Pattabhi Jois (the grandfather of Sharath). Pattabhi Jois was so impressed by the demonstration that he asked Krishnamacharya if he could become his student and the following day began his yoga practice. At that time yoga was not held in high regard and Pattabhi Jois had to keep his practice secret from his family.

In 1929, at the age of 14, Pattabhi Jois ran away from home with just 2 rupees in his pocket and went to Mysore to further his study of Sanskrit at the Maharaja Sanskrit College. In 1931 Krishnamacharya also moved to Mysore and Pattabhi Jois was able to continue his studies with him for the next 22 years, until 1953 when Krishnamacharya moved to Chennai.

In 1937 the Maharaja of Mysore set up a yoga department at the Sanskrit College and appointed Pattabhi Jois as its head; Pattabhi Jois then taught there until his retirement in 1973. And in 1948 Pattabhi Jois established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (the predecessor of KPJAYI) at his home in Lakshmipuram, a suburb of Mysore.

Prior to Krishnamacharya all of the great yoga masters had been in the north of India, and people at that time believed that yoga was only meant for sadhus and sannyasis (wandering monks, renunciants), that in effect the practice of yoga led to a withdrawal from society. Krishnamacharya changed this – he demonstrated that anyone can do yoga.

Sharath finished by saying that this lineage from Krishnamacharya is not anywhere else in the world and that in order to learn Ashtanga Yoga we have to study through this lineage.


 Conference – Asana as the Foundation of a Spiritual Practice – 1st January 2012 by Suzanne El-Safty


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