Pattabhi Jois Interview on Ashtanga

by admin on April 22, 2013

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Pattabhi Jois Interview on Ashtanga

 

1. How does Patanjalis classical yoga stand in relation to Hatha yoga?

Hatha yoga means the union of the opposing energies of the body and the channeling of these energies into the central pathway. And this comes about when the surya nadi [right nostril] and chandra nadi [left nostril] are controlled, and the vital energy of these two channels merges in the central pathway of the spine. So, when the prana is finally at rest and no longer moved by the various sense organs, we then realize God inside. That is our Self, our true identity. So, Hatha yoga is experiencing God inside.

 

2. What did Krishnamacharya teach you?

What my teacher taught me is exactly the same method I am teaching today. It was an examination course of primary, intermediate, and advanced asanas. He also taught me philosophy. For five years, we studied the great texts. He would call us to his house and we would stand outside and wait to be called in. Sometimes, we would wait the whole day. He would usually teach us for one or two hours every day: asanas early in the morning and, around 12 o’clock, philosophy class. He also taught us pranayama, pratyahara [sensory withdrawal], dharana [concentration], and dhyana [meditation]. And, in addition to the Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita, he also taught Yoga Vasishta, Yoga Yajnavalkya, and Samhita. And all in Sanskrit.

pattabhi jois interview

 

3. What was the most important thing Krishnamacharya taught you?

When he left for Madras he told me, “Make this yoga method the work of your life.”

 

4. How long did you study with Krishnamacharya?

I studied with him from 1927 to 1953. The first time I saw him was in November of 1927. It was at the Jubilee Hall in Hassan and, the next day, I found out where he lived and went to his house. He asked me many questions, but finally accepted me and told me to come back the next morning. Then, after my thread ceremony in 1930, I went to Mysore to learn Sanskrit and was accepted at the Maharaja’s Sanskrit College. There, I was reunited with Krishnamacharya in 1931, when he came to do a demonstration. He was very happy to find me studying at the college.

 

5. What has the Western world contributed to yoga?

What is particular to Ashtanga yoga practice is what we call vinyasa, which brings together breathing with physical movement. Each posture is connected with a certain breathing sequence, which comes before and after it. This keeps the flow of energy through the spine open. It also safeguards against injury and prevents energy from stagnating in the body. Vinyasa purifies the body, the nervous system, and cultivates the proper energetic field in the body. It is essential to yoga, we believe, and gives people a direct inner experience of their potential. To feel the energy continually flowing through the spine is the effect of vinyasa. But there is nothing that comes instantly. One needs to practice this system for many years—a minimum of five to ten years—to begin to experience these deep subtle changes in the body.

interview with pattabhi jois

 

6. What is unique to your style of yoga?

What is particular to Ashtanga yoga practice is what we call vinyasa, which brings together breathing with physical movement. Each posture is connected with a certain breathing sequence, which comes before and after it. This keeps the flow of energy through the spine open. It also safeguards against injury and prevents energy from stagnating in the body. Vinyasa purifies the body, the nervous system, and cultivates the proper energetic field in the body. It is essential to yoga, we believe, and gives people a direct inner experience of their potential. To feel the energy continually flowing through the spine is the effect of vinyasa. But there is nothing that comes instantly. One needs to practice this system for many years—a minimum of five to ten years—to begin to experience these deep subtle changes in the body.

 

7. Have your teaching methods changed over the years? Do you focus on things now that you did not when you first started?

No, they have not changed. They have remained the same the whole time. Our method from the beginning has been that a posture needs to be perfected before you move on to more difficult ones. Each posture works progressively to increase the energy level and the opening of the body.

pattabhi jois ashtanga

8. What is the best remedy for helping people? Do you treat everybody equally?

Taking practice! And to make people aware of yama [the first limb of Ashtanga yoga] and niyama [the second limb of Ashtanga yoga], and of how to control their bodies—these are the best remedies. When they are aware, controlling the senses becomes easier. But, primarily, yama and niyama are the best remedies for anybody with an interest in the practice.

 

9. What is spiritual about the physical practice?

Behind the strength of the body, there is an energy that is spirituality, and that is what keeps us alive. To gain access to the spiritual, you need to understand the physical. The body is our temple and inside that temple is atman, and that is God.

 

10. How does your system facilitate the experience of yoga?

To practice asanas and pranayama is to learn to control the body and the senses, so that the inner light can be experienced. That light is the same for the whole world. And it is possible for people to experience this light, their own Self, through correct yoga practice. It is something that happens through practice, though learning to control the mind is very difficult. Most important though is the practice. We must practice, practice, practice for any real understanding of yoga. Of course, philosophy is important, but if it is not connected and grounded in truth and practical knowledge, then what is it really for? Just endless talking, exhausting our minds! So, practice is the foundation of the actual understanding of philosophy.

Part from the article from Namarupa Magazin, fall 2004.

(Article source: grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2013/05/sharath-and-pattabhi-jois-interviews.html)
 

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