Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Welcome New Ashtanga Yogis

Welcome Freshly Certified Ashtanga Yogis to the Worldwide Yoga Community. It has been a blessing to share in this journey. Thank you Caroline for inviting me to join in this experience both as an instructor & participant. Thank you fellow Ashtangi's for making this such a beautiful experience. I know each individual will go on to spread the energy of love & positivity everywhere they go. Congratulations Jaro, Asya, Joanna, Whitney, Elaine, Kim, Sophie, Bob, Bev, Ulrike, Margharita, Maayan, Clare, and Willa (we missed you Willa). Thank you all for helping me grow as a teacher and as a student to the brilliant of practice yoga. Love you all.

Photo: (taken on our last dinner night with live entertainment & a special Birthday cake for Kim)
Top L-R: Ulrike, Margharita, Bob, Whitney, Asya, Clare, Kim, Maayan
Bottom L-R: Joanna, Jaro, Ambria, Sophie, Elaine, Bev

Kerala Sadhya

The last lunch for our amazing group of Ashtanga Yogis was served traditional Kerala Sadhya. Kerala Sadhya is a delicious array of Kerala Vegetables served on a Banana Leaf. It was incredibly tasty. Everyone quickly learned how to eat with their hands. I joked and explained to them that our hands are the original fork and knife. We all got the Royal treatment. This experience has been so incredible. I quickly discovered my newest talent of a translator/linguistic expert for Malayalam and English.

The new Yogis are a beautiful group of individuals with the most AMAZING energy. It has been a blessing to learn with them, to teach them, to practice with them and to make new friends. The Kerala Palace where the training took place was a paradise, and I am truly grateful to all the staff.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Maha Shivarathri in Vaikom, Kerala

The Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Trainees had the privilege to celebrate one of the most beloved celebrations in the Hindu Calendar, the Maha Shivarathri. This celebrates the blessings of Lord Shiva. The group all dressed in traditional Kerala Set Sari, and Mundu for Jaro. We ventured to the beautiful Temple in Vaikom. They saw the procession, the drums, the Thalapooli line of ladies, the massive crowds, the lit lanterns, the decorated Elephant (who even left a little surprise for everyone to witness) and some of the group entered into the Temple as well. It was such a beautiful experience, and a rare opportunity for Teacher Trainees to celebrate something so special. It was a tremendous honor and privilege to help organize this adventure for this amazing group of Yogis. ~ Om Nama Shivaya.

Ashtanga Yoga with Jaro

Those who practice yoga understand the special qualities that make an Instructor worth following. While I always love to support new teachers, and experience classes from different teachers, it takes a special teacher to have me return for more classes, to have me long for more classes. While I respect & appreciate every learning opportunity, the short list of special teachers who do this for me (and many other students) are Sri Dharma Mittra, Tao Porchon Lynch, Isaac Pena, David Swenson, and Swami Shivam. These are the type of teachers that I not only recommend to my students constantly, but teachers who I would travel to great lengths to take their classes as often as possible. I now have a new Instructor to add to this list.

For a teacher to make my personal list of favorites, the Instructor has an inspiring yoga practice, has in-depth knowledge of the yoga practice, gives impeccable verbal cues, gives amazing adjustments, gives encouraging words, shines with humility, sets the tone for collective consciousness by inspiring synchronized breath, emphasizes the importance of prana, facilitates a mind body experience that challenges us physically, leaves many students with life changing epiphanies/spiritual growth, and of course leaves every student wanting more.

While I am here in Kerala, India, I am blessed to share in Caroline's Ashtanga Yoga teacher training program both as an instructor and student. There is another yogi who is also participating and teaching. His name is Jaro, he is amazing, and he is a new Yogi that I am adding to my personal list of favorites.

His yoga practice is brilliant. His instruction is comparable to the incredible Ashtanga Guru, David Swenson, who not surprisingly, Jaro has studied from. When I first met Jaro (pronounced Yarrow) and heard his name, I instantly knew he had to have some Czech roots. I told him how my late beloved Godfather was named Miroslav and from Czechoslovakia with a brother named Jaro (Jaroslav). Turns out, Jaro is half Czech.

While here in Kerala, Jaro has been instructing students in adjustments and how to lead the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga. He recently taught two led classes. I was supposed to only take the first day led class, and adjust in the second day, but I asked Jaro if I could take both days, and he agreed since I am fine with adjusting that I can take the class. These two classes were soooo incredible, I am mentally planning a trip to Czechoslovakia so I can take his class again.

Jaro is a teacher that is incredibly in touch with the energy of the room, he teaches with the traditional sanskrit Ashtanga Yoga count, and challenges students physically with words of encouragement. He has a lovely sense of humour (comically threatening to collect 50 Euro from students who roll beyond the mat in Chakrasana), and infectious laugh, and gives possibly the best adjustments. Too often teachers avoid adjusting me, they assume since I am flexible or deep into a posture, or aligned correctly, that I do not need to go deeper, that I do not need a tiny tweak, which often makes me never want to return. Like everyone who practices yoga, I LOVE a GOOD ADJUSTMENT, and Jaro gives the BEST!

I am beyond grateful to have met this fantastic Yoga Instructor. I look forward to taking more classes with him in the future.....and conducting retreats and trainings with Jaro as well.

For those of you who are serious about your Ashtanga Yoga practice, please see if you can take class with Jaro. You can also listen to the Pod Cast for the recent amazing classes that Jaro led us in, in Kerala.

Jaro's Website:

Facebook Fanpage:


Jaro & Ambria......Jaro doing Handstand

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ayurveda Cooking Class

So while normally each morning is immersion into the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga (Mysore style) we had a special treat recently on our Full Moon, of an Ayurveda Cooking Class. Our daily meals are delicious Kerala style meals, with Ayurveda menu items, as suggested by our beautiful Ayurveda Doctor. Since everyone has been enjoying the meals, part of our experience included a lovely Ayurveda Cooking Class. Our amazing Ayurveda Chef, a fellow Malayalee made some amazing food items.

The menu included:
  1. Beet Root Rice
  2. Snake Gord Thoran
  3. Pineapple Curry
  4. Payassam (dessert)
The food was delicious!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ashtanga Yoga in Kerala

So while students are progressively enjoying the Primary Series of the Ashtanga Yoga practice, as created by the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, we are also going over adjustments. For those who are unaware Ashtanga is taught either in a led class or Mysore style. Mysore style is a chance for students to go through at their pace, and Instructors to provide more adjustments. I love to give and receive adjustments because it feels amazing. Adjustments should always be done in a safe manner for both the giver and receiver, with the primary intent to improve alignment and secondary to deepen the pose.

Purvottanasana is a beautiful pose to stretch the entire front body. It is sometimes called reverse plank pose. An excellent way for students to learn to adjust this pose is to stand above the Yoga Aspirant, legs straddled around them, knees bent, and gently placing the hands near sacral area lift up & lean back, keeping their elbows on their knees. This ensures that the receiver will have a lovely adjustment and the person adjusting has no strain to the back in the process.

I am beyond grateful to be part of this experience with these brilliant Yogis. To learn is to grow, to practice is to evolve. Very excited to lead the afternoon Subtle Body & Chakra Class. ~ Om Shanti