Sharath comes in through the main door and foyer, chatty students fill the room again and it looks like it is fuller than ever.  He sits in silence for an uncomfortable long period of time.  We all look at him, the walls, then him again. A cell phone rings.  “Some girl is calling him” he says, laughter ensues.  Another long silence.  OK! finished conference! he says with a smile.  Everyone laughs.  Must be hard to talk for an hour after leading 3 classes.

Sharath:  There was a young boy, enlightened, who did not talk.  He goes to a town that has a big population and sits by the Bayan tree which is where people gather to talk.  He sits there in silence, says nothing. He is 14 years old.  No talk, not a word.  In the morning by 5:30 AM there are 100 people sitting next to him, silent.  Nobody is talking, everyone is still.

Just like the Budda Boy of our times

Then two professors of Sanskrit from a university are angry. They cannot believe people are going to him while they have read all the books and know all interpretations. They decide to degrade him, to shame him. They will go to the boy and ask him about the interpretations of the shasthras, the scriptures.  They go, at first they sit for 2 minutes, then they forget everything.  Then they sit still.  They don’t say anything.

Why am I telling you this?

If you read but don’t experience yoga within, or if you are reading books and only that, it is useless.  That is why Pattabji Jois said 99% practice 1 % theory.  99% means experience yoga within you, to develop ourselves in a way so that yoga will happen.  People like to do 99% talk about yoga.

Why is Ashtanga Yoga so popular? because there is an energy there that changes us from within and happens through our practice, only then you realize yoga practically. Then, when we practice like this something will change within, many things will change.

Krishanamacharya and Pattabhi Jois, the greatness about them, is that they did it practically and they also read all the manuscripts, so they had complete knowledge of yoga which some people don’t have.  Other places where you go they tell you yoga is not physical it is only chita vriti nirodaha (cessation of the fluctuations of the mind, yoga sutra 1.2), asana is not yoga.


But asana is the foundation for our spiritual practice.  Spiritual practice causes changes, but the change should happen from within.

If we are not doing yoga, then is like when you are thirsty, if you don’t drink water for a while you die. Yoga becomes like that, I do it otherwise I die.  Someone asked me once why do I wake up at 1 O’clock to do yoga. Instantly I replied: Why do you eat food everyday? –  It is like that, it comes with practice, for a long time, not one day for 6 hours but many years.

Before people thought that yoga was only for sanyasis or renunciates, all these restrictions, but Jois and Krishnamacharya changed all that, they taught yoga to their own.  My grandfather taught his wife first.

Amma, Pattabhi Jois’ wife, seen here with a very young Sharath

When my grandfather married his wife he took her to meet Krishnamacharya, he wanted to introduce her, and Krishnamacharya said “be careful with this man, if you ask him to bring Chamundi Hill he will carry it to you”.  So they had a relationship like that of a father and son, it was so beautiful, he spent so much time with Krishnamacharya.

Once Krishnamacharya was giving a lecture to a few of his students and P.Jois did Kapotasana, and next thing Krishanamcharya was standing on top of Jois, there was a stone on the floor and it was hurting my grandfather’s shoulder.  What would you do? I would have screamed!

But he stayed there, he did not say anything, then after 15 minutes Krishanamcharya finished his lecture and came out, P.Jois had blood coming out of his arm.  Krishnamacharya asked if he was OK, and Jois said that yes he was, he took some mud and put it on his shoulder. He had a scar there for the rest of his life, until the day he died.  That is how tough he was, he had to be cause to learn yoga was hard in those days people did not have food and as I told you last time, now we have everything and also a lot of problems.

Wonder if that was the moment, we know that is Jois
under Krihsnamacharya

Mind is a very tricky thing, you can go to higher level to make your mind clear, active , pure, so when we practice it is not only physical but how we can go through a spiritual path? only through devotion.

