Does it matter who is doing all of the Ashtanga series?

During our Yatra, we are re-posting some of our top posts from the past 16 or so months. We’ll also try to get new posts up from India, Internet access-willing. This one has proven to be consistently popular — the topic, I guess, gets right at our asana questions.

We should be back today.


As someone who doesn’t expect to even see any of Ashtanga’s Second Series, but remains hopeful, the uber “advanced” series of Pattahbi Jois’ yoga sequence may as well be performed on the moon.

But I know a lot of importance is placed on them. One sign of that is how Sharath often is described as being the only person to have practiced all six series.

Kino MacGregor, in the recent post we linked to about why go to Mysore, wrote this:

Sharath spent around 21 years studying yoga and living with Guruji and is the only person to learn the full six series of the Ashtanga Yoga method. There is no one else who has gone as deeply into the Ashtanga Yoga series as Sharath, nor anyone who spent as much time in close proximity with Guruji than he did. Sharath carries the light of Ashtanga Yoga with great skill, presence and honor. It is under his guidance that I feel most confident progressing further into the Advanced Series that is my daily practice.

Now, Anthony Gary Lopedota has posted this on Facebook, in response:

Dear Kino,
I have noticed your posts in the past and your sincere connection to the Ashtanga practice. I read your comment on going to Mysore and that Sharat is the only one that knows the six series. As a young practitioner, I wouldn’t expect you to know the history of this practice. The early practitioners that have studied with Professor K. P. Jois for 30 years or more learned all the six series in four segments, at the time they were called Primaries, Intermediates, Advanced A and B (3, 4, 5, 6 series). In the very early eighties I had the rare opportunity to study in private with Guru Ji for 3months. The practice was approximately four hours to do A or B series which is now as previously mentioned third, fourth filth and sixth series. The system did continue to change from the time he wrote the first syllabus.

I’m far from able to determine who has and hasn’t practiced what. But I can notice that it is a sensitive issue, as Lopedota’s Facebook response suggests.

I do wonder how important it is. I always appreciate David Swenson’s response to those wanting to do additional poses. It is along the lines of, “Will doing that pose make you a happier person?”

Yoga, and Ashtanga, is more than just perfected certain poses, right? But maybe that’s easy for me to say as I struggle with triangle pose, let alone something crazy from Advanced B. Or it’s just me talking out of turn.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “Does it matter who is doing all of the Ashtanga series?”

  1. I suppose it matters to older teachers who have the knowledge that only Sharath was said to have, in that it could hurt their business teaching. I can see why Gary would want to clarify if Kino’s statement wasn’t true. (Not that I’d know either way!)

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