Pattabhi Jois left his body May 18 2009 but not our hearts. I am so thankful that my first yoga was Ashtanga. It has been my rock and as long as it calls to me, I will continue to support it and teach the pure message of the yoga. Yoga is not about clothes. It is not about popularity. It is not about power. It is not about business. It is not about money. It is not a commodity to be bought, sold and squabbled over. As Patanjali says, “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”. That simple and that hard. Pattabhi Jois gave us a yoga that primed our minds and bodies to stay grounded in the seat of the soul. Every day I get on my mat in remembrance of that. Here is a collection of quotes and videos to reconnect us to his vision.
“Ashtanga Yoga method is universal, it is not mine or yours. That method is perfect, it is complete. Ashtanga Yoga is yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi – these are the eight steps which make up Ashtanga Yoga method. But first you take asana: “āsanaṃ prāṇasaṃrodhaś pratyāhāraś ca dhāraṇām, dhyānaṃ samādhir etāni ṣaḍaṅgāni prakirtita” (śandilya) upanisads are telling: first you start asana, asanas are your foundation.
But when you practice asanas you also have to follow breathing system (vinyasa) and drishti. “Tristhānam avalokayet” – using these three it is possible to control your mind. If you exclude any one of these three, if you do asanas only for exercise, it is not possible to control your mind.
“yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ” – that means yoga is mind control. But if you want to get mind control you have to apply these three methods: breathing system, looking place and posture. If you follow these, your body, sense organs and nervous system will all be working well. afterwards your health will continue to improve and no diseases will come.
There are many asanas – 72,000 asanas. These asanas are curing many different diseases. But first you start with Suryanamaskar. Suryanamaskar is a prayer to the sun. The sun is giving good health and Suryanamaskar is curing many diseases including heart disease. Afterwards many asanas are there – these cure many other diseases including what are usually thought of as incurable – such as diabetes and so on.
This yoga is not for exercise. Yoga is showing where to look for the soul – that is all. Man is taking a human body – this is a very rare opportunity. Don’t waste it. We are given 100 years to live, one day you have the possibility to see god. If you think in this way it is giving you good body, good nature and health.”
– Sri K Pattabhi Jois, Puck Building, NYC 2001.
“It is very important to understand yoga philosophy: without philosophy, practice is not good, and yoga practice is the starting place for yoga philosophy. Mixing both is actually the best-Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Victoria Interview”
“Everything is God.”
“Yoga is possible for anybody who really wants it. Yoga is universal…. But don’t approach yoga with a business mind looking for worldly gain.”
“Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.”
“Yoga is 99% Practice and 1% Theory”
“Do your practice and all is coming.”
“I was disappointed to find that so many novice students have taken Ashtanga yoga and have turned it into a circus for their own fame and profit (Power Yoga, Jan/Feb 1995). The title ‘Power Yoga’ itself degrades the depth, purpose and method of the yoga system that I received from my guru, Sri. T. Krishnamacharya. Power is the property of God. It is not something to be collected for one’s ego. Partial yoga methods out of line with their internal purpose can build up the ‘six enemies’ (desire, anger, greed, illusion, infatuation and envy) around the heart. The full ashtanga system practiced with devotion leads to freedom within one’s heart. The Yoga Sutra II.28 confirms this ‘Yogaanganusthanat asuddiksaye jnanadiptih avivekakhyateh’, which means ‘practicing all the aspects of yoga destroys the impurities so that the light of knowledge and discrimination shines’. It is unfortunate that students who have not yet matured in their own practice have changed the method and have cut out the essence of an ancient lineage to accommodate their own limitations.The Ashtanga yoga system should never be confused with ‘power yoga’ or any whimsical creation which goes against the tradition of the many types of yoga shastras (scriptures). It would be a shame to lose the precious jewel of liberation in the mud of ignorant body building.”
-K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, Mysore, South India, Letter to Yoga Journal
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.