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I first read about Ashtanga Yoga in Tim Miller's article in the Yoga Journal in 1988. I immediately knew from his description of the synchronization of the breath and movement that Ashtnga was the yoga I was looking for. In 1997 I read that Guruji's wife Amma had died. I realized if I was going to meet Guruji, I needed to go to Mysore now! In the spring of 1998, while attending a workshop conducted by Tim Miller in Mill Valley, I decided I would go to Mysore: I made my first trip there in December 1998.

When I arrived in Mysore in early December, I did not realize that for the whole month, Guruji was conducting Puja for his wife Amma to honor the year-anniversary of her death. Staying at the nearby Cavery Lodge, I went daily to the Shala (the school) in Lakshmipurum and knocked on the door but no one answered. Finally I met a couple from Manchester, England, who told me Guruji’s grandson, Sharath, was teaching his first workshop without Guruji at his mother’s house in Gokulum and that I was welcome to go with them and register. It was like nothing I had ever witnessed in my life--a room full of students at all levels doing their practice guided by Sharath. This was why I had travelled half way around the world -- to arrive at this destination dedicated to yoga practice.

Manchester Mike & his Wife

In January, after Gurji had completed his Puja for Amma, he began teaching again at the Shala in Lakshmipurum. I got a time and a space in the room by the door and began my practice with Guruji. I did not know that one had to be able to stand up out of Urdhva Danurasana and be able to drop back before you could begin the intermediate sequence. When I returned home, I spent the next five years teaching myself to stand up by dropping back to the wall. In the spring of 2003 I stood up and was ready to go back to Mysore.

When I got to Mysore in December 2003, I learned that Sharath's father had died and all the senior teachers had arrived in Mysore to pay their respects. The Shala had moved from Lakshmipurum to Gokalum and it was a completely new scene. Gokalum is an upper class suburb in Mysore and Lakshmipurum is in the old part of town. However, I felt like I was in the right place at the right time, meeting most of the senior teachers I had read about. It was incredible to be practicing in the same room with the most highly qualified Ashtanga practitioners.

I returned to Mysore every winter for three months for the next six years. Pattabhi Jois died May 18th, 2009. I went back to Mysore once again the winter after Guruji died, but I felt it was just not the same without him. One morning in March, 2010, I was waiting for Sharath to assist me in Suputa Vajrasana, and thinking to myself that I would not come back to Mysore. When Sharath came to give me the adjustment he said, "June you come." I said, "What?" He repeated, "June, you come?" and again I responded in bewilderment, "What?" Then he said, "Come to my office."

When I went to his office after the morning practice, he explained that he was asking me to come back to Mysore in June and attend the Teacher's Training. I was ecstatic. It was as if my life long dream had come true. I was going to become an Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher. I attended the second Teacher’s Training Sharath offered in June, 2010, and I am now authorized by the Sri K Pattabhi Joise Ashtanga Yoga Institute, Mysore, India, to teach the complete primary and intermediate series of Ashtanga Yoga.

It was such a joy to have met Guruji and to have had the opportunity to learn the practice from him and his grandson Sharath. It has been the highlight of my entire life.

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