Ashtanga Yoga is not fun

Posted by Zee Mark | Tuesday, June 11, 2019 | Posted in

I read somewhere on the net this simple question:

Where did you get this idea that your yoga practice has to be fun?  

True. Why should yoga practice be fun? Sharath says we should enjoy our practice, but it does not mean the practice is a "fun" thing. And it is not "fun" thing. It is hard work.

In Toronto Body Mind blog a yoga teacher Shareen describes the ashtanga practice in details. She said - Ashtanga yoga is certainly not something you choose to do if you are merely looking for entertainment, or for a social activity, or even for “Madonna arms”.

"Fun" is not what comes to mind when you mention Ashtanga yoga.

Anyone who’s done this practice knows that heart starts pumping after completing just the sun salutations at the beginning of the practice and that itself is quite challenging. And anyone who’s ever gone all the way through the standing and sitting sequence up to navasana, half primary, or attempted the complete full primary series understands what effort and strength are all about.

What’s the main message yoga studios want to give to the people about yoga practice?

Just have fun!

Well, that should be the main reason why ashtanga yoga is not so popular in yoga studios.

I always try to remind myself that ashtanga practice is not about how hard I work, but how effortlessly I work. It’s not about big movement, but about subtleties and the saving of energy.

Ashtanga is not for everybody. Most people do not like it. It is the repetition of the same postures that makes ashtanga yoga so unpopular. People want varieties, freedom of the movement, music, heat etc...

Ashtanga yoga teachers do not have a great sense of humor. In the best ashtanga class you hear only counting of breaths and occasionally inhale and exhale and that's it. There is no "Connecting energy to the earth" or "Let the light fill your head". No such things in the ashtanga class.

Anyway, regardless of everything, today I did my practice according to my schedule. I woke up at 6 AM, had a coffee. I turned on the Max's lead primary class and I started the practice around 7 AM. Very fast 5A and 3 B sun salutations, all standing and sitting postures up to navasana, performed all vynasas. I finished the practice with longer than usual closing sequence. I want to do back bending with 5 bridges (urdhva danurassana).

Tomorrow is next practice. 99% Practice, 1% Theory.

Manju Pattabhi Jois - Saving traditional yoga from the circus

Posted by Zee Mark | | Posted in

Image Credit to Ashtanga Yoga Vienna  (the workshop was on primary series in Vienna 2015)

In a world where selling yoga pants can make you very, very rich, 71-year-old Manju Pattabhi Jois follows back to the “old school” gurus — those who choose their students rather than the other way round.

Any big city yoga franchise would blissfully welcome the world-travelling master of Ashtanga yoga, but he’s at a small studio in Whistler last weekend because its owner made an annual journey to his father’s school in Mysore, a city in southern India, for 15 years running.

“You have to have had a relationship with him personally or his father. People have offered him lots of money and he’s not interested. He just goes to his students and I’m a long-term student of his,” Tina James, owner of Loka Yoga in Whistler, said Friday.

James, originally from London, England, said 20 yoga instructors and 40 yoga practitioners filled the spaces for Jois’s five-day visit as soon as it was announced.

People have come from Germany, the U.S., the U.K. — “yoga stalkers,” as she affectionately calls them.

“He is one of the greatest teachers alive now from the old school,” says James. “He’s so not about the money. It’s a joy to work with someone like that because unfortunately today yoga has become awful with that in mind.”

Manju Jois is the son of K. Pattabhi Jois, the founder of the Ashtanga school of yoga, which has transformed into the yogic practice of choice for celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna and Sting.

The death of K. Pattabhi Jois at the age of 93 in 2009 was noted around the world because of his reputation as the master of a form of yoga that incorporates a series of poses performed with slow, rhythmic breathing that has spawned offshoots such as vinyasa, flow and jivamukti yoga in the West.

Manju Jois has made his home in the U.S. since 1975 — in Southern California, of course — and has observed the explosion of yoga’s popularity over the decades.

What’s his take on it now?

“The tradition is missing,” Jois said in a telephone call from Whistler. “Everybody is starting their own style and that is going to destroy the real, traditional yoga. It’s becoming like a circus. My whole goal is to keep tradition, to teach people everything they want to know about yoga.”

That includes breathing exercises and chanting, not just the poses, said Jois.

“When people start practising that, they will get the full benefit of yoga. That’s how I learned from my father and that’s what I try to spread around the world.”

Other descendants of K. Pattabhi Jois are involved in high-end studios in the U.S. which has created some alarming anxiety among devotees who see it as pure commercialization. Jois Yoga shalas — or schools — are now located in Encinitas, Calif., Greenwich, Conn., Islamorada, Fla., and Sydney, Australia. The company has also created “a spiritually conscious line of clothing.”

