After practicing yoga at the Ashtanga Yoga Center in Berlin and I decided to travel to Mysore, India to study at KPJAYI where I had the honour to meet Sharath Jois as a "Master Trainer. In December 2014, I was blessed by Sharath Jois with a permission to teach the primary series of Ashtanga Yoga.
Jois was born on 29 September 1971 in Mysore, India to Saraswati Rangaswamy, daughter of K. Pattabhi Jois. Jois was born into a family dedicated to the practice, preservation and teaching of Ashtanga yoga as taught by his grandfather from his teacher, T. Krishnamacharya. Jois, exposed to yoga from birth, began practising asanas informally at the age of seven and continued without commitment until the age of 14. At the age of 19, he began formal study of the Ashtanga yoga system with his grandfather and is now the lineage holder of Ashtanga yoga.
Jois' grandfather, K. Pattabhi Jois, began studying yoga with T. Krishnamacharya at the age of 12 in 1927 and continued his formal study with his teacher until 1954. Pattabhi Jois devoted over 70 years of his life to the practice and teaching of Ashtanga Yoga. He established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, his first yoga school, in his home in Lakshmipuram in 1948. To accommodate the growing number of students who came to study, he opened a new school in Gokulam in 2002.
Jois studied the experiential and theoretical aspects of yoga with his grandfather for some time before he felt ready to guide others in this method. Sharath notes that it is important for a practitioner to understand the asana and associated vinyasa before teaching others. He has spent countless hours observing his grandfather, teaching, working with students of different body types and developing a sense of how to work with individual differences.
As a teacher, Jois reinforces the idea that Ashtanga yoga is a process and that the asanas are only one aspect of the practice, preparing individuals to integrate the other limbs into their lives. There are many layers to the practice and although it may appear to be a linear practice, marked by a progression based on the addition of new asanas, it is in fact much more nuanced. For this reason, students are encouraged to focus on the physical practice, as it is in the experiential aspects of practice that true learning occurs, not simply by reading yoga theory; practice is the foundation for the practical application of yoga theory. He studied with his grandfather for twenty years.
In the 1990s, Jois began travelling abroad with his grandfather to teach Ashtanga yoga. They felt it was imperative to travel and teach an authentic system of yoga in the West, where yoga was becoming increasingly popular and was being taught in non-traditional ways. In order to maintain the integrity and tradition of the practice, he continues to travel and teach around the world.
In 2007, when Pattabhi Jois was no longer in good health and could no longer teach, Sharath became the director of the Institute. He has gradually grown in his role as director of the KPJAYI and as the oldest authority in the practice, having studied and practiced all six series with his grandfather. His teaching style and presence in the shala was described by an experienced student as a balance between rigour and compassion
In an effort to perpetuate the lineage of yoga, in the summer he organises a teachers' course for licensed and certified practitioners to ensure that the Ashtanga method is taught in the spirit of the tradition and with respect for the lineage of the yoga gurus who have kept the practice alive - Rama Mohan Bramachari, T. Krishnamacharya and his grandfather. Jois was honoured at a celebration launched following the completion of one of the teachers' courses in 2014. During this course, Sharath reminded his students of the importance of teaching "from the heart".
Following the spirit of his late grandfather, Jois holds Saturday lectures after the tutorials to discuss important aspects of practice, theory, and to answer any questions or concerns students may have about practice. Jois reiterates that to receive the full benefits of practice, one must practice intentionally with the 4 D's in mind - devotion, dedication, determination and discipline.
In 2019, Jois rebranded the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI) in Mysore and renamed it Sharath Yoga Centre. (source: Wikipedia)