Wednesday, March 23, 2011


As anyone who’s even ever seen a Karate Kid movie knows, the Eastern tradition of learning is based in the student’s relationship to a guru. “When the pupil is ready, the guru appears,” and all that; you apprentice yourself to the master and do whatever he says for years and years until finally, you discover, with surprise, that you have internalized the lessons he’s been teaching you all along and now you can kick the bullies’ asses, or fly, or lift your Jedi spacecraft out of the swamp just by using your mind.

In the Ashtanga yoga tradition, the guru is important, too. Although some people have managed to pick up the series from videos or books, traditionally, one is taught by a skilled teacher who, in turn, was taught by a master, and so on an so on, leading right back, directly or indirectly to Pattabhi Jois and even Krishnamacharya himself, though the lineage of instruction.

I’ve been fortunate to have a number of gurus, beginning initially with Catherine (Satya) and David Garrigues, who ran Seattle’s Ashtanga Yoga School for almost a decade and from whom I got infected with the Asthanga yoga bug; I was also blessed to have participated in two week-long led classes with Guruji himself, and then, most recently, in Mysore, I got to be taught by his daughter, Saraswathi, for two months; all this in addition to workshops here and there with Ashtanga masters like Manju Jois, Richard Freeman, David Williams, and Tim Miller.

But today, as I practiced alone, I was struck by how the real guru is the practice itself.

Most everything that I’ve learned from Ashtanga has been a result of going through the poses, doing the breathing, trying to be present as I bend and sweat during my time on the mat. It’s from the series that I’m learning about myself, the world, the unseen, the Atman that is Brahman.

I bow to my guru, the practice.


Blogger polentama said...

happy birthday david!!!!love, lele and chad e.

11:28 AM  
Blogger polentama said...

we sent you an early one cause we will most likely be on the road on the 27. i've been in cali helping joy. hope you and yours are fine! xoxo

11:34 AM  

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