Anthony Grim Hall - Festival Report: Back from the Yoga Rainbow Festival

annual festival in Cirali, Turkey

Anthony Grim Hall (London): "I first started practicing yoga in 2007 as a way of dealing with the anger of having my house burgled. I was in my mid forties over weight and not very flexible. I learnt through Ashtanga books from the local Library, and later from videos. I started a blog in 2008, Krishnamacharya Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama yoga at home, to share my home practice. Over the years the blog has become more historical and particularly an investigation, both in theory and practice of Krishnamacharya’s teaching. I have been coordinating and serialising a translation of Krishnamacharya’s second book, Yogasanagalu on the blog with the help of Kannada translator Satya Murthy. The blog has received almost 1,500,000 visits.  

In 2010 I attended Srivatsa Ramaswami’s ( Krishnamacharya’s student for 33 years) Vinyasa krama teacher training course. In 2011 I Self-Published a book, The Complete Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book aimed at developing a home Vinyasa yoga practice. Since 2009 I have attempted, through my writing and practice to find consistency in Krishnamacharya’s teaching from the early years of Ashtanga Vinyasa through to the later years of Vinyasa Krama".

 

Festival Report: Back from the 8th Yoga Rainbow Festival (3-9 may 2014)

 

Back from a week in Cirali, Turkey and the Yoga Rainbow Festival, where I was invited to teach three classes. I Wasn't sure what to expect before I went but what a great experience, so glad I said yes.

 

  The location was beautiful, seems it's a national park, two hours out of Antalya along the coast of the Turkish Riviera. I loved the shape of the mountains here, wonderful to swim towards them each morning after practice in my room. I should probably have gone to one of the Russian 7am classes but, Ashtangi's what can you say, so protective of our morning practice, let me get that out of the way then think about sitting in on a class.

 

 

 

Wonderful locations, I was praying to get the opportunity to teach on the platform below.

 

 

Those are mostly lemon trees so not that high but still a wonderful view.

Turned out my first class was here, a Vinyasa Krama class, love this picture, I'm there at the front in the white vest and blue tengui (Japanese bandana)

 

 

 

The picture above was 10 minutes before class, it continued to fill up until there was only tiptoe space between the mats, challenging, like Manju I still think Yoga asana classes should be capped at around 25 but hey, it's a festival.

 

can't believe I was ever this stern looking.

 

Next up was the talk on Krishnamacharya, I was a bit worried about this, could I really talk for two hours about Krishnamacharya..... no problem, could have/would have gladly talked about him for another four if they had let me, think we only got up to the 1950s

 

 

Blessed with a wonderful translator Maria Vorobyeva, who would be teaching her own Yin classes later in the week.

 

My last class was on Krishnamacharya's Original Ashtanga Primary group/series. I think this was the class I most enjoyed presenting. The Vinyasa Krama class was just a little big and I haven't had enough experience teaching large classes and on reflection I think I would have approached it differently, Simon suggested I organise a small stage next time so those at the back can see more easily.

The Krishnamacharya class was fun though, I did a mini jump back/through workshop in the middle of it but could have got several of the attendees to teach it for me, some beautiful floaty practices. Pictures are still filtering in, hoping for some of this class to be posted.

 

I was asked over breakfast what 'style' of yoga I teach. I said I offer Ashtanga, Krishnamacharya's early Ashtanga as found in his first two books as well as the Vinyasa Krama he taught Ramaswami. 

 

They then asked who else taught Krishnamacharya's early Ashtanga, who my teacher was. That stumped me, in the end I jokingly said just me but actually, seriously, who does teach/share/present/offer Krishnamacharya's early Ashtanga as found in Yoga Makaranda and Yogasanagalu. I think you need Krishnamacharya's 2nd book Yogasanagalu to help give you the approach to presenting his first, more famous book, Yoga Makaranda and it was Satya Murthy and I who first translated and presented his Yogasanagalu in English (Satya doing all the hard work of actually translating it).

 

There are so many similarities of course between Pattabhi Jois presentation of Ashtanga vinyasa and what we find in Krishnamacharya's early books and yet some important differences. On the surface the first two series seem almost exactly the same and yet in Pattabhi Jois the Sequences are generally fixed while in Krishnamacharya they seem to be intended as more flexible groups of postures. Krishnamacharya seems to advocate some longer stays and stresses longer, slower breathing. There is also the question of Kumbhaka, completely absent from Patabhi Jois' Ashtanga Vinyasa yet prevalent in Krishnamacharya's early Ashtanga also the application of internal drishti that I'm only just beginning to explore. If nobody practices and shares the approach to asana that Krishnamacharya presented in his books it will be lost... again, a curiosity in the history of Ashtanga Vinyasa. 

 

That question over breakfast convinced me that I should keep practicing this approach, keep sharing it where possible, as an option, in the hope that enough practitioners explore it in their own practice and pass it along in turn. It's a nice practice and really, what does it matter what we practice between our opening chant, our pranayama and pratyahara, it may as well be early as later ashtanga.

