l love the Photo Lineage slideshow on David Garrigues newly designed website
"The photos show the continuity within the teaching methodology as you can see in several series of photos there are as many as 3 and/or 4 generations of yogis doing a personal version of the same posture. The photos give you glimpses of what you will learn by studying Ashtanga yoga. The learning context is built from each student finding loyalty towards and respect for those who came before combined with care and discernment in forging a new path into the unknown" David Garrigues .
I hope David will expand it further with more slides in the future, perhaps including some of his own students, if this idea of lineage is to make any sense at all then it passes through us rather than ending with us.
Note: I heard from David that was and is his intention actually.
Actually I love that Jois seems to have chosen those he certified so well, he seems to have chosen those who would explore their practice non dogmatically, I hope Sharath does the same.
I like what David is doing, what many/most if not all of the early Certified Ashtanga teachers are doing, continuing to explore the practice, to make sense of it through their lives of practice and teaching. David seems to take license from the lineage to seek to explore with care and discernment.
I like how David travels from one place to another, teaches regular students a workshop and then leaves them to get on and explore their practice for another three, six months, a year.
For Lineage to make any sense to me there is a continuous passing along of study, Krishnamacharya continued his study and exploration of Yoga and passed it along to Pattabhi Jois who passed it along to Manju and Saraswati and all those other early students who explored the practice and passed it along in turn to their students who continue to pass it along.
Why should somebody who has studied for years with Richard Freeman, Tim Miller, Nancy Gilgoff, David Garrigues.... Manju to name a handful be expected to go to Mysore for their practice to be more authentic.
Or for that matter, somebody who practiced for years with a teacher who never went to Mysore either but had studied with Richard in Boulder. Is a practice in Mysore somehow more authentic than a practice in Boulder, a mat is a mat, Yoga has nothing to do with India other than inspiration or rather it has noting more to do with India than anywhere else. Surely yoga is about the dropping away of India, of Mysore, Chennai, Boulder..... Encinitas, your home practice room.
"Our best evidence to date suggests that [yogic practice] developed in the same ascetic circles as the early śramaṇa movements (Buddhists, Jainas and Ajivikas), probably in around the sixth and fifth centuries BCE"
Geoffrey Samuel Origins of Yoga and Tantra-Cambridge University Press
Pattabhi Jois passed his studies and exploration, his research along to Sharath too in his later years. Perhaps because it was so late in his life that Pattabhi Jois taught his grandson, Sharath seemed more concerned with preserving his grandfather's teaching as was rather than continuing to explore and pass on that exploration of practice. Perhaps that's beginning to change now, from a distance Sharath seems to be becoming more his own person, still preserving his grandfather's legacy as he saw it but also stressing those aspects of yoga that seem most relevant to him personally, the emphasis on parampara for example, not surprising perhaps given how important that concept was to him in his relationship with his grandfather. I'm guessing, those who visit Mysore regularly and attend Sharaths's conference will know if this is the case far better than I.
Is it a good thing. For me personally this focus on preserving legacy, the emphasis on parampara, the list of authorised teachers is... confusing, such an emphasis passes along to the students Sharath himself has now and authorises, there's a turning inward the danger perhaps is the practice becomes fosselized.
What are we afraid of. Why do we need authorised teachers. What did Pattabhi Jois teach really, a few sequences of asana practiced six days a week with a focus on breathing, bandhas and drishti. You can put the whole practice on a couple of laminated cards and yet your whole life wont contain it. There's your list of asana, get on and practice, explore each asana for yourself, stop depending on others.
Ashtangi's are the laziest of yoga students ( I say this lovingly), we want a list of asana so we don't have to think about what to practice, we want help to get on the mat to actually practice and somebody to put us into the asana. We don't want to stay in any asana longer than the minimum and we can't bare the thought of pranayama other than a simplified unthreatening variant, or a Sit of more than fifteen breaths. We want just a handful of books, ideally selections and clear simple commentaries of these texts so we don't have to think about them ourselves.... we want our Yoga done for us, farmed out.
