Ashtanga Dispatch is a global and inclusive community, bringing together teachers and students devoted to the practice of Ashtanga yoga, all eight of those limbs. Ashtanga Dispatch shares that love of the practice through an audio podcast, in a print magazine, through many articles and offering events and workshop… all available from the website www.ashtangadispatch.com. And there are even t-shirts! Ashtanga Dispatch is dedicated to spreading the message that this yoga is for every body and everyone is welcome.
I’ve mentioned the podcast in class, especially the interviews below with my teachers. All the episodes are well worth listening to and cover a wide range of topics with many of the most respected Ashtanga Yoga teachers.
Ashtanga Dispatch has also published two beautiful magazine editions, collecting amazing photography with great articles. I’ve left a copy of both editions in the reception at Whitespace Yoga & Wellbeing Studio. Please feel free to take a look. If you would like your own copy, you can order from www.ashtangadispatch.com.
The Sanskrit word परम्परा (paramparā) is often literally translated as ‘tradition’, ‘lineage’ or ‘an uninterrupted row or series’. In the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, paramparā encompasses the relationship from teacher to student, the transmission of knowledge based on direct and practical experience, the teacher and student forming the links in the chain of instruction that has been passed down for thousands of years.
Lu Duong is an Ashtanga practitioner living in Arlington, Virginia, USA. He was inspired by Guy Donahaye and Eddie Stern’s book, Guruji, and the personal stories in that book from many Ashtanga practitioners who had studied with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Not wanting the stories to end, Lu started the Ashtanga Parampara project, to simply record our teachers’ voices and their experiences with this practice. There are hundreds of Ashtanga Yoga teachers across the world and Lu’s goal is to provide an archive of their voice.
Mission: Ashtanga Parampara is a collection of interviews with authorized/certified practitioners and teachers of Ashtanga yoga as taught by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois (KPJAYI). This platform seeks to archive the background and history of teachers that have been blessed by Pattabhi Jois or his grandson, R. Sharath Jois, to teach and spread the Ashtanga method. This effort is born out of sincere gratitude and devotion to the practice and seeks to illustrate and highlight the wide diversity of dedicated teachers across the world.
You can read these interviews online at http://www.ashtangaparampara.org/. Seven of the interviews have also been collected into a beautiful printed version. I’ve left a copy in the reception at Whitespace Yoga & Wellbeing Studio. Please feel free to read.
In September 2015, Peter Adamson and Jonardon Ganeri began producing a new podcast series on the History of Philosophy in India. Peter is Professor of Philosophy at the LMU in Munich and at King’s College London, and has been hosting a podcast since October 2010 that takes listeners through the history of philosophy, “without any gaps.” This original podcast is still running and has built up to over 240 episodes! Jonardon is Professor of Philosophy at NYU, Visiting Professor at King’s College London, Professorial Research Associate at SOAS and author of numerous books and articles on Indian philosophy.
The plan is for the podcasts to cover the first thousand years of the history of Indian philosophy, beginning with Vedic literature (including the Upanisads) and ending with the Buddhist thinker Dignaga who died in 540 AD. This timespan will be divided into three ages:
- the early period of the Vedas and classical Hindu epics, and the emergence of critique from the Buddhists and Jainas;
- the Age of the Sutras, a period of increasing systematicity in which so-called “orthodox” Hindu schools of thought faced increasingly sophisticated challenges from skeptical and naturalist thinkers;
- and finally a period of Buddhist analysis and Jaina synthesis.
To date, the first six episodes have covered the following topics…
- The Origins of Philosophy in India: Orientation concerning the nature of philosophy in India and the historical context in which it emerged. Peter and Jonardon go on to discuss the Vedic literature, focusing especially on the Upanisads with their proposal of the unity of self and world, and the notion of karma. These ideas, and the knowledge claims of the brahmans who feature in the Upanisads, were criticized by the emerging traditions of Buddhism and Jainism. In addition to charting this conflict, these podcasts deal with philosophical ideas in ancient Indian literature, especially the epic Mahabharata. Also to be featured are interviews with guests Laurie Patton, Rupert Gethin, and Jessica Frazier.
- Begin at the End: Introduction to Indian Philosophy
In this introduction to the series, Peter Adamson and Jonardon Ganeri propose that Indian philosophy was primarily a way of life and search for the highest good. Download episode 1
- Sages, Schools and Systems: a Historical Overview
A whirlwind tour of philosophical literature in India. Download episode 2
- Kingdom for a Horse: India in the Vedic Period
The Vedic period sets the historical context of the Upaniṣads, Buddhism and Jainism. Download episode 3
- Hide and Seek: The Upanisads
The ancient texts known as the Upaniṣads claim to expose the hidden connections between things, including the self and the world. Download episode 4
- Do it Yourself: Indra’s Search for the Self in the Upaniṣads
The god Indra seeks to learn the nature of his own self from another god, Prajāpati, and receives an answer worth waiting for. Download episode 5
- You Are What You Do: Karma
The origins of the idea of karma, its moral significance in the Upanisads, and an alternative conception in the Bhagavad-Gita. Download episode 6
Episodes are usually released on every other Saturday and are about 20 minutes long.
To get every episode, the History of Philosophy in India podcast can be subscribed to on iTunes, and further reading and info is at www.historyofphilosophy.net.
Stillpoint Yoga London has created a short film from footage of the Ashtanga Yoga led practice held on 3 January 2015, which captures the essence of the community there. Community and relationship is at the heart of Stillpoint Yoga London. Co-founder Ozge Karabiyik, who sadly died on 2 January 2012, raised thousands of pounds for charity and each year the Stillpoint Yoga London community has come together in this light to remember her and celebrate her life.
The Sanskrit word स्मृति (smṛti) means remembrance or memory.
The Ashtanga Yoga practice is a practice of memory.
It is held in our hearts.
Spending time listening to John Scott talk can be a life changing experience. I know it has been for me, and continues to be every time it happens. John’s perspective on a yoga practice always brings some new attitude, some new context to my practice. In the Ashtanga Dispatch podcast released today, John is in conversation with Peg Mulqueen, talking about the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and the teachings of Pattabhi Jois. This is just part one, with part two next week.
There is so much in what John says, so many layers. But the root of a meditative, counted, breath-body-movement practice is clear. Transcending time and space, transcending what is up and what is down.
When we sit for meditation, we realise how slippery the mind is and so some of us need more support, more structure, more solid things to focus on to steady the mind. […] So there are many techniques of let’s say ‘static’ meditation. We could call our Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga a ‘dynamic’ meditation. And so if we just talk about them both being mediations then we can draw some parallels. That if we sit to meditate and we can accept that the mind is slippery. Let’s then also accept if we stand on our mat and be dynamic, through a flowing sequence of postures, our mind can also be slippery. -John Scott
Listen on SoundCloud or subscribe to the Ashtanga Dispatch Podcast on iTunes.
(Photograph of John Scott © D Manomas 2015)
Is Ashtanga Yoga “just for the few and the strong and the proud and the brave”? David Swenson has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga since 1973 and is an amazing teacher. In this two-minute video David describes how anyone can practice Ashtanga Yoga and how it makes him sad when Ashtanga Yoga is described as “too difficult”.
The Mysore-style assisted self practice method of learning Ashtanga Yoga enables the practice to be adapted to suit each student’s needs. If you would like to know more about assisted self practice, read my Q&A.