Thursday, 1 October 2015

Ashtanga and Greece, Manju Jois, Tim Miller, Nancy Gilgoff, David Williams, Danny Paradise, Eddie and Jocelyn Stern, David Swenson, Kristina Karitinou, Derek Ireland...

Hard to miss a moon day in Greece

Nice to see this piece from Tim Miller this week on his workshop at Porta Pandana, Athens as well as his visit to Santorini.

The best way for us to show our support for Greece is to continue visiting and who doesn't want to visit Greece!

"I’m happy to say that Ashtanga Yoga is alive and well in Greece. I met many dedicated and enthusiastic practitioners who were very happy to have me in Athens. I found the Greek people to be very warm, appreciative, generous, and down to earth. In spite of their current economic struggles, their spirit is strong and they are very proud of their heritage. I feel blessed to have spent some time in “the Cradle of Western Civilisation.”  Tim Miller

My earlier blog post on Santorini

Tim isn't the only one continuing to Support Greece by offering workshops, Nancy Gilgoff I saw is coming to Athens soon, 17th-18th Oct.

Nancy Gilgoff. Porta Pandana, Athens, Greece

Chuck Miller may be in Paros as I write ( checked he's in Paros from Oct 8 2015) giving a week long intensive, he was there last year i remember so perhaps you can catch him in Paros in 2016

Chuck Miller - No doubt Chuck will be back in Paros next year

David Williams continues to come to Crete regularly,

David Williams at Yoga Rocks

David Swenson was in Athens in May 2015 at Eleftheria's Om studio, Athens as was Eddie and Jocelyne Stern in June.

beautiful page, On studio, Athens. In English and Greek

And of course there is Manju, Greece seems to be a home from home for Manju, he comes every year.  I was lucky enough to spend time with him in 2013 and 2014 in crete at Kristina's shala,

My Manju resource page

This year Manju was in Athens ( so sad I missed it) and  also in wonderful Thessaloniki  at my dear friend Natasha Symeonidou's shala ( Natasha speaks excellent English so email her at her website if you want to go practice in Thessaloniki

No doubt Manju will be returning to Greece next year, I hope I can see him there again then.

Manju has this special quality, you respect him immensely as a teacher from the moment he strolls into the shala. Standing apprehensively at the top of your mat you hear him joke disarmingly behind you "Never fear, Guru's here". There is the firm but gentle support of his assists, the warmth and humour and yet a seriousness about the practice. There are the stories he shares so openly.... and his wonderful cooking... you come away feeling that he is as much a friend as teacher. Rather than disciples, devotees, Manju makes friends at his workshops, he comes to share his practice with you.

Manju giving an adjustment demo on me on his 2013 TT course in Rethymno, Crete.

Greece is important of course for European Ashtanga, Derek Ireland and his then partner Radha set up The Practice Place in Agios Pavlos, Crete in 91. The Practice place is now called Yogaplus and Radha still teaches there.

The Practice place. See my Interview with Kristina on the early days of Ashtanga in Greece and Europe.

Many of the early American teachers/practitioners, friends of Derek's came to visit and give workshops in crete and greece and of course so many of the senior European teachers learned from and/or were introduced to or practiced with Derek back then, John Scott, Gingi Lee, Alexander Medin, Lis Lark, Brian Cooper, Mathew Vollmer, Michaela Clarke, Annie Pace, Jocelyn Stern, Petri Raisanen, Joseph Dunham, Ginny Dean, Hemish Hendry and many many more.

Derek Ireland, Crete

Kristina continues Derek's teaching in Athens and Crete teaching the practice just as Derek taught back in those early days.

Keep an eye on to check out who's teaching in Greece next year, those teachers who come back again and again and those who are perhaps looking to support Greece by offering a workshop there for the first time

Chuck MillerParos Island, GreeceOctober 8-12, 2015
Nancy GilgoffAthens, GreeceOctober 17-18, 2015

And of course consider Kristina's summer shala in Rethymno, go for a week, a month or even three as I was so lucky to be able to do last year. Or if you don't get into the Mysore Shala perhaps or don't qualify, Rethymno with Kristina might be just the place to work on your practice (and oh will you work), hope to see you there.

