Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Ashtanga yoga, power yoga, Jois yoga......

...or how to sell 6 series.

Ashtanga yoga means eight-limbed yoga.
"In the old days, there was one book that explained the Ashtanga vinyasa yoga system as taught by Sri K Pattabhi Jois at his Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (AYRI) in Mysore, India." I quote from Yoga Chicago. Sri K Pattabhi Jois merit is that he taught Ashtanga yoga during all his life, he has spread it in the world (he has not invented this yoga system, how some yogis/yoginis think). He taught also Western people who again taught it. It was a bit like a snowball system.

I summarize: When we speak of Ashtanga yoga we mainly speak of the 6 challenging series that consist of a set of given asanas connected via vinyasas.  Not so many yogis are able to do all the series. A few years ago I heard that Sharath (the grandson) has been the only one who has been practicing all the series. What I see online on YouTube i.e. makes me believe that more yogis/yoginis practice all the series nowadays.

Power yoga: Beryl Bender Birch was one of the first women who went to India to Sri K Pattabhi Jois to learn Ashtanga yoga and she was obviously fascinated as she dedicated her life to teach the series. She wrote a book, too. She was convinced that she couldn't sell this yoga in the US if she'd call it Ashtanga yoga. This is why she called her book that explains the first series "Power yoga" (I learned this in a workshop offered by her.) This was not at all appreciated in India and it was more or less the end of the friendship. Ms Birch wanted to sell her book and she believed it was only possible if she would give the Ashtanga yoga a more flashy name for America. In India one insisted to name it Ashtanga yoga.

Jois yoga: We are still talking about the 6 series that were written down in a book and taught by Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois. At the end of his life Ashtanga yoga became more and more popular. When I saw a picture of Madonna with her leg behind the head even for me it was clear: This I want to do as well. In almost every country of the world we yogis and yoginis find Ashtanga yoga studios. Everywhere around the clock passionate practitioners practice these series, also now while I am writing this. So much joy Mr Jois has spread around the world with his teaching. Gokulam became a place of pilgrimage and a big business. A new shala had to be build for all the students who spent months in India to learn with guruji, how many call him. Last year he passed away. The Ashtanga yoga community will go on growing. I am convinced of this. The family, his daughter Saraswati and her son Sharath who both teach the Ashtanga system continue the work of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Mr Jois loved money, his family loves money, we all do. Ashtanga yoga needed a new name to sell it better: Jois yoga. (probably a legal thing)

Beside these three names vinyasa yoga exists. This is more or less free style. Asanas are connected via movements. No series exist, but the system is similar to that of Ashtanga yoga.

All these words Ashtanga yoga, power yoga, Jois yoga will remain existing. Surely a bit confusing. It's always the same that is behind the notions: the 6 series and how they were written down in the yoga korunta.

Time to practice. Time to step on my mat to start with the first surya namaskara A, second series today. Time to practice power yoga ähhhhhh, of course jois yoga ähhhhhhhhhhhh, for me it will remain Ashtanga yoga. Now where I can remember the name........................

Only change is permanent.

Picture: This is my favourite walk in the Alps, this thightrope walk that can be seen, beginning from Herzogstand.

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois:

Thank you for buying your amazon products via my blog.

23 comments:

C.K. said...

Ursula,
I also believe there was some unhappiness because, apparently, BBB took SKPJ's life's work and turned it into a book without permission. Asteya.
CK

Krishna said...

Ursula

I am surprised that Swenson's book was not approved . I thought that it was the best beginners training manual for Ashtanga and I am surprised by your comments abut Swenson's book not being approved .
Can u throw more light on it .
Krishna

Ursula said...

Hi Cara,
Might be.

But do I have to ask someone when I want to publish a book?

Ursula

Ursula said...

Hi Krishna,

David Swensons book is fantastic. It is one of the best on the market, if not the best.


Namaste
Ursula

Ursula said...

PS: Short forms how David Swenson described them in his book do not exist in classic Ashtanga.

Nevertheless I think they can be useful for busy people

Ursula

Krishna said...

OK Ursula , thanks for the Clarification .I do agree that Short forms are not a part of classical Ashtanga but it does help people who are busy and who need a minimum practice .

How is the Book "Power Yoga" by Beryl Bender Birch ? Can u throw some light on it or have u written about it earlier .
Krishna

Ursula said...

