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list of ashtanga teachers by date in mysore

Ashtanga Teachers By Arrival Date In Mysore

We created the chronology below after interviewing so many Ashtanga teachers and hearing about their early experiences in Mysore. The reason for this is to better understand how the Ashtanga method has changed over the years. There certainly was an evolution and we’ve learned that what today appears as a homogenous tradition never really has been. In seeing this you can start to get a wider overview in the variation of approaches to the practice as taught currently. Originally each person was taught quite differently and the first students went all the way through to the end of intermediate series before back bending.

This list is not definitive or in any way exhaustive and if you see omissions, errors or would like your details to be removed please let us know, info@keenonyoga.com. Above all the aim is create a general reference.


Ashtanga Yoga Teachers by Arrival Date in Mysore

Andre Van Lysbeth (1964) Belgium

A Belgian man is believed to be the first person to be taught by Pattabhi Jois. He subsequently wrote a book including name and address of where he’d learnt his yoga. From this students began to find their way to Mysore. However, he is not known to have practiced (or taught) Ashtanga yoga on return from India. Rather, his studies centre around pranayama.

Norman Allen (1972) USA

Norman, who sadly died last year, was a cult figure in the Ashtanga scene. No-nonsense, gruff, with a big-beard and a love of the outdoors, Norman taught in Maui up until his death. He was famed for having a policy that if people came to practice everyday they didn’t pay. The less they came, the more they paid.

David Williams (1973) USA

David, along with Nancy (see below) were the first known teachers of Ashtanga in the US. They travelled overland to India from the UK. He details his history is detailed in his book ‘My Search for Yoga’. At Gitananda’s ashram in Pondichery they saw Manju Jois demo the Ashtanga practice. They packed up and headed straight to Mysore. David and Nancy brought Jois to the US in 1975, staying for 3 months in Encinitas. As a result this really sparked off interest in Ashtanga yoga in America. Listen to Keen on Yoga Podcast.

Nancy Gilgoff (1973) USA

When Nancy started practicing in 1973 she was having 10 day periods and sleeping 12 hours a day. On arrival in Mysore in she was taught twice a day for four months. Nancy continues to practice and now at 73 years, she is healthier than when she walked into her first yoga class. She teaches as she was taught and this is an eye opener to many current students. (see above for more)

Brad Ramsey (1977) USA

When once asked who reminded him most of his young self as a practitioner, PJ said it was Brad. Brad covered for David and Nancy in Hawaii when they returned to Mysore. However, Brad never taught consistently, despite reaching an advanced level as a practitioner under David. Sadly, Brad died young and is little known in Ashtanga history.

David Swenson (1977) USA

David needs little introduction. He had a hiatus in the 1980’s to became a Hari Krishna and an art-dealer amongst other things. His seminal book The Practice Manual and his DVDs helped to spread of a practical and relatable approach to Ashtanga. He and his brother Doug can be credited with inventing the ‘yoga-selfie’. Listen to Keen on Yoga Podcast

Cliff Barber (1977) USA

‘Old Cliff’ as he was known by the early students, was in his 40’s when he started to learn Ashtanga. He was inspired by seeing David Williams practice it in Hawaii. Cliff was the archetypal yogi, usually going barefoot, he possessed few possessions. He lived the life of a renunciate or sadhu camped by a river in a Crete. People came from far and wide to visit and practice with him.

Tim Miller (1978) USA

Tim is perhaps the father or grandfather of the Ashtanga lineage. A most kind, generous and humble individual, he actuality with the Jois family for part of his time in Mysore. Tim was an early student at the famed church in Encinitas where David Williams and Brad Ramsey taught. He has stayed in Encinitas where he has taught so many of the well-known teachers, ever since.

Prem (Anthony) Carlisi (1978) USA

Prem learned Ashtanga along with Tim and Brad at the old church in Encinitas. He has taught for over 49 years incorporating his expertise in Ayurveda along with his practice of laya yoga. Prem is also well known for his book The Only Way Out Is In. This is a personal account of his odyssey with Ashtanga. He currently lives and teaches in Bali with his wife Radha. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Prem & Radha

Kathy Cooper (1979) USA

Kathy was an early student of David Williams living for many years on Maui as part of the original ‘pioneers’. Now in her 70’s, she’s a testament of the health-giving benefits of the practice. She maintains a very balanced and holistic approach, whist also pursuing her other passion of gardening. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Kathy.

