Monthly Archives: May 2006

A Photo Nugget from Alan Little

As much as I like finding neat photos of Ashtangis practicing in the shala for AshtangaNews, I recently came across this photo from prolific Ashtanga writer and photographer, Alan Little.

David-Swenson-workshop-Munich-by-Alan-Little.jpg

David Swenson workshop in Munich, March 2001

Note the lack of Ashtangis in this photo.

Alan mentions that David Swenson prefers photos not be taken during practice:

There were people attending the workshop, lots, but David doesn’t like anybody to take pictures in class and besides I was busy practicing.

Which is exactly what I always wonder about: if you’re practicing, how can you be taking photos? Nevertheless, I am grateful to all you Ashtangis and photographers who do.

I like this photo and I like Alan’s comment. It’s a neat abstraction of something I take for granted (mats) and the lack of Ashtangis makes me think of what Ashtangis do outside of the studio, about what we take with us when we leave the studio.

Thank you, Alan!

Become A Student First: R. Sharath Interviewed on Lime

We get so many calls from westerners. They call, “How can I become a teacher?” They write to us, “How can I become a teacher?” You have to become a student first. For a long time. Maybe ten years.

In a recent interview on website, Lime, R. Sharath Rangaswamy – Sri K. Pattabhis Jois’ grandson and the Associate Director of AYRI – emphasized the importance of being a student, not a teacher.

r-sharath-honolulu-2005.jpg

R. Sharath Rangaswamy

R. Sharath also discussed the benefits of Ashtanga, contrasting common ideas in the West with traditional Indian thought on yoga.

Some people think it is only about asana, exercise and practice. Yet still they receive the benefits to their health. Problems will solve. They become concentrated.

Philippe briefly highlighted this article from Lime in his post about Craig Snyder’s thoughts on yoga in the West. I think the contrast between Craig’s, um, Western-style of delivery and Sharath’s is striking. The content of both Ashtangis’ message is similar…but how they express themselves is very different.

Then again, how many of us gave extra weight to Sharath’s words, primarily because he is the grandson of the guru, Sri K. Pattabhis Jois? Ah, the meaning of guru right there.

guruji-san-francisco-2006-govinda-kai.jpg

Guruji in San Francisco, 2006
The Guru’s Joy from Govinda Kai

This is called guru parampara. In Indian culture, you go to a teacher and learn from him, like you in the west go to a school and learn the ABC’s. But we devote everything to this lineage, from the teacher’s guru through to you. It transfers like that.

Thank you to Spiros Antonopoulos for publishing this insightful interview. Spiros gives a clear, concise description of Ashtanga yoga and lots of space for R. Sharath’s own words.

Don’t miss this article. It’s the only interview with Sharath I’ve seen.

[For a little more of Sharath's words, see our post on the making of his new Primary Series DVD. - Ed.]

The photos in this post are from R. Sharath’s Gallery, which seems to be in process (i.e., more photos will be added, so check back).

r-sharath-utthita-hasta-padangusthasana-c-ayri.jpg

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana at AYRI


r-sharath-bhujapidasana-ayri.jpg

Bhujapidasana at AYRI