APP Goes to Mysore: Ashtanga is More Than Asana

I was completely blown away on Monday. I was not given another pose. There were no break throughs in my asana. I was blow away by the Hatha Yoga Pradapika class I took with Lakshmish at KPJAYI and I cannot wait for the next one!!!


Something else also blew me away. How come no one talks about this? When people talk about KPJAYI, they talk about Sharath, asana, authorization, start times, Saraswati, conferences and yoga celebrities. No one comes back talking about Sutra and Hatha Yoga Pradapika classes. I totally thought that this trip was going to be 90% asana with the occasional conference. However this week, I will be doing almost twice as much philosophy,sanskrit and chanting as I will be doing asana. How come no one talks about this?

I started the Ashtanga Picture Project because I wanted to bring balance back to the asana/circus performer cloud that had surrounded Ashtanga. You would think that I would not be surprised that people are going to KPJAYI and all they have to talk about after 2 months is what poses they got, the lines, the supposed attitudes of authorized teachers and how floaty a famous person’s jump back was. However, I was surprised and saddened.

In the spirit of the Ashtanga Picture Project, I will share some of my take aways on Monday. These are not quotes. My words filtered through my citta.

  • Yoga is not exercise, it is a lifestyle
  • Raja Yoga is the science of controlling the mind
  • Yoga is a stairway to controlling the mind
  • You cannot control your mind when you are confused. Parampara, following one lineage, keeps you from being confused
  • You should be able to sit in padmasana for 45 minutes, with bandhas and without pain before starting pranayama
  • Guru and teacher are not interchangeable words.
  • A Guru dispels spiritual ignorance
  • Your lifestyle should be transparent. You should not be doing things that you have to hide. You should share. Bring everything to the light

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.

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