Emma Isokivi, committed Ashtangi and teacher, teaches the mid-morning timeslot of Meadowlark’s Morning Mysore programme. She returns to the shala this week after studying in Mysore since November 2017. Here she shares with us some exciting news for her practice and for the Meadowlark Mysore community, reflecting on her experiences as a student and teacher so far and looking forward to the future of Ashtanga yoga in Edinburgh.
As my time in Mysore, studying at K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI) with Paramaguru Sharath Jois, comes to an end I am happy to share a little news with our community at Meadowlark.
Excitingly, Sharathji (we add ‘ji’ to the end of names as a sign of respect), has given me a blessing to teach Ashtanga Yoga. This blessing is called ‘authorisation’ and it is a huge boon for our community at Meadowlark as it helps to raise the bar of learning for us all in Edinburgh and Scotland.
How and when?
Sharathji came to assist me on the 7th of December whilst I was practising my final backbends, just six days into my 4th trip studying at KPJAYI. He asked me a few questions, then told me I was ready and that he wanted me to take authorisation; telling me that he would decide later whether I would take level 1 or 2 authorisation (the blessing to teach either the primary or intermediate series). I clearly remember being shocked but also very excited – all whilst doing this deep backbend. It was so early in the trip to receive such big news – normally blessings don’t happen until the end of a student’s time studying at KPJAYI. I had to keep really, really quiet about it for such a long time (nearly 2 months)!
Last week I received my level 2 certificate (up to Karandavasana) alongside many other dear friends who also received the blessings. It was quite a special, even emotional, moment.
What does authorisation mean?
Ultimately, it means that I’m an Ashtanga geek, that I am committed to sincerely upholding the lineage of the Ashtanga practice and to teaching in the way that I have been taught. If you are learning from an authorised Ashtanga teacher, it means that you, as a student, can be assured that you are learning from a teacher who is constantly diving deeply in their own practice and therefore can share information with you with the utmost integrity.
I’ve now studied with Sharathji seven times over six years: four times in Mysore and three times in London. It is a huge honour that Sharathji considers my practice and understanding of Ashtanga adequate enough to be able to teach and share the practice with others, even though I have missed a year or two of study (due to having a baby and teaching commitments).
I have been assisting and teaching with my dear teacher, Sarah Durney Hatcher, for nearly 6 years – so, yes, I taught before I received the ‘official nod’ from the paramaguru Sharath Jois. Am I a bad lady for doing this? I’ll let you and the Ashtanga police decide. The most important thing is that, during my assisting and teaching, I have been committed to a daily practice and to going to Mysore as often as possible. I hope that what I am sharing with our community is clean, pure and straight from the ‘source’.
The two ladies that I am indebted to for this authorisation are Sarah Hatcher (our Mysore director at Meadowlark Yoga) and Karen Kirkness (owner of Meadowlark). These two women have supported me from day one with great vigor, enthusiasm and kindness, both on and off the mat. Both are far more senior teachers and practitioners than me so consequently I have to confess I did feel a little embarrassed receiving this certificate of authorisation which could be perceived as a representation of seniority. It is simply just down to luck, place, time and circumstance: I have had a window of time in my life that has allowed me to go to study with Sharathji on a regular basis these past years. Regardless, I’m so deeply excited to return back to our sweet Sun Studio at Meadowlark, to study and to work alongside these two exceptional women and to support our community again.
Okay, last technical bits from me:
- I’m back teaching from the 4th of February, 9.30-11.30am Sunday-Friday.
- On Saturday the 3rd of Febraury from 9.00-11am, I am running a community event. There will be practice, chai and delicious cake (made by my exceptional mum) which will fundraise for the charity Yogability. Find more information about the workshop here.
- On the 3rd and 4th of February I am running the beginners Mysore intensive workshop. If you are interested (or know someone who is) in learning Ashtanga Yoga at an appropriate pace for you (we call this Mysore style), do come. Everyone is welcome. Find more information about the intensive weekend here.
Looking forward to seeing you on the mat. Emma xx
Find more information on Meadowlark’s Morning Mysore Programme here.