Jonathan Austman

Jonathan Austman

As some of you may have heard, our dear friend and teacher Jonathan Austman has passed away.

The processing and digestion of this moment will unravel for many days to come, but one of my initial impulses is to try to understand who he was and to remember him in his entirety.

But how can one sum up a person in a few sentences? The Jonathan that I knew for 10 years was serious but goofy, compassionate and yet judgemental, sincere yet mischievous, aloof and also incredibly gentle and thoughtful.

He certainly was a huge influence on my life, my yoga practice and teaching. I will sorely miss his wisdom, example, and camaraderie.

Jonathan took his own life. The word suicide is incredibly loaded. We all have our own relationship with what that means. For me, the act of taking one’s own life contains deep suffering, but also deep freedom. To choose one’s time of death can offer dignity and grace. My final prayer for him is that he felt like he was choosing death, as opposed to feeling like he was out of choices besides death.

Endings beget beginnings. Let me share with you how we met: I had first heard of Jonathan through my Ashtanga yoga instructor in Toronto, who had met Jonathan in India that year. When I told him I was moving to Winnipeg, he said I should look Jonathan up because he had a Mysore program. In September 2009, on the third or fourth day of being in Winnipeg, I went to the Winnipeg Yoga Shala at 440 Don Ave to practise. It was a beautiful, calm space, completely imbued with his energy. In the disorganization of moving, I didn’t have enough cash, so I had paid a drop in fee with a cheque (remember those days?!). After practice, he said, “There’s a new student special right now. Two months for the price of one.” I said, “Oh, but I only brought the one cheque.” “It’s ok, you can cross it out and initial the new amount.” “Oh, ok.” I came back the next day, and the next, and for many days after.

I’m quite sure now there was no new student special. He was just making it up. I’ll always be so glad that he did.

May I leave you with the Zen night chant, which I learned from the late Michael Stone:

Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time passes swiftly and opportunity is lost.
Let us awaken – awaken!
Do not squander your life.

Blessings and health to you and yours,

Pay it forward!

With offering Saravat Ayurvedic Rituals, I am having the chance to further define what matters to me, and what principles I want to stand for. The ethical teachings of yoga have been a welcome guide as I navigate the exciting (and honestly, sometimes stressful) waters of creating and sharing one’s work, and I am so grateful for all the lessons, and look forward to many more.

To apply my yoga practice beyond the mat, it is important to me to define sustainable business practices that allow me to support myself, purchase materials from suppliers that I align with (ie support local, ethical, and environmentally-sensitive businesses), while maintaining the accessibility of what I offer – I want everyone to have tools to support their well-being! Every little decision I make about Saravat considers this interplay, and while I doubt I will ever find perfection in it, I hope to find refinement.

These factors also lend themselves to how I decide to price Saravat offerings. I try my best to price the goods I make where there is a fair acknowledgement of the energy, time, and valuable resources that went into their creation, while also realizing that not everyone has bucket loads of money to spend on Ayurvedic healthcare.

With Black Friday looming, I have found myself in the position of deciding whether or not to join in on this annual “celebration.” After much deliberation, I have arrived at this:

There will be no flash sales, coupon codes, or rock bottom prices. There will be no fear of missing out. There will be no undermining of what’s truly valuable, which is well-being, that of each individual, as well as the collective, and of our earth-home.

Instead, the prices are (and will always be) as fair as I can make them. And, we can have the chance to pay it forward.

50% of all profits gained on Nov 23-26th, 2018, through Saravat purchases online and in-person will be donated to Vipassana Meditation Foundation. This is of personal significance to me, as I have greatly benefited from their donation and volunteer-based model of offering meditation retreats worldwide. They promote a sincere and committed meditation practice, while striving to make it accessible to all.

It is my hope that you will be inspired to also pay it forward. Whether that means you purchase Saravat, continue your yoga practice (maybe go to a vipassana retreat!), or simply take good care of your beloveds, I am happy and grateful that you have given me this opportunity to share this with you.

Please go here to explore Saravat.

Thank you!!