A Brief History of Ashtanga
Following the 15-years years of navigating a vast sea of Western yoga offerings, a few teacher trainings, and previous journeys though India, my first trip to Mysore in 2014 established for me a beautiful practice and teacher to grow with.
In South-Central India, a 6-hour car ride from Bangalore lies the majestic city of Mysore. Springing up from the green and tropical landscape of the South, Mysore is a vibrant, bustling, and developed metropolis rich in yoga tradition. It was here that the great Sri Krishnamacharya taught two of his greatest students that have shaped the direction of yoga in the Western world, Sri K Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar.
Both Jois and Iyengar spent their lives cultivating and teaching unique forms of the practice, and have developed what we know today as Ashtanga and respectfully, Iyengar Yoga. By the late 1960’s both lineages had grabbed the attention of Western practitioners who began traveling to Mysore to work with these accomplished yoga masters. In 1998, Sri K. Pattahbi Jois moved the Yoga Shala (school), to the outskirts of Mysore in the small village of Gokulam. A short rickshaw ride from the main city, the Gokulam shala remains home to thousands of Ashtanga students worldwide since its official opening in 2002.
Currently my teacher, Saraswathi Jois and her son, Sharath Jois preserve and teach the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, in the method of delivery known as, Paramapara (direct lineage). Beyond Ashtanga, Mysore and Gokulam serve as destinations rich in history, Indian culture, and global community. The time spent here opens the door to outward exploration, and profound self-inquiry. In Mysore, living at the heart of Ashtanga in a culture steeped in tradition, humbly supports life-long learning and self-transformation.
Saraswathi Jois born in 1941, is one of the most a revolutionary and inspiring women of the yoga world today. The daughter of the legendary Pattabhi Jois, she began her yoga training as a child and later became the first woman to permitted to attend the Sanskrit College in Mysore. After many years of working along side of her father, Saraswathi became the first woman to start teach yoga to both men and woman in Mysore in the mid 1980’s.
Today, Saraswathi Jois continues to preserve the lineage of Ashtanga yoga, and welcomes thousands of dedicated practitioners from around the world to study the practice. Her gentle kindness, generosity, knowledge, and devotion is palpable in her presence.
I remain a humbled and inspired student of Saraswathi Jois, cherishing every opportunity to study under her tutelage. Her ability to teach and deliver the practice of yoga happens with few words and transcends the physical aspects of the practice. I am forever grateful for the lessons I have learned and the work that is still to be done.
"Do Your Practice and All is Coming"
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois