‘Ashtanga Yoga can be taught to anyone by an experienced and sensitive teacher’

New interview with Danny Paradise has popped up out of Italy. Complete transcription is here, and a brief excerpt:

I aim to spend as much time as possible in Nature. When I can be immersed in Nature for long periods of time my life force increases and that makes it easier for me to travel, explore new regions as well as teach. The general urban contemporary lifestyle is not something I spend a lot of time in. I encourage people to spend more time in Nature. At the same time there are tremendously talented people living in Urban zones. There are huge new Communities of people learning Yoga and changing their lifestyle in a positive way to meet the challenge of growing older with vitality, clarity, health and creativity. After all, if we are creating this dream we all have to begin to work together in compassion and clarity to clean up the mess that is happening all around us. The big cities are toxic in many ways with tremendous pollution, stress, anxiety and fear…All these elements shorten life.

I pulled from a part less focused on Ashtanga, but he does address that plenty. (Our past posts on Danny are here.)

Posted by Steve

Danny Paradise: ‘I consider yoga the science of strength’

After happening upon the video of Danny Paradise last week, I felt compelled to check out his website and see if there’s anything new there.

There is. Sort of. I hadn’t checked in a while, so this piece from the German Yoga Journal dates to July 2014. But I haven’t seen it floating around anywhere, so check it out if you want. Here’s a taste:

To me the essence of Yoga is personal responsibility and personal authority. So once these practices are learned they help nurture independence, freedom and evolution. The practices become a personal, private exploration without the necessity of a guru, a priest or a medium to connect with our soul and Spirit. Through these ancestral gifts of these teachings people can reconnect with their soul and the ‘Great Soul’. They can become Masters of their dream…unsealing their hidden instructions and creating and fulfilling life purpose. The practices also show people how to age with vitality, grace and acceptance. Doing a regular Yoga practice can add decades of active energy onto a person’s life. Through learnng to be fearless as well as learning that the Spirit is Love we can also understand how to approach transition in clarity, peace, tranquility and grace.

I consider Yoga the science of strength, the science of flexibility, the science of balance..the science of healing, breath, meditation, happiness, aging and the science of peace…I try to pass all these ideas on when I teach.

Since I was doing the 2015 schedules this last week, here’s a link to his 2015 calendar.

Posted by Steve

‘Astanga opened the door to much deeper aspects of strengthening and healing’

Danny Paradise is sort of like David Swenson: a wandering carrier of the Ashtanga flame. I suppose you could argue that Danny’s less of an Ashtanga purist — I suppose some would argue the same about David, compared to other senior Western teachers — but that does not lessen the impact his traveling shaman show has had.

Bobbie and I spent one class in a Paradise workshop — it helped me a lot at the time with pranayama — in Los Angeles a few years ago. It is undoubtedly a different limb of the Ashtanga tree, probably more connected with the part of the tree where you’d find David Williams but farther from Tim Miller and Eddie Stern and others.

Perhaps Nancy Gilgoff bridges both.

I don’t know, that’s my crazy idea of the Ashtanga modern lineage. It doesn’t matter too much. What does is that there’s a new and lengthy interview with Paradise at o.canada.com / MMA Crossfire. (If you are thinking, “MMA,” you are thinking correctly. That MMA.) A few excerpts:

MMA Crossfire: Talk about the resurgence of Yoga.

Danny Paradise:  Well these are ancient practices that are designed to show people how to age with energy, vitality. How to empower themselves, how to heal. Some of the most powerful tools are healing and developing vitality. Yoga’s really an exploration of the soul. It’s soulwork. You come into it as a physical exercise, perhaps. Most people enter into it as a physical exploration but it has very powerful implications for the spirit and the soul. So I’m not surprised there is a surge of interest. It’s designed for the human race. It’s kind of taken world by storm in the last twenty years or so but that’s because it’s so effective and transforming when it’s taught properly.

[snip]

MMA Crossfire: What is the difference between your brand of Yoga and the conventional Yoga we see everywhere?

Danny Paradise: Well, I originally studied Astanga Yoga, which is considered the most concentrated aspect of the physical practices of Yoga. You could say that…When I was first teaching, Yoga was a much lighter exploration. People would so simple poses and then they’d rest between and do another pose and then take a rest. But with the introduction with Astanga Yoga, a lot of young people got the idea that this was a very deep healing form that helped people raise heat and develop deep levels of flexibility, strength, and balance. After a number of years of Astanga Yoga being introduced in the West, different teachers added their own ideas to the practices and created complimentary practices that spread all over the world based on an evolutionary idea. Just people adding their own ideas. A lot of the forms being taught now, like things that are called Power Yoga, Flow Yoga, many other forms… all are rooted in Astanga Yoga. All those teachers that created those different forms and most of the forms that have become popular around the world today are rooted in explorations of Astanga Yoga, that opened the door to much deeper aspects of strengthening and healing. It all comes from a revolutionary teacher from the last century in India by the name of [Sri Tirumalai] Krishnamacharya He taught several teachers, including Iyengar and K. Patabbhi Jois. Then, he taught his own son [Sivananda]Desikar.Those three teachers have spread the forms of Krishnamacharya, including Astanga Yoga. It was through those three Indian teachers that really have allowed the teachings to spread all over the world. It was basically through two Westerners that came to study with K. Patabbhi Jois in the early 1970s: David Williams and Nancy Gilgoff. They were the first Westerners that really became adept at the forms of Astanga Yoga and then brought them back to the West in the early 70s, from 1973. So, that was the doorway. That led to this surge of interest in Yoga the last 40 years.

[snip]

MMA Crossfire:  What about the financial aspect of Yoga? I’m thinking of the clothing companyLuLulemon.

Danny Paradise: I think it’s all good. It drives Yoga and helps increases people’s interest. Even though it may be an odd combination because Yoga’s really about anti-materialism, bit people recognize through the practice of course, that they need very little to maintain their health and be happy. But at the same time, if fashion draws people into Yoga and helps feel comfortable in what they’re doing and exploring and makes it even more part of the popular culture, I think it’s great.

There’s lots more: mention of Sting, Madonna and John McEnroe. And, of course, shamanism. Give it a look.

Posted by Steve

Breathing in paradise, er… with Paradise

A few years ago, Bobbie and I had the opportunity to practice with Danny Paradise, another one of the very first generation Western Ashtanga practitioners.

Danny’s certainly not your traditional, by-the-book Ashtangi. (I think of him as being Hawaiian-based, so unless I’m wrong, he isn’t listed at the Mysore website as one of its authorized/certified teachers.) He’s studied many styles and may be most known for bringing in Egyptian yoga to his teaching.

At least, that’s how I think of him. Well, partially — I also think of him as the guy who really made pranayama “click” for me. (Tim Miller’s made it stick, I think, although I don’t get enough change to practice it. And David Swenson is terrific as a pranayama teacher, too.)

And when that “click” happened, I was still early in my Ashtanga practice. This was months before I first went to Mt. Shasta with Tim, for instance. And just a couple of months after taking a day’s workshop with Swenson.

So here, for those of you with half an hour to kill, is some great footage of Danny teaching pranayama. I highly recommend attending at least one workshop with him. He’s an open person with a big heart and, I think, he represents one of the handful (or so…?) lines of Ashtanga / Yoga in the West.

Note: We heard from Danny; apparently the video we’d seen was supposed to be private to whomever filmed it. I’ll pulling it down; not sure if it still is floating around as a “public” Youtube vid. Thanks for understanding!

Posted by Steve