Guest post from James Fishwick.
On Sharath's visit/workshop/led half primary at UVA, University of Virginia Home of the Tudor-Jones sponsored Contemplative Sciences Centre ) yesterday (April 5th 2013).
"Just went to a leg of Sharath's tour here in Charlottesville, Va, at the grounds of UVA
It was in conjunction with the opening of the new Contemplative Studies department there (local coverage here:
Is the Contemplative Sciences Center the answer to UVA’s ‘reputation gap,’ or an expensive New Age sideshow?
Yes, the money for the center was given by Ashtanga upstarts the Jones
Anyway, the practice was about 400 people in the woman's basketball practice gym. Sharath (and his little son) lead us through the Suryas, and then the standing postures, and on through Navasana. Then three Wheels, then Baddha Padmasana, Yogimudrasana, Padmasana and a long Tolasana (which he called out as Utplutihi) and final rest. There is a strong Ashtanga community here, as well as strong Vinyasa community, who were well represented, but mainly it was college students and other university folk. Much more there than not who were not familiar with the primary series. So there was lots of bumbling around, people leaving, people just watching etc. Sharath sort of gave some more elementary cues than I guess would be normal, and there were a ton of helpers going around.
After the practice Sharath instructed us on alternate nostil breathing, which he said was good for stress and breathing problems like allergies and asthma. Ten rounds inhaling thru the left and ending with exhaling through the right, then same starting with the right. Then a demo from two of his advanced students, who had beautiful, floaty (but not Kino style, more Freeman style) and precise asana. Sharath emphasized the Sun Salutations heavily, saying how they were prostrations to the Sun God and all that jazz. They also floated in and out of some the more exotic first series poses, and threw in kapotasna for good measure.
Finally it wrapped up with a rather toothless Q&A between John Tudor Jones and Sharath. "How long has Yoga been around?" "Since the world began!" etc. The only interesting answer was when Jones asked about the authority and lineage of Ashtanga vs other branches, and Sharath said "there is only one Yoga, just many different lineages."
This is getting long, happy to add more reportage if wanted".
(I of course asked for more and James just sent me this email with some pictures; Grimmly)
Here are some rather bad photos of the event, taken on my dying phone.
A few more comments:
Sharath dated the beginning of yoga to the beginning of the world, then saying that humankind fell into ignorance about it for a long time. So sort of the Vedantic, mythological answer. He seemed maybe hesitant to make claims about Ashtanga (meaning Jois' postural teachings) being the same as Patanjali's ashtanga yoga, or attempting to date either one. Again, found it interesting that he basically said "all yoga is the same Yoga." And Yoga being "union," although he seemed to be saying it was union of body and mind, rather than the mind's realization of purusha and union with the ultimate/god. He also said that it was unfortunate how commercial yoga had become, with everyone just dropping their name or a word in front of "yoga" and pretending it was completely their own.
Also, Sharath admitted that being a parent was stressful, and that he wished he could teach smaller groups as to give more one-on-one instruction. He then emphasized that yoga hadn't removed all stress from his life, and that he was not a "superman" yet (he then added, "well, I'm a superman when I'm in my postures!")
But all in all he was warm and authoritative, interspersing little jokes and lines like "no dancing!
during Utthita Hasta Padanghustasana. It was cool to be there with so many people encountering Ashtanga for the first time. For all all my criticism of the misplaced dogmatism of the system, its awesome to watch people be exposed to power and structures of vinyasa styles in the Krishmacharnya lineage.
Feel free to use any of this in your post.
Thanks for being the best yoga blog out there",
Thanks again James, really appreciate it.