Ashtanga yoga guru K. Pattabhi Jois with son Manju (right) and grandson Sharath, who teaches yoga in Mysore, India, and is a partner in the U.S.-based Jois Yoga schools. The eldest Jois died in 2009.

Manju Jois represents himself with an abbreviated web presence that includes a short biography (he began early morning yoga with his father at age seven; started teaching at 15) and a link to where he will appear next. This week Whistler; next month Halifax, then the U.S. and Brazil; Italy and Germany in June.

“I don’t consider teaching as work because I enjoy being around people and sharing,” said Jois, who travels most of the year. “It gives me a lot of energy.”

Going to Mysore to get authorisation to teach ashtanga yoga?

Posted by Zee Mark | | Posted in

Ashtanga yoga changed your life. Your body changed. Your mind changed. You stopped being depressed. You began to eat better. Your relationships evolved. Your sex life improved. You don’t even know how all this came true, but when the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. you happily get of the bed in the dark with your yoga mat to embark to the most challenging hour of your day. You love the practice. And love is a starting point for the rest of your life.

Recently, you become a yoga teacher almost by accident. You finished 200 hours of the yoga teaching training program at local yoga studio, you can do flying pigeon. Jump back and jump through became easy as well as other asanas of your ashtanga yoga primary series practice. You feel like a hero, you found that being a yoga teacher is by far the best job you’ve ever had.

But you are not satisfied with that. You want to STUDY ashtanga yoga. You've build impressive resume, the list of important yoga teachers (celebrities) you have met, practiced with, attended yoga conference classes, done a workshop with.

And naturally, you start considering a trip to India to practice yoga at the Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI) in Mysore, in order to attain ashtanga yoga teacher authorisation/certification...

It is possible to be authorized by Sharath to teach ashtanga yoga, though the process is vaguely defined and ever-evolving. You may be a long-time practitioner and a yoga teacher back home, going there year after year and not obtain anything. That's perfectly fine. But going to Mysore for the first time with the intention of getting authorized, regardless of how well your practice is, is the ridiculous. If you go, go with no expectations in that regard.

The Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute is dedicated to the education of yoga practitioners. Practitioners should come with the sole purpose of studying the tradition from its source. Students traveling to Mysore should not come with the expectation of obtaining Authorized or Certified status.

The list on this website constitutes the official record of teachers approved by the KPJAYI, which is the only authority able to authorize or certify individuals to teach the ashtanga yoga method as taught by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath. There are no teacher training programs approved by this Institute under any name (e.g., Ashtanga Teacher Intensive); teachers that are listed on this website are experienced practitioners and dedicated students who have shown a considerable degree of proficiency and appreciation of ashtanga yoga in its traditional form and who continue to study regularly at the KPJAYI.

Teachers are required to teach the method as it is taught by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath at the KPJAYI in Mysore, India. They should maintain a yoga room or shala to allow for daily, preferably morning, Mysore-style practice and should honor Saturdays and the full/new moon days as rest days.


When you arrive to Mysore and start practicing ashtanga yoga with Sharath, leave your ego at the door, because you are about to be no big deal. You’ll be told what time to come to the shala, anywhere between 4:30 a.m and noon. You’ll be told when you may start the practice. You’ll be told where to put your mat. When you reach a troublesome asana with which you do with difficulty, you’ll be told to stop. At which point you’ll roll up your yoga mat and head to the changing rooms to take your closing sequence, because that’s what you’ve been told to do...

Try not to judge, remember, your ego is left at the door. If you think you’ve got a pretty good handle on things in ego-department, you’ll be tested. The ashtanga practice will challenge you. People will challenge you. Mysore will challenge you. You will experience ego panic on your way into the shala for a packed 6:00 a.m led Primary Series. And eventually you may swear... you might surprise yourself.

On the floor, you will be unnoticeable. With several hundreds of ashtangis coming to the shala during teaching season, there is no much personal attention from Sharath to go around. You’ll be on your own for the most part. Which for you as an inquisitive student can be glorious. Or not, if you’re expecting other sort of things.

May I ask you... What do you study anyway? People do asana practice according to abilities of their physical body: strength and flexibility. Is there any deeper  philosophy behind ashtanga yoga? Sharath doesn't allow anymore that students take notes or videos from his conferences. That is so sad. I enjoy reading those notes. They are better than Monty Python and South Park together.

Sharath's message is simple, just do your asana, read Bhagavad Gita, be nice and say you are sorry when you done wrong. Do not eat meat and don't kill spiders, give couple cents to beggars, hope for transcendental bliss, cosmic consciousness, supreme love... be quiet, make babies, smile, breathe deeply, keep moola bandha, be good, don't ask questions, don't use your mind, don't make a disturbance ...

"No one owns yoga", said Sharath but ability to carry on and convey the teaching of ashtanga yoga is assessed by Sharath and Sharath alone. Chain of command is very important, try to trust his judgement in these matters, and keep going to Mysore, authorization or no. Good luck.

