“Ashtanga Yoga” – with Jamie and Scott Harig
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In the fourth Yoga Week episode, Dr. Fox interviews Jamie and Scott Harig about Ashtanga Yoga. Scott explains that he was previously a professional mountain bike racer but had to stop racing after too many injuries. He was dating a yoga teacher, and originally started yoga by taking her classes. Scott says that while visiting Colorado, he accidentally walked into the wrong yoga studio and class, which was his first experience doing Ashtanga. Jamie was a dancer, but had tendonitis in her hips by age 18 or 19. She found that yoga was “still using the physicality that I loved from dance, but also going inside,” meaning that she found benefits from the meditative aspect of yoga.
What is Ashtanga?
Scott and Jamie explain that Ashtanga is a system of yoga developed in India as a very physical practice composed of three series. The three series address the practitioner’s digestive system, nerve system, and balance in turn. When practicing Ashtanga, the idea is to master the poses gradually over time and move through the series. Scott says “the system has been around for a while, and it works.”
Jamie explains that one benefit she sees from Asthanga is working through emotional difficulty from the past that can be stored within the body. She says that when a student reaches difficulty with a pose in Asthanga, “we can skip it, or we can face it.” Scott notes that he’s continuously surprised at students’ ability to progress with Ashtanga, even with physical injuries. He says “every time I thought I’d seen the most broken-down person, someone else would show up.”
Another benefit of Ashtanga is that it’s easy for students to get personal attention and help from teachers. During a class, students move through the series on their own, at their own pace. Dr. Fox notes that “it’s kind of like studio painting,” and Jamie says “if you need help, you can just call me over.”
Teaching Yoga During Quarantine
Scott explains that during quarantine, “we basically took our living room and turned it into a yoga studio.” They’ve had to adjust to having limited personal attention for students, but have also found that students are starting to enjoy online classes more and more, and that “the numbers are starting to grow.” Jamie explains that while the increased accessibility is “a great thing,” newcomers lack the community feel that others have established within the class.
Learning from Ashtanga Yoga
Scott explains that from practicing and teaching Ashtanga, he’s found that “it’s interesting to get to know someone on an energetic level in the classroom.” He also says that “it’s taught me not to be judgmental.” Jamie agrees, and says that Ashtanga “puts everyone on the same playing field… there’s something about facing the same sequence with the same group of people… that’s incredibly motivating.” She says that teaching and practicing Ashtanga “makes me excited to wake up every day.”