My Gurus

Sri k.Pattabhi jois (Ashtanga Yoga)

Jois was born on July 26, 1915, (Guru Pūrṇimā, full moon day) in the village of Kowshika, near Hassan, Karnataka, South India.
Jois's father was an astrologer, priest, and landholder. From the age of 5 he was instructed in Sanskrit and rituals by his father, as were all Brahmin boys. No one else in his family had learned yoga or even professed interest in it.
In 1927, at the age of 12, Jois attended a lecture and demonstration at the Jubilee Hall in Hassan by T. Krishnamacharya and became his student the very next day. For two years Jois remained in Kowshika and practiced with Krishnamacharya every day. Jois never told his family he was practicing yoga. He would rise early, go to practice, and then go to school.
In 1930, Jois ran away from home to Mysore to study Sanskrit, with 2 rupees.Around the same time Krishnamacharya departed Hassan to teach elsewhere. Two years later, Jois was reunited with Krishnamacharya, who had also made his way to Mysore. During this time, the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar, had become seriously ill and it is said that Krishnamacharya had healed him, through yoga, where others had failed. The Maharaja became Krisnamacharya's patron and established a Yoga shala for him on the palace grounds. Jois often accompanied Krishnamacharya in demonstrations.Krishnamacharya remained in Mysore with Jois until 1941, when he left for Madras after the death of the Maharaja.
Jois remained in Mysore and married a young woman named Savitramma(but who came to be known as Amma), on the full moon of June 1937 when Jois was 21 years old. In 1948 they, with the help of Jois' students, purchased a home in the section of town called Lakshmipuram, where they lived with their children Saraswathi, Mañju and Ramesh.
He held a teaching position in yoga at the Sanskrit Collegeof Maharaja from 1937 to 1973, becoming vidwan (professor) in 1956,as well as being Honorary Professor of Yoga at the Government College of Indian Medicine from 1976 to 1978.He taught there until 1973, when he left to devote himself fully to teach yoga at his yoga shala. He had studied texts such as the Patanjali Yoga Darshana, Hathayoga Pradeepika, Suta Samhita, Yoga Yajnavalkya and the Upanishads,and in 1948, he established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute at their new home in Lakshmipuram.
In 1964, a Belgian named André Van Lysebeth (1919-2004) spent two months with Jois learning the primary and intermediate asanas of the Ashtanga Yoga system. Not long afterwards, van Lysebeth wrote a book called J'apprends le Yoga (1967, English title: Yoga Self-Taught) which mentioned Jois and included his address. This marked the beginning of westerners coming to Mysore to study yoga. His students included Madonna, Sting and Gwyneth Paltrow. All his students, including the celebrities and his grandson, received the same training.
His first trip to the West was in 1974 to South America, to deliver a speech in Sanskrit at an international yoga conference.In 1975 he stayed for four months in Encinitas, California, marking the beginning of Ashtanga yoga in the US.He would return to the US several times over the next 20 years, to teach yoga at Encinitas and elsewhere.
He wrote his only book, Yoga Mala, in Kannada in 1958, and it was published in 1962, but was not published in English until 1999. A film was made about him by Robert Wilkins.
Jois continued to teach at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, now located in the neighbourhood of Gokulam. with his only daughter Saraswathi Rangaswamy (b. 1941) and his grandson Sharath (b. 1971), until May 18, 2009 when he died aged 93 of natural causes.

