Which of these three yoga teachers do you suppose people find ‘crazy?’

Ashtanga teachers have popped up in two major North American newspapers over the past couple of days.

David Gellineau, from the Toronto Star

The first case is in the Toronto Star; the teacher is David Gellineau. And the headline on this post is, honestly, the first thought I had when I finished reading through the piece.

The Star ran a Q&A with what it bills as three of the city’s top yoga teachers. Here’s what made me wonder the above (I’ve edited it a bit to bring the quotes together):

MONICA VOSS

Q. What is your daily practice?

I try to practise formally for about one hour a day, but there are also all kinds of small opportunities during the day and evening, even during the night, to stretch, take a big breath, and establish the body on the ground.

DAVID GELLINEAU

Q. What is your daily practice?

I practice six times a week, for about two to three hours a day, starting at 4:30 in the morning.

The third teacher doesn’t answer the same question (or we would have had a perfect balance), so here’s a slightly similar exchange:

NANCY ANJALI WEISER 

Q. Who is your yogic mentor?

I don’t have a guru, but the yogi I admire the most is Swami Sivananda, a great saint in India who exemplified service to humanity and promoted unity amongst all beings.

OK, it’s really the daily practice question that leaps out. An hour a day versus two to three, starting at “4:30 in the morning.” Surely a few readers couldn’t hold back their, “What?!” I’m thinking this article may not have gotten Gellineau a bunch of new students… but that’s Ashtanga right?

The trio all do answer one question. Here it is (again, I’m pulling them all together; the Q&A is presented differently):

MONICA VOSS

Q. What are your favourite poses?

I like any posture that helps me feel happier living in my body.

DAVID GELLINEAU

Q. What are your favourite poses?

I don’t really have a favourite posture. I honestly just do my practice and I like doing all of it.

NANCY ANJALI WEISER

Q. What are your favourite poses?

At the moment, my favourite pose is extended side angle. It instills in me a great sense of confidence, determination, will power and strength — like I can be and accomplish anything.

Nothing too shocking there. Maybe the answers shed some particular light on different types of asana practice or those who practice them.

The second newspaper appearance is by Diana Christinson, who was one of Bobbie’s teachers along the way. We posted about her earlier column in the Orange County Register. She has another up, about Spring:

The imaginal cell inspires us to believe in transformation and to imagine.

The equinox brings vibrant colors and smells. Seeing the first caterpillar will remind me of the Einstein quote, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

What is coming? What is possible? The caterpillar’s message, what can we imagine for ourselves?

We’re privy to “what is coming,” right?

Posted by Steve

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theconfluencecountdown

Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

6 thoughts on “Which of these three yoga teachers do you suppose people find ‘crazy?’”

  1. I don’t think any of them are crazy. They all seem to me to be very well grounded individuals. I myself wake between 4 and 4:30 to practice. It is necessary to do this as I have other responsibilities to take care of before leaving for work. I thought everyone did this…

  2. I agree with J. None of these teachers sound crazy. They come across as devoted and dedicated professionals who ensure that their own practice is complete so they can fully engage with their students. If we saw similar claims from a trainer at a gym, we would applaud their actions. Just because little is known about yoga teachers, it’s easy to pigeonhole them.

    As we are taught that we should never judge our practice, we shouldn’t judge that of others . Describing these teachers as crazy (or even using this language) negatively reinforces stereotypes about yoga and our community. It also can be detrimental to the careers of these teachers.

    In future I would be more cautious in my use of language as statements like this are unfair.

    1. As I noted in my response to J, I was putting myself in the shoes of readers of the Star — ones who don’t exercise, who don’t understand yoga — and realized they must think, “Whoa, that’s crazy!” I think they’d say the same about a trainer getting up at the same time to go do Crossfit. (Speaking of which, those people are crazy, right? Have you seen their workouts?)

      It was meant as a light-hearted way to pass on the story; we always try to highlight when (and sometimes how) Ashtanga in particular is portrayed in the wider media. As was discussed at the Confluence this month, in many ways yoga isn’t as fun as it was back in the 70s and 80s. We like to have a little fun with the practice when possible.

      So it isn’t a matter of our judging them, although I admittedly don’t agree we aren’t taught to “judge” others, it just depends on what one’s perspective on judging is. If I didn’t “judge” a bad teacher, I might get injured, for instance. I’m not saying they are “bad people” or anything like that. But we judge all the time as we understand out world.

      And one final reflection, as I think about this: I suspect I think David’s crazy, as I think I am when I’m sweating my way through an asana practice. But that’s not necessarily bad. (My judgment, I suppose.)

      Now, off to a Kino workshop — a crazy way to spend my Saturday.

      S

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