Wednesday, May 22, 2019

You stop there

Ashtanga yoga is fading away. The time is coming when the practice in it's current form, will disappear. Do you see what's going on around you, what is happening and why?

Well, I must tell you... The ashtanga project was a bad idea from the beginning, I mean, what's the point having a practice that is so hated by its practitioners. It should be no surprise that this form of yoga with it's brief flame, will be soon placed in a museum, just next to dinosaurs.

Today, on lunch break, I read the latest post from Ashtanga Yoga Shala from Toronto, written by KPJ authorized teacher Paul. I have a deep respect towards Paul and I took couple classes with him back in 2010. Anyway, here it is, have a look...

I was shocked, sad and disappointed. Guruji was his teacher. He lives from the mastery of ashtanga he learned from Guruji. With frustration I wrote a comment...

Now, when I look at my comment with a cold head, I would rather delete it but Paul responded so I will leave it there.

We, as a social animals, are shaped by the norms and values we have absorbed from people and environment around us. We are shaped by previous generations and as we stand now, we're child of neoliberalism which says - the market can resolve almost all social, economic and political problems; the less the state regulates market, the better off you will be...

The neoliberilism has shaped our norms and values for the last 30 years. It made our world totally selfish with unrestricted competition, driven by our self-interest... and we surprisingly find ourselves overwhelmed by a mad infrastructure of assessments, monitoring, measuring, surveillance and audits, centrally directed and rigidly planned.

I am asking myself, would this happen if there was no #MeToo movement? And what is #MeToo anyway?

In October 2017, the hashtag #MeToo made headlines internationally, prompting women from around the world to publicly share their experiences of sexual assault or harassment.

The #MeToo Movement has been called a watershed moment in the advancement of gender equality, giving a powerful platform to women and demonstrating the extent of sexual assault and harassment across society.

In the case of Ashtanga Yoga it all goes like this... oh, you know I was abused and victimized by Patthabhi Jois. I was touched by Guruji. I saw lust in his eyes. All women say, ah yes, me too, me too. I was victimized too, I was part of the game...

This movement, with its roots in neoliberalism, encouraging women to see themselves as victims, in this case, the victims of inappropriate touching. And they came to Mysore to Guruji again next year. And year after year, and they kiss his feet and bought him chocolates too.

It all comes to hearsay but wait a second, there are original accounts I cannot dismiss as hearsay:

The abuse began when, midway through the primary, Jois grabbed my genitals while swinging me back from Padmāsana (full lotus) after Kukkuṭāsana (an arm balance in lotus). The first time it happened I felt sickened and violated the whole day. He performed the “assist” daily after that, and I eventually became numb to it.

That summer I progressed through the backbending sequence in the first half of second series. Jois regularly adjusted me in each of these backbends. I can recall four ways in which he assaulted me: grabbing my genitals during the swing back from Padmāsana after Kukkuṭāsana and also in Supta Vajrāsana, lying on top of me with his groin aligned precisely with mine during the Supta Hasta Pādāṅguṣṭhāsana vinyasa set (a supine overhead split), and placing his hand on my breast to twist me deeper during Pāśāsana (noose pose).

In his most peculiar behavior, 82-year-old Jois would stand behind me throughout a group of asanas and, after each vinyasa, thrust his pelvis back and forth several times in a humping motion as he pushed my buttocks in downward-facing dog, cueing me to do the next posture. Years later, a teacher told me of a female ashtangi who had coined the term “butt-f**k-asana” for this move.

- #MeToo Story — Jubilee Cooke

Years later, a teacher told me of a female ashtangi who had coined the term “butt-f**k-asana” for this move. 

Greed is an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth or power. This virus has fully infected ashtanga yoga community. Greed has influenced how they deal with others, the environment, spirituality, education, their practice and now their sexuality.

As they continue to be reshaped by different asanas until "you stop there" is met, this culture of restless and ruthless greed is only the legitimate guiding principle for their personal benefits. In the process, they're steadily eating away the very teacher they taught them, undermining the visions and values of the ashtanga yoga.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Start Ashtanga Yoga at Your Home

This morning, I practiced yoga with my girlfriend. My apartment looked like a yoga studio. It was nice practice, we did half primary with additional strengthening poses - planks and stomach crunches. We practiced for 50 minutes.

The one of four main goals of 2019, I set up on the beginning of the year, was saving money. I have not come even close to that target. I practically have no savings. Practically or impractically, I have no savings at all, period.

I have started to write down what I'm spending my money for. This weekend I spent $326.16. Whenever my girlfriend comes, that weekend is a financial disastrous for me. Not that she asks for going out but simply I spend more money when I am with her.

I don't know how to solve this situation, how to start saving money. Financial experts advise we need to have at least $20,000 on the side for the black days. I have none. And I am going for a vacation in June, going back home to visit my family.

The vacation trip will cost me $5,500 not counting airplane ticket which I already paid. So next three months I will work just to pay out these two weeks of vacation. When I am done with that and I am free of debt then I will go to Dominican Republic, alone, Punta Cana in September for another week of vacation. And then I go again...

