I'm now in Beverly Hills and I'm desperately looking for a studio with a good Mysore teacher...I can't find anywhere! Please advise!! :)
Monday, 17 February 2014
A few weeks ago I began a course of ‘Structural Integration’ also known as ‘Rolfing’, as a yoga teacher told me once that it was the best form of body-work that they’d experienced. I hesitated at the price back in the UK (it can be quite expensive, I think 40-50 GBP and there weren’t that many Rolfers around) so when I saw that there were a couple offering it for less than half that in Mysore, I jumped at the chance to give it a go.
My yoga teacher has been working with me for a few months now, trying to entice my hips to open, but for some reason they just weren’t budging! He even said, ‘Michelle, I don’t understand, you’ve been here for 5 months now and you still cannot do baddha konasana?!’ So I decided to ‘get Rolfed’ and see if the manipulation of the myofascial tissue would somehow release my hips.
I explained I’d been having pain in the front of my right hip, but that both were sore most of the time, restricting movements especially in marichi A and C as well as ardha matsyendrasana. So she took a look and did some work on the SI and the hips as well as doing something to my arms as I had wrist pain but also across my collar bones. The results the next day were astounding! The wrist pain was gone, she said that because of the growth of muscle in my arms it was squeezing my nerve to my wrist and that by separating them it would release the nerve and there would be no pain and, the next day there was no pain. My SI and hips found a kind of space that they’d never had before and I could do leg behind head without ‘much’ pain! But the best result of this session was that I could instantly breathe deeper and without holding tension in my left shoulder which for some reason I noticed always happens. I was told that there was what Rolfers call the 10 series where they work on the whole body over 10 sessions to get your body back to its natural balance. So given the results I signed up for the whole course.
So sessions 1-3 are referred to as the "sleeve" sessions, which address the superficial layers of connective tissue. They are devoted to improving the quality of your breath with work on the arm, ribcage and diaphragm. Opening is also started along the upper leg, hamstrings, neck and spine. The next aim is at providing you a powerful foundation by balancing your foot and lower leg.
Session 3 focuses on creating balance between the front and back of the body. This is done through a side view for understanding how the head, shoulder girdle and hips are related to one another when standing in gravity.
Sessions 4-7 are referred to as the “core” sessions and address the area between the bottom of the pelvis and the top of the head, as well as the deep tissue of the legs, which play a role in support.
Session 4 establishes a floor to the pelvis and brings awareness to the medial line of the leg through work extending from the inside arch of the foot, and up the leg, to the pelvic floor.
Session 5 is concerned with establishing balance between the surface and the deep abdominal layers with respect to the curve of the back.
Session 6 aims at finding more support and movement in the legs, freeing up the coccyx, and creating a horizontal pelvis.
Session 7 focuses solely on the neck and head, the positive pole of the body. Looks to balance the head neutrally over the spine.
Sessions 8-10 are “integrative” sessions strive to blend the previous advancements, and ones yet to be made, into the body in a way that encourages smooth movement and coordination. They are designed to further deconstruct twists and rotations, which affect the freedom and integrity of the lumbars (vertebrae of the low back) by lifting the thorax up and ordering the legs and pelvis below.
Session 10 relates the fascial planes to each other and creates an overall balance of the body. This is a final tuning taking you from a state of static balance to dynamic balance.
I have 2 sessions to go, but I am literally addicted to Rolfing now! It’s great to practice yoga in between the sessions because you can notice the changes so much. My balance whilst standing is better because she worked on my feet and heels, moving the heel into proper alignment and taught me how to stand properly. I used to stand with an exaggerated lumbar curve which has now gone and she also sorted out my head which I used to hold forward but now it sits properly at the top of my spine. A few years back I injured both knees (doing yoga in fact and have never been the same since) and my whole body contorted to try and protect them. The rolfing has ‘unstuck’ all my hamstrings and quads so that my knees now track properly and this has allowed me to use the muscles properly, instead of them acting like other muscles, pulling and straining and twisting my legs and knees. I’m not describing this well at all, but the overall experience has been amazing. Probably one of the best things I’ve done for my body ever. It’s one of those, ‘why didn’t I try this before’ moments.
