Thursday, January 28, 2010

Written Material

There seem to be myriad of books written by B. K. S. Iyengar.
There's only 1, singular book, written by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. 1.

There are some Iyengar-centric blogs out there, but really in the vastness of the blog-sphere very, very, limited (based on my searches). Ashtanga-centric blogs, on the other hand, there is certainly no shortage.



Anonymous said...

Well, I guess it could mean that current ashtanga students are a lot like Iyengar: chatty. Whereas Guruji seemed to want to point the student back to the original sources and/or texts: his teacher, the Yoga Sutra, Bhagavad Gita, Shima Samhita, etc.

I dunno... what do you think?

(0v0) said...


Portside said...

First off, (0v0) - thought you would appreciate the post.

Anon - such a simple question. It Oscar Wilde who said, "The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple." In this instance, I think this is certainly a case of the latter.

When I look at all of these Ashtanga blogs - when it comes to asana, we all seem to struggle with the similar bits and pieces. Marychiansana-d, urdhva dhanurasana (standing & dropping back, ticking & tocking), supta kurmasana, jump back/throughs - to name just a few - rights of passage or gateways, if you will. Maybe in some way the "chatter" gives a sense of communion within a mostly silent and very personal / "solitary crowd" type of practice.

I think that an Iyengar practice at it's fundamental level relies so heavily on having a teacher (and access to what seems at times the bazillion props). The "chatter" is provided by hands on and verbal adjustments best on the practitioner's level.

There's so much more than the asana - which is merely a part of the whole - and I think we all forget that.

With the body of work that Iyengar has composed I think he begins to draw out some of the deeper facets to the practice, which can be taken at face value or used as a jumping off point for svadhyaya.

My 2¢.

Grimmly said...

You said you found a couple of interesting Iyengar blogs, do you have the links? I'd be interested to hear what people are saying from the inside and how they approach their practice.

Portside said...

Of course Grimmly!

Two blogs that post regularly are:
Iyengar Austin
The teachers provide studio news and sequences that will be taught/should be practiced during the week.

Yoga Art&Science
While not an Iyengar teacher per se, Witold (the former teacher of a good friend/a fellow Iyengar classmate of mine - who grew up around Ann Arbor) was trained in the Iyengar tradition, after a stint practicing Ashtanga with Eddie Stern in NY. While asana/sequence heavy he does a good job of explaining things in Iyengar speak.

Witold's probably gets closer to what you are looking for...

Jarvis Chen in Cambridge, MA has a couple posts up (written in conjunction with Patricia Walden) on his website.

Grimmly said...

Thanks for these (and for the little commentaries too) will check them out.

Liz2 said...

I think that it really has to do with the structure of the Ashtanga practice. Doing the same thing everyday, covering the same ground looking for little variations in the terrain. You can't really avoid the nemesis poses. It makes for sometimes obsessive analysis, and "journaling." That's why ashtanga blogs tend toward the "today practice was good, I resolved this problem..." etc.

In Iyengar yoga you can just structure your practice sequence to avoid those areas that you get obsessively caught up on. Just kidding, there's more to it than that. But I think the shifting nature of their sequences make it more difficult to pin down on paper.

rayna said...

actually, ashtanga also emphasizes having a teacher. and sticking to him (or her). that is part of the traditional lineage. while i do love sharing my misery (no binding in supta k today - too much dinner) and joys (jump into bakasana B no problem today) with others with regard to the practice, i agree with anon that KPJ intended for us to 1) just practice. and all is coming. and 2) go back to traditional texts.

in conference once, one student asked, "guruji, how do you do [so and so]?" to which our beloved teacher replied, "what? didn't you read my book 'yoga mala?'" (^_^)

p.s. we'll see you in feb. including little a (who ain't so little anymore!!)

Portside said...

Liz2 - Certainly the repetition of structure is one of the most beautiful things about the Ashtanga practice (hits very close to an Artist/Architect's heart).

As for journaling about the two, yes it is a bit harder with Iyengar - but still think it possible. It's just generally less accessible for the reason you state - but there are mini themes and broader themes that can be discussed. After a while it is possible to see broader patterns. And there will always be nemesis poses... ;)

Rayna!!! :)
I totally agree with you on the role that the teacher plays. Looking at my earlier comment I realize I might have downplayed/neglected the importance of the teacher within Ashtanga - for that I apologize. Ultimately, I think both traditions instill a sense of loyalty and faith in the teacher and the Practice itself - which I venture is strongly related to how Pratthabi Jois and Iyengar were taught by T. Krishnamacharya.

ps. Certainly looking forward to seeing you all! Hopefully it will warm up some or at least snow! ;) Has Little A seen snow?

rayna said...

oh he's seen snow!!! we were in oregon for christmas. at the foothills of the cascades (aliya's folks live there). we are NOT looking forward to frigid weather but we ARE looking forward to seeing our DC crew. <3

Arturo said...

hi Portside
my thought of taking the name ashtanga out of the title of my blog, but changed my mind because that is where i started. my practice these days resembles an iyengarish one. wherever i left off one day in the asanas, i pick up the next and continue onward, using the sequence of ashtanga. in that way i practice poses from all series sandwiched in between opening and closing poses. so that makes me wonder if it is why iyengar yoga developed as it did, where it's not the same poses every day.

Portside said...


Makes complete sense to me re Ashtanga. Last year I attended a workshop with Steve Dwelley and he does just the same as you picking up his sequence the next morning.

As for Iyengar working with different poses each class, in the year that I've been playing with it, I've notices that within a session the teachers seem to have an ultimate goal. Basically exploring different poses to provide openings and depth to another pose which might seem unrelated.

Does that make sense?

Arturo said...

hi Portside
i guess it makes sense. i saw two types of Yyengar teachers when i started doing yoga. there were the martinets, who were loud and bossy and wanted you do to things so perfectly - with the straps and blocks and alignment. then there were the iyengarish Hatha teachers who really were doing like a vinyasa flow ashtanga like sequence. i derived a lot from all of them. the extreme martinet peeved me at time. but i see what you say that they had a goal in mind that day. usually their teaching was themed, such as a practice of twists, a practice of chest opening asanas, a practice of standing poses, etc.