When I signed up to join a group of yogis for a week of practice with Manju Jois, I had no idea what sort of experience I’d be experiencing.
Naturally, I worried about what he’d think of my less-than-perfect asana practice, non-existent chanting practice, and only slightly better pranayama. But still, I was going to be practicing with Manju! I would graciously take whatever feedback he had for me; I mean, isn’t that why I was going in the first place?
Our hotel was walking distance from the shala. In the morning, Eva and I packed up our mat, a hand towel, and a few odd items and began our week long journey. We met up with the rest of the small group of yogis in front the shala and, together, the 12 of us went inside. A few minutes later, we were standing in samasthiti for the opening mantra. Then we began.
The room was warm and bright. The sound of us breathing together aloud was extra special, given the “social distancing” in the past 2-ish years. Manju and Greg moved around the room, assisting each of us in deepening our practice. Many times, I was surprised to feel my body twist and turn, catch and release in ways I hadn’t felt in a long time…or ever. It was magical from the opening chant through savasana. Having someone to assist me in the poses I need the most help with served to show me a better way to navigate the struggle.
This is how my practice went during the week:
Day 1: I did full primary + half intermediate.
Day 2: I practiced half primary + intermediate through nakrasana.
Day 3: Intermediate.
Day 4 & Day 5: Intermediate + the first 2 poses of Third.
Each day, following our practice, we did some pranyama and/or chanting. When we finished that, Manju answered our questions. Then we were treated to some of his and his wife’s home cooking – which was delicious beyond words.
The five days went by fast. The small group of (12) Ashtangis hung out with eachother off the mat as well. During our downtime, we explored the area’s beaches, hiked a little, shopped, and ate more amazing food. Many are hoping to join Manju during part of his European tour over the summer. As for me, I am making plans that I know I can make happen; I will be joining another group of Ashtangis in January 2023 for a repeat session in Manju’s home shala.
In addition to my gratitude towards Manju for alll that he does, I am imensely grateful to Eva Alexander for bringing me into the circle of Ashtangis that practice regularly with him, and for Greg Tebb for saving a spot for me to join.