So this past weekend was the birthday of my dear yoga teacher Sri. Dharma Mittra (not to be confused with my guru- who is Paramahansa Yogananda), who turned 70 years young! Humble and gentle and psychic, Dharma has been teaching yoga in New York for over 45 years (another !!). He is commonly known in the yoga world as “the Rock of Yoga,” and for his experience and knowledge as “the Teacher’s Teacher.” There were many times that I would take class and catch Dharma’s eye for a second- and know that he knew exactly what I was thinking. Often too, I would come to class with a question in mind, especially if I was going through a hard time, and he would always say something to address my question or thought- without me having to even ask the question. My schedule doesn’t allow me to see Dharma 5 days a week, the way I used to, but I know we are still connected whether we see each other physically or not.
Dharma has had a major impact on my life, and I can only humbly put my hands together for him and bow my head in thanks. He taught me that yoga is about devotion, love, and presenting your asanas (poses) as an offering. Though he is one of the most accomplished yogis that ever lived in terms of asanas, he is the very FIRST to say that the poses are not the end goal of yoga, or what yoga is all about. The poses merely help discipline the body and mind to prepare for meditation and the higher limbs of yoga, and again, can be seen as an offering past the limited ego.
An avid proponent of Karma Yoga- doing acts of love and kindness with absolutely no expectation of any return, Dharma’s very name, “dharma” means performing our highest duty.
Dharma is also the person that introduced me to raw food!! I was already a vegetarian when I met Dharma, who tirelessly promotes Ahimsa (non-violence) thru veganism and kindness to all living beings, especially our inferior brothers (the animal kingdom). But his teachings on how raw food greatly benefit your meditation practice, freeing up the energy to go up the spine, were new and fascinating concepts to me. Dharma always said, “If you want to feel cooked, fried, and dead…then eat that food which is cooked, fried and dead!”
I did indeed try raw food to help my yoga practice and meditation- which it did! And then it just mushroomed from there into a major, major passion of mine- exploring the nutrition behind this way of eating.
“The one message of all saints and sages is the message of love. Ahimsa is the highest of all traits found in the mind, speech and actions of all perfected souls. There is only one religion- the religion of love, or peace. There is only one message, the message of unconditional and universal love. Ahimsa is the supreme duty of a Yogi. If you are established in Ahimsa, you have attained all virtues. All virtues spring forth from Ahimsa.
Ahimsa may appear to merely imply non-killing. But, non- injury is not merely non-killing. The true meaning of Ahimsa is non-harming in thought, word, and action. The absence of causing any harm to any living creature. Ahimsa is true strength. No Self-realization is possible without Ahimsa.”
- Sri Dharma Mittra
Well, not much to say after the great Dharma’s closing words! Except that I wish you a great week, and great, unlimited love in your life.
Shanti and Love,
In 1984 Dharma completed the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures, as an offering to his Guru, and for all Yoga aspirants. This original masterpiece was meticulously assembled from over 1,350 photographs of posture variations he took of himself, all hand done before the computer age. He held the camera clicker in his mouth! He said in each and every picture he took of himself in a yoga asana, he was thinking of God. Over 300 of these postures that are very popular today are created by Sri Dharma (of which he will only say “came through” Divine intuition). It has been an invaluable teaching tool over the past decades. You will find it in just about every yoga school and Ashram worldwide including India.