What Does It Mean To Be An Ashtangi?

Posted by Zee Mark | Monday, June 10, 2019 | Posted in

I am an ashtangi. I don't really like any personal labels but this is what I am. I do ashtanga yoga everyday and my life revolves around it.

What does it mean to be an ashtangi?

Ashtanga Yoga holds the key to rediscovering yourself. In time, this practice helps you in your everyday life. You quickly understand that you don't have a control of your life. The ways you react to challenges and handle situations begins to change, as you start to see that you cannot get hold on anything.

To be an ashtangi means to be an outsider, a kind of a rebellion. Ashtanga Yoga takes you out of the mainstream. By being an ashtangi you start having an alternative and mindful way of living. It is not just about lululemon pants, not even chanting or meditating for peace, or quitting your job to be a yoga teacher or saving bees or wales or the Earth itself.

Ashtangis are those who stay in the world, doing the same thing as before, working hard, having drinks, raising children... about those who do yoga everyday and the deeper they dive into the practice, the more questions they dissolve. They simply see that nothing has an intrinsic meaning. Not even the practice itself. But they doing it anyway what a hell.

To be an ashtangi means to go against the status quo of what you think we should look like, or should do with your life. You rebel against the accepted norms and against what your family may have expected you to do with yourself and your career. Your daily practice gives you the ability to stay true to your own path.

Daily practice develops a detached awareness so you as an observer of the mind is strengthen over time. You begin to understand and accept that your thoughts really create your reality. But that realization does not mean anything either, you notice that it is easy to fall back into the habit of projection into the future with anxiety which can lead you to depression.

By continuing going to the mat and breathing five breaths in each pose, brings your attention to the present moment. You start to notice the present, and while breathing in a difficult pose there is freedom to be yourself.

The present moment is not different than your own self. 

You cut the limiting beliefs about yourself that hold you back from your dreams, because you come to realize that you are nothing of what you thinking to be.

That is the connection to the self that you have forgotten it. But yoga is a direct line back to that union. "Yoga" means union and now you understand with what. Your self is your best friend who many of you may have forgotten.

You can have no friends and be lonely, and turn to neediness on your wife, kids or lover. But in coming home to your self through yoga, you realize each and every time that you are indeed free and enough as is. You become so confident in your solitude.

This epiphany that makes you aware of the fact that your self is all you've really got in this world and that realization will give you knowledge how to handle your outside relationships and be a good partner.

To be an ashtangi is to have a shiny eyes that are smiling on mundane life. That freedom is a gift of ashtanga yoga to you. Your good fortune may have happened by luck or chance but the shiny eyes make the abundance of opportunities.

You are not obsessed over what you do not have, what you have not accomplished, and how you will not be happy nor complete nor fulfilled until you meet your soulmate. You stop comparing yourself to the status, success, fame or celebrity of others, instead you enjoy peaceful knowledge of your own self. And you practice ashtanga yoga.

How Yoga Destroyed My Marriage

Posted by Zee Mark | Sunday, June 9, 2019 | Posted in

I met my ex on April 4, 1991 ... 28 years ago

I don't remember names and faces but dates, dates I do remember very well. You just ask me where I was on any particular day in my past and I can tell you. Is that a consequence of writing a blog or my recapitulation practice, I don't know.

So, 28 years ago I met my ex. It was a students party, The Student Day back in former Yugoslavia and we met on the party. We started dating couple months after that. We were together 24 years, married 22 years ...  I separated with my ex on June 30, 2013.

I write this post for you, unhappily married man, particularly if your wife practice yoga. Believe me... there is a reason to be afraid, so you might even read this article to the end. If you can read it to the end, you might come to your senses. Maybe. I mean, what else can you do, you're heading toward divorce, my friend.

Divorce... Does it sound terrifying? Nope, divorce is a really cool thing that lets you be the one you want to be again.

I love being divorced. Every year has been better than the last. By the way, I'm not saying don't get married. If you meet somebody, fall in love and get married. Then get divorced. Because that's the best part. Divorce is forever! It really actually is. Marriage is for how long you can hack it. But divorce just gets stronger like a piece of oak. Nobody ever says 'oh, my divorce is falling apart, it's over, I can't take it. - Louis C.K.

Well, let me tell you my story...

New Year Eve 2012... Punta Cana

We don't have a future together.

It was Sunday, June the 30th 2013, after 22 years of being married, my wife spoke out and informed me, with the bone-chilling realization, that our marriage wasn’t going to work out.

"We don't have a future together" she told me on that day when I asked what bothers her. I knew that our relationship is not the best one. She was nervous and bitter for days so it all ended that Sunday.

