Jois Yoga Encinitas scales back practice hours; just what is the Ashtanga lineage

Jois Yoga Encinitas has just announced a little scale-back to its practice hours.

The morning Mysore, which was six hours, is now five. And the afternoon Mysore, which was three hours and 45 minutes, is down to three and a half hours. And off the schedule for now is Aimee Echo, who is in Mysore. Small changes, indeed.

I figure it is worth noting because this has all the hallmarks of being the root of a wild rumor that would expand into … well, why even suggest it in case someone reads it wrongly.

I do note that the studio there has Mysore practice on Saturdays (these, too, have been trimmed back). I’ll admit to being a little surprised given the traditions surrounding the practice.

Speaking of those traditions, while we were busy working on our Derek Ireland post yesterday, David Garrigues had a guest post up about the Ashtanga lineage. From the piece by Suzanne Faulkner:

Statements such as this one from a blog about mysore style ashtanga yoga, concerning the idea of being a direct part of the lineage….

” I clearly favor the traditional lineage and Sharath Jois but others have found great love for other teachers such as Richard Freeman or Tim Miller.”
the word BUT…. I would ask people studying with Sharath to use the word AND.

This statement somehow, or perhaps directly infers, with the BUT, that to study under Richard Freeman or Tim Miller is to study outside of the traditional lineage. My heart quickens, I feel threatened, undervalued. How could it be okay to have students of Richard and Tim, Nancy, David, David, Christine, David etc… be considered students that are choosing to be not in favor of the traditional lineage of Ashtanga! We are in favor of the traditional lineage of ashtanga yoga, in fact, we ARE the traditional lineage of ashtanga yoga. We are, at the very least, an aspect of the direct lineage!

I saw this one getting shared on Facebook on Wednesday. I’ll just say that this issue of lineage isn’t one we are too worked up about currently. We understand why others are. I think back to something Eddie Stern said at the first Confluence, and which I hope I don’t butcher too much in recalling. Here’s how Bobbie captured it one time:

Eddie Stern said something like this at the Confluence—that it was a remarkable thing that with no formal bureaucracy, no system of distribution or middle management or committees, or even, really a “central authority” that called itself such, the teachings of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois spread with such consistency, and always accompanied with such passion for teaching more.

I think that reflects pretty well our attitude toward the practice’s spread. But Suzanne’s piece is well worth reading, as issues of the lineage still are with us.

Finally, the first of a promised two-parter on Navaratri / Dasara celebrations in Mysore from Tim Miller.

Posted by Steve

 

Get Introduced to Ashtanga by Tim Miller

I’ve often called my teacher Tim Miller “the hardest working man in Ashtanga.”  In addition to teaching expansive two-hour classes—often twice in a row—and arriving early for pranayama every morning before Mysore practice, and performing the Hanuman Chalisa between classes on Tuesday, and having regular concerts on moon days, he also travels frequently, doing weekend workshops all over the country. I’ve often thought this is really his work-around to get in teaching on Saturdays.

Tim, teaching, as usual.
Tim, teaching, as usual.

When I’ve done Tim’s teacher trainings at his home base in Encinitas, one of the things he encourages trainees to do is sit in and observe other classes. By far, my favorite class to observe is his Intro to Ashtanga. I broke that class down in great detail a couple of summers ago (that post is here). I go back and read my notes on that class whenever I’m working with a student new to yoga. It was a great experience.

So I was once again amazed when the AYC sent out an email yesterday saying that this class will now be by donation (as we noted earlier), in the form of “The Box.” From the email announcement:

The Box was in use for many years as the ‘honor system cash register’ at the Ashtanga Yoga Center. It will be put to use in the same capacity for the Monday Intro class.

That’s right. You can be introduced to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga by master teacher Tim Miller. Every Monday at 5:30. For whatever you can afford.

Posted by Bobbie

‘Is Ashtanga Yoga Hatha Yoga or is Patanjali Yoga something quite different?’

A week or so ago, in an email exchange with (name drop) Eddie Stern, I told him that Guy Donahaye’s website is one I check out frequently, except that it had been quiet for quite some time.

No longer.

Guy on Wednesday put up a post that — given Bobbie just talked about our scholarly interests — is one we’ll likely be reading a few times through.

