Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga retreat
with David Williams
July 29 – August 5
ASHTANGA YOGA FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE
A week of daily Ashtanga asana and pranayama practice with David Williams, the first non-India to be certified by Pattabhi Jois to teach the complete Ashtanga Yoga syllabus of asanas and one of the very few people certified by Jois to teach the Ashtanga Yoga pranayama
Daily Ashtanga asana and pranayama practice led by David with a thorough explanation of every step, as taught to David by Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, starting in 1973.
Several discussion classes on how David thinks Ashtanga Yoga should be taught and practiced based on his 45 years of daily practice and teaching. This is the foundation for all students, and particularly teachers, who want a greater depth of understanding of the “big picture” of the most beneficial way to practice and teach Ashtanga Yoga.
History of Yoga, description of the lineage of teachers of Ashtanga Yoga, David’s travels and adventures in Yoga, and his bringing Ashtanga Yoga to America and its eventual spread to the entire world.
AN OPEN LETTER TO YOGA IN SALENTO STUDENTS
Greetings and Salutations from Maui!
When I teach Yoga, I am always reminded that there are some major concepts about how Ashtanga Yoga is taught and practiced, based on my personal study, observation, and uninterrupted practice, that I feel are important to share with my classes.
First, and foremost, I hope you can learn from me that in your practice, “If it hurts, you are doing it wrong.” Through the years, I have observed that too many people are hurting themselves and hurting others. Yoga practice can be (and should be) pleasant from the beginning to the end. What is important is the mulabandha and deep breathing. With daily practice, it is inevitable that one will become more flexible.
I have learned from my own practice and observation that pushing your current limitations to get into a position can result in injury, which results in one needing to rest the injury to recover so they can resume their practice. This entire sequence of events is not only unpleasant, it is contrary to my belief that through slow, steady daily practice, one can achieve greater flexibility by generating one’s own internal heat to relax into positions, rather than being forced into a position. I have observed this slower, steadier method is not only healthier, but it allows one to develop greater flexibility of a more lasting nature, than the kind that is forced. Unfortunately, as many have found, pushing one’s current limitations can result in having to severely curtail or limit activity during recovery. This cycle can lead to unpleasant associations with one’s yoga practice, rather than the pleasant experiences I work to instill, and that I feel are necessary for a lifelong practice.
In my workshop, I want to show each of you how you can do the Ashtanga Yoga series in a lifelong practice that is a totally pleasant experience. I suspect that when you first saw the practice, you said to yourself, “If I did this, it would be great for me!” You have observed the practice and you want to do it. The key is being able to continue practicing Yoga for the rest of your life. From over 45 years of observing thousands of people practicing Yoga, I have realized that those who continue are the ones who are able to figure out how to make it enjoyable. They look forward to their daily practice and nothing can keep them from finding the time to do it. It becomes one of the most pleasant parts of their day. The others, consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously, quit practicing. It is my goal to do everything I can to inspire you to establish your Yoga practice not just for the few days we are together, but for the rest of your life.
Secondly, I hope to share with you my belief that the ultimate goal of Yoga is not to increase flexibility and strength. Increased flexibility and strength are simply the natural results and benefits of daily practice. While additional flexibility and strength are important and apparent benefits of Yoga, I believe the goals of Yoga practice are self-realization and keeping oneself balanced and healthy on a daily basis. Health is your greatest wealth. The body’s DNA knows how to heal itself; all it needs is the energy. The energizing, rejuvenating Yoga practices can be the source of this energy.
Lastly, I hope you will find that my workshop is for everyone at all levels. I am occasionally asked if someone is “good at Yoga.” I quickly respond that the best Yogi is not the one who is most flexible, but the one who is most focused on what he or she is doing, the one most intensely doing the mulabandha and deep breathing. It is with some sadness that I have observed people “competing with their Yoga practice.” I have also observed others who are discouraged in their practice because they feel this competition and worry that they will never be able to do their practice with the flexibility and skill of others more advanced in the series. My goal is to convey the idea that the greatest Yogi is the one who enjoys his or her Yoga practice the most, not the one who can achieve the ultimate pretzel position. It is my belief, and I hope to convey to you, that in your practice of this moving meditation, what is really important, is what is invisible to the observer, what is within each of you.
I believe in the Yoga. I believe that anyone who has the desire can do the Ashtanga practice, perhaps with personal modifications, in a way that is totally pleasant. For years, I have said, “If someone said to me, ‘You have 15 minutes, one hour, etc., do something good for yourself. You can use barbells, bicycles, or whatever,’ I would start doing the Ashtanga Yoga Salutations to the Sun and First Series.” If someone can show me something better, I am ready to learn it. In my more than 45 years of searching, I have learned five or six systems of Yoga practice. For myself, I have not found a better physical, mental, and emotional fitness program than the Ashtanga Yoga system. I hope you will feel the same after our days together.
I look forward to sharing my practice and experience with you.
Yours in Yoga,
David Williams – BIO:
David Williams has been practicing yoga daily, without interruption, since 1971. In 1972, David met K. P. Manju, the son of K. Pattabhi Jois, and saw him demonstrate the Ashtanga Yoga Primary series. This was at Dr. Swami Gitananda’s Ananda Ashram in Pondicherry, South India, where David received his 6 month Yoga teachers training course certification.
In 1973, David began learning Ashtanga Yoga from K. Pattabhi Jois at his home in Mysore, India, and became the first non-Indian to be taught the complete Ashtanga Yoga system of asanas and pranayama directly from Jois. In 1974, David became one of the first non-Indians to be certified to teach the Ashtanga Yoga asanas and one of the very few people ever certified by Jois to teach the Ashtanga Yoga pranayama.
David introduced K. Pattabhi Jois and Manju to America and the western world when he, along with Nancy Gilgoff, organized and sponsored their first visit to Encinitas, California, in 1975.
David’s Complete Ashtanga Syllabus poster is the only poster showing photos of the asanas of all four series.
David is responsible for teaching the Ashtanga Yoga system to many of today’s leading teachers and practitioners, including David Swenson, Doug Swenson, Danny Paradise, Cliff Barber, Batiste Marceau, Bryan Kest, Jonny Kest, Clifford Sweatte, Tracy Rich, Chuck Miller, Maty Ezraty, Kathy Cooper, and Andrew Eppler.
David is 67 years old. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has lived on the island of Maui, Hawaii, since l976.