When I heard those words I was not so surprised. I asked her is she serious and I told her to check her heart and see does she love me. She said, NO, things have changed. I got up then and moved my bed to yoga room. I moved out from our apartment in two weeks and I started to live the life of a divorcee.

There is a strange connection between yoga practice and divorce. At least 70% of women who started practicing yoga, in their late 30’s and into their 40’s, have since gotten divorced.

According to my experience, it really appears that yoga practice (indirectly) is a strong influence for my ex's divorce decision. I do believe yoga was partly to blame for my divorce.

April 2013, the end was coming

How Yoga destroyed my marriage. 😏

My ex was a yoga teacher while we were together; she has completed 3 yoga teacher training (200 hours certification each) and countless workshops from Ashtanga celebrity instructors, Hot yoga workshops, Iyengar yoga, Bikram yoga, you name it. She, so to speak, embarked on an introspective journey, sparked by the spiritual practices of yoga.

She read the Alchemist, the Secret and the Power of Now, those are the three most dangerous pre-divorced books.

She practiced yoga, 4-5 times a week, she became extremely self-driven, goal-oriented and independent. She wasn't needy anymore; she’s determined to get what she wants out of this world. She didn't care about the meaning of life; she had a strong mind and sharp opinions. She's well-educated and deeply contemplative. She embraced her individuality to the fullest... Bottom line is this... she did not need me in her life anymore.

Ironically, when women are deeply into yoga, they may experience a wave of spiritual awakening, and they can become frustrated with all the emotions that awakening brings to the surface. They clearly see that something is wrong, their life is an emptiness and other truths about their relationship.

The yoga helped her to rediscover her real position. She was awakened from the mundane life of everyday obligations and the first step done in that newly acquired freedom is to get rid of me. The first thing she did is to blame me as a husband for everything she was lacking in her life.

My ex, just like many others, started to search within... but she did not discover truth, she discovered false things. Good enough... for divorce.

Well, come on, to be quite honest, I knew it. I have known that one day our marriage will break. We have lived a life more and less like strangers. I have learned whatever it is she needed to teach me (and vice verse) so our time was not necessary anymore and it was over.

Bye, bye Bella, August 2012

This was my life, I thought. But it was not anymore.

Is this sounds familiar to you? This is how things are... Realistically, you'll collapse after divorce.

Maybe you're thinking that I, as an awakened being, was supposed to be a sterling example of composure and serenity, a person of exquisite poise and understated elegance radiating love and compassion. Maybe you're thinking I should transcendent daily life annoyances, that I was the who lives untouched by the petty challenges of daily life.

Far from that. My state of inner harmony was disturbed. The separation rocked the very foundation of my existence, leaving me feeling lonely, flawed, enraged, undesirable, hopeless and empty. My first month after splitting up was all about grief and mourning for hopes and dreams that can never be fulfilled, shock and bewilderment, guilt, regret, and remorse, sympathy and antipathy... in one word - devastation.

I just wanted to forget her and move on into a new life. I was going through a protracted meltdown that has uprooted me from my daily life. In August I went back home and somehow I was feeling better.

Immediately after divorce, you'll start remembering all the most irrelevant details in your married life. You'll start counting the days for how long are you single. And if you're lucky, you'll find yourself with a couple of divorced buddies, start smoking the red Marlboro, drink IPA beer and start wanking regularly.

We are predictable, and prone repeating the same life mistakes, again and again, so you'll start looking for the women who resembles your ex. We'll call that "moving on". Moving on after divorce generally begins with the online dating. And there we'll get more disappointments which are carefully placed in between episodes of grief and other emotional crisis.

Be prepared on time, it will happen, your world will crash into a million tiny pieces. The world that you're so carefully built from scratch, weaving together dreams and reality to form something so wonderful it seemed it would last forever. Nothing lasts forever. And that's a good thing.

The last photo together... Punta Cana, April 2013

It is impossible to stay a friend with ex.

Now, I remember our marriage as essentially a marriage of two strangers, we were together for a long but each of us was utterly alone, pervaded by the deep sense of insecurity, anxiety and guilt.

After the separation, I wanted to be a friend with her but she refused any contact. I have realized that she has planned divorce a long time before she actually expressed her feelings. I do regret the time spent with her, I regret being ever married to her.

Anyway, I don't want to sound pathetic, much less nostalgic. After 5 years of separation I find it necessary to see things as they were. No imagination or wishful thinking. It is true, we didn't have a future together.

I discovered that divorce isn't such a tragedy. 

Suddenly, there were no locks keeping me chained in my seat in the marriage boredom. I was enslaved by my own fear and ignorance and suddenly I was free. I just marched myself into this damned idiotic, impossible boring, married life without ever stopping to think about what I was doing. Now that was over.

Divorce is not a tragedy, a tragedy is staying in an unhappy marriage and dreaming something else. In my marriage from outside everything looked fine and polished but the melancholy and apathy was my reality.