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Stan Woodman - Personal Biography

Stan Woodman

Stan Woodman is a Level 2 Authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher of the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI) in Mysore, India, and owner of The Yoga Shala in Ridgefield, Connecticut. He took his first yoga class in 1991 and began a dedicated Ashtanga practice in 1997. Having first met Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in NYC 2001, Stan eventually went to the source in Mysore, India in 2003 to study with Guruji. Since then, he has made several trips to the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute, studying with its founder until his death in 2009 and eventually with Jois's heir and grandson, Sharath Jois. Today, Stan continues his yearly pilgrimage to Mysore to study at the KPJAYI with Sharath and in the summer of 2016 completed a special two-month teachers course in Mysore with Sharath. Stan is also the co-founder of Kaia Yoga from 2006-2018.

In addition to his work as a yoga teacher, Stan's education includes intensive coursework with special needs children through the Son-Rise Program at The Autism Treatment Center of America. Formerly licensed as a massage therapist, he has extensive knowledge in Eastern and Western philosophies and practices in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, myology, and neurology. Stan has served on the board of directors of several not-for-profits including Odanadi and The Give Back Yoga Foundation for empowering individuals through the gift of yoga. He also works closely with Operation Shanti in Mysore to help raise funding for their programs.

An avid extreme sports enthusiast, Stan loves a good challenge, especially when snowboarding or skateboarding. He has been featured in numerous magazines including Fitness, More and Organic Spa.

"How I came to Ashtanga Yoga:

Let's begin when I took my first Ashtanga Yoga class with Beryl Bender Birch and her late husband Thom Birch. I was mesmerized. I was hooked. I knew nothing of the tradition before taking class. The flow, the breathing, the heat, the teacher, the present moment, all gave me enough insight to feel something different from this tradition than other styles I had practiced before, and I looked forward to going again!

I had just moved to The Hamptons and was looking for a yoga studio and a teacher. Well, I found one! Beryl continued to share with me all she had learned and studied about Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. She also taught me the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the connection to what we were practicing on and off the mat. Looking back, I always feel lucky at how I began learning this tradition. I was taking 2 led classes a week with Beryl or Thom, sometimes with both of them (in a room of 10-12 people) and practicing at home the other days. Beryl soon invited me to come practice with her and small group of practitioners at her house. They had turned their old garage into a beautiful yoga room. Yes, we did asana and I learned a lot more than just putting my body into different shapes. It was intense and I loved it. I learned pose by pose through all of primary and intermediate series. It was a very special, intimate, spiritual and informative time for me which set the foundation for the practitioner and teacher I am today. Thank you so much, Beryl!

Over the next couple years, I started taking Beryl's weeklong intensive teacher trainings and became her assistant for her yoga school and in the yoga room. I became one of only a few students to receive a 1000-Hour Teaching Certificate from Beryl. I was moved by how she lived her life and what she was really teaching me about yoga and life. I soaked it all up. I also spent a few days a week in the city and would go study with Eddie Stern. He kept asking me when I was going to go to Mysore to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, affectionately named Guruji. I had taken a few weeklong (sometimes two weeks) of led primary and intermediate classes with Guruji, Saraswathi and Sharath. I then went to Mysore and began studying with Jois and now continue with my teacher Sharath Jois. For several years, while in the States, I continued to go to Eddie whenever I could, took some more trainings and workshops with Beryl, David Swenson, Tim Miller, Richard Freeman, David Williams and plenty of self practice to further enhance my knowledge and personal experience of what this system is teaching us. I am a proud and dedicated, authorized level 2, full intermediate, instructor by Sharath Jois.

I still practice and teach Ashtanga Yoga for the system and philosophy that it is, for how I feel with daily practice and for the experience I have had with it over the past 19 years. I strongly believe in how it was taught by Guruji and continues to be taught by Sharath Jois in Mysore, India.

This system is greater than any one teacher. It is not Pattabhi Jois's yoga, as he would say himself. Regardless of whether you want to think he "created the whole thing," or "it has only been around since the early 1900s," etc. (so many people say so many things), this system is not just the asana and has not been taught as just the asana by the Jois Family. What I have learned, through my experience, is the system written by Patanjali--the philosophy and eight-limbed path behind his teachings. The Ashtanga asana system is not from the teachings of Patanjali, although how the asana is taught by the Jois Family is grounded in the philosophy and teachings of yoga. This asana system is our daily practice to explore the minute expanse of our minds and to develop the focus and concentration to be present--to see ourselves fully, more clearly, whole! In asana we are burning toxins, healing, restructuring and strengthening our systems to further help the mind concentrate towards the true meaning of yoga. I believe in the concept of tristana in Ashtanga Yoga and how it helps take us deeper into knowing who we truly are and giving us the ability to see God in all things. The Ashtanga Yoga system, as taught by the Jois Family, is teaching us to be kinder, more loving, compassionate humans.

I want to be a kinder, more loving, compassionate human, so this is why I do and will continue to practice and teach Ashtanga Yoga. I have great respect for all the teachers of this lineage who have come before me, stand alongside me, and have yet to come. Om Tat Sat."


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