This is the best comparison I have found for yoga and ‘Rolfing’ from www.connectivehealing.com.
“These two disciplines in many ways are variations on a single theme: both work towards the physical and emotional evolution of the individual by addressing structural alignment and whole-body integration. They share the same fundamental goals and principals, only their methods differ. Combined the two reinforce each other and allow for an even deeper exploration and awareness of self.
In yoga you practice asanas to lengthen, strengthen and align your structure. In Structural Integration (SI) your practitioner uses their hands to work with 3-dimensional soft tissue patterns that limit the body's comfort, balance and alignment in the gravitational field. It does this by focusing on the fascial system.
Fascia surrounds, supports and penetrates all of your muscles, bones and organs throughout your body in continuous web-like layers. This fascial net is the body's internal system of flexible support giving strength and shape to our bodies. This system responds to injury, chronic tension and habitual movement patterns by shortening, thickening and becoming glue-like thereby locking in these unhealthy patterns of strain and pulling the body out of alignment. SI works systematically and globally to release fixations, restore ease and create deep, comprehensive order in your body. It literally changes your shape, sometimes quite dramatically. People feel lighter, energized, more grounded and balanced. They experience greater breathing capacity, increased range of motion, ease and fluidity of movement, and a body more resilient to injury.
Yoga actually had an early influence in the birth of Structural Integration. Dr. Ida P Rolf, the biochemist who created SI, studied Iyengar yoga and drew upon its principles along with those of osteopathy, homeopathy, and the Alexander Technique. Dr. Rolf believed yoga was the best exercise system ever devised if done with the right teacher. She also believed that hands-on manipulation was needed to fully free the structure and to achieve ultimate length and separation in the joints. This led to the development of what is commonly referred to as "The 10 Series." This series is comprised of ten sessions, referred to as hours, which balance your body in segments with each session addressing a different aspect of your structure and movement. The results become cumulative as each session adds to the results of the previous ones.
Just as breath is the foundation of a yoga practice, it is also a focal point of The 10 Series. The first hour is devoted to improving the quality of your breath with work on the arm, ribcage and diaphragm. Ida once pointed out, "When the position of the ribs change, breathing changes. Getting more air into the lungs and getting it to move faster is going to change the chemistry of every cell in the body. So, in a first SI hour, we have started changing the chemistry of every cell in the body in the first 10 minutes."
One client of mine recently told me that for her SI is "like being yoga’d." Another described her experience with the following: "
Prior to being structurally integrated, I "worked" on having better posture. Now, I can "relax" into good posture because my body is properly aligned from head to toe. In yoga my balance increased significantly as I was able to spread my toes to increase surface area and reach longer through my spine. In addition, my flexibility increased exponentially with no additional effort. ."
While SI is successfully used to treat everything from migraines to fibromyalgia this was not Ida's primary objective. She was more interested in the evolution of the individual. Dr. Rolf saw SI as a means to evoke the greatest human potential lying within each one of us. In this way SI and yoga also share the common goal of facilitating deeper levels of consciousness and aliveness. As a more intimate and comfortable relationship with your physical body is fostered, the emotions and attitudes which are housed and expressed in your posture and patterns of holding are brought to light and given the opportunity to dissolve and become integrated.
Yogis have long been noticing the effects of SI as they find they are able to reach new depths and levels of ease both in mind and body. At the same time yoga is one of the best ways to support and maintain the benefits of SI. The combination of the two is a rich opportunity to broaden your sense of self thereby allowing the chance to transform limiting patterns of movement, thinking and behavior.” (http://connectivehealing.com/index_files/structural_integration_SI_and_yoga.html)
Well, I still can’t do baddha konasana and get my chest to the floor, but it’s improved greatly! However, something's definitely shifted as I can now get both legs behind the head relatively comfortably (eka pada for some reason is a little harder but I'm putting that down to a wonky SI joint/anteriorly tilted pelvis on the right), over the past 3 weeks I've been working on the Tittibhasana sequence in Intermediate and can now complete the sequence with full correct vinyasa, without collapsing in a heap and dead thighs on my mat! I think Vijay's pleased with my progress...well he must be cos he's given me Pincha Mayurasana to practice now...and I know what's coming next...more baddha konasana, upavistha and lotus work needed for that one for sure...
