Posted by Julie Andres on Sunday, August 5, 2012 Under: yoga
Two weeks ago in Victoria, BC, Ashtanga yoga master David Swenson lead a Primary Series class for a gym packed full of yoga practitioners - he called it "All Aboard the Ashtanga Train" and it's a good analogy.
The first Ashtanga class that I went to was indeed like latching onto a train, as the power of vinyasa produced more and more heat and intensity; it instantly pulled me away from my ordinary yoga reality to embark upon an exciting journey into the unknown. The sound of a dozen people in a very warm yurt, breathing the measured ujjayi (victorious) breath in unison grabbed me within the first few seconds. It was like the feeling of being a participant in a choir or an orchestra - the sensation of many people performing together to create a synergistic whole, yet each one fully focused on their own task.
I was an avid runner long before I began yoga - I hit the roads and trails year-round for about 40-50 km per week, so the cardio aspect of 75 minutes of non-stop asana was within my reach right from the start. But, years later, there are still abundant challenges within each and every pose.
After boarding the train and attending a weekend workshop with David in Victoria, I remained with a smaller group (David is regarding my, ahem, halasana, pictured above) for a week-long teacher training. It was an exhausting, exhilarating ride. As with all satisfying educational experiences I again came to the conclusion that there is so much yet to learn. In yoga we know that this learning comes first from sadhana, our daily time on our mats.
"Practice and all is coming!" - Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
David Swenson began his yogic studies in Mysore, India with K. Pattabhi Jois (1915 - 2009) back in the early 1970s. I can only imagine his odyssey through listening to his colourful stories. He is a humble and dedicated teacher and I am thankful that I was able to take part in one of his teacher trainings. His book, Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual - An Illustrated Guide to Personal Practice, has been a constant companion to my practice since I bought my copy in 2002.
Vicki Sorenson taught the classes I attended in the yurt. I am grateful to her for her example as a devoted yogini and her quiet, supportive teaching techniques. Vicki also went to Mysore a number of times to study with Pattabhi Jois. I wish I could have practiced yoga with her longer, but she moved back to Maui in 2007 to return to the strong Ashtanga community there. She is a purist, teaching Ashtanga the way she learned it in the early '90s.
Thank you also to Jeff and Harmony Lichty of Ashtanga Yoga Victoria for bringing David Swenson to Victoria, to all of my fellow students, and to Maria Rufo for the photo.
In : yoga
Tags: yoga ashtanga practice