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.
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.
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