It’s been a tough year for Ashtanga.
2017 ended with the realization that Pattabhi Jois abused his position of power and sexually assaulted numerous female students over many years. Naturally, this has a ripple effect throughout the community leaving numerous students doubting the lineage.
What makes matters worse is a lack of acknowledgement from senior teachers and Sharath Jois at KPJAYI itself. This lack of acknowledgement is damaging to the victims themselves, but also detrimental to the global Ashtanga community. I realize I cannot possibly have all the pieces of the puzzle to know what might inhibit any one person from speaking - I was not there, so who am I to say? I’ll hold back judgment and continue to respect the senior teachers for paving the way for the new generation of yogis.
There have been other smaller incidents as well — one of which being Sharath Jois’s removal of several senior teachers from the official list of those approved by the...
Here’s the truth: Starting an Ashtanga practice is hard. Yoga is often misrepresented as being all happy feelings and pretty asanas, or my personal favorite “relaxing.” But the fact is that getting serious about your practice is a challenging endeavor. The thing is, though, that that’s the case with starting anything new. It makes us feel awkward and frustrated and challenged. Starting something new is a struggle.
A big part of an Ashtanga practice is learning to honor the struggle.
Unfortunately, the struggle is a hard sell. Yoga is sold as a feel-good, relaxing experience, when the truth is that a daily Ashtanga practice will make you work. There will be a lot of difficult steps along the way and there will probably be days that you don’t want to practice.
The benefits of an Ashtanga practice, though, far outweigh the struggles that they grow from. If you engage wholeheartedly, your practice will change you – first it will change your...
I had the big honor of assisting Tim in his Mysore room last week last week. Luckily, I've had plenty of time to think about how I believe assistants should serve in the Mysore after working with my own assistants for many years. So, I thought I would share some of my personal guidelines for assisting while it was fresh on my mind. These are some lessons that I’ve taught to my own assistants, as well as what I let guide me while assisting Tim.
First off, I tried to teach like I’ve learned from Tim. He always influences me, of course, but I do think it’s especially important to honor his teachings when I am teaching in his room. So I don’t go into his Mysore room and teach like anyone else. I just do my best to emulate Tim’s style and philosophy while still bringing myself.
I made sure to introduce myself to as many students as I could. I always ask students' names and try my hardest to remember them - I think this is important when working with...
This is a blog post about change. In Buddhism, change is pretty much at the core of everything - grappling with change and impermanence is crucial to working toward the alleviation of one’s suffering. Well, after many years, the time has come for me to grow in new ways, and I will be making the big change of moving from DC to Encinitas, CA.
I’ve spent my entire adult life as a yoga teacher. I’ve created and built a Mysore program I am proud of. I’ve invested in studying and spent hours and days and months traveling to study in India, Boulder, and Encinitas. I’ve woken exhausted, practiced alone in the dark, and learned more from my students than I could ever have taught them. I’ve rejoiced in the breakthroughs of others more, I think, than I have in my own. I’ve strategized and deliberated on how to build community and inspire others. And most importantly, I’ve shown up. Again, and again, and again, In my teaching, in my...
The more I teach the more I realize the importance of finding where each person's body can balance the best.
The body is divided into front and back AND left and right. The midline, or central axis runs down our body, it is commonly thought of as the spine. I believe that in our yoga practice we can feel the midline all the way from our arches to the crown of our heads. Or - we want to be able to feel it so that we can move from it!
The midline will change depending on what we are doing. If we are able to find and hug the midline in various yoga asanas we will find stability, strength, and ultimately balance.
I love the visualization of a rolling pin rolling you down from a seated position to a lying position. Give it a try at home and feel the deep core engagement as well as the spinal articulation.
Now - try to use these same principles but turned around - in ubhya padangusthasana and other poses at the end of primary.
I’m often asked why I do what I do, but I never question it. I know that yoga has always been my path. And even though I don’t know where it will lead, I’m sure I’ll find out.
Yoga is all about making connections. It starts in our very first class when we connect our breath and our movement, and it develops as we try to connect our bodies and minds, our muscles and bones, our front sides to our backs. We connect our postures with vinyasas, and we connect advanced postures to foundational ones. We connect to our environment, the universe, and maybe, the divine.
What’s more, we eventually start to connect what we learn on the mat to the rest of our lives. Our fears and aversions in practice are mirrors of our fears and aversions away from the mat. The practice becomes a metaphor for life and an important way to know ourselves more intimately. The journey is the destination – this is more than just some meaningless bit of motivation. When we’re...
It’s been an exciting week in the Mysore room – so many of you have had major breakthroughs in your practices. It’s such an inspiration to see all of your months and years of practice pay off, and I’m so happy to be your cheerleader on the sidelines.
Without a doubt, breakthroughs in the practice are exhilarating. The process of the impossible becoming possible and then the possible becoming easy, keeps us coming back to our mats. The countless practices, the near misses, the falls, the frustration from finger tips that are always just out of reach – it all pays off when the landing, the catch, the drop back, the standing, the whatever becomes a reality.
As much as I hate to admit it, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve had a big breakthrough in my own practice. And, of course, this can be frustrating and humbling, but I don’t take the easy way out. I keep getting on the mat, and I constantly remind myself that there is no such...