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Sharath Jois on the Key Ingredients for Experiencing Yoga

After wrapping his 2017 U.S. tour, Sharath Jois tells us where to find the proper ingredients for a true yoga practice.

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Yoga Master Paramaguru
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When pizza was very new to India, some companies wanted to market themselves to get business, so they created a new pizza called “Gobi Manchurian Pizza.” We were very interested, so we ordered one to our house. It was a regular pizza with pieces of Gobi Manchurian, a Chinese dish, on top. Many people bought it. It was new and different and tasty, but it wasn’t healthy. Similarly, this is how yoga has become: Tasty and attractive, but not healthy.

Today, there are so many styles of yoga. People put their surname in front of the word yoga and invent a new style. They hope to get many followers. They create so many videos, but it’s like junk food. It’s tasty, it looks good, but it’s not healthy. People look at these styles as yoga, they try them, and think they are doing yoga, but they are not.

Ashtanga yoga is not a style of yoga. It is a method to explore something far more than handstands. Many people see handstand and leg-behind-the-head and think that is what Ashtanga yoga is. But Ashtanga yoga is a method to experience what yoga is, to understand who we are, how to be more responsible, how to live in this world as better people. Ashtanga yoga is a method.

I’ve said this many times, but students need to be reminded of the fundamentals of Ashtanga yoga: the yamas and niyamas. They are the key ingredients to establishing and practicing yoga. It’s like making a dish from a recipe: You need these ingredients or else it won’t work, and you won’t be doing yoga.


Related: An In-Depth Look at Yamas and Niyamas


The Ashtanga method has eight limbs. The first four are the external pillars: yama, niyama, asana, and pranayama. Yama has sublimbs, which are ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, aparigraha. The niyama sublimbs are saucha, santosha, tapas, svadhyaya, Ishvara pranidhana. These are all very important ingredients essential for our spiritual journey. If you want to get deeper in your practice, these ingredients are indispensable. Without these ingredients, you will never understand yoga. You will live your entire life missing out and thinking yoga is what flexible people do in photographs and videos like leg-behind-the-head and handstands. It’s attractive, it makes for a nice photo, but it is not yoga.

The remaining four limbs—pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi—are internal practices. Once the first four limbs are established, the other four will automatically happen. You don’t have to try, they will automatically happen. Of course, these are higher, more subtle levels of yoga. To achieve these, you have to get rid of many patterns, attachments, dispositions, many things.

This will be a life-long practice and the real transformation happens once one is educated in all the limbs. Without understanding yoga through proper education, it is impossible to understand what yoga is. Yet what is meant by education here is the practice, putting theory into practice, not necessarily a formal education.

My grandfather, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, used to always say “99% practice, 1% theory,” but oftentimes, people got this wrong. They practiced asana from morning until evening. What he meant was to practice the theory, the yamas and niyamas, all the time. To do this, you don’t sit around and read about it in books, you have to live it. Can you expect to calm the mind by reading citta vritti nirodha (the second sutra of the Yoga Sutras)? Simply reading it, even a thousand times, won’t make it happen, and it will probably do just the opposite. Yoga theory must be put into practice all the time. Only when you apply all the things in your daily life will citta vritti nirodha happen.

For us, however, what is important is to be calm every day, to have a peaceful life everyday. This is what we are focusing on. Someone can be very famous one day and then the next fall out of favor. Asana will come and go, money will come and go, fame will come and go. What we have to do is keep ourselves calm, steady and stable. This is what asana gives us.

How many of you can sit still in one place for long periods of time having control of your mind? To bring the vrittis, or the fluctuations of the mind under control you must have stability found in a practice. This is the method to gain equanimity. Samatvam yoga uchyate. Samtvam is calmness, balance, equanimity. This is what yoga is. It is a lifelong practice of key ingredients for the entirety of your life. The proper fundamentals will help the stability grow, and thus, the yoga to happen. If it can happen to me, it can happen to you. We are not different. It takes a firm, positive outlook. Yoga can happen to anyone when we put in the proper ingredients.

Photography by Julia Lofstrand

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  • Save The Dates!  April 22 – May 16, 2019

We are so excited to announce that Paramaguru Sharath Jois will visiting America in the Spring! Join us at one of his yoga workshops taking place in California, Florida and New York. 
REGISTRATION OPENING SOON. 
Get all the details and stay up-to-date on how to sign up for advanced registration at Sonima.com

See the link in our bio!

Also Sponsored by @miamilifecenter @joisyogaencinitas &  Brooklyn Yoga Club 🙌🏼🙏🏽♥️
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  • Are you curious about the diet that claims you’ll lose weight by eating more fat? Our nutritionist weighs in on everything you need to know about the ketogenic diet. Visit the link in our bio to read about this food trend that isn’t slowing down anytime soon. .
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At the end of this article, you’ll find the recipe for these keto-approved, DELICIOUS, no-bake, vegan, gluten free enchiladas from @thehealthyapple! 😋#livesonima .
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  • “Anyone can practice. Young man can practice, old man can practice, very old man can practice, the man who is sick, he can practice, the man who doesn’t have strength he can practice, except lazy people, lazy people can’t practice yoga.” - Sharath Jois - .

A clip from the documentary Ashtanga, NY - filmed in 2001 and released in 2003. 
This is Paramaguru Sharath Jois as a young man around age 29 reminding us of the wisdom taught by his grandfather.

Anyone who has the desire to practice yoga is able to learn and practice yoga. The only obstacle is our own inner inertia and laziness! .
Tomorrow is a new day! 
No more excuses... Get on your mat and start. .

To assist you, we offer several excellent classes of various lengths: 10 minute, 25 minute, or longer 45 - 55 minute classes with Sharath Jois featured on our website. .

Follow the link in our bio to practice along with him! 🙏🏽🙌🏼 @sharathjoisr . . . . .

Thank you to @mysorebarcelona and @mysoresheikhzayed for the original post of this short video clip. . . . . .
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  • Fact: Yogis come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and from all walks of life. Visit the link in our bio for 34 photos that dispel the “yoga body” myth and celebrate all the wonderful ways that we're different. #LiveSonima .
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  • To practice yoga is to bring strength to your entire life. If you practice correctly, you will transform. You’ll be able to judge what is right and wrong. Today, we’re sharing an article (link in bio) from yoga master Sharath Jois about the importance of understanding patience and order in the Ashtanga series to cultivate an authentic practice. #LiveSonima .
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