On today’s episode, Shannon invites Chase Bossart who with great warmth and humour shares with us some of his experiences with his mentor T.K.V. Desikachar. Chase discusses the hallmark of Desikachar’s teachings that he’s very much taken to heart, the importance of mentorship and the sometimes necessary end of this relationship.
Chase was introduced to yoga in 1991 when he took a semester abroad in India as a philosophy major. He was interested in learning more about Eastern philosophy and took a class in yoga theory. This is where he met his mentor T.K.V. Desikachar, one of the class’ regular instructors and become immersed in yoga and Desikachar’s teachings.
Chase has spent over 4 years in India and several years in China (becoming fluent in Mandarin). Expanding on his knowledge of Eastern philosophy, Chase earned a Masters degree in Religious Studies with an emphasis in Indian Philosophy in 1996.
Now living North of San Francisco, Chase has travelled frequently to give workshops and training on a wide array of yoga and yoga therapy topics since 2003. Chase teaches courses and workshops in person and provides an online meditation session and online study session of Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita once a week. He is also passionate about pranayama, meditation, chanting and the therapeutic application of yoga therapy. He loves to lead experiential workshops that demonstrate yoga philosophy’s practical applications in daily life.
[5:25] Studying with his mentor T.K.V Desikachar in India
[8:35] Hallmark of Desikachar’s teachings is individualized, one-on-one sessions where you participate in your own healing
[10:05] The feeling Chase has when teaching to online students and in-person students
[12:00] Online Thursday night study of Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita with Chase- study of Sanskrit and most importantly how does that apply to one’s life by pausing, responding and sharing with each other
[13:10] Incorporating Sanskrit and yoga philosophy in our practice and the importance of finding context for why we do the techniques we do, recognizing that yoga is an intentionally engineered practice with the science behind understanding how the human system functions
[18:00] Chase’s appreciation for Desikachar’s ability to break teachings down and applying them in a practical sense to everyday life
[19:05] Importance of taking time to take teachings in- not rushing through training and philosophical texts so a sustainable transformation is possible
[20:20] Differentiating between yoga as information and yoga as being (understanding why your life is unfolding as it is, seeing yoga play out in your life, allowing for feedback and study with a mentor)
[22:10] The benefit of having a mentor- difficult to digest studies without a reliable outside reference, help you stay on your path, cue you to reflect and the importance of having an established relationship with someone you have faith in and trust
[25:20] Chase details some of the more difficult experiences as Desikachar’s mentee and how moving through them helped him establish different patterns and the refinement of his person and behaviour
[32:30] Chase’s belief that teachings should be the main focus- not so much the lineage and T.K.V. Desikachar’s hesitancy to give a name to his yoga teachings (named Viniyoga for a period of time) when he very much believed that yoga should flow through someone in an individualized way
[36:10] The problem with lineage and putting yoga into groups- divisiveness, can overemphasize form over function
[37:45] Desikachar’s taught the importance of relinquishing rather than looking at the effort and asanas
[39:20] An example of relinquishing- being attached to how things are such as groups you are in, your home, your job and seeing that as primary importance
[42:55] When and why a mentorship relationship may end
[47:55] The importance of honesty and communication in mentor-mentee bond and when there may be a shift in the relationship
[51:00] What mentorship should provide such as understanding how the mentee’s process works and helping to hold space for that process
[53:20] Importance of teachers undergoing process themselves, doing their own practice with an open, malleable fashion
[1:02:19] Chase shares what his own practice looks like while gently reminding teachers to find their own way
[1:04:20] If you struggle with your own practice- “When you need it the most it’s harder to do.”
[1:08:40] Shannon’s closing thoughts and key takeaways
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