Q&A with Sharath April 12, Greenwich, CT

Led class was sweaty and full today.  James was put into head-stand with Saraswati's help.  It was not the first time he did it but it was the first time I saw it, and it was beautiful.

Conference time started with Sharath asking for questions this time. Some came through and again I did not have pen and paper nearby so this is what I remember of the answers.  What was striking was the silence, and respect in the room.

Q: The goal of yoga is to get to the now, to being fully present. During asana practice I find that easier when the poses are very difficult, but when they get easier my mind tends to wander...

Sharath:  Yes, it is important to maintain focus.  It is the mind's job to wander, we need to work at focusing.  It means you are not focusing enough on your yoga practice so you have to make an effort.

Q: What would you recommend for a person who does not have a teacher nearby? I feel stuck, like I cannot progress.

Sharath: Well, who taught you to brush your teeth?  (my mother she answers), and is she there now when you brush your teeth now, ever morning? (no, she says) (laughter).  It is the same with asanas. You practice and it is the practice itself that takes you deeper.

Don't worry about asana or about progressing.  These days people want more asana to feel that they are progressing, but you don't need more asanas for that, you just need to practice.  And if you do, even if you do not notice it, progress will be there, if you do it with the right intention.

Q: Do you meditate? And if so when?

Sharath: Meditation can happen at any time, it can happen right now, it can happen as you walk through a garden, it can happen when you are drinking coffee.  What is meditation? It is withdrawal of the mind, but that is not easy to do, it takes practice.

Meditation happens you cannot force it, so it is like a plant, you can use the practice of asana, yamas and niyamas as fertilizers, and the plant will sprout when it is ready.

When I do my practice of asana in the morning all of my focus is there. You can have meditation happen to you during practice.

You can sit if you want and try to focus, then you are practicing, this is also like fertilizing.

Q: How about asanas as we age? It seems some become more difficult?

Sharath: You need to work with your body.  Your body has to cooperate with you [laughter]  so only work to where your body is cooperating.  It is better to be good at 10 than poses than weak at 100 asanas, and then that is your practice and it is good.

Yoga is like an ocean, you have to get into it and then go deep to see the beauty of it.  You don't need hundreds of asanas for it, you can have just ten asana and go deep.

Someone asked about intentions, but honestly I don't remember the answer other than in bits and pieces... there was no savasana, so I guess I can cut myself some slack.

The first question was mine.  Again I felt called on, caught.  I know it is not true, it can't be that I am the only person that looses focus during practice.

I suppose it is good to hear the reminder, it is important to just keep doing, keep focusing, keep going deeper, eliminating distractions, withdrawing from the outer world, creating the right conditions that can serve as fertilizing for meditation, for full presence to happen.

May be all abide in the eternal now today.


  1. Wow Claudia who needs pen & paper?? this was a great share. Thanks.

    1. Thanks SF, appreciate the vote of confidence, and guess you more than anyone know how it feels like to be there without savasana... he did say a lot more things though... oh well! :-)

  2. Claudia thank you for these exciting updates with Sharath--i really look for them! Most of all--Congrats to James on the headstand. I have loved him ever since he kissed you in backbend. special guy.

    1. You are welcome Wolfies. And yes, James is a pretty special guy, I'm in luuuvvv :-)

  3. Wanna echo Maria's comment. Thanks for having a good enough memory to pass his thoughts on. :)

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Claudia! The questions and answers are fantastic and your photos are beautiful. I am so excited to be heading up to NYC tmw for the Sharath led primary. My first practice with him. Hopefully, Mysore next year :) -Lu

    1. That is great news Lu, so glad to hear you are going to the New York led, which incidentally I believe is on Saturday 4-14, not tomorrow (Friday) but I bet you knew that. Enjoy!

    2. Oops, "tmw" meaning Friday, the day I leave DC for NYC!

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  6. Thanks for this great post. I'm from Asia, Vietnamese, also doing Yoga. Your posts help me much because in my area, rarely best books and great blogs to become my reminder. During practice Asanas, focusing is my problems, my mind keep wandering, one of causes is that I want to do better than my class friends. I will try to focus on myself. Thanks

    1. Anon, do I hear you! And I am with you, you can feel as if I am your cyber friend, practicing alongside you, also working on focusing :-)

  7. Nice job Claudia and nice pictures of you and James having free run of the place.

    I don't though, looked at these pictures and the earlier ones of the first day/opening, the one where everyone is just beginning to put the mats down and I'm reminded that for the life of me I can't understand the attraction of such a studio, looks, cold, 'plastic', uninviting. I thought it was just me and shalas but then I saw a Mysore room in a beautiful old Greek house in Sissy's pictures and the shala that looked a little like a log cabin in Arkie's and i thought maybe I'd like to practice there....almost.

