Contortion through yoga training advice

#1 Aug 6th, 2011, 07:35
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  • magicjared is offline
#1
Hi. This is my first post here; I've been browsing the forums to prepare for a trip I will be making to India in February and it has been really helpful to me. I have an odd question to anyone who might be able to help.
I make my living as a contortionist. Last year during my off season I traveled to a circus school in Beijing to train and get insight. This year I want to go to India and explore yoga and other practices that push the bodies natural limits.
Here's the thing though.. I would like to really make use of this time to focus on developing flexibility through yoga. I am not a religious or spiritual person, though I am open to respectfully practicing in a setting that is. And I do not have much experience in yoga. I have gone to classes here in the USA.. but have been unable to find a place that really works with my flexibility. I can already do some very advanced yoga poses but it is not from taking yoga, but from my own stretching excersizes.
I want to go somewhere or study with someone while I'm there that would help me achieve advanced postures even though my yoga experience is minimal. I know that may be asking a lot. Does anyone have any advice on places to go or people to contact? I was thinking of going to the southern area, but am willing to travel around. Or maybe this is all just a lost cause and should just enjoy my vacation away without yoga?
#2 Aug 6th, 2011, 08:13
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  • agarth is offline
#2
I don't mean to be glib about this, but in my opinion, I think you would be best off with a book and a video. I wouldn't suggest any specific programs or immersions, as they will generally be building the student, physically and philosophically, from the ground up, and it sounds like the principles of yoga are not really your interest. If you're going to a place like Goa, Rishikesh or other places with a large concentration of foreigners, you will find lots of people who are extremely proficient in advanced asanas who will either be teaching at various studios or who will be happy to give you tips as you get to know them. I don't think it's a lost cause, but I think for you it would be best to just have a great holiday and concentrate on creating relationships with other foreigners, or Indians with whom you can share ideas.

That being said, the Astanga school in Mysore would present quite a challenging program, and you might gain quite a bit from different Iyengar schools, the main focus of which is correct physical alignment. Iyengar style especially would be useful for you in regards to minimizing injuries. See if you can find some advanced Iyengar classes wherever you are. That's my two cents. Have a great time in India!
#3 Aug 10th, 2011, 07:42
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  • Sama is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magicjared View Post have been unable to find a place that really works with my flexibility. I can already do some very advanced yoga poses
do you think real yoga is about doing "advanced yoga poses"? there are "advanced yogis" who only sit in meditation.

if someone can put their leg behind their neck, does than make them a "yogi"?

you say you are a contortionist, so you can do things that some people who have practiced yoga for 20 years can't do. because the ultimate culmination of a yoga pose is the way a body is put together, i.e., bone hitting bone is the limit of a pose. you are a contortionist because of how you are built. nothing more, nothing less.

so what's the point of your trying to achieve "advanced postures"? that's a serious question, by the way. you say you are not a spiritual or religious person, so why go all the way to India to study pretzel shapes? You can get a copy of Iyengar's Light on Yoga, for example, and practice all the poses in his book. Or go to Dharma Mittra's studio in NYC and get a copy of his 908 poses poster and do the poses. Your profile says "NYC" so go see Dharma Mittra himself.
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Last edited by Sama; Aug 10th, 2011 at 08:55..
#4 Aug 10th, 2011, 09:29
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Agarth, thanks for your advice. Yes, although I do find the principles and philosophy of yoga fascinating and I would like to learn about them, my focus is working on improving my flexibility. Yoga as you say is something that you work at from the ground up... which gives me the concern that if I do go to India, I will not be working on anything much more advanced than what I would be learning at home. So a video in that case would be more suitable.
I was hoping that maybe there are practices that would be more focused on flexibility, that are more intense physically, that might work more so with my own level of bendiness.. even if I do come in with only basic knowlege. I will look into Iyengar schools in the areas that I visit. Even if I start as a beginner there, being in that environment with other practitioners and sharing advice would be very helpful.

Sama, I do not think that "real yoga" is doing advanced yoga poses nor does putting ones leg behind their head make them a yogi. I never said that. I don't mean to insult you by wanting to use yoga in order to improve my flexibility. I realize that there is more to it than just that. But you cannot ignore the fact that yoga and contortion have some common ground. There are things that yogis can do from practicing yoga that I would like to do, so I want to learn more.
#5 Aug 10th, 2011, 10:09
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Sama, I just saw your edited post. I have never heard of Dharma Mittra... I will look him up. My main reason for going to India is to travel and vacation. I'm not expecting to find a place to learn yoga that is exactly what I want, but the reason why I came on this forum and asked for advice is to find out if there was something worth looking into. Also, even though I am not religious, being away from all the hub bub here and being able to focus on exploring and training far from home is not without value to me. I don't think I'm as crazy as you seem to think I am..
#6 Aug 10th, 2011, 12:08
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  • Sama is offline
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go look up Dharma Mittra at his studio in NYC (he is NOT my teacher, BTW, so I get nothing out of the suggestion.) as I said, there is a famous poster of him doing 908 yoga poses. if you want to get into more advanced asana, he's probably the guy to show you how. I know people who study with him and they consider him the real deal.
#7 Aug 17th, 2011, 19:27
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  • Aupmanyav is offline
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Magicjared, I appreciate your interest in India and yoga (and there is nothing wrong in being a bit crazy, after all you are a contortionist ) as also advice by Sama and Agarth. Have a nice time in India.

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