From the cover
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois conducted an Ashtanga Yoga Workshop in Encinitas, California. During this workshop he instructed his advanced students in the 3rd and part of the 4th series. This DVD includes early footage of Guruji instructing many of today's top teachers, Richard Freeman, Chuck Miller, Maty Ezraty and Tim Miller, asanas of the advanced series.
They're calling this a workshop on the cover although I would hesitate to call it that. One might call it a Demonstration, and there are a group of people, sitting around the walls watching, but it really feels like a small led 3rd and part of 4th class. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois is calling out the asana and conducting the count and assisting more and more, as the class goes on.
I actually found it quite moving watching this so soon after Guruji's passing. This was filmed in 1989 making him, what, in his seventies? He's strong, fit, vital, with this big booming voice calling out the count. He shares a little joke here and there, the famous smile breaks out and there's a pat on the shoulder, the back , the hip when someone does well.
I was struck by the intimacy that seemed to grow as this long demanding series progressed, the physicality and demanding nature of the assists. There was a moment near the end of the finishing sequence where Guruji is sitting crossed legged beside Richard Freeman, knees almost touching leading his breathing. The camera zoomed in, the shot blurry at first but finally clearing to a close up and for a moment I swear I could see that intense young yogi that stares out at us from Yoga Mala.
The Ashtangi's credited on the DVD are Tim Miller, Chuck Miller, Matty Ezraty, Richard Freeman, the other two are thought to be Dominic Corigliano and John Norris. Most had been practicing Ashtanga for ten years or so and according to their websites below still seem to be practicing and teaching, what, twenty years later. They begin with Standing sequence and it's great to watch these experienced practitioners running through Standing in a real class environment rather than on a polished, and edited, video. They move into 3rd series after which there seems to be a moments pause before they move on to the first half of 4th series. Was 4th planned, I wondered.
They practice 4th series up until Tadasana and then moved on to the full Mysore back bend sequence, drop backs, tic tocks, Guruji moving from one to the other to assist them through the sequence that included Setu and Chakra bandhasana. Quite something to see this, not so tall, septuagenarian flipping the 6ft odd Tim Miller back and forth. They move on to the full finishing sequence and the video ends following the moment I've described above of Guruji leading Richard Freeman through a little pranayama just previous to UtPluthih.
Should you buy this DVD? Perhaps your still learning Primary and can't imagine moving on to Intermediate let alone 3rd. Why buy this if your never going to practice this series?
Well, buy it because it a presents senior practitioners struggling with an advanced series. If you've seen any of the top teacher DVD's, then don't they seem effortless, thanks I'm sure to a lot of editing. Here everyone is hot, sweaty, occasionally falling out of asanas as well as needing to be helped into them. They're struggling at times to stay on breath and hold a pose for Guruji's count. They are just like us in fact when we're struggling through the second half of our own Primary and/or Intermediate. Or buy it for the intensity of the practice as revealed in Chuck Miller's drishti or to see the subtle differences in everyone's asana's and transitions.
I bought it because here was a chance to experience Sri K. Pattabhi Jois teaching and assisting in a small intimate setting, something I'll sadly no longer have the chance of experiencing.
If I was serious about my practice before watching this DVD, and I thought that I was, I feel even more so now. Watching it seemed to confirm something I had suspected, that the Practice is about the practice. Not about anything else surrounding it, the politics, perfecting asanas, or even about the Student/Teacher relationship. Although there appears to be an intimate relationship in this class, Guruji came across, to me at least, as a facilitator rather than a teacher, here's this gift of a practice, this is how you can practice it...... now you practice it and see where it takes you.
I should say that the picture quality and camera work isn't great but somehow that all adds to the intimacy of the thing.
Here's a taster from youtube.
I found my copy on Amazon
There are some screenshots from the DVD on my previous post
While we're on the subject, does anyone know if the DVD is available, and if and where it can be purchased, of SKPJ leading a small intermediate class seen here on YouTube ?
Where are they now
Chuck Miller, Matty Ezraty,
Can't find anything on what he's doing now, anyone know?