Grischa opened Aṣṭāṅga Yoga Berlin in 2004. He teaches traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga since 2001. He has been a long-term student of Richard Freeman and has practiced with many senior teachers such as Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller, John Scott, Nancy Gilgoff and others. He has also practiced with the Jois family but was not able to see a trace of a yogic mindset in them.
One of the challenges today is to see the the difference between traditional “True Yoga” and the all-dominating “Fake Yoga”. Fake Yoga started when some teachers started redefining beginner techniques and beginner faults as “Yoga practice” and even taught this in teacher trainings. What most people get to know as Yoga today is simply what the efficient Western business mind has made up in the past years. It’s simple. Take whatever people (literally!) buy into and call it Yoga. No wonder superficial practices and sexual imagery dominate the media today (try it). Nothing sells like sex. Commercialism dominates Yoga and has transformed it into a meaningless wellness and lifestyle product.
How can we recognize the original Yoga when there is so much Fake Yoga all over the place?
It’s obvious that no practice is “yogic” just by calling it Yoga. But how can you know that those who talk about Yoga have most likely never studied the meaning of Yoga? There is only one way that allows you to recognize Yoga: Understand the traditional scriptures. They define Yoga and it’s practices. Our practices can only be called Yoga when our mental structure undergoes the transformation processes described in these texts.
When asana practice is poorly taught, injuries are the consequence. That can easily be overcome: A better understanding of good alignment (aka ‘mūlabandha’) makes advanced āsana practice easy and seemingly simple poses very advanced. The practice immediately becomes free from injuries.
Anyhow, as helpful as this may appear: All this is simply common sense, not yet Yoga. A good posture can be helpful for the internal practices of Yoga. Not more, not less. But Asana practice becomes toxic when regarded as a meaningful achievement in itself and promoted as such to others.
Similarly, prāṇāyāma is not about the physical breath or touching the nose , not in the counting of repetitions and duration. It is not about achieving more lung capacity or a longer breath. Only awareness of the effects in your nervous system in the present moment can make practice transformational.
Even the most (so-called) “advanced” asana practices are only the practice of Yoga beginners. They are a waste of time as long as we we disregard the remaining 99% of Yoga Sutra, Bhagavad Gita etc.
Grischa teaches how to get deeply grounded in these practical guides of Yoga and how use them for turning exercises into the meaningful self-inquiry that truly Yoga is. Only when we know what it’s about we know if we waster our time and effort or not.
More than anything else Yoga means taking responsibility. Yogis must never violate the ethical code of the yamas, the first and most important layer of Yoga practice according to the Yoga Sutra. Yoga demands that we continuously examine ourselves and change what needs to be changed without delay. Yoga is meant to create a better world, not a better way of life for ourselves at the expense of others or future generations. This is the great vow, mahāvratam.