Continuing the Conversation on Ashtanga Teacher Standards Changes

Last week I posted about how the Ashtanga Teachers Standards were changed, and reflected on how it would affect Ashtanga Yoga.

Since the post there have been comments from readers and also some reactions on other websites. Notable amongst these is the post entitled New Frontier from the blog Visions of Cody. The piece is written by a marketing strategist from a “strategic marketing perspective.”

Cody asks what the intention behind the changes are, and since they are not clearly stated we have to try to infer them. He posits that it is:

To exert control over the transmission of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system by reducing the number of officially authorized/certified teachers.

He thinks this will substantially reduce the number of Ashtanga teachers and make the current teacher shortage even worse.

The question of enforcement is brought up:

Which brings up another interesting question: how is the Jois family ever going to enforce these rules? I don’t believe that they own the trademark on the name Ashtanga in the U.S. (please correct me if I’m wrong.) Therefore, they can either ask practitioners to shun non-authorized teachers/studios (a marginal tactic at best) or they can attempt to get the service mark.

Which naturally leads to a comparison with Bikram Yoga (how ironic). A few years ago Bikram yoga “went legal” on studios which did not abide to its official rules, threatening law suits. A lot of studios which could not practically comply with the rules decided to change the name to “Hot Yoga” and slightly modify the official sequence.

Here’s his conclusion in full:

In the end, I think these changes will have a minimal impact in the US. Unless the AYRI aggressively attempts to shut down non-authorized studios (which I doubt,) then the only thing that will change is that basically nobody (with a few exceptions) will be authorized to officially teach Ashtanga so therefore the authorization of Ashtanga teachers will be an irrelevant qualification.

I do feel sorry for the prospective teachers that have been making numerous trips for years expecting authorization. That’s one hard lesson in non-attachment.

If the AYRI does pursue the legal route, then the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga brand will be screwed anyway because there will only be a handful of places to practice. It’ll be like rolling the growth of the practice back to the 1970s level.

Maybe that’s exactly what the Jois family wants – to scale the practice back to just a few true believers. There are rumors that Sharath is taking a few years off and the rest of the family probably can’t handle the current workload for much longer.

I’m guessing that this is a conscious attempt to limit the practice to a smaller group of practitioners that are dedicated true believers and in exchange they’re willing to sacrifice the potential revenue.

If, however, this is an attempt to control the brand and concentrate revenue, then I think it’s a horrible plan. Managing growth is one thing, but choking it to death is quite another.

No matter what, us crafty Westerners will figure out a way to get Ashtanga regardless of what people in Mysore say – the cat’s already out of the bag.

It’s well worth reading and thinking about. Here are some other links on the same subject:

Sweat and Fire: It’s Never the Guru’s Yoga

InsideOwl: Ashtanga and Imperialism
Yoga Vermont

76 thoughts on “Continuing the Conversation on Ashtanga Teacher Standards Changes

  1. anonymous

    branding? revenue? strategic marketing?

    are we talking about yoga?

    i think you and cody have totally missed the point. this is about keeping Ashtanga Yoga – as Pattabhi Jois teaches it – clean. His teaching has always been very specific. There are a lot of teachers who are teaching what they have been taught and rightly claiming Guruji as their teacher, but then there are more people claiming Guruji as their teacher (and posting a photo with them and him that they’ve taken on their site, as if to prove they’re authentic) and then not teaching what he teaches. This is taking advantage of him and the family and the work that their doing.

    What is happening will clean things up and keep it honest – and will keep overly ambitious, capitalistic, money-hungry, marketing strategist ‘yogis’ in check.

  2. ashtanga anarchist

    Anonymous … nice post but totally misguided. Since anyone, whether they have studied with the jois family or not can teach ashtanga yoga this move byt he family is just misjudged and divisive. Most students do not care if a teacher is authorised. what they want is good quality tuition and if it isnt 100per cent what jois teaches they do not care. Lets get over the myth that there is a traditional way to teach ashtanga. There is not. Jois has made numerous changes to the system over time which some people choose to overlook.

    How can jois clean up ashtanga yoga. it is in the public domain and any iodiot can set up an ashtanga school and there is nothing the family can do about it. Nothing.

    All of this comes about because now that his grandfather is no longer a force Sharath is trying to impose his will on the students to make them respect him. The thing is none of the long term students who have studied with his grandfather respect sharath and don’t care what criteria he lays down, he is not, and never willbe there guru. the only people who ‘repsect’ sharath are those who are seekign something … authorisation or certification.

  3. stroumfaki

    Ashtanga as the 8 limbed yoga is in the public domain but maybe they can trademark Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga or invent some other similar name for the system. Then using Bikram’s precedent in the courts all they need to do is copyright the sequences of poses. After that use enforcers (lawyers) to sue the pants out of anyone teaching the style covertly. Next step after that is franchise fees for studios. And we are set: Ashtanga Pure for Sure (Chin Mudra).

