‘Yoga Stops Traffick’ in Dublin was a rip-roaring success thanks to everyone who came along (and also those of you who donated online).
Some donations are still coming in but we managed to collect around €1,000 to go to Odanadi (Update: The final total collected in Dublin is €1,208!). It seems that the yoga practitioners of Dublin are a very generous bunch.
We want to say a HUGE thank you to everybody involved.
Although you may never meet the children of Odanadi you have surely made a massive difference to their lives and to those children who will be saved from slavery in the future. Congratulations. It is truly a wonderful thing that you all did.
It’s not too late to donate if you know of anyone else who would like to do so. Click on this link to Yoga Stops Traffick’s donation page.
We will be running another event in Dublin next year and hopefully we can make it an even bigger event and raise more awareness for the horror of human-trafficking. Meanwhile, thank you all again for helping with a cause which is so close to our hearts.
I have been meaning to add this to the site for a while now. Below is a list of all of the postures of primary series in a transliteration of the original Sanskrit.
I have taken the spelling of the asanas directly from a hand-out that was given to us by Lakshmish at the KPJAYI in Mysore.
- pāda hastāsana
- utthita trikoṇāsana (A+B)
- utthita pārśvakonāsana (A+B)
- prasārita pādottānāsana (A,B,C,D)
- utthita hasta pādāṅguṣṭāsana
- ardha baddha padmottānāsana
- ardha baddha padma paścimattānāsana
- tiryaṅgmukha ekapāda paścimattānāsana
- supta kūrmāsana
- garbha piṇḍāsana
- baddha konāsana
- upaviṣṭha konāsana
- supta konāsana
- supta pādāṅguṣṭāsana
- ubhaya pādāṅguṣṭāsana
- ūrdhva mukha paścimattānāsana
- setu bandhāsana
- ūrdhva dhanurāsana
- salaṁba sarvāṅgāsana
- karṇa pīḍāsana
- ūrdhva padmāsana
- uttāna pādāsana
- baddha padmāsana
- yoga mudrā
On first reading this article by Chad Herst, on tradition versus dogma in Ashtanga Yoga, largely I agreed with the thrust of what he was trying to say. However, having reflected upon it for a day or two there are a few points which I think it is important to make. For the most part I still think it’s an eminently sensible article but, that being said, I would like to add my two cents. The reason I am compelled to write is to avoid the above article being used as justification for teachers who wish to change the Ashtanga system to suit themselves, and in doing so, throw the baby out with the bath-water.
Mr. Herst asks the question “Do I uphold the tradition or honour the well-being of my student?”. The answer is obvious; you honour the well-being of the student. But the two are not mutually exclusive. One can uphold the tradition and honour the well-being of the student. He goes on to explain how, early on in his practice he “discovered that in order to bind my legs in a lotus posture (padmasasna), I had to dislocate the meniscus”. Wouldn’t it have been better to discover that you don’t have to take padmasana if it is going to damage the cartilage in your knee.
I have had two very suspect knees since I was a child and, having spent the last five years travelling fairly regularly to Mysore I have never once been told to take padmasana. Never. The tradition is to honour the well-being of the student. Sharath has always been my teacher so perhaps it was different when Chad Herst was in Mysore. It depends who is doing the telling. Many Irish practitioners have had the honour of meeting Peter Sanson (who was in Mysore at around the same time as Chad Herst in the early 90s) on his trips to Dublin, and his message is just that; the tradition does honour the well-being of the student above all else.
It is very easy for us to get ahead of ourselves with the Ashtanga Yoga practice and to think that if we can do certain postures that we are further down the path of yoga. If somebody hurts their knee by taking padmasana (or any other asana) it is because they wanted to be able to ‘do’ padmasana. They wanted to achieve something. It is not because the tradition of Ashtanga Yoga says that you must take padmasana even if you can’t walk home afterwards. It seems that Mr. Herst was caught in this familiar trap on occasion;
“When I reflect on almost twenty years of practice, it seems to me that there have been periods of time when I’ve gotten stuck in the literal. I have, at times, been lured by the trajectory of progressing from the primary series, to intermediate, and then, eventually to the advanced series. Early on as a neophyte practitioner, I’d even hoped that as I advanced along the series, somehow life would take on a new shine, that samadhi was right around the corner.”
The above problem cannot be blamed on an adherence to tradition but, rather, to a misguided interpretation of that tradition. In essence, however, I do agree with the sentiment behind the article, which I read as, ‘don’t get bogged down in dogma which leads to suffering’.
That being said, it is not easy to know when to change the practice and when to rigidly stick with the tradition. That knowledge takes a long long time. We know that Guruji himself changed the practice over the years (read this by Nancy Gilgoff to see many examples). Sharath, it seems to me, has also made some subtle changes as have Richard Freeman and Tim Miller (or so I am told). The common thread amongst these teachers is that they are steeped in the tradition to begin with. From an outsider’s perspective the system seems very rigid but with further inquiry and practice it becomes obvious that it is a flexible system. As an example of this, on my last trip to Mysore Sharath got me to practice some postures out of sequence to help with those cursed knees of mine! A lot of people a very surprised when I tell them that. They seem to think that there is only one way to practise in Mysore. This is a misconception driven by the students, not by the Jois family.
