Parampara, Lineage and Non-Attachment in Practice

Chai Talks Lecture Notes

Thanks again to all the students who joined Lara, Michael and I for our first series of “Chai Talks” at Land Yoga!

DanaChai
July 9 Chai Talk with me!

Parampara, Lineage and Non-Attachment in Practice

Presented July 9, 2016

“First I want to give an overview of the lineage this yoga practice comes from, what that means and who our teachers are. And then I want to touch on the concept of non-attachment in practice and how that can be of practical and beneficial use for the long-term yoga practitioner.

I think the most interesting way to link these two is through the opening and closing chants.

The opening chant is actually a combination of parts of two different mantras, combined together and used to give thanks to all the gurus that have come before us and taught this practice, our guide to the removal of ignorance and the path towards happiness, peace and control of the mind.

MichaelChai
Michael’s Chai Talk on Ego, May 14

The opening chant first bows to all gurus and then specifically hails Patanjali, the ancient sage who codified the Ashtanga yoga method.

Click here to read and listen to the opening chant.

As we “bow to the lotus feet of the gurus,” in the opening mantra we acknowledge that Ashtanga Yoga is taught in a paramapara lineage system. This term is an Indian concept that comes from the idea of a guru-shishya relationship which is very common in Vedic, Hindu or Buddhist studies.

Paramapara is a Sanskrit word that means a direct succession of knowledge passed from teacher to student. Literally an uninterrupted row or series, order, succession, continuation, mediation, tradition.

Click here to read the KPJAYI’s definition of the term.

It’s as undiluted as possible, it’s in a pure form and therefore is most valuable because it’s based on direct and practical experience and knowledge 

Teachers of this lineage:

  1. Krishnamacharya

Click here for the book I use to learn more about this teacher.

  • born in India in 1888
  • “Father of Modern Yoga”
  • learned yoga first from his father and went on to study in Varanasi and earn many advanced degrees in yoga and vedanta
  • found his teacher in the Himalyas of Tibet: Ramamohan Bramacharya and studied with him for 7.5 years
  • King of Mysore, Wodeyer 4th was patron, he traveled giving lectures and demos
  • Opened the yogashala at the Mysore Palace 1926

2. Sri K Pattabhi Jois, “Guruji”

Click here for the book I use to learn more about our Guruji.

  • born in India 1915
  • studied with Krishnamacharya from 1927-1953
  • established another yoga shala at the palace in Mysore
  • 1948 established Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute at his home in Lakshmipurim
  • began teaching western students in 1960’s. Moved the shala to its current home in Gokulam, Mysore in 2001.
  • came to USA in 1975, Encinitis CA
  • Book Yoga Mala 1962, published in English 1999

3. His children, Saraswati and Manju

  • Saraswati and Manju both still teach today, Manju in the US and Saraswati in India.
  • Saraswati was one of the first women to teach yoga in Mysore. She taught in a local temple and the opened a shala in her home.

4. His grandson, R. Sharath Jois

  • born in 1971
  • assisted Guruji from around age 18 until his death in 2009
  • current director of KPJAYI in Mysore India
  • Guruji’s most advanced student
  • First edition of book Ashtanga Yoga Anusthana released in 2013

Non-attachement

What does Patanjali say? –Yoga Sutras 1.15

Patanjali says that there are two core principles upon which all of yoga is built – we know one – practice! The other non-negotible is vairagya – non-attachment.

Screen shot 2016-07-23 at 8.05.42 PM
Chai Talk with Lara on Long Term Practice, June 18

Vairagya literally means – “not getting stirred up” and is the willingness to let something arise without reacting to it.

“Practice leads you in the right direction, while non-attachment allows you to continue the inner journey without getting sidetracked into the pains and pleasures along the way.”

When we talk about dis-attaching in a yogic sense, we are really letting go of reactions towards pleasure or away from pain. So positive or negative – reacting connects us to the “me-ness” that separates us away from the universal.

Every time we soften to an experience that would otherwise cause us to react we break or habit of setting our personal consciousness apart from nature.”

This does not mean we “don’t care” about yoga or practice or the physical poses. Instead we care deeply and practice with devotion and connection but are learning to not be devastated or too excited about any of the outcomes.

