Sharath Jois in London
Location: Camden Centre,London
Host: Hamish Hendry and Anna Wise
My lovely teacher Cathy said I should go….so I went and needless to say I was not disappointed.
First times; there have been a few first times this week. First time I got my arse to London in over 8 years (I’m an English girl – living in Scotland) . First time I went away with my friend Kyle (who by the way is an amazing traveling companion & roomie) first time using airbnb (highly recommended) first time practicing Yoga with Sharath Jois….Amazing!!
Excited…. so excited and so is everyone here!! I didn’t really know what to expect – in all honesty I didn’t want to have any expectations (but I am human and they come pre-programmed!!) but I was excited and it was obvious that all those around me were experiencing it too. Sharath Jois the grandson of the late Sri K Pattabi Jois (or Guruji as he was affectionately known) holds a room with a quiet humility that is incredibly endearing. He sits waiting on stage (camden centre hall) in Padmasana/Lotus with a large picture of his grandfather next to him. He watches as we enter and every now and then looks up and nods a hello to a student he recognises from his Shala in Mysore or he consults his iPhone (apparently Eddie Stern brought him one) he sits peacefully nonetheless. A quiet settles over the room once everyone is in and we all anticipate hearing ‘samastithi’. He stands, dish clothe wrapped around his waist, hands in prayer and we follow his direction ready for the opening chant.
…… the opening chant begins. I can feel a little rush to my heart as his voice permeates the room – I feel incredibly privileged to be here. We all chime in – over 100 people chanting and om-ing is an amazing sound, that soon moves to the sound of breathe “Ekam, inhale”. My friend Kyle puts it nicely; “we all breath like one lung, in unison”. Over a hundred people doing Ujjaji and wow, the energy that at first seems scattered with excitement becomes a one pointed focus as we listen to his count …anticipating a long hold in Chatwari that Sharath delivers with a smile as some of us begin to giggle and collapse, or the strong ones hold.
Most Ashtangis who get into regular practice will at some point get so caught up in the practice that a new obsession emerges – the internet is filled with blogs, posts and you-tube videos. Google ‘Ashtanga yoga’ and you will see what I mean. Everyone of us has heard from someone or read somewhere about about Led class with Sharath…notorious for his the long count, particularly in navasana and utplutihi. He looks out at us all smiling and we all smile back. (see picture above!!) How can we not???!! He is why we are all here, to be with him in this practice.
Class moves quickly but it’s a soft class – a slow count, long holds, time to really get into the asana. Sharath moves around the room helping those who need it, like my lovely friend next to me who is in her 2nd trimester of pregnancy and Sharath noticing and parting her feet in Paschimottanasana … he sees everything…. his eyes everywhere. “You lift up” …… utplutihi – 1………………………………………(10 breaths later)………………………………………………………………….2………..we are all collapsing dropping our bums or waiting until he has got to 5 before we lift, our arms giving way, he sees it all, smiles and slows it down more until our bums are off the floor. We are all smiling at this because we know he is playing with us and we all respond because we want to do our best. He quietly helps build our strength. (Navasana & Utplutihi are all strength postures that we can find ourselves skimming over in regular practice. Five breathes really being only 2 or 3!) 😉
As class draws to a close, we move to the closing chant and again I feel blown away at the shear sound and energy that has infused the room. I rest my sweaty body feeling exhausted (I worked my arse off) but lucky, calm & relaxed, and I realise that this is exactly where I want to be…in this practice –making this my life, living honourably to the true Ashtanga methods.
He tells us to go home and take rest, we gather our mats and begin to form a line to thank him. Hands in prayer at our hearts or resting in-between our brows we bow our heads to our teacher. Hoping that he knows just how grateful we are that he has come to London and given us – especially those who can’t get to the Shala, a chance to connect with the lineage and him.
Sharath Jois is a humble man who has taken on an extraordinary responsibility. He has an enormous challenge ahead of him; to keep this lineage of Ashtanga yoga true to its origins and true to his grandfather’s teachings. It is clear that he has integrity – he does not follow a lot of ‘Gurus’ (I will not name names! ;-)) in the sense of selling himself out to fame and fortune. Ashtanga yoga is getting increasingly popular worldwide, but Sharath you can see is unfazed by it all and will keep true to the humble beginnings of Sri K Pattabi Jois, his grandfather and Guru. It is also clear that the Ashtanga method works; I can only speak for myself when I say that this practice has brought me a peace that no other has. Its not always easy getting on the mat: we all have our lazy days or we feel we would rather do anything else than practice. We all need to give ourselves a good talking too sometimes to just unroll the mat and overcome lethargy, but as my teacher says “she has never had a day, when she regrets practicing, she only regrets the days she didn’t get on the mat”. It is clear that if we are consistent and disciplined with our practice great things will happen for us. I have come away after only two days of led class, (believe me I would of stayed the whole week if I could of got in!!) feeling that I want to go to Mysore. I don’t care if Sharath doesn’t notice me, or I am kept at primary or any of this surface stuff…I just want to be there to feel the magic of being in Mysore connecting with the wonderful lineage of Ashtanga yoga.
so many people from the led classes got pictures with Sharath and I have to say I walked away wishing I had too!! I am extremely shy and I had the feeling that he doesn’t like the fuss – so I kept my distance. However I have decided that next time I will wield my selfie stick in front of him and ask for a pic 😉
the ardent yogi xx
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