It was five years ago, May 18, 2009, that Sri K Pattabhi Jois (Guruji) passed away. We were fortunate to spend time some quality time with him a month earlier in his home, just the three of us together with Joseph Dunham. On our final visit with him, we said our goodbyes, touched his feet, and he started chanting in sanskrit, which we interpreted as his way of giving us his blessing before we had to leave, we both knew it would be that last time we would see him alive. He seemed to know that too.
Every day when I practice I always remember him, and my heart is filled with gratitude.
Guruji’s tradition of Ashtanga Yoga has given me my life as it is today. Outside of my parents and their continuous love and support, this lineage of yoga has been the most influential factor in my personal growth and development.
This practice came to me at a time in my life when I was really struggling. It saved me. You could say that almost everything good in my life has come as a result of this turning point.
Prior to learning this practice I battled with addictions, eating disorders, and in general a huge lack of self-esteem, which resulted in my many self-destructive behaviours and choices. Upon finding this practice I started feeling better about myself, and I began living inside my own skin for the first time in as long as I could remember.
Through this practice of Ashtanga Yoga I developed more compassion and love towards myself, which was an entirely new experience. This allowed me to feel my connection to others more deeply, which aroused more positive choices that stemmed from forgiving myself, and releasing the past.
We traveled the world together, taught together, started a Yoga School together, and have a son together, who lights up our whole universe, and has taught me the meaning of selfless service and unconditional love.
Therefore, it is with the deepest gratitude that I continue to dedicate my daily practice to Guruji and his lineage. I always hear him when I chant the invocation, and feel his force supporting me as I teach. His commitment and devotion is an endless inspiration for me.
Guruji had many gifts. He had a way of seeing things in a person. He would know you could do something even when you didn't believe it yourself. He was a philosopher at heart, and always enjoyed a good laugh. He welcomed questions, and loved to hear any gossip or news about his students. Whenever we would call he would always ask, "when are you coming?" even if we had just arrived back home. He loved to teach - it was truly his dharma, and there was almost nothing that could keep him away from it.
You couldn't be in Guruji's presence and not feel your heart overflowing with affection. He was humble and yet fierce. Everyone that had the privilege of being his student was deeply touched and transformed by his presence, and we all felt a unique and special connection with him.
He would be so happy to see the growing number of students who have been healed and touch by the Ashtanga Yoga practice. I think he would be proud that his legacy is continuing on through the teachers he blessed. I consider myself very fortunate to be amongst this group of inspired practitioners who reside under his guiding light, and continue to keep his memory alive and teach what we have received from him, and from this practice that he loved.
Om Sri Gurubhyo Namah