The closing mantra which is a shanti mantra – a peace chant – that literally asks us to give up the fruits of our efforts and send peace to all beings.

By making this not about “me” or the “success” or “failures” physically or mentally at the end of my practice, we’re more able to connect with the true transformation yoga offers.

In order to get it we have to let it go. By dedicating to the good of all – we’re practicing non-attachment.”

Click here to read and listen to the Closing Mantra from the Rg Veda.

 

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Inspiration, Motivation, Action

Kino Dana

On my way to India…

offering

I’m inspired every day, which is a wonderful thing to be able to say. But even amidst the inspiration, it’s easy to get caught up in the mentality of New York life…the excuses of inaction roll off the tongue easily: I’m too busy. I’m so tired. I’m broke. There’s not enough time.

Where is that magic moment when inspiration becomes action?

For me, sometimes it takes just a little extra-ordinary moment to push inspiration towards motivation and finally action. This month was certainly packed full of those little something extra moments. I was able to take a few workshops that seemed perfectly timed to motivate some positive action before my third trip to India.

Early in the month I enrolled in an anatomy workshop at my home studio, Land Yoga. Noah McKenna was in the US (visiting from Mysore, Inida, where he lives) and we were lucky to have him give a short weekend workshop on how anatomy and asana yoga blend together and inform each other. I’ve taken anatomy before, but I was really inspired by the way he blended yogic philosophy and practice with practical anatomy ideas. Asana in the Human Form, as his classes were collectively called, took us through the body: symmetry, posture, the skeleton, muscles, connective tissue and the nervous system (to name a few places we explored), and constantly connected back to the ways that asanas fit into the broader experience of what yoga is. I left the weekend with a refreshed sense of some fundamental ideas on anatomy, but more importantly, with a serious inspiration to continue to treat my personal physical yoga practice with a deep awareness.

Two weeks later, right on the heels of the anatomy workshop, I made a trek from NYC out to Montclair New Jersey for a weekend workshop with Kino MacGreggor at Ashtanga Yoga Montclair. A lovely friend I met in Mysore, Deb Williams, organized the workshop, and it was a nice chance to reconnect with her and see her shala (which, sidenote, reminds me so much of the first shala, Urban Ashtanga, in Orlando Florida where I learned the practice). The fall leaves were beginning to show autumn color in the quiet town, and it was a definite pace-change from the constant busy rumble of the city. Kino was…well…just like her YouTube videos, which is to say: positive, informative and extremely well spoken. She was also tough. In addition to Led Full Primary Series and Mysore style classes, we spend time on headstands, Intermediate Series and twists. The Intermediate session was wonderful, because it was a chance to work on some of the postures I’ve most recently started to tackle. But I most enjoyed the headstanding workshop. Closing postures, where sirsasana is practiced in Ashtanga, are often a time I personally find myself rushing. In the class we prepared and took an extended hold in the posture, over three minutes, which is the minimum time the Hatha Yoga Pradipika recommends you stay in the pose to reap benefits. A simple encouragement like that inspired me to start making more time in my day for closing postures, and I’ve been holding headstand longer since. And it feels amazing.

Kino Dana
Adjustment with Kino in Dhanurasana.

So as the month comes to a close and I look ahead to November, with some more subtle awareness in my practice and more time spent upside-down, I can say that I’m finally ready to start thinking about trekking across the globe this Sunday to study for five weeks in Mysore.

Journeying to India each year has become sort of a second new year for me, a time to take a look at my personal resolutions and motivate the inspiration I experience throughout the year into action. Staying in Mysore is like one long extraordinary moment of inspiration that can really impact my actions for the rest of the year.

So my intention for this journey is just this: to allow the simple experience to inspire and motivate me, and take action to more fully live my wonderful life.

I can’t wait to share some of my experiences with you! This year in addition to studying asana with Sharat at the KPJAYI Shala and continuing my chanting and Sanskrit classes with Lakshmish, I’ll hopefully be taking some more anatomy with Noah, and beginning studying the Yoga Sutras with a highly recommended teacher.

Stay tuned for weekly blog updates here on my site and daily photos on both Instagram (@danaelyseyoga) and on Facebook (on my page Dana Tarasavage Yoga & Pilates).

A special thank you to my amazing student Paula, without whom this trip really would not have been possible!

Stay Inspired!