  4. kate

    “none of the long term students who have studied with his grandfather respect sharath and don’t care what criteria he lays down”…
    a pretty bold statement

  5. (0v0)

    AsAnarch, thanks for your various comments here. I sense that old-timers have less of a need to imagine everything involved here to be purely spiritual–no business considerations whatsoever. I’m really learning a lot from the different perspectives here, and yours is particularly unique.

    People got into all this in the comments at my place the other day too.

  6. rufus

    i know some “old timers” who have the utmost respect for shartah. they may not consider him their teacher, since he was running around with no pants on at 4 and 5 years old when they were practising in the shala, but they do respect him. maybe you don’t, but maybe you shouldn’t say that none of the older students don’t, since it’s really not true.

    i think sharath also knows that he can’t stop any punter from opening an ashtanga school, but he also knows that he can ensure that those schools that are opened and run by authorised/certified teachers who adhere to the traditional system will offer the “correct method” and so the pure form is out there for those interested in it. i know changes have been made from time to time by guruji. it used to be called the ashtanga yoga RESEARCH institute, now the research is done and no longer in the name!

    everyone will do whatever they’re going to do anyway.

  7. soreknee

    The ‘traditional’ method has been modified by many senior teachers because so many students were getting injured – unnecessarily, in their opinions, not as some ‘rite of passage’ as many seem to think it is.
    What’s the upshot of it all? Some senior teachers actually – gasp!- acknowledge Iyengar’s contributions and apply them liberally to Ashtanga. Is that a ‘samskara’ – thinking about how to do a pose without injury before making it a habit?
    Furthermore, and I’m speaking strictly as a very enthusiastic student and by no means a teacher, it’s been said by many authorized and certified teachers that time was SKP Jois offered variations for poses, brought people to the wall and otherwise modified the asanas as people were developing. The current situation is attributed largely to the sheer volume of people practicing in Mysore. Read some interviews with Nancy Gilgoff and see her opinion on how Ashtanga is being taught now in Mysore. People used to study the first 2 series somewhat contemporaneously.
    Ashtanga is a great tradition and should be preserved, but the current situation doesn’t seem likely to benefit more than a small few.

  8. doug

    I prefer to look at things this way.

    The number of teachers acknowledged as accurately transmitting the method taught at the AYRI ( or KPJAYI) has been clarified…


  9. Deane

    Krishnamacharya told Indra Devi to go teach after only 12 months practice. He didn’t give her all these rules etc that AYRI seems to love. This practice is no one’s property. AYRI should stop pretending it’s theirs. When Jois dies, things will fall apart. Sharath wont be able to keep it together.

  10. Mysore

    Come on this is so bad all these negative thoughts and ideas.
    This is becoming like CNN news. Were do I find the good news about Ashtanga yoga this site is trash.

  11. bifaroufas

    Good idea. Bury your head in the sand. No CNN and no Ashtanga news. No money making schemes. There are no Ashtanga good news anyway except in our practice.

  12. Kim

    Why is it that most of the people that post on this as well as other blog sites come across as angry (some downright venomous) and bitter? And why do the least informed seem to have the most to say?

    I’d like to suggest that instead of “inferring” meanings to anything that those who are truly curious ask the source. I’d also like to suggest that there are many interpretations for the new standards. The one I like is not about control or money at all, but about purity. Sharath (who is respected by many, many of Guruji’s old students that I know personally) may be trying to get back to Ashtanga in it’s purest form and may be trying to eliminate some of the truly bad teachers that have sprung up doing their own versions of the practice.

    A true Ashtanga practice is about more than asana. Remember the yamas? Isn’t it time that we were more discerning about the truth and only believed what comes directly from the source? What about ahimsa? Some of these posts drag Sharath’s name as well as “the family” through the mud. Isn’t this hurtful? I have to say, for a yoga website I’ve read some very un yogic things here.

  13. heather

    In response to “I have to say, for a yoga website, I’ve read some very un yogic things here.”

    I always find it funny that people have this impression that any yogic site or anything related to yoga it should all be pure, etc…People are supposed to talk like a “yogi” or “Yogini”….but what would that mean exactly. Being very soft and tender and trying hard not to offend someone?

    Personally, I trust those who speak their minds even if rough around the edges than I do those who candy coat their opinions so as to appear more “yogic” like…It’s like people who wear a lot of perfume…one wonders what they really smell like.

  14. soreknee

    right on heather. beyond that, it’s something that should be addressed because it will definitely impact the way yoga is taught and perceived. it should WORK – it should stand up to prodding and questioning.

  15. reality check

    Kim — I’m with you.

