Excerpts from “Guruji”
Guruji : The portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Through the Eyes of Brad Ramsey
You said it was intense. Can you say a little more about that?
It was extremely painful. I don’t think there is one part of me that wasn’t sore. He (Guruji) wasn’t as restrained on his home (mysore) turf as he was in the U.S., so it was transformative… I felt like I was being dismembered. My body was changed.

Why do you think we allow ourselves to go through so much pain?
Brad: The benefits, I guess. You can feel it working, you can feel the quietness after. And I don’t think it’s the endorphins; it’s because the system really works. You can almost hear your mind shutting down. Even the pain, if you give up to God, I think that’s part of the practice, really. I don’t know. Manju always says, no pain, no gain. And there is a great amount of truth there, I think. The pain is almost necessary. The pain is a teacher also.
Usually you take that as a message to stop what  you are doing because you are about to do some damage.
Yes, that’s the American way, probably the rest of the world, too, but Americans especially. In a lot of schools of yoga if it hurts you are doing something wrong. And if you were a perfect physical and mental specimen already, then I can see how that might be true. If you are altering the status quo in an unpleasant way, you might want to stop if you were already perfect. But if you feel growth coming from it, and see things changing that need to be changed… the series is just a mold toward a body that meets the requirements for spiritual advancement, I believe. I don’t think you can get there without pain. I never met anybody who did. For me, it hurt from the first day I started to the last, at least something. There is always something.
I think for everyone there comes a point where the pain gets moderated, you learn how to practice in an intelligent way and sustain yourself rather than trying to break through.
That’s true, it does get better.
It’s hard lesson to learn, and a difficult one.
Sometimes even to make the effort is painful.
Why do you think that is?
It’s the nature of the beast. It’s a birth process really.
I guess it’s one stage more awake than total dullness and total ignorance. The pain is the beginning, a sign that the body and the mind are waking up, things are moving.
Evolution. And an important part is giving it up to God and making that part of the practice.
Guruji says that a lot, doesn’t he? He tells us, “Pray to God.”
Yes. When it hurts, put your mind on God instead of your pain, whatever your concept of god is- whether he is the great architect or the basic element  of the universe, which everything is made out of.
So I guess the purpose is to take your attention away from your personal experience and be with the universal, to get away from your personal suffering.
Yeah, that’s what practice is. Getting outside the little voices in your head.
Normally he wants to see padmasana (lotus) perfect before teaching pranayama, but obviously in your case he felt that you were advanced in some other way.
It wasn’t perfect, but close enough I guess.
He says you should be able to sit it  for three hours. I heard you had a high level of concentration. When people saw you practicing, they said they had never seen someone with such incredible focus.
I got lost in it. I would lose myself in it. I got everything I wanted to get out of it.
You felt that in the moment, or after practice?
I feel it right now.
When you say you got everything you wanted out of it, I presume you don’t mean just  the physical practice.
No, I mean the place where it put my mind. It may not appear perfect to anybody else, but inside I’m very comfortable and I feel that I have achieved the goals that I have for myself. Really it’s all preparation for your death moment, that’s the whole idea behind it. Because if you can out your mind on God while you are hopping around on the floor doing mildly painful things, that’s practicing for the last moment of greatest extremity. And if in your death moment you can put your mind on God, the theory is, you save yourself a whole lot of births, you save yourself many travails.
Did you come to India with an idea or feeling for divinity, or did Guruji help you, or did your practice deepen that understanding or experience?
It was immersion in the practice with Guruji, because of the slokas he quote, the verses he would recite, the little poems, and the stories-immersion into the spiritual side of life. I wasn’t particularly spiritual oriented before and I don’t even consider myself so spiritually oriented now. But I feel that that immersion is like the what baptism would be to a Christian, you’re saved. Now I’m saved forever. I can’t get lost.  Krishna tells Arjuna, “Arjuna, it doesn’t matter how far you go or what you do. You do yoga, you do it as much as you can. If you can’t do it anymore, fine, next life you get to take up from there again. You can’t lose ground.” That was Krishna’s promise. Some people believe it, some probably don’t.