Wednesday, 13 March 2013

More AYC Panel Discussion videos : The Jungle Physician ALSO The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga By Matthew Sweeney

Here are yet more videos from the Ashtanga yoga Confluence. 

All from Amanda Manfredi, Thank you for sharing them Amanda, your spoiling us.

see also my earlier post containing more panel videos

The Jungle Physicians | Women and Yoga with Eddie Stern

Conversations with Guruji?

David Swenson talks about how Guruji encouraged the pursuit of knowledge and how his book was received by Guruji.

Dena Kingsberg answers "How did Guruji teach you to teach?"

Amanda Manfredi's bio from her website

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  As an artist and photographer, I see beauty everywhere. As a teacher, I strive to help others experience beauty as well- the beauty of rhythmic breath, the beauty of the body in motion, and the beauty of the mind in stillness. I completed my 200 hour teacher training certification through At One/ LifePower Yoga under the direction of John Salisbury and Jenn Chiarelli.  I completed my  500 hour Ashtanga  Vinyasa yoga certification with Dave and Cheryl Oliver at Authentic Yoga Teacher Training.  I frequently attend workshops and retreats to keep my practice and my teaching fresh and fluid. Most recently, I relocated from Phoenix, Arizona to Carlsbad, California to study regularly at Tim Miller’s Ashtanga Yoga Center. My teaching style is strongly focused on alignment, breath, and energy.  My style of instruction is to deliver cues that help the practitioner to align not just the body, but the mind and spirit as well. My physical adjustments are carefully administered in a way that brings the student steadiness and allows the student’s body to open at it’s own pace.  Whether you’re coming to class to be physically challenged or coming to strengthen your spirit, my goal is to send you back out into the world having gained a little more than you expected.


While on the subject check out this article by Matthew Sweeney doing the rounds

The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga

By Matthew Sweeney

Here's the introduction

Ashtanga Yoga is a wonderful practice for the body and mind. It is an evolving practice that is changing and growing to suit people of all ages and abilities. At least that is its potential. The tradition and its changing nature can be a difficult thing to reconcile.

This problem exists for all traditions, so understanding some of the principles at work is important. In most Ashtanga classes we begin with both the breath and with vinyasa, the movements in Salute to the Sun. Eventually we move forward learning the standing postures, usually in the standard order, and then the sitting postures, one or two Asana at a time.

At some point in this process, a student will have difficulty, physically or otherwise, and either needs to be encouraged to keep going, to focus on the standard technique, or needs to be given an alternative in order to facilitate greater ease of practice.

This basic choice is true for every practice, whether it be Asana, Meditation or something else. Do you stick with the technique, tradition, or standard, or do you vary it? At what point is a variation appropriate? My thoughts on this are simple – it is not a matter of whether you vary the tradition (any tradition) but when. In terms of human evolution and holistic development, sooner or later any technique or tradition you might adhere to becomes limiting, and a lessening of your full potential. For you to embrace a true spiritual perspective, you will need to move beyond a single method or one dimensional view.

One thing I have observed, depending on when you learned Ashtanga Yoga, you will probably have a different attitude as to what the tradition actually is. Most of the teachers who learned in the 60s, 70s and 80s do not teach as strictly as those who learnt from 90s and beyond. The tradition has changed, the sequences have changed, and the style of teaching has changed. There are both good and not so good reasons for this. For example there are advantages to doing less jump backs than what is presently taught, advantages to altering some of the sequencing and changing the intensity of the practice from day to day. It is up to each of us to work out what the advantages and disadvantages are.

For me it is simply a matter of timing, of when it is appropriate to introduce either the tradition – the Intermediate Series, for example, or an alternative such as Vinyasa Krama, or Yin Yoga or meditation. That is, I would not usually introduce an alternative in the first 6 months or so of learning Ashtanga, and often longer. After the initial learning phase it is important to consider the needs of the student rather than blindly following the tradition. It is important to consider whether the standard Ashtanga is appropriate (and often it may not be) and then notice if you do not teach an alternative out of fear, rigidity or inability.

I find it curious that I am one of the few traditional Ashtanga teachers to actively embrace different sequences and encourage many students to practice them – without abandoning the standard Ashtanga. I use alternative sequencing to aid and enhance the Ashtanga practice rather than to replace it entirely. It is all about what is appropriate and practical, rather than blind faith, dogma, or just doing random stuff because I feel like it – though honestly, sometimes the latter can be really useful. Alternative sequences can enhance the Ashtanga method without altering or threatening its form and function.

It is important to accept that teaching methods will vary from person to person – we are all going to teach differently with different understanding on what is appropriate. Why are the Ashtanga sequences treated as a sacred cow? It is a wonderful practice, but just Asana sequences at the end of the day. There is nothing innately spiritual, holy or sacred about them. I do think that sticking with a tradition (whatever that might be) and following the standard is truly rewarding and absolutely appropriate for most students for a period of time. Just not for everyone, and definitely not for ever.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a relatively new system, despite some opinions to the contrary. Apart from the obvious fact that the sequences have been changed by Pattabhi Jois over the years (usually for the better in my opinion) most would agree that Prof. T. Krishnamacharya (K.P. Jois teacher) invented the system during his years at the Mysore Yoga Palace – and was influenced by the Western Gymnastic tradition, no less. I find this inspiring. He brought together concepts from his own traditional background and made something new, vibrant and useful for people around the globe.

It is only in recent times that we are seeing committed practitioners of Ashtanga Vinyasa who have been doing so for more than 20 or 30 years. The evidence for what actually works, particularly in the long term, is still emerging. What is interesting is that one of the common themes to stop practicing Ashtanga is that if it is too rigidly applied it becomes unnecessarily difficult and often injurious. Some openness towards experimentation, and the original concept of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (Mysore) should still apply for all teachers and practitioners.

Continue reading the rest of the article here The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga 


  1. Interesting article from Matthew. He covers one of the reasons i decided to move on with my own practice. I met an ashtangi (how he described himself) the other day and a couple of the first questions he asked me were: Do you go to Mysore? What series and pose are you on? (more reasons I moved away from the practice. When i tried to explain my reasons for changing my own personal practice he suddenly seemed disinterested in me and decided to push more reasons why Ashtanga is best. Shame.

  2. Yes. Matthew raises so many of the issues/concerns/questions I've raised here over myself the years, Ashtangi's should listen carefully perhaps as they may be teachers themselves one day and find themselves wondering why they are losing students. On our side we need to understand too that we go through phases and your Ashtangi's attitude might have been mine when I first encountered Ashtanga, the tunnel vision can get you through the difficulty of the first couple of years, one would hope the that their attitude may open up somewhat as they continue. Or perhaps we'll become more skilled at putting our perspective without making others defensive.

  3. i had posted this link to a blog by Chad Herst, an experienced mysore teacher who has recently stopped teaching (though his wonderful and insightful partner Dvorah Sacks--with whom i had a the privilege of practicing a little while passing through SF a few years ago-- is still teaching. It's actually very similar to Matthew Sweeney's comments.

    My own teacher comes more from the early tradition, modifies the practice to suit different kinds of students, teaches pranayama and chanting to anyone who wants to learn, and brings tremendous insight to his teaching. But it takes a lot of talent and experience to do that. You can't just pull someone off the street and give them a certain number of hours of instruction and turn them loose to be the kind of teacher who draws on experience, creativity, and intuition to work with each student individually. That may be one of the problems. and my teacher is not a big writer or speaker, not much of a self promoter. It takes a patient student who is open to learning to realize the benefits to be gained from his teaching.



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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta