We teach Ashtanga Yoga
What does this mean?
In the early 20th century, while India was under British rule, several yogis came to America and introduced the far west to the arts of yoga and the philosophy therein. While several religious and spiritual traditions from the East have visited the West, almost all yoga currently taught in the USA came from one source, and that is a yogi named Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya was the teacher of Indra Devi (the first American yoga asana teacher), BKS Iyengar, TKV Desikachar, and Sri K Pattabhi Jois. These yoga students of Krishnamacharya, who went on to become highly influential yoga teachers, are the source of the vast majority of yoga that is practiced today. Their practice was based on the teachings of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which outlines a method of living life that has 8 components, or “limbs”. This document (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) was originally written in Sanskrit, and the Yoga Sutras outlined the method as “Ashtau-angani”, meaning “eight limbs” (source: Yoga Sutra 2:26-29). Therefore, our practice is defined by these 8 limbs of yoga, and this document (the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) supersedes all other knowledge based teachings of yoga, for someone practicing Ashtanga. We honor many of the yoga shastras (authoritative writings in this regard) but rely distinctly on the yoga sutras.
Ashtanga Yoga (sutra 2:29) is our practice, and it is our way of life, not just how we behave in yoga class. When we practice yoga in the method outlined by our yoga teachers, we participate in the movement of humanity that has sought to free humans from suffering for thousands of years. We practice the methods given to us by these traditions, and we trust their guidance, while recognizing it is up to us to move ourselves, and the art of yoga itself forward beyond our generation. When we practice or teach yoga, we do not compare ourselves to others or compete to have the “best” yoga; we instead acknowledge the wisdom of our ancestors, and a lineage of yoga practice that extends hundreds of generations into the past. We practice humility by accepting our limitations, and reaching for assistance from an ancient yoga lineage that seeks to give knowledge to us. We seek to practice yoga in a systematic way, without break, with passion and enthusiasm (yoga sutra 1:14-21), with a qualified teacher. Like a scientist or a philosopher (a yogi maybe is both!) we study the classical literature and knowledge base of our system, we look to be a part of something that existed before us and will exist after us. We can only hope that our practice of yoga in our lifetime will be of assistance to others after we are gone. In the spirit of this service we offer our efforts and our practice in this lineage of yoga to our community.
Our practice gratefully works to build upon the vast knowledge of yoga within sacred texts such as The Yoga Sutras, The Samkhya Yoga Karika, The Siva Samhita, and Hatha Yoga Pradipika, as well as garnering truths from contemporary masters such as BKS Iyengar and Sri K Pattabhi Jois, who also studied these texts, and expanded on both theory and practice of yoga. Our practice of Ashtanga Yoga honors traditions, while adapting the practice for the benefit of all of humanity. Ashtanga Yoga is the practice of yoga that was given to the world by people from India; great sages who knew the world was headed into a difficult time, and needed yoga definitively. We practice yoga in this spirit, and in this light we offer it to our community, as we are students of the lineage of Ashtanga Yoga, by way of the teachers who taught us, and thus the teachers that taught them before us, and thus who learned yoga from the ancient lineage, dating back to ancient times. This is our practice; Ashtanga Yoga.