‘Learning Ashtanga Yoga is actually much easier than it looks’

If it hasn’t been made clear from our posts following the Confluence, we discovered that the reputation that precedes Eddie Stern isn’t entirely deserved.

I’m sure there are times when he’s a stern teacher. There has to be from every teacher. But the whole “New York” severity and strictness absolutely did not come through during the weekend of the Confluence.

Here’s more evidence. I’ve been meaning to post about it for a while, and kept failing to get to. It’s part of the latest update to Eddie’s Asthanga Yoga New York webpage:

We have heard from some of the people who stop by our school that they can find it intimidating to commit to a month of Ashtanga Yoga without knowing what it is, or how they will be taught. Learning Ashtanga Yoga is actually much easier than it looks, and for that reason, we are now offering to new students an introductory, five-day week of classes for $50. In one week, you will learn the basics of this practice, one-on-one from one of our teachers, and you will get a feel for whether or not this practice is for you.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions, or just stop by the studio during any of our class times to take a look at what we are teaching.

“Learning Ashtanga Yoga is actually much easier than it looks.” I can’t help feeling like that’s akin to the sign above the Gates of Hell in Dante. (That’s a joke, people!)

I’m sure the attitude being addressed here also is related to the myth about Ashtanga’s development as a practice for adolescent boys. I think sometimes with Ashtanga, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I didn’t really know what I was getting into when Bobbie introduced me to the practice via a few different teachers.

In other words, it’s one I’ve heard — and felt. At the Confluence, Tim Miller talked about how he had conversations with Guruji about the lack of students. Guruji’s answer: Keep teaching and they will come. (Having a Hanuman image in the shala helps, too.)

What strikes me as the key part of Eddie’s welcome above isn’t the gates of hell sign, though. It’s this: “you will get a feel for whether or not this practice is for you.” That’s truth in advertising. You do know pretty quickly, right?

It also seems like smart business. You do have to give people a way in… and a way out, if it turns out not to be for you.

Any teachers out there — or students, for that matter — know of other creative ways to introduce people the practice?

Posted by Steve


Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

2 thoughts on “‘Learning Ashtanga Yoga is actually much easier than it looks’”

  1. When I did a 200-hour teacher training in Washington, DC, we were required to attend & report on classes in some of the other styles offered locally: ashtanga, iyengar, bikram, anusara. We also got the message, along the way, that ashtanga was really hard on the body, so it was with great trepidation that I showed up at Ashtanga Yoga Center. To my surprise, I felt great during and after the led class, which moved fairly slowly, just getting to the first couple of seated poses, with a lot of instruction and the occasional added prep pose (always noting that “this is not ashtanga”). The teacher, Keith Moore, was terrific. I became a regular in his evening led class.

    I realize this is not (yet) an example of an ashtanga school/teacher creatively introducing the practice. I’m getting there…

    Just about every class, Keith would begin by encouraging us to try Mysore-style practice. But I’m not here because I’m into this Ashtanga thing, I would think to myself. I just think Keith is a really good yoga teacher. Then, one day, he looked around the room. “You’ve all been around awhile,” he said. “So today this class is going to be Mysore-style practice.” Surprise!

    And then — with my practice organized around the tempo of my own breath for the first time — I got what “this Ashtanga thing” was all about.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s