This video was shot in 2006, during the first of four trips to Tokyo.
I lived with Chama and Kazumi in Harajuku, Tokyo, and filled in at a Mysore studio for a friend.
"Hosting" a Mysore room is a weird intimate experience. On their mats people often, but not always, go through the gamut of human experiences — humor, compassion, heroism, anger, digust, equanimity, desire — and sometimes I bring about those experiences through an adjustment or verbal cue. Hopefully and just as frequently I help render those experiences a little less trenchant.
Either way, in Japan as in the U.S. and around the world, there are people for whom this practice is a calling, and they remain dedicated to it, day and day out.
So to have the privilege of returning to Japan every other year or so is a strange and often powerful time-lapse experience of people as they continue to practice.
They marry and divorce, come together and break apart, stick with the practice or drift away, have children and raise them, mourn for loss and celebrate unions and life.
Yet at the same time I spoke less than 5 words (in English) to many of them, and only nodded in passing.
Mysore practice can be an impersonal intimacy.
Yet our last visit, in 2012, following my shattered heel-bone and the imminent birth of our son, was perhaps the most emotional visit. It was a powerful and visceral sense of belonging to a large community and family that spans years, countries and cultures.
Anyways, during my first trip in 2006 I often either practiced crack-head early at Chama's studio, or else in his living room later in the evening.
I look back in wonderment at some of these years. At the end of 2005 we had returned from four months in India, and at 6-foot-2 inches I weighed between 140 and 145 pounds.
This is dramatically skinny, and also makes many of the postures illustrated above much, much easier (relative strength tends to increase as bodyweight decreases).
Over the years, and especially following my foot injury, I am interested in practicing the same absorption in breath and movement without dependency on the heroic quality of physical exertion.
Jason owns and directs Portland Ashtanga Yoga.