Thank you Guruji. Thank you.

 
 

Dear Sir,

I’m writing to you as I wanted to share my thoughts about the most challenging, intimidating yet also rewarding months of my life. As I sit on my living room floor (where else would I be!) writing to you, reflecting about the month just gone, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace for having taught alongside you,Guruji, for the past month. Words cannot describe how important this was for me.

But before sharing these thoughts and feelings about the month just gone, I firstly wanted to recap about how we met.

At a time in my life when work was extraordinarily stressful and life had become mundane and dull, I came across a yoga teacher whose approach (to yoga) so inspired me that I knew if I was ever going to become a teacher myself, I would seek out the person she trained with. I knew they must be brilliant. That person was of course you. When the moment was right to begin this journey as a teacher, I sought you out and committed to three months in India. Leaving my entire life as I knew it behind me was extraordinarily challenging, but nonetheless exciting. Getting to know you during my first visit to Mysore was one of the most memorable and meaningful times of my life. Despite the intense physical and mental challenges faced through your training, life was becoming so exciting with the possibilities I knew lay ahead. Returning to Australia after spending so much time together in the Shala was the next challenge. I was nervous about no longer having your ongoing support and guidance (in person). I knew there so much more to learn from you and that a certification to teach would not suffice. My journey as a your student needed to continue. This was why I made the decision to approach you regarding the possibility of assisting with the upcoming TTC scheduled for March 2016. Whilst this would mean sacrificing being trained by you (as a practitioner), to teach alongside you would be the most incredible experience as I would be granted the opportunity to observe how you interact with your students; how you correct them; how you sequence your classes and more. With a commitment to being the best teacher I can possibly be, I knew this would be an invaluable experience - for whilst there are many brilliant yoga practitioners in the world, there are few equally as brilliant teachers.

Asking to assist was quite possibly one of my most vulnerable moments as to be rejected would have been so disappointing. However, whilst there were natural moments of doubt and fears of rejection, I knew it was important to take the risk and enquire. To have been accepted for this opportunity was quite possibly one of my greatest honours and your kind and welcoming support made this experience even more special.

The months leading up to the TTC were a rollercoaster of emotions. Worry, nervousness, excitement, gratitude… Observing my emotional state during these months was an interesting process. Ups, downs, round and rounds! Fluctuations as you would say.  I feared not having the stamina, mentally, to get through the month. I knew what was in store for the students (after having gone through it myself) and I questioned if I could go through it again - and more!  But worries aside, I knew I needed to be there and that I would find the courage to keep going when the time came. And of course, this time certainly came - over and over… and over again.

In March I flew to Mysore and I came to visit you the moment I arrived. I remember crying last year as I hugged you goodbye, feeling so saddened by the knowledge I would not see you again for sometime. But there I was, back again and now preparing to teach alongside you. How humbled and honoured I was to sitting and talking with you that afternoon. I shall never forget that conversation.

The following day, our month long journey together would begin. During that month I was challenged in every possible way. Physically, as an advanced teacher and practitioner, I was pushed to limits I once never thought possible. Pratima, who trained with me in between the TTC classes, certainly doesn’t settle for mediocrity with her practitioners! But physical challenges aside, this past month has been more a challenge of the mind. There were days when I felt totally drained, inadequate and lacked confidence. Whilst I’m too stubborn to quit anything I commit to (sometimes to my own detriment) there were days when I questioned my silly decisions to put myself through such an intense experience. But of course, the sane and logical part of me always pulled through and reminded me of what a life changing experience this would be. Of the honour it was to assist you, Guruji. So I kept going and gave 2000% to everything - my time, my personal practice and of course my support of yourself and the students…. There was absolutely no way I was going to let you, the students or myself down. This was far too important.

 
 

So as I sit here and reflect upon the month just gone, there are many special moments I shall hold dear for the rest of my life. It could have been just a simple nod of approval, a smile or sitting alongside you at the front of the Shala. Whilst to you or others these moments may have seemed insignificant, to me they were powerful and hugely meaningful.

So as a final word, I want to sincerely thank you for your ongoing guidance and support of my journey with yoga. For believing in me as a teacher and practitioner. I have learned more than I could have possibly ever imagined, and this experience has made me not only a better teacher, but a better student, practitioner and person overall. I cannot wait to return next year to continue this journey with you and step it up to the next level. Thank you Guruji. Thank you.

Much love,

Your student, Jessica.

 

Yogacharya Bharath Shetty

 

Don’t forget the little things. They may bring more joy than you thought.

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Each night when I sit on my bed with my laptop, ready to write about something which has either happened during the day or inspired me, I often find myself a little stuck. Unsure where to start. At night, when I reflect upon the day just gone, I always, and without fail, find so many things to smile about. To be grateful for which I want to share. And I feel yoga has given me this amazing gift where I actually notice so much. So how to capture all of this?

