Yoga Korunta? I’m still a skeptic

James Russell has posted a lengthy piece investigating one of Ashtanga’s great myths / stories / what-have-yous: the Yoga Korunta.

I think I’m on record as a skeptic. It sounds like something that could have been mentioned as a way to add authority to the sequence and system. Maybe a fairly off-handed remark, as something Pattabhi Jois said to a (perhaps annoying) student to get that student to simmer down.

That’s just my guess and sense of things. Or my sense of people.

I do know that I agree with Russell that I don’t think, ultimately, it matters if there was a Korunta. I’m not at all sure if anything matters other than the yoga you just did or are doing.

You can read his investigations and conclusions right here.

Posted by Steve

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Here are the 2016 tour dates for Sharath in the U.S.

You may have seen that via Instagram Eddie Stern has announced the touring dates for Sharath’s pass through the United States in 2016.

Here’s a link. And here are the details if you want to avoid Instagram:

Stanford: May 22-27

Los Angeles: May 29-June 3

New York: June 11-16

Miami: June 18-24/

Registration is going to open in December, at the Mysore website. Classes will include primary and intermediate led; lectures; and pranayama (including “intermediate level” in New York).

Posted by Steve

There’s no avoiding the contradiction of my two main lessons from Ashtanga

There is a big contradiction to my two main lessons from Ashtanga.

And there’s no avoiding it.

That’s just it, though: Avoidance.

All of this is heavily influenced by Tim Miller’s teachings, of course. And these are my learnings; your mileage may vary.

One is from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Sutra 2.16: “Future suffering can be avoided” (heyam duhkham anagatam).

It’s a pretty easy one to dissect, either for an asana practice or for life. For asana, it’s: If you are thoughtful, if you prepare correctly, if you research a pose, you can avoid pain and injury and ridiculous difficulty. It’s not too much more difficult for life: Keep your eyes open, pay attention to what’s coming and what might be around the next corner, and you can avoid unexpected trouble, or at least prepare to deal with the problems as they come.

The other is one Tim talks about, I suppose, mainly in terms of asana — but as with most asana lessons, it has a lot of relevance off the mat. It’s this: Avoidance is not the answer.

On the mat, it comes down to: You aren’t going to suddenly be able to do that hard pose, that difficult transition, that little flourish (if that’s you thing) by not trying it. Skipping Janu C every time (not that I do) isn’t going to make Janu C happen.

The same — even more painfully, though — is true off the mat. Have a friend (or maybe frenemy) you’re avoiding for some reason? It isn’t going to make the inevitable meeting any easier. Got a task or job to get done? Procrastination isn’t your friend.

Both make sense, right? Have you seen the contradiction?

Future suffering can be avoided… but avoidance is not the answer.

So where does that leave me?

Happily, well prepared, thanks to my study of Oscar Wilde (not, as is usual, of William Blake). From his wonderful essay The Decay of Lying comes this (admittedly, ironic on a variety of levels) quote from one of the two characters in the dialogue:

Who wants to be consistent? The dullard and the doctrinaire, the tedious people who carry out their principles to the bitter end of action, to the reductio ad absurdum of practice. Not I. Like Emerson, I write over the door of my library the word ‘Whim.’

There also is, of course, always Blake to consider, in this case from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.

It’s about living in the unsettledness of it all, the gyre.

Posted by Steve

These four ‘most dangerous’ yoga poses don’t seem to be

I figured once the news story about some dude breaking his leg in Marichyasana B (B, even, not D!) got around, we’d get to enjoy another round of “yoga is soooo dangerous” stories and related hang-wringing.

Here’s one, from Details magazine. It uses the broken leg hook to unveil the four most dangerous yoga poses.

Funny thing. I can think of a lot of other poses that are waayy more dangerous. I suppose the caveat is that these are poses that most people probably encounter, unlike something from deep in Third Series. Still… not sure I agree. They are (and I’ll use the names from the mag):

  • Shoulder stand
  • Standing forward bend
  • Bound triangle
  • Camel

I’m especially confused by Uttanasana’s being on this list. Here’s what Details says is the danger:

Also known as Uttanasana, this pose is great for opening up hamstrings, calves, and hips, as well as supposedly stimulating the liver and kidneys—but forcing yourself forward can easily undo all that good stuff, especially if you have any pre-existing aches and pains.

Ah, right. Don’t force yourself into it. That does make sense.

Details, by the way, describes Marichy B as “an advanced Ashtanga yoga pose;” maybe we should introduce them to the actual Advanced poses.

What it seems to all boil down to is this: Type A personalities go out, push themselves way too hard, and get hurt.

If it weren’t for that, I’m not sure Ashtanga would still be around.

Posted by Steve

‘Reasons to love Ashtanga yoga’

I’m probably not a good one to comment on these, although I can agree with this assessment from this piece in the Times of India (although it may have originated at the Huffington Post India): “Ashtanga is not a practice for the faint-hearted.”

It goes on to list not quite a handful of reasons “to love this practice.” Here they are; click this link for the full explanation of them:

Dedication. Strength. Letting Go. Mirror Effect.

Kudos to the piece for getting this part right: “consisting of six series, and each series contains its own sequence of asanas.” You may recall that can be easy to mess up.

Posted by Steve