The teachers presented here have travelled and continue to walk through/jump through/float through the ashtanga yoga practice after all these years. After enjoying what could be six decades of the practice, it is to them we look to for inspiration and understanding of what “all is coming” is truly about.
It’s good to read about what you are practicing, so to get a greater understanding of what this means to you and the life you are living. Sooner or later students who are in this for many years have no choice but to evolve. It’s an exciting practice. I love this practice. Everyday it means more to me. I never tire of it. Get your head space in it, stay in it and enjoy what’s coming.
“Usually there’s about a three-month love affair with yoga. ‘I feel so good.’ After about two months of practice, people think they are practically enlightened. Then usually around the third month, something happens and the yoga actually starts to work. And the first thing the ego structure does is to look for an escape route. People start heading for the door just at the moment when they should stay.”
“In many schools of yoga not a lot is happening. Yoga has been traditionally passed down from teacher to student over thousands of years and often the lineages are broken. With a teacher you develop a relationship and something right at the heart of the relationship carries the essence of the practice. It’s a great thing. So if there’s a teacher around, take advantage of it! If there isn’t, practice anyway”
“After practicing more and more years, I realise the perfection of the ordering of the postures. I say now that it’s like a combination lock. If you do the numbers in order, the lock will open. If you do just any numbers, nothing happens. I feel this is the way with yoga practice. If you do the yoga practice in certain order, your body and your mind open up. If you just do random yoga like is taught in so many places, it’s much less efficient”.
“I went to India searching for the best possible yoga practice. Everything that I was looking for at that time in my life I received from Guruji. I ask everybody I meet, “have you found a better yoga system than this?” I still haven’t found anything better than Guruji’s ashtanga yoga practice”.
~David Williams (one of his first western students and he brought Pattabhi Jois to America in 1975)
“I consider him (Guruji) to be the best asana teacher in the world. He helped my body to heal. And in truth I don’t know that I’d be alive today if it weren’t for him. I’ve certainly added quality to my life that I had not even expected when I went to him.”
~Nancy Gilgoff (came to Ashtanga practice in 1975)
“Even salutation A was very difficult for me. Just to get through three and three salutations , to get comfortable with that took months of work. All the little Hatha things I had done before was no preparation whatsoever for that kind of physical effort. I still think it’s the most perfect system ever devised, the most efficient method of physical transformation I’ve ever seen”.
~Brad Ramsey (practiced 1973 onwards under David, Manju and Guruji)
“The vinyasa system of ashtanga yoga has always been very attractive to me because, I think, of the element of breath and movement together. For myself, the breath has always been the main focus of the practice. Of the different styles of yoga I’ve been exposed to over the years, this one seems the most breath oriented. Breath is the core of yoga. Other yoga classes I’ve taken don’t seem to focus on breath or work at nearly as deep a level. Breath is something that really opens up the internal space, it takes you to new places”.
~Tim Miller (from 1978 onwards and was first person to be “certified” to teach ashtanga from Guruji)
“A yogi can be many things. Yes a yogi can be someone who seperates and goes off and lives in a cave. But in my mind, an even greater yogi is one who is integrated and woven right into the context of daily life and society without becoming disturbed by it”.
“Teaching without practice becomes dry. Without a practice it’s hard to get a depth of understanding. We gain insight and knowledge and recharge through our practice”.
~David Swenson (started his practice of yoga in the 1960s and met David and Nancy in the 70’s and then became a student of Guruji’s)
First Impressions of ashtanga ~
“I was actually shocked, watching sixty, seventy people sweating like I never saw people sweat before, and this little gentleman jumping all over the room helping everybody. So it looked like a party to me. As I found out later, it wasn’t a party – it was hard work”.
~Ricky Heiman (became Guruji’s student in 1979)
“For forty years nobody has taught like him. If you follow Guruji’s method, defintely everything is becoming spiritual. It will change minds; everything will change. The teachers should preserve the traditional method…it is so precious. Some people change it (ashtanga) but it is just their ego. If you keep changing teachers it is not correct. You will get confused. When your mind is strong you stay with one teacher. When you meet the right one you will know in your heart”.
~Saraswathi (Guruji’s daughter)
“Yoga has so much potential therapeutically. If more people could practice yoga, there’d be less people in hospital, public health care would be decreased, people would be happier. The whole world would change”
“The practice is a purification process, a therapy to make us well. It (ashtanga) is a moving meditation. Repetition is the key. We go back to the same place over and over without expectation or judgement until eventually either subtle or dramatic, or trapped part of us breaks free. A grief, a trauma, a fear, a secret, a sadness. Once it settles there is clarity or lightness. Days, weeks, months, years pass and slowly the mind settles and the window of perception clears”.
“There will always those collecting asanas, they are still travelling outwards. Soon they will stumble on something that slows them down and turns their focus inwards. Then meditation is the consequence”.
“If you have a teacher you are blessed. If you have a teacher who practices, then you are twice as blessed. If you have a teacher that practices and cares about you , then you are triply blessed. It’s a gift”