Questions started with an issue from a previous conference when Sharath referenced Rāma shooting arrows at Hanumān, his most devoted disciple. Hanumān was sodevoted that he became Rāma. Student and teacher are one. Another student asked if we should chant something like “Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya” during our āsana practice instead of counting. Sharath said when doing āsana weshould devote ourselves to doing that only. Our concentration should bein one place, on the breathing. If we want to chant, that should happen at home before asana practice. When doing chanting, we should concentrateonly on the chant. When discussing a student’s question about the breathin our practice, Sharath was careful to differentiate between Ujjāyī breathing and “free breathing.” Ujjāyī Prāṇāyāma is a breathing technique and not what we are doing. In our practice we are not forcingthe breath. We should inhale and exhale smoothly as this will help to activate our digestive fire. We should not hold our breath in āsana and instead try to have a flowing breath to help our circulation and nervous system.
Someone followed up by asking when a student could learn Prāṇāyāma, the fourth limb. He said that he would show us when we are ready, but that there is one technique we could do on our own. He demonstrated and explained thathe was inhaling through his left nostril and exhaling through his right nostrilthree times before switching to inhale through the right and exhale through theleft. This was controlled using his right hand with his thumb on hisright nostril and ring and little fingers on his left nostril. Here thereis no breath retention. This can be done after practice, after rest.
A Prāṇāyāma practice can get rid of diseases, but done improperly, it can invite diseases into the body and make us crazy. We should learn properly and follow asystem. It too is a science. Also, there are cosmic reasons forcertain actions such as which side of the bed to get up on (right) or which direction your front door should face (East). When a baby is born, the parents take the baby outside at sunrise so the sun’s rays bring the baby good health. Just as the sun can bring us positive energy like solar heat and solar powered cars, it can be used incorrectly or negatively too. Yoga islike the sun. It can be healing if used the right way but it also can beused to burn ourselves or someone else. A teacher has to know which āsana is good for students who have imbalances in the physical body. A teacher should study the student and can’t push everybody.
Conference Notes with Sharath Jois: KPJAYI, 2September 2012