Happy Guru Purnima! Celebrating Guruji!

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Padahastasana, standing forward bend, in Ashtanga Primary Led class this Friday at Spirit Yoga Osaka. A beautiful posture of humility and surrender. Satsang today is a celebration of Guru Purinam, in which we remember Guruji, Pattabhi Jois.

Friday led class is followed by Satsang, here in the Spirit Yoga Osaka Mysore Program. It’s a great opportunity to open the practice floor for discussion, answering questions, and exploring the practice in a conference setting. 

Last night, in anticipation of the storm that was supposed to hit Osaka, I was all set to speak about “Weathering the Storm of Life” (I know, I have a penchant for drama!) in the yoga context when Veronique Tan (whose program I am covering) reminded me that tomorrow, the Full Moon of 12 July, is Guru Purnima–an Indian festival that celebrates our highest teachers–and that it might be a good opportunity to talk about Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, known lovingly as Guruji.

It was a good call, as this morning, there was no storm. Only sunshine and the light that a true teacher can bring–guru, after all, often translates to the remover of darkness, obscurity or ignorance. 

I did not expect myself to get emotional as I talked about Guruji. But you can imagine where this is going…

I explained in brief his life, his humble beginnings, how he loved to learn Sanskrit and yoga so much so that he ran away from from home at the age of 14, how he was devoted to his guru Krishnamacharya and to his practice, how one Belgian European wandered into his tiny home-based yoga shala in the 1960s, and how by the 1970’s he was touring to teach workshops for his Western students.

I did not have to illustrate how ashtanga yoga has grown, nor did I have to explain in great detail that Pattabhi Jois lives on through us as we breathe and move according to the system that he introduced to the world, nor did I have to touch on how deeply this man’s work has moved each and every one of us–there was no need! I looked around the circle gathered at satsang and I could see the well spring of emotions that the practice has inspired, that Guruji inspired. How I too was teary eyed, feeling his contribution to my life, how ashtanga has changed me. 

So beyond words, we all understood our connection to the yoga practice, to each other, to our teachers and to our teachers’ teachers, to the yoga shala in Mysore, to Sharath, to Guruji, even though he has passed on. Parampara. This is the lineage. We are a part of that beautiful line of student-teacher, student-teacher, Guruji is at one end and we are at another, we are connected. 

We closed satsang by singing a guru mantra in celebration of a truly amazing teacher. Thank you, Guruji! We celebrate you! 

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