Nevertheless, the bit in the article about feeling energized is completely true too. I used to feel a lot of weight in my legs and the lower part of my body but now feel like that weight is distributed evenly throughout my body, I feel like my energy is moving a lot more freely now and I can differentiate single muscles now, when before they were all just ‘stuck’ together. I’d got to a point where my body no longer felt like my own body, I knew something was wrong but just couldn’t work out what was wrong. I knew there were blockages in energy, I could feel them and I have tried physiotherapy, psychotherapy, meditation, yoga, cardio-work, even an energetic healer and I would have to say that Rolfing by far, is the best thing I’ve done. Yep, even over yoga. But now I can continue my yoga practice with greater energy and use it to ensure that the blockages and unhealthy patterns, those physical and mental samskaras don’t come back!!
If you would like the details of the Rolfers in Mysore, drop me a message J
Thursday, 6 February 2014
Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear….
This was the line Vijay came out with following an attempt at catching my heels on my own in chakra bandhasana a few days back.
He’s been working with me on it daily, one day with him assisting me into the posture the next day I have to do it on my own. One day I fell to my elbows after I lost balance when my hands were really near the heels…he was crouching next to me and as I fell all I heard was an, “Ouch!” from Vijay. I was pissed with him as he was there and watching and could see it happening and instead he just let it happen, let me fall. OK, so I didn’t die…didn’t even break an elbow thank God, but the fear, you know, the fear was there, the fear is still there. But I guess it’s a little less now, knowing nothing bad can happen. He does stuff like this. A lot. To me.
But this day, I was walking, walking my hands in and it was the first time I could see my own heels and I could see how far my hands were away from my heels…and it was about a hands-span away. After I came back up and jubilant and all, he said, “Good” and I said, “Yeah I was only a hands-span away from my heels” and he shook his head and said, “Noooo…you were 1 inch away from touching!! What does it say on those rear view mirrors??...Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear!!” and walked off…
Vijay’s comment resonated with me. It reminded me of how little self-confidence I have in my practice. I could see my heels, but still my mind was saying, “It’s not good enough”. The mind playing tricks on me again. You can’t do it, you can’t do it. Then Vijay comes along and acts as the true reflection of my capabilities. He knows what I can do before I even know myself. He’s like the purusha to my prakriti…the stepping stone between my reality and the truth…
“It is only in still water that we can see.” (Taoist Proverb)
Vijay is my still water.
The truth is you need a good teacher. If you’re anything like me, a little too laid back, a little tamasic maybe and maybe a little kaphic, you need a good push in your practice. You don’t believe in yourself? It’s probably just fear manifesting in a bit of a sloppy practice, which was fine before I came to Mysore, but it doesn’t wash! The practice reflects your fears, your weaknesses, it breaks you down and then builds you up again, stronger than before. I used to think that this was just on a physical basis, but it works on so many levels. You think you have it? Nah….think again…there’s a Buddhist saying that goes something like, ”Nati, nati, nati” (I may have spelt this wrong)…not that, not that, not that. Never assume you have it, there’s always another level, another layer to peel away. But this is a good thing. It means your practice should never get boring, that if the primary series doesn’t bring on a sweat anymore that there is something more that you can give to it, another level to find in it, one that brings on that sweat, that heat, that tapas to burn away through another layer, bringing you closer to the truth.
Thursday, 30 January 2014
Feels like I haven't posted about my practice in ages despite it going through constant changes. The fact is I'd been sick for 3 weeks solid and my energy reserves were getting dangerously low. The last two days I've felt like a different person, full of prana.
