Little over three years ago Matthew Sweeney published a well thought-out critique of our very own Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga system. Unlike the accounts of others which I have read by-and-by, his especially resonated with me. Upon reflection, Sweeney’s approach to writing feels scientific in so far as his prose are grounded in several decades of careful observations. Also, considering his participatory role in learning and teaching the Ashtanga method firsthand, in several lands, his insights seem introspective yet intuitive to me. The Love Yoga Anatomy resource site archives several original articles and interviews including Sweeney’s own. The Evolution of Ashtanga Yoga is freely available below:
I enjoy how Matthew Sweeney embraces a non-judgemental attitude towards both the uniqueness and deficiencies of the vinyasa yoga method. For instance, he reminds us that, “The Ashtanga practice is particularly heating and upward in nature (therefore more masculine in energy) and tending to a Rajasic style practice.” Although not taught by most orthodox teachers there exist alternative sequences. For example, Sweeney’s own Moon Sequence offers participants a novel way foster equanimity in practice. Although much can be said about the content of Sweeney’s original sequences, his reflections come across as both highly detailed, and well organized. If yoga implies a union of opposites, I’d say that Sweeney’s article successfully articulates a modern vision for Ashtanga with an eye towards tradition.