Hoping Kristina doesn't mind me sharing this pic
but I sent her the shirt from Japan, arrived last week.

Below, Kristina's summer shala in Rethymno, Crete

Lots of Ashtanga in  Greece, this list of teachers feels like my extended Greek family, 

I'm not Greek you say? 

We're all Greek.
(see below)

Stumbled upon this house in rural Japan, last week, Shiga station, Lake Biwa, Shiga, just down the road from a furniture warehouse called Parthanon.

-आनन्द (ānanda) Bliss - October 2015 Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami

October 2015 Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami - --आनन्द (ānanda) Bliss

आनन्द (ānanda) Bliss

The Yoga and Samkhya texts are concerned about the enormity of Duhkha or pain from various sources and look for a permanent and dependable method for eradicating the pain. Dukha nivritti or pain removal is their main goal. The ultimate state of the yogi's mind is said to be a state of saamya where all the three gunas are in a state of equilibrium. Yoga itself is defined as Samadhana or absolute mental peace
The Vedanta philosophy while is also for the pain removal by the knowledge of the ultimate reality, brahman,  talks about ananada or happiness which we rarely see in the Samkhya-Yoga duo. Brahman the ultimate reality itself is said to be bliss, and the source of all happiness we feel occasionally through our lives. While it is duhkha nivritti for samkhya-yoga it is sukha and ananda prapti for the vedantin, the Brahmagnani. The one chapter in Taittiriya Upanishad is entirely devoted to this ananda or bliss is the Anandavalli. Many Yogahyasis are familiar with the five kosas or sheaths of the human system this upanishad portrays. Accordingly, the real Self the individual soul which is also the Brahman the ultimate reality is encased (or appears to  be) in five sheaths, of anna (matter), prana (life force), manas ( basically the indriyas), buddhi (intellect) and ananda (happiness).  Each sheath is depicted as having five parts, the head, the right wing, the left wing, the body/torso and the tail or support. The last of the innermost kosa or sheath is the ananda maya kosa or blissful kosa where we feel an agreeable feeling or sukha/ananda. If this is vitiated then obviously one feels unhappy. It is desirable to keep all the kosas satvic so that one tends to feel good all or most of the time. There is a gem of a mantra in Mahanarayana Upanishad where the prayer is for keeping all the subsystems in a satvic state.  

Anandavalli is an interesting discourse about shades of ananda and the source of ananda. Which is the source of happiness? 
Bliss  itself is considered at different levels. The head or siras of this sheath is priya or liking or what is dear to one. By the mere thought of the object, one's favorite food, football team or spouse gives an agreeable feeling-- the first or head part of this ananda maya or ananda body/self. This feeling is referred to as priya. When one gets to see or hear  the object (maybe a long distance call) then the 'feeling good'  increases and is considered the right wing (figuratively) of the bliss sheath. It is referred to as Moda. Then when and if  one gets hold of the object, possess it, then the happiness increases and is considered the left wing of happiness or promoda. Then when one finally enjoys the object of one's liking then the happiness increases and is considered the torso of happiness and is called ananda or happiness. But which is the base or source of this happiness? The upanishad gently reminds that the different shades of happiness given by the object is not from the object but it only uncovers the ananda which is inherent in one, the core or the real self (pratyagatma) which is none other than the Brahman or ultimate reality. Brahman is the source, nay, is bliss itself. Because it is the innermost Self, encased by the five kosas, it should be known as the real Self, say the upanishads. It is pure consciousness, eternal and is Bliss (brahmananda). Sat-cit-ananda