In class today Vijay told me after a painful upavistha konasana where I thought my adductors would tear apart (we are working on opening my hips), that I should still do a jump back (not step back - oh no!) .....but with enthusiasm... as without enthusiasm I would not be looking forward to the next posture. When Vijay mentioned enthusiasm I immediately thought of a line in 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'.
"The Greeks called it 'enthousiasmos', the root of 'enthusiasm', which literally means 'filled with theos', or God, or Quality." A person filled with enthusiasm doesn't sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He's at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what's up the next track and meeting it when it comes. Enthusiasm occurs when one is quiet long enough to see and hear and feel the real universe, not just one's own stale opinions about it.
You have to care about your practice. It is important to try to practice with care as it is closely tied to quality. And as we know, things made without quality, frankly suck. "A person who sees quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who's bound to have some characteristics of quality." "Quality is the Buddha. Quality is scientific reality. Quality is the goal of Art."
The practice should be carried out with as little effort as possible and without desire. If you become restless, speed up, if you become winded slow down. You practice in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion, then when you're no longer thinking ahead, each posture, each vinyasa, isn't just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. You begin to notice things as they are. "To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top." So I've been told... I need to put more quality into my practice, every little detail is important. Vijay's very strict, but very wise.
So about getting stuck. I am so close to being able to jump back like they do in the films, that I can almost touch it...But I get stuck. I get stuck right at the point where I need to bend my elbows and shoot the legs back. I'm even hovering there arms straight, knees pulled in to chest, feet off the floor and Vijay's shouting 'bend your elbows! bend your elbows!' and I'm just there stuck mid-air willing my elbows to bend but for some reason the message from the brain is not getting to the arms...some kind of short circuit.
The fact is I've not been bending my elbows for so long that it's a habit that is going to be hard to break. What I need to do is it in lolasana and practice bending my elbows so at some point along the line, like at about the 61st time of bending them, the new pattern will begin to ingrain itself into my muscle memory. Basically if something isn't working in your practice, preventing you from doing something, something needs to change. It may even be the smallest thing, like moving your foot 1 centimetre to the left. Mind you, it's easy to say all this, it's harder to do it.
"Quality is not static, its dynamic. And when you really understand dynamic reality you never get stuck. It has its forms but the forms are capable of change."
Quality is something you can develop, it's not just intuition, not just an unexplainable 'skill' or 'talent'. It's the direct result of contact with the basic reality, which dualistic reason has tended to conceal. You can gain quality by simply practicing...enthusiastically!
Wednesday, 22 January 2014
I've been sick with something, don't know what, thought it was a gastro flu virus which 3 of us in the house had, but then it kept on so took some anti-biotics, then it kept on and took some pro-biotics...now I'm just not sure what's going on!
Obviously being in Mysore, the 'letting go' capital of the world, people are fast to jump to the conclusion that when you are sick in the stomach it's your body trying to get rid of something that is not good for it, that it doesn't want anymore. A few weeks back I had a session of 'Rolfing' after being advised by a yoga teacher that it was amazing. I went and gave my details to the girl along a list of stuff going on with my body, tight left shoulder, dodgy knees, relentlessly tight hips. She worked for 1.5 hours on my ankles, IT bands, knees and hips and later on that evening I was pretty sore around those areas. That night I had a rumbling in the stomach and had to dash to the bathroom with severe diarrhoea. But it wasn't just once, it went on and on, until the point where I had no control over it and 'let go' all over the kitchen and bathroom floor... :(
Despite my bedroom only being 5 metres away from the bathroom, I had to have a bucket next to my bed for the rest of the night. Big sigh. I spent the next hour on my hands and knees cleaning my own crap up off the floor with 2 rolls of tissue paper...half naked...in the dark... Thankfully it was the middle of the night and somehow I managed to maintain a small semblance of dignity. The next day I had to explain to the housemaid who's english isn't great that I had been 'sick' over the kitchen and bathroom floor and when she saw the bucket, well, she didn't speak to me for 3 days. (Actually, thank god she didn't, trying to get through to her using the english language is like trying to get blood from a stone...my own english is going downhill drastically here with everyone speaking with badly strung together sentences of random words!! Anyway, I digress...)
