8 Things I Learned from Sharath Jois in his Visit to NYC

Via Claudia Azula Altucher
on Apr 25, 2011
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Sharath Jois is the current head of the Ashtanga Lineage. He is the son of Saraswati Jois and grand-son of Pattabhi Jois.  He has quite a bit of responsibility on his shoulders, yet he is bringing the teachings to the 21st century.  During his two weeks in NYC a video stream of each Friday led class was shared online allowing everyone to practice along, just be curious, and even chat.

I find that Sharath is transitioning into Guru status in his own right through dedication, his commitment to practice and teaching, his utter determination to pass along what he learned and his invitation to all of us to put the practice into action where it counts, for example:

“…Take ahimsha (non-violence), he said two Fridays ago…if you do asana but then go and punch someone in the face, then what is the point of practice?

His main message, no matter when or where is always an invitation to find the guru within, “do your practice, the right answer will come to you”, “do your practice, all is coming”, “do yoga”.  He has what we in the west call a “media message”, and this is it.  He repeats it every time and every where.

This is the brightest indication of how important it is for us to hear it, again and again, process it, understand it and connect with our spiritual source daily, trusting that the rest does take care of itself, because it does.

Once you are true you do not need to fear

And so it is, once we know what our source spirit directive is then, as Gurji would say: “why fear?”. Of course!  do your practice, that is what allows us to be true, to establish the connection, to delete the b/s to come clean to ourselves, to eliminate the drama, to trust that we are on the right path, to believe that we are on it for a reason, to surrender, to thrive.

Why do we practice asana? because “when the body and mind are stable then we do not have delusions, then we can follow the yamas and niyamas

Only after we are real, only after we stop the projection, eradicate the delusions (and boy I know I have them!) can we actually be peaceful, non violent, clean, contented, devoted, and so on.  Then we can sign and study the Yoga Sutras, then they have meaning, real meaning. As in right now, as I write and you read.

Even though Patthabi Jois is not here, his energy is.  We live in the tradition and pass it along, then we leave“.

James –who has been utterly humiliated by yoga, again– said something very beautiful after hearing that, he said that our task in life is to focus on the things we love and are passionate about -forget the naysayers- and so, when is time to go, we do not die, but rather we “leave”.  He took to the “leave: word after Sharath’s quote.

Instead if we are fueled by anger or hatred when is time to die we “die” which is more like a battle instead of a letting go.  because dying implies action rather than leaving which is more of a going. Encapsulated in that cryptic sentence Sharath tells us of his life message to pass it along and leave.

Just as schools of yoga have therapy as part of their curriculum, so does the Ashtanga Yoga system.  It is called the primary series.  Not everyone has to do the whole thing, even half of it is enough.  Anyone can attain the state of yoga by practicing it, to wherever it is that one can practice it.  The rest comes.

How does he know? because has practiced for over 20 years, how does John Campbell, or Kino or Eddie, Philippa, Gregor or Lino, or Hamish know? because they have done it.

99% practice.  1% theory.  But that is just in class.  The curiosity does not end there though, we do yoga throughout the day, we explore our reactions, we find our truth, we act in the most efficient way, we strive for peace, not just in the mat.

Anyone can practice. Old, young, sick, tired. Anyone, except the lazy!

And if laziness is not there then we are lucky, we can be protected by true lineage, by those who came before us and tell us that it works.  We begin to see the fruits pretty quickly and sometimes we have some doubts that is why

Practice should be with respect faith and over a long period of time.


He is now in Encinitas, starting his portion of the tour on the West Coast. I am hoping the messages will transpire, and that perhaps they will have a video strem each Friday.  I asked, they said they are looking into it.  We do our practice and all is coming.


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About Claudia Azula Altucher

Claudia Azula Altucher has studied yoga for a long time. Her only focus these past eight years has been on Ashtanga through which she studied at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India (three study visits so far), and at Centered Yoga in Thailand (focus on practice, philosophy and pranayama). Currently she studies at Pure Yoga in NYC. She has taught yoga classes in both Spanish and English. She is also the Author of: 21 Things To Know Before Starting an Ashtanga Yoga Practice (you can get a free PDF at her blog). She writes daily at ClaudiaYoga.com And you can follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ClaudiaYoga


8 Responses to “8 Things I Learned from Sharath Jois in his Visit to NYC”

  1. Thanks for this excellent report. Good to be able to share Sharath's philosophy though your blog.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  2. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  3. Claudia says:

    thank you Bob

  4. Esther says:

    Thanks for your take on these thought-provoking nuggets from Sharath, Claudia. One of the wonderful side effects of having the him take the reins from Guruji is that he is much more vocal about what the wise sayings–scriptural and experiential–might mean. Of course, it is up to each of us to decide what they may mean for us. Guruji will always be missed. We are fortunate, though, that such a devoted practitioner and teacher as Sharath is continuing the lineage.

  5. Claudia says:

    Esther, yes, his command of English is very good and that is a blessing, he has been travelling all over the world since he was very young, and I feel he has more of an understanding of the bridging of cultures… Of course Guruji will, like you say, always be missed. I only met him once in 2008 and he was not teaching anymore.. did you?

  6. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  7. Claudia says:

    Great!, thanks Bob

  8. Sim says:

    hmm. and what is the purpose of ahimsa if ashanga vinyasa practitioners, including Sharath Jois and his father are known to suffer injuries as a results of this violent and rigid yoga practice. it's worrying to watch how blind belief in "brand names" in yoga can lead to people hurting themselves…