The Ashtanga opening chant asks us to bow to the lotus-feet of the teachers who have came before (“vande gurunam caranaravinde”). This singular moment on the mat often brings me a strong sense of gratitude for the people who have brought greatness to my life. Gratitude is the inevitable residue of the deep appreciation of the intricate and improbable chains of relationships that stretch back (and forward) that make, and have made, all this possible.
One of those people is Alice Joanou. The other day I fell down the Internet memory rabbit-hole and ended up landing on her old, since-deactivated Tumblr. She was my San Francisco Ashtanga teacher from back in the day. I saw the picture posted above — I may have posted it before? — and she'd posted some great poetry and quote, from Miller, Kafka, Le Guin, and Meister Eckhart. Seventeen years later and she’s still teaching me!
As the opening chant's last om fades, I am aware if it weren’t for her (and countless others), I would not have met my wife, had our children, traveled the world, moved to Portland, started Portland Ashtanga Yoga — or met you!
There are countless people in my life for whom I feel gratitude, and that time on the front of the mat is a great moment to acknowledge them.
Jason owns and directs Portland Ashtanga Yoga.