The title is pretty simple: “Ashtanga Yoga is not Hatha Yoga.” Here’s a few bits and pieces to convince you to read it all:

But setting aside the of question of age or origin, we notice that this debate has distracted us from a much more important question:

Is Ashtanga Yoga Hatha Yoga or is Patanjali Yoga something quite different?

[snip]

Most of our vocabulary about yoga comes from the hatha yoga texts – nadis, chakras, kundalini – these are Hatha Yoga concepts. The hatha yogi is pursuing a tantric, ecstatic experience of his physical and subtle body through various practices including asanas, ultimately desiring to free himself from all attachments and merge with higher consciousness.

[snip]

While the hatha yogins pursue ecstasy as the medium of their sadhana, the South Indian tradition which flourished with Krishnamacharya, was focused on an internally focused path towards stilling the mind. Asana in this context is viewed as therapy – preparation for sitting and the internal practices.

That is not even, really, the tip of the iceberg of the post. As the above snippets suggest, it makes a clear and strong distinction between Hatha and Ashtanga yogas — it goes into much greater detail, suggesting ways that Pattabhi Jois approached his Western students, among other topics.

Go check it out. It does make me realize I may have gotten on to the wrong path. I need to do some thinking… where’s this “tantric, ecstatic” stuff?

Posted by Steve

A version of the modern history of Vinyasa Yoga that credits Tim Miller

This one sort of jumps in right as Pattabhi Jois heads to Encinitas, but then backs off to when David Williams, Nancy Gilgoff and Norman Allen (you’ll see in the comments — from someone famous in her own right — that the wrong name for Norman gets corrected) were in South India. It’s a year old, but not too many views.

But it kind of gives Tim Miller the credit:

The hybrid that is lineage, gurus and Ashtanga

As the folks at Yoga Workshop continue rolling out the studio’s revamped website, they’ve posted on Facebook a page on the Ashtanga lineage. It is right here, and obviously it is worth a read. The part that strikes me the most is:

Like all lineages, that at the Yoga Workshop is a hybrid of yoga methodologies and philosophies which converge clearly in the teachings of the early Upanisads and blossom later in the practices of Hatha Yoga and Tantra. The teaching at the Yoga Workshop is in the lineage of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.

There is a handful of topics among Ashtanga practitioners that can engender some heated conversations: lineage is one. I would suspect that there are some for whom the word “hybrid” is repelling. What is hybrid vs. parampara, exactly?

We all, though, are a hybrid, in a sense, our own unique mix of experiences, learning, mistakes, triumphs, losses. (The very fact that unique applies to everyone and everything makes it a word that’s use renders it near meaningless.) And so I think that writing, “Like all lineages” there captures something fundamental that we all, in our own fundamentalism about teachers, lineages, this studio vs. that studio, may have the tendency to forget.

Teachers are supposed to remind us of things we know but have forgotten, right?

Before Yoga Workshop had posted this, I was reading through Eddie Stern’s own write-up of Guruji. A little confluence of thinking out there in the greater aether? Probably not, but if you haven’t checked it out, go here. A tiny bit, a familiar story:

And at one point, Krishnamacharya delivered a lecture while he had Guruji remain in Mayurasana on the other side of the room for half an hour. It was in this way that Guruji believes he became strong and disciplined in his practice, and learned that through correct breathing, mind control, and faith, the benefits and deeper stages of Yoga come automatically. Faith especially for Guruji has long meant that the words of his teacher and those of the Yoga texts are unquestionably true, and are all one needs to follow to attain success in Yoga.

There’s a good sense through Eddie’s writing of the hybrid that was Guruji.

Posted by Steve

Richard Freeman on the origins of Ashtanga Vinyasa

For you yoga history buffs, Richard Freeman has put a little something on line about the origins of Ashtanga Vinyasa and that he agrees largely with Mark Singleton’s tracing of asana’s development.

You’ll have to click this here link to get the whole thing, but to whet your appetite:

Yes. I agree with Mark Singleton that much of the superficial structuring of contemporary yoga practices comes from these various modern, outside influences. However the vinyasa system as taught by Krishnamacharya and the more rigorous patterns taught by Pattabhi Jois are very true to the hatha and tantric yoga traditions. They are precise, direct cultivation of mudra, bandha, central-axis meditation as well as cultivation of meditative mind states using and helped by input from outside sources.

He goes on to point out where some interpretations of what Singleton has written went in the wrong direction.

Posted by Steve