Interviewing Manju Jois was a great experience. Manju is the oldest son of Pattabhi Jois, the father of Asthanga Yoga. He started to practice yoga when he was a kid. Manju always shares the moments when he as a kid used to secretly observe guruji on the mornings practice. I had the fortune to spend a week again with Manju in his yearly visit to Vienna for Teacher Training.
AF: What would you do if you have a group of students who are totally inflexible?
MJ: Well, you just look at their bodies; if you have the engineer, you will think how you can help this person and the other to practice yoga, that takes a little bit of experience because in the west they think; “you must do this”; in yoga there is not “you must”; you just look to the body and you have to use different method, it is not always the same; the reason people get hurt, is when all these teacher think it is like a dogma, you have to do this, you have to do that, but they do not think this person can not do this, you have to help in a different way, that’s the way to teach yoga, not like bitting book, it’s not like that, you have to make sure you are not injuring the person, giving something he/she cannot do. it is entitle to the experience teachers.
AF: What do you do when you see your students are going over the limits in their practice?
MJ: You listen to your body; I will say do not be stubborn; if they get stubborn they are gonna hurt themselves. You have to know the limitation of you body and know what you can do. Often a lot of the teacher, because they can do it, they think, you can do it. They try to push you and you can be hurt. So, this so called “yoga injuries” are mainly caused by the teaches because they can make postures overpowered their students and it is when injuries starts. yoga is not supposed to injure anyone; it is supposed to heal. That’s the problem with the western world; they think to much physical thing, that is why all these things are happening.
AF: Which of the eight yoga paths would you stick with if you have to chose only one?
MJ: Asana, you cannot have all in one day; you see; one day we can talk just about how to breath, as I said, look at their body and give some postures to work on, you do not give so much information in one day because they get all confused first you have to let them get on the mat, then you start to work on them; that’s how we do.
AF: Dear Manju, how is your practice nowdays?
MJ: I travel a lot. I have to stay in good shape. I practice 1hr 20 mins that include asana, pranayama, chanting and everything at 5:00am. Then I am ready to go to work. (That’s why I am always sleepy 😉 )
AF: What would you suggest to a person that want to start a healthy lifestyle?
MJ: Well that’s the yoga philosophy is all about; when you start practicing yoga, it is called “unite with yourself” yug the sanskrit word