    Heather: “. . . people have this impression that any yogic site or anything related to yoga it should all be pure, etc…People are supposed to talk like a “yogi” or “Yogini”….but what would that mean exactly. Being very soft and tender and trying hard not to offend someone?”

    Well — duh! — yeah!

  16. soreknee

    typical zealots, dismissing any facts that might clash with their convenient delusion. Notice how none of soft tender yogis are offering any insights with regard to the points being made. It’s a discussion that you are shrugging off, not an argument. And it’s an interesting one for many of us. Soft and tender is for the New Age folks. Yoga hurts sometimes and so does the truth, when you cling too hard to the fantasy.
    None of these recent posts address the standards of teachers, the situation of students who have been studying with authorized teachers around the world, the demands placed upon individuals to make trips to Mysore every 18 months – or anything else. All I see is inflammatory rhetoric from people exhibiting what amounts to little more than blind faith. It’s a shame.

  17. heather

    The world is about contrast….

    You are joking in that yogic sites should be soft and tender…..Please rethink your view that being yogic only means being soft, tender…not offending…However, it also does not mean being rude and uncaring….If you reflect on many of the lessons given by various Guru’s…their lessons were anything but soft and gentle…

    As Soreknee points out the truth hurts…and these discussions are better than not at all…

    To get to the truth we have to trend thru some deep shit…it’s from where the beautiful lotus blooms…re: deep mud…life is not much different.

  18. Trust

    Trust…. Breath……We are all just students….Be humble that’s what makes a good student and a good teacher.
    At any moment you should be ready for change.
    Be Humble

  19. yogamind

    An interesting discussion concerning the list of teachers being created by the newly named K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. I think everyone who has practiced Ashtanga yoga for a long time owes a great deal to the Jois family but the lineage of Ashtanga yoga has already become a worldwide practice and is no longer a one family affair. Check out a good discussion of the continuation of the Ashtanga yoga lineage by parampara versus nepotism posted on The Ashtanga Yoga Blog at It raises some interesting questions.

  20. MK

    Ashtanga yoga belongs to the world. But the teacher list belongs to Guruji. It is his and Sharath’s decision to give their blessings for teachers who wants to teach Ashtanga. If they want to clean up the teacher list then so be it.

    Teachers who are not authorised or certified are still free to teach Ashtanga (and still use the same name) but it is up to the student to decide if they want to take a chance with a teacher that may not be teaching Ashtanga the traditional way.

    At the end of the day, it is just a piece of paper to say that you are a authorized teacher. as much as it takes only 200 hrs to be certified as a yoga teacher even if you have never practice a single hour of yoga before in your entire life.

    Most important thing is to find a good teacher, one who can direct you in the right yogic path and do ur practice with diligently and with utmost integrity.

    All these talk about nepotism and money, and being soft and being hard… just go practice…

  21. soreknee

    MK, I have to disagree with you completely. The registration with the Yoga Alliance, while it isn’t nearly thorough enough, still gives a level of assurance that AYRI authorization/certification does not. For instance one has to study a modicum of anatomy as well has have their actual teaching observed. Neither of these particularly important elements are considered when KPJAYI (as it is now known) grants students the authority to teach.
    The health of a student’s spine and knees is wholly tantamount to knowing the proper sequence and vinyasa count. The current teaching standards in Ashtanga have their priorities flipped the other way – hence the injuries piling up for both students and teachers.
    Nepotism is a strong word but a valid assertion in this case. Soon Sharath will have the last word on all things officially Ashtanga and it seems like he consolidating his influence methinks.
    I think it’s fortunate that most senior teachers (most of whom, it should be noted, live in the States) have diverged from the ‘proper’ teaching to a certain degree. It isn’t to disrespect Patthabi Jois but to save and benefit their bodies and those of their students.

  22. soreknee

    seth, seth, is that an example of ahimsa? i definitely have a lot to learn from you. how izzat gonna repair my broken knee from all those premature half-lotus postures? Cuz apparently according to the YOGA KORUNTA you can’t do ustrasana before garba pindasana is mastered, diggit?