Hi Krishna,
It's a good idea to write a review on her books. I have them both here and they are both good, with many pictures also.

I've written about it already, but it is difficult to find.

Namaste
Ursula

C.K. said...

The David Swenson book was not approved, either. Permission is important. Plus, some of the things in it are *not correct.* I think they may have reconciled for Guruji's 90th birthday (David and his wife gave Guruji a money-counting machine, which he loved).

Although neither had permission, Both David and Beryl's book did indeed bring a lot of people to the practice.

If you are looking for good ashtanga books that will keep you busy for the rest of your life, they are
1. Yoga Mala by Pattabhi Jois
2. Astanga Yoga by Lino Miele
3. Ashtanga Yoga as it Is, by Matthew Sweeney

These are my favorites, and I've read/reviewed 'em all. Literally (ha).

C.K. said...

Actually, that's not right; I remember DS practicing in front of me (and promising not to kick me in the face, and making good on it) at Guruji's Puck Building workshop back in 2000). In any case, they got over it and moved on.

Ursula said...

Hi Cara,
These 3 books are all fanatastic. Of course I have them all.
Number 2 and number 3 are the ones I get back again and again.

Namaste
Ursula

Colleen said...

Hi! I'm visiting from SIT tonight. I love all the beautiful and calming pics on your site.

C.K. said...

I forgot to answer - Yes, you should ask permission if you are writing a book about the ashtanga vinyasa yoga system. Otherwise it would not be practicing the third Yama, Asteya. Swami Sivananda says all wealth comes to those who practice Asteya.

Ursula said...

Asteya means "avoidance of stealing" for those who are not familiar with the sanskrit names.

I looked it up, too.

Ursula said...

Dear Cara,
Please take into consideration, that Sri K. Pattabhi Jois has not invented the series. It was written down in a book. He was a practitioner and teacher.

I don't think that DS and BBB didn't respect intellectual property.

Both of them helped the Ashtanga practitioners around the globe.
They spread the Ashtanga yoga system via books. Wonderful.

Namaste
Ursula

C.K. said...

Perhaps not legally. But morally we know deep down that it is not correct. Also it shows disrespect to the Guru.

I would get permission if I were you.

I think you should write a book called "Ashtanga Over Fifty."

C.K. said...

Also....Once you get the Guruji book you will know that no one has ever seen the palm leaves on which the series were supposedly written.

The consensus seems to be that it is something Krishnamcharya came up with but did not want to take credit for, because he was a real Guru (and real Gurus are humble / have no ego). He gave it to Guruji to maintain and teach to others.

Ursula said...

Felt it today the first time that I must write a book on Ashtanga yoga.

But I think the same about you. You must write a book on yoga perhpas on teaching??? I am waiting already...:)yogini....:)

And then we both will respect the written and unwritten rules.

Namaste
Ursula

Ursula said...

Thank you also for sharing your knowledge that cannot be found in books......

Ursula

C.K. said...

I do plan to write a book. I want to start in the fall (preferably while practicing with Lino in Kovalam, in December).

I think your book would be really great. I like the Ashtanga Over 50 idea because you make it look easy and possible, and so many people in this country at least start to realize at 50 that they have let their bodies go and they must do something about it or they will end up dead very soon. Also you don't look your age and everyone will buy it because they think the magic will happen to them, too (which it will). You could include a chapter on the other limbs of course.

I'd love to know your ideas (which I will not steal. Asteya). But don't put them on the blog!

Ursula said...

I will contact you via another channel. It will be email....:)

Consider fb dear Cara, I don't think that you will regret it. And you can delete your accout any time.

Ursula said...

...I make it look easy and possible,.....
Cara you made my day...Smiling.

Quentin said...

When David Swenson showed P. Jois the Practice Manual, Jois smiled and signed the page with his picture on it. Does anyone own Ashtanta Yoga? no. So why all the commotion about getting permission to write books? much less even to pass on this wonderful practice.

The number one cause of disease is forgetting your true self. So let go of the ego and practice all eight limbs realizing we are all students aspiring for a better life.

James said...

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is an ancient system of yoga popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois.Pattabhi Jois began his yoga studies in 1927 at the age of 12, and by 1948 had established an institute for teaching the specific yoga practice known as Ashtanga (Sanskrit for "eight-limbed") Yoga.

My yoga teacher told about this in Yoga Classes