In the hour leading up to the 6:30 a.m. led primary class, students are buzzing. Old friends catch up, strangers greet each other, and seem to talk solely of yoga. The energy is high, but the focus is singular. Paramaguru R. Sharath Jois, the lineage holder of Ashtanga Yoga, arrives 15 minutes before class begins, and he sits on his chair at the front of the room. The room starts to hush even though we still have time before the practice begins. Hundreds of students stare up at their Guru, and he looks back, sometimes at individual faces, and other times, seemingly at us all.
“Samastihi,” he says. And everyone jumps to their feet. Class begins on these days, the same way it does for devoted Ashtangis every day. But even though the motions are the same, these days are different. We’re not in our living rooms or in our local shalas, we’re not doing our practice in our pajamas or with kids running around. We’re doing it in community, before the Guru.
And though it may seem both grandiose and precious, in fact it’s neither — it’s quite simple. Humbling, even. These moments are the touchstone devoted practitioners return to. A way of checking in with the teacher, a way of connecting to the source. In the fabric of life, this practice might be one of many, but the teachings of oneness, community, and devotion—are everlasting.
Sharath Jois comes to America for about a month almost every year, to help keep the lineage alive, and to bring teachings to students who are unable to make the trek to Mysore, India, where he teaches 300 students a month. This year, Sharath began his tour at Stanford University, where students journeyed from around the world to gather and learn. After a week in Northern California, he goes down to Los Angeles for a week, and then moves on to New York City and Miami, where hundreds more students will line up to have the opportunity to practice. To learn more, watch the video above, which details the intense and uplifting experience that one can expect from this gathering.
Don’t miss your chance to attend class with Ashtanga yoga master Sharath Jois when he visits the U.S. this spring! Learn more here.
Photo by Danielle Tsi; Video by Jesse Gordon
By Shira Atkins