So… what’s the deal with all the tattoos?

The other day, I tried to determine if someone we know from Jörgen Christiansson’s studio had made it to Eddie Stern’s.

I texted someone I know who practices at Ashtanga Yoga New York and described our West Coast Ashtangi. Key to my description: lots of tattoos.

Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, yogi, tattooed guy. Via kfat929.com but available everywhere

Turns out, that wasn’t much help. There was at least one other person from California who matched the description.

“Lots of tattoos” is about as helpful in identifying an Ashtangi as saying you’re looking for a frat guy “wearing a baseball cap.” Or putting out a singles ad trying to find the “blond woman in Santa Monica wearing black yoga pants.”

What’s the deal?

No doubt that at the first Confluence in March, there were more tattoos than people. Full sleeves, full backs, etc. (Lots of them stunning, by the way.)

I should note, among those with full back art is Bobbie, and she’s got plans to add a little more to it. Me? Just one little piece, which is going on 20 years old. But I keep toying with ideas.

I’m tempted to think that there is some relationship between the pain and hardship of practice and all the tattoos. Maybe it is simpler: just a high pain tolerance that builds up through Ashtanga or that practitioners have to have to get through Kapotasana? Or perhaps it is a result of the more intimate relationship that Ashtanga gives you with your body?

But if it’s just about the relationship with the body, then why does Ashtanga seem to be the heavily tattooed yoga? What is it about Ashtanga versus Kundalini or Anusara or Iyengar?

What’s the link?

And, yes, I realize Adam Levine is the exception that proves my rule.

Posted by Steve

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theconfluencecountdown

Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

7 thoughts on “So… what’s the deal with all the tattoos?”

  1. When Sharon Gannon, David Life, Eddie Stern and Uma McNeill all went to Mysore to study for the first time with Pattabhi Jois in 1991, Guruji was so unaccustomed to seeing tattooed flesh he nicknamed them “The Snake People,” after the snake tattoos he saw on their bodies.

    Things changed quite a bit soon after that.

  2. When Sharon Gannon, David Life, Eddie Stern and Uma McNeill (my ex) all went to Mysore in 1991 to study with Pattabhi Jois for the first time, Guruji was so unaccustomed to seeing tattooed flesh he nicknamed the “The Snake People,” after the snake tattoos they had.

    Things changed quite a bit soon after that.

    1. Thanks for that picture on things, Leslie. I suppose today Mysore — when the shala is open, as it is — might give Seattle, Portland and parts of LA and NY runs for their money on tattoos per square foot!

      S

  3. It’s because you’ve gotta be a little freaky to practice ashtanga so maybe that’s why we’re all inked up…. 🙂 i only have 3 tattoos, but Thad’s got enough for both of us….

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