  23. akee

    what is problematic, imho, with ashtanga yoga is not the practice itself but the attitude most take. it seems most are interested in mastering asana as fast as possible and forget about the qualities of observation and dedication that are necessary for progress on the yogic path. all this talk of lotus and such is revealing of the pushing forward attitude that of course will potentially result in injury.

    lotus, if it really matters, will come with patience and steady practice. the standing sequence will open the hips, knees, spine in order to prepare for the compressions of the knee and rotations of the hip required for lotus etc.

    most spend very little time on the fundamental poses (up to parsvattanasan) these poses prepare one for the standing balances which deepen the openings of the hips and knees and develop the strength required to begin the primary series.

    it is not fair to point fingers and wag tongues at others for problems encountered in practice if one is pushing to “get” the next pose or whatever. if the beginning of the practice is not sufficiently developed and understood then what follows will certainly be suffering. too many teachers, authorized, certified, or yoga alliancized, are moving students forward in practice before they are ready.

    students, athletic or not, who hop of the couch at mid life and attend 1 or 2 hour long led classes of any sort of vigourous practice should expect to feel discomfort and pain and to potentially experience a variety of injury.

    the beauty of the mysore style is that one can progress at a pace that is suitable and if their teacher has developed the ability to see and act with wisdom and compassion the student will benefit immensely.

    forget about just “getting” the next pose and study the yoga. follow the hatha yoga to the raja yoga. the ashtanga yoga. all eight limbs.

    a teaching accreditation is good for the resume but ultimately is no indication of ones competence or ability at teaching yoga.

    may all beings be happy

  24. Tanya

    Akee, I completely agree with you. The mental practices of patience and observation are the most important requirements before beginning a practice such as the primary series.

    It is the responsibility of the student to listen to their body and respect and honor experiences of pain or shortened breath (we all know that the only person responsible for ourselves IS ourselves) however, It is the responsibility of the teacher to make this known.

    I too find unrest in knowing that there are “certified” people teaching yoga with little over 200 hours of teacher training and no required yoga experience but this is why connection with our inner teacher, our awareness, is absolutely essential.

    om shanti

  25. Juan Delmastro

    Its amazing how the story of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga from Mysore (Krishnamacarya-Jois) can be further clarified, and seen as a “modern construction” and not a “sacred and blessed” tradition.

    These masters are saying/doing teachings that may contradict their way of teaching, their own previous personal practices, and the guiding of their own people versus discriminations towards “westerners”.

    No “sacred cow” now….

    I leave you my bloglinks for you to freely review some research I have done already for the past year (use the google flag-translator for your home languague):




    Juan Delmastro

  26. Mysore refugee

    I’m in Mysore, unimpressed and getting out. This entire cult of personality has actually forced me to leave my asana addictions bcs the rampant control issues are reminscent of a methadone clinic. Thank god there in no “Ideal” here. Don’t shave your heads kids….unless you look cute. The practice, whatever that is, will be your teacher.

  27. swaroopa

    Great to hear from you! Refugee!
    I was about to book my flight and room and got this from you!
    I hear the same everywhere at the moment.
    Its the ‘kings new clothes” syndrome out there! I have been before and hated it but was trying again as I was sure I was wrong with how I felt the first time, I thought it was me….Now..can you elaborate?

  28. Rick

    Cool there are to many people here anyway right now. It is nice with a smaller group of positive yogis.
    There are so many coming in the next few months also. It is great to have people thinking like you or else it would really be way to packed in Mysore.

  29. swaroopa

    Guys Guys I think we could all be ‘projecting’ right now!?. Yoga is the practice of observing others and youself without judgement! Its ok to think and say what we all feel as it will all change tomorrow; our views thoughts, emotions, everything changes constantly anyway so all this will be irelevant or relevant to each of us soon. Tears are our birthright. The purpose of yoga is to know thyself. If thyself is having a moment of depression or anxiety/judgement/agression, lets look at it, then let it go! In hindsight now may I say there is no use in conforming or informing as each of our journeys are ultimately the same whether we are in Mysore, Austrailia or Antarctica! The ultimate is to stay on the journey…right?
    Remember these words…
    The mind posessesextraordinary powers of creation and imagination that can lead us either into feedom or bondage. A.G Mohan

    If we let go of things our life is going to change. And the reality is that we are actually more afraid of change than we are of death.
    Caroline Myss

    I laugh when they call me a ‘yoga master’. What have I mastered?Just an ongoing exploration. The more we practice the more we sense the infinite nuances. Yoga is an endless journey.
    Rodney Yee

    When you realise how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.
    Gautama Siddhartha

    And beware….

    ”All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become”.

  30. camel poes

    i get about as much spiritual insight from this blog and these posts as i do from perez hilton. you used to post regularly about things “that mattered”. nowadays you drop some yoga gossip once every 4 or 5 months…step up your game peoples!

  31. ashtanga4life

    There is an energy created by gazing at the opinions of injured/angry students of a profound tradition.