It is my opinion that someone who wishes to teach the practice of Ashtanga Yoga must first learn all there is to learn about the tradition. Only then can they decide whether it works for them or not. Guruji wrote this letter to the Yoga Journal in 1995;
So before a teacher decides to alter the practice in any way they should be sure that they have matured in their own practice. How can you change what you don’t understand? That is why it takes such a long time to become an authorised or certified Ashtanga teacher. Dedication is required.
Part of the practice of yoga is to surrender. Surrender means acceptance. Acceptance of tradition, acceptance of the current limitations of one’s body and mind, and acceptance of the authority of somebody who has more knowledge than you. I am not suggesting that anyone takes Guruji, Sharath or anyone else as their teacher. A student should spend a long time finding a teacher who’s teaching resonates with them. It is important to choose your teacher very carefully. However, having done this, surrender is then required. Otherwise, one could just teach one’s-self.
All that being said, one is under absolutely no obligation to follow the Ashtanga tradition. There are many paths to enlightenment. It is my feeling, however, that if one is to follow this tradition, then one should follow it with as much faith and devotion as possible (let me reiterate that this does not mean putting your leg behind your head if it is going to cause injury). If one chooses to alter the method without fully understanding the tradition then it ceases to be Ashtanga Yoga. How can one decide what is wrong with the method, if one doesn’t fully understand it in the first place?
The Ashtanga tradition is one of discipline but also flexibility. Let us not blame our own failings on the tradition.
I should add that Chad Herst is a dedicated teacher and practitioner of traditional Ashtanga Yoga. See his website here.
Guy Donahaye’s article on food for yoga practitioners is well worth a read.
Neuroscientist Dr. Alex Korb wrote this article about effects of yoga practice on brain function. Yoga: Changing the brain’s stressful habits. And you thought it was just stretching!
@yogadork posted this interview with Tom Myers in which he speaks about yoga, rolfing and the medicine of the future
This video advertising something (I’m not sure what) caused a bit of a stir. Some thought it was beautiful and others thought it was disgusting/degrading. Michael A. Stusser liked it enough to make his own version. We prefer the second one, just for the record.
It is with great sadness but also excitement that I write to you today.
I won’t bore you with the details of how this has come about but I have come to the realisation that it is time for me to move on from Greystones Yoga Studio.
I want to tell you all that it has been an amazing experience for me to meet and teach all of the wonderful students in Greystones. It has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling years of my life so far, but, the time has come for me to stand on my own two feet and take complete control of running my own classes.
I leave on very good terms with Rionach and Greystones Yoga Studio and wish her the very best for the future of the studio. Rionach has decided to continue the early morning classes herself. Having discussed it at length with Rionach, we have decided that she will take over the classes from this Friday (the 27th of January). I apologise for the short notice but it seems to be the simplest and least messy solution for everybody.
From Sunday, February the 5th at 9am, I will begin my new life at Oscailt on Pembroke Road, Dublin 4 (Pembroke Road is a continuation of Baggot Street). Here is a map to the studio and a link to the Oscailt website. The schedule of morning classes will be the same as it was in Greystones (Monday to Friday from 7am to 9am, Sundays from 9am to 11am). We will be updating our website over the next day or two with all the details of the new space, times, prices etc.
I’d like to thank you all for your amazing support over the last year and for making it so easy for me to get up at 4am every day!
Best wishes and gratitude
A new documentary, about Yoga at the KPJ Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, has just been released. Sharath showed the film to his students this week at his weekly conference so we can rest assured that it has his approval.
The film has many interviews with students at the Shala, articulating their reasons for travelling around the world to be there, at the source of the Ashtanga Yoga practice. Sharath appears in the film, speaking about his Grandfather Sri K Pattabhi Jois and also a little about ‘what is yoga’. The film-maker (Alex Medin) also interviews other residents of Mysore; officials and historians from the palace where Guruji and Krishnamcharya were teaching and members of the faculty at the Sanskrit College (where Guruji was a professor for many years).
Anytime we get to hear directly from Mysore, and in particular from our teacher Sharath, it is a blessing for us, here, on the other side of the world. It is great to see that Ashtanga Yoga is spreading to many corners of the world and films like this can only help in bringing the worldwide Ashtanga community together.
Watch the trailer or stream/download Mysore Magic – Yoga at the Source
This is the first of a weekly roundup of some of the best yoga-related goings-on around the worldwide web.
- Great notes from Sharath’s conference in Mysore, via Suzanne El-Safty’s blog. Many thanks to her for her great posts.
- From @ayvic The Sages & Ancient Yogi Seers Knew This before Science could validate it. Youtube
- There’s been a storm (in a teacup?) over the last week due to a certain article which appeared in the New York Times. Many teachers have given their responses and @yogadork has kindly collated them all for us here along with a link to the original article.
- David Robson of the Ashtanga Yoga centre of Toronto wrote a blog about Ujjayi breath, or lack of it. You may be surprised, I was.
- Yoga Stops Traffick is an amazing worlwide event which is coming into its third year. This year it will be taking place on the 10th of March. Make a donation, roll out your mats and join us in 108 sun salutations (or as many as you can manage). You’ll really feel like your making an effort for those less fortunate than yourself. There’s a story from one of the founders of Odanadi here
- And finally, a little, light-hearted vegetarian propaganda for your enjoyment