When we strive to be a better as a yogi, a spiritual practitioner or anything else, it is tempting to copy the traits of those we admire. We observe what great practitioners look like, how they carry themselves, what they say and how they act. While this can be helpful to observe, it is important to remember that emulating traits is not the same as doing the work.
This is taught in the Hatha Pradipika, Chapter 1.66:
"Success is achieved neither by wearing the right clothes nor by talking about it. Practice alone brings success. This is the truth, without a doubt."
It doesn't matter what we say, it matters what we practice. It doesn't matter what we look like, it matters what we practice. It doesn't matter how much we talk about our goals, it matters what we practice...
This also rings true outside of the yoga world.
There is a story about the famous jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins responding to a question about players copying him. He was asked, how do you feel about young saxophonists buying and wearing the same type of shoes you wear? He responded by saying, I hope they copy the important things too.
Let's not worry about the clothes. Let's just do the work.
Source: Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Trans: Brian Dana Akers, Yoga Vidya
We recently had the pleasure of visiting the Mysore Place for the first time. While many ashtanga yogis venture to Mysore in southern India, we usually travel to the north. That is where Ghosh Yoga comes from.
Mysore, however, is where surya namasakar and asana were combined in the early 1900s. This eventually led to "flowing" or "vinyasa" styles of yoga. This meant an acrobatic and performance based style of movement which was used for demonstration and entertainment.
In the Mysore region of India, it was thought that any kind of stopping or rest in practice was a waste of time. The benefits of the practice came from continuous movement.
However, in the north it was different. The principles that influenced northern styles of yoga were therapeutic function with the use of rest and stillness. The emphasis on stillness and rest within a practice originated at least in part from the influence of weightlifting. Ghosh himself was a bodybuilder and weightlifter. He wrote in his book Muscle Control:
"The first most important thing that should be kept in mind is that perfect relaxation of muscles is as good as hardest contraction to build up muscles. One should feel the thrill of relaxation which is most important."
Similar principles are found in other systems that originate in the north, such as the yoga taught by Sivananda of Rishikesh and his students like Swami Vishnudevananda.
It's important to note these regional differences. While today they are both called asana or yoga, the underlying principles of northern and southern styles are quite different.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are scholars as well as practitioners of yogic postures, breath control and meditation. They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga.
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