Sri Pattabhi Jois, the father and guru of Ashtanga yoga passed away last weekend at the wonderfully old age of 94. His teachings have been passed on to many, and the world was lucky to have him for so many years.
I was very fortunate to learn of the school of one of his top students just as I arrived in Seattle and began law school, almost three years ago now. David and Satya's "Ashtanga Yoga School" transformed my mind and body during my first two years in the city, and without it I am positive I would not be graduating next month. Law school challenged me in a most unpleasant way. I had expected it to be like running a marathon: painful, but in a satisfying, rewarding way. Instead it was more like being run over by a truck: just painful. And I would have given up.
But as I felt increasingly isolated from my study of the law, I was at the same time drawn into my Ashtanga practice. From Guru, through my instructors, I learned the joy of ritual and discipline. I learned to let go of the things I cannot control and to be grateful for my many, many blessings. Here's a very cheesy truth: yoga gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I'd be so ready to get to the studio and onto my mat that the desire would cut through my depression and propel me on my short walk there at 5:30 each morning. And then when my practice was finished and I was hot and sweaty and calm and poised, I'd think, "why not go learn about the law for a while?" School just seemed so harmless after pouring all of my concentration and effort into my breath and body for two hours. After the complete exertion of my practice, I didn't have the energy to maintain my anxiety about the rest of life.
AYS is gone now, and so is Guruji, but both have given me a taste of what I hope will be a lifelong habit of finding great joy in spending a couple hours each day appreciating my body and the world around it.
PS ~ I haven't gone yet, but this movie is in Seattle for a couple more days. I've heard amazing things, so go check it out if you get a chance. I'll see you there!
PPS ~ This is the school where I'm so excited to practice once we're back in Spokane (Mysore classes again!) but this is the one I've found in Ballard in the meantime, and it's very good too (but it's more Baptiste than Ashtanga, in case you're keeping track).