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 â€“ 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 â€“ 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