Tag Archive for 'Pattabhi Jois'

Pattabhi Jois Memorial NYC, June 14, 2009

Sunday, June 14, ashtangis and the greater yoga community of New York City gathered in Donna Karan‘s gorgeous Urban Zen space in Manhattan’s West Village for an evening of remembrances celebrating the life and legacy of Shri K. Pattabhi Jois.

Entering Urban Zen for P. Jois Memorial

The white space was hung with long yellow scrims that caught the late afternoon light and brightened the windowless space. The black cushions on the floor were strewn with the petals of red roses, and garlands large and small framed sepia-toned pictures of Guruji at the front of the space. Food was served the back–delicious spicy popped rice with chutney, and samosas and chai.

Jois the father

Four hundred people had RSVPd. Those who came were a good-looking bunch, with a lean, clean, healthy glow. Many had young children with them.  It was a grown-up yoga community, one that has weathered their initial zeal for yoga and matured into seasoned practitioners.

Representing the yoga world were Alison West (Yoga Union), Leslie Kaminoff (Breathing Project), Michelle Demus (Pure Yoga), Hari Kaur (Golden Bridge), Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman (Urban Zen), James Murphy (Iyengar Yoga NY), Carlos Menjiva (Jivamukti), and someone from Bikram yoga.

Jois teaching

On the walls around the space, photos of Guruji, his family, his students, and his travels over the years played in a continuous loop. After Eddie Stern, Jois’ long-time student, director of Ashtanga Yoga New York, introduced the evening, three Hindu priests changed a part of the Upanishads, 18 minutes of piercing, passionate sound meant to disperse the elements back into the world, to help Guruji on his journey. In the background of this austere music, was the sound of children chirping and playing.

Videos of Jois

“When a great person is born into the world, he affects everyone,” said Stern. “Regardless of whether they follow his teachings or not.”

Other speakers mentioned Pattabhi Jois’ generosity as a teacher, the inclusiveness of his sangha, and his “sympathetic joy”—his availability to all who had even just a flicker of interest in trying yoga.

“He took complete delight that someone was growing through their yoga practice,” said John Campbell, long-time student.

Ruth Lauer-Manenti, a senior Jivamukti teacher, relayed the story of how she first went to Mysore to practice with Pattabhi Jois. “Sharon Gannon [director and co-founder of Jivamukti] had just come back from Mysore. She was thin, thin, thin. She looked kind of green and she had a dislocated shoulder. She said, Ruth, you gotta go. So I went the next day.”

” ‘Yes you can’ was his message—it’s what so many of us took from him,” said Lauer-Manenti whose practice helped her to heal from a near-fatal car accident.

“He always wanted you to do your best, including making it to his birthday every year.”


Jois believed—in fact, he lived the idea—that yoga is the science of transformation: 1% theory, 99% practice. Yoga is mind control: controlling your helter-skelter thoughts and practicing love (plus a 2hr, 6-days-a-week, demanding asana practice) instead.

As he famously said, “Do your practice and all is coming.”

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois–The Big Memorial

On May 18th, one of the three biggest influences on yoga in the West, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915 – 2009), passed away in his home of Mysore in South India just short of his 94th birthday. This is no longer news.

However, the outpouring of memorials and testimonials from every corner of the yoga world continues to be news. (Update, June 8: Pattabhi Jois remembered in New York Mag‘s Intelligencer section this week, too.)

From BKS Iyengar and his most senior teachers in the US, to yoga bloggers and more Americanized yogis (like Madonna? that link was to a blog called, “Absolute Madonna”), many have been paying homage to this larger-than-life man who not only exerted enormous influence on what has become Western yoga, but liked to shop on Canal Street and wear Calvin Kline breifs.

As New Yorker writer, Rebecca Mead, said in her 2000 article, The Yoga Bums, Jois “is perhaps the last person you would expect to own a framed photograph of Gwyneth Paltrow.”

Jivamukti Yoga School in New York held a fire ceremony the day after his passing, led by the inimitable Manorma, followed by 12 days of continual chanting.

Tidbits from Guruji’s biography: The first Westerner (not an American) studied with Pattabhi Jois in 1964; the first American in 1972. In 1975, Jois and his son Manju made their first trip to America. His web site says that, “Guruji has, for 63 years, been teaching uninterruptedly this same method that he learned from Krishnamacharya in 1927.”

Tias Little, founder of Prajna Yoga, writes, from a workshop in Antwerp, Belgium:

“His passing is indeed a considerable loss to the yoga world, for not only did he have mastery of the yoga asanas and have the shakti to transmit this extremely formidable and rigorous practice to all those who walked into his shala, but he was a master of the language underlying the yogic teachings. … With Pattabhi Jois’ passing not only do we lose a great hatha yoga master, we lose a solid link in the chain of direct transmission of scripture learned by heart.”

Eddie Stern, founder of Ashtanga Yoga New York, who invites us all to join next weekend to remember his teacher, writes:

“Among the great joys of the last years of his life was that he became reacquainted with his contemporaries, including Mr. Iyengar, Mr. Desikachar, A.G. Mohan, and Swami Dayananda.  In the spirit of the renewed friendships of these great yoga masters, we would like to extend and invitation to you, and to every yoga school in the NYC area, to come join us on June 14th, at 6 p.m., in remembering and celebrating the very great flash of lightening that was Pattabhi Jois.  In doing so, we honor the spirit of yoga which, in the scriptures, is compared to a great tree that provides shelter and shade to all who stand under it.”

So here it is. Deets for the Big Memorial in New York: June 14, 6pm at 711 Greenwich Street in the West Village. Please contact Alexandra Seidenshaw (201-259-9933, seidenshaw@mac.com) to RSVP. Everyone will be there. Be there, too! Witness a piece of yoga passing into history.

Tasmai Shri Gurave Namah
Salutations to that GuruPranamah

Sri Pattabhi Jois Speaks on Yoga

“Yoga is Universal”

“Internal exercise not external exercise”

“You means your self-knowledge”

Executives Drop in on Pattabhi Jois thanks to Business Week?

Jan 29, 2007 issue of Business Week profiles the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India, home of K. Pattabhi Jois, revered master of the very physical form of yoga called ashtanga.“Pilgrimage to the Heart of Yoga” by Savita IyerThis article was in the Executive Life/Travel section. While the article is accurate, it’s hard to imagine jet-setting executives dropping in on AYRI: this form of yoga in particular requires a steady practice and knowledge of the poses.From what I’ve heard, the town is not exactly cushy. You rent a room from someone once you arrive, and the accomodations are basic. The fanciest service available is email and the connection is slow and unreliable. Not exactly what travelling executives might be looking for.Still, it’s fascinating that Business Week has chosen to run this article. There’s interest out there….