**Nancy Gilgoff is thought to be the first American woman to travel to India to study Ashtanga yoga with Pattabhi Jois. Certainly she’s one of a trio- including Doug Swenson and David Williams- credited with bringing Ashtanga to America in the 1970s. She has dedicated herself to teaching the tradition for close to 40 years- having only stopped teaching for a few years to raise her daughter.
**Nancy began practicing Ashtanga Yoga over fourty years ago with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, in Mysore, India. As result of their long and close association, Nancy is able to teach with a style and touch that comes directly from Pattabhi Jois. When Nancy asked Jois how she should teach, he told her to “teach the way I taught you”—advice which she took to heart and continues to follow today.
**Nancy’s studies, over the years, have also led her to other teachers, including Baba Hari Das, Iyengar, etc. In addition, she has and continues to pursue the dharma teachings of the Dalai Lama.
“The following is the way in which Guruji taught me, Nancy Gilgoff, the Primary and Intermediate series of Ashtanga Yoga during my first trip to Mysore, in 1973. David Williams and I stayed for four months that trip, and had two classes per day (excluding Saturdays and Moon days).
In the first class, I was taught to do five Surya Namaskara A, plus the three finishing postures – Yoga Mudrasana, Padmasana, and Tolasana. The second class, later that day, was five Surya Namaskara A and five Surya Namaskara B, plus the three finishing. In the next class, Guruji told me to only do three each of Surya Namaskara A and B, and to keep it that way in my practice, and then began adding on at least two postures per class, always with the three finishing at the end. Guruji taught me the standing postures through Parsvottanasana, with no Parivritta Trikonasana or Parivritta Parsvakonasana. After Parsvottanasana he had me jump through to Dandasana.
In the seated postures, there were a minimal number of vinyasas. There were no vinyasas between sides. Moreover, there were no vinyasas between variations – so all of Janu Sirsasana A, B, and C were done together (right side, left side of A, right, left of B, right, left of C), then a vinyasa before Marichyasana. Then all of the Marichyasana variations, A, B, C, and D, were done together, without vinyasas between sides or variations; then a vinyasa before three Navasana. Baddha Konasana, Upavishta Konasana, and Supta Konasana were also grouped together without vinyasas between them. Ubhaya Padangusthasana and Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana were also done together, with no vinyasa between – we were taught to simply change the hand position after Ubhaya Padangusthasana and go right into Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana.
After Setu Bandhasana, Guruji added in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana and Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana – but to be put in the series back in the standing sequence, after Parsvottanasana. (Utkatasana and Virabhadrasana were not in the series at this point, nor were Parivritta Trikonasana or Parivritta Parsvakonasana, all of which were added in later.
Once Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana and Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana were taught and added into their place in the standing sequence, after Setu Bandhasana, Intermediate began immediately with Pashasana. In fact, David and I had no idea that there were two separate series until the end of that first four-month trip, when we were leaving, at which point Guruji gave us a sheet of paper with a list of the postures, which were listed as Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, and Advanced B. At this point he told us to practice one series a day, and only once a day. While we had been with him in Mysore, we had learned both Primary and Intermediate series in the first two months. He had us practice both series, together, in entirety, twice a day.
Intermediate Series also contained fewer vinyasas back then. There were no vinyasas between sides (in Krounchasana, Bharadvajasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana, Eka Pada Sirsasana, Parighasana, and Gomukhasana). From Shalabhasana through Parsva Dhanurasana, the asanas were done in a group, with a vinyasa only at the end. Ushtrasana through Kapotasana also were done all together, with a vinyasa only after Kapotasana. The same went for Eka Pada Sirsasana through Yoganidrasana – there were no vinyasas until the Chakrasana after Yoganidrasana.
The Intermediate series, as Guruji taught it to us during that first trip, included Vrishchikasana after Karandavasana. We were taught to hold Pincha Mayurasana for five breaths, bring the legs into lotus and lower down into Karandavasana, hold five breaths, inhale up, and then exhale right into Vrishchikasana for five breaths. The series ended with Gomukhasana. David asked for more, and so, per his request, Guruji added Supta Urdhva Pada Vajrasana as well as the seven headstands –Baddha Hasta Sirsasana A, B, C, and D were taught first, with Mukta Hasta Sirsasana A, B, and C following. Guruji said these were from Fourth Series.
