A quick history of Ashtanga in Los Angeles

This weekend, Tim Miller is heading up to Los Angeles for a workshop. Yes, of course I’ll be there.

What you may not have been able to guess is I also got to Tim’s on Wednesday night for his Led Primary. I’m full-in wiped out from it. If I can unjumble my brain, maybe I’ll write about it later — we’ll see if I can find something worth setting to virtual paper.

In prepping for his time in LA, this week Tim ran through a quick history of how Ashtanga made its way to LA. Here’s a sample:

Located in Larchmont Village at the site of a former Masonic temple, the Center for Yoga was the first yoga studio to open in Los Angeles in 1967. Owner/Director Ganga White drew inspiration from many different teachers during his 25-year tenure there, including Pattabhi Jois, who he hosted for a single class in 1985. I met Ganga and his partner Anna Forrest when they came to Encinitas to practice with Pattabhi Jois earlier that same year. Ganga invited Guruji to come to the Center for Yoga to teach a class, promising him a big turnout. Guruji accepted and was flown in a small plane to the Burbank Airport along with a few of his advanced students, brought along as assistants. I was one of those assistants, and witnessed what was perhaps the first guided ashtanga yoga class ever taught in Los Angeles. Seventy-five people showed up for the class, most of them with no experience of the ashtanga method. Before the class started I was watching a guy trying to teach an attractive young woman Suryanamaskara B. He had it all wrong and, trying to be helpful, I stepped in to correct him. He gave me a murderous look and told me to mind my own business. This was my first experience of the “L.A. attitude”, where some people become legends in their own mind. Guruji did his best to humble and educate those seventy-five students, but obviously it was a long-term project.

Tim goes on to note the roll that Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty played, plus all the folks who at one time or another taught under their guidance.

If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you may remember that once or twice Bobbie bemoaned the lack of Ashtanga in Los Angeles. It’s true that four years ago when we moved back to LA, it felt that way. I don’t believe any certified teachers were running regular Mysore programs.

Now, it is changing a bit. There are three certified teachers I know of: Jörgen Christiansson, Noah Williams and, most recently, it looks like Maia Heiss has opened up a place just east of Santa Monica. (I think it’s right about on the border of LA and Santa Monica.) Plus, Jodi Blumstein — who is hosting the Tim workshop — and Maria Zavala are here, and both are great. Leigha Nicole is here sometimes, too. I’m sure there are others — but I don’t know of other great teachers (to whom I’d point anyone).

So is business picking up for Ashtanga in LA? Maybe.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

5 thoughts on “A quick history of Ashtanga in Los Angeles”

  1. The murderous look reminds me of something Glenn Black would say. “Don’t worry about other people’s issues”. Elena Brower’s sutra “you do your yoga, I do my yoga”.

    Very unlike what we would perhaps think in helping others but quite to the point in the guiding or directing attention inwardly.”

    1. Hi. Yes, I am teaching true Ashtanga Yoga in Los Angeles in the tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. It is with the great honor of his blessing and certification that I teach his method. Come practice with me! If you would like to know more you can visit my website: http://www.aymaya.org If you have any questions please write me at info@aymaya.org.
      Thank you and best wishes,
      Maia Heiss

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