February 23, 2012

Humility: Lessons from a Master. ~ Paul Gold

We arrived in Mysore mid-morning on Wednesday, Feb 1st. It was a long, but painless journey from Toronto to Mysore. We had a little rest, a hot shower and then made our way to the Shala to register for class with Sharath.

Family photograph: Ashtanga yoga guru K.Pattabhi Jois with son Manju (right) and grandson Sharath Rangaswamy, (courtesy Yoga Bods)

It’s always nice to see Sharath. This is our ninth trip to Mysore to study. We have a great relationship with Sharath thanks to these trips, tour stops when Guruji travelled, and co-hosting his workshop in 2009. It was a nice reunion and he welcomed us warmly but with little time to waste. He is busy and Mysore is absolutely packed with yoga students.

The KPJAYI site has said that Sharath’s class was full through April 5th for almost a month now. People bookedand booked fast to get space at the Institute.

It’s important to understand that Sharath has thousands of people worldwide that want a piece of him. Students travel from far and wide to come to Mysore wanting to gain some experience and knowledge of this Ashtanga method. They (I should say ‘We’) also want to feel some personal connection to Sharath while we’re in Mysore.

Sharath is now the lineage holder and has the weight of that responsibility on his shoulders. Within the Ashtanga world, everyone is watching what Sharath does. He’s scrutinized and judged on everything he says and does. Whether it’s older students of Guruji’s who have strong opinions of the transition since Guruji passed, or whether it’s new students who come to Mysore to see what’s up at the source, Sharath is under the microscope and he knows it. He’s popular like a rock star and the Ashtanga community picks him apart like a politician.

Toronto 2009 - Courtesy Paul Gold

While we were registering, we casually mentioned that Mysore was so busy and that so many people are here to study with him.

I guess we implied that Sharath was very popular. He slowly stopped filling out our registration cards, considered what we’d said for a moment then smiled and said it was the yoga that was popular, not him.

How’s that for humility?

The whole world is banging at Sharath’s door trying to get a piece of him and he has it all in perspective. It’s the Ashtanga method that we want. He’s just the vehicle.

The Ashtanga method has changed so many of our lives. It makes us humble and appreciative if we practice it properly. That’s why Sharath places his success at Guruji’s feet and why Guruji always insisted he was teaching what his guru, Krishnamacharya, had told him to share with the world. Their successes were built upon their devotion and faith in their teachers and in the method they were told to teach.

Humility. Sharath teaching us and showing us how it’s done!


Assistant Yoga Editor: Aminda R. Courtwright


Paul Gold is an Ashtanga practitioner and teacher. He co-owns and co-directs Ashtanga Yoga Shala in Toronto with his wife, Rachelle. He made his first trip to Mysore in 2001 to study with Sri K Pattabhi Jois. He and his wife return annually to continue their studies with R Sharath Jois. He is KPJAYI Level 2 Authorized. In addition to periodic submissions to Elephant Journal, he maintains a personal blog called “Ashtanga and Other Things.”

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