Ashtanga practitioners have more options than you might think:
Washington Post Express Never Out Of Practice: Mysore yoga classes help students advance at just the right pace – “First-timers get personal training in a few postures, starting with five rounds of sun salutations, and that may be all they do. As they return to class and master that section, the instructor adds on. Advanced students can complete the beginning of the series, but at some point, even people who can hook their legs around their necks need an assist, a modification or a pep talk.”
A few months ago, I pointed to another article about Ashtanga and Mysore practice in the DC area.
Thanks to Donavan Wilson for tipping me off about this article since I am “out of pocket” (meaning “away,” it’s journalism jargon, if I remember correctly.)
In a real media milestone in Washington, DC, yoga has made it on to the pages of one of the mainstays of congressional politics, Roll Call, (I can’t say that this is the first time that Roll Call has done a yoga story; see the listing below):
Roll Call Around the Hill: The Yoga of Rules: Mysore Yoga Expands in D.C. “Mysore yoga is an individual practice within a group setting. Students do a set of poses in a prescribed order with a specified stopping point, as determined by the instructor. The poses, called ‘asanas,’ are divided into six series; most students stay within the first two series, called primary and intermediate. Students new to Mysore (even those with an established yoga practice) are given a short set of poses to do before they are sent home with instructions to come back the next day. And the following day. And the day after that.”
This was a feature-length article requiring three web pages. It did not cover Ashtanga yoga just as the latest fad on the Hill (Mysore practice is anything but faddish, as my friend Donavan Wilson can testify to.). It went to the trouble of explaining why Mysore practice is different from the garden-variety vinyasa or hatha class. The story mentioned five studios offering the Mysore practice so it’s not just a favor for a friend. I did not even know there were six places offering Mysore. Rebecca Gale, the reporter, quotes leading Ashtanga teachers in DC (Peg Mulqueen, Keith Moore, Jen Rene, Tova Steiner and David Ingalls).
Of course, when I did a search for “yoga” in the Roll Call archive, I found 61 articles, some of which probably only use the term in passing or as a metaphor. But I did find some substantial stories that showed that Roll Call has not ignored the topic. Just another sign that yoga is seaping into the US mainstream culture. I should also clarify that the online version of a publication may different substantially from the print edition:
I should also note the Washington yoga did make a major splash with the Obama II Inauguration, as sampled by Yoga Dork and probably a lot of other places.
I saw this story by chance. It shook me out of my lunch time langor and made me blog about it. When the stars align, I have to celebrate it.
At the workshop this past weekend, Beryl Bender Birch drew a picture that caught my imagination. Back in the days of the Palace of Mysore when the trio of future gurus of classical yoga (T.K.V. Desikachar, B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois) were studying under Krisnamacharya, the father of hatha yoga (it’s his 1938 video to the right), the Maharaja of Mysore was also patron to Western gymnastics that was brought to India by the British colonial regime. The two groups of students stood at opposite sites of the courtyard that served as classroom, copying techniques from each other. She said that a lot of the sequencing of vinyasa come from that cultural cross-pollination. It struck me as ironic that the East-West convergence influenced the formation of classic yoga. And today you’re getting another round of convergence as yoga meshes with American (and other Western) culture.
You can see a historic video of Iyengar from the same period.