Yoga has become a very lucrative business in the Twenty First Century, with many once small businesses blooming to the multi-national institution level. However, one Yoga teacher is staying committed to the traditional, local style of teaching: Manju Pattabhi Jois, a Yoga guru fully commited to the old-school style—choosing his students rather than allowing his students to choose him.
Manju Pattabhi Jois could easily become a success at any intentional, big city yoga franchise, but he’s not interested in the bright lights, instead he’s touring smaller studios.
So far from accepting just any old student, to be enrolled in Manju Pattabhi Jois’ yoga training, you need “To have had a relationship with him personally, or with his father,” says Tina James, owner of Loka Yoga in Whistler BC Canada. “He’s been offered lots of money and turned it down. He just sticks with his long-term students.”
Jois is so well regarded that his Yoga classes sell-out the moment they are announced. People come from the U.S, the U.K, from Germany, from everywhere, in order to train with Yoga master Jois. He is one of the greatest Yoga teachers alive and has no interest in money; he is the true, legitimate, purist Yoga guru.
The son of the founder of the Ashtanga school of yoga, Pahhabhi Jois, Manju Jois has lived in the U.S since 1975, carrying on his father’s work—work which has included training Sting, Madonna and other celebrities.
What is this old-school Yoga guru’s take on the new style of Yoga teaching? “The tradition is lost,” says Jois. “Everybody is beginning their own style of Yoga and the traditions of Yoga are being lost. My goal is to keep tradition alive.”
New Yoga styles are a risk to the tradition, says Manju Pattabhi Jois
Jois makes an excellent point. Creating a new brand of Yoga might be good business, but it’s not good for Yoga itself, for the spirituality and the tradition. “Naked Yoga,” “Hip Hop Yoga,” “Aerial Yoga” and the like might be fun new takes on Yoga—and the novelty good for their individual businesses—but the more Yoga is stretched out of shape, the less recognisable the traditions become.
To truly get the most out of Yoga, it’s vital to learn the traditions and the spirituality of Yoga, to learn the history of Yoga, not just the fun new fads.