But when a spiritual seeker first reads  from texts or hears from  teacher(sravana) like the upanishads or the Yoga Sutra about the Self, the first stage of liking comes and that is the head of this sheath known as siras and is called priya as mentioned earlier. When one starts contemplation (manana) and understands it thoroughly at the intellectual level then the happiness about understanding one's own Self increases and is referred to as the right wing or moda. Then when the yogi meditates ( nidhidhyasa or dhyana) on the atman based on his deep understanding and gets the yogic perception then we have the third level or the right wing of happiness called pramoda. Then his chitta completely transforms into the vritti of the Brahman itself and he experiences unalloyed bliss that is the torso of ananda and the upanishad states that it is ananda "ananda atma". Then finally  the mind loses its own identity and becomes the atman/brahman   itself which is the source of all bliss. Such an individual will never be afraid of anything  or anyone.
This ultimate bliss the upanishads say is immeasurable. To enthuse the seeker to go along this path the Upanishads take the seeker from the limited happines one is used  to, to the unlimited bliss of the brahman.  It starts by exploring the limit to human happiness. Take the case of a young fellow. He  has an absolutely righteous behaviour (sadhu) and also is a great vedic scholar (adhyayikah). He is one who does his duty correctly and unerringly (asishtah). He is also firm in his mind (dhradishtah) and physically strong (balaishtah). He also possess plenty of wealth (vittasya purnah) a la Yagnyavalkya. He further has plenty of landed property, like virtually a king. Let us consider the happiness experienced by such a person as one unit of human happiness; all other human beings may be considered to be much less happy than this individual. However much I may endevour my happiness can not exceed that unit of human happiness.
The Vedas especially the ritualistic parts refer to several higher worlds where the happiness could be many many times more than what a human being can experience. One hundred times more happy will be the 'human fairies' or maunushya-gandharvas. And equally happy will be the one human being who is not smitten by worldly pleasure (akamahatasya) and well versed in the vedas and the upanishads (shrotriya). One hundred times more happy are the celestial fairies (deva-gandharva).  And equally happy will be the one human being who is not smitten by worldly pleasure (akamahatasya) and well versed in the vedas and the upanishads (shrotriya).     
One hundred times more happy will be the individual who has attained the abode of the pitrs, or what the forefathers who have reached this world due to their righteous deeds (punya karma).   And equally happy will be the one human being who is not smitten by worldly passion(akamahatasya) and well versed in the vedas and the upanishads (shrotriya). 

Well, one hundred times more happy than those in pitrworld, are those who have attained the heaven or devaloka by doing punya karma like charity etc. They are known as ajanajana devas.   And equally happy will be the one human being who is not smitten by worldly pleasure (akamahatasya) and well versed in the vedas and the upanishads (shrotriya). 
One hundred times more happy are those in the next higher world, the world of karma devas or those who have faithfully followed the religious works enjoined by the vedas, the scriptures. Equally happy will be the human being who is not consumed by worldly passions and well versed in the vedas and the upanishads

100 times more happy are the devas created, the 33 devas said to have been created at the time of creation. Equally happy is the person who is able to stay clear of the temptations of the world and also well versed in the vedas and the upanishads. 
Indra is said to be the Lord of devas, also known as devendra. He is said to be 100 times more happy than the devas themselves. But equally blissful is the one that has eschewed all desires of the world but well versed in the vedas and the upanishads (shrotriya)

Bruhaspati is the teacher of Indra, the divine guru. He is said to be 100 times happier than Indra himself as he has more room for happines like intellectual happiness. Equally happy is the one who is untouched by worldly temptations and also well versed in the scriptures and the Upanishad. 
Prajapati is the Lord of creatures. He is said to be 100 times happier than the divine guru, bruhaspati. Equally happy is the one who has complete mastery over his senses and also well versed in the vedas and the upanishads.

One hundred times more happy is the one variously known as hiranyagarbha, Brahma, Sutratma, or the creator of the physical universe. Equally happy the upanishad says is the one who is absolutely above worldly interests and well versed in the vedas and the upanishads. 

And beyond all is the immeasurable bliss of the one who has realized and is one with the Brahman the source of all happiness and bliss,--- the one who is not afflicted by limited by worldly or other worldly pleasures. He is the one who is able to see that the one inside his heart and the one in the yonder sun are one and the same, brahman. He becomes bliss itself the nature of brahman-- his real self.

