By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Can Yoga teachers learn from books? This question may seem silly, but some traditionalists would have you believe that you can only learn Yoga under the guidance of a Guru. While the hands-on experience with a Yoga Guru is valuable, this may not always be practical.
For example: Have you ever tried to acquire free airline tickets to India? Why not? In an ideal world, your study costs, transportation, meals, and housing in India should be free. Now back to reality – A trip to India, from North America is going to cost you plenty.
Do you think you can study with a Yoga Guru, and have an “all expenses paid” trip, without borrowing money? Here’s an ironic fact for you: Achaurya is a traditional Yama, which clearly states that you should not enter into debt.
If you want to follow the traditional path, you cannot borrow from your “Uncle George,” put your expenses on a credit card, or borrow from Mom and Dad. In fact, some Yoga traditionalists would tell you to get rid of that credit card.
Hopefully, you never took out a student loan to go to college. Did you borrow to own your personal computer or laptop? It is extraordinarily difficult to imagine a life without borrowing.
The point here is: Guidelines change with time. If you never borrow, you can forget about going to college, owning a home, driving a car, or going into business, unless you know someone who is giving money away with “no strings attached.”
There are many current events, which the ancient Yogis could not foresee. The “Information Age,” traveling by jet, the cost of fuel, and credit access, are only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s look at an example of how learning from an ancient text has spawned Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
The origin of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga came from an ancient book known as the Yoga Korunta, which was written by Vamana Rishi. Apparently, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, and his student Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois, invested a significant amount of time, and labor, studying the sutras, pranayama techniques, and the many asana series (Vinyasa sequences) contained within the Yoga Korunta.
It is not completely clear whether they found the text in a Calcutta Library or if Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya received the Yoga Korunta from his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari at Mount Kailash.
However, Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois understood the writings of Vamana Rishi, and reached an extremely high level of competency within this style, which we know today as “Ashtanga Yoga.” Most contemporary Vinyasa flow or Power styles, we see today, come from the Yoga Korunta.
As you can imagine, the Yoga Korunta did not have online tutoring, interactive DVDs, CDs, Podcasts, online Yoga videos, or back links to Internet web sites. Yet, it was a very valuable learning tool. Vamana Rishi’s work has come back to life.
It should be noted that most of the Yoga information in books, DVDs, and CDs, can easily be studied by Yoga teachers and interns. It is always wise to research and consult with a Guru, mentor, or Yoga teacher tutor about new techniques before adding them to your practice.
© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
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