Thoughts on Parampara by Jessica Hunt
As I’m sitting here in Mysore, India, I’m considering the importance of studying Ashtanga yoga at the source. What brings me half way around the world year after year to study with my teacher?
Ashtanga yoga is founded on the concept of Parampara, meaning knowledge passed down from teacher to student. It's important to have a teacher with a direct connection to the lineage to help guide you through the process of purification that happens in the practice. That connection and transmission can be felt when practicing here in India.
Without a direct connection to the lineage, the potency of the Ashtanga system which is meant to be healing is often lost. There is a lack of understanding in how the method is intended to be taught which often leads to unnecessary modifications, sequence changes, and props that dilute the system's effectiveness. The series is meant to be progressive with each pose providing specific therapeutic benefits. This is why it is so important to learn the system properly.
I came to the practice newly sober with my body damaged from years of abuse. The one-on-one instruction in the Mysore setting allowed me to work through the series at my own pace. Over the years, I have practiced through a couple of bad car accidents and the birth of two children. I am constantly reminded that Ashtanga yoga is a breath practice. It has been slow and steady progress for me, but the therapeutic qualifies of the system have helped me to continue mending my body and mind. One day at a time, I am able to chip away at the layers of myself that no longer serve me.
With correct understanding, the body is purified and the mind becomes calm and steady. When the mind quiets down, we are able to get a glimpse of our true self. While the physical postures have come and gone over the years through injury and pregnancy, the meditative aspect that comes from focusing on the breath has remained constant. And, the postures always return once I am able to let go of any attachment to them. The goal of a yoga instructor is to teach students how to go inside. Before sharing the practice with others, we must go through many years of Sadhana first. We need practical knowledge to experience what yoga is for ourselves so we can share it with others. It's a life long practice and regular trips to study at the source keep me humble and committed to the practice in its purest form.