Following on from last week’s Letter From Finland and my little history lesson about yoga in 1975 California, hippies, drugs and carrot juice, here is Manju Pattabhi Jois’ account of yoga according to his father. It’s rather different to the accounts of the first western yogis who trained with him in the 70s and became today’s senior teachers. Manju said: 'My father never tried to control anyone’. There were no rules and regulations. We just enjoyed yoga. Westerners asked him questions but he laughed and nodded. Those people took that laugh and nod to be affirmation but ‘my father didn't understand English'.
Yoga was simple and easy and to be enjoyed back in those days. “Our job is to keep it that way”. (I relate to that entirely). If you miss a day it doesn't matter. Do it the next day. (I relate to that more than is good for me!). “If you can’t do certain postures you can skip them and go to the next one. That’s how you open up your body. The body has to open one way or the other. That’s why we have so many postures. When you start practicing like that then you really enjoy it and you get all the therapeutic benefit”.
How could this man not be my guru?!
I’ve been heady with my Finnish experience of Mysore yoga under the guidance of such a liberating teacher. On Thursday in my Home Studio all the classes were Mysore. This means self-practice in a class with a teacher to help, not to teach a class. Most people liked it! Some thought they might get to like it! It’s clear, even when not knowing quite what to do next or what direction to go in, everybody still gets a lot further into the Ashtanga practice than would otherwise be the case. I might add it to the timetable if there’s demand. We also had an extra 4.00pm class yesterday (Thursday). Let me know if that would suit you or if a lunchtime class would work for you. And there are still places left in the usual classes next week. Book a place and have a go.
For something completely different, I’ve booked a day-long workshop called ‘7 steps to transformation: a chakra daylong workshop with James French. It’s this Sunday. This is a subject I gave no thought at all to before teaching. Now, it’s just obvious. The description tells us to dive into the hidden knowledge of this beautiful system. Come with me!
Yoga in the News
Here’s a lovely article from Business Insider on how to be happy. Matthieu Ricard, 69, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, is scientifically the world’s happiest man. The article is from World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where Ricard has been scattering his happiness to business leaders.
The New Scientist tells us that: Hot yoga classes reduce emotional eating and negative thoughts. They report on a small selection of women with high stress, unhealthy eating patterns and depression who were sent to Bikram yoga. Well done those women! If you’ve never been to a Bikram class, reading this account is compulsory!