Some say “oh I just do bhakti yoga or Dhyana or Hatha. What is Hatha? in America these days they say, oh I do ha-tha yoga, but what is that? Hatha Yoga is bakthti and jnana and all of these are within Ashtanga Yoga.  Hatha is surya and chandra (sun and moon), but you also have devotion.  So within Ashtanga yoga we have all of them.

It is only through ignorance that we cannot realize it and then the practice can become physical because we look at others, then there is no meaning in the practice, we are just comparing.

Everyone has their limitations we cannot always compare with otters. Oh he can jump back so nicely, or why can I not do backbend (I know, guilty of that!).

Never follow the Buddha don’t imitate him. Become the Buddha.  You are not to be a carbon copy of the Buddha. You can only become a Buddha when you are separated and try to find your destination on your own.  When you discover your path, try to reach for your goal then you become a Buddha.

Downtown here some people dress like Gandhiji and stand there, but they don’t become Gandhiji, they would need to develop his qualities, like ahimsha (non-violence), to become like him.

All of our experiences are different but the goal is the same. When you do asana our experiences are different, we have different kinds of energy, but the goal is always the same. So do not compare to others. You see in practice, some senior students due a handstand, ekam dwi, (one two), and handstand, and others copy that, or they watch some videos and try to copy that.  They highlight that because they can do it, I guess is good they do not highlight the bad.

Doing handstands like that will make your shoulders suffer, you need to balance the practice.

People get frustrated with Mari D, Kurmasana, Backbends.  The practice is testing you.  Do you like your yoga or not? If your teacher goes too easy on you you will get less respect for it.

There was a yogi who had a student going along with him everywhere, he did sava (service) and cleaned his ashram for years but one day he became disillusioned and asked the guru why it was taking so long to become enlightened.  The guru took him to a lake and tried to drown him. He left him under water for 3 minutes and when he finally let him breathe he said: There is your answer, you have to want it like you wanted to breathe.

People say I am in a spirtiual path, they sit in asharam, like this (signals someone sitting and falling asleep).  Then they talk or gossip: oh this woman is now with another man.  Especially as they get older, they have less to do so they go to temple but they gossip: Oh did you hear?  People go to a temple because it gives a chance to connect with God, but some just go to get free food, as here in India sometimes different families do for the temples and so people go for the food.  So you get to eat.

This happens in yoga also, in Facebook.  “Oh Sharath gave me a new asana”. “Sahrath did chatuary properly”.  “Sharath stopped me on Mari D”.  “I have been doing yoga for 35 years and he stopped me at Mari D!”  But they do not think why you were stopped at Mari D.

Guruji knew little English, sometimes that is good.

Pattabhi Jois, a very special person

I have seen 100,000 people come through here and so many people come with so much ego, or with their teachers energy, because our energy also comes from our teachers.

You see Krishnamacharya students and they are always so serious (laughter) they don’t even smile (he mimicks someone really serious), but Guruji was not like that, the first thing with him was always a smile.  So people come with so much ego, they say: I am here a month and I want to show I know yoga very well, I know, but you don’t know anything. I dont know anything either. Once we are humble we can learn something.

He mentions in Sanskrit the Yoga Laksha? the qualities of a yogi:

He says that a yogi talks with purity, whatever he is thinking or feeling he talks, it is always good things, so when you hear him is very impressive, a real yogi is impressive, has no impurities.  A yogi is also healthy, no physical or mental diseases. There are lots of delusions and we can’t be yogis like that, we need to practice for many years.

OK, 20 minutes for questions

Q: People say that in traditional ashtanga yoga we don’t use the wall but you told me once to use it and I saw a student in the afternoon using it, and I wanted to clarify that

A: You said “traditional” ashtanga yoga, those people don’t know ashtanga, so you should say asana.  Phrase it like that.

So yes while doing the 3rd limb, when in asana, yes, I don’t want a student to crash on the floor and break our shala, [laughter] so I told that student to use the wall.  Nothing wrong with that.

I am not there to help, so you can use the wall but not props, otherwise you end up using props for everything all your life, for trikonasana you use props and never get to grab your toe.

