Ashtanga Yoga - A Teacher's Companion

This is the second edition of my book ‘Ashtanga Yoga a Teacher's Companion’ available here to purchase as a PDF download.  Originally the book was conceived as a way to bridge the traditional Mysore method with more practical reflections on teaching that have occurred time over my over 20 years of teaching experience.

This second edition seeks to add to that as the book was written and published pre-pandemic, and, since that point, due to the greater perspective that period afforded me, I have added a great deal to the book. I have added a few chapters on yoga philosophy and the basis of Ashtanga yoga, and more about my perspective on the role, challenges and qualities of a good teacher, as well as other more pragmatic aspects of teaching that I hadn't considered fully in the first edition.

The photos remain the same, although I have corrected a few errors I subsequently noticed in the primary series manual section. I welcome your feedback and dialogue and keep your eyes open for a third edition or new book. I’ve not finished yet!

ashtanga yoga book by adam keen

To buy the PDF the link below will take you to an on-demand video, make the purchase and you will receive the PDF to download as well as a short introduction video by Adam.

History of Classical Yoga

We’re all keen to know where our modern yoga practices originated; to find a traditional precedent. However, when we look further into the history of yoga, its’ not so straightforward as the popular narrative suggests; that yoga is 5000 years old and originates from The Vedas.

Instead, it appears that yoga developed and changed over the ages through the influence of many varied traditions or perspectives. For example, even the gods we know today (the trimurti of Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma), aren’t even the same gods as those of the early, Vedic period. Nor, perhaps, unsurprisingly, did the use of the term yoga stands for what we know today. In fact, it’s only later when individuals start rejecting the established practice of ritual, going instead into the forest to look into their own consciousness instead, that we start to see something that starts to resemble the kind of things we are found doing today.

But, even then, we can’t say that all these individuals were practicing the same thing, had the same views of life necessarily. Indeed, the Indian wisdom-tradition has always been based around direct transmission from a guru who as personally realized the teaching. Thus, we have almost as many schools and perspectives on the path as we have gurus. Along these lines, the little known sampradaya is, in fact, at the heart of the teaching on yoga. And, furthermore, modern Hinduism may not be as cohesive a tradition as it is now currently claimed in its heavily politicized modern presentation.

history of classical yoga

History of Modern Yoga

A downloadable PDF to follow along with Adam's video, access for one year. When we talk of modern yoga, we are generally referring to asana. But, not only this, a very new approach to the performance of asana, and, furthermore, for the sake of modern aims. For example, where, in past eras yoga was a method to know God, it has become in current times, more a method of better knowing and integrating our sense of self.

Which is to say, what is carried over in the tradition from the past, and what have we added and subtracted over the ages? For, even in India the idea of yoga evolved, borrowed from outside, developed in a way to suit modern demands, as well as being influenced by the political context.

Then, travelling outside, it met various influences that further shaped it. Finally, then, here we take a look at asana in particular and the modern fathers of what we are now found practicing. Indeed, three figures we discover; Sri Yogendra, Swami Kuvuylananda and Sri Krishnamacharya (along with Swami Vivekanandana), paved the way, with huge and sweeping innovation, to a very new approach to yoga in the current era.

history of modern yoga

History of Mysore Ashtanga yoga

A downloadable PDF to follow along with Adam's video, access for one year. The early students who arrived in Mysore to practice with Pattabhi Jois didn’t have the same experience as the modern-day practitioners.

Rather, many things have changed over the years; making the Mysore tradition, indeed, like any other; an ever-evolving one. And, along these lines, perhaps a more practical and pragmatic one than the narrative of the mythical Yoga Korunta and Krishnamacharya’s Tibetan guru may suggest. Indeed, this claim is now considered more up for debate, suggesting that the Ashtanga sequences that have come to define this practice today, may have, instead, been the work of Jois and Krishnamacharya; put together for the sake of the many yoga demonstrations Krishnamacharya was asked to give as part of the job.

Then, as this system became hugely popular worldwide, and, in no small part, down to many of the charismatic and gifted teachers, we might also consider their influence on the development of the ashtanga yoga we know today. Along with this, modern developments such as the video and then the DVD player, and, now, the influence of social media, and how they have also had an impact on the practice and how it is taught and presented in the modern era.

history of ashtanga yoga from mysore

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - An Overview

Adam talks through the downloadable PDF of this overview of the Yoga Sutras, video access for one year. The Yoga Sutras is the primary resource nowadays on yoga philosophy for most yoga students. And, the focus gets even narrower; the very few sutras where Patanjali discusses ashtanga yoga, then, further still, the yamas and niyamas. To this end, The YS can become little more than a modern, slightly exotic version of the Ten Commandments interested in do’s and don’ts, which is far from the actual intention of the text. Instead, Patanjali is talking to those who have decided to renounce worldly life in the first place, and, for the bulk of the text he is talking about how to practice and the obstacles faced.
So, despite his statement of intent in the second sutra; ‘yogas citta vritti nirodha’ (1.2), ‘yoga is stopping the mind’, there is a lot that is practical information about the nature of the mind and how to practice here, far over and above the simply learning of the eight limbs and a simplistic trying to be good that this seems to point to. The YS is still a profoundly helpful text on our journey, but, only if we come at it from a broader perspective than is often suggested. And, finally, perhaps, put some context around it as a classical text with certain aims that may, in the end, be found different to our current ones.
yoga sutras