Ashtanga Yoga Conference 2015

The conference was such an amazing and fruitful experience. Amazing, because I had the privilege of being in the presence of Ashtanga yoga’s most senior teachers. One of whom is Nancy Gilgoff, one of Guruji’s first students back in the 1970’s.

The conference was held in Ubud, Bali in collaboration with Ashtanga Yoga Bali Research Center (AYBRC). The other teachers for this conference were Manju Jois, David Swenson, Anthony Carlisi (Prem), Heather Duplex (Radha), Danny Paradise and Eileen Hall.

In that week, the teachers each shared their own yoga journey and experiences to all of us. It was very clear what yoga meant to them and they were sharing with such earnestness that you immediately get an idea of how dedicated they are to their practice. It was also clear that their practices have evolved through the years. And it is because of the maturity of their personal practice that they are able to inspire, help people and continue Guruji’s work.

So, here’s just a few points from each one’s talk:

Manju

It’s about the quality of the yoga not the quantity. 

Nancy

It is important to have a self practice – listen to own self rather than depend on a group dynamic all the time. Practice is about independence. 

David

Vinyasa – precise synchronization of breath and movement; every movement has a prescribed breath; “it is an attempt at aligning ourselves with the inherent continuum of motion that permeates the universe in which we reside”  

Prem and Radha

Get in touch with your energy- manage it. Find the ebb and flow in the practice.

Danny

4 Questions to ask yourself:

Am i happy with what I’m doing?

Is what i’m doing adding to the confusion in the earth?

Is what i’m doing contributing to peace?

How do I want to be remembered when I die?

Eileen

Allow the physical form to fade away and become the breath, the energy. 

In that week, I learned that my 8-year old Primary Series practice is not entirely healthy in a way that I am causing an imbalance through all the forward bending that I have been doing for that long period. It’s been said in one of the panel discussions that we should put less focus on the binding or perfecting a pose before moving on to the next, but more on the dedication and earnestness of the student. According to Nancy, Guruji said that, “the next pose helps the last”. So in line with this, I got the first 6 poses of the Intermediate Series from Manju. I also got advise from Nancy to always start the week’s practice with Primary Series and practice up to the Intermediate poses for the rest of the week, or stop at Navasana followed by Intermediate if I’m tired. She also advised that I can do this alternately depending on my energy.

I asked about Friday led classes and she said that it’s a new thing and that she does not practice or teach that way, because that is not how she learned. Anyway, I will do my best to integrate the old and the new as a practitioner in this tradition.

Another thing I got is that it is urgent that I have one teacher that I keep going back to. Hmm…time to seriously consider this.

Here are some photos from the conference…

Ananda Cottages, venue for conference

a lotus pond

first day welcome into the shala

Manju Jois

David Swenson

Nancy Gilgoff

addho mukha svanasana

Prem and Radha

waiting to chant the opening mantra

last day of practice – teachers

last day of practice – practitioners

Danny Paradise and friends in concert to end the conference