August 30, 2012

Jois Ashtanga Encinitas Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary.

Shay Dewey

Jois Ashtanga Encinitas just celebrated their two-year anniversary with a huge party on Wednesday August 15, 2012.

They provided food and entertainment with Odissi dancer Shalina Patnaik, music with Arun Ramamurthi and Raamkumar Balamurthi and Sanjeev Verma, Vedic Astrologer gave a lecture on karma and moksha.

I wanted to go to the second anniversary party to see the Odissi dancing, Indian music and to hear the guest speaker, a renowned Vedic Astrologer Sanjeev Verma. I’ve been interested in seeing the studio for a few years, however I am not an Ashtangi, and it is not near my house,  so I hadn’t found a reason to check it out.

When I arrived I found the studio is not just a yoga studio, but is a boutique as well. Given it’s location on a main street in Encinitas, a walkable beach area, it is a good use of space. The store sells books, accessories, yoga and casual clothing. When you walk through the large boutique the practice room is in the back and has a back entrance as well.

Andrew Hillam and Krishnamacharya

The night started out with a puja ceremony with Krishnamacharya from the Hindu temple in Malibu (130 miles away). A puja is a blessing ceremony where an offering is given to deities or in reverence. It is traditionally done as part of daily worship in a temple or home, or to bless or begin a venture.

Krishnamacharya perfomed a a Vedic ritual called Navaghara Puja, this type of puja is performed to bring about astrological harmony of the planetary forces at work. Nava means nine, graha is planets, it translates to  blessings of the planets, the ceremony is a way to offer respect and worship to the deities controlling these planets.

Photos of Pattabhi Jois lined the walls in matte black frames on stark white walls in the yoga studio. The ceiling had fans and recessed lighting that gave the entire room an upscale gallery feel. It was one of the most open and airy yoga spaces I have been to.

A full buffet of Indian food was set up, both rooms of the boutique and studio were full. Most of the women women wore bright saris and Indian jewelry. Many people were there with their children, it was a family welcoming environment. Musicians played Indian songs on a drum and violin.

The Odissi dancing was amazing. The dancer, Shalina Patnaik has trained at the Orissi Dance Academy in India.The movements she made looked so effortless, yet I know it takes years of study to master them. If you have never seen Odissi, you must. It is something too pretty to describe. Odissi’s origins are the from ritual dances performed in the temples and the Orissi region in ancient northern India. Modern Odissi is performed in a variety of venues and is no longer restricted to the temples.

Photo of Shalini Patnaik by Shay Dewey


Shalini Panaik at the 2011 Harmony and Motion International Music and Dance Concert

Between the entertainment and speaker, the Jois staff members and founder spoke a little about what the goals and accomplishments of the studio. They had a message of service and giving back to the community. I liked what they had to say. It was less about selling the studio and more focused on their projects in the community.

Ashtanga teacher Andrew Hillam and a founder of Jois Yoga Salima Ruffin

One interesting fact I learned was that the Encinitas Union School District is implementing yoga education program for children in partnership with a grant from the Jois Foundation. Yoga is being taught K-6 in the public school system with plans to expand it to all grade levels.

I would have loved to been exposed to yoga as a child in school. I think this is a great cause, especially now that school districts are cutting back on fitness and recreation programs. This will provide a way for children to exercise and release stress.

Another charity they partner with is the African Yoga Project. The Jois Foundation is sending teachers to some of the most poverty-stricken slums in Kenya and providing food and Ashtanga Yoga instruction to the children and residents there. This charity appeared to be especially  important to one of  the founders of Jois Yoga, Salima Ruffin ,who was born in Kenya and often goes back to visit her sisters there.


The finale of the evening was a lecture on karma and moksha (liberation), by Sanjeev Verma, a Vedic Astrologer, life coach and motivational speaker. I really don’t want to keep coming back to life here on earth or whatever happens when we die so I am always interested on how to manage my karma.

His lecture on karma was about an hour long, but he managed to condense a difficult topic into an easy to understand talk. He spoke about conscious mind and unconscious mind. Each night right before you go to sleep is the most important time in your subconscious mind, the time that it is receptive to suggestion. (So, I probably shouldn’t go to bed listening to Law and Order every night!) This is the best time for mantra and to set an intention for asking for forgiveness against offenses, intentional or unintentional as we drift off to sleep.

Another stand-out feature from his lecture was his suggestion on how to reduce accumulated karma. This is a technique I will implement. Sanjeev suggested performing acts of kindness for other people with the intention of removing negative karma, as sort of a weights and balancing system. I never tried to perform a task  with the intention of doing something to help my karma, but it never hurts to be nicer or kinder to people around you.

Jois Yoga Encinitas teaches exclusively Ashtanga through Mysore-style classes, a self-directed practice and offers a beginner led series Friday-Sunday.

Manu Jois, son of Sri Pattabhi Jois, Saraswathi and Sharath Jois daughter and grand-son of Sri Pattabhi Jois, Sonia Jones, and Salima Ruffin are the founders of the Jois Yoga studio. In addition to the studio in Encinitas, California,  Jois Yoga has locations in Greenwich, Connecticut and Sydney, Australia.



Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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