Yoga Diary – Mysore Recap by Jenny Wicke

Yoga Diary – Mysore Recap by Jenny Wicke
I’m not typically a blogger but some of you have asked about my recent trip to India. I probably told you “it was relaxing” or that “mostly I sat on the beach.” More specifically, this journey across the world was intended to carry me deeper within myself under the guidance of a trusted yoga teacher. practiceIn the past, the “Ashtanga Pilgrimage” has drawn me to Mysore, South India where Guruji (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois), daughter Saraswati and grandson Sharath shared the lineage of this curious practice which swept me off my feet many years ago. Guruji passed away on May 18, 2009 and now Sharath and Saraswati are teaching countless practitioners who visit each year, not to mention their tours around the world to various Ashtanga hubs. I bow to them with love and respect for providing a home for ashtangis from all over to convene and practice and for keeping the spirit alive in Guruji’s shala. Guruji used to say that having two teachers is like having two doctors attempt to cure you for one ailment, that different medicines used together are dangerous. For this reason and for others which we are seeing among various yoga communities, we must choose our teachers wisely.

India does have it’s share of lovely beaches…

Early on in my days of learning the Ashtanga method, I was blessed with a teacher named Rolf Naujokat www.yogabones.org. Rolf embodies love, humility and compassion. He is a friend to all – a true lover of humanity and animals alike. He treads lightly upon the earth and because of him it is a better place. He shows by example that yoga – asana, meditation, and pranayama – will permeate the body and mind with health and vigor. In his 50’s, he is able to sit tall in full lotus posture for hours on end and assist students tirelessly. While I was there, he was teaching from 5-11:30 AM everyday, 5 days a week, week after week, month after month. Rolf teaches that asana (the physical practice) is not the ultimate goal. He encourages interest in other activities. One of the things I love the most about Rolf is that he always has time for students. He truly steps up with open arms and genuine love. He is willing to be a teacher and a friend.   The mornings in Rolf’s Anjuna shala begin with a silent puja in front of Guruji’s photo and a group chant of the ashtanga yoga mantra. We are led by Rolf’s soft voice to honor all the teachers who came before and we ask that the “veil of illusion” be removed by our efforts in yoga. Just as I do at my home in Austin, we practiced traditional Ashtanga Mysore style Sunday through Friday, only Rolf chooses a traditional uneven floor of cow-dung covered with bamboo leaves. While practicing here, students learn to accept the cold morning Goa temperatures, sudden loud music of neighboring hotels and mosquito visits at sunrise. On full and new moon days, Rolf teaches Pranayama (breathing) classes – North Indian techniques and/or Ashtanga Pranayama according to students’ capacities.  

Rolf and me at the Shala

Over the years I have become attached to methods and teachers, I have struggled with wanting specific guidelines, I have yearned for a clear and concise map to blissful living. Yet as a teacher of yoga myself, I often remind students that ultimately the practice is their teacher. I have come to understand that the truth lies inside each of us. We are unique and our paths are not all the same. For those of us who find ourselves on a path which involves yogic postures, may we remember the wise words of Rolf’s wife, Marci, “the postures are meant to serve the body and not the other way around”. The postures are just a tool. We practice and learn to treat ourselves with love and patience, and then take that love out into the world.   Namaste, Jenny ~Read more about Jenny Wicke on our instructor bio page