    When the thumb is grasped in poses such as Trikonasa, particularly when the student has a posterior tilt to the pelvis and tight hamstrings, the teacher should forcibly push the sadaka as hard as possible to cleanse the nadis effectively.
    The tradition of parampara eschews disagreements with one’s guru, and when a student cannot sit in a simple cross-legged position for 15 seconds without rounding the lumbar spine, he should be forcibly contorted into padmasana for at least 25 long ujayi breaths, followed by 10 more (at minimum) in utplutihi.
    Furthermore it is essential that gods Vishnu, Brahmin and Ganesh are addressed thoroughly through practice, and that at all times bramicharya be maintained. There must be retention of vital fluids with the exception of procreation, and even then the homemaker may lose his chances for enlightenment in this lifetime.
    Those aspirants who practice poses such as salabasana and ustrasana prior to mastering supta kurmasana and the like are likely to damage the subtle nerves at the base of the spine.
    Reading this and other sacred text dissolves bad fat at the waist and destroys all diseases, including adultery.


  32. PJ

    I am one of the people mentioned who have made several trips to Mysore in the last four years spending over a year there total. I want to express that I respect Sharath a great deal as a Yogi, a teacher and most importantly a man. The word Guru means “Bringer of Light”. Sharath and Saraswati as well as Guruji have brought tremendous light to my life. I have learned so much from all of them. I found Sharath’s conferences this year extremely helpful and inspiring. Particularly because his english is excellent. I think that the critics and the sycophants both need to realize Sharath is a human being! He has been given an incredible responsiblity which none of us can fully comprehend. I personally think he has done a remarkable job with the students and I think the teacher updates are an attempt to get a hold of something that could easily get out of hand given the sheer numbers of students traveling to Mysore wanting to be teachers. How about just being students? I think that the criteria is fair. My only suggestion would be an interview prior to the authorization. I think this would be helpful. A few questions about one’s background and knowledge to make sure the student is aware of the parampara (the lineage) and of the rules. Look, they don’t ask much of us. Too many teachers were disrespecting by hosting “Teacher Trainings” and doing their own thing. If you want to be an Ashtanga teacher at least respect the meager requests of the family. I am just grateful that I have had the blessing of knowing them. I am loyal to Sharath and support him in his decisions. I trust his judgement fully. If you don’t respect him it’s most likely because you wanted something and didn’t get what you wanted ,or,more likely, you have never met him. He’s a superb teacher and a pretty cool guy. Let’s all just chill and enjoy this magical practice that makes life even more interesting! What a blessing!
    Om shanti!

  33. ashtanga4life

    Do you think making long-term trips to India every 18 months is a meager request?
    Richard Freeman, David Swenson, and Tim Miller continue to hold teacher trainings, ones where they actually train someone to teach and not just practice.
    Are they disrespecting the Guru? They have been practicing Ashtanga pretty much as long as Sharath has been alive.
    I guess these and other teachers have disciples and devotees just as the teachers in Mysore do. It’s up to anyone to decide who has the last word on authenticity, but as it’s been said before, that cat’s out of the bag with Ashtanga. It’s not just for Brahmins anymore!

  34. PJ

    Right on. Richard and Tim have permission to do what they do. I’ve met both of them and consider them and many others to be genuine masters. So they have their things going and Sharath has the main shala and ridiculous numbers to deal with. How long does it take to know someone in those conditions? Mysore is a tough little pressure cooker. Sharath keeps it hot and intense. His rules may not be meager to some. To some, these requests about 18 months and no teacher training and pushing through second series and the rest of it is too much. Thank goodness for Richard and Tim and other Certified and Authorized Teachers who are available around the world to share the practice. I believe there is a fine line being walked right now between maintaining the Parampara (the lineage) and proliferating the system around the world so more humans can take the benefit of this magical practice. Like magic though, if taught by someone who has not at least refined their own practice to a certain degree, it has a tendency to invite harm. Sharath’s just trying to keep it pure for sure you know. Got any good ideas on how he could do a better job? Personally, I think he’s done a great job under pressure, and I think it’s great that he is taking some time off to reflect and perhaps prepare himself for this position. As a result, Certified and Authorized teachers will be called upon to share the practice with the interested world. Let’s not forget Saraswati as well my babas. She is the backbone of the operation and still holds it down with grace and love. As far as I know she is still going to teach. I have great affinity for Saraswati and will happily visit her during the break. To each their own taste my babas. Not everyone has to dig the Mysore Masala, but I dig it the most. Peace out to all beings everywhere.

  35. ashtanga4life

    “Richard and Tim have permission to do what they do.”

    Where on the KPJAYI site does it say you can obtain teacher training from Richard Freeman, Tim Miller, or anyone outside of KPJAYI?
    The way Richard and Tim teach is definitely different than how yoga is taught at KPJAYI.

    “Like magic though, if taught by someone who has not at least refined their own practice to a certain degree, it has a tendency to invite harm.”

    Everyone has stories about being injured in Mysore. Apparently Sharath has his own interesting tale to tell as well. They may as well just say that injury is par for the course to be fair to the students. Especially when he is giving talks saying that alignment will just happen through regular practice. Lord have mercy.

