02 Nov THE MAGIC OF THE ASHTANGA VINYASA YOGA SYSTEM
Mauricio how are you enjoying The Netherland so far? First time here?
Not really my first winter here but first time in Amsterdam. I’ve been running a Mysore Program in Den Haag for a couple of months in 2013 and then I found myself sharing my experience in Utrecht with a bunch of other authorised teachers and friends (Gibran Gonzalez, Clayton Horton, Ken “the Rolfer”) for a while.
We’ve been gathered there by a Dutch Ashtanga teacher (Jurre Jaar Twijnstra) and together with him we were running a so called “underground” Mysore Program…let’s say we couldn’t really promote it officially.
It has been beautiful seeing people joining the program one by one and the community growing there. For me is like having a little garden to take care of, it takes time for the community to grow and most of the time the fruits you get are not for you. I mean, I will be here for a couple of months having the chance to plant the seeds, somebody else will be here watering the soil, and the fruits of this dedicated practice won’t be for anybody else but for the student. This is what I like, the idea of coming back in one year and just see these fruits and the seeds becoming trees and perhaps see an expanding garden.
So how do you like teaching here so far?
I like the vibes, I had some other experiences of teachings in Europe and what I can say is that I found it a bit easier here: it seems here you guys are more open in getting advices, in modifying your existent practice. Changing is always difficult but I found it here less resistance in people.
I’ve been teaching for a month so far, got introduced to YogaFest Studio through Laruga Glaser, she spoke to me about this project first time and I felt rewarding the idea of bringing the Ashtanga Mysore System as it is taught traditionally in Mysore.
So I left my own Shala in Mexico City and I jumped on a plane to Amsterdam… no regrets so far. I am happy to be able to follow my routine.
How long have you been practicing and how it happened you get hooked by the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga System?
I’ve been practicing yoga since 1997 but it’s in 2003 that I decided to give it a try to this amazing practice…and since then I´m in this exploration. I did my first trip to Mysore 2005, during the first 2 years I built up my practice attending to workshop run by local and International teachers but meanly practicing at home. Back then Ashtanga was starting to flourish, there were really good teachers but if you wanted to reach them you needed to make an effort in order to meet them and be in enrolled as a student.
You needed to travel to get to know a teacher, having him sharing his knowledge and starting a learning process. Nowadays it is really different, the Social Media can get you a real impression but you need to be carefull to not to get flashed by the Image… anyhow I realised that all the system was coming from one source, from the school in Mysore, India so I decided to go there.
Guruji was still teaching in the main shala, Sharaswati and Sharath were with him and at around 7am sharath use to teach at Saraswathij’s house, the big house that is in front of the main shala. I’ve been practicing there for a while, we were in a small room, 15-25 people, sometimes little more here is when I met Sharath.
I started my back bending journey with him, actually he was making fun of me all the time as I was learning to drop back and he used to say to me “bring the helmet” or telling people around “be careful him falling”. He made me land to this practice in a playful way, his light-hearted but yet subtle approach helped me in relaxing, not to get it too seriously and in overcoming my fears.
Can you say something more about your relationship with your teachers and in general what teaching means to you?
I went through a lot of local and famous International teachers that I respect and honour what I learn from them but I consider Sharath as my main and first teacher, I can say Rolf Naujokat has been the second one and Mysore is where I started to really share this practice with people from around the word; I realised at some point that not only what was happening in the Shala but also and above all around the Shala was making me grow in so many ways…
Sharat was not the “conventional” teacher, the one we as westerners, were used to: he was young but conservative, difficult to see him outside of the Shala, just humble and dedicated to the practice and the teachings. This was his life, with his family and next to Guriji…
What is the essence of this practice for you? What a Mysore Program is meant to be?
Connecting to people is part of the practice; it is not just about the physical aspects even though at the beginning it looks just like that, it is not about asana, it is about sharing a morning ritual: this is what a Mysore Program is for me.
I can equal it to a healing Ceremony in a way: there is somebody that which is taking care of the people during the Ceremony, you as a teacher are more a guide observing what is going on in physical and emotional level. And as a student you can undergoing through a meditative process, you are required to let this happen without controlling it. The teacher guides you, take care you do not get lost during the practice: because at some point can happen you deviate.
Quite a dense statement…
This is “meditation in movement practice” as Sharat says, of course all starts with a work out. As a beginner you see all these fancy postures, legs behind the head, a people flying and jumping and doing stuff you think your body will be never ever able to do. But as Guruji used to say “Body is not stiff. Mind is stiff”.
And the equation is right: “99% practice. 1% theory”…all is coming. But same time it is not about how far you get. We all are different and the beauty of this practice is also that is progressive and respectful of your present state.
So what a beginner should expect by joining a Mysore Program?
He has to expect to be taught in the traditional way, which is a safe a progressive way to learn. He has to expect to enter a room where everybody is having a personal practice but in a group setting and the energy of the group is important: we sustain one each other daily.
If totally fresh, to say so, expect to start from the breathing and the sun salutation to warm up the body…a couple of times… then the last three asanas will be added and then you can have rest. Day after day, we are filling the gap in between the primary series, adding more asanas in a progressive way, according to your own capacity. This is meant to be a daily practice but it takes time to build it up, so already coming 3 days per week is a good start: it allows you to build up the strength and stamina needed and to start experiencing some of the benefits.
We start the class every day at 7.00 and it lasts till 9.00 but due to the structure of the class you can join anytime: ideally if you are a beginner, give yourself 1 hour.
What the Sunday Led Class is about?
The Led class is meant to be for people already attending the Mysore program, you are going through the sequence all together, the teacher will lead you and you will be asked to stop usually at some point to not stress the body at the beginning. It is the traditional way to learn the correct Vinyasa counting system.
The class starts at 09.30 sharp.
How to get beginners close to this practice?
Think is important for them – above all – to know that the moment somebody join the Program is not left “alone”: there is always a project you share with your teacher that is not only about what asana comes next but is more about helping you in becoming aware and independent in your practice.
We are starting on Sunday 6th of November with a cycle of Special Classes called “Start your Mysore Practice”: free classes open to anybody’s curious to explore in a safe way the key principle of the practice and feeling more confident in joining the Mysore Program
But as this practice is a never ending exploration, we developed a cycle of classes also for those already in the Program, the “Special in-depth Ashtanga Class”. Starting on Sunday 13th of November we are exploring movements and exercises that are meant to help you in deepening your practice, covering different hot topics, an open ground for you to share and learn, to grow in your practice among the Community.