The reports of the death of Ashtanga Yoga have been greatly exaggerated by Matt Ryan
So I’m walking round my local neighbourhood of the Venice Beach area of LA trying to get my bearings and also get a feel for the place – and for the people, when as luck would have it I stumble across a yoga studio. Well to be honest there was no luck involved – yoga studios are two a penny here, it seems there’s one literally on every street corner. Anyway I thought I’d go in say hello and make some ‘connections’ with my fellow yogis. The owner / founder bloke was sat on his tod in reception – let’s call him Dave for now. I introduced myself to Dave told him I was new to the area and that I taught Ashtanga Yoga – have done for over 15 years and that I’d been to Mysore a bunch of times.
‘Oh no-one is interested in Ashtanga anymore buddy’ Dave informed me. ‘I mean I practice Ashtanga myself but it’s all about the Vinyasa Flow now – check this out’ to which he hands me his studio’s timetable. A quick scan of his timetable tells me that it IS all about the Vinyasa Flow for his studio – no shit! There were no other classes other than Vinyasa Flow on there! I wanted to make a sarky comment about him saying that he practiced Ashtanga, and then I doubted whether he could SEE his toes let alone touch them , but I held my tongue and tumbled back out onto the street feeling completely bewildered my mind all in a tiz – has Ashtanga really bitten the dust I thought to myself. Is it time for me to go with the (vinyasa) flow and do some new fad yoga 200 hours teacher training programme*. Have things gotten that bad that I’ll have to start teaching Boxing Yoga™ ** or maybe even much much worse … the dreaded Hot Yoga. I could see the headlines now ‘Yoga teacher who never had anything good to say about Hot Yoga now teaching Hot Yoga’ I nearly collapsed at the thought.
The next day I decided I was going to ‘take practice’ at the local Ashtanga Yoga studio up the road– usually I just practice at home (as this means I can do it in my (under) pants and can break wind anytime I bloody well want to without fear of offending anyone). I’d not been to this studio before but if Vinyasa Dave was correct I guess I’d be there on my own with a couple of tumble weeds blowing round the studio. I got there nice and early and parked up the motor and then proceeded to walk into a jam packed studio full of Ashtangis – my heart leapt with joy – ok maybe that’s a little poetic for a sarcastic Mancunian let’s just say I was reet happy ! I felt like running round and high fiving every one – I actually felt like taking a short video and messaging it to Vinyasa Dave with a caption saying ‘Ashtanga’s not dead, BUDDY’ but didn’t.
After class I’m driving home with that lovely post Ashtanga buzz with a big smile on my face. It’s almost like smoking a medicinal herbal cigarette but without the paranoia and halitosis. I’ve mentioned this countless times before but to me practicing Ashtanga makes me feel great, it’s a no brainer – why wouldn’t anyone want to feel like this. It makes life that little bit sweeter, and easier to navigate. Yes it’s hard to get up in the morning especially when it’s cold wet and damp but boy oh boy oh boy it is worth it – try it for yourself. You might just might start to like your boss – or even accept his/her terrible witticisms.
So just a heads up to Vinyasa Dave , Ashtanga Yoga is alive and kicking – and has been for hundreds ( if not thousands) of years my dim-witted friend. It has an ultra-rich history , heritage and tradition that other ‘Johnny come lately’ yoga traditions can only dream of.( I must say it does feel good to know that this practice that I am dedicating my life to was borne out of a want to improve the self and not the self’s bank balance). Ashtanga Yoga will still be going strong when you’ve turned your studio into a Cage-Fighting Yoga emporium or any other completely whack form of physical practice that the money men have paired up with Yoga.
* Can I just say for the record that God only knows who or what team of imbeciles / con men came up with the magic number of 200 hours as an appropriate length of time to deem someone capable and competent to teach yoga. Meh!
** if the person that teaches Boxing Yoga In Manchester is reading this please please please stop emailing me about hosting a Yoga Boxing workshop – I have no interest what so ever about the ridiculous money making scheme of pairing yoga and boxing and even less interest in supporting a workshop. Many thanks – have a lovely day!