Mark Darby (1979) Australia

Known to all as simply ‘Darby’ he has been Adam’s most influential teacher. Darby lived in Mysore for a full 3 years with his wife Joanne learning yoga. They also had two children in India. Uniquely, Darby took a long break to work and raise a family for much of his life. He returned to Ashtanga and teaching in his late 50’s. Keen on Yoga Podcast with Darby.

Graeme Northfield (1982) Australia

Graeme has been instrumental in the spread of Ashtanga, especially in his native Australia. He was an advanced practitioner as well as long-term teacher. Graeme has always incorporated other methodologies in a most broad-ranging approach to the teaching of Ashtanga.

Chuck Miller (1983) USA

Along with his wife, Maty Ezraty, Chuck is well known for starting the legendary ‘ Yoga Works’ in L.A. A big inspiration of Adam’s Chuck was a carpenter by trade. He maintains a most down to earth and relatable approach to practice. In more recent years he has retired to build his own house in Hawaii. Chuck is one of the 6 students on the well known primary and intermediate series videos taught by PJ. (The others were Maty Ezraty, Karen Rain, Eddie Stern, Richard Freeman and Tim Miller).

Maty Ezraty (1983) USA

Maty was a teachers’ teacher with teaching grounded in Iyengar yoga. Both she and Chuck spent a great deal of time with Iyengar in Pune after they stopped going to Mysore. Above all, Maty’s attention to detail and tireless approach are renowned. She was tiny with a huge personality, and the driving force behind Yoga Works. Sadly, she passed away far too young a few years ago.

Peter Sanson (1985) New Zealand

Peter is much loved in the Mysore community. Growing up on a farm in New Zealand he has always taught without self promotion or fuss. He emphases a very ‘traditional’ straight-forward approach to the Ashtanga method as it is taught in Mysore.

Dena Kingsberg (1986) Australia

Dena came to Ashtanga incredibly young, before she was 20. She is much loved as a teacher sharing from her experience of a very high level practice in Mysore. In addition, her practices of meditation and chanting both greatly her approach. She has taught in Byron Bay, Australia for many years.

Richard Freeman (1987) USA

If Tim is the father of the Ashtanga-lineage, Richard has to be the mystical uncle. Richard is famous for pioneering a more alignment based approach to the practice. He was the first to really teach in a more technically-based style. In addition, he is well known for his use of imagery and metaphor. As a result Richard’s teaching has probably had more influence on the modern-day teaching of Ashtanga than any other. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Richard and Mary.

Derek Ireland (1987) UK

Derek brought Ashtanga yoga to Europe from ‘The Practice Place’ on Crete. Opened with his then partner Radha this was one of the first yoga retreats in the world. With his striking physical presence he was often referred to as ‘a Greek god’. He taught many of our well-known teachers today, such as John Scott, Petri Raisanen and Hamish Hendry amongst many others. Sadly, Derek died young, leaving his wife Kristina Ireland.

Radha Warrell (1987) UK

Radha set up ‘The Practice Place’ in Crete with Derek (see above). She continued teaching with Pierre Seghir until recently. Having healed through breast cancer in her 40’s she has been instrumental as a role model and inspiration in Ashtanga. Shunning publicity Radha may not be that well known but considered by many as a true yogi.

Lino Miele (1988) Italy

A most colourful character Lino is an Italian showman and extrovert. He did a great deal to spread Ashtanga in Europe, particularly Finland and Scandinavia where he set up schools. In addition, he taught every winter in Kovalam, India. Linos’ book ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ was approved by Pattabhi Jois. It details the vinyasa counts and features John Scott’s figure drawings. It was ground breaking when published long before the internet was swamped with information. Lino and his book have been pivotal in documenting the vinyasa method of Ashtanga.

