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Our Top 120 on Flickr

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A recent look at our top 120 album on flickr revealed a lot of changes. Photos from our recent trip to South Africa abound, but many of the classics from previous trips are still represented. This photo of Tiger 24, a 250 kg male, taken in Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, India is still #1 after nearly four years. Click the tiger to view the album. Enjoy.
Tiger24

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What Are The Differences Between An African and Indian Elephant?

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Zimbabwe Elephants 2007

Ever wondered what are the differences between elephants in Africa and India? Look no further…

Click here.

NY Times Article about Saravana Bhavan

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An excellent New York Times piece about the founder of one of our favourite South Indian restaurants, Saravana Bhavan.

Check it out at http://nyti.ms/1jbJQyp.

Elephants

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I was recently perusing our flickr account and noticed that we’d been invited to submit some pics to a photo group contest on elephants.

We’ve been lucky enough to go on safari in both Africa and India and have had some great elephant sightings and encounters over the years.

As it turns out, we will be returning to South Africa this September.

So, looking over our pics, here are two of my favourite elephant photos.

 

Elephant warning – Zambezi River, Zimbabwe 2007

While staying at Matetsi Water Lodge near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, we did an evening boat safari. We were very lucky to be able to observe a large group of elephants that numbered close to 20 as they assembled, bathed and cavorted in the water. This photo shows a female giving our boat a good warning to stay away from the little one in her care.
Elephants Zambezi River, Zimbabwe

 

Elephant male hiding behind tree – Kabini, India 2011

There was something so endearing and humorous about this tusker trying to hide behind a skinny tree as our vehicle drove nearby. We gave this fella its space but were able to keep an eye on him from afar thanks to our telephoto lens. He kept poking his head out to see if we were still around before he finally made his way to the river for a drink and a bath.Elephant Kabini, India

Exception to The Rules – Question Answered

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I received a question asking for specific examples of students with whom Rachelle and I had diverged from the practice guidelines of the ashtanga method. It was the kind of question I preferred answering in person via Skype. However, the reason I was asked the question bears some comments.

The question was asked in relation to some articles that have appeared online in which some Ashtanga teachers questioned the wisdom of these guidelines. These authors/instructors implied that the method has become too rigid and is no longer flexible enough to address the individual needs of students. The authors also suggested that holding students at particular asanas as per the practice guidelines could be an impediment to their growth and evolution.

Moreover, there is the belief that the rigidity in question is only an expedient based on the numbers of people who want to practice at KPJAYI. In this line of thinking, guidelines like standing up from backbends as a pre-requisite to starting intermediate series, for example, is a “new” Mysore rule created when the numbers of students became overwhelming at KPJAYI. I don’t agree with this view of things at all.

Firstly, my wife and I made our first trip to Mysore at the end of 2000. We had the opportunity to practice at the Laxmipuram shala which held only 12 students practicing at one time. During that time, I didn’t see anything different in terms of how Guruji and Sharath taught students than what I saw on my next trip after the move to Gokulam nor on any of our subsequent study-visits. So, over the course of thirteen years and nine trips to India, I haven’t seen much change.

In addition, when asked directly whether in conference or during our teachers’ course with him, Sharath has said repeatedly that the reason students need to stand up and drop back in backbends before intermediate is to ensure they are strong and flexible enough to take on the more difficult intermediate series asanas.

It also seems ludicrous for the authors/instructors to suggest that Guruji didn’t and Sharath doesn’t have the best interests of their students at heart.

There have always been guidelines and there have also always been exceptions for specific students. Problems arise from trying to sort the exceptions into understandable and predictable patterns. Problems also arise from our ego’s desire to be one of the exceptions rather than having to sweat it out, marooned at an asana. However, if you trust your teacher, keep your head down in class and mind your own business. What anyone else in class is doing should be of no concern to you and should have no impact on your practice. Just practice and get on with your day.

During the years that I studied with Guruji and now with Sharath, if I saw something that seemed exceptional, I would assume that they had their reasons and try to leave it at that. In numerical terms, maybe 1 in 1000 students is taught a little differently. It’s always seemed presumptuous to think I was that 1.

As a result of years practicing and years teaching, I believe that the general guidelines work and should be followed. And my experience is a drop of water in the ocean of Guruji’s and Sharath’s combined experience practicing and teaching. The guidelines are a result of their teaching day after day and seeing students of different ages, stages, body types and commitment come to class and not the result of these authors’ contentions.

thanks Rachelle for editorial support

Tom Rosenthal – Photographer and Ashtanga Yogi

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I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to profile Tom Rosenthal. We’ve overlapped in Mysore so many times as well as in New York.

He’s got a a great eye and I love his work. His dedication to practice lends him a unique sensitivity to photographing yoga asanas.

The Sacred Space gallery is very special and worth perusing.

Check out his website.

Another Yoga Scandal. Not Good at All

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So another yoga scandal. More allegations of sexual misconduct and another resignation. This time around, it’s Kausthub Desikachar, grandson of the illustrious Krishnamacharya.

The story broke on the Yoga Dork website and is worth checking out. Kausthub has hauled ass back to Chennai and doesn’t seem like he’s disputing the charges against him. Not good. Not good at all.

Maybe he should read Michael Joel Hall’s super awesome article, “Why F#cking Your Students is Wrong.

In the meantime, I’d like to dedicate this next one to Kausthub courtesy of South Park.

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