Notes by Josh Pryor
Sharath began by recapping the Tristana discussed last conference, and then raised the question of the importance of bandha.
There are three most important bandha. Jalandhara is locking the chin, Mula is locking the anus, Uddiyana is below the navel. This is described in many texts, the Mula, is of most importance. It is the source, the base. One verse says “always mula bandha”, this means when walking, sitting, everything. There are so many aspects to this, so much philosophy as well. It is the source to control the mind. Another verse says “old man who can control mula bandha, will become young again”.
The five great elements, what is their source? Many people do not want to believe in a god, finding it scary. It is the supreme energy, the source of the elements, giving life. You can feel it, just as you feel yoga inside you. A verse says “when practitioner master mula bandha, he becomes king of all the yogis”. It comes with practice, one or two years.
Perfection comes only from practice. Nowadays everything is fast, fast food, everything is takeaway. The process of creation is being skipped, masala dosa takes two days to create from scratch, but when we order we want it fast. If we don’t give the time we won’t know the yoga. Mula takes one or two years, maybe more.
Here, with my Grandfather’s yoga, progress is slowly, slowly, one at a time. So when we practice for two to five years, we can start to know what we are doing. Until then it is physical. We eventually have more clarity within us. Many people get confused, you can tell the difference between people who don’t have in-depth experience, that devotion. Asana can become ego, what we are doing is getting rid of these things.
In-depth experience and better understanding only comes through personal practice. Anyone can read translations of the sutras and then recite out loud. What is required for the individual is sadhana, to be a sadhaka.
A verse says “Guru is remover of obstacles and ignorance, one who takes us towards the brightness of spiritual knowledge”. You can see what happens without parampara. A devoted student dedicates himself to learning from a master, it is different to fleeting, changing practice. Someone asked once, how do you find your guru? If, when you first see him, you have some dislike, but something in your mind persists, you hate him, but you are prepared to learn.
[At this point Sharath’s young son comes on stage to ask his father to announce that they will set of some big firecrackers after conference for Diwali, pictures in the comments]
Q: So what is the process for developing mula bandha?
A: Many asana help, in particular utpluthih, navasana, even jumping through. Jumping into handstand is not it. Utpluthih is a pose, but also just means lift up, bring your body off the ground, like in navasana. If you do mula properly, uddiyana will come automatically. Jalandhara in is some postures, more in pranayama.
Q: Can you tell us more of the story of Patanjali?
A: Patanjali’s words were to bring health to the people, people suffering from physical and mental disease, using three methods. Yoga (clarity, concentration, steadiness), grammar (better speech, conversation, understanding), aryuveda (for some diseases, no side effects, everything natural)
Yoga came before Patanjali also, in the Vedas. When the galaxy started, our existence, that is when yoga started. The Bahagavad Gita has a reminder, Lord Krishna teaches yoga. This is very old knowledge, from parampara. It is timeless, it is pure experience.
Just as soil must be nourished for the flower to blossom, so we must follow the external limbs, yama, niyama, to allow yoga to be nourished. [Sharath describes some experiences of dharana]. Sometimes people are advertising they are in pratyahara or other state, it is impossible to tell, nor can it be advertised.
Q: What on your thoughts on why we get injured?
A: My question to you is why you did not come to practice today! [Laughter – the student answers that she was late and did not want to disturb].
There are lots of reasons for injury. Overdoing it is common, lack of concentration, and from doing other physical exercise. Body can become confused from switching between stiffening and stretching. I played lots of cricket when I was younger, and when I began practicing seriously I could tell the difference, body is changing, brings pain, you have to allow it.
I would prefer to do 10 asana perfectly than many with imperfection. If mind is somewhere else, injury can come. A kind of meditation should arise over time as you get deeper in your asana. Concentrate on your own practice, not other people! If you do this, you become focused, your practice will change.
I have done many demonstrations, when I do, as soon as I begin asana I become unaware of the people and what is going on around me. Only through much practice, giving attention entirely to practice. You can get to another level of yoga. Try it.
Q: We have been talking about meditation this conference, should we be meditating outside our practice?
A: Meditation is an English word, what does it mean? [Student proposes “one pointed mind”].
It is not a real word in Sanskrit. A verse says that vision is often directed externally, when we draw attention inwardly, external stimulus will not bother you. Meditation is usually external, more like drishti.
Bring peace within you, you can call this dhyana, try to be calm, quiet, not disturbed. There is difference between dhyana and meditation. It can happen any time, again, like the flower bed, nourish the soil and it can happen spontaneously.