I was really lucky this weekend to have been able to attend a workshop run by Anthony Hall, his only teaching gig in the UK before he leaves to live back in Japan. Anthony is known mainly for his awesome blog Krishnamacharya's Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga at Home. I've been following Anthony's musings on yoga since I began my ashtanga apprenticeship a few years back, found his blog extremely relevant being a mainly home practitioner and so helpful in breaking down the practice, the asanas and the philosophy, so I have a real soft spot for his teaching.
Anthony doesn't see himself as a teacher, OK, he's done a couple of teacher trainings, Ramaswami's and Manju's, but he first and foremost considers himself 'just a blogger'. However, I would argue that it is his blogging and his dissection of his and 'our' practice of ashtanga that makes him such a great teacher, and his willingness to share every single detail of the ins and outs of his practice, the highs and the lows, the successes and failures. He's also shared so much information on Krishnamacharya and has spent hours upon hours dissection and analysing his writings, making sense of it all for the benefit of the western mind. So it was Anthony's work on Krishnamacharya and his teachings of Vinyasa Krama as taught to him by Ramaswami that he chose to share with us at the workshop and I felt blessed to have been there.
The first half of the workshop was on Krishnamacharya's primary series and he led us through the postures, with detailed explanations of how and why he thought he chose the postures based on other writings, for example from the older texts such as the Yoga Pradipika. It was really helpful to be reminded of what could be called the 'key' postures of our modern practice and to be given the time and space to explore them in their entirety without that 'guilt' of not doing the entire primary series as taught be Pattabhi Jois! He explained how Krishnamacharya would use the breath in different ways in different postures to achieve desired results, however, as with many of the older yoga texts, not always defining what those benefits are/should be, leaving questions unanswered allowing us to experiment for ourselves. (Something I don't think all practitioners do, given that ashtanga can be taught as a seemingly regimented practice).
Anthony's second half was showing us the style of Vinyasa Krama as taught by Ramaswami, a 30 year student of Krishnamacharya. This half was also very focussed on the breath and Anthony gave us opportunities to explore different postures, using different breathings techniques such as breathing 'normally' for the first attempt, then consciously halving the number of breaths on the second…something I didn't dream was possible in postures such as utkatasana!! Such a great reminder of how the posture should follow the breath. And something which I will continue to explore, especially in the postures that scare me :)
I loved Anthony's take on home practice, how he's taken bits from here and there to build a practice which works for him, at least for the moment. However, I always have of course, being a home practitioner!! Check out Anthony's inspiring blog at: http://grimmly2007.blogspot.co.uk and if you can catch any of his workshops in the future (I'm sure there'll be more to come :) then do so, a teacher and inspiration not to be missed! Thanks Anthony :)