Shri Dharma Mitra is a yoga teacher in New York. He originally hailed from Brazil and one of his main claims to fame it the creation of the 908 yoga poses poster. The story of that poster’s creation is interesting enough but I want to share a different story that I heard from Dharma Mitra.
I used to enjoy taking two hour advanced classes with Shri Dharma Mitra at his studio on 23rd Street in Manhattan. They were always a wild ride with students attempting and succeeding at some very deep poses.
My approach to teaching an asana is to give as much anatomy and alignment information as possible in order for a student to get into the pose in a way that serves there body. To do this I rarely stop talking—on and on about rotations and extensions and grounding…
Shri Dharma Mitra has only two instructions to share with his students—“Do it for god” and “Put god in your heart”.
Often after class ended, Dharma would sit and give a short talk to the students who had attended. The following story gets the point of yoga better than any other I have heard or told.
Shri Dharma Mitra sat with his beatific smile and began, “You know I always say, put god in your heart, put god in your heart. But sometimes you might want to do things that god might not want you to do. Let’s say you want to go to a porno movie. That’s fine. Take god out of your heart and put him in your back pocket for the length of the movie and then put him back in when it is done.
“This is normal and good. After the movie you put god back in your heart and if you want to do something else that god wouldn’t like put him back in your pocket until you’re finished. Over time though, you might find that you feel better with god in your heart and feel the need to put him in your pocket less and less.”
I can’t imagine how to say it better.