What is Ashtanga Yoga ?
The term "vinyasa" refers to the alignment of movement and breath, a method which turns static yoga postures into a dynamic flow. The length of one inhale or one exhale dictates the length of time spent transitioning between postures. Poses are then held for a predefined number of breaths. In effect, attention is placed on the breath and the journey between the postures rather than solely on achieving perfect body alignment in a pose, as is emphasized in hatha yoga
This viṅyāsa 'flow' is a variant of the Sun Salutation, (also used in other styles of yoga ). cointaining a flow of plank, to caturaṅga daṇḍāsana, to ūrdhva mukha śvānāsana or upward-facing dog, to Adho Mukha Svanasana, or downward-facing dog.
The breathing style used in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is Ujjayi which is a relaxed diaphragmatic style of breathing, characterized by an ocean sound which resonates in the practitioner's throat. Throughout a practice, this specific breathing style is maintained in alignment with movements. Viṅyāsa and Ujjayi together create internal heat, which leads to purification of the body through increased circulation and sweating.
Another major principle of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga are bhandas, or muscle locks, which focus energy the body and are closely tied to the breath.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is different from many yoga classes in the west in that the order of poses is completely predefined. A practice will comprise of four main parts: an "opening sequence," one of the six main "series", a back-bending sequence, and a set of inverted postures, referred to as the "finishing sequence." Practice always ends with savasana, or resting pose.
The opening sequence begins with 10 Sun Salutations and then several standing postures. Next, the practitioner will do one of the six main series, referred to as the Primary series(Yoga Chikitsa), Intermediate series(Nadi Shodhana)or Advanced A, B, C, or D (Sthira Bhaga) series level. Newcomers to Ashtanga Yoga practice the primary series, after learning the standing sequence.
The Primary Series is the most important series as it forms the basis of the entire system. Practitioners may advance to more difficult series over a period of years or decades, but the goal of this style is not to learn the more difficult poses but rather to learn to maintain internal focus throughout the practice.
Daily or regular practice is highly emphasized in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is traditionally taught in Mysore style (supervised self practice, named after the city in India where Ashtanga originates), where each student moves through the practice at his or her own pace and level. An individual with an established Ashtanga practice might take between an hour and two hours, depending on his or her own personal speed, but a beginner will likely have a shorter practice. MMysore practice are hard to find and these classes are often only taught by those authorized to teach by the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute.However, even traditional Myysore-style teachers offer "led" classes either weekly or monthly.

Swami Sivananda and

Swami Vishnudevananda ( Sivananda Yoga)

Swami Sivananda Saraswati was born Kuppuswami in Pattamadai in 1963. He studied medicine and served for several years before taking up monasticism. He lived most of the later part of his life near Rishikesh.
He is the founder of The Divine Life Society (1936), Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy (1948) and author of over 200 books on yoga, vedanta and a variety of other subjects. He established Sivananda Ashram, the location of the headquarters of The Divine Life Society (DLS), on the bank of the Ganges at Shivanandanagar, at a distance of 3 kilometres from Rishikesh
Sivananda Yoga, the yoga form propagated by him, are now spread in many parts of the world through Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres, but these centres are not affiliated with Swami Sivananda's original ashrams which are run by the Divine Life Society.
Swami Vishnudevananda : A close disciple of Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnudevananda, a nair, was born in Kerala, South India on December 31, 1927. After a short career in the army, he coincidentally found interest in the teachings of swami Sivananda through a copy of Sadhana Tattwa (Spiritual Instructions). Its introduction read, “An ounce of practice is worth tons of theory. Practice yoga, religion and philosophy in daily life and attain self realisation. Impressed, he traveled to Rishikesh to meet the author and the meeting, taking place on the stairs of the ashram leading to the Ganges, would change his life. Swami Sivananda was walking up the stairs and according to the custom, people were prostrating . The young army officer did not want to bow his head to anyone and hid in a doorway out of sight. A moment later, Swami Sivananda appeared unexpectedly, and prostrated to the arrogant young man. This lesson in humility was the first given to Swami Vishnudevananda by his guru.
What is Sivananda Yoga ?
Sivananda Yoga is a classical and holistic approach to Hatha Yoga that stretches and tones the whole body.
This style of yoga has not been modified or watered down. The teachings have survived intact and are practiced as originally presented in India by Swami Sivananda in 1936. Sivananda Yoga is an international practice which follows the same format worldwide
The practice is mainly divided into Breathing exercices , followed by a set of 7 "lunges" sun salutation, leg raises and 12 concecutives postures witch short savasanas linking them. Each Asana ( pose) is maintained for a long time with full relaxed breath, ending with a led savasana or corpse pose