But here's the strange part....Somehow I managed to drag myself to class the next morning, expecting a poor practice and instead I had the most open hips ever! Postures which had been killing me like baddha konasana, upavistha konasana and eka pada sirsasana seemed like I had been practicing them for years (well I have but with little progress). Finally some space has appeared in the joints which I hadn't felt before and I can feel what it feels like to have open hips, which I can continue to work on slowly each day. I'm still suffering with some discomfort in the hips, but for christ's sake, I have 35 years of crap to clear out!!
Unfortunately I cannot be sure what is was that caused this opening...it could have been the rolfing, it could've been the diarrhoea, it could have been having to clean my crap up off the kitchen floor, or it could have been just continuous, dedicated practice over a long period of time. Nevertheless, I like all 4 reasons equally!!
Monday, 20 January 2014
Guest Post from Marco Pino of PathtoYoga.net. Thanks for sharing Marco!
Although Vijay is very young he already has an extensive teaching experience. He is an amazing ashtanga yoga teacher and a beautiful soul," my friend Dario wrote me on Facebook. With only 26 years Vijay Kumar is probably one of the youngest ashtanga yoga teachers in Mysore yet he continues to become more and more popular among western students.
I decided to follow Dario's recommendation and traveled to Mysore to practice ashtanga yoga with Vijay. The main thing that I like about Vijay's class is the emphasis on slow deep breathing, which give space for the practice to become more meditative although still very intense physically. I love how the whole class move at a very slow pace, it looks almost as if we were practicing tai chi, so to complete the whole primary series can take about two hours and half or even close to three hours.
I also like Vijay's adjustments. Instead of forcing you to get into any posture his gentle and deep adjustments, while asking you to breath deeply and slowly, teach you the right alignment and what your body can actually do without even saying a word. As he mentioned during a class, the purpose of his adjustments are to show you how you need to practice once you get back home.
One more thing that I love about Vijay's teaching style is that he likes to ask you to go beyond your limitations, when he knows you can do more. With him I've learned asanas that I wouldn't even bother to try doing by myself. When he was teaching me to do the jump back from marichyasana A he would tell me "try again", even though I had already tried three or four times and it just seemed impossible for me to do it. Sometimes he would even say "try until you can."
|Video of Vijay demonstrating the jump back from Marichyasana A and B|
I hope you'll enjoy reading Vijay's interview. If you have previously practiced Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in Mysore with Vijay Kumar please feel free to share your experience with us in the comment section at the end of this blog.
How did you get started into this yoga path?
I can say since birth because in our house, I'm raised in a Brahmin community, everybody is into Bhakti Yoga. Since I can remember anything we were always in theBhakti Yoga path. And to asanas I started when I was twelve. My brother, Vinay Kumar, started long before me. Initially my mother guided me a little bit and then my brother trained me well.
My mother was the first one to start asanas in our house, and very soon my brother joined her. They practiced together and I was the last one to start. So basically my mother was the source of guidance for both of us to practice asanas, initially. When my brother started to understand his body, when he could listen to his body well, when he knew that he can guide others then my mother stopped.
|Vijay Kumar in Eka Pada Sirsasana|
Why did you decide to teach yoga and in particular ashtanga yoga?
The beauty of what I do or what every yoga teacher does when they do properly is to promote good health in people, so that's what I do.
When I started to teach I did not have any boundaries that I should only teach ashtanga vinyasa yoga but because I like this method more and I can relate with it better, and because I understand it well I decided to teach it to others.
Can you tell us about the time when you took a six months break from your ashtanga yoga practice to dedicate yourself solely to the practice of meditation?
Yes, it was two years ago when I stopped completely all asanas because that's exactly when I understood more about introspection, looking within. Then I started meditation and I still do it but maybe not with that intensity because the initial stage is very important, like when you practice asanas.
|Video of Vijay demonstrating padmasana jump back|
On the initial stage, until the body becomes free, we need to practice very consistently to get to some asanas. For example today I made you dopadmasana jump back. For this I have given you many preparations before or you were doing very well half lotus crossed legs. Only because of that consistency today padmasana jump back was easy.
