Oh. My. Dharma Mittra.

Saturday is an Ashtangi’s once a week yoga holiday – but being a slightly self sadistic kinda girl… it’s hard to say no when your buddy in the changing room tells you there’s a 2 hour master class on Saturdays that could, quite possibly, *change your life*.
Oh those dangerous words – don’t tell *me* something has the potential to change my life….
She goes on to say me the 3rd pose in the class is Pincha Mayurasana!
Sounds like a blast.
Sign. Me. Up.
So, this Saturday, instead of spending my afternoon drinking tea with friends, catching a casual afternoon matinee with my boyfriend or chilling at home with a good book… I headed to Indaba Yoga Studio for a class I don’t think I’ll ever forget…

Not only was I breaking the Ashtangi rules by practicing on a Saturday (…afternoon no less) I also attended a class from a completely different lineage.
Dharma Mittra Yoga is a style i’d only ever heared of in passing, not one i’d explored at all.
I had seen the famous poster (…which is as old as I am) created by Sri Dharma Mittra which is used by some of my yogi pals as a means to design their own practice at home by simply picking poses and having a bash…
Here’s what Wiki has to say about Sri D.M…

Sri Dharma Mittra is a Yoga teacher, and a student of Sri Swami Kailashananda.”[1]

He created the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures and his “influence on the yoga world extends far beyond the nearly 50,000 copies of that poster that have been printed since Mittra completed the laborious project in 1983.”[2] He has been teaching since 1967, and is director of the Dharma Yoga Center in New York City.

Dharma Mittra was born Carlos Augusto Vargason May 14, 1939, in Pirapora, Minas Gerais, Brazil. He started studying Yoga in 1958. In 1964, he left the Brazilian Air Force and moved to New York City, to study under his new guru, Sri Swami Kailashananda. After intensive study of Ashtanga and Karma Yoga, he was accepted and initiated as a sannyasi (one who renounces the world in order to realize God). Dharma began teaching in 1967, after spending a decade as a full-time yogi and brahmachari (a celibate religious student who lives with his teacher and devotes himself to the practice of spiritual disciplines). A celebrated teacher at his guru’s ashram, he left in 1975 and founded the Dharma Yoga Center in New York City. He has been teaching daily since since 1967, and is director of the Dharma Yoga Center in New York City.”[2][3]

Dharma Mittra completed the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures in 1984, after having meticulously photographed himself in 1300 Yoga postures, then cut and pasted the pictures to create the work. The Master Yoga Chart is hung in many ashrams and Yoga centers worldwide, as a teaching tool and inspiration for all students of Yoga. His more recent book, entitled Asanas: 608 Yoga Poses was published in 2003. In 2006, he released an instructional Yoga video series entitled Maha Sadhana: The Great Practice. Mittra is also featured as the inspiration and model for Yoga Journal’s coffee table book, entitled Yoga.

I was walking straight in to the firing line and I was 100% ready to have my yoga asana practice torn to shreds.
You kinda have to bare in mind every yoga school will come with it’s own sparkling nuances…
I was excited to find out more, but also slightly scared of a class that turns you on your head, (your forearms actually) in the first 3 minutes.
I still didn’t know much about the sequence so it was all a great big experiment and a fun chance to *get out of my box*.
Ah who cares… Bring. It. On.
So, fueled by a superfood packed, cacao elixir, some ‘go faster* (*float higher) leggings’ and exactly 9 hours of sleep the night before (Ashtangi record!) I headed to Marylebone…


I don’t have photos of what happened inside that studio on Saturday.
All I can say is I came out of there truly humble and having sweated my prayers for 2 full hours – literally.
There were of course moments of bliss & had I not laughed out loud I would have cried.
The general structure of this master class is exactly as it says onthe website –

“…you will attempt handstands, forearm balances, headstand variations and unique vinyasas, perfection is not expected but confidence and technique is strengthened. Embrace the ability to fall, conquer fear and get right back up again.

One of the joys of Master Practice is exploring variations of postures you may not encounter anywhere else in the world today, as well as the instruction in how to take the steps necessary to acquire these postures.

It will bring contentment- merging complete identity with the true self, the goal of yoga.

For experienced practitioners, super heroes and people will have a go at anything without fear of failure.

I love how they say “…you WILL…”, oh yes, you will!
It’s true… handstand after handstand it just kept on coming – in fact, after a while it came as a surprise when Mark Kan, our teacher for this session, didn’t throw a handstand in.
Indeed there were many points when I was like… “You have got to be kidding me…?!”
I imagined Mark drinking his tea that morning coming up with this sequence by taking *the poster* and just randomly throwing darts at it… “we’ll take one of these, two of those and 25 of them….” stringing it all together to make one crazy series of mind blowing possibilities.

Tempted? You should be – it’s a once in a life time class – which for the slightly insane (most modern day yogis…) could become a habit.
Today, I feel… well, everything…. from head to toe I have all kinds of new sensations including a new understanding of banishing ones ignorance.
I also feel very much *alive* and slightly broken at the same time!
I was reading a bit about Sri D.M today and found a golden quote…

“Live the golden rule. Purify your heart. Lose the ego. The greatest impurity, the most negative energy, is ignorance. You must accept non-duality and God consciousness. If you devote all your actions to the Lord, he’ll show you bliss.”
– Sri Dharma Mittra

I loved these words and defiantly felt it come through for me in the asana class I attended.
To a certain extent I wonder if this is recognized by the regular practitioners of this method… it did feel a little bit like being at circus school…on the other hand; I guess you have to loose a lot of ignorance to join the circus (& survive in it), right?
I was wowed by those Maryleborne yogis asana prowess, that’s for sure.
Ooooo and the exciting news is, I am going to go back to Indaba next weekend for a workshop with a muse of mine, one of my Vinyasa Yoga inspirations. A super-heroine named Meghan Currie.
Watch. This. Space.

Dear Body
I love you.
Please bare with me while I explore your edges.
Please hang in there while I pull you and push you in every which way.
It’s going to be fun I promise…
Whats more, future students are going to love what we have learned together!

Till soon…

PS… Here’s a *moderate* level example of the kinda craziness we got up to in the class…


One thought on “Oh. My. Dharma Mittra.

  1. Maria says:

    Oh my, you’ve been Dharmafied! He’s based in NY, you know, and I’ve taken many a class with him years ago. We used to call the people who would come in and “warm up” with drop backs and leg behind their head, etc. “muppets.” They didn’t seem to have any bones! It is very freeing! I looked up Miss Currie. She’s a gooey girl! fun sequences. wow. play, play, play!!

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