Would real yoga governance mean shutting down most teacher trainings?

One piece to this story about how England — like virtually everywhere else — lacks real oversight of yoga instruction and training caught my eye:

The BWY is the official governing body for England, appointed by Sports England, but this fancy title comes with no power, only recognition amongst those in the know.

If Paul had the power to go into training institutions around the county he said he would likely close 75% of them down.

That’s a pretty strong indictment, albeit from someone who’d stand to benefit from getting more power to approve or disapprove of teacher trainings.

Beyond that the story touches on mostly familiar territory.

On the opposite end of the yoga spectrum, the Washington Post has a series of pretty wonderful photos of Himalayan holy men in yoga poses. Click here.

Posted by Steve

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A quick history of modern yoga

Tied to the International Day of Yoga, this piece runs through the modern history of yoga pretty succinctly. Maybe a not-so bad read for a holiday (here in America, at least). It includes what I might argue are our yoga lineages, both Pattabhi Jois and Vishnu-devananda:

The modern revival of yoga can be traced to T. Krishnamacharya, who started teaching it from Mysore in 1924. Among his students prominent in popularizing yoga in the West were B.K.S. Iyengar (Iyengar Yoga) and K. Pattabhi Jois (Viniyasa Yoga). Another major stream of influence within India and and abroad has been Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh and his equally formidable disciples including Swami Vishnu-devananda (Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers), Swami Satyananda (Bihar School of Yoga) and Swami Satchidananda (Integral Yoga). In India lately, Baba Ramdev has taken his yoga-pranayama mix for curing ailments to every nook and corner of the country.

Yoga also received a fillip with the introduction of Indian spirituality to the West starting with Swami Vivekananda’s iconic address to the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893 in Chicago. Followed meditation movements of Yogananda Paramahamsa (‘Autobiography of a Yogi’; fame), TM guru Maharishi Mahesh Yoga, Swami Muktananda, Osho Rajneesh, Yogi Bhajan, and more recently Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. These too had a yoga component.

It gets to the question of whether yoga these days is just exercise.

Posted by Steve

Richard Freeman video: On yoga, Emerson, Pattabhi Jois and practicing

Here’s a good watch for a day off tomorrow (or today, since you’re already practiced, right?):

To get you to watch:

Richard Freeman shares his thoughts on yoga – from his first awareness of early yogic philosophies written about by Thoreau and Emerson to his journey of being a student of Pattabhi Jois and then eventually becoming a teacher to others. Richard reminds us that yoga is all about waking up and seeing how the mind works – and that though we may fall off the path many times a day, if we practice enough, we see what is not conducive to our happiness or the happiness of others. Yoga allows for the natural push and pull of true awakening. It is about gradually falling in love with life, with immediate experience, with reality as it is. Yoga helps you realize that you make yourself happy by making other people happy and that you make yourself sad by focusing on making only yourself happy. Ultimately, Richard finds yoga to be a powerful tool that helps us be nicer to each other.

That about covers it, but I should also add that Richard is taking part in a fundraiser for the Nepal earthquake victims. It’s Tuesday. Info here.

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Doing time, even if we’re innocent

Another must-read from Tim Miller this week:

Last week I received a letter from a man named Tony Egbuna Ford.  Tony wrote, “I am on Texas Death Row, and I have been doing Ashtanga Yoga for well over a year.  I am pretty proficient with the Primary series and have no problem doing any of the sequences with vinyasa.  However, I’m ‘stuck’ as I wish to find literature not only so that I can enrich myself with Ashtanga Yoga knowledge, but also so that I can begin to practice Intermediate series onto the Advanced.  Here on death row there is a ‘yoga movement’!  And now, since people have been seeing me do Ashtanga Yoga, especially the vinyasa sequences, people have been inspired to take up the Ashtanga Yoga path!”  I was blown away by Tony’s letter and mailed him a copy of Gregor Maehle’s book on the Intermediate Series the next day.

Here’s where it gets really interesting:

Tony was convicted of murder on the basis of these “eye witness” accounts and sentenced to the death penalty.  No physical evidence linked Tony to the crime and bullets consistent with those used in the crime were found at the Belton’s house.  Victor Belton’s clothing, which was seized at the time of his arrest, had numerous bloodstains on it, but was never tested.  According to the court reporter, during Tony’s trial the prosecuting attorney asked the Murillo’s, who were seeing Tony in person for the first time, if he was, indeed, the shooter.  They looked at each other, shrugged, and said “maybe.”

Find out what Tony’s accomplished during 20-plus years in prison by clicking on the link above. And don’t forget about Robbie Norris’ great work in the Richmond City Jail.

Posted by Steve

Ashtanga Yoga New York opening outpost in someplace called Brooklyn

As we’ve happily reported, Ashtanga Yoga New York — and the Broome St. Temple — aren’t moving any time soon — at least until fall. But AYNY is branching out:

Rumor has it, we are moving to Brooklyn… well, the rumor happens to be true. We’ll be opening a small school in Clinton Hill, to be called the Brooklyn Yoga Club: ground floor yoga and meditation rooms, 1st floor library, coffee/tea/juice and light food service, communal tables and a 1,000 sq ft outdoor deck. Our new address is 206 Vanderbilt Ave., and we should be open in late summer. Manhattanites, have no fear, we’ll still keep our school in the city even after Broome St. closes on September 30th. However, the Yoga Club is just one stop into Brooklyn on the B, Q and R trains (well, 2 stops on the R). And then a short walk. The walk will be worth it for the steam room we’re putting in.

I hear there is a Yoga for Fixies class coming, based on some of the SUP Yoga principles.

I kid. But now that I think about it, I’m going to start working on a trademark for that.

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More good yoga from Richmond and David Swenson

Robbie Norris has highlighted another of the students in the Richmond City Jail — and as always, it is worth a read. Click here.

That story is compelling — how Ashtanga has helped curb a breathing problem. But I also was struck by this:

And thank you, David Swenson, for continuing to send yoga mats and “spineless” Ashtanga Yoga Practice Manuals.  Because hardcover books are not allowed, David sends manuals with the plastic spiral spine removed, so the pages can be tied together like this:

Awesome.

You’ll have to click to see the pic, as well as a photo of the letter from the student.

Posted by Steve