Trapped in an office at home, my sky was quite a bit duller. I missed so many things because I wasn’t being true to myself. But with more clarity now, I realise it’s not that the sky was dull, it was my light that what dimming. It was stifled. Now - the unaware person may accept this as life. But someone who knows there has to be more, has tasted it and is then placed back in a cage which offers no fulfillment, will never last. I would never have lasted. I had to make the break - and fast. And the risk has been all worth it. I see colour now. A simple flower in a pot brings me so much joy. Walking home with my shopping, in the heat of the day with all arms full and heavy, and my shopping suddenly falling through the bottom of the bag, gives me something to laugh about. With apples and tomatoes rolling down the hill, what else can you do but laugh! Before, I would not have seen the funny side. A light heartedness, which is who I truly am, has returned. For that, I will always be grateful.

So, back to the experiences or moments which have inspired me, encouraged me to reflect or challenged me deeply - today there were many. I think this requires subtitles…

Philosophy:

I’ve never attended philosophy classes before now. My only exposure to anything philosophical has been through chatting with Owen. I love our discussions. My curiosity about deeper ideas in the world means some interesting, and often challenging discussions follow.

My teacher here is a great philosopher in Mysore and his ability to explain some of the most complex ideas through metaphors and storytelling is a true gift. He has an entire class sitting before him on the floor just listening intently to his every word, smiling back at the man who is constantly smiling at us.

But something I came to ask myself in a quiet moment was; “what’s the point? We go to so much trouble to be more aware people, to better grasp these - what seem like - riddles of life, and for what? For it to all end one day. So what’s the point?” A very negative question to ask, but an honest thought. I’m watching this man sit before me, bestow such incredible knowledge and insight about the world upon us, but soon he will be gone and so will his lifes work. What a tragedy. Or is it? As Owen pointed out to me today, his teachings will go on, through us and we too may inspire others to dig a little deeper. To start asking questions. I guess this also goes back to Jungs quote; “The unexamined life is not worth living.” It’s very true. I will always ask questions in life. You see life differently when you start to ‘notice’ things. It’s not necessarily an easier life, as reality can be cruel in its many forms, but it’s truth. I guess this is why I love philosophy. It challenges my beliefs and it encourages me to look at the world in a different way. To be more conscious of what is happening out there; physically, emotionally, spiritually. This is where understanding lies - I think??? I have a long way to go!

Today we were talking about hypocrites. People who think, say and do differently. But the point of this discussion was to highlight that it doesn’t matter what costume you wear, whether it be a policeman’s uniform or dress as a surgeon, if you are not trained to complete that job and do not possess the right attitude then you shall never be able to attain it. For the person who has taken a vow of silence but uses his hands to gesture - he has missed the point of this vow. Or for the person who fasts but eats a huge meal before doing so, he too has missed the point. If one claims they are a Sadhu but in their mind they have awful thoughts of people, then he shall never be a Sadhu. Just as a person who dresses up in Lulu Lemon yoga clothes with matching mat might think they are a yogi and achieving something higher, without the awareness, they will never be a yogi. This is only a costume. And they are merely some movements.

One final thing here. The word Ajana in Sanskrit essentially means we know less than everything we know. We think we know so much, but really we know nothing. Take a moment to think about this. I found this to be a very powerful statement, one which I think many people have never thought about. I’ve not thought about. Yet it’s so very true.

Just smile:

I love how Bharath teaches. Chatting with another student, we are very confident he will be a Guru one day. A young Guru. His insight into the practice, the world, people, is phenomenal. Something which I love about his style of teaching is the fun he has with the class. For example, sometimes he may come and do an asana with us, joke with us when we are all collapsing on the floor trying to move into some form of ‘body-mousetrap’ move, and my favourite - he always reminds us to smile when he knows our minds are running wild with thoughts of; “Hurry the f**k up! Breathe, breathe, is it a minute yet, breath, i’m slipping, breathe…” He is very aware of what we are going through - physically and mentally. So his ability to try and lighten the mood (if you like) while we are intently focused on making it out of the asana alive, is amazing. I don’t know about everyone else, but I always find myself smiling when he reminds us to, and although I’m on the verg of passing out, the asana somehow becomes that tiny bit easier. Such a simple thing he does which makes every class so memorable.

Noticing:

This mornings Vinyasa class was another challenging class (and we found out tonight he’s about to step it up as of tomorrow), but I noticed toward the end of class I was beginning to crave Powerade. Often our bodies will tell us what it needs if we just listen, and I knew mine was lacking salts. Luckily I have Hydrolyte tablets which I took when I got home. It’s a lovely feeling to be so intune with your body that you can notice such subtle but hugely important signs.

Tonight as I was trying to maintain balance in a particular asana, I was watching the tendons, muscles, nerves etc all working together to keep my foot firm on the floor. I would notice the slightest movement in my little toe. Even if a toe had ever so slightly lifted from the mat, I could feel it. Bringing it back just a millimeter could make all the difference to my balance. It’s incredible. This is the beauty of yoga. You are literally playing with your body. Working it out, Feeling how it moves, where is comfortable, where is tight. And anyone can do this. That is such a gift.

In closing, take time to notice and appreciate. Whether it be a flower, a smile, an awkward experience - whatever it is, notice it and be grateful for it. These are the things in life which bring meaning.

Namaste xx


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Loving my bathroom decor!