Sri K Pattabhi Jois said, "Yoga is 99 percent practice, one percent theory." This blog is a resource to explore the one percent theory and to inspire you on the mat.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sri K Pattabhi Jois says, "All can take practice."


"Ashtanga Yoga is a practice for young Indian boys." Unknown

"Old man, stiff man, weak man, sick man, they can all take practice but only a lazy man can't take practice." Sri K Pattabhi Jois

This week's video post is part of conversation I had about the potential for Ashtanga to reach a wider audience and the necessity to cultivate an adaptable, inclusive model for the sharing of Ashtanga. Many people have been misinformed about who can do this practice. Nearly anyone, regardless of their circumstances, can learn Ashtanga safely with care and intelligence. And if you are already practicing you can develop a practice that will nourish and support you for life.
Sri K Pattabhi Jois believed the Ashtanga practice could serve anyone and everyone. He exuded a love and passion for the method. Through his teachings he ignited the spiritual growth of all kinds of people from all different stages of life. These people did not fit into a single category. If you came to him the only circumstance that mattered was your willingness to learn. He would individualize and adapt his teaching to suit your particular circumstances. Ashtanga Yoga is a treasure, a potent path that leads to Self knowledge. As interest in Yoga increases and more people take up practice, it is essential to interpret and adapt the method to include a wider audience so that more people can join in and be part of this beautiful practice.

Ashtanga for Everyone from David Garrigues on Vimeo.


In the Ramayana when Ravana abducts Sita, he speeds her away in the aerial chariot known as Pushpaka 'flowery'. Ravana had stolen this sweet ride from his cousin Kubera the God of wealth. The pushpaka is made of flowers, contains a palace and can carry unlimited passengers. After Ram, Laksman, Hanuman and the entire host of monkeys and bears destroy Ravana, Ram reclaims Puspaka and they all ride home together in style.
Metaphorically Ram defeating Ravana represents victory of Self over ego driven worldly life. The pushpaka symbolizes the truth that there is a seat for everyone on the chariot that leads home to the Self. Ashtanga Yoga, like Pushpaka, can carry as many as want to ride (not like a motorcycle where maximum capacity is a family of five!)

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this video. I've never heard anyone make that specific argument about the use of props. Yeah, my fancy manduka mat is really a prop....and adjustments are 'props' too. I've always felt kind of bad when using straps or blocks in my home practice...as if that makes it non-Ashtanga. But I don't feel so bad about it now. Thanks!

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  2. david, awesome post. thank you for sharing on this subject which ashtangis seem to fret over too much. I agree with everything you said. your body is a prop - ha, yes, great point! whatever it takes to bring more people into the ashtanga fold. joy, great camera job! :)

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  3. "...that's how it plays out!" Great note to end on, David. Your enthusiasm for practice (not just THE practice) is contagious and is what will keep drawing in all kinds of people. Thanks for explaining how passionate Guruji was. I met him once, but when he was quite old - so it was harder to read that fierce passion just sitting and speaking with him in a group. BTW, we miss you!!!

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  4. This is great David. I love the story at the end and the symbolization of Ashtanga Yoga being a vessel to carry one home to the Self. It truly is a practice for everyone. So beautiful and so true. Blessings

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  5. David, thanks for this insightful post! "Guruji...made me use the wall." You don't hear that every day!

    As an Ashtanga student, I feel like I only ever hear about how Ashtanga is "supposed" to be practiced in an ideal scenario: while healthy, flexible, and injury-free. People do talk/blog about modifications that Guruji/Saraswati made for pregnant students (including a really good, detailed article on astanga.com), but never about any other deviations from the "official" practice--I've never even seen someone talk about how they worked with an injury. It makes it seem that the "traditional" practice is robotic or impersonal. It's nice to hear a story that challenges that perception.

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  6. I love that comment Frank! I feel its so important that the yoga world begins to recognize how Ashtanga is accessible to everyone and then within the ashtanga world we all need to stop hurting ourselves by trying to look picture perfect. It can be rough on the ego but its better than damaging yourself and not being able to practice at all. We all begin practicing because we realize how amazing the practice is (one of the reasons why we get hooked on trying to perfect the asanas) but what good is the practice if you can't learn from it continually and through your lifetime. God damn it I want to be able to do a headstand when I'm 95 so I better be willing to back off some days and get out a block if I need too.

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  7. This is brilliant, David. Thank you.

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  8. Inspiring writings and I greatly admired what you have to say , I hope you continue to provide new ideas for us all and greetings success always for you..Keep update more information..
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David welcomes comments on his posts, however, due to time constraints he is not able to respond to every comment.