Sunday, April 21, 2013

Calm yourself, fool! ~Sharath

Ok so Sharath Jois didn't exactly say "calm yourself, fool"...

But that more or less is what he has been saying and teaching for the past few days that I've been here in Encinitas practicing with him. I've had three led primary series classes so far, and have three more to go. As is expected, each day feels a little "worse"... More tired, sore, etc. It doesn't help that I'm in a lovely, hilly beach town and am walking everywhere. In flip flops. My shins and hip flexors are screaming!!! Despite that, I have really enjoyed my practice each morning at 6:30am in a room packed with at least 100 people, and a maximum of one inch between each yoga mat on all sides. Today I got full on head-butted rolling around in garbha pindasana, by my friend Lidia who was going a little slowly (usually it's a head to knee, or head to butt connection). It kinda hurt and I could help it, I said "DUDE!" really loudly... a few people around us looked and laughed. Lidia has scored a trillion adjustments so far from Sharath AND Saraswati, while over the three days I've been adjusted once. Which was great. On the first day we were dead center and front. Saraswati just happened to be standing in front of me during supta kurmasana and reach down to cross my legs behind my head. THANK YOU! It's technically the only adjustment I need in the primary series, although, who doesn't like their leg being held up a little bit in uttitha hasta? :)

Ok ok, on to what Sharath said in the little mini conference chats he is giving each morning right after practice.

Day 1
Sharath explains how asana (physical yoga postures) comes first. He says even though in the yoga sutras yama and niyama are the first two limbs of ashtanga yoga and asana is listed as third, he says that those develop concurrently with your asana practice. You refine those as you go deeper into your asana practice, so really asana is first, as is stated in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

He went on to create a metaphor. He said asana is like the foundation of a house. First, you must lay down a good foundation (asana). Then, when you go to build the rest of the house (your spiritual building) it won't collapse. He tells us that asana comes first in order to lay down the groundwork for gaining a deeper spiritual understanding and existence. If you want to go further, first start here, with your asana practice.

He also talked about how asana practice makes the body steady, light and strong, which are also pre-requisites for deeper study, especially pranayama. As we already know, a steady body equals a steady mind. How can we try to concentrate on spiritual endeavours if our body is very sick?

Day 2
Saturday morning after practice Sharath started to talk more about pranayama. First, the explanation. I love when he clears this up because it's commonly mistaken. Pranayama = extension of the breath. (NOT breath 'control'). Prana + ayama, instead of prana + yama, the "a" in the middle is a long "a". Anyways - I'm a Sanskrit geek!
He says that to extend your breath is to extend your life. We are each given about 100 years. If you get sick you will die sooner. If you practice pranayama, you can live longer.

He says we are doing pranayama, without even really knowing it, in our asana practice, since we are breathing through the nose only, in a slow and steady manner. If you pant, breathe too quickly, or hold your breath, you are agitating your mind. To calm the breath is to calm the mind. He said that the body is in charge of the breath, and the breath is in charge of the mind. When emotions (anger, laughter, any) take over then the breath and the mind become erratic, so we need to keep control of those. It sort of seemed like he was telling us not to be too happy. Which I suppose is in line with a lot of Hindu texts (Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, etc), that tout holding your equanimity in the face of sorrow and joy and not being taken away by either extreme. He ended the chat by saying something jovial like, "I hope you extend your breath so you can extend your life, haha".

Day 3
Pranayama was the topic again this morning. He reminded us quickly of what he brought up yesterday then went on to saying that pranayama is very important. When done properly it can remove illnesses from the body and mind. If done incorrectly however, it can invite diseases in. So "be careful!" he said. He went on to talk about how much stress EVERYONE has in their life these days, that it's unavoidable and we need measures to reduce our stress. He showed us all a pranayama technique, which we all did along with him. It's called Nadi Shodana and it's an alternate breathing technique. I'll admit, this is one form of pranayama I have never really enjoyed (maybe the point isn't to enjoy them though). Danny Paradise has taken me through this exercise many times. I usually end up leaving to blow my nose because one nostril get clogged. Fail! No benefit!

So first Sharath showed us the proper hand mudra to use. Using your RIGHT hand (never left he says), hold the palm up facing your own face, thumb sticking up, index and middle finger curled tight into your hand, and last two fingers outstretched and together. Kind of like a Hawaiian surfer, but not quite.

-Put the thumb over your right nostril and close it completely.
-Take a long, easy, slow, natural inhale through the left nostril.
-Take off the thumb, close the left nostril completely with the last two fingers and take a slow, long exhale through the right.
- Do that five times.
Then do the opposite:
-Inhale through the right nostril, exhale through the left, five times.
This is one "set". (10 breaths total). He says if you have time, to do two sets. Morning, noon, night, whenever you need it. It's a technique to calm the mind. It's also very good if you have respiratory problems or allergies which affect your breathing, and is also good for anxiety and hypertension.
It actually did feel calming to me. Even though the left side was slightly clogged. Not as much as another guy's though. His nose whistled really loudly every time he exhaled! Teehee. Whistle nose.

Sharath finished by saying that you should always enjoy your practice. He mimicked us and talked about how after practice everyone asks "how was your practice" and if you were very 'bendy' you say "practice was good!" but if you weren't bendy you say "it was ok". LOL! So true. He knows his crowd ;) But he said, no matter what happens, if you are very flexible or not at all, you must enjoy your practice. I agree.

Three more led primary's and Sharath-chats to go. Will report back!

Here are a few photos from the practice with Sharath and Saraswati snapped this week...

1 comment:


    I really agree with you this really fantastic and beautiful ieads provides the yoga related > thanks.