Practicing Ashtanga with Sharath Jois in Madrid
I love Ashtanga Yoga. The first time I practiced Ashtanga I was dazzled. It seemed impossible to do. And exactly that caught my attention. The challenge. The level of strength, elasticity, stamina, focus that was asked for doing Ashtanga was something that I needed to reach. In that moment I realized that this was what I was searching for in yoga. The sequencing of the postures, the flow, the trance, the dance, the grace was divine. All of these elements got me closer to divinity than anything else. So I fell in love. And started to practice Ashtanga as much as I could and I started to learn about it as much as I could. So I learned about it's history and about it's founders Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. The lineage is continued by Pattabhi Jois's grandson Shatath Jois.
Now Sharath is the only person in the world who can certify somebody as an Ashtanga Teacher. To get to practice with him is pretty difficult. You must be accepted at his Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute and there are lots of yogis who want a spot there, so the competition for a spot is high. And also there are many criteria to be fulfilled. And if you don't have a very good, stable practice, you have no chance.
So I, as a beginner I could only dream to practice with Sharath. Until the Universe gave me an amazing opportunity. Apparently, this year Sharath was doing an European Tour. I had never heard about something like that before. I didn't knew he was doing such tours. And I didn't found any information about past tours in Europe, but who knows, perhaps it wasn't his first. But it was my first. I instantly checked my agenda to see at which of the two events I could go to.
One was in Madrid between 4 and 8 September, and the second one was somewhere in Portugal, between 10 and 14 September. I chose to go to Madrid, because the plane ticket was less expensive, it was easier to reach, I knew the city and the dates were better, as I had classes on 14 till 16 September at my 200 hr TTC course, which I am about to finish. All of this was happening in April, so I had a long time to wait. But it was worth it. Totally.
September came and I took the plane to Madrid. The classes were starting at 7:15 in the morning. The venue was a sport hall of a school. The organization was perfect. The event was held by Mysore House Madrid. They communicated with us through e-mails, but they gave us literally all the information we needed. How to get there, the parking spaces around, urban transport, the procedure to collect our passes, the rules during the practice and the rules inside the sport hall, how the practice should be, not to push ourselves to much as we have nothing to prove to anyone and told us to just enjoy everything. I found them to be very professional and in the same time devoted and loving to the practice of Ashtanga Yoga.
Going back to the classes, we had five days in which we did the first series led by Sharath Jois and on Friday afternoon a conference held by him. We were more than 600 students. Can you imagine? Over 600 people came to practice together, their breaths, moves and gazes all synchronized. I can't describe the feeling. The moment when Sharath entered the hall, all of us 600 went quiet. His presence was so powerful. His moves, his words, his behavior was so simple, so modest, so humble, but so spiritual in the same time.
Regarding the practice, he put great emphasis on strength, focus and patience. He was keeping us longer in chaturanga, navasana, headstand and at utplutihi, the final posture, his counts were so so so slow. Also, when exiting postures, he would take his time and paid great attention on exiting slowly and following all the steps of exiting the posture. He was always telling us "Where are you hurrying?" and smiling.
About adjustments, he did very few of them and from my point of view, he adjusted more to give confidence to the student, to show him/her that he/she can go deeper, do better. And this is what a good teacher does, doesn't he? Unravel a part of you that you didn't know it exists.
The conference on Friday, was about Ashtanga and it's eight limbs. He put emphasis on the yamas and niyamas, how we should constantly try to incorporate them in our everyday lives and how only doing asanas doesn't make you a yogi. You should constantly work on your thoughts, feelings, behavior and not only on your asanas. There is no good in doing many asanas. It doesn't mean anything if you can do many asanas and it doesn't help you much. And this is what any of the great yoga teacher say. The inside work is much more precious than the outside work.
Also, at the end of the conference he asked some questions which I found to be an awesome. It was perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of us.
The last class finished in the most Spanish way possible, with a Spanish guitar show and flamenco dance. They gave us chills. I tell you, Spanish people are very passionate and they transmitted this passion right into our bones and hearts. It was a perfect ending.
At the end of this article, I would like to give a thousands thanks to Mysore House Madrid for giving us this major opportunity and for flawlessly organizing such a big event. Also, I would like to thank to every student who participated at this event, each of you made it even more amazing. And least but not last, I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart to Sharath Jois who took the time to travel and spread his knowledge.
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