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How I got authorised to teach Ashtanga Yoga

Picture the scene: I’ve just done somewhere between eight and ten backbends and I stand up to try some unassisted dropbacks. I conquer the fear once and manage to get to the floor, from where I try, unsuccessfully, to stand back up. No dice.

I get to my feet again and attempt to drop back again. As I’m preparing myself Sharath comes and stands in front of me (about 6 inches in front of me actually!). I go back and my hands touch the floor again. He doesn’t help me. I walk in a little bit and Sharath puts his hands on my thighs. I stand up with ease, unsure of how it happened.

He says “you can do it”. I’m not so sure.

He helps me to do three of those half-bend drop back thingys and then brings me all the way down (I walk in again) and back up.

I’m physically and mentally drained and, as usual, a little shell-shocked by the back-bending experience.

Sharath says, “You come to the office later and fill out the authorisation form. Actually, come tomorrow, I won’t be there today”.

I say “ok”. Which is all I can manage if I’m honest.

Then I get into the pascimattanasana position on the floor and he presses me down hard. I say “uuugggh”. After 3 breaths he’s gone and I’m thinking, “…..”

And that’s the story of how I got authorised!


The best yoga-related snippets from the web part 4

Ok I haven’t done one of these for a while but here we go.

First up is a great essay written by certified teacher Tim Miller about his first experiences with Ashtanga Yoga, travelling to India and learning with Guruji. It’s easy to read in just one sitting and it’s always nice to hear long-time students talk about their early days with the practice. I highly recommend it.

Rich Roll, two time top-finisher at the Ultraman world championships has written this article on why every athlete should practise yoga. If he says it, then it must be true!

Further to that video that went viral of Arthur learning how to walk again through yoga practice, his teacher (and former pro-wrestler) Diamond Dallas Page has done this interview talking about his DDP yoga programme. Personally I love his slogan; “It Aint Your Mama’s Yoga” but maybe I’m just crass. Anyway, DDP is more of a yogi than he would let on by the sounds of things. Check it out.

Eddie Stern recently included this in his blog. It’s the story of an elementary school teacher called John Hunter in the USA who invented a game called the World Peace Game. It’s an inspiring example of what is possible through proper thought-provoking education, not just book-learning. World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more.


The best yoga-related snippets from the web part 3

Lets jump straight in this week and start with a video from the New York Times in which Eddie Stern talks a little bit about Ashtanga Yoga. From what we see of Eddie on the web, we really like him.

Canadian teacher, Paul Gold, asks an important question in this article. Fewer practice days or less practice every day? Sharath was asked this same question in London last August and he said ‘You just have to do what you can’.

Two videos of Guruji in Copenhagen in 2006. I’ve already posted these on our facebook page but here they are again for those of you who missed them. First, a short video documenting Guruji’s visit to Copenhagen followed by a 17 minute conference given by Guruji with Sharath and Saraswathi.

We came across this film about bio-dynamic/organic farming in India. It raises a lot of questions about working with nature (as opposed to trying to conquer nature) to produce food. Peter Proctor (the father of modern biodynamics) is a New-Zealander who now lives just outside Mysore at the Bhaktivedanta Academy for Sustainable Integrated Living. We are told in the film that he knows more about soil than probably anyone else on the planet. This is well worth a watch.

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Practising with an injury

I saw a video the other day with two guys practising Ashtanga yoga primary series. One of these guys had a fractured femur. I never thought I would see someone practise with a broken leg. This video just proves that anyone can do the practice.


The best yoga-related snippets from the web part 2

So here we are again, there’s a lot of great stuff that we’ve seen in the last ten days or so.

First up, two great clips of Richard Freeman. The first is Richard breathing with sound helped by Guruji’s count. Second is extracts from a much more recent talk that he gave in Germany, where he talks about, amongst other things, injuries and yoga.

Speaking of injuries and yoga, we came across this video from A.G. Mohan (a student of krishnamacharya for twenty years and author of Krishnamacharya: His life and teachings).

And still on a somewhat similar theme, I personally loved this blog post by Alistair Francis (a practitioner of ashtanga yoga and ayurveda) on ‘breathing the practice’.

This is an absolutely fascinating article on the perfection of the Sanskrit language. NASA are said to be thinking of using Sanskrit as a new computer language bescause it is so precise.

But the winner this week, by a country mile is this animated film by Nina Paley. It is a re-telling of the Indian epic, the Ramayana. The music and animation is really top notch and the wit with which the story is told, kept us hooked all the way to the end. Once we starting watching it the other night, we ended up staying up way past our bedtime. It’s absolutely brilliant!!


The best yoga-related snippets from the web this week

We thought that we’d share a few blogs and articles that we found interesting, enlightening or both this week.

First up Chad Herst writes a great blog about Isvara Pranidhana (the last of the niyama). It’s a lengthy one but definitely worth a read Isvara Pranidhana: Sticking with what we truly know.

David Robson of Toronto features twice this week. First up, an interview he did in Portugal and then a blog post which he wrote for elephant journal on correct vinyasa and the variation of the length of the breath. Very interesting indeed. We like how he writes.

Two articles about sportsmen and yoga came up also this week. First of all world-cup-winning rugby team the all-blacks attribute their win totally to yoga (well not totally but we would like if they did). Brad Thorn, at age 37, has just signed a short term contract to play here in Ireland for Leinster. His longevity has definitely been helped by practising yoga. Ryan Giggs, at 38, reckons he might have another 100 games in him for Manchester United. He says that yoga gives him the strength and flexixility to stay in the game.

We liked this straight-forward article about Rolf Sovik of the Himalayan Institute of Buffalo. He highlights the importance of balance in yoga practice and life in general.

But most of all, we loved these photos of Marilyn Monroe doing her yoga practice. You have to check them out!