The ‘surreal’ life of an Ashtanga teacher

I know it may seem like we harp on the Namarupa yatra we went on — and the one we think you should go on — but it’s difficult not to do so. Tremendous experiences, new adventures and wonderful people all wrapped together.

Barry, via the Japan Times

As we keep saying, it is one not to miss.

Among the people we met was Barry Silver, an authorized Ashtanga teacher who has been living and teaching in Japan for about seven years.

Some of you may know him. It’s possible you’ve crossed paths with him in Mysore, somewhere else in India or back when he was in New York (and assisting at Eddie Stern’s shala). You may have crossed paths and not realize d it.

Barry got the media treatment this weekend from the Japan Times. Here’s a bit to give you a sense of it and him:

Seven years ago, Silver’s life was in a comfortable cycle. For eight years, Silver taught yoga in Manhattan, saving up enough money for nine months out of the year in return for three months in India, practicing with his teacher, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, founder of a yoga style known as Ashtanga Yoga, in Mysore.

Unexpectedly, right before one of his trips to Mysore, a colleague in New York offered him a chance to teach in Japan for two months. A student in Japan then casually offered him a way to stay more permanently — if he could take over her corporate yoga class.


After living in Tokyo nearly seven years, Silver still sometimes finds his life “a bit surreal,” although he believes “that surreal aspect of Japan” mostly fits his world view. “I am comfortable in the surreal. I realized New York is a little too comfortable to me. It’s got too much history for me. Every building, every street has a story and some past or an ex-girlfriend.

“In Tokyo everything has an anonymity that I enjoy. It comes with a price too, of course: foreign loneliness. There is something about big crowded cities, going back to your own place alone at night after being surrounded by so many people. I think it is more intense in Tokyo. I have forfeited my huge social circle in New York for a much smaller social circle here.

I think it’s a safe bet, despite the theme in this piece that Barry lets things happen, that he’ll also be on the next Namarupa yatra. So you can think of this story as a bit of preparatory reading.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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