Empowerment Through Ashtanga Yoga – Greg Nardi

August 29, 2020

#017: Greg Nardi

Scott talks to close friend and colleague Greg Nardi on his life as an Ashtanga yoga practitioner and teacher. 

In this podcast we talk about the sexual abuse commited by Pattabhi Jois on a number of his students over the years. While this conversation centers Greg’s experience, it is not meant to detract from the victim’s experience. We acknowledge the sexual abuses and other abuses of power that have happened in the Ashtanga community and the ways in which community members can be trained not to see the abuses that happen in plain sight. This denial serves to hide the abuse and creates a culture that is unsafe for victims. It is our hope that this conversation will help those who are also in a process of reckoning with their relationship to yoga practice and community. 

Below are links to the victims testimony and others of relevant interest:

Karen Rain’s #metoo testimony

Jubliee Cooke’s #metoo testimony

Anneke Lucas’s testimony 

Silenced Voices – A panel discussion involving Karen Rain, Jubilee Cooke and others on sexual abuse in the yoga community. 

Greg Nardi believes in the healing power of yoga for all. His style of teaching empowers students to discover the approach to the practice that is most beneficial for them.

He has been practicing yoga since 1996, and is a 500 hr E-RYT with Yoga Alliance. He is currently director of Ashtanga Yoga Worldwide where he teaches workshops in yoga practice and theory internationally, and is co-director of Grassroots Yoga where he teaches in his home of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

His work draws on his knowledge of the oral traditions of yoga, having studied Sanskrit chanting and yoga philosophy in Mysore, India. He also travelled to KPJAYI thirteen times, the first trip was in 1999. He was later authorised by Pattabhi Jois to teach Ashtanga yoga. He has studied extensively with teachers in North America and Europe, and he draws on his personal experience of practice, as well as his ongoing self-study of academic research in contemporary and traditional yoga.

Greg resigned his authorization from KPJAYI in 2018. He now works with his colleagues at Amāyu yoga, developing an organization and learning pathway for Ashtanga teachers to help create safer spaces for yoga practitioners. Amāyu’s work is consent driven, practitioner centered, and based in practitioner empowerment.

You can find out more about Greg’s teaching schedule here

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Empowerment through Ashtanga Yoga – Greg Nardi

Scott and Greg have a deeply open and honest conversation on the evolution of yoga in Greg’s life. They have been close friends since 2013 and share in a moving conversation how the devotional aspect of yoga became a central part of Greg’s life and how Greg has shifted direction since he left KPJAYI.

In this intimate conversation Greg shares:

  • How he was drawn to the spiritual aspect of yoga from the very beginning.
  • How he explored different yoga traditions, such as Jivamukti, before settling on Ashtanga yoga.
  • The pull he felt to travel to Mysore, the home of Ashtanga yoga.
  • His early misconception that ‘gurus’ have godlike aspects, and how until recently this formed a big part of his life and belief system.
  • The immediate connection he felt when he first met K Pattabhi Jois.
  • The romanticised image he had of Mysore during his first few trips there.
  • How he witnessed K Pattabhi Jois’ abusive treatment of women, and his growing disillusionment with his teacher.
  • The problems with his initial response to Karen Rain’s 2017 #metoo statement, and how he’s learned and evolved since then.
  • How he had to let go of his conception of K Pattabhi Jois as his ‘guru’, and how as a response he changed his whole teaching process, rejecting the authoritarian model of the Ashtanga yoga teaching method.
  • How the challenges of the last few years have shown him what yoga really means to him, and that things falling apart have helped him to feel more connected to himself.
  • His belief that creating connection and personal agency for practitioners is key for developing Ashtanga yoga.

 

‘This is such a rich conversation. It shows how one can use their personal agency in their own practice to see that the light can grow from there, not anywhere else. Greg is one of the most considerate and compassionate teachers I’ve met and I’m so proud to call him a friend. We’ve had many conversations over the years and I’m so pleased that his wisdom, intelligence and insights are now available. He has really found a way to navigate himself into a new way of being after the huge disappointment he felt from his teachers behaviour.’ 

Scott Johnson – August 2020 

 

If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Ian Cheney, David Keil, and Mark Robberds.

 

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