Pattabhi Jois and Being Present

The video above is a great example of what it means to be present. Notice how Tim Feldman said that Pattabhi Jois had “no residue”.  He experienced each emotion and then let it go. He was present with each student and gave them what was needed.

Many people feel that being present means that you walk around with a smile on your face all day and you only speak pretty words but that is not the case. When you are present you gain mastery over the USE of your emotions and intellect. They don’t control you, you control them.

To use an example, what if your computer turned itself on when it wanted to? It chose the websites for you  and controlled your interactions for you. It typed out what it wanted to on the screen and printed what it wanted to. The mind of the average person works this way. An emotion or thought comes up and it controls their whole entire day. Every action the person takes is based on it. The emotion and the thought has control and the person is the slave.

For someone who is present, they have full control over their mind/computer. They log on when they want. They go to the websites they want to view. They print out or speak what is in alignment with what is in their mind. They experience emotions but are not bound by them. Their day unfolds as they see fit because they are in total control. Bad hair, misbehaving children, mean bosses, traffic or any other seemingly negative events of their day have no bearing. They witness it and make choices.

If an emotion like anger is needed  in a situation, they use it and let it go. Anger in the hands of someone who is present, comes across as fire or passion. An example would be Martin Luther King Jr. The passion behind his words is one of the things that made his speeches so effective. Can you imagine the , “I Have a Dream” speech given in hushed tones with a smile?

I have no idea if Pattabhi Jois was enlightened but I do know that living without residue is the hallmark of a yogi.


Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.

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