Are we getting too much info, too quickly, from Mysore?

There is so much stuff in Kino MacGregor’s latest recap of Sharath’s conference from Sunday I don’t know where to begin.

So I’m going to begin with this: I think it might be best to take anything you read from Mysore with a major grain of salt. This is especially true of the transmissions of what Sharath has to say. Not because Sharath is maybe saying something wrong or something I disagree with, but because we are getting it filtered — even if that filter is someone accomplished and knowledgeable, like MacGregor.

For instance, there’s this:

Sharath then said that Guruji didn’t understand English really well sometimes and especially because everyone has different accents. New Zealand was especially hard to understand for him. Those from Mysore who speak his language were the best to understand what he was saying. For example the ujjayi breath is meant to be a pranayama practice, the practice breathing is just free breathing with sound. Only when you are long time student of Guruji’s could you understand. His heart was like a baby’s heart, his mind was like a baby’s mind. The breath during the practice should be long and deep so that each and every part of the body can feel the breath, from the toes to the top of the head, and the blood circulation is going properly.

What does that mean, precisely? Am I suddenly supposed to stop ujjayi breathing? Did Sharath maybe demonstrate what he meant and, as I’ve been taught, he’s doing what I think of as “ujjayi” breath?

There’s no way to tell. There’s so much context missing.

By contrast, I think this is from Sharath is pretty straight-forward:

1. In Surya B/Utkatasana don’t sweep the floor with your hands before enterting Utkatasana

2. In Utkatasana the Vinyasa is not to straighten the legs, but to keep them bent and then lift up directly from there. If you cannot lift up, try and then just jump back without straightening your legs.

3. Here is how the knee should be in Janu Sirsasana Postures:
Janu A – 90 degrees
Janu B – 85 degrees
Janu C – 45 degrees

Of course, those three points are in keeping with what I’ve learned. So maybe that’s why they make sense. Maybe one, two or all three points are baffling to someone else.

These points aren’t total idle thoughts. I — we all — are getting notes from Sharath’s conference within hours of when he said it. When the first Western students were going to Mysore, how long did Guruji’s words take to get back from India? Months? And what additional context and learning was added on in that interim? Lots, I bet.

We’re now in the instant word, though, as Sharath once again brought up this weekend: From MacGregor: ‘He said, “In this instant world nobody has patience. All they want is the piece of paper. The real yoga practitioner doesn’t care if he is certified or authorized because yoga keeps happening within them, yoga gets stronger and stronger within the real yogi.”’

Sharath seems to be hammering that point home. Again, though, I — and any of us just reading from afar — don’t know precisely why he is. Has he been inundated with folks asking him for an authorization? Maybe. Or maybe he got introduced to “The Jersey Shore” and is horrified at what he’s seen.

There’s no way to tell.

Now, it may seem like with all there is in MacGregor’s report that I’m choosing a strange angle to emphasize “taking everything with a grain of salt.” But, if you’ve read her piece, you’ll have read the first part that she describes as being “the biggest shock of the Conference for me, and certainly for my husband, Tim Feldmann.”

As I read it, I immediately thought: I know who MacGregor’s talking about. And with not much effort — again, thanks to the instantness that is the Internet — I confirmed I did. Right on my screen was the perspective on that question to Sharath — from the questioner. (There are other takes from other blogs that recount Sunday’s Conference.)

Talk about immediate.

It sounds — again, this is my guess, so I’m taking my own thoughts with a grain of salt — that someone I know and have practiced with has been a bit of the talk of Mysore. (And, by extension and via recaps like MacGregor’s, can become the talk of the virtual Asthanga world. And maybe become the over-blown talk of both.)

I know this, in something like 24 hours after the whole incident happened. That’s not much time for reflection, for consideration, for correction.

Thus, the lesson. While I’m going to continue to read recounts of Sharath’s talks, I’m going to remember to reflect, consider and — if need be — correct what I think I’m reading.

I’m also going to do this: Be thankful I have what I consider a very, very good teacher/ guru, who came along at just the right time for me.

As Kino recounts:

Sharath said that a guru is always a teacher and should be there for the students because if not the students will go off track. Guru is the dispeller of darkness. Sometimes we get lost in so many delusions within us and the guru is person who brings us back to track.

That I already knew. And it is correct.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

7 thoughts on “Are we getting too much info, too quickly, from Mysore?”

  1. Take everything you read about anything with a grain of salt. Specially everything you learned in school. But seriously,as a reader, that is your job. All information that is not first hand has to be processed and managed as a discerning consumer of information. These people are being nice, typing after sweatin’ it. Our part from our comfy chairs is easy: contrast, compare, fact check, decide, done!

  2. Do your practice and all is coming ~ Asana, meditation, Practice of the 8-limbs..and much more ~ much more~ off the mat and into the world.

  3. Blogs are wonderful, allowing transmission of information, analysis and opinions. But I think your post makes a great point that if we get mired too much in all that stuff — stuff shared second-hand via the speed of Twitter of WordPress — the 1 percent starts to distract, and therefore detract, from the practice…which, as we all know, is the real teacher.

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