"You can't remember your Yamas or Niyamas? It's simple... don't be an asshole!"
It's been a tough last couple of weeks, along with the oppressive heat waves, the turbulence that is life personally and the passing of my teacher Gopal Chandra.
Last week, he took his last breath and moved out his ravaged body. He was 40. Incredibly young, and even though I was older than he was, from the day I met him and throughout our relationship eventually growing into a student/guru bond, he always made me feel like he was the big brother I never had. During our last night of a teacher training he led that I was in, the entire group sat in an intimate circle and on that Sunday evening, I told him how I felt and he shared as well about our tight bond. We looked at each other... cried a lot and we said "I love you," to each other.
That wasn't the first time we said those words.
Years before, when I wasn't thinking about becoming a yoga teacher and while sitting patiently for a vinyasa class to start - in a room that only had a sprinkling of students - as the session was about to begin, Marko bursted in late and graciously pardoned himself for arriving tardy.
With loads of space in the entire room, he made a path to me, placed his mat inches away from mine and said with a smirk, "I'm going to out-chaturanga the shit out of you." I was already mortified that a teacher I admired and enjoyed being around decided to share his space... and invade mine. HAHA.
We practiced together. It was fun. Yeah... a lil' ego got into me and it may have become a performance. But at the end, when in legs up the wall pose and about to enter savasana Marko glanced at me and said, "I love you, dude."
I reached out to one of Marko's teachers - Raghunath (Ray) Cappo - and let him know about the stories he shared with me about their time, and how our teacher training crew was always schooled on how Marko was always excited to be around "Raghu" as he would call him.
In a message after his passing, Raghu said to me, "it was all auspicious when he left this world [it] was in great consciousness." Raghu spent days with Gopal Chandra prior to his departure from his physical form.
Marko's classes were always fun. His storytelling was enchanting. The countless hours we spent singing, chanting, meditating and laughing together made me the teacher I am today. His style of teaching, his cadence, how he cued and how navigated all his students was a direct influence on me and many others. He described his class as, "a dynamic blend between a fierce, physical practice and a reverence for spirit, [with the space] infused with energy." Spot on. I honor his teachings by delivering his influence on me with my experiences to all of you.
I love you all.
Here are a few quotables from Gopal Chandra:
> "Consistent practice over a very long period of time will eventually permit the body to bend and fold in all sorts of miraculous ways. If it’s worth it, it’s worth the work. And it won’t come easy. The Gods had to churn the ocean with a mountain to gain immortality! The only thing required of us is commitment to the process. The Nectar lies in the process not the pose. Yoga won’t make us immortal, but the physical and mental benefits of it are undeniable."
> "Get on the mat.
> Practice every day.
> Transform the body, mind, consciousness.
> "The most joyful things are so simple, so uncomplicated, so unconditional!"
Here's the 'Wisdom of the Sages' podcast where Raghunath (Ray) Cappo interviews Gopal Chandra on June 9th - the topic: "Gopal Chandra discusses being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the importance of forgiveness, compassion and love as he faces death" : CLICK HERE (YouTube)
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