  36. PJ

    It doesn’t say everything on the website. Nothing is really set in stone. Ask Richard or Tim if they have permission (from Guruji) if you are that curious. This is the shift. Sharath is just now taking some control. So there is a period of unrest as the shift takes place. This seems natural to me. “Everyone has stories of being injured in Mysore”? I’ve spent over a year of my life in that shala and I have witnessed no injuries (except in scooter accidents). The practice itself demands ridiculous motion from the body. Any movement from dance to sports to yoga can cause injury. I know people who have injured themselves sleeping! All this caution and fear in the world of yoga today…. in the world today; Sharath gives the best adjustments I have ever received. Why all the animocity towards him? I also agree with him that practice does align your practice. I studied Iyengar yoga for over 5 years and found it too tedious especially in the beginning. I was expected to have perfect alignment when I had an asymmetrical stiff body. I have an anatomical short leg and broke 16 bones in various accidents growing up. I have gotten much more aligned doing this practice regularly than I ever did using props and getting scolded by a school marm. Sharath’s practice is deeper than we know and he has much to share. He is young and cannot be expected to be the new “Guruji” over night. If you don’t like him don’t go to Mysore. One less hater to worry about. There are too many dabblers and trash talkers making trips now anyway. He is my primary teacher ,and I can’t just sit here and let people trash him. He’s helped me in my life and in my practice (which are becoming one in the same). I know many people have had rough times in Mysore. Some have had real slaps in the face. I too have had terrible hardships there both in the shala and out. These struggles have refined my character a bit and hopefully made me stronger. It’s nowhere near perfect ,but it is amazing and powerful. I empathize with those that have been rejected or hurt. May they find a better way to get where they want to go. There are many of us who are devoted to Sharath ,and we believe in him. What happened to you? Lastly, sometimes injuries are blessings in disguise. I personally needed to injure myself to restructure certain parts of my body to be more mobile. Exercise injures. That is the nature of it. We tear it down to stimulate the body into being stronger and more flexible. Most people injure themselves in the practice by being too aggressive. Sharath has told me to relax my face and has corrected my alignment many times. You ever have to work with 2 or 3 hundred people a day? It’s impossible for him to do everything for everyone. I am sick of all the selfish greedys and I am sure he is too. Don’t like the way it’s going, DONT GO TO MYSORE! It’s too crowded anyway. IF IT’S TOO HOT STAY OUT THE KITCHEN!

  37. Anon.

    QUESTION: Is this mentality common to the present generation of “dedicated” students in Mysore?

    I would hope the tradition would neither attract nor foster consciousness that is so childish, injured, defensive and conflicted.

    But maybe this is exactly where we’re at now.

    Good luck, PJ.

  38. PJ

    Typical hater mentality. I guess we should all just be critical, mean and demeaning to others. Let’s all just rip on our teachers and each other Anon. I can honestly and happily admit to being childish (kids rule!), and I most definitely know injury. I am at times conflicted ,but practicing usually helps. If defending one’s teacher is defensive than I’m that too. How about you? Have anything to share about yourself? Any constructive ideas about Ashtanga? Or are you just another critic lookin’ for something to hate on. I don’t need luck baba. I got love in my heart and gratitude for this amazing practice and its teachers. Lastly, Mysore has seen just about every mentality you can imagine. The shala has been shared by people of all races, sexes, colors, creeds, sexual orientation, athletes, artists, kids, the disabled and many other types of folks. Each has there own story and “mentality”. Why do we as ashtangis all have to be the same? Unity with Diversity; can you dig that? Cuz that is where we are at! “Remember remember the 5th of November!” Now stop hatin’ fools! One Love!
    “My country is the world and my religion is doing good.” -Thomas Paine

  39. Anon.


    The question was not asked in hate. Thanks for your honest response. Your practice sounds sweet and honest, even if you are defensive at the moment. 🙂 Sincerely,


  40. PJ

    That’s more like it! Thank you baba. Unity is Strength! I pray for a day when we can celebrate our differences. I pray that the founders and leaders of this yoga keep things alive with the same love and compassion as those before them. Peace to you Anon ,and peace to all those folks who have been hurt along the way either emotionally or physically. I hope these discussions improve our connections with the practice and each other. One love.

  41. uhom

    The future of the shala in Mysore looks dismal if we have to go by the Sharath the world gets to know through published interviews. Since he is a teacher offering a service, it’s fair to critique him in public and the idea that it’s some sort of unholy desecration is both untrue – and frankly frightening in this day and age.

