Imagine if you were fully awake…

You’ll have to imagine, also, that you have an hour or so to do the imagining.

Here’s a link to a recent talk on the topic by Richard Freeman. The summary:

A look at the methodology of internal breath (Prana) within Hatha Yoga in which breathing patterns are revealed as a foundation for communication, understanding and imagination—a means of freeing the intelligence. The talk includes detailed explanations of the five forms of Prana: prana, apana, samana, udana and vyana as well as an exploration of the Ashtanga Yoga Invocation and the Shanti Path Saha Navavatu.

I’ve only been able to listen to bits and pieces so far, but I’m struck — for whatever reason — that at times during this talk his delivery and tone reminds of Tim Miller. Probably I’m just projecting. I’m also struck by all the wisdom, but that likely can go without saying.

Posted by Steve

Bid for a chance to study with Richard Freeman at his 5-Day Essentials Immersion

A few weeks back we mentioned that Richard Freeman has a five-day immersion class coming up early next year.

Wouldn’t you know it, it filled up. Surprise!

But there’s still a chance.

You can bid for a spot as part of the seventh annual Shambhala Sun Foundation auction. Details right here and the opening bid is at $300. It has a value of $500 — so that’s a deal right now.

If you need it, here’s a reminder of what the Essentials course is all about:

This 5-day intensive will help to fill in some of these gaps. In the morning sessions we will ground our study with an in depth exploration of the internal patterns of breath and alignment found in the Primary Series of the Ashtanga Vinyasa system. In the afternoons there will be an introduction to Sanskrit chanting, an introduction to the internal pleasures of pranayama and a comprehensive overview of the foundational philosophies which form the context for yoga practice. We will read and discuss the Kena and the Katha Upanishads, selections from the Yoga Sutras and then learn to appreciate the plurality of approaches to yoga through an introduction to the Bhagavad Gita.


And another reminder (we’re full of them today): Registration for next summer’s month-long training at the Yoga Workshop is Wednesday.

And because we’re talking donations, I should note that this month, Tim Miller is donating all the proceeds from his Monday night donation-only Intro to Ashtanga class at the Ashtanga Yoga Center — if you’re down San Diego way.


Posted by Steve


What’s the deal with the ‘Yoga Ruins Your Life’ video

Chances are you’ve seen the new Richard Freeman video in which he discusses a topic I’ve seen him be on the record about before: How yoga ruins your life. If you haven’t, you can find it at this link (I can’t get the Vimeo to embed).

What you may not have realized is two-fold:

  • The video is tied to a “Yoga Ruins Your Life” Ashtanga yoga demo, which is taking place at Freeman’s Yoga Workshop on Sept. 7. Details right here.
  • It also seems loosely tied to a revamp of the Yoga Workshop website. Main link right here. I’d call it a streamlining of things, including organizing features such as the “Ask the Experts” into a blog format. It still has all the tremendous resources. I also saw this reminder: “Remember five minutes of practice is far better than none.” Indeed.

By the way, of you checked the stats, the video has had about 8,000 views the past two days, With no science behind this statement, I will say that that seems to be about what Ashtanga-related posts and videos do over 48 or so hours when they get spread pretty widely. You’ll notice the new videos of Sharath do about that; our most popular posts have been right in that range. So it may mean there are 10,000 or so really dedicated Ashtanga students online. Just a thought.

On a separate topic, two things related to the whole Ashtanga in schools story. One, there was a HuffPost Live feature on the topic that included the lawyer for the opponents to the program in Encinitas. See it here if you like. One thing that I think is wrong is the accompanying text says that the lawyer, Dean Broyles, has appealed the judge’s decision that yoga is OK in schools. I haven’t seen that anywhere, including at the website for NCLP. The second item is that CNN has done a piece on this issue. It also has some facts wrong (including that the lawsuit was filed this summer, when we all know it was months and months ago). But if you care, check it out here (that’s a local TV station’s link).

Update: Maybe a little design change, too, at Ashtanga Yoga New York. Or is it just my browser?

Posted by Steve

Spring Equinox: time again for 108 Sun Salutations

On New Year’s Day, Bobbie and I were — of course — in India.

And we celebrating, at my insistence I suspect, by running through 108 Sun Salutations. (Thanks to all the Ashtanga practitioners for looking the other way!)


I know it was the effect of all the temple visits, darshan and satsang, but that practice was the single more energetic one of my life.

Let me explain what I mean.

I mean that I really felt the energy moving through my body, enlivening … well, everything. It felt like you hear it described: a current of energy; a palpable tingling and pulsating; moving breath.

Prana, in other words.