Similarly, as Sri Patanjali says "Tivra-samveganam asannah", as the faith and dedication is more the closer you'll go (Sutra I.21: liberation through yoga is quick for the wholehearted, determined and energetic), even in meditation practice the initial stage is very important. So I stopped all other asana practice which was taking more time and only dedicated to meditation, six months continuously. Whenever I practiced I would sit for at least one and a half hours to three hours, only once a day cause I was also teaching.
Can you tell us about your experience teaching yoga in China? How did it started, for how long did you do it and what was the biggest challenge that you faced?
My brother had a student from China. She was opening a new yoga studio and she needed some help. They had a good relationship as a teacher and student, but my brother couldn't go so he asked me.
I was then studying my mechanical diploma, actually my family had hopes of me becoming and engineer but I was more interested in yogic studies like studying the Bhagavata, Vedas and The Bhagavad Gita. This was an opportunity for me to see another country and to remain on that path.
Vijay moves to China
So I moved to China. I was eighteen and a half, the youngest foreign teacher to come and teach yoga asanas in China. The original idea was to stay only for three months but at the end I stayed for five years.
|Video of Vijay doing a yoga demonstration in China|
For the person that I went for, whom my brother needed to help, I stayed for about two and half or three years. When I knew they were well stablished and after I had helped somebody else come to my position and take over, then I decided to move to another place.
I did not like staying in one place for very long because that would restrict my ability to see other places, if I would stay in only one place would be like staying at home, and also because in Beijing I was teaching mostly foreigners so I couldn't learn even a word in Chinese.
So I moved to another place which was the most beautiful part of China and it was by the sea. I always wanted to stay by the sea and learn some surfing so this was more conducive because they needed some help and I got what they needed. I helped a lot in that place, it was more service, many months you don't get any payment, I was teaching for free.
I did surfing for two years whenever I got time because when you are doing in service it's a lot of work, you work at least like ten hours a day but I used to get a day off. The person who was managing all, giving us accommodation, food and everything else was from Australia. He loved surfing so he used to bring me there, to beautiful waves. I was still a beginner but I enjoyed it.
Challenges encountered in China
Many challenges were encountered when I first moved to China. Discrimination because of my color and mainly because I did not understand the language, there were a lot of misunderstandings.
The first three months were the hardest, I almost rebook my flight ticket, I wanted to come back, but then I thought, "If I go back now I wouldn't have helped anybody so the whole purpose of coming here would be useless." I had discontinued my studies, I went there and if I come back home without helping them would be very useless. So I decided that until they feel like I have helped them and until they feel like they still want me there I won't go.
That forced something within me that kept me there, but the first three months were really hard because of the food. I was having illusory Chinese taste because in Mysore what we eat as Chinese food is so different to what you eat in China itself, and also because I'm a pure vegetarian, you can't find any food without at least eggs. And I had a cook, that was one of the priorities, a cook, but what he cooked tasted like nothing, no salt, no pepper. It's ok for a day or two but continuously, for three months...
But when I started to really like that which I hated then everything became easier. You might have heard me saying "like what you hate, becomes easier." That's from personal experience.
If you understand the language you understand the tradition
China is a very beautiful country and if you understand the language then you understand the tradition. China is a booming country, it's becoming more like the west, but even then they are very traditional and you can really only fall in love of the country when you understand the tradition.
I really miss China because eventually when I learned the Chinese language I could relate to the people so very well, and I had no sense of discrimination. Actually there was no discrimination at all, it was only my belief that people were discriminating me because of this color or because I'm from a different country but actually they never did. It was only my perception, miscomprehension, like Patanajali says (sutra I.8), activities of the mind.
But then I learned Chinese and I made China like a second home. I had a sister there, a sister from another mother. She is still in touch with me everyday. It's very beautiful country.
