+++A letter from Jason at Portland Ashtanga Yoga+++
It looks to be a busy spring — there is quite a bit of Ashtanga happening in Portland, in Oregon, and in the Pacific Northwest in general, as you'll no doubt discover as you scroll down the page.
Are you feeling a little sluggish of late? Do you find yourself favoring warm soups and thick blankets? Is it a tad more difficult to wake up in the morning? Perhaps you find winter epitomizes a physically tamasic experience?
One of Patanjali's (many) strategies for mapping our experience involves the gunas. He (enfolding the Samhkya school of thinking) suggests our experience is of three "qualities," which is the common translation of the word.These qualities are:
Sattva: illumination, harmony, or clearing
Rajas: activity, energy, movement, or changing
Tamas: stability, stasis, obstructing, and veiling.
The gunas operate on all levels, so consider that, during winter, we (or at least I) really tend toward hibernation and stasis.
In general, the body is considered tamasic — our nervous systems, for example, are incredibly efficient with energy expenditure. If you don't use it, you lose it, because it is too costly to maintain infrequently used myelin nerve sheathes.
Contrast this with our attention spans, which tends toward rajas, or energy and movement.
Damn that Ashtanga practice! It asks us to move our bodies and steady our minds — it asks us to make our minds more tamasic and our bodies more rajasic. This produces resistance, and this resistance produces heat, or tapas ... and perhaps not a little sweat.
Sometimes we need a little extra something to produce that external heat — when in Tokyo during winter, for example, I used to practice pretty early in the morning, and usually alone. I would surround my mat with three robot space heaters.
In Encinitas, during Tim's studio transition period, we also spent time practicing in the old unheated Red Sand warehouse. It was freezing. Wool socks and beanies were the order of the day.
External heat or no heat, tapas and sweat are not the same thing. A yoga practice includes tapas. It can and should be a strain — our minds and bodies are very uncomfortable when learning the skill of deep concentration, because deep concentration can be antithetical to our evolutionary background and cultural conditioning.
On a positive note, tamas also contains within it the seeds of latent promise, waiting to be activated — we just gotta show up and do it! Thank god we get to do it together.
Does this aspect of philosophy interest you? If so, we're able to explore the gunas, more Patanjali, and other texts, in the new Sunday Conversations class, beginning Sunday, February 7, at 9:30 a.m., immediately following Mysore. Bring any question!
Otherwise I hope to see you on your mat, or elsewhere. Thank you for your attention, and protect ya neck--
+++Led class next Friday!+++
I am trying two of them — 6–7:30 and 7:30–9 a.m. Please enroll online in the class of your choice. I can't stress enough how phenomenal intermittent led classes are. A disruption in regularity attenuates the pattern and rhythms of larger practice. You can sign up for class here.
+++Jess Walden Workshop on the Bandhas: Saturday, February 13+++
Our dear friend Jess is coming to Portland to teach a workshop on those elusive bandhas. It'll be held on Saturday, February 13, from 9–noon. She is one of very few women teaching Ashtanga with a high level of experience — she's done the practice since 1994, she is raising two terrific kids, and she works full-time. Please come out, it'd be great to have you! You can enroll here!
+++Deepen Your Practice: First Series Seminar+++
This is as close to an Ashtanga-specific teacher training as you can get in Portland!
You will learn the sequence, the pose names, variations and modifications, and adjustments verbal and physical. You will take your understanding of Ashtanga to a whole new level during 25 hours of instruction and practice of asana, philosophy, and mythology, combined with 8 hours of Mysore practice. As they say in SoCal, with the classic SoCal dude bookend, Dude, that's a lot of yoga dude. The cost is $699 — more info enroll here.
+++New Handstand class starts Thursday, February 18!+++
I have been doing handstands for the last 5 years or so pretty intensively, and really went down a real rabbit-hole as far as my attention. If you would like to practice in the manner in which I have been practicing (minus Russian, Chinese, or French accents), please join us in this semi-private handstand class.
The class is limited to only 4 people. We will progress through an established "grand sequence" of handstand shapes and positions. The class features extensive hand-spotting and (if requested) custom 'homework' practice.
Class will be Thursdays from 9–10 a.m. This first cycle will feature 4 classes, and run February 18, 25, March 3 and 10. You can sign up now. Space is limited to just 4 people. You can find more info and enroll at this link.
Also! My dear friend Yuval is visiting from France April 23 & 24, and will be teaching a weekend handstand immersion.
+++David Williams Teaches in Portland!+++
The very first certified Ashtanga teacher returns to Portland to teach just two classes February 6 & 7 — full led Primary Series and the complete Ashtanga pranayama sequence! David was one of the very first non-locals to learn the complete series of postures back in 1973, and has been practicing consistently since. Classes will feature a talk, a led class, and guided pranayama sessions from 10–12:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday, February 6 and 7. Classes will be held at Yoga on Yamhill, and the suggested donation is $60 per class. You can read more about David and reserve your space at this link.
+++Marc P's Rental+++
The Portland rental market is bananas right now. Studio member Marc is offering for rent a small house with a loft bedroom. It's partly furnished, with a queen bed and kitchen table and chairs. It is $1000 month/single occupancy, utilities included. Available March 1, 2016. Drop him an email if interested, or if you need more information.
Jason owns and directs Portland Ashtanga Yoga.