Sharon Gannon and David Life

(Jivamukti Yoga)

"Sharon Gannon and David Life's Jivamukti Yoga Center in lower Manhattan is the biggest yoga studio in America, with hundreds of students a day and more than 100 classes a week. It draws fast-track New Yorkers and celebrities looking not just for a workout but for a spiritual experience. Classes blend challenging vinyasa (flow) with Sanskrit chanting, Vedic teachings, rock music, and skilled personal attention. The center has been featured on the BBC, ABC, PBS, and in the New York Times and New York magazine. Gannon and Life work hard to show that yoga is not just about health and fitness, and that spirituality can be congruent with the high-energy, vibrant lifestyle of New York. They say their goal is to deliver yoga to as many people as possible.

The two met in 1982. In 1986 they traveled to India and took the Sivananda teacher training program, then returned to open the first Jivamukti Yoga Society on Avenue B. Many people were surprised when the God-centered, incense-scented vibe proved to be an immediate hit. In 1990 they began to practice Ashtanga Yoga with Pattabhi Jois in Mysore and in 1998 moved their studio to its present location in the East Village. In the summer of 2000, Jivamukti opened a new center on the upper east side of Manhattan. Among their new projects is a book about Jivamukti Yoga.

"Many yoga teachers today cheat their students by not emphasizing the importance of a vegetarian diet and its relationship to the practice of yoga," says Gannon. Life comments: "Many people are into yoga on many levels, for many different reasons, but that doesn't change what yoga is. Yoga is always the same; it is pulsation beyond body and mind. Yoga teachers need to assume their seat and teach with the authority of the lineage and the compassion of a bodhisattva." (yoga Journal )

What is Jivamukti Yoga ?
Jivamukti means “liberation while living.” This modern style of yoga emerged in 1984 from one of New York City’s best-known yoga studios. Founders David Life and Sharon Gannon incorporated their study of Ashtanga yoga with spiritual teachings, placing special emphasis on how to apply yogic philosophy to daily life. They have trained many teachers who have brought this style of yoga to studios and gyms, predominantly in the U.S.
Jivamukti is a vinyasa style practice : classes can be quite physically intense. Each class has a theme, which is explored through yoga scripture, chanting, meditation, Ashtanga sun salutations ( as mentionned above), a flow of Asanas according the count of breath , Pranayama and music.


My Teachers :

Eddie Stern
I met Eddie and practiced at his shala in NYC.: the Sri Ganesha Temple
It was such a blessing and I was so lucky to be part of that space full of positive vibes and pure energy Along with his great adjustments and teaching technique remaining very traditional and faithful to Sri Patthabi Jois.

Cassandra Rigney
Raised in Upstate New york, Cassandra found magic through singing when she started her opera lessons in NYC in 1989. She discovered Jivamukti yoga in 2000 .

"Cassandra believes in teaching yoga from the inside out, her challenging classes teach students how to tune in to the vibration of each asana through proper alignement and "listening " to their breath".

Cassandra gave me the "Rhytm" of my yoga practice and the inspiration for my classes.
Her sequences are like a choreography beautifully built upon the rhytm of the heart. She gives her energy, love and attention with such generosity. Her classes are a pure delight.

Cassandra is actually teaching at Jivamukti in NYC.

Danielle Abi Saab
When I came back to Beirut in 2007 I litteraly started yoga with Dany : she got me hooked after the first class: Shes the person I owe to all my enthusiasm and passion for yoga :

Danielle Abisaab is a NYC “be yoga” certified yoga teacher. She completed her training under the tutorship of Alan Finger creator of the ISHTA method (Integrated science of Hatha, Tantra and Ayurveda) in 2002 in New York City and has been teaching with great enthusiasm ever since. She has been blessed with the grace of many great teachers and was given the gift of practicing extensively with Jivamukti yoga school founders Sharon Gannon and David Life as well as many of the senior teachers, she has attended workshops with Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, Rodney Yee, Colleen Saidman, Mark Whitwell, Rod Stryker, Cindy Lee, Gary Kraftsow, Desiree Rumbaugh to name a few. She is forever grateful to have crossed the path of these lovely beings for they are present in her teachings at all times.
Danielle has been living and teaching in Lebanon since 2005, living in a challenging part of the world, she draws teachings from her everyday life as a way to grow spiritually. She strongly believes we are all teachers, we are all students, we are all one and therefore thanks her lovely students for being a great source of inspiration, they make the expansion of her spirit possible; they are her gurus. Constantly seeking for ways to improve her teaching skills, she travels regularly back to NYC to study with her beloved teachers and hopes that every human on this planet discovers the magic of yoga one day.
Her mission is to inspire confidence and self-acceptance through caring and compassionate teaching methods, to create a safe and nurturing environment dedicated to helping each student find personal success in their yoga practice and realizing their true Self by incorporating the rigorous flowing poses of Vinyasa yoga along with the careful alignment method of Hatha yoga. Her challenging classes are a medley of various yoga methods (Ashtanga, Jivamukti and Ishta) providing a free flowing experience to the uplifting sounds of pop and rock. Her classes seamlessly incorporate asana, pranayama, meditation, spiritual talks, and chanting allowing the student the experience of yoga as a holistic discipline. She does all that never forgetting to inject humor and love in the mix.

Petri Räisänen
I met Petri in Thailand in 2009. I was looking for a "yoga retreat" to spend sometime before heading to India to take my teacher training. Through him I discovered Ashtanga along with Pattabhi jois teachings and amazing adjustments.
He assist his students with the best therapeutical hands on while giving his mysores. his workshops are taught with sincere modesty, care and energy.

Petri Räisänen (born August 13, 1967) is internationally known and respected as one of Ashtanga Yoga's new generation of teachers. Petri started practicing Ashtanga Yoga in 1988 and teaching in 1990. He is a devoted student of his Guru, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and was authorized to teach Astanga Yoga in 2001 by Guruji. Petri is careful to pass on his Guru's exact teachings.

Petri started practicing Ashtanga yoga in 1988 and teaching in 1990. Petri is co-owner and director of Ashtanga Yoga Helsinki, one of the world's largest Astanga Yoga Shalas, which he founded with his friend and colleague, Juva Javanainen, in 1997. Sri K Pattabhi Jois blessed the school to teach the traditional Astanga Yoga method.

In his yogic path Petri has studied with many respected Astanga Yoga teachers such as Derek Ireland (his first certified teacher), Radha Warrel, Gwendoline Hunt, Lino Miele and Eddie Stern, in addition to R. Sharath Jois and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

Petri focuses on integrating healing and therapy with yoga, meeting student's individual needs and guiding their progress. Petri's yoga pose adjustments are gentle, effective, therapeutic and, according to some, almost magical, and originate (besides his own practice and teaching) from his past work as a traditional Finnish folk healer and naturopath. His friendly, relaxed behaviour and intuivite perception give an open, energetic and meditative atmosphere to his classes.

In 2004, Petri wrote "Astanga - The Yoga Tradition of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois" in collaboration with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and his grandson, R. Sharath Jois. The book introduces the primary series (1st series) Astanga Yoga method and philosophy, as well as its potential as a physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual practice. His intermediate series (2nd series) book "Nadi Sodhana" was released in 2008 and is written mostly from the interviews with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois from 2006-2007 in Mysore, India. Both books are written as part of Petri's ongoing pilgrimage into Astanga yoga's inner word, with a great sense of respect towards his Guru and the Yoga Tradition.

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Catherine Chidiac @catherinechidiac