 

And as we are seeing there may well be health benefits to the use of Kumbhaka in asana. I paused for a while to ask myself, "If kumbhaka is so beneficial why don't we just stick to practicing it in our pranayama, why bring it into asana?" I have a theory though that the asana helps move the blood around the body, it might even be possible to direct the blood flow to particular areas of the body. There are studies that suggest kumbhaka increases the Co2 in the blood and that this can have a 'healing effect'. If we practice kumbhaka, increase the CO2 then use particular asana to direct that super blood where it is needed then we may well be on to something interesting. 

 

It's a theory to be explored.

 

 

Krishnamacharya's Original Ashtanga in the Limon Studio.

 

And that was me, great fun to share Krishnamacharya early and later practice and It's always such a pleasure to present Ramaswami's teaching of Vinyasa Krama, the practice he was taught directly by Krishnamacharya over, what,  thirty years, I always feel he would be delighted to see the tadasana hasta vinyasa movements in these far flung places (in relation to Chennai).

So, great fun to teach here but more than that it was just such a pleasure to be at the festival to see how seriously the attendees took their yoga, most were doing seven and a half hours of yoga a day.

For most of the festival the weather was gorgeous but the last two, three days it rained.... a lot and yet what struck me was nobody seemed to mind. Here they were in Turkey, on holiday and it rained three days and yet...... I don't think they thought of themselves as being on holiday, they were here to practice, sun, rain, it didn't seem to matter they all just turned up with their mats from their different hotels and pensions and campsites and went to class.

 

I wish I had taken more classes myself, I could have gone to some of the Russian classes, some would have been more suitable than others in that the language barrier would perhaps matter less, as it was I only managed to go to Dr Madhavan's classes but these were wonderful. 

 

Madhavan Munusamy (Karur, India)

 

Satya's demonstration before Dr. Madhavan`s first session

 

I want to do another post devoted to Dr Madhavan's classes they made a great impression on me, I loved his direct questions:

" I see many of you are wearing Om shirts....What is Om, what is the meaning of OM"

What is Prana?

What is Yoga?

What is the purpose of these Yoga practices?

..... and so on.

 

But what made the most profound impression on me was the soft smile on his lips as he practiced his pranayama, this is how I want to practice my own pranayama.

And his stress on yama/niyama, I asked hi afterwards if it made sense to think of yama/niyama as Pratyahara, of course he said and explained why....but as I say this needs another post.

 

Pierre Tortois

 

 

Such a great pleasure also to meet Simon Borg-Oliver whom I now consider a dear friend.

 

Simon Borg-Oliver (Australia)

 

We talked about the breath, about Kumbhakas, possible health benefits and the science behind it, mostly he talked and I listened, we talked about bandhas their anatomy and physiology....

We decided to try and capture some of this in an interview, time was a problem, we only managed to grab an hour to actually do it but hopefully its come out OK, some editing to do but hopefully I'll be able to post that the beginning of next week.

Pictures below were while preparing for the interview.

 

 

So much more to share, another post to come perhaps with more pictures of other teachers and classes, pictures are still filtering out, perhaps a scrapbook post.

 

I'll end with this picture that I love. This was taken just as Dr Madhavan and Satya were about to leave, people kept coming up and jumping in and out of photo's, Simon , was called in, I was called in, more camera phones appeared, it got silly, lots of laughter, I remembered at the last minute that I had my Ipad with me.

This post has mostly been about the English program which seems to be growing, last year for instance Mark and Joanne Darby were here, I managed to get my hands on a DVD of their workshop.

It's a festival to look out for, mark in your diary and consider for next year. There are some issues about the English teachers often teaching at the same time, a problem if you wanted to catch all of Simon's classes or Dr. Madhavan's say, there are arguments for organising it that way but we could spread it just a little more perhaps, one more English speaking teacher next year would probably do it,  also some more indication on which of the classes in Russian should be OK for non Russian speakers to attend, some classes for instance will have more talking than other, more explanation. There were wonderful Russian teachers here it was a shame I didn't take more advantage of that and sit in. Many of the Russian attendees spoke wonderful English, others enough to get by or would bring somebody over to help ask a question or just to chat it was such a great pleasure to be there with everyone.

Dearbhla Kelly  (L.A. USA)

Lori Shepard and Brian Yuen  (USA)

 

Thank you again to all at Yoga-Rainbow Festival, organisers, translators, teachers, hotel and restaurant staff and especially all who attended for making this such a wonderful experience.
 

Konstantin Amrit (Ukraine)

 

Leyla Gadzhinskaya (Russia)

 

Ilya Zhuravlev (Russia)

 

Mikhail Baranov (Russia)

 

Leonid Gartseinstein (Moldova), Roma Rokotyol (Ukraine) and Artem Frolov (Russia)

 

I'll close with Savasana of course and my friend Oleg's selfie, now you know what your teacher is up to while your 'taking rest'.

Oleg Flow (Malibu, California)