On Santosha: When you do something bad to others you do not have Santosha within yourself. People who do bad things do not have mind control.
“Through practicing asanas, your mind should change. That is the transformation that happens within you….Then you are a true Ashtanga practitioner, not just bending your body…Practice should not be just two hours, this practice must be for the whole day, whole life…Then there will be meaning to your practice.” - Sharath
A student asked about the closing prayer – if we should only do on Fridays? Sharath explained we should do after every practice, everyday. This prayer is for the whole world, not just for ourselves. Chanting it will help us to always be humble. Mantra is for our well being – that is all. It is not a religion to chant. Yoga has no religion, it is for self transformation.
On teaching yoga to children: In response to a student’s question about what to start teaching yoga to children Sharath stated we should start children at 10-11 years. Before that the body of a child is very tender. When a child tries to imitate postures we might do in practice, we should not stop them – allow them to play and imitate, but do not teach them asanas until they are 10-11.
On teaching pregnant practitioners: No asana practice during first trimester. From second trimester on, a woman can take her regular practice excluding twists. Lots of deep long breaths during asana will be very good. Also, for women having trouble conceiving they should stop practice for some time as the heat of this practice can make it difficult for some women to get pregnant.
On practice: You should have a proper teacher to lean asanas. Formally it should come teacher to student. Practical experience is best.
On studying with many teachers: Studying with too many people will confuse the student. Then you don’t know what is yoga. Sharath quoted a statement Guruji often uttered: “If you have two Gurus one student is dead. If you have two wives one husband is dead. If you have two doctors one patient is dead.”
“Sadhana is where you devote yourself to one Guru who gives you the foundation of your spiritual knowledge…Fundamentals should be strong within you; that only one Guru can give. Then you can go learn from books.” If we have one teacher to devote ourselves to, we will not get confused by the incoming information from many teachers, we can stand firm in our knowledge bestowed upon us from our Guru. Once we have a strong foundation from our Guru, we can go forth and obtain more information from books, but then only we will not waiver in our beliefs and understanding of what is yoga and how it is helping us in this life.
On life distractions that take people away from their practice: A young practitioner asked if Sharath had advice for those who get distracted and leave their practice. Sharath stated that distractions can happen anywhere – but its how we deal with distractions that matters. Some get easily distracted and their practice suffers or falls away. We have to make our practice priority, if it is then no distractions will take us from our practice because it will be of upmost importance to take practice each day. Sharath mentioned that not everyone can be so dedicated to their practice, it takes a certain kind of mindset.
“Don’t leave your practice! It will help you judge what is correct, what is not correct….When you go deeper in your practice, your practice becomes everything.” Ultimately, practice must be a priority. If a practitioner looks at their practice like this it will never suffer in spite of the limitless distractions around us. Sharath noted that is it not being selfish to make your practice a priority because through practice we become stabilized so that we can be good for everyone else.
We must develop this day by day, month by month, year by year.