Backbends from both the floor (Urdhva Dhanurasana) and standing (“drop-backs”) were taught after Intermediate Series, as was the rest of the finishing sequence (Paschimottanasana, Salamba Sarvangasana, Halasana, Karnapidasana, Urdhva Padmasana, Pindasana, Matsyasana, Uttana Padasana, and Sirsasana). Up until this point, we had just been doing Yoga Mudrasana, Padmasana, and Tolasana at the end of our practice.
Guruji taught us Pranayama after we had learned the entire Intermediate Series (at the end of our third month in Mysore, about a month after learning all of Intermediate).
I think it was when Guruji came to teach on Maui in 1980 (in Paia) that he added in so many vinyasas, while teaching led classes. When I asked him whether or not to do them in my own practice, as I had been practicing without – as he had taught me, he told me to add in the vinyasas to build my strength. By that trip in 1980 there was still no Parivritta Trikonasana, Parivritta Parsvakonasana, Utkatasana, or Virabhadrasana in the practice. (During another, later trip to the States, Guruji added in Parivritta Trikonasana and Parivritta Parsvakonasana. The next time he came back to Maui to teach, he saw us doing Parivritta Parsvakonasana, asked why we were doing it, and said that this was “crazy posture” and that we should take it out. But the whole Maui crew loved it so much that he said we could leave it in. (Utkatasana and Virabhadrasana were perhaps added in at some point in the late 1980?s.)
Originally there were five series: Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, Advanced B, and the fifth was the “rishi” series.”
click pe foto (vinyasas se refera la respiratie!):
Bonus - ce ne mai invata un profesor de Ashtanga din Irlanda – o doamna care a calatorit si calatoreste constant in India, care practica Ashtanga Yoga de multi ani si pe care am avut onoarea sa o cunosc si sa practic alaturi de ea:-)
All kinds of nonsense is proclaimed at workshops and classes as absolute “truth”. Anyone who tells you that the practice is thousands of years old, for instance, and has been passed down, absolutely unchanged, or “unadulterated”, in the form in which it is taught today in Mysore is naive, delusional, or both. Of course the practice has evolved and changed over time, and continues to do so. Everything changes over time. No-one ever had to come up from backbends before moving into 2nd series, for example, until Sharath introduced the idea in recent years. I’m sure he had his reasons…
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is an extraordinary, life-enhancing and transformative practice that was originally taught in a far less rigid way than it sometimes is today. First generation teachers like David Swenson, Richard Freeman, Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams all attest to the fact that Guruji taught each student according to his or her individual body, ability and stage of life. He would instruct one student to do a pose in a certain way, then walk to the other side of the shala and tell another student something entirely different. It was a creative, caring and intelligent approach that respected the individual and evidenced a true connection between teacher and student. Sadly, it’s an approach that is sometimes missing in Mysore-style classes today.
A good teacher is a wonderful help, so find one if you can. You won’t be able to identify them by official credentials, whether it’s a certificate from Yoga Alliance or an entry on the list of that ever-expanding “small handful” of teachers authorized at Mysore. Some teachers with all the “right” credentials are wonderful. Some are not. And some without any of those much sought-after credentials are amazing. You won’t find David Swenson, Lino Miele, Nancy Gilgoff, Graham Northfield, Paul Dallaghan or any number of other brilliant and passionate Ashtanga teachers on any official list. And it doesn’t matter a fig. What matters is the teacher’s own knowledge and love of the practice, passion for passing it on and ability to truly connect with their students as individuals.
If you’re lucky enough to find a teacher with these qualities, get all the help you can from them. If you can travel to great teachers from time to time, even better. Most of all, enjoy your practice, and remember that although some things have changed, the template for Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the same as it’s always been. While it’s not about obeying rules, the things that matter will always matter: the sequence, the bandhas and most of all, the connection between you and your breath. The best teacher of all will be your own practice, on your own mat, in your own space. Keep it up, and you’ll see. R. O’Flynn’s
Cred ca pe metoda initiala de predat a lui Guruji s-a bazat si David Swenson cand a oferit yoginilor variantele de Ashtanga Yoga short version (o baza solida pentru incepatori, o alternativa pentru oameni grabiti, o practica ideala in vacanta, etc. ) – nu sunt anumite asane, nu sunt asa de multe vinyasas, etc.
Trebuie sa recunosc ca sunt prietena buna cu varianta de 50-60 de minute practica si 10 minute relaxare:-)
Asta a fost totul pentru azi, va doresc lectura placuta si inima deschisa!