After practicing yoga for over thirty years down in the big smoke we felt called to move back into nature into an environment ideal to go deeper into the higher limbs of yoga practice. The Vedas suggest that when one comes to the middle of ones life (around 50) to change ones mode of life and spend more time on spiritual practice in nature. This mode of life is called vanaprashtha (forest dweller). This same mode of life is suggested in many yogic texts. We took that quite literally and live now on a mountaintop surrounded by ancient rainforest. Living in nature inspires our practice greatly, which we can then share when we come back into the cities to teach workshops or retreats.

This blog will give you updates of what we are currently working on and it will give us the opportunity to stay in contact with the many people and students we have worked with throughout the last few decades. Of course if you want to post any questions, your mountaintop yogis will do their best to answer them.

Ashtanga or only Ekanga Yoga?

When I first visited KP Jois house in late 1995 I did so with the desire to study classical Ashtanga Yoga. I interviewed him closely what sort of yoga he was teaching and he affirmed that it was indeed Patanjali’s yoga. That made me sign up with him. In the following years we Ashtanga yogis often sniggered at the Iyengars because we smugly thought we had it over them. Already the name of our yoga showed that it was a true, authentic and ancient form of yoga, whereas theirs was a yoga named after a modern person, it’s founder. But this initial hubris was long ago replaced by a questioning of what Ashtanga today is, and what it should be.

Ashtanga’s Flawed Teacher Accreditation Process

Since Matthew Remski’s article and his interview with Karen Rain the Ashtanga world is trying to come to terms with K Pattabhi Jois’ history of sexual abuse and assault. I think this is an important process, which need not be hurried and in which context a lot of questions should and need to get asked. One of the arguments brought forth to lay this important process to rest before it really gets underway is, “KP Jois is dead and now things are different”. I would like to pierce this narrative.

Mary Taylor’s response to Karen Rain’s interview

My respect and gratitude to Mary Taylor who is coming out in support of Karen Rain in her latest blog article. Mary powerfully writes, “I see this as a time when the ashtanga lineage has an opportunity to evolve into one that is founded in truth rather than avoidance or denial, openness rather than tunnel vision, caring for others rather than putting ourselves first.”

Why Did She Let it Happen?

After completing this article last night, after a long period of insomnia, I awoke again to a very disturbing nightmare. I feel exposed and vulnerable and now understand the terror Karen Rain speaks of in daring to state the brutal truth, in piercing the pressure of silence. With trust… Monica

My Initial Response to Karen Rain’s Interview About Sexual Abuse

I’m posting here with a heavy heart the full transcript of Matthew Remski’s interview with Karen Rain. Matthew forwarded me the interview last night and I read the first half then but couldn’t continue because I found it too distressing. I lay in bed for a long time and reflected, a process that continued through the night and in half daze this morning when reading the rest. I have known Karen as Karen Haberman and have practised close to her for around 10 or 11 months through 1996 and 1997 in KP Jois little Lakshmipuram studio. I will address you, Karen, now directly and will get Matthew to forward you my response.

Ashtanga Yoga Stories from Norman Blair

Following on from Matthew’s article here Norman Blair’s article that explores a few more of today’s Ashtanga culture’s dark sides. Norman attended my event in London and we had a cuppa afterwards. He is a sincere person. I don’t share his love for Yin Yoga but a lot of what he writes about power dynamics, allegiance, rigidity, hierarchy, forceful adjustments, etc., is really important to look into.

Yoga’s Culture of Sexual Abuse by Matthew Remski

Last night I had an hour-long phone conversation with the Canadian yoga researcher Matthew Remski about his inquiry into alleged sexual abuse conducted by the late K Pattabhi Jois. I found Matthew to be a very caring and genuine person and I am sharing here his article on the subject.

The Five States of the Afflictions

The forms of suffering, or afflictions (kleshas), according to Patanjali, are ignorance, egotism, desire, aversion and fear of death. In stanza II.4 he points out that forms of suffering do not just occur in the fully active form but also in the so-called dormant, thinned and interrupted states when they are subliminal and we are often not conscious of being in their grip. When I was young I always believed that I was not afraid of death. Then one day I was in a life-threatening situation and this incredible fear of annihilation, completely unbeknownst to me, surfaced. It was only when this fear had become conscious that I was ready to do something about it.

Mayurasana (peacock posture)

Yoga asana is often erroneously thought of as dealing only with flexibility. In fact increasing ones level of flexibility is only then functional if this increase is matched by a similar increase of your strength. Ideal for increasing strength is the practise of arm balances. Today we will look at your Mayurasana (peacock posture). Since this posture has rather complex sequential movements I left in this description the traditional vinyasa count that is featured in my text Ashtanga Yoga The Intermediate Series.