    'You practice and it is the practice itself that takes you deeper'. Me and Sharath on the same page.

    But what do you think of shala as studio, the same pictures and 'corporate look' as in Encinitas, the neon nightclub sign, the 'boutique'. I can't comment as I'm unlikely ever to step inside either, even after they open Jois London or Jois Paris ( btw I got a hard time from a friend recently for using just Jois) but am curious how far from the room in Mysore the Jois studio looks from here.... does it matter? Perhaps the authenticity comes from how we approach our practice wherever we practice, home, shala or studio?

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  9. Thank you Grimmly, we did have some fun.

    As per the studio, plastic is not exactly the word that comes to mind but rather high quality. Every detail seems to have been carefully thought of, the building re-built to accomodate the studio, the floors carefully chosen, the bathrooms with heavy doors, the light coming in just right, the puja for the opening and honoring of Guruji etc.

    As I came in it reminded me of the old Yoga Sutra, which was also done with lots of attention, yet perhaps a bit less money.

    In the end it does come down to what happens there, and the blessing of having Sharath come over, and Saraswati -of course- and maybe James getting in head-stand, and a lot of people who had never met Sharath (Serene Flavor for example) having a chance.

    I think we can talk a lot about corporate look and refute it or love it, hate it or not, but I prefer to stay out of the line of the extremes and practice my yoga here, let what is, be, and what is, Sharath and Saraswati here does not seem so bad after all. Manju in Encinitas, finally having a regular shala where he teaches very often, not sure what is happening in Australia... and finally the Isla Morada one disappearing, they are closing it.

    I totally agree with you that it is in how we individually approach the practice that helps us get closer to the goal, I feel that getting angry, or upset for what already is, debating it, or rationalizing, is getting us away from the real goal of yoga. I feel pretty appreciative of the Tudor Jones, they could have spent their millions on anything and they chose to spend it on ashtanga, they brought Sharath and Saraswati here, I am grateful.

  10. I wanted to use plastic in the sense of molded, made rather than cheap, sure it's an amazing place, I remember you mentioned the floors. Tried to develop a little of what I was trying to stay over at my place, can imagine the facilities make it much more convenient if your running off to work after practice, makes sense to have a custome made place...and yet. Wish I could put my finger on what it is that nags at me about this(not angry or upset about it of course just midly disturbed by the developments), had almost commented a couple of times on your first post.

    Suprised they're closing Isla Morada didn't Sonia talk about that place in the Vanity Fare article and how much Pattabhi Jois wanted it built?

    So will this be your closest studio, your main place of practice now, if i'd known I wouldn't have gone on about it sorry.

  11. Is quite alright Grimmly, I am not in denial and I know that there is something that tends to bug people, make them feel uncomfortable about it. This is a real feeling that is out there, cannot be glossed over.

    For my part, I think I changed my mind, a lot of years ago I would have felt that way, but these days, at least for me, it is easier to focus on the practice if I let what IS, be, and use the opportunities around me and instead of over-thinking it too much, just focusing more and more on the practice... don't mean to sound like I am lecturing, it is just how I am experiencing it. I actually see nothing wrong with the whole thing.

    The bathrooms here are not like the ones at Pure yoga, for someone going to work after practice, there is only one shower as opposed to about 10 at Pure Yoga... Pure Yoga is definitely a lot more of a corporate type of studio, catering to people who work right after practice.

    You raise an important question, my own practice, will I go here, what about when John is gone? these are things I am thinking about, praying to hear God's will, or "higher intelligence"s will... -I do believe in that- and to have the courage to carry that out, whatever might come... from above.

    The Isla Morada shala closing surprised me too. I only found out because I was looking at pictures of the Jois Yoga pages in Facebook and someone was commenting how upset they were at it closing because they did not know where they would practice, same story, happens everywhere I suppose.


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