"Technically, you are not supposed to teach without the blessing of the Jois family. There are many good reasons for that which I will not go into for this blog. However, Have you seen the authorized/certified teacher list? None of those people live in Nutbush Tennessee,Elba Alabama or Charlotte North Carolina. If you are fortunate enough to have the money, time and babysitters available to travel, that is awesome. However, the average person does not.
This brings us to the old argument that got many people kicked out of Sunday School . Is it possible for a person to be a Christian & know Jesus if they are never exposed to Christianity & can these people get into heaven? I am not saying that Ashtanga is the way to heaven, but if it is, & we all sit around and wait for a certified/authorized teacher to bless us with their presence, most of the world would wind up in the fiery pit."
What is the moral of Shanna's story thus far? Well, one conclusion we can draw from Shanna's story might be that if you happen to live in Nutbush Tennesse, Elba Alabama or Charlotte North Carolina (or Moorhead, Minnesota, for that matter), you would do well to get your ass ASAP to Mysore to study at the KPJAYI, so that the lack of authorized/certified teachers in these places will soon be rectified!
But I suspect I'm missing the point here (and deliberately so :-)). Shanna's point, as you can see, is that since there are only so many authorized and certified teachers around (and they tend to congregate in large urban centers, for some reason), people who live in smaller cities will not benefit from their presence and instruction. Rather than have all these people wait to do Ashtanga in their next lifetimes (and burn in some fiery pit in the meantime :-)), it would be far better for teachers who are not (yet?) authorized or certified to step up to the plate, so to speak, and offer the gift of Ashtanga to all these people who would otherwise never encounter it. Shanna expresses this point very eloquently when she writes:
"How are people to learn about Ashtanga and experience its benefits if they don't have access to it? Unauthorized teachers exist because there is a hole. There are areas where people want it and there is no one to teach it. It is not about fame, glory and money. Those who come in it for that quickly drop off because the dedication needed to practice Ashtanga doesn't appeal to the average yoga student. Those teachers who venture out to teach traditional Ashtanga are in it for love.
I am a hometown yogi teaching without the Jois family blessing. Like many, I fell in love with the practice & it changed me. People came to me wanting to know what I was doing different in my life. When I told them Ashtanga,they wanted to learn it so I taught them thus lighting the fire for many. Without the hometown Ashtanga teacher, Ashtanga would not have spread the way it did & many people would never have realized its benefits."
But some people might say, "Look, I don't live close to a shala or to an authorized or certified teacher. But I already have my own Ashtanga home practice, and I love practicing at home; it does wonders for me. Why should I care about whether people around me do or do not do Ashtanga, so long as I myself do it and keep the flame alive?" Shanna has some, uh, not-so-nice things to say about these people (do "these people" include me, I wonder?):
"It is always funny to see the Ashtanga snobs come out of their caves when the authorized/certified teachers come into town. What they don't realize is that without the hometown teachers, these people wouldn't be here. There wouldn't be a demand. The hometown teachers created the buzz and lit the candle that drew the workshop attendees to the light. These are the creators and change makers.
But what impact does the Ashtanga snob have on the world? The person who refuses to share their practices or energy with others because of righteousness and superiority? They say they make this choice because they are true to the tradition, but how does their behavior actually help the tradition?"
Hmm... these are very strong and thoughtful words here. As you might know if you have been reading this blog for a while, I tried to make a foray into teaching Ashtanga for a while last year, but things didn't quite work out (see this post). Shanna's words here give me more food for thought in this area. Personally, I don't feel ready or in a good position to teach Ashtanga right now, mainly because of things in my personal and work life. But perhaps, from the viewpoint of Ashtanga, teaching others isn't just something that one chooses to do at one's leisure; perhaps, as Shanna points out here, there is a bigger reason and bigger purpose to be served by teaching others and leading them to the light of Ashtanga yoga. Well, I can't say much more now, because with many important matters (like this one), there comes a point where words become superfluous, even meaningless; you either do it or don't do it, that's all. But I'll keep all this in mind.
But let's move to some less weighty matters for now. Exactly two years ago on this day, I wrote my first post on this blog: Which means that Yoga in the Dragon's Den is now two years old! Happy Birthday, Yoga in the Dragon's Den! Many thanks to all of you for reading this blog and keeping it alive with your presence :-)
But this also means that this blog might be entering a difficult period of its existence: The Terrible Twos! So this may be a good time and place to issue a warning:
[Image taken from here]