Back to the main them of today's post...

I have a lot of friends and some of them were asking me to teach them ashtanga yoga. Last year, every Monday at 7:30 PM  we had ashtanga yoga class at friend's condo. It was a good 50 to 60 minutes practice. We did 5A, 5B sun salutations, all standing postures, and sitting postures until Navasana, then we moved to closing sequence. We also did a sequence of strengthening poses like holding various planks and dolphin pose for a long time and adding a few stomach crunches.

Once a week practice is better than no practice but I was afraid that my friends will get injured. I was showing them the poses and I practiced together with them. I did not have ability to check their poses in details and I was afraid of the injuries. So eventually I stopped giving classes.

Yoga should be practiced every day. Stretching daily brings benefits to body and mind, and what is so important, you don't have to be flexible to show up on the mat. You don’t have to be anything to do Ashtanga yoga. It is an amazing workout that will help boost your mood and health.

I am shocked to see the new prices for yoga classes. The single drop in class is now $25, 5 class pass $120, 10 class pass $200, plus HST (in Canada, for anything you buy, you pay extra 13% of the original price). Special events, so-called yoga workshops, are even more expensive, the price depends on the yoga teacher's celebrity level.

It's really sad because a lot of people cannot afford more stress in their lives, students, those working shitty jobs just to get by, single moms, etc. can't afford these classes. I feel the price of classes makes yoga appear to be an upper-middle-class hobby more than something approachable to everyone, which is so sad.

Six years ago, I paid $25/month for unlimited practice at an Ashtanga studio in Toronto. Today, $320/month plus HST. Whom to blame for this price spike? Studio management? Or the overheated market?

I have stopped going to yoga studios 3 years ago but I have to say, I miss it. I like practicing yoga with others like-minded people. It is a great energy and it is easier to practice. But, I would like to advise you, once you have a solid, safe foundation for your practice, there’s enormous value in daily unrolling your mat at your living room, and moving through poses.

Daily practice of Ashtanga yoga will take a lot of your free time. You need 90 minutes at least for the practice: 10 minutes to prepare, 60 minutes to perform and 20 minutes after the practice. You also need to change your eating habits, ashtanga yoga is practiced on an empty stomach.

Practicing daily will change your way of thinking. I don't say these things to my friends I just encourage them to practice yoga. This is something they will discover by themselves once they fall in love with Ashtanga yoga. And that’s all that matters.

The great thing about ashtanga yoga is that we continue to improve through life, and age has nothing to do with ability in yoga. Indeed, practicing Ashtanga yoga daily into our senior years is a goal to aspire to as it will keep you fit, confident, strong, flexible, mentally and physically balanced, and self-disciplined.

Ashtanga yoga is great for cleaning immune system. By daily sweat, you'll start throwing away toxins from your body. In the first six months of the practice, you may be constantly on the verge of sickness. In my case, when I started seriously to practice Ashtanga yoga, drinking a cold bottle of water had caused me a throat inflammation. All that'll be gone in six months.

Starting a home yoga practice will ultimately save you time, energy and money. Try to practice yoga every day. Set aside a time when you will not be disturbed and you will not have to rush.

There is more benefit to doing the practice regularly than sporadic studio class attendance, or the occasional workshop. Twenty minutes of yoga at home is more beneficial than driving, parking and paying to practice for an hour at a studio. The greatest and longest lasting benefits are achieved when at least half-primary is done every day. The full primary is a goal and that is the way to go.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


The full moon today, no practice it is a day for resting. Last week I had 4 practices, I am slowly getting into the ashtanga daily rhythm.

There is no easy way to say this so let me just say it - Ashtanga Yoga is really hard. The most basic and modified version of this practice is still quite challenging. It takes me on average 45 minutes to complete the Half Primary.

The longer you practice the more you notice how hard it really is. It is utterly intimidating and defeating endeavor. In any sport by training it you gain strength and you increase the practice just like running or swimming for example... but that doesn't apply for Ashtanga Yoga.

Ashtanga is not a favorite style of yoga. 

When I tell my friends to start doing Ashtanga Yoga, I always say, they'll feel so good! They'll be so relaxed after the practice and they'll lose the weight... What I don’t tell them is that most of the times daily practice makes you feel tired and empty. You are supposed to practice six times a week. And daily practice is tough. And it’s called a "practice" for a reason.

There's no end game in Ashtanga Yoga; no big "accomplished day,” nothing specific you’re training for, nothing to achieve. It’s a constant hard work in progress, you can always go deeper into a pose, extending your ligaments and stretching muscles further to make the pose more challenging.

When you start daily practice, you'll feel the wrist pain. Next, you will notice that your immune system is being cleaned. By daily sweat you'll start throwing away toxins from your body. In the first six months of the practice you may be constantly on the verge of sickness.

Ashtanga Yoga is not about strength so much as it is about keeping attention on breath. It is a kind of a moving meditation. Daily practice and endless repetition of the same poses build the strength very slowly. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts.

We are working consciously towards awakening. 

