Of Freeman, salad and Saraswati

We promised to bring you word of updates and blog postings from the Confluence Pandavas, so here’s a little something from Richard Freeman’s Yoga Workshop site.

And, yes, it means we already are turning into a food blog. And if there is one thing the world needs more than another yoga blog, it’s another food blog. (I already can picture the book/movie: Steve and Saraswati.)

But Richard’s site does offer healthy, vegetarian recipes on a regular basis, and they have just posted a recipe for a tabouli salad, a definite go-to dish for vegetarians. So, in the interest of being your warehouse for all things Confluence, there you go.

OK, back to the final Shasta packing.

Posted by Steve

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Judging an Ashtanga teacher by the website

Over to the right, you’ll find two lists of websites. One relates directly to the Confluence — the five teachers’ sites, the Confluence home page, the Mysore site and an intro to Ashtanga — and the other is a list of some blogs and sites of note, which we’ll keep adding to as we find new interesting ones. (That’s to help with our goal of being a resource for you — we hope you can come here and get a regular fix of Ashtanga news and information.)

The five Pandavas, with Krishna

It’s worth taking a little bit of time to look at the five teachers’ sites, especially the teachers you may be less familiar with from the … I’m tempted to make a Pandava reference, but I don’t think it quite works.

Obviously, there are storehouses of information at each one. But for the moment, I am going to talk just about a quick glance, a look, if you will, at the “covers” of each.

What I find from the quick look is the following, which in some ways reinforces my impressions of them and in others tears away those preconceived notions:

  • Richard Freeman’s site suggests to me his combination of influences and his joint interest in the practice and the philosophy. There’s also a certain serenity to it (via the bamboo) that corresponds to the way I expect him to be in person.
  • Nancy Gilgoff’s seems more like it is the site of one of the first people to trek into the (then) unknown of India and find Guruji. It is less slick than Freeman’s, and it seems to emphasize her less. It also seems a bit withdrawn, or maybe just that it doesn’t quite invite you in as quickly. I take that to reflect the on-the-edge of America quality to her moving to Maui all those years ago.
  • Tim Miller’s site, of course, is one I’m most familiar with of these teachers. It seems to me to emphasize the lineage to Guruji quite a bit while also being straight-forward — after all, this is his lively and his living: his shala. When he is traveling for weekend workshops, Tim is at his shala — in the tradition of Guruji — and I think his site lays out for you how to come, how to practice, how to get on the mat at the shala. It reflects that he is there, teaching.
  • Eddie Stern’s site, from what I’ve gathered about his shala, picks up the vibe and community that’s there. There aren’t any signs pointing AYNY out; you have to know and want to come. It also stresses the teaching line of Guruji in a very plain and traditional (since that’s the reputation Stern has) way. (A deeper dive, which I’m trying not to do here, on purpose, lets you into Stern’s writings and intellectual interests; but, again, there aren’t any flashing lights leading you that way.) I’m going to be very curious to see what Stern’s “presence” is like.
  • David Swenson’s site is the one that gave me the idea to just quickly glance at each and see what the impression was. His suggests he is everywhere, moving about, spreading the word of Ashtanga yoga. It’s the most market-driven site, fitting his role. It also clearly isn’t tied to a shala, as the other four are. It certainly stands out among them — and I have to imagine that the “Ashtanga Yoga Productions” branding rubs some people the wrong way. But I think he has an important role to play in bringing Ashtanga to the masses.

Those are my quick thoughts, without bringing any real value judgments to the table. Is there one I like the most, one I like the least? Of course. But right now, I’m just interested in how they may, or may not, reflect the teacher behind them — on a purely first-glance, judge the book by the cover, impression.

Do you come away with a different sense of any of the sites or teachers? Are there places I’m off the mark? Do they seem like good reflections of each teacher?

Posted by Steve

Practice and study don’t always have to please you

I’ll admit it: Today’s one of those days when I’m feeling sorry for myself.

Practice was rough, especially after a bad night’s sleep. And work today is not affording my the opportunity to do what I’m desiring (lying on the beach, let’s say).

It’s just one of those days — I’m assuming we’ve all had them — when the after-effects of morning practice leave you a little dazed, a little confused.

I am taking a little solace in Richard Freeman’s last blog post, from July 13. It’s a little bit of switching the context, but for me, today, it helps. He is answering a simple question: What books on yoga should someone read who is just beginning to explore yoga philosophy? He finishes his answer with these words:

Another thought related to this: if a book disturbs you, pleases you, frustrates you, stimulates your mind—these are all important parts of the process of studying yoga philosophy. You don’t have to agree with everything that a book is saying about yoga.

Today, subbing in “your practice” for “a book” and those two sentences become a a bit of welcome solace. Practice did disturb me and frustrate me, as well as stimulate my mind. And I’m not especially agreeing with what it had to tell me.

But that’s an important part of studying yoga. And it was a timely reminder.

Posted by Steve

The dreaded first post

Ekam.

That’s probably as good a way to start this blog as any. It works, after all, for Ashtanga.

I suppose you might be wondering what this blog’s all about, or supposed to be all about.

Well, it’s simple. We’re hoping to be a one-stop shop for all things related, however loosely, to the March 2012 Ashtanga Yoga Confluence, featuring five of the West’s senior students of Shri K. Pattabhi Jois. We’re excited about it, and so we want to be able to keep a running tab of things as the date grows closer.

What’s that mean?

Well, we’ll link to Tim Miller’s weekly blog, Tuesdays with Timji. (Warning: Tim’s our teacher from this handful.) Eddie Stern also blogs, and Richard Freeman’s shala has one, too. We’ll share updates on the Confluence as well as anything that strikes our interest, on the theory that if it interests us, it will interest you.

We’ll try to have some fun, maybe be serious occasionally and work to keep the enthusiasm high.

And all the while we’ll keep our practice going.

Dve.