November 1, 2010 § Leave a comment
Eddie Stern has provided an excellent biography of Guruji on the Ashtanga Yoga New York website: http://ayny.org/sri-k-pattabhi-jois, and another informative article at: http://ayny.org/hoysala-brahmin.html.
November 1, 2010 § Leave a comment
Here is a definition of Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Sri K Pattabhi Jois (Guruji) compiled by Annie Pace and approved by Guruji. It can be found at http://www.ashtanga.com/html/AYarticle.html
Ashtanga Yoga in the Tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
By Annie Grover Pace
Yoga is a philosophy of life, which also has the potential to create a vibrantly healthy body and mind.
Ashtanga Yoga, practiced in its correct sequential order, gradually leads the practitioner to rediscovering his or her fullest potential on all levels of human consciousness—physical, psychological, and spiritual. Through this practice of correct breathing (Ujjayi Pranayama), postures (asanas), and gazing point (driste), we gain control of the senses and a deep awareness of our selves. By maintaining this discipline with regularity and devotion, one acquires steadiness of body and mind.
“Ashtanga” literally means eight limbs. They are described by Patanjali as: Yama (abstinences), Niyama (observances), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (contemplation). These branches support each other. Asana practice must be established for proper practice of pranayama and is a key to the development of the yamas and niyamas. Once these four externally oriented limbs are firmly rooted, the last four internally oriented limbs will spontaneously evolve over time.
“Vinyasa” means breath-synchronized movement. The breath is the heart of this discipline and links asana to asana in a precise order. By synchronizing movement with breathing and practicing Mula and Uddiyana Bandhas (locks), an intense internal heat is produced. This heat purifies muscles and organs, expelling unwanted toxins as well as releasing beneficial hormones and minerals, which can nourish the body when the sweat is massaged back into the skin. The breath regulates the vinyasa and ensures efficient circulation of blood. The result is a light, strong body.
There are three groups of sequences in the Ashtanga system. The Primary Series (Yoga Chikitsa) detoxifies and aligns the body. The Intermediate Series (Nadi Shodhana) purifies the nervous system by opening and clearing the energy channels. The Advanced Series A, B, C, and D (Sthira Bhaga) integrate the strength and grace of the practice, requiring higher levels of flexibility and humility.
Each level is to be fully developed before proceeding to the next, and the sequential order of asanas is to be meticulously followed. Each posture is a preparation for the next, developing the strength and balance required to move further.
BREATH: The continuity of deep, even breathing cannot be overemphasized in the Ashtanga Yoga system. When breath feeds action, and action feeds posture, each movement becomes gentle, precise, and perfectly steady.
According to the teachings of Sri T. Krishnamacharya and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, “Breath is Life.” Breathing is our most fundamental and vital act and holds a divine essence: exhalation a movement towards God, and inhalation an inspiration from God. Our last action in life is to exhale, which, in essence, is the final and total surrender to God.
PRACTICE: It is said that where there is no effort there is no benefit. Strength, stamina and sweat are unique aspects of this traditional Yoga, seemingly contrary to Western perceptions of Yoga. This demanding practice requires considerable effort and taps into and circulates a vital energy throughout the body, strengthening and purifying the nervous system. The mind then becomes lucid, clear and precise; and according to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, “Wherever you look you will see God.” Only through practice will we realize the truth of what our guru often says:
“Everything is God.”
Please note the importance of learning the Ashtanga method only from a traditionally trained teacher. Only a qualified teacher can provide the necessary guidance to assure safe, steady progress without injury to body or mind!
© This information has been generously provided with the approval of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Please honor its authenticity and distribute only in unaltered form. http://kpjayi.org
September 18, 2010 § 3 Comments
In 1997 I found myself in my first ashtanga yoga class, taught by Danny Paradise. This was a powerful experience, and, inspired by a week of classes with Danny, I started a regular practice of ashtanga yoga.
In July 2000 I met Guruji, Saraswati and Sharath for the first time in Lille, France. Six months later I was on my way to India for the first of what would be many long trips. Until last year I spent more than half of each year in India.
India gave me the time and space to practice at the shala in Mysore for long periods, as well as studying yoga philosophy with Acarya Sankaranarayana Jois in Mysore. It was also in India that I started a vipassana meditation practice (in 2001 at the Goenka centre in Hyderabad, http://www.dhamma.org). More recently I have been practicing with Sayadaw U Tejaniya at Shwe Oo Min monastery, Myanmar, http://sayadawutejaniya.org. All these teachers have influenced my practice and teaching.
In 2002 I was very lucky to spend some time assisting Hamish Hendry at Ashtanga Yoga London and I am extremely grateful to Anna and Hamish for this opportunity. In 2004 I received Sri K Pattabhi Jois’s blessing and authorization to teach.
In June 2010 I attended the Level 2 Training in Mysore with Sharath. I am authorized by KPJAYI to teach both primary and intermediate series, and in October 2011 I had the honour of assisting Sharath in the Mysore shala.
Over the past ten years I have taught classes, workshops and private lessons all over Europe and south east Asia. I am now based in Oxford.
In teaching I aim to honour the essence of what has been taught to me while considering the individual needs of each student. As an instructor of yoga asana I feel it is important to remember that it is the student’s own practice that is the real teacher. I feel very blessed to be able to share what I know with other yoga students.
I will always be grateful to the above-mentioned teachers, and offer my thanks to them, particularly to Guruji, Saraswati and Sharath whose dedication to maintaining and teaching this tradition of yoga is truly humbling. Other teachers to whom I offer my heartfelt thanks are Lino Miele, Gwendoline Hunt, Paddy McGrath, Mariella de Martini, Rolf Naujokat, Ramesh Balsekar. And, of course, all my students…
… Much love and big thanks also to my family. And, finally, pranams at the feet of Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba.