Last week I read in Tuesdays with Timji, a yoga blog I follow, that a yogi from the first generation of Pattabhi Jois’ western students passed away recently. The news attracted my attention because although I had heard this yogi’s name, Brad Ramsey, I didn’t really know much about him.
Other Ashtangis of his generation, in Mysore called ‘old students’, have become quite famous and influential teachers as Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga Yoga has become so popular over that past few decades. In fact, many of these personalities are known all over the world for sharing their own interpretations of P. Jois’ teaching.
This has made for a the spreading of a diverse selection of Ashtanga interpretations these days, and also a very inspiring movement to celebrate the core essence of P.Jois in what has been called Ashtanga Yoga Confluence. With today’s travel norms and the internet, students now have quite a selection to choose from within the umbrella of Ashtanga Yoga.
I pulled out my copy of Guruji: A Portrait of Pattabhi Jois and found the chapter with Brad’s interview, and am so glad I did. It’s inspiring for me to be able to relate to this guy who also found and navigated the path of Ashtanga, although in different circumstances. It’s helpful for me to be reminded of how things used to be back in those days, and reassuring that there are long-term, devoted students out there who the throngs of us newer students have never heard about.
Maybe the fact that Brad was such an experienced and devoted practitioner, a talented teacher and great yogi yet not among the popular teachers in the Ashtanga world is somehow especially refreshing for me.
Brad’s interview shows me someone who is able to look back on his life of Ashtanga with deep affection and endearment. He was enamored with Guruji yet also grounded in the physical realities of daily asana practice, which as he described, was exceptionally challenging for him.
Ultimately, I think, yoga in any tradition is a unique process for each of us as it is an inward movement that must take one through the completely isolated hole of one’s self to get through to the universal spirit.
The choices we make for support in this process are up to each of us, and reflect our own intention, clarity and equanimity. My guess is that the primary vehicle in yoga is … practice.
RIP Brad Ramsey. Thanks for the inspiration.