Annie Pace (1989) USA

Annie is well known for having one of the most advanced practices of Ashtanga. In addition, she is a colourful character, known for her warmth, Ayurvedic cooking and love of chanting. Annie started later in life, originally pursuing a corporate career before meeting Richard Freeman as her first teacher. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Annie.

Mary Taylor Freeman (1989) USA

Mary ran the highly influential Ashtanga studio in Boulder, Colorado along with Richard for over 20 years. In addition Mary is a trained Cordon Bleu chef. Her attention in recent years is on whole food cookery and has authored the book What Are You Hungry For? Furthermore, she is most outspoken in her experience of anorexia in her early twenties. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Mary.

John Scott (1989) New Zealand

John was Adam’s first real Ashtanga teacher and is a most charismatic personality. As an architect and then a windsurf instructor John found his way to practice in Crete with Derek Ireland. Above all, he receives acclaim for his effortless *lifts* and line-drawings of the practice. These were instrumental in the first ‘cheat-sheets’ of the Ashtanga series. His teaching is unique. John’s blend of metaphor and imagery make his teaching style distinctive.

Rolf Naujokat (1990) Germany

Rolf has lived most of his life in India (with a hiatus teaching in his well-known space in Thailand). German by birth, Rolf is most economical with his teaching style as well as his words and style of living most generally. Another teacher who has really chosen the path of a renunciate and aspiring yogi. A teacher to many well known teachers, for many years students would go to Mysore and then spend another month with Rolf in Goa.

Gregor Maehle (1990) Germany

Gregor’s practice manual for primary as well as intermediate series has become a staple part of the ‘Ashtanga yoga curriculum’. Indeed, they still stands unparalleled as text-books on the technical aspects of the Ashtanga method. However, Gregor has not stopped there and continues to author many books on yoga as well as teaching internationally. He trains teachers in most precise and anatomically grounded approach to the Ashtanga method. In addition, Gregor is a respected expert on pranayama. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Gregor.

Guy Donanhaye (1991) UK

Guy is a most thoughtful practitioner and teacher. He is embedded in the traditional approach to yoga encompassing scripture, meditation and pranayama. Well known for the book he co-authored with Eddie Stern which includes range of interviews with early students of PJ. Since the revelations of abuse, Guy has sought to distance himself from this book. Recently he has spoken out on a number of occasions against Jois and his teaching methods. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Guy.

Eddie Stern (1991) USA

Eddie is another one of the few most influential Ashtanga teachers. His acclaimed book ‘One Simple Thing’ is an incredible and well informed offering. Eddie’s long-term presence running ‘The Broome Street Shala and temple’ in Manhattan is legendary. His students there include William Defoe, Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sting and Moby, amongst others. More recently, Eddie has become interested in the science behind yoga. Currently he studies and shares within this approach to practice. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Eddie.

David Garrrigues (1994) USA

David’s eclectic and high-energy approach to Ashtanga are unique. Originally appearing on many of our radars’ with his ‘asana kitchen’, he was an early pioneer of the online teaching format to spread his unique perspective that takes influence from the punk and skate scene David was part of in Seattle, US in his younger years. David also teaches Ashtanga with a strong influence from his many years also studying the Iyengar method. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with David.

Noah Williams (1994) USA

Noah was the other person (along with Brad Ramsey), PJ compared himself to as a practitioner in his younger years. As a principal student of Tim Miller he started Ashtanga yoga practice whilst still in his teens’ in Encinitas. He remains a very low key teacher. Noah’s commitment is to a ‘traditional’ dissemination of the Ashtanga method from Mysore. Noah was Certified by Pattabhi Jois.

Dominic Corigliano (1995) USA

Dominic was a very early student of PJ, attending all the teaching he undertook in the US in the 1970s. Although he had a daily practice for many years, due to family and work commitments however his his first trip to Mysore relatively late. A cameraman and director, he made a great DVD a number of years ago of Sharathji performing the Primary series. His son Matt is also a respected teacher in his own right.