Most of us are no longer certain what our "outside" purpose is. What drives the world no longer drives us. Seeing the madness of our world so clearly, we may appear somewhat alienated from the culture around. We stick to our practice and we are no longer run by the ego, yet the awakening has not yet become fully integrated into our lives.

Only what we have is Ashtanga Yoga as a product of our will and self-determination. The practice has no reliance on or cooperation with God, teachers, gurus, swamis or any other agent, only authority is our inner self.

Ashtanga Yoga does not increase self-esteem, it does not give self-satisfaction or any self-improvement. We have no assurance of reward in this practice. There is only the practice... physical, sweaty and boring and there is no better place for the practice than here and no better time than now.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Ashtanga Yoga and Loneliness

Loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation or lack of companionship. Loneliness typically includes anxious feelings about a lack of connectedness or communality with other beings, both in the present and extending into the future. As such, loneliness can be felt even when surrounded by other people. The causes of loneliness are varied and include social, mental or emotional factors. - Wikipedia

Lonely - web dictionary
1. affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone.
2. destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship.
3. lone; solitary; without company; companionless.
4. remote from places of human habitation.
5. standing apart; isolated.

It all started when my friend told me that he has noticed a fact that lonely people practice ashtanga yoga. Immediately I heard that I dismiss it. I disagreed and I told him there are large ashtanga communities all around the world. There is Mysore and I explained him the circus around it. People practice together and enjoy free time after the practice.

I forgot our conversation and then I read a blog post Apparently, it’s lonely being an Ashtangi According to the post's title being an ashtangi is a lonely thing but when I read the post I remembered my friend's words.

...Perhaps it is just the type of people whom Ashtanga attracts. Slightly lonerish Type As? Of course there is the ultimate “lonely” part of Ashtanga: the home practice. I assume other yogis practice at home, but I don’t feel like there is quite the same  emphasis on such a practice... Even Mysore practice is “lonely.” Sure, you are in a room with a bunch of people, but you are all doing your own thing...

I, as an ashtanga practitioner, do see this “lonely” feeling of ashtanga yoga. The practice definitely calls for lifestyle changes, an inwardness look and life-introspection. The ashtanga eight limbs are so close to self-inquiry.

The loneliest part of ashtanga is being the one of few who early in the morning roll out the mat each day. In such practice there is no teacher telling you what to do and what are you left to focus on. The breath is all that you have and of course your thoughts...

You feel sad and lonely and perhaps romantic at the same time.  That is the first tip of fearlessness, and the first sign of real warrior ship. ~ Chogyam Trungpa

I have discovered my own understanding of ashtanga yoga. It is not about strength so much as it is about keeping attention on breath and strong core... mula bandha. Only daily practice and endless repetition builds the strength very slowly. Unfortunately, there is no shortcuts.

Daily practice of ashtanga yoga have changed me. I need to go early to bed in order to get up for the practice and due to that I have lost the connection with my friends. During the week I'm not going out with them. On the weekend I am with my girlfriend and when she sleep over at my place I am unable to do my practice as planned.

Can daily practice break up my relationship? I think it can. I told my girlfriend that if she is not satisfied with who I am, she is free to find another guy. It sounds cold but it is not so. I am not talking here about feelings. In order for two people to be together they have to share similar interests.

Serious ashtanga yoga practitioners are people who are going through the stages of the awakening. Most of us  are no longer certain what our "outside" purpose is. What drives the world no longer drives us. Seeing the madness of our world so clearly, we may feel somewhat alienated from the culture around us. We stick to our practice and we are no longer run by the ego, yet the enlightenment has not become fully integrated into our lives. So, it is true, we are lonely in this world.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Where do I want to go?

Alice came to a fork in the road.
"Which road do I take"? she asked.
"Where do you want to go"? responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know." Alice answered.
"Then", said the cat. "it doesn't matter".

This passion of attaining self-realization gives me a sense of purpose in my life. If I lose sight of if, I will not only lose that purpose but I will also lose myself. So I keep chasing my dream. That is the most important thing of my life and nothing can come even close to it.

I don't believe that anything and anybody existed prior to myself. I don't believe in history, in evolution in big-bang universe. Prior to my Beingness nothing was and after me nothing will be.

If I review process of creation I can see that at it's very base is that I do not know myself, and suddenly the feeling of "I" appears. The moment it appears, on borderline of deep sleep and being awake, in a split second, "I am" sense appears and I know myself. Then thoughts start racing and "Zee" as a person starts functioning.

The whole process of awakening is actually traveling away from person towards pure "I am" sense which on the end of journey must be seen as imagination. I have to discard whatever I know to go there.

This world is based on various personalities, on individual characters. It is pure play which just happening and I am not playing a part. When I am ignorant, I think I am playing a part in this world by simply imagining a player. But that is just imagination, there are no player, everything is happening spontaneously.

The sum and substance of my life is nothing but to come to a firm decision, make a judgment, about myself (what I am?) and the world (what is it?) If I pay attention to the world I am good as dead. My path is opposite of the world's activities. Direction is clear - seeing everything as imagination. That is final goal of my life's journey.