Q: You say Guruji was your inspiration. What was his inspiration, how did he just come to the shala even when old and sick?

A: As I told you you can’t copy others.  Krishanamcharya was Krishnamacharya, Guruji was Guruji.  Although he was his student.  He had so much energy as Krishnamacharya.  He wanted to be there for his students, so he came and sat here.  He was there for all, for me and for all, he was a special person.

Q: Tell us about your yoga practice, about your spiritual practice…

A: After marraige I became wiser in my spiritual practice.  It is a cycle that should happen.  When you are a bachelor be a bachelor when you are a family be family.  Everyone should experience this, getting married, having children, then you understand the beauty of it.

Before for 4 years I did not practice, but once I added the practice to my life I did yoga for 7 years just for fun, then everything shifted to Gokulam, then for 6 years no practice.  Then when I was 19 my mother told me to come and help Guruji.  I resisted I said I would come tomorrow and then tomorrow again. One month went by, then one day I don’t know what happened, I came and have been here ever since.

Once it became part of my life I became more serious about asana, like you are, 2, 3 hours like that, month by month. Then Guruji started me on philosophy and I became more spiritual. Before that I was doing aerobics.  Then I got married. I was one now I am four. I am divided into 4.  I don’t know how many divisions I have here, students are like a family too.  As I said when everyone comes together like in chanting we develop a good energy, very high energy, meditation happens automatically here.

It does not happen in one moment, or if you go somewhere: “Oh if I go to America and breathe this air…” it is not like that.  Everyone is spiritual, only because of ignorance and our attention not going in the right places we do not see it.  When the attention comes then we realize we are spiritual.

We are all spiritual it just does not look like that

Nothing comes like a big light.  To grow a business someone might say that but if it comes like that it goes very quickly.

It is like a plant that has a seed and soil and what you put in it.  It grows, you have to water it.

A man outside, a seller of some sort, calls out trying to get attention.  Be careful of that man, says Sharath.  I tried giving him my old clothes and he refused them because he can make more money with his old clothes. He laughs.

I had a friend, he is a Brahman and he was always making fun of spiritual people, of priests.  Then his father and mother died within three months.  Then one day I went to visit him and he was doing puja (religious ceremonies).  Sometimes life changes us.

MY QUESTION: yes,  I dared ask.  I confess I was very nervous, especially because of the type of question, but since he had brought it up I thought it would be OK… so I asked:

Q: Are you in Facebook?
A: No.  (Laughter). I made that mistake once and within one day I had 1,600 requests for this and that [he laughs], I realized there that it was a mistake, and I corrected that mistake.

Q: How do you manage so much attention? So many people?

A: I never thought about that.  I am used to this, I have seen people come and go for 40 years.  I am one man to 200 students I try to do my best, to give everyone something. Most of our practice is giving.  Your attention should be on the yoga not on me.

Yoga is great, I am just the transmitter, it comes through me, I transmit to you. I try to become a stabilizer too, to stabilize the energy, but it is always about giving.

Krishnamacharya and Jois have already done a lot of work now we must first realize it ourselves and then pass it to the next generation.



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  1. James Altucher February 5, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    Great! It's as iff I'm write there listening to him because of thE way you write this. I'm glad you asked that question.

  2. Claudia February 5, 2012 at 2:54 am #

    Thanks James! 🙂 miss you

  3. Greg Nardi February 5, 2012 at 4:16 am #

    Thanks, Claudia. You have a gift for writing…I can really feel Sharath's intentions being transmitted. I also feel like I was there.

    • Claudia February 5, 2012 at 5:11 am #

      Thanks Greg, I am glad it carries the message and quite an honor to hear from you 🙂

  4. Krista Shirley February 5, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    I really appreciate this post Claudia! Being here with a little one means never getting to pay attention at conference, and days like today, not getting to even stay more than five minutes. Thank you thank you! Please do this each week, I feel like I missed out on nothing!

