I’m not an Ashtangi, but I often wish I was.
I appreciate the dedication and intensity of the practice and the way many Ashtanga practitioners draw their practice inward, almost appearing trance-like. That’s the kind of practice that gets to the heart of yoga, that deep-seated mind-body connection that lies within everyone; we just have to take the time to listen.
My practice has taken a hit in recent years since becoming a mother. The demands of parenting don’t often lend themselves to 90-minutes yoga sessions. And with the Anusara implosion knocking some of the wind out of my yoga sails, I’ve found myself searching for some inspiration.
The other night, my YouTube search landed me on this gem. It’s a yoga video from November 1993 featuring Sri K. Pattabhi Jois presenting the Ashtanga Primary Series. The contrast between his simple instructions and the avidity of his students is intriguing—all without the music, buzzwords or intricate adjustments you often see today. Just a teacher and his students, with the ujjayi breath streaming in the background.
I’m not here to criticize today’s yoga. I play music in my classes and I’ve been known to use a buzzword or two. Instead, I offer this as a reminder of how sometimes simplicity is best, sometimes silence offers deeper concentration and how a committed practice can create beautiful results.
The students in the video are some of today’s leading Ashtanga teachers: Tim Miller, Richard Freeman, Karen Haberman, Chuck Miller, Eddie Stern and Maty Ezraty.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel