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Paleo Ayurveda and Spartan Yoga - Vie Binga & Tim Ganley EPISODE 1, 3rd September 2020
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Yoga Poses - Part 1

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Yoga Poses - Part 1


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Episode Transcript

Tim: Hello this is Tim

Vie: And this is Vie. And we welcome you to another episode of the spartan mind strength podcast.

Tim: And this series is going to be about poses, yoga poses. And if you’re a traditional, always think that it has to be this way and you have to do this because you never actually asked why, you’re going to hate us. So send us the hate. But if you question why you’re doing a pose, why this is helpful, why it could be dangerous, you’re going to love this series and send us the love.

Vie: Stay tuned. We’ll be right back

Tim: And we’re back. But first did you subscribe, did you share, did you

Vie: Like, did you comment, did you leave a review?

Tim: Wow.

Vie: That’s the most important, leave a review, please.

Tim: Very nice. This series is brought to you by yoga energy school. They do 200-hr and 300-hr Yoga Alliance,

Vie: Private online teacher trainings,

Tim: And coming soon retreats.

Vie: The links are in the show notes as always,

Tim: We’re going to be talking about poses yoga poses. And with that though, we want to talk about the history of it first, so that you see where we’re coming from in the whole world of what poses are, or actually what asanas are. So asana go ahead, what is asana?

Vie: It is a Sanskrit word and it means seat. It is commonly translated as pose, but in its essence, it means seat. As in the seat, the position that a person was assuming to stay there forever in order to meditate.

Tim: When you say forever for long periods at a time,

Vie: Long periods at a time, it could be one hour, or it could be 24 hours,

Tim: it could have been three days.

Vie: It could be three days exactly.

Tim: So, with that, so that’s what asana means.

Vie: Yes.

Tim: Now I want to go back to the history of a Yogi.

Vie: Yes.

Tim: And I know we’re going to be it’s in our history course for teacher training, but some people might not have taken our course. So, so what is, what is the reason yogis practiced asanas?

Vie: The reason they practiced the poses was to actually control their body as much as possible in order to get into their mind. The body was an obstacle. So the, where the Yogi of the time was coming from was that the body is an obstacle that needed to be eliminated.

Tim: And when you say eliminated, what does that mean?

Vie: That means they wanted to leave this body, they wanted to die. To eliminate the body means to die in order to move on to another level of existence or whatever that is.

Tim: So the whole concept of enlightenment

Vie: Exactly the whole concept of enlightenment was to actually get rid of the body so they could be as light as possible in order to actually move on to a different level of existence.

Tim: Okay. So they practiced,

Vie: The body was not to be honored. The purpose was not for the body to be strong and healthy. The body was an obstacle. The body was dirty, was filthy. They had to do extreme things to cleanse it and get rid of it.

Tim: And so for the yogi then where this whole concept of the asanas comes from, their goal was to find enlightenment through death.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: And ayurveda is about going to thrive.

Vie: Ayurveda is about thriving.

Tim: So when they talk about yoga and Ayurveda as being together, they might be today, but in history, when it actually was originated, yoga was about killing yourself basically.

Vie: Yes.

Tim: And ayurveda was about thriving.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: So you had one group of people that are trying to find enlightenment be one with God and the other group of people were trying to thrive, be able to continue to live, make money, help the community, things like that.

Vie: Absolutely.

Tim: So the, the, the yogis who were looking for enlightenment, they, they were wanting to die, and so they would do certain things, they would eat, eat cereal,

Vie: eat cereal, yes

Tim: They ate a very grain based diet

Vie: With just a little bit of milk was allowed for a little bit, and then they had to move fully to water.

Tim: Yep. So we’re, we’re looking at this almost as like in Christianity.

Vie: Yes.

Tim: The monks of the time were also trying to, they would do chanting, they would eat very little, they would meditate. So, so they both

Vie: They would pray all night.

Tim: So they were both similar. So, so we can look at a Yogi, almost like a monk.

Vie: Yes.

Tim: And so the monk did certain things and the yogis did certain things. So the Asana of the Yogi was to get into poses that they could meditate so that they could then find enlightenment, which meant die.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: And some of them found enlightenment possibly,

Vie: Yes, possibly.

Tim: And some of them didn’t. So this path that we’re talking about right now was a path that might work, might not work.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: There’s nobody that ever said that this person found enlightenment through it.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: So, so it’s a leap of faith.

Vie: It is, it is truly a leap of faith. And it has, it has certain requirements that need to be followed. Otherwise, that leap of faith not only won’t work, it will lead to a lot of issues, a lot of issues. It’s not just, Oh, it doesn’t work.

Tim: Yeah. So, so that if you’re going to practice certain poses for long periods of time, eat a very grain-based diet,

Vie: Very light, very light diet as in, not nutrient dense. Yeah.

Tim: And so, so do certain things for enlightenment, that’s perfectly fine because your goal is to pass on.

Vie: Yes, exactly.

Tim: But you don’t want to be living in the city.

Vie: No, that’s where,

Tim: So if you’re practicing certain poses for a certain reason, you want to leave community, you’re going, and that’s why they went into the woods. I’ve never heard a story or read something that said, Oh, the Yogi lived in downtown.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: They all lived in the woods.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: Alone or in a small group that all had the same goal of enlightenment.

Vie: Exactly. Exactly. Otherwise the yogi living in downtown it’s, it’s not gonna end well.

Tim: Okay, good. So, so we’ve, we’ve gone with that. I want to take a quick second break and we’re going to come back with the poses of today, which some of them are the poses of the past, but most of them are less than a hundred and some years old.

Vie: Exactly. Stay tuned. We’ll be right back.

Tim: And we’re back. And we’re, we talked a little bit about the past, like where some of the asanas come from and we’ll go over some of those asanas throughout this series, because some of them are in this series. And also I want to talk about today’s yoga. If you’re practicing yoga today, would you say 80%, 90% or even higher of the poses that most people practice in a yoga class are brand new?

Vie: I would say, I would say 90%. And also what is completely brand new is the context, the setting in how you practice those poses too.

Tim: So, because in, in the old,

Vie: Anything that’s Vinyasa,

Tim: Flow

Vie: anything that’s flow, anything that’s flow is 100% new.

Tim: Okay. So, so when I get to first off is we’re talking, when we say new, we’re talking less than a hundred years old or less than 120 years old, if you want to make it pretty good.

Tim: So it’s less than 120 years old, overall it was taught one-on-one. So private training, not group training, private training, so personal trainer, it was taught for, it was taught only to men.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: No women were allowed to practice, not until the nineteen,

Vie: 1960s

Tim: Was it 1960s?

Vie: Actually 1960s in the West and a couple of decades earlier in India. And that’s due to a non Indian lady, Indra Devi

Tim: That’s her spiritual name.

Vie: That’s her spiritual name, yes. And Indra Devi was born in Latvia, Eastern Europe, a country in Eastern Europe. And through, because of her family and everything ended up in India. And because she was actually a performer, she was an actress, dancer, all that, she was interested in all different cultures as part of her upbringing and training. And she was fascinated with the spiritual aspect, that was coming from India in certain books, and so she wanted to actually practice yoga. And she met Krishnamacharya, but Krishnamacharya because that’s what the custom was wouldn’t accept female students. But she had clout.

Tim: She had, it was her husband was wealthy, her parents were wealthy.

Vie: Exactly. And Krishnamacharya’s boss, his employer, the Prince of Mysore

Tim: So he was paid big time to teach yoga.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: It wasn’t free?

12:20 Tim: So yoga wasn’t free to everyone to practice?

Vie: No

Tim: He was being paid by a prince and women couldn’t practice.

Vie: Exactly. Exactly. How does that sound? And

Tim: So women aren’t allowed enlightenment.

Vie: Exactly. Yes. Women were considered inferior. Yes. And so, the prince said, no you will train her. He said, no. He said, no you will train her. He said, okay.

Tim: He said you’ll train her or you’re fired.

Vie: Exactly, exactly. So, and he said, okay, but he, he wasn’t happy he was doing it. So he made her life miserable during the training process.

Tim: And this comes from her.

Vie: And this comes from her.

Tim: Because, we have that on video

Vie: And Krishnmacharya’s son actually. So, he made her life miserable and because he, he wanted to actually, he wanted her to fail. He wanted her to leave.

Tim: Now with that, that could have been because of being pressured from other gurus, or it could have been that he just didn’t want to train women.

Vie: Exactly. And he was pressured from other gurus also, and for ta while he didn’t want to train women. And, so anyway, she stuck with it. And, so, and after a year, I guess of intense training, he told her, you are free to go, so whichever way can be taken, right.

13:58 Vie: And you can go and teach. He gave her permission to teach. So which takes us to, it was a long time process.

Tim: So yoga wasn’t a 200 hour class.

Vie: No. It was a long time process. So she left and spread yoga to all different parts of the world, Soviet union, China, Argentina and,

Tim: U.S.

14:25 Vie: Los Angeles, California, the very first official yoga studio ever, in the sixties, in Los Angeles, California. She was teaching yoga to the stars.

Tim: Yes. So she opened that up and brought in, made yoga more popular here in the States. Actually, made yoga popular here in the states.

Vie: Yes, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So if it weren’t for har for an ambitious, performer from Eastern Europe, who knows how long it would have taken,

Tim: And she actually even took it to the performers in California.

Vie: Yes, exactly, exactly. Because when

Tim: And she taught it one on one.

Vie: She taught it one on one, she taught it one on one, and she always, she said she picked up, some very, very important, cues, pointers from Krishnamacharya and the main one.

15:28 Vie: Well, other than one-on-one, the other main one was, you do not touch.

Tim: Yes. I remember. And we have that on video too.

Vie: Exactly. Exactly. You do not touch because, and she actually gives a very cute story. They were doing a seated forward fold in, with Krishnamacharya in the training and she couldn’t reach her toes with her hands. So she asked the student behind her, to actually push on her a little bit to reach and Krishnamacharya saw that and he said, you never do that. You do not touch because you can injure when, you know, when you are ready, in whichever way, you will,

Tim: You will do it yourself.

Vie: Exactly, you will do it yourself.

16:23 Tim: So now with that, you said that there was a student behind

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: And I want to get into, because we said that it was private one-on-one, but you just said that there was more in class,

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: But that was because it was a Mysore

Vie: It was a Mysore style, it was Mysore, and it was group training as in the, for, for performances. That’s why also Krishnamacharya accepted her because the concept was perform.

Tim: Yes.

Vie: Spread certain practices. But, but that, that was the performance, the specific things to learn, to go into the group setting were one on one, because every,

Tim: Everyone’s different.

Vie: Everyone is different, exactly.

Tim: And don’t touch because everyone is different.

Vie: Exactly. You don’t know, this is group setting.

Tim: So today’s touching is actually goes completely against all of the teachings of the guru of doing

Vie: Yep, exactly. It is completely against that, it’s completely against that.

Tim: So now with that, we’re at eight minute mark, I want to take another quick break and we’ll come back to the hundred year old.

Vie: Sounds great. Stay tuned.

18:14 Tim: And we’re back

Vie: Yet again.

Tim: Yet again. And tell me who’s a the hundred year old?

18:20 Vie: Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya was born in 1888 and moved on 1989.

Tim: So he is basically

Vie: He is considered the father of modern yoga.

Tim: So, so there are other gurus that teach similar poses, but they all basically somehow came from that area.

Vie: Exactly

Tim: That concept. So, so

Vie: And that era.

Tim: Most of today’s, Shivananda, Kripalu,

Vie: Anusara.

Tim: Yeah, all, Iyengar, all of those

Vie: Satchitananda

Tim: Came during that time.

Vie: Yes.

19:07 Tim: And basically were created, a lot of those poses were created from that time.


Tim: And again, we’re going to go over some of the poses that weren’t created during that time, but 90ish% of all of the poses were created. Actually sun salutations by far is him.

Vie: Oh yes, sun salutations is him. Exactly.

Tim: And even though you see them in other series, other gurus, teaching it, sun salutations are him.

Vie: Yes. The concept of flow, the concept of Vinyasa is completely him through Pattabhi Jois.

Tim: Okay. Okay. So that, that’s a definite.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: Now with that, I want to talk about — so since he died in 1989, and he is the father of modern day yoga. Where did he get his yoga? So give me a little bit of the history of why it was created.

Vie: So it’s very, very interesting. The Prince of Mysore had seen that, the, that India as a country had, had started to lose its its history, its connection to their roots.

Tim: So because the British colonization had just left?

Vie: Because of the British colonization. Exactly. Because of the British colonization. So they were completely fascinated with everything Western and they had started losing the, the knowledge, the knowledge and the traditions of their culture.

Vie: So what he wanted, and the morale, and the morale was very off.

Tim: Yes.

Vie: So what he wanted to do is, he wanted to give the people something different other than the British influence in order to lift up the morale and say, hey, here is something else as well.

Vie: But he knew that he had to do it in a way that wouldn’t, that wouldn’t say, okay, what you learned from the British is wrong or ignore it and here is what you should focus on. It had to be brought in, in a way that people would accept it. It’s like you give people a little bit of, what they need and quite a bit,

Tim: A little bit of what they want and then give them what they need?

Vie: Well, yeah. But this was, this was different — a little bit of what they need mixed in with a lot of what they want. That’s, that’s how this was brought to them. It was way more gentle than what we do, say.

22:03 Vie: So he, so Krishnamacharya was somebody who had studied a lot. He had studied a lot of the ancient texts, he had meditated quite a bit in the forest, and a lot of that.

Tim: And he studied with a lot of different people.

Vie: And he studied with a lot of different people too. And so,

Tim: And he was a brilliant man, brilliant.

Vie: He was brilliant man. He was a brilliant man. And so, the Prince of Mysore gave him the task to do whatever he thought he could do to start people, to give something to people that, hey, this is from your tradition.

Tim: Yes. So what, but what he did was, he because he had to go and perform, he turned into a performer.

23:00 Vie: So because he wanted to make it very fancy. He wanted to make it glamorous because that’s what the people wanted. So he incorporated gymnastics.

Tim: One of the things that I want to go into is he was basically traveling India, doing performance.

Vie: Yes, exactly. Performances.

Tim: So the concept of this was more of a cirque du soleil type concept.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: So what he did was he took a group of men, taught them poses that he created because they even talked about it. He created. Along with poses that were part of the past and turned it into a show.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: Because we’re looking at the same thing that during that time was also Ringling brothers, in the States. So there was the circuses going around and people would go pay to watch performances.

Vie: Absolutely.

Tim: It wasn’t, it wasn’t TV. It was a live performance.

24:08 Vie: Exactly, exactly. And it was glamorous. And that’s where gymnastics the British were amazing in gymnastics. Right. So that’s what he intended

Tim: And gymnastics is a Greek word which means,

Vie: Which actually means performing naked, gymnos naked, the gymnosophists were the naked philosophers of Alexander the Great. So, gymnastics, martial arts.

Tim: Yep. They took from martial arts, they took from, actually we have a video of Shivananda grappling.

Vie: Exactly.

24:40 Tim: So they took different types of Western, different types of Eastern, different types of a lot of different cultures and combined them into a performance.

Vie: Absolutely. And he did it, he was very successful at it. Krishnamacharya was very successful at it. So he, he actually created a whole different concept of what Hatha yoga was.

Tim: Yes. So, so right now I just want to go into real quick. So some of the poses were designed for death, to die, to hurt the body so that you could move on and some, and most of the poses were put together as a show.

Vie: As a show, yeah.

Tim: So with that, some of the poses we’re practicing today are, are useless.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: And some poses are great.

Vie: Yes.

Tim: And he trained, Pattabhi Jois. And I just want to go into Pattabhi Jois, which is the ashtanga. It’s not the Ashtanga of the

25:55 Vie: 8 limbs of yoga.

Tim: It’s ashtanga, and that’s also great marketing. He marketed it so people would want to study ashtanga. So if you, if you go buy a book, you might find a book that talks all about the eight limbs, or you might find a book that gives you all these different poses.

Vie: Exactly. Because ashtanga is a Sanskrit word and comes from ashta, which means eight and anga which means limbs. So Ashtanga are the eight limbs of the Patanjali Sutras. That’s where the term comes from. But because of the brilliant marketing, Pattabhi Jois and Krishnamacharya named that practice ashtanga yoga.

Tim: So Pattabhi Jois was an extremely strong, healthy man. And so ashtanga was basically designed for the performance.

Vie: Yes.

26:55 Tim: But it was designed basically for like 14 year old boys. So ashtanga was actually created for visual arts.

Vie: Visual arts. Yeah.

Tim: Now Iyengar was

Vie: Iyengar was Krishnamacharya’s brother in law.

Tim: Yup. And he was very sickly.

Vie: He was.

Tim: And so he was asked to join in, but he had to do a different style to get healthy.

Vie: Exactly.

Tim: Because he ended up being a sub and then full time. So they did it because sometimes yoga teachers don’t show up. So he needed Iyengar to be able to perform when some yoga teachers don’t show up. So, so that’s where Iyengar. And Iyengar yoga was also created by

Vie: Krishnamacharya.

27:55 Tim: And so two completely different styles. And when Iyengar yoga was created, the term alignment was created.

Vie: Yes. Alignment is completely Iyengar specific. Iyengar is the first person to ever talk about alignment. And the reason he did it was again brilliant marketing.

Tim: And we also have this on video.

Vie: Exactly, exactly.

Tim: Go ahead and say. Don’t say exact, because I’m sure you can’t right now, but give it a a,

Vie: Well, Iyengar said, you want me to be politically correct or not? Iyengar said that the yoga poses that he had were very simple and they were very, they were very abstract as in here is what to do, because everyone is different. And that’s what Krishnamacharya was teaching. Everyone is different. Here is the big idea, do what you can. So he said that in order to sell it to the intellectual Westerners who like things, who don’t like things simple, they like things complicated, he created a bunch of rules for each pose, hence alignment. He refers to it as he had to create a beautiful salad so that the intellectual Westerners would give it value.

Tim: Yes. So, and that’s where alignment came from. So alignment is less than 60 years old.

Vie: Alignment is very new. Alignment is Iyengar.

Tim: And so that’s a quick history of where the poses came from. In our next podcast we’ll start breaking down the poses that are useless.

Vie: Until next time, much, much love from both of us. Na’maste kala! May we all be well, adapt and thrive.

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