    • Claudia February 5, 2012 at 5:12 am #

      Krista, I appreaciate the vote of confidence, I can only imagine how hard Mysore can get with children, God bless them!<br /><br />Unfortunatelly this is my last week here… but whenever I am here I really enjoy writing these, it is a pleasure to spread the word. Thanks for your comment

  5. Krishna February 5, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    Thanks for posting the conference notes Claudia .It very much helps people who are not in Mysore .<br />Coming back to the Conference theme – The main aspect of Pattabhi Jois&#39;s contribution to yoga was his insistence of asanas as the starting point of a yoga journey . He wonderfully nurtured &quot;the vinyasa&quot; aspect of Yoga of Sri Krishnamacharya and the result of that can be seen in

    • Claudia February 5, 2012 at 7:33 am #

      Thanks Krishna it is good to hear it helps. <br /><br />Interesting that you say you consider ashtanga vinyasa yoga an &quot;art&quot;. We were talking on the steps of sri durga over savage bath with a documentary artist from India, he told us how he thought that Jois was so creative and that he also saw it as art, as full creativity. And yes credit and respect to both Krihsnamacharya and Jois

  6. sereneflavor February 5, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    This is seva too. Thanks so Much.

  7. Claudia February 5, 2012 at 7:46 am #


  8. Priscilla Wood February 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    I think it was Plato who said &quot;All I know is that I know nothing&quot; I think of this often when my ego goes up in the sky, it&#39;s liberating. Great post!

    • Claudia February 5, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

      Hm, a simple google search seems to point to Socrates… Thanks for the compliment 🙂

    • Claudia February 5, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

      Sorry I thought you were commenting in the previous article on conference where I pointed that it WAS Socrates, now I see you are commenting here… sort of guessing, good guess, it was close, and yes, it was from that ancient time that the saying comes along…

    • Priscilla Wood February 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      Socrates! Yes, I did not do my research before writing but at least I wasn&#39;t that far off. 😀

  9. Joanne Sherrard February 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    Glad to have discovered your blog Claudia; looking forward to following along.<br />

  10. Anonymous February 7, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    thanks. digging how you are orienting your life around yoga. hope to do so also during the day. for me, maybe not focused on ashtanga as much though.

  11. Anonymous February 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Great update. Thanks for info. I practice in LA. I have never been to mysore but I was thinking of going. I notice there are no african americans or blacks of any kind at the mysore shala. Any idea why?

  12. Claudia February 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Thanks Joanne and AnoniI<br /><br />Anon II, with the question on diversity, I am no sure where you get that idea from but it is incorrect, the shala has people from all creeds, colors, and backgrounds, male and female, when you visit you see

  13. Anonymous March 5, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Claudia, <br />thank you for your blog. Your words are inspiring. I have been looking for answers and your words come the closest to rhythms in my head. If you will indulge me, I have some questions for you that I have not been able to resolve on my own.<br /><br />In the last year I had a very negative experience with a teacher. I have been trying to reconcile the feelings of a teacher also

    • Claudia March 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      Traci, thanks for the compliment and for your wonderful question, I would probably write a whole post on that alone, it is such a deep question.<br /><br />But right away, off the top of my head I would say that I building trust takes time and it requires a dance of two people.<br /><br />Once I got an adrenaline shot and a very bad reaction from an adjuster and after that I asked not to receive

  14. Anonymous March 5, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    I&#39;m sorry, Claudia . I was unclear. The bleeding on the floor comment was referring to Sharath&#39;s story of his grandfather and his teacher. I&#39;m having a hard time wrapping my brain around that sort of trust, but I can also see the benefit. I think I&#39;m thinking too black and white and looking at these extreme examples of surrender is making it harder to grasp. Thanks for your

    • Claudia March 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

      My bad, I misunderstood, now I get it. Will be thinking about it

  15. Claudia March 9, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    Traci, thought about what you said, long, and came up with this article: