Monthly Archives: December 2006

Interview of Ashtanga Practitioners in Tokyo

In a previous post we talked about Lisa Hill from Chicago who is currently teaching in Tokyo. Here is an interview of some of her students and co-teachers from the Tokyo Yoga studio in Shibuya.

What do you think about yoga students in Tokyo?
It’s becoming more competitive. Everyone is too strict, too serious. Most people are doing only two things: yoga and work. They should enjoy doing some other stuff. Girls, especially, need to make time to find a boyfriend. Most serious practitioners are not even dating.

What do you get out of Ashtanga?

Makes my creativity sharp, and gives me power to work. If I don’t practice Ashtanga, I am not inspired to do anything but sleep. It is a source of energy. Sometimes physically, it makes me tired, but whenever I practice, my mind and heart get more energy. Ashtanga can make me exhausted. It’s hard to get heat. Practicing brings results, bringing self confidence.


Yoga for us: a source of energy

How is Lisa’s teaching different from yours?
I can understand her philosophy about Ashtanga, which is the same for me. I like it, because she teaches calmly. She feels very settled in my classes. Her style is traditional, not allowing people to skip what they don’t like and adjusting so frequently is hard. She has lots of experience teaching Mysore class and we can learn a lot. We are open to teachers coming in as long as it’s traditional.

How do you (Lisa) teach Mysore-style to someone who does not speak the same language? It must challenging dealing with injuries, “problem students” who push too much, new postures, etc.
That could be a whole article in and of itself. I don’t speak in American classes much, so language is not much of a problem. Japanese students are very tolerant. They never say “it hurts” as if they trying to keep feeling in. They can be not very honest in that sense. Sometimes maybe they should tell the teacher, “your adjustment is too hard”. Japanese students are too modest, so they hesitate to say “it’s not good”. Knowing this, I’ve been adjusting very gently, working with their own breath, not pushing them. I can tell if there is pain by looking at the student and how they are practicing. Sometimes I need a translator, but some teachers have decent English, so they can help with that. So far it has not been much of an issue. Pushing too hard, there are a couple, but they refused to listen long before I came into the scene.


Flyer for Lisa’s Workshop “adjasutomento no shingi” The Art of Adjustment

Are there any written materials or websites about Ashtanga practice and technique?
Yoga Mala, John Scott, Ashtanga Yoga for Women, yoga sutras websites in Japanese – there aren’t any websites for Ashtanga in Japanese. Except for Mindy’s blog, which gives them knowledge from some of the scene in Chicago.

What is the “workshop scene” like in Tokyo (or Japan)?
Very good. We have many good teachers who visit. Rolf Naujokat, David Swenson, John Scott, David Roche, Danny Paradise, Nancy Gilgoff, Govinda Kai, Mark Darby, Sharath, Petri Raisanen, Anthony Carlisi, Shankra Darby, Natalia Paison, Louisa Sears.

What are the differences you noticed between Ashtanga in Japan and the teachers who come from other parts of the world?
No difference. They just teach traditional Ashtanga system. We can learn lots of things from experienced teachers. We enjoy studying with the teachers. It’s very good to be taught by someone experienced. Sharing their experience is very good, but we are always looking for “our” Ashtanga.


Fun community: examples from a t-shirt competition

Get Wiki With It: Ompedia

Ompedia welcomes you to Web 2.0.


Wiki wiki in the nonvirtual world

Wendy Spies, author of one of our most popular posts – Ashtanga During Pregnancy: One Ashtangi’s Experience – recently started a wiki about yoga.

(Yes, that’s a link to Wikipedia, which you can reach easiest by typing “wiki wiki” into Google, which is kind of funny if you’ve taken an interisland flight out of Honolulu.)


The logo on Ompedia says it all.

Back to Wendy’s project, it’s called Ompedia. The idea is that people – like us – contribute to it. So, take a look, write something and let’s see if we can help Ompedia gain some traction. There isn’t going to be much there unless you put it there.


Sunrise in Hawaii
from YogaSurf

For something sort of funny, check out the Shhhh link on Ompedia. The other pages (so far) on Ompedia are:

  • Blogs: a place to list blogs of interest (or comment on the blogs listed).
  • Discussions: answer some questions about yoga, like “Why do you practice?” I think this could be the most interesting section.
  • History
  • People: teachers, but could be any people.
  • Postures
  • Research: have you done any or know of any good yoga-related research?
  • Travel: talk about your travel experiences related to yoga, maybe typical retreat locations

The thing about a wiki is that the contributors determine the structure. Maybe there is a page you think is missing? You can add it. And even though Wendy’s made suggestions as to what each page should cover, what it actually covers depends on what you, the writers, write on there.

So rather than wading through a million responses on EZBoard (which is great for public discussion), on Ompedia, all the information about a subject would be in one spot.


Bhavani Maki of Ashtanga Yoga Kauai
She also studies Sanskrit.

Another thing is that with Ompedia (or any wiki, for that matter) you can see the changes that have been made to that page using the History tab. Say, you make a change and then it disappears. You can see what replaced it and when. You can even register, so people can see what you’ve said and contact you (if you and they like).

I think what differentiates Ompedia from Wikipedia is that Ompedia is more personal and opinion-oriented while Wikipedia tends to be more Encyclopia Britannica-like.

But neither Ompedia or Wikipedia would be useful without contributions from readers like you. :)

This makes me feel that I should write a page about how to use a wiki on Ompedia…