Just where did the Ashtanga police come from?

Over the weekend — and probably on the Facebook, which I am trying to frequent less and less (and not for any spying reasons) — I saw a couple, maybe three, references to everyone’s favorite authority figure: the Ashtanga police. If memory serves (and it rarely does), someone had practiced on Saturday. Maybe with music.

And so it was a lock that the Ashtanga police would be paying a visit.

It feels like this jokey — some don’t think it so funny — meme of ours is nearly as ingrained in the Ashtanga “system” as the Yoga Korunta and Patanjali, himself.

And like both of them, I wonder if we have any idea of the police’s origin. The interwebs don’t seem to want to supply an answer. Was it something said, offhand, some morning in Mysore? Did it come from the mouth of an anti-Ashtangi? Maybe there are multiple sources?

Anyone know? Anyone want to hazard a guess?

Posted by Steve


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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

19 thoughts on “Just where did the Ashtanga police come from?”

  1. it could be said, ashtanga is a fundamental form of yoga. and with a clear set of guidelines and rules within the method – it’s almost inevitable to give rise to fundamental fundamentalists, imaginary or not. an extreme group whose mission is to make sure there’s “no butting in line!” or something like that.

    my guess is we made it up to insert a little fun at our own expense, into what can be a pretty rigid and puritan lifestyle.

    speaking of which, it’s past my bedtime …

    1. Yikes. That took me down a twisted rabbit hole.

      I may have asked this more existentially than I meant: I’m really curious who came up with the phrase — I do understand the reasoning behind it. I’m curious how long it took to be said. Heck, maybe Pattabhi Jois and his fellow students said something similar of Krishnamacharya.


  2. Isn’t the XXXX police just a general meme which has been applied to lots of things? In other contexts I’ve heard it more as ‘and who are you, the XXXX police?’.

    ‘you should let the water sit after boiling’ ‘and who are you, the Coffee Brewing Police?’.
    ‘actually, the paper goes in that bin’ ‘and who are you, the Recycling Police?’
    ‘I think that’s enough examples now’ ‘and who are you, the Example Quantity Police?’

    1. Good point. But I get the sense a lot of people still would be willing to send the “you’ve annoyed us to no end police” after whoever first gave us this meme.

      Also: Ashtanga seems especially well suited to this particular meme, right? Although I applaud your bringing coffee into this conversation! Points for that.


      1. SPW for SURE. He was vigilant in his quest to preserve the Ashtanga practice in the tradition of his guru Sri K Pattabhi Jois. His sharp tongue and acerbic wit made the Ashtanga forum come alive back in the day…..

  3. Dear Friends,
    Before there was an Ashtanga Yoga Police, before there was even Ashtanga Yoga or at least a shala on every corner, there was the Yoga Police. We even had a Pad of yellow tickets with infractions. This was like 2003 or 4 at a Dharma Yoga retreat in upstate NY. Whereever there are rules there are police ;–)

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