OK, I exaggerate but I bet you winced at a couple of those clauses, I did writing them.
There are no correct versions of asana, look at David's slideshow linked to above. Krishnamacharya didn't have the authentic, correct asana, originally there were no pictures just changing descriptions, changing names for the same asana. There are no correct asana but perhaps incorrect asana, asana practiced dangerously.
I would rather learn my asana from a Simon Borg-Oliver, a David Keil, Leslie Kaminoff or anyone else who has focussed closely on Anatomy and Physiology rather than say Sharath.....or Pattabhi Jois back in the day cranking bodies in and out of asana ( see the Advanced Led class with Pattabhi Jois on YouTube) or Krishnamacharya himself who famously told Iyengar to get into hanumanasana even though Iyengar had never attempted it before and ended up tearing his hamstrings. The same goes for any of the other senior teachers who are going purely by their own experience of adjusting and being adjusted and have never picked up Grey's anatomy in their life.
Ideally I'd like both, somebody who's studied anatomy and has experience, who has also practiced and taught for years. I remember being adjusted once by a newly authorised teacher, terrified the hell out of me ( a senior teacher terrified me also). It's great that Sharath brings in people more qualified to teach philosophy and chanting but perhaps a resident anatomist might be a good idea also, not to obsess over anatomy (another distraction) but to avoid breaking anyone.
Pattabhi Jois gave us a nice selection of asana to practice every day, he told us how to begin to practice them, he gave us a way in but we only have to look to his teacher to get further guidance in how to go deeper into those asana, enough guidance perhaps to then leave it up to us.
We know by now what this practice is, the job of this practice, we just have to do the work rather than keep putting it off by looking to the next asana, the next series rather than truly practicing the asana we have have or moving beyond asana.
I've always liked the idea of a room holder, somebody who holds a Mysore room but keeps out of the way of somebodies practice as much as possible, who reduces dependency rather than feeds it. Must be a hard skill to acquire, good parenting.
Why do we want to be yoga teachers rather than.... yogis, put one more thing in the way of our practice rather than take more obstacles away. Just when we start to get a grasp of the practice we seek to teach our half formed practice because we feel we should share it, share what, we haven't done anything worth sharing yet other than notice there is door to open, we end up forcing our own practice into the background, rush through it before the shala doors open.
We should perhaps be finding work that allows us to deepen our practice more not less.
|LINK Amazon.com out in Nov 2016|
I loved Tim Miller's blog today, quoting Krishnamacrya and an idea he stressed to Ramasswami, Yoga for the three stages of Life. Tim will be 65 on Saturday, Happy Birthday and many happy returns.
"Krishnamacharya said that one’s yoga practice should change with the seasons, both with the seasons of the year and the seasons of one’s life. It’s not appropriate to practice the same way in winter as one does in summer. In the springtime of our life we are young, filled with energy and enthusiasm, and our practice should reflect that kind of energy. The summer is a time of the ripening of our practice, and finds us at our physical peak in terms of our asana practice. With the coming of the autumn of our life the natural evolution of our practice is for it to become more introspective—to devote more time to pranayama, mantra, devotional practices, meditation and philosophical study—and to begin to back off a little on the intensity of our asana practice. As the winter of our life begins—that’s me right now—our practice becomes even more introspective. It is important to continue to do enough asana to remain healthy and reasonably supple, but it is unrealistic to think we can practice the same way at 65 as we did at 35. Even though I have a few more aches and pains now, am a bit thicker in the middle, and don’t have quite the strength or flexibility I used to, I still love the practice and continue to do the first and second series regularly. On some days I do my special “Ashtanga for Senoirs” practice, which contains parts of first and second series, done with fewer vinyasas in the space of an hour or so. The one great gift of the aging practice in regards to asana practice is this: the longer you practice, the better the quality of attention that you bring to the practice. Isn’t this what it’s all about anyway?" Tim Miller