    There is only anecdotal evidence that people have experienced minor injuries routinely in Mysore. But I’m inclined to believe it, although I haven’t been there myself. I’ve studied with many authorized teachers who went to lengths to adhere to ‘Guruji’s’ teachings – to, in their words, be ‘merely a vessel’ for what they learned in Mysore.
    What I noticed in Mysore classes here in my town was that most if not all students had chronic pain of some sort that went beyond what one might construe as acceptable or ordinary ‘exercise soreness’. This was most commonly knee, shoulder, wrist and back related. In my own situation, modifications were treated with little patience.
    Furthermore some teachers (authorized in fact) had chronic joint issues that they couldn’t resolve as well. They were told “practice and all is coming” – which they did heed to the letter – and they taught that way, too.
    I was the most consistent practitioner at the shala hands down, and it was interesting to observe how the classes kept getting smaller. It seemed like every visiting student who would drop in had injuries as well. It’s unlikely as long-term students of this school of asana that they were overstating they severity of their discomfort.
    I apologize for taking up space on a site that is really meant for those who practice ashtanga yoga. As you might have guessed, I gave it a try and decided I can’t anymore. It was a struggle for me personally, because I fell in love with the intense atmosphere and the austere commitment of long-term practitioners.
    It occurred to me that perhaps Mr. Jois has a unique and magical way of transmitting information that goes beyond words – but that few are really capable of teaching this way.
    I do actually take issue with the idea perpetuated by believers that this particular form of asana practice is somehow uniquely connected to Patanjali. That’s a towering claim that needs to be substantiated and never has been. Of course anyone interested might have come across references to a text called the Yoga Korunta which has never been seen. People really believe this and teach this, and it’s incredibly unfair and misleading.
    It’s not to say that study of philosophy and scriptures is unimportant, or that they haven’t been formative or at least influenced the development of the contemporary thing we call ‘yoga’ in the west. In order for the study of the art to grow and remain vital, I don’t think it can remain the sole intellectual property of a medieval, caste-constrained society. Krischnamacharya’s teachings evolved a lot during his long life, and whether conservatives like it or not it will continue to change and adapt to the needs of the practitioners – not the other way around.
    Some practitioners have a more ‘extreme sports’ kind of aesthetic with regard to practice – that the primary objective is confronting fear even if you get banged up sometimes. It sounds so exciting! But over a lifetime I would argue it has certain diminishing returns. I guess that might explain why so many westerners in Mysore visit the much-less-expensive MRI there.
    I’m really inspired by the zeal of the ashtanga community and thank you for this great forum. Take care of yourselves!

  42. PJ

    Anyone else want to discuss this one? I’m feeling like a spokesman for Mysore and the main shala. I’m usually the quiet one. I’m just in love with it. Not everyone digs it as much I guess. I think there is a yoga out there for everyone now. Yogabootybellydance anyone? Thanks Uhom. Your opinions and honesty in sharing your experience is aprectiated. I think you make some important points. Hmm…. the yoga korunta. I’ve seen photocopies of pieces of it. It was supposedly devoured by ants. Any scholars out there that can tackle this one?

  43. Ernesto,Brazil

    My Time,
    People here talk about Injuries , Sharath, New rules in the shala,
    Mysore …………., Now about number of students in class , Patanjali , Crazy . It is just about complaining and criticizing , I just have fun reading these comments. One here talk about Sharath injuries and back problems, My Father has back problems and never practice ashtanga .
    Maybe ashtanga is not for you people, it is like for me golf, ballet , hunting , etc ; When you do something in life that you truly like and have a meaning you will do , believe , respect , love ………. you dont have to understand so much you just do.VERY very very very very EASY.
    Find something that make sense to you and go for.
    Keep Smiling and have FUN,
    SUPER FOODS ( Hemp Protein, Spirulina, Maca , Cacau , Goji, Açai, Coconut oil and BEE POLLEN )

  44. uhom

    That’s so interesting. My mom doesn’t practice ashtanga and doesn’t have back problems. Sounds like you’ve been conducting a serious study. Oh, wait…

    I don’t know where to start with you. The gist of your statement, if I’m not mistaken is that vast subject of asana practice and tutelage is better off not being discussed altogether. This attitude is anti-intellectual, in the same way that Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, is.
    Your Guru wrote a detailed book on the principles of asana and its philosophy. He also expresses some of his forceful opinions of contemporary Indian society. I wonder if you’ve made time to read Yoga Mala or any of the scriptures it references. Many of the concepts don’t evoke smiles or fun.
    Iyengar injured himself doing Hanumanasana. Does that mean that it can’t be done without injury? Does that mean it can’t be taught without injuring the practitioner? Iyengar has written volumes on the subject. Should he have just kept smiling and having fun?
    The art of asana is a deep, wide, ocean. Some of us really want to practice and teach in the best way possible. Sometimes you have to argue and have discussions to ‘learn stuff’.

    I’m sorry you find that unappealing.

