Image: Geoff Mackenzie

Part1: Past

Ashtanga you say?

Like many of us, it took Guruji, one yoga class to become intrigued with yoga. If the name, Guruji doesn’t ring a bell, here’s a little background on him, Ashtanga yoga and the proliferation of the practice. Guruji, or Yogacharaya Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, was one of Ashtanga yoga’s leading teachers- establishing the Ashtanga research center in Mysore India out of his home and with help, spread the practice of Ashtanga into Europe, North America and the world over.

But, let’s backtrack a bit and start at the beginning; Ashtanga is an ancient system of yoga delivered down from teacher to student. The practice is a prescribed sequence of dynamic postures that synchronizes breathes and movement in order to create an internal heat designed to cleanse the body.

The practice of Ashtanga yoga was believed to have originally been written by the Hindu saint/sage Vamana in the text “Yoga Karunta”, which was orally passed down to Guru Rama Mohan Brahmachari then to Sr T. Krishnamacharya in the early 1900’s and finally to Shri K. Pattabhi Jois’s; Guruji in the late 1920’s

At the age of 12, Guruji attended one of T. Krishnamacharya’s yoga demonstrations. That yoga demonstration revolutionized his perspective and changed the course of his life forever. From that point onwards, Guruji decided to dedicate his life to learning everything there was to know about yoga. He pursued T.Krishnamachraya as his teacher, and T. Krishnamachraya obliged. After two years, Guruji yearned to gain more knowledge on Sanskrit, and thus broke off from his family’s linage of becoming a Brahmin and moved away unannounced, to study Sanskrit at the college of Mysore.

While studying, Guruji was reunited with T. Krishnamachraya. At this time Sr T. Krishnamachraya was in the patronage of the Maharaja of Mysore, and had previously cured the Maharaja of an illness through the practice of yoga. With the Maharaja’s health in order and in awe of T. Krishnamacharya’s yoga practice (that essentially saved his life), the Maharaja established a yoga shala for T. Krishnamachray. The shala was located on the palace grounds and was intended to share and expand the practice of Ashtanga yoga. Guruji and the other students practiced and expanded their knowledge on Ashtanga yoga at the shala and began traveling around the country performing yoga demonstrations for those interested.

Many moons later, Guruji became a professor at the college with which he studied at, and in 1948, he established the AshtangaYoga Research Institute at out of his own home with his Wife.

The practice of Ashtanga yoga was basically centered in India, and really wasn’t internationally recognized until Shri K. Pattabhi Jois began travelling to partake in yoga demonstrations outside of India, in tandem with being featured in one of his student’s (Van Lysbeth’s) book “Pranayama.” This exposure of Ashtanga yoga brought about its popularity and classes gained in size, allowing Shri K. Pattabhi Jois to continue teaching out of his house and to other countries.

Guruji continued to teach in his Mysore shala, until his passing on May 18th, 2009. The teachings live on to this day and have spread from teacher to student all the way from Mysore, India to British Columbia, Canada. Where we move on from Ashtanga’s past and look at the present state and the future. Stay tuned for the next blog where we feature a pretty amazing teacher whom travelled annually to the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in India, and even met Guruji in 2006. This teacher, will be blessing our studio with his presence and knowledge at Vayusha Yoga for a workshop on what this whole blog has been about; Asthanga yoga.

Want to learn more about Ashtanga yoga?

Join Geoff Mackenzie for a practical and comprehensive introduction to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice, in the tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India. Over the course of one Workshop and four classes, students can learn and practice the essential foundations of Ashtanga Vinyasa, each progressing step-by-step according to their own capacity, receiving individual assistance as required.

All levels of practitioner, especially Beginners, are welcome to participate. Regular students of Vinyasa/Power/Flow classes will benefit from exploring the foundational elements of this method, which has inspired so many recently-evolved forms of yoga.

When: June 12th, 1pm - 3.00pm

Cost: Workshop only: $45 + gst OR Full series + four 90 mins classes: $150+gst OR 778.988.9642

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