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

Mercury day poetry: The Selfish Giant (plus Eddie Stern and Mark Singleton)

Bobbie’s going to kick my asana, because today I’m stretching the definition of poetry a bit … too … far.

This is absolutely a short story. But it’s still got a poet’s touch, that poet (and playwright) being Oscar Wilde. The story is called, “The Selfish Giant.”

Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant’s garden.

It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the spring-time broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. ‘How happy we are here!’ they cried to each other.

One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed with him for seven years. After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle. When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden.

‘What are you doing here?’ he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.

‘My own garden is my own garden,’ said the Giant; ‘any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.’ So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board.

You’ll have to follow this link to find out what happens.

There’s a reason I picked a Wilde story — it’s a nice tie-in to Eddie Stern’s last blog post, which is really his sister’s reflections on another Wilde piece. Take a look.

I have no good tie-in for this, but I also saw that Mark Singleton — whose kickstarter campaign we highlighted — is speaking later this month on Bowen Island, near Vancouver. The talk is titled, “Are Yoga Poses Ancient History?” A few things he says are worth passing on:

Asked what we can learn about yoga through a lecture, Singleton replied, “The question implies that we know what ‘it’ is. Yoga as it is popularly practiced has changed incredibly over the past 150 years. Often what we do in the name of yoga today bears little resemblance to more traditional practices. Historical study of the development of yoga, and its recent past, can tell us a lot about what it is that we practice. In turn, this can help show us other possibilities for practice. It seems to me that the “West” has received a very thin slice of the yoga pie.”

Sounds pretty close to his kickstarter-funded project. It’s OK with me if part of our backing goes to a cup of coffee while he’s there! And I like to think the yoga pie is coconut cream.

Finally, I should note that my headline is not meant to imply that Eddie or Mark are selfish giants!

Posted by Steve