  45. Ernesto,Brazil

    Should he have just kept smiling and having fun?
    No No No No No , I will , you dont have to be sorry because I dont find that unappealing .
    For me is ok is you want to argue and have discussions to ‘learn stuff’.NO PROBLEM.
    Yoga Mala , I read more than 10 times (Practice and all is coming and Yoga is 99% practice e 1% theory) Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
    Many of the concepts don’t evoke smiles or fun. I never say that. Sarah Palin WHO?
    Happiness on the face, light in the eyes, a healthy body-these are the signs of a yogi, according to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the classic Sanskrit text on hatha yoga, I can find more but .
    What is perfect asana, and how do you perfect asana? “Sthira sukham asanam (YS 2.46).” Perfect asana means you can sit for three hours with steadiness and happiness, with no trouble. After you take the legs out of the asana, the body is still happy. In the method I teach, there are many asanas, and they work with blood circulation, the breathing system, and the focus of the eyes (to develop concentration). In this method you must be completely flexible and keep the three parts of the body – head, neck, and trunk – in a straight line. If the spinal cord bends, the breathing system is affected. If you want to practice the correct breathing system, you must have a straight spine( An Interview with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois).
    About BKS IYENGAR the little that I know Krishnamacharya ask him to do Hanumanasana and he never did before that asana then he jump over Iyengar legs. BUT I WASNOT THERE. Main page go.
    Please read what Guruji say about the science of yoga .
    Let me ask you just that when you fell some happiness in life or doing something that you like to do , do you smile? It is fun ?
    Simplicity, Santocha all yamas and niyamas Is part of my life .

  46. PJ

    So, I have been searching for more on the Yoga Korunta. Nothing. Here is my conclusion. Even if Ashtanga yoga only goes back as far as Krishnamacharaya (Highly doubtlful), it is still the most complete, clear and pure style of yoga I have come across in this life. In the book “The Yoga of the Yogi” by Kaustub Desikachar (awesome book) Krishnamacharya described his worst fear for teaching westerners was the commercialization of yoga. He dreaded the thought of Yoga as a commercial enterprise. Here in my town, we have corporate yoga studios funded and supported by psychiatric clinics, monolith health clubs with 10 different teachers. The US and Europe now offer every type of commercial yoga the mind can fathom from Iron Yoga to Hip Hop Yoga. I believe The great Guru would be profoundly disheartened by all this. Guruji and the family never claimed to be perfect. They don’t walk around claiming to be saints. They are real people doing their best to keep this style intact and serving its purpose which is to liberate people. They could make a killing from doing “teacher trainings” but they don’t believe in them. Krishnamacharya never did a “teacher training” nor did Guruji or BKS or Tim Miller or Richard Freeman or many of the “Great teachers”. Years ago I taught martial arts. I never attended a martial arts teacher training. I don’t think they exist. I reached a certain level of proficiency (black belt) and was asked to share my practice. I have friends and family in college education. One teaches photoshop and the other is an art professor. Neither of them ever took an education class. They simply studied and practiced their medium and as a result of having a brain they can share that info with others. Teacher trainings serve only one purpose and that is fattening the pockets of the host. There is a local Ayurveda/Yoga institute that sprang up here a few years back that certifies about 60 or more yoga teachers a year. It’ a 3 month course which requires no yoga experience. Many of these “certified yoga teachers” have a three month old yoga practice and now they are teaching! “First become student then share your practice” -Guruji 2007. This discussion is about the changes in teacher authorization requirements. I know these changes were a direct result of this “commercialization” of yoga Krishnamacharya feared all those decades ago. Mainly teachers in America and Europe have gotten greedy. They can’t resist the big and easy money one can earn by doing teacher training. This is why many don’t want to use the approved name “Ashtanga Intensive”. There’s no money in it! Everyone in the west wants to be a teacher. Soooo, as a result Sharath is making it harder to get and harder to keep. I say good. When every time I turn around and another fitness instructor or housewife lookin’ to supplement her income is now a “certified yoga instructor” I feel a shiver like it’s all coming apart. I have immense gratitude and respect for Shri K. Pattabhi Jois and his family for keeping the old style intact and not changing it to Jois yoga or Sharath yoga. I am grateful that the pratice is so challenging and strong and even dangerous. I am grateful that they make it sooo hard to be an authorized and certified teacher. These things give me hope that it will still be around in its intact form for the next generations to come. Uhom and the others who don’t practice ashtanga and have no taste for it have unlimited options for other yoga styles now. Find one that suits your needs; or, go with the current trend which is make up your own. Me, I dig my yoga like my food and art……
    authentic and spicy! I’ve never blogged before ever. This is my first one. Like I said previously I am usually quiet in these matters. However, this practice has helped me find my voice. It has helped me to be more bold than ever. Thank you to Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, Saraswati and Sharath for sharing your practice with me. It continues to serve me well. Vande Gurnam

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