When I think about how Tim Miller describes his first Ashtanga class, and how we found a familiar place he’d not been to in a long time, and that it is a feeling he’s continually sought since, I imagine it was something akin to what I experienced on this past New Year’s Day.

(Remarkably, as I write this is the first time I put those two experiences together. That’s going to take some time to digest.)

Wednesday is the Spring Equinox, a traditional opportunity to bang out the 108 Sun Salutes practice. (Some people take a quick breather after each “set” of 27. It’s a good way to manage the counting.) They’re doing it at Richard Freeman’s Yoga Workshop. There you learn:

Why 108? Many cultures have viewed 108 as a sacred number, symbolizing the wholeness of existence. Mathematically, 108 has many unique properties. The number has astronomical significance as well: the diameter of the earth is approximately 108 times the distance to the sun. 108 beads make a traditional prayer mala. So join us as we salute the sun 108 times to usher in the Spring!

[Update: I think the astronomical significance meant there is that the average distance between the earth and sun is 108 times the diameter of the sun, not the earth; it is about the same regarding the moon, in that the distance between the earth and moon is about 108 times the moon’s diameter. Finally, the sun’s diameter is about 108 times greater than the earth’s. Thanks for the head’s up from a reader. Here’s one of many links on 108.]

I’ll be getting up Wednesday morning and doing this practice once again. I don’t expect I’ll have the same experience I did in India three months ago, but you never know.

It’s that not knowing what will happen, in part, that keeps bringing us back, right?

Posted by Steve

The single, funniest moment of the Confluence

At the first Ashtanga Yoga Confluence, Tim Miller proved to be the dark horse who produced the single funniest moment in 2012. From that coverage: “Tim also got the biggest laugh of the Confluence, but it just won’t translate here.”

This year, the front-runner for funniest teacher gets the award: David Swenson.

David mixes humor into his teaching at this point like breath itself. Bobbie always says he seems very much like the Texan he is, and this is part of the reason why. It also is part of his remarkable charm.

At one point during the final panel, at which point everyone was pretty loosened up and the mood overall was the lightest and most hilarious, David talked about what yoga needs.

It needs, he said, a Star magazine to bring everyone back to earth. And he meant the whole thing paparazzi / TMZ thing. You know, with photographers with telephotos lenses: “Sharon Gannon and David Life eat chili dogs!”; or headlines like “Richard Freeman — from Mars!” (Quotes are him.)

It had all the teachers in front of us rolling around laughing. And everyone in the audience, too.

Posted by Steve

Terrific video of Guruji, Richard Freeman chanting Ashtanga’s opening prayer

Since our last post, rightly, pointed all of us in a bit of an inward direction (i.e. yoga isn’t just exercise), I thought this video — not new, but, as they say, new to me! — might be a nice continuation.

It’s Guruji and Richard Freeman chanting. At about the 2:20 mark they get to the Ashtanga opening chant. And then they follow with the general teacher/student may we all succeed in our studies chant (that’s my round-up of it).

It probably is the clearest I’ve heard Guruji captured chanting. And so that means it’s wonderful.

It’s got 11,000 views so maybe you’ve seen it. But then again, it only has 11,000 views, so you probably haven’t!

Somehow it makes me very impatient for the opening ceremony at the Confluence.

Posted by Steve

A hidden gem of an Ashtanga resource

At some point during the week, the Facebook feed for Richard Freeman’s Yoga Workshop posted a link to its “What is Mysore?” explanation.

It got shared, as these things, do, and for good reason.

But there was something more, something deeper that was the real find: the page’s full Mysore FAQ.

Here’s how you find it, if you haven’t seen it.

Under the main page’s “Schedule” link is another link, “About Mysore.” It starts with the usual “Boy, am I sore” joke, but the real hidden and buried gems are when you expand  the “More Mysore FAQ” bar. Get ready to spend some time reading.

Maybe during the Super Bowl today?

Because injuries have been a topic here recently, to give you a sense of what you’ll encounter, just one of the FAQs:

i’ve heard assists in mysore class can be extreme. is this true and what if i have an injury, will i get injured through an assist?

Assists in yoga are intended to help educate the practitioner about correct alignment and form so they may embody the more subtle internal aspects of the practice. Sometimes assists can be aimed at giving the student a physical experience of what a posture might feel like or how to work towards being able to do the posture. Verbal assists give the student a more clear understanding of the form or the benefits of the pose. Some assists might seem extreme while others are very subtle. Teachers at the Yoga Workshop always work with students where they’re at and we do not push people beyond their limit. Self practice is a way for student and teacher to work in concert together, but ultimately in self practice, it is your practice. So please, if you have an injury, be certain to tell the teacher. Poses and assists can always be modified to accommodate an injury and to facilitate healing.

Posted by Steve