The big news this week is the first ever Ashtanga Yoga Confluence happening this weekend at the Catamaran Hotel in Pacific Beach. The tribe has already started to gather—my regular classes are starting to swell a bit with the new arrivals from various parts of the country. Most of these folks I have met at some point, either through their attendance at a workshop I taught in their area or their participation in a teacher -training course or retreat. It feels a bit like a family reunion—nieces and nephews and cousins all coming together for a big celebration. My fellow teachers at the Confluence are like brothers and sisters that I rarely get a chance to spend time with. The last time we all got together was for Guruji’s memorial in 2009. The Confluence will be a different kind of Guruji memorial—a joyful celebration of Pattabhi Jois’ life and legacy.
Just to set the record straight, I have had very little to do with the organization of this event. Jenny Barrett and Deb Ifill, two of my students, came to me a year ago with the idea of creating this event. I told them I would be happy to participate as a teacher, and volunteered to reach out to some of my old friends in the ashtanga community to see if they had any interest in being part of this event. We decided to keep it relatively small and intimate the first time around, to select just a handful of the top ashtanga teachers in the world to be the main presenters. The first people I thought of were Richard, David, Nancy, and Eddie. I figured if I contacted them directly there would be a better chance to secure their participation since I have known each of them for at least twenty years. Everyone was remarkably open to the idea. The challenge that remained was getting all of these teachers with very busy travel schedules in the same place on the same weekend. With a little rearranging of schedules we came up with a weekend that worked for everyone. Aside from having a little input regarding the actual content of the classes offered during the Confluence, my work was done.
Jenny and Deb took on my wife, Carol, who has vast experience and expertise organizing events, as a partner. They have all spent countless hours taking care of the seemingly endless details attendant to the Confluence. As we come down to the wire they are all a little stressed, but it appears that everything is under control. David and Shelley and Eddie are scheduled to arrive tomorrow evening, and Richard and Mary and Nancy on Thursday, along with Johnny, Noah, and Leigha. I get the glamorous job of shuttling some of the teachers from the airport to the Catamaran. It is exciting for me to be able to spend some time with my colleagues who I love, admire, and respect so much, and to see so many old friends who are coming from near and far to participate as students. When we first began to plan this we had no idea how many people would sign up for the Confluence—the last I checked we had 500 people on the waiting list!
Pattabhi Jois was a very magnetic being. One of the meanings of Guru is “heavy”--as in heavy enough in his presence to draw others into his sphere of influence. Nancy, David, Richard, Eddie, and myself were all drawn into Guruji’s energy field and stuck around long enough to absorb some of his essence and acquire a little magnetism of our own. We are all very different as people and teachers, and all alike in our love and gratitude for Guruji and ashtanga yoga, and in our desire to faithfully transmit the essence of Guruji’s teaching for the purpose of helping others to achieve good health , self-knowledge, and happiness. The teacher student relationship is a symbiotic one. The good teacher brings out the best in the student, and the good student brings forth the best from the teacher. The Confluence is an opportunity for many tributaries to come together—teachers and students—to create one mighty river of Yoga, and, in doing so, to create a great ripple in the ethers that will have a far-reaching impact. I’m sure that Guruji will be watching from above, and smiling.