Is Astanga Yoga only for young, rich and fit practitionners?

Vanity Fair has just published a long article on Astanga Yoga. How  Pattabhi Joïs’ heritage has more or less been bought out by Sonia Jones, wife of an American billionnaire.

To read, please click here

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Vinyasa Yoga: how to develop it “intellectually”

Interested in the history of Yoga?

Do you care about practicing Astanga, Iyengar or Hatha, would like to know more about the differences between various styles of Yoga? Then have a look at the interview led in 2004 with three famous gurus: Desikachar, Pattabhi Joïs and BKS Iyengar.


After being taught by the same Krishnamacharya in the 1930s Joïs and Iyengar took quite different approaches in their teaching methods.


For instance this is what Iyengar says about Vinyasa Yoga (breath synchronised movements), widely explored by Astanga practitionners:

I needed to find the bone of the right leg in opposition to the left. Do you know how to elongate it? Is the energy on the right leg equal to that on the left leg? Is the energy straight on the bank of the outer leg? So, these were all the things I had to discover. So, intelligence had to go into how to penetrate the postures to make sense of them. It is not just gymnastics or callisthenic-style—that is not what vinyasa is about. Vinyasa can be different from gymnastics, but then you have to develop it intellectually.

(BKS Iyengar, interview in Mysore, 2004)

Click here to read more

Astanga Yoga Blog

Richard Freeman: famous, good, but late

Went to Richard Freeman’s  workshop in Oxford last week-end. First time with the “world famous guru”.

Learnt  about joining coccyx and the pubic bone via the “pc” (no connection with Bill Gates’ desktop.. ) pubococcygeus – muscle (pelvic floor muscle) (in orange).

Learnt about prana and apana which I still have to explore further.

Learnt about bringing my shoulders  further back.

Heard about Astanga being cheaper than Iyengar, because  using no props.

Heard about a lot of images helping you into the right posture right (hoodie on your head –  feel how to hold your head; kidney wings to  open with the breath).

Learnt about preparing for headstand, kneeling first and placing your hands crossed behind you head, extending the elbows towards the ceiling and away from the shoulders, making space between the ears and the shoulders and pushing the wrists up.

Richard Freeman is famous. You can follow his teaching on Youtube. Several times. He looks so “cool”.

He’s been practicing Yoga for the last forty years, studying various philosophy movements. His popularity makes him an all powered man  (we were fifty in the hall and Vishnu knows  how many on the waiting list?)

Richard Freeman was late. Started late, finished late. But the majority of us didn’t mind. In the meantime, students were giggling at his jokes. They were not all funny, but he tried hard to make us smile. Release the mouth, the jaw, the palate. It works. RF is aware of so many connections in his own body. he sadly hoped we can follow his pace of mind.

I felt slightly battered after two days. It went well but I still think  a guru has the right (duty?) to start and finish on time. Respect!

Astanga Inspiring Body Works Yoga Blog

Squeeze it with Brian Cooper

Went to Brian Cooper ‘s workshop last Saturday in Oxford. Great time. Brian chatted just the right amount. Spoke about his tongue becoming longer after practicing Khechari mudra (Yoga technique where you turn you tongue into your mouth so as to have its tip against the back of the palate). “Soon I won’t be able to speak anymore…”
We practiced Mulabandha, contraction of the anus and perineum + more if possible. Lift of the pelvic floor, something which you need to experience  before being comfortable to talk about.

” How many of you pratice mulabandha in each posture?” Not often, I thought but cowardly didn’t tell. Since, I’ve practiced the dog pose (up and down) with legs tightly pressed against each other. It helps the mulabandha . Once you’ve got that muscular contraction, you can introduce uddiyana bandha, where you also contract the abdomen and try to hold the stomach in at the end of the inbreath. Have been trying every day for a week with raised arms before breakfast. Must be quite hard  on a full stomach.

I missed the third bandha(in the throat which was taught on Sunday). I also missed some of the navasana and ardha navasana practice ( the boat posture). Brian says he holds it for 60 breaths. Good for him. I can just hold it for 15. I’ll speak to you in a few weeks , see how I’m getting on.

Astanga Inspiring Body Works Yoga Blog

Richard Adamo: Enjoy Navasana

Back from Oxford. “Happy breathing!” Spent four hours practicing with Richard Adamo. Richard is a British Wheel of Yoga teacher trainer. He introduced his Astanga class by justifying the “speed” test he was going to submit us to.  We then did one hour fast practice with Astanga primary series. No relaxation, half an hour pause and back to it.

hath_yogaWe focused on Navasana (the boat). With a round back which was a very helpful alternative to bring the legs higher and work on the abdominals. Usually, when you start Yoga you stretch you back and take your chest out to lift yourself up. Here you try to absorb your navel back stretching your arms forward and lifting your legs with the strength of the abdomen.

We practiced balancing forward on the wrists, keeping the legs straight a few cm behind the hands, to prepare to lift the legs into handstand nagy_yoga
or to jump back into chaturanga.images

Richard also had a chat (slightly too long though very relevant) about the joy we should feel practicing, forgetting about the worries one usually has about not “performing” in one or the other posture.

Once again, Yoga is not a performance, it’s a life experience. It is enjoyable.