Yoga is a vast subject which has been researched over many thousans of years. There are many different branches of Yoga, all essentially have the same purpose, to achieve a stable balance between the mind and the body, and to become aware our true nature.
Sri T. Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois are the two main proponents of this system. The story goes Krishnamacharya learned this system of yoga from Ramamohan Brahmachari in the Himalayan moutains of Nepal. He spent seven and a half years studying with Brachmachari. After curing the Maharaja of Mysore of his ailments, Krishnamacharya was hired to teach the royal family yoga and was given the wing of a nearby palace to set up a Yogashala or yoga school. It’s at this Yogashala that Krishnamachraya met Pattabhi Jois. At 12 years of age, Pattabhi Jois became a student of Krishnamacharya, and studied with him for over 30 years. Krishnamacharya taught Jois the Ashtanga system. Jois settled in Mysore with a family, and set up a small yoga studio in the basement of his house. He taught here for many years, teaching locals and healing the sick. It wasn’t until the late sixties that westerners discovered Jois and ashtanga became popularised in the west.
Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois is a practice of mindfulness guided by conscious breathing. A string of intelligently sequenced asanas are learned and practiced over time to assist in removing the layers of conditioned existence which hinder us from embracing the truth of who we are. Most of the classes I teach on an ongoing basis are Mysore-Style Ashtanga, a class closely modeled upon Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ teaching method as historically practiced by him, his daughter Saraswati and his grandson Sharath at their Ashtanga Research Institute in Mysore, South India. This is a teacher assisted class where students go at their own pace with practices of varying lengths and levels, beginning, intermediate and advanced. It allows students to go deeply into their own experience of the practice while still maintaining the essential and reassuring experience of a close relationship with a teacher. Following the guidance of Jois’ own guru, the renowned Krishnamacharya, this style allows us to engage students in a one-on-one physical and verbal dialogue. At the same time, both teacher and student can enjoy the collective sharing and intimacy of a group of people gathering to practice yoga together, certainly one of the finer things in life.
The method, a refinement of the results of millennia of profound action by yogis in India, is designed to systematically clear blockages, build strength and tune undeveloped areas in the physical body; over time, this kinesthetic work practiced in the body begins to replicate itself at the level of mind, clearing blockages, building strength, tuning. Regular practice sustained over time is absolutely necessary to achieve these goals, and to overcome stumbling blocks encountered along the way, yet the system is so potent that practitioners feel changes after a single practice. Krishnamacharya, and in turn Pattabhi Jois, have regularly emphasized the quest for personal health as an essential part of yogic activity. The body becomes strong and beautiful; the nervous system awakens, heals and feels with fuller precision; pathology in the body and mind is revealed and cleared; immaturity in the body and mind is revealed and exposed to both evolutionary rigor and the love which is purified attention; pleasant gifts along the path of the greater work of steadily deepening and expanding the capacity for attention and applying it towards the work of enlightening the body and mind, allowing increasingly constant access to collective soul and collective spirit. Traditionally, the practitioner engages the system six days a week, taking breaks when the moon is full or new. I have taken on the full rigor of this path and offer to teach it to those who so desire. If you’re willing to come and work, I’d love to share it with you.