Sunday, January 9, 2011


To practice Ashtanga Yoga in the Mysore style is to commit to a consistent practice.

To be sure, we each do our own practice. Thankfully, though, we don't practice alone. Even as we move to our own unique breath, in a Mysore class we both support and in turn are supported by one other.

I'm asking new and continuing students to make their commitment to this practice official when Portland Ashtanga Yoga launches on March 1.

I'm honored that Portland Ashtanga Yoga will be hosted at Yoga Pearl, one of the premier studios in Portland.

Morning Mysore class will continue from 6–9 a.m. I've also developed new membership pricing and options to better reflect the choice to commit to this practice.

Yoga Pearl will continue to offer my evening and weekend led classes. If you wish to attend these or other classes at the studio, Jen and Alice (the studio owners) have extended a generous discount to Portland Ashtanga Yoga members.

The Portland Ashtanga Yoga Website is set to launch February 1. It will have scheduling, pricing, moon days, as well as answers to commonly asked questions.

Please contact me with your questions.

I'd like to hear from those who prefer auto-pay to see if this is a worthwhile addition.

Here's your chance to dive into the Bhagavad Gita, considered the locus classicus of yoga.

A five-week Bhagavad Gita study group, to be held Sundays in Yoga Pearl's Studio II, will begin January 30 and end February 27. Class time will be 4-5:15 p.m.

We'll cover 3 to 4 chapters of the Gita per class, read our favorite passages, look at various well-known interpretations, and discuss their implications to our own practice of yoga. Perhaps we'll enjoy treats from Prasad.

There's no cost to participate, although I'm asking everyone to show up with J. van Buitenen's translation. A renowned sanskritist, van Buitenen did one of the few creditable prose translations of the Gita.

Here it is at Powell's!
Here it is on Amazon!

January is always a strong month at Yoga Pearl, as people turn to a yoga practice to help with post-holiday ablutions.

However, by February, winter has sunk its hooks and our tamasic, or more inert, tendencies tend to run a shade stronger.

These are the times when community and conversation play as vital a role in practice as posture and breathing.

To that end, Dawn Uchiyama has graciously offered her house for a pot-luck to be held on Sunday, February 6, from noon-3 p.m.

Dawn lives at 1325 SW Upland Drive, between the Zoo and Sylan exits off Highway 26.

Dawn's house on Google Maps.

Want to explore key yoga concepts embodied in handstands and hand-balancing? Want to exclusively practice handstands and hand-balancing, either kicking up or learning different hand-balance-based asanas?

Then I've got good news for you: I've got a hand-balance intensive scheduled at Yoga Pearl for Saturday, February 19, from 1-4 p.m.

Attendance will be capped at 12 to guarantee one-on-one attention.

Cost is $50. If there're no spaces left, be sure to get on the wait list!

We'll explore the yogic principles manifested when you stand on your hands, we'll undertake an asana sequence designed to prepare for handstand and hand-balances, and finally, I'll work with each person individually to address their unique and specific needs.

All levels are welcome, whether you've just started to address inversions or can climb stairs on your hands! Be prepared to work! Everyone will come away with practical experience, as well as strategies to improve their hand-balancing and incorporate this practice into an Ashtanga Yoga or other daily practice.

Please visit Yoga Pearl's Web site for more information, as well as to sign up on-line.

We'll be deepening, intensifying, and yet paradoxically relaxing our practice during our upcoming retreat to Xinalani Retreat, Mexico, which will run April 23-30, 2011.

This retreat is gonna have it all: pranayama, led and Mysore-style classes, as well as asana workshop, philosophy discussion, and my favorite Hindu and Buddhist stories and myths.

Did I also mention the location will be an eco-retreat on the beach just south of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?

Amenities include an on-site spa, healthy cuisine, and oh yes, dear god, the BEACH AND THE SUN.

Surya namaskara, or "bowing to the sun," can be radically difficult during Portland's "spring," when the sky is a ruthless gray mono-cloud. This retreat will be your opportunity to welcome Surya into your life, surrounded by good conversation and community.

Here's more detailed information on the retreat!

Check out Xinalani Retreat Center!

Contact Tara to inquire about availability, or to get on the waiting list.

I practice and teach Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Pattabhi Jois and in turn Tim Miller, one of his most senior, beloved students as well as my teacher. Both gentlemen repeatedly emphasize that "Ashtanga Yoga is Patanjali Yoga" as an invitation to explore the philosophical aspects of this practice.

Patanjali, in book II of his Yoga Sutras, suggests that there are three components to kriya yoga, or the yoga of action: tapas, svadhyaya, and isvara pranidhanani.

Generally translated, tapas means "disciplined practice," svadhyaya as "self study," while isvara pranidhanani means "surrender to Source" or to "the Lord."

Patanjali has suggested that a yoga of action is one that encompasses our body, our minds, and our hearts.

The relationship between tapasya, svadhyaya, and isvara pranidhana — as well as between our bodies, minds and hearts — aren't merely different "pieces" or "parts." That metaphor doesn't fully convey their true interdependence. Each contains and is in turn contained by the other two.

Most of you address tapas (literally "heat") daily, simply by practicing in the Mysore style. Perhaps you offer the results of your practice to whatever you feel to be at once larger, yet nothing other, than your deepest self.

These two aspects of kriya yoga may give rise to svadhyaya, or self-reflection — though you will realize at once that svadhyaya has always been there, and in fact, may be why you came to a yoga class in the first place.

If you're interested in reading about yoga, I've recently finished several books that I can recommend to further gird your self-study.

The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali: A New Translation with Commentary by Chip Hartranft
The Yoga Body by Mark Singleton
Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings by A.G. Mohan