This year I was blessed to discover and experience an ancient, beautiful and brilliant yoga system that resonates with me deeply: Ashtanga Yoga. I’d known of Ashtanga Yoga for many years, but it was only this year that I personally started to experience how powerful this practice truly is.
A brief explanation of Ashtanga Yoga, from the Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute:
Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient system of Yoga that was taught by Vamana Rishi in the Yoga Korunta. This text was imparted to Sri T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s by his Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari, and was later passed down to Pattabhi Jois during the duration of his studies with Krishnamacharya, beginning in 1927 (http://kpjayi.org/the-practice)
There are many specific reasons I am compelled toward this lineage, many of which I will expound upon in future posts, but the most important reason is intangible. It spawns from the third eye - our intuition, or the internal compass that allows us to distinguish what is real and what is illusion.
Ashtanga Yoga is broken down into 6 series, ordered from easiest to most challenging. To provide an idea of how challenging it can be to advance, the strong majority of practitioners never advance past the 1st series - the Primary Series. I am about half way through the Primary Series and I suspect I have a few more years minimumof practicing regularly before potential advancement. Only 1 person in the world, R. Sharath Jois, is on the 5th series. No one in the world is on the 6th series, and only a few individuals are practicing the 4th series.
This weekend I had the privilege to take classes and workshops with one of the few people in the world currently practicing the 4th series: Kino Macgregor. Yesterday, she led a group of us through the Primary Series. You can see us (and Kino - back of room) practicing Uttana Padasana below:
Practicing with Kino was really rad.
I believe that positive spiritual energy and benefits can be transmitted when spending time in close proximity to people who posses such qualities. Yesterday, there were a few moments when I could sense the energy and spirit of Guruji Sri K Pattabhi Jois blessing our room.
- Guruji Sri K Pattabhi Jois
Fortunately we do not really rely on visitors for great teachers. Two great Ashtanga teachers teach right here at my local studio in Chicago, Moksha Yoga: Todd Boman and Alexia Bauer.
Todd is the only teacher authorized from KPJAYI to teach Ashtanga in the entire state of Illinois: http://kpjayi.org/teachers-directory/north-america. I have the privilege to learn and practice with him each morning.
Alexia is also an outstanding practitioner and teacher. (http://www.alexiabauer.com). I have the privilege of practicing with Alexia regularly, and will be apprenticing her Ashtanga Primary series class on Saturday mornings at Moksha Yoga Center this summer.