Govinda Kai (1995) USA

Almost unparalleled in his energy and creativity, Govinda Kai is a well-known figure in the Ashtanga world. Introduced to martial-arts at a young-age by his Japanese father, Govinda has always maintained a most intense approach toward the spiritual-journey. Additionally Govinda was also the first teacher of Kino MacGregor. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Govinda.

Hamish Hendry (1995) UK

Having taken over a space started by one of his former teachers, John Scottt, Hamish has tirelessly taught a daily Mysore program in London for over 25 years. He has taught pretty much most of the Ashtanga teachers based in the UK and authored the popular book ‘Ashtanga Dharma’. Hamish was Certified by Pattabhi Jois and above all has an unprecedented influence on Ashtanga in the UK.

Heather “Radha” Carlisi” (1995) USA

Radha started yoga at 20 years old and learned from Chuck Miller at Yoga Works in L.A. for 5 years. In 1995 she made her first trip to Mysore. She now teaches in Ubud, Bali with husband Prem, in the holistic spirit informed by both Maty Ezrty, as well as Chuck. This includes her interest and great knowledge in vegan and Ayurvedic cooking. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Prem & Radha.

Petri Raisennen (1996) Finland

A most gentle and humble personality, Petri’s shamanic-style energy-based adjustments based on traditional Finish folk-healing are famous. In addition he is the author of books on the primary series and intermediate series, the only one endorsed by Jois. He teaches workshops internationally. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Petri.

Sharmila Desai (1997) USA

Sharmila has exerted a huge influence on the Ashtanga scene from her Shala in Goa, whilst remaining most private and quiet as a personality relative to many of the teachers of Ashtanga. Indian by birth, brought up in the US, she was a former principal student of Eddie Stern.

Matthew Vollmer (1999) UK

Matthew is credited for the practice of Ashtanga to Brazil and as a result it spread throughout South America. British by birth, Matthew is known for his skill in the subtle technique behind the Ashtanga-method.

Mark Robberds (1999) Australia

One of Ashtanga’s most popular teachers Mark teaches workshops worldwide along with his wife and fellow teacher, Deepika Mehta. Mark has been instrumental in introducing principles involved in modern movement culture to the practice of Ashtanga. In addition, his incredible one armed handstands are famed. His formative teachers have been Richard Freeman as well as the well known handstand teacher Yuval Ayalon. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Mark.

Deepika Mehta (2001) India

Deepika is perhaps one of the earliest modern Indian teachers of Ashtanga. She has famously taught many Bollywood celebrities, appeared as an inspirational woman on the cover of Indian Elle magazine as well as given a TED talk at the UN headquarters in New York. Deepika also brings a background in other movement modalities, namely dance. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Deepika.

David Robson (2002) Canada

David Robson created one of the largest Mysore programs worldwide in his native Toronto. Along with his wife Jelena, they have had a huge influence on the Ashtanga scene in more recent years, enjoying amongst other things a massive popularity on social media for teaching videos. David is renowned for his humour as well as his outspokenness on the necessity of the vegan diet. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with David.

Kino MacGregor (2002) USA

Possibly the most well known Ashtanga teacher outside of Ashtanga, Kino is nothing other than a force of nature. Having been an early pioneer of YouTube and the use of social media to spread her teaching, she has gone on to enjoy enormous popularity as an Ashtanga teacher. With indomitable energy, as well as starting the well known Miami Life Center (and, more recently, the Miami Yoga Garage, with her husband Tim Feldman). In addition she is the author of many books and DVDs on Ashtanga.

Harmony Slater (2004) Canada

Harmony is a long term teacher and advanced practitioner and has been instrumental in the teaching of Ashtanga. She speaks from direct experience on all matters concerning women; pregnancy, postpartum, peri-menopause. Harmony is hard working and well respected in her important contribution to the Ashtanga world. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Harmony.

Laruga Glaser (2007) USA

Laruga is an inspiring figure, in her strength and grace; exhibited in her popular YouTube videos, as well as widely viewed Ashtanga videos for Alo Yoga. She is fearless in her direct and outspoken approach as a teacher as part of the Ashtanga community. Listen to the Keen on Yoga Podcast with Laruga.

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