Who are your spiritual heroes or role models?
Spiritually speaking Sri Krishna, He is my source of guidance.
From childhood I was taught the Bhagavad Gita, just to memorize the verses, so I never knew the actual meaning of many verses. But when I took the "sacred threat of trinity" ceremony that every brahmacharyi takes as an initiation to spirituality I requested the master who gave me the initiation to give me some Bhagavad Gita classes. He was kind enough to help me understand the Gita.
Then when I started to read the Bhagavad Gita on my own it was a whole different experience. And now every time I read it it's still elaborating the boundaries of its meaning, so when I'm reading it more and more I can easily feel like Sri Krishna is relating to me, because Bhagavad Gita is the Supreme Living Entity talking to the Individual Living entity. Whoever reads it is for him a direct guidance. So I can say He is the source of guidance for me to spirituality.
What are the most inspiring yoga books or scriptures that you have read and that you would recommend your students to read?
Well, for me always inspiring is the Bhagavad Gita, it's the source of guidance for yoga, it's the compact version of all knowledge. In only 700 verses you can find so much information for a whole life.
To recommend others it depends on the relationship that I have with the student. Many people come to class just for the health benefit of yoga or they come with their own spiritual/religious beliefs. Although all beliefs are ultimately the same, it's just One Supreme living entity with different names, if we just say "read the Bhagavad Gita" some people might have a negative feeling in their heart because of their different beliefs.
So I wont really recommend the Bhagavad Gita to everyone unless I know them very well, and when I know them very well first I want to explain them why they should read it, first I would teach them and then after they can read.
What is the biggest lesson that you've learned through your own yoga practice?
As I said yesterday there is no absolute truth in asanas. What you are able to do today may not stay with you tomorrow or, what you are not able to do today will come back to you tomorrow.
Yesterday I was able to demonstrate for you some handstands variations, although I had not practiced them in two years. But sometimes, when I've tried to demonstrate handstands to others, it never happens. So we cannot really say that it's never changing. In asana practice the only requirement is to be able to sit straight, that's what I've understood.
|Ekapada Raja Kapotasana|
Through asanas of course we can improve our health, physically and mentally, but if we get attached to them we stay in the preliminary stages, never progressing. You may see many practitioners practicing asanas for many years and still not understanding the different limbs like pranayama or meditation.
Mediation, dhyana, is the main reason why we practice asanas. If we want to sit still in one position it takes a lot of practice. It takes a lot of strength on the back to support itself, to keep the spine straight, that's why we practice asanas.
But we should also keep sometime to listen to ourselves because for everyone the ultimate teacher is within. So we should give some time to listen to it, then more windows will open up to understand the deeper aspects of yoga.
I've learned many things like this from my practice which leads me to spirituality.
What is the main lesson that you want your students to take away from practicing ashtanga yoga with you?
I like to call it ashtanga vinyasa yoga, ashtanga yoga is huge, I'm teaching only ashtanga vinyasa, ashtanga yoga is eight steps (Patanjali's 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga).
I want them to learn that the more they relax the more asanas become easier, and also to give more importance to deep breathing because breath and mind are closely related.
The beauty of ashtanga vinyasa yoga is that it includes deeper aspects of yoga in it like pranayama. Pranayama means giving a form to our breathing. When we incorporate deep breathing our attention is more focused within.
There are many benefits that comes from deep breathing, eventually it help us to calm the mind down, and with long deep breath and proper approach towards the practice anything is possible. So we just need proper guidance and when I have guided somebody I expect them to follow as much as they can, that's all, because I can't be with them all the time. If they like it they will follow, that's all.
Vijay Kumar teaches ashtanga vinyasa yoga at Ashtanga Saadhana in Chamarajpuram, near the Lakshmipuram area in Mysore, India. For more information about class schedules and cost you can contact him directly through his websitewww.ashtangasaadhana.com, by phone +91 9663047900 or by email at email@example.com
#1079, Narasa Raja road,
Chamarajpuram, Opposite Law court,