In the mid-1990s, while Pattabhi Jois was teaching yoga on tour in New York, my birthplace, I was in Siberia. Literally. Our planes may have passed each other flying in opposite directions somewhere in airspace, as I headed East to search and he came West to teach.
I went to Siberia an idealistic vegetarian student, on a quest for knowledge. In hindsight I see that it was spiritual knowledge that I was looking for. It was almost a decade later that my adventures in Russia eventually turned South and brought me to India and Ashtanga Yoga. That was the natural timing of it.
So I feel fortunate to have this well-circulated interview taken with Jois in ’94, before I turned up in Mysore. Guruji was at that point a retired professor of Sanskrit and philosophy of 36 years, and had also been teaching this method of yoga for more than half a century. That was the natural timing of his progression in life.
Aptly entitled Practice Makes Perfect, the text addresses some of the salient points of the yoga tradition which I spent many years ripening for and which now has touched my life so deeply. As my adventure down the path of yoga, it’s quite grounding to occasionally reread how Jois lays out what we are doing:
Patanjali’s Kriya Yoga. Perfecting asana and pranayama – Hatha Yoga. Purifying the gross and subtle bodies for flow of prana – Kundalini Yoga. Wanting to be near God – Bhakti Yoga. Living the codes of yama and niyama – Karma Yoga. It’s all there. In a very inclusive and encouraging tone.
Sometimes I get the sense that a lot of the relatively few words that our Guruji expressed may have been somewhat misinterpreted or misunderstood. I guess the only way to really understand is just to do what he says – learn the philosophy and practice.
And let life experience unfold in its natural timing.