terça-feira, 27 de março de 2012


When you think about your Ashtanga practice, what is the first word that appears in your mind?
"Balance". Well, I guess a lot of words pop into my mind right away, but lately I keep thinking about how much balance Ashtanga Yoga requires. A daily practice is like walking a tight-rope. Every step requires focus; sureness and lightness. And maintaining a practice will balance out the other parts of life.
Which was the moment or moments, that you felt this Ashtanga Yoga would be your daily, long term practice?
That's such a hard question. In a way, I keep making that decision again and again. But after a while I realized that any turbulence, any resistance I have around continuing to practice, is just another layer. When things get tough, I think, "I've come this far, and I could quit, but what's around the next corner?" And in a way, that's a decision to keep practicing.
During the time that you were still estabilish your practice to 6 days per week, did you find any big challenge or obstacle? Do you think there are any big obstacles that can take a practitioner off the mat?
Six days a week is so important, and so difficult, too. The commitment to a steady practice teaches us a lot about ourselves, our weaknesses and strengths. A steady practice helps bring steadiness of mind. That said, there are always days that will be exceptions. Shit happens and sometimes we can´t get to the mat. We have to meet our responsabilities as householders. I´m blessed to have a yoga family, so i get lots of support.
Teaching can also make it hard, though i think it inspires just as much. It´s easy to get tired from adjustments, running a studio, etc... It´s important to find good people to help you. I´ve been very fortunate because i have amazing help from assistantes and staff.
Probably the very hardest thing i deal with is doubt. Doubt about teaching, about praticing. When i have faith, i feel like i can do anything, but when i feel doubt then i can lose focus.Then i have to get myself back on track.
What is your biggest inspiration to daily practice? Does this inspiration shift and change determined by your life experiences, or is it always the same?
My biggest inspiration, over the long run, is the Yoga Sutras, and the tradition of Ashtanga Yoga. Really, any of the traditions that that deal with spirituality and enlightenment. I know that sounds a bit corny. But i get inspired reading about how so many people throughout history have evolved and come so far in their lives. I get inspired knowing that Samadhi is real, and that we can do these practices to find Kaivalya. Also, day to day, my sangha keeps me inspired. We have a huge Ashtanga community in Toronto. How can i ask them to do the work if i don´t do it?
In the context of Ashtanga Yoga, by the tradition of Pattabhi Jois, and with your experience as a practitioner and also a teacher, what is the most important thing that a student needs to remember? And what is the most important thing a teacher should follow?
It´s predictable, but i have to say that following tradition, the guidance of the teachings, has been the most important thing for me as a student and a teacher. Everything that i know has come from the practice as i was taught by Sharath. What am i passing on to my students? Only what has been given to me. As teachers of Ashtanga, we need to stay as close as possible to the teachings as they´ve been handed down to us.
You were recently in Portugal, teaching a three days workshop in Cascais. How was this experience? What did you think about the Portuguese practitioners?
I had a lot of fun in Portugal. Cascais is such a beautiful place, it´s hidden gem. And i love visiting other Ashtanga communities and practitioners. The Portuguese Ashtangis are so warm, and they practice with such heart. It was lovely.
If you had to advice us, what would you say?
This practice is possible for anyone. And anyone that does it will gain benefit. But it´s not easy. With this practice we are trying to manifest ideals, and that is an impossible pursuit. But that doesn´t make it pointless. Do the practice and watch the struggle. Build dispassion by following the prescriptions of tradition, even when it goes against your inclinations. Especially when it goes against your inclinations!

* foto de José Sarmento Matos

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