Bhrugu the son of Varuna having come to know about Brahman from the Upanishads approaches his father and Guru,Varuna and beseeches him to teach him what Brahman is. Varuna asks his son to find out himself except to say that Brahman is the source of everything created , sustained and finally merges into the source itself. At the end of  five successive essays Bhrugu realizes the Brahman his self is beyond the five kosas of matter (anna), life (prana), the senses (mana), the intellect ( buddhi) and limited happiness (ananda). 
He is ecstatic. He realizes that he is the  embodiment of bliss, consciousness unaffected by time or space
Satyam. jnanam anantam Brahma
Read Anandavalli and bhrugurvalli, chapters II and III of  taittiriya  upanishad for more. the happiness
The bliss of Brahmananda is immeasurable, more than a trillion times-immeasurable-- that a human being can get from all the materials of this world. There is another classification of Ananda. The happiness we normally experience is through sensations produced by worldly objects. The happiness is not produced by the objects but comes from within, the atman/brahman as a small part of it. This is vishayananda, or pleasure produced by objects of the world, tasty food, sex, seeing my football team winning the superbowl. Then when one reads about the Brahman that produces intellectual happines which is said to be much more than the ananda produced by vishaya or objects or vishaya-ananda. This is called vidya ananda. When the practitioner is able to train the mind so that it could remain focused on the knowledge produced by the previous vidyananda, the atman or self it is called yogananda or ananda produced by ekagrata/yoga or one pointedness. When this yoga is directed towards the direct perception of the self or atman the happiness or bliss produced is known as atmananda. And finally when the sadhaka is able to see that the individual self or pratyagatma and the ultimate reality Brahman are one and the same and there is no difference between these, then that resultant immeasurable bliss is called Brahmananda or advaitananda.


I have been teaching a 200 hr Teacher Training Vinyasakrama Yoga program for the last ten years at Loyola Marymount University, teaching 185 hrs--all contact hours myself. The main reason was that I wanted to present as many subjects as possible that Sri Krishnmacharya taught me. About 150 people have completed this program. I have decided to suspend offering this program, though LMU may offer this program with me teaching a part of it and other through videos and other teachers who studied with me. Instead of the 200 hrs I will be offering a 100 hr Advanced Vinyasakrama Teacher Training Program. This my be considered for credit with Yoga Alliance as continued education. I will be teaching all the 100 hrs. Basically it has 3 components-- about 60 hrs of vinyaskrama asanas as in the original program, which is also a certificate program of LMU. There will be about 20 hrs of other hatayoga subjects including pranayama, important mudras, introduction to meditation and yoga for the internal organs. 20 more hours will be taken up for Yoga Sutras. It is 100 contact hours.

In the coming months I will be teaching this program with or without minor variations at the following places

1. At Yoga Vahini in Chennai India. starting from November 23rd for about 15 days. Contact
Chennai India  98846 42456

I understand that the registration is near complete

2. The same program from January 14th for about 15/16 days at Om Yoga in New Delhi         Phone: +91 9891580147

3, From April 16, 2016 for about 15 days at One Yoga in Saskatoon, Canada. 

4. In June I may probably teach this 100 program organized by Breathe Los Gatos, near San Jose.

5. I am  scheduled to do this 100 hr program at Loyola Marymount University also from  July end to August 14th  
I wish to do this program in Europe, I have some interest shown from Spain and Germany, but  am not sure about the work permits and other requirements. I would  prefer to do it in London, UK.  

5. During my stay in India I also plan to go to Hyderabad for a weekend workshop in December 2015

6. And  Dubai for a 5 day workshop. Here is the contact information. It will be from January 3, 2016                   

7. I am scheduled to teach a 4 day workshop at my friend Sriram's facility in Germany near Frankfurt--between August 25 to 28th, 2016

If there is interest I am also willing to teach the following subjects Sri Krishnamacharya taught me

1 Samkhya Karika (20hrs)

2. Yogasutras (20 hrs)

3. Upanishad vidyas (20 hrs)

4 The Bhagavat Gita (60 hrs)

5 Hatayogapradipika (20hrs)

 Wish you a Happy October


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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta


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