Monday, July 30, 2007

Guruji's Birthday

Today is a very special day in the Hindu calendar. It is called Guru Purnima. It is the full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashad. This auspicious day happens to be the day that our beloved Guru, Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois, was born. Today marked the end of Guruji's 92nd year, and it was an especially touching celebration, in light of Guruji's illness earlier this year.

The morning festivities started early with a two hour fire puja in the main shala. Most students started to funnel in near the end to observe the traditional rituals. Following the puja, several students performed for Guruji and the large audience that had gathered at his feet. The performances included traditional South Indian singing, Balinese dancing, and a special song composed on guitar and sung by students. Dr. M.A Jayashree was also there to perform a song about Krishna, dedicated especially to Guruji. Guruji laughed brightly as the whole crowd sang Happy Birthday in Kannada (the local language of Karnataka). The cake was cut, and then students began to line up to give gifts and well-wishes to Guruji as he sat happily in his chair in the center of the stage. He greeted every guest that wished to approach him, patiently smiled for photos, and spent a special moment with each person.

Traditionally, Guru Purnima marks a new beginning for spiritual seekers to commence or intensify their spiritual 'sadhana' (studies and practices). It is a day for students to reaffirm their devotion to the Guru, and express their gratitude and sincere homage. As Swami Sivananda expresses, "the Guru is the only guarantee for the individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death, and experience the Consciousness of the Reality." Let this be a day for all of us to renew our commitment and fervor to the practice of Yoga, and honor those great teachers who have passed these ancient teachings and practices to us.

Today, Guruji was both strong and jubilant. It was a very touching day. We feel very blessed to be here to study with him, and to celebrate this special day with his family, students and friends. Blessings to you Guruji!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Profound Simplicity

I spoke to Guruji about fear, he told me to concentrate on my breathing. I thought, “come on man, give me something else to chew on, give me a secret”, but there is no secret, there is only profound simplicity...

To me the power of the Ashtanga System as taught by this great man is transmitted in insightful broken English:

“You take Practice, You think God!”

“You... BREATH... You!”

“You taking Practice... Practice, Practice, all is coming!”

To me this is the heart of the Ashtanga system; it has nothing to do with radically advanced bodily contortions, yet everything to do with them... “The practice itself is the teacher”. And gratefully, with the guidance of Sri K, Pattabhi Jois (including Sharath and Saraswathi) and the great teachings of Sri O.P. Tiwari, I have a personal practice to learn from.

Any teachings I can offer come from these great yogis. Om, Sri Gurubyo Namah.