Pincha Mayurasana at seven months pregnant, overlooking the Stone Arch Bridge from the Guthrie Theater. Photo by Sarah Hrudka.

Pincha Mayurasana at seven months pregnant, overlooking the Stone Arch Bridge from the Guthrie Theater. Photo by Sarah Hrudka.

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In front of the KPJAYI, March 2014, shortly after receiving authorization from Sharath.

In front of the KPJAYI, March 2014, shortly after receiving authorization from Sharath.

Ellie Wannemacher

I have had a daily practice of Ashtanga Yoga since 2005, and have been teaching in some capacity since 2007. I was trained to teach properly by Magnolia Zuniga starting in 2010, and since 2013 I have had an ongoing teaching mentor in Angela Jamison. Both of these senior teachers have my ongoing gratitude, respect and communication and they hold me accountable to a high standard in my teaching.

My practice has stayed with me through two pregnancies and post-partum periods (with appropriate time taken off asana) and I find that this yoga practice is an invaluable resource both for the mental and emotional challenges that come with pregnancy, birth and motherhood, and for the physical healing required. 

I have taken four trips to Mysore, India to study with Saraswathi and Sharath Rangaswamy (now Jois). After being given authorization by Sharath to teach in 2014, I taught a daily Mysore program for five years, and as of spring 2019 I have somewhere in the ballpark of 8,000 hours of teaching and 7,000 hours of practice under my belt. I have stepped back from teaching full time in order to be home in the morning with my two young children, and I'm so happy to be able to continue connecting with the Ashtanga community in Minneapolis through weekly classes and monthly workshops.

See below for my statement on Pattabhi Jois.

 

On Pattabhi Jois and Sexual Abuse

I have known about the sexual abuse allegations against Pattabhi Jois since 2016, and I believe them. I never met him (my first trip to Mysore was in 2011, after he had passed away). There are no pictures of Pattabhi Jois in the places where I teach, and I do not refer to him as Guruij. My connection to the lineage is through his grandson, Sharath, who gave me his blessing to teach in 2014. Everything I have heard, seen and experienced as a student of Sharath has been indicative of a safe teacher-student dynamic. This is important to me.

I believe the Ashtanga Yoga method has helped thousands of people in countless ways and I have great love for its practitioners, but I do not think the practice alone makes anyone, however famous, infallible. We must be willing to have hard conversations, take our teachers off pedestals, and support people who have been abused in whatever way we can. 

I work to make my teaching reflect a high ethical standard, to make my classes a safe place to practice, and to accept all feedback with an open mind and a willingness for conversation. The method is evolving, and I intend to evolve with it.