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Ashtanga May OR May Not Be The Best Practice for A New/Seasoned Teacher

Gandhi-ji please tell my son not to eat sugar. Please!  OK, said Gandhi (and I am paraphrasing), come next week.  And so the woman did, and Gandhi told the boy not to eat any more sugar, which the child obliged.  The woman scratching her head asked: Why now? Why not last week? Why did I have to come back 7 days later? and Gandhi said: Because I cannot tell anyone to do something I am not doing myself.

He stopped eating sugar first

It is not true the person that teaches what does not practice, it is unreal, delusional.  Practice is the foundation of a teacher of yoga, it has to be because the science is too vast. The limbs grow too deep. The philosophy is over 5000 years old. The right identification with the one behind the curtain takes time, and effort.  The number of asanas was last placed at, what?  8.4 million? Seeing things as they are without our projections is hard. Realizations come by grace and after putting in the work, if they come at all.

Teaching yoga is a journey of colossal, almost epic, proportions.

During the years of observing the yoga world I have noticed that most teachers have a dedicated practice, and that is good, I have also -and perhaps with a touch of bias since I practice ashtanga- identified why this particular form of practice is the best for a teacher, especially a new teacher, someone just sprouting out of a 200 hour course, for example, or someone who feels the call to step in front of a class.  Then (and hopefully even before) is when a steady, rich and full personal practice becomes key.

AND THEN… I changed my mind.

I suppose Ashtanga yoga does provide a solid foundation in a world so filled with conflicting interests, or vessel (as Lanka calls it) from which we can learn enough to teach, it gives:

  1. The routine and repetition fixed (6x/week no moon no Sat),
  2. The unification found through tristasana, 
  3. The incorporation of bandhas (which need to be used at all times, hence reminding us of yoga practice during each moment of the day)
  4. The possibility of going so deep within the silence of a Mysore room that we actually have time and space to understand at the visceral level and notice how it is that the energetics of a pose are put together. 
  5. The boredom factor that eventually leads us to find meaning in the other limbs. 
  6. The vast literature. 
  7. Krishnamacharya, et all.

Normally I would not show the process of thinking behind how a blog post comes to be generated, but in this case the impulse of creation compiled with the radical change in mind was so strong that I had to.

In the end, I thought, it matters not so much what practice a new teacher (or seasoned teacher) has, but rather that his or her commitment to a personal practice is a real one, because I still agree with Gandhi up above.

What really matters is both the fierce determination in the quest for truth and the showing up at the mat, daily.  Ashtanga has that pre-built, which is great for our westerner flickering minds, and it probably helps, but then, not everyone is like that, or like me, maybe people can stick with daily practice even if it means having to find a studio every time to have a teacher lead a class or have to come up with sequences on their own if at home. Who am I to know.

So there you have it, I suppose deep inside I still feel Ashtanga Yoga is, hm, how to put it? what I would recommend for a teacher for personal practice, but weather it is the best or not the best, that is between the person and spirit.

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2 Responses to Ashtanga May OR May Not Be The Best Practice for A New/Seasoned Teacher

  1. Anonymous December 13, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    Hi Claudia,<br />What do the women wear doing yoga in Mysore, India? It would be hot so minimal clothing would be the nicest to wear but then there&#39;s the whole covering the shoulders &amp; legs thing to be respectful to the people who live there. Cheers, Sarah (Australia)

  2. Claudia December 13, 2011 at 7:19 am #

    Hi Sarah, yes you are right on the importance if being respectful of the culture and covering the shoulders, so one dresses up appropiatedly for that, BUT once inside the shala women wear anything from tiny shorts and tops to long yoga pants to lulu lemon, you name it.. Anything goes to curve the extreme heat!