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Yoga Tree teacher Kumiko Koba and student Satoko Yoshikawa appeared in videos for Yoga Works.


Blueprint for Learning 2000 Asanas
2015.11.17 - BLOG

Blueprint for Learning 2000 Asanas
Jani Jaatinen’s Classes at Yoga Tree

Really I didn’t know what to expect when we decided to put on workshops with a teacher who is said to practice 2000 asanas. Postures like this one.
Jani-Mayurasana-800Well, surprise. Turns out that a teacher so dedicated to yoga that his daily practice often runs six hours teaches a beautiful yoga class.

What I enjoyed most about Jani Jaatinen’s teaching when he taught at Yoga Tree earlier this month was how he taught from his heart, conveying lessons he has learned from his own amazing practice while making every class accessible and interesting for everyone who turns up. Each of his classes was quiet, unhurried, and wise in an unpretentious way. Oh, and did I mention hard? Yes, the classes were challenging for everyone, but not in ways you might expect. He taught few “advanced” poses. Instead, mostly we held basic poses with correct alignment for longer—sometimes much longer—than we were accustomed.

I had not expected that Jani would teach detailed alignment. But he offered layers of smart instruction that enabled everyone to explore the postures deeply. Turns out that in addition to practicing Ashtanga Yoga for more than 15 years, he completed the teacher training work for Iyengar Yoga.

Jani talked about what it takes to build a yoga practice. “Work on basic poses with right alignment. Hold positions for a long time.” Simple. But not easy. At one point, he offered an interesting example. From a sitting position, he put his left leg behind his head, bent his right knee, and twisted to the right, wrapping his right arm around the right leg and his left arm behind his back to bind his hands. Kind of a modified Marichyasana D, with the leg that would normally be in Ardha Padmasana instead behind his head. (Sorry, I wish I had a photo.) While sitting in the posture, he gave a little speech. From a yoga posture point of view, he said, this might be considered an “interesting position.” But it wasn’t a good posture from which to gain the benefits of twisting. He then unwrapped and demonstrated Parivrtta Swastikasana (simple seated twist). This, he suggested, was a good way to build your ability to twist.

Jani’s point was that at times we should explore and find “interesting positions.” But most of the time we should focus on the smart foundational work that builds strength, flexibility and concentration in the most effective way. This kind of work, he said, comprises most his yoga practice. Hearing such sound advice from someone who practices 2000 asanas is motivational. We look forward to hosting Jani again in 2016.