Props

The P. Jois Ashtanga Yoga tradition is pretty rich in folklore. There are plenty of stories and legends to be shared and inspire us to practice with zest. There are tales of incredible people doing amazing things in sometimes mystical circumstances. We’ve got the spiritual sun of India, the gravitational pull of the Gurus, the cosmic vibrations of Sanskrit, the physical surrender of the asanas, and a whole lot more.

There are spectacular historic photos, like the one taken out front of the Mysore Sanskrit College (is it?) where Krishnamacharya is standing on adolescent P.Jois (is it?) in kapotasana. There are some historic videos like the one of our Guruji with a bright red cloak draped over his shoulder sitting on the shore of the Pacific sometime in the 70s forewarning us about the problems of making yoga into business.

For those who manage to mind their driste in class, they can look after class at so many photos and videos of our contemporaries cultivating lightness and steadiness in even the most improbable and extreme asanas. The internet is making available more pics of master class poses from the Ashtanga series than one could possibly keep up with.

There are of course ubiquitous workshops in which teachers employ the stories and spoken word as an integral, if not prominent, part of the learning experience. So there is plenty to write home about, discuss over breakfast, or just contemplate.We have loads of resources to draw inspiration to practice from.

In a way, these are ‘the props’ of the Ashtanga practice. We use them for support in the uncanny endeavor of working within the vinyasa of the rhythmic breath/movement/series of asanas/schedule of daily practice, attitude and acts of yama and niyama, etc.  They can prop us up where we may sag, draw our best to the front when we may cave, and align our life practice with our deepest, most honest and pure intention.

In time, as our practice takes us toward independence and freedom, the props get internalized. We ride the karma of our practice in the past through the challenge of the present moment.

vande gurunam caranaravinde I bow to the lotus feet of the gurus who have blessed me with practice.

 

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