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The Village Shala Teaches the Traditional Ashtanga Way and More

By Marina I. Jokic

Very much grounded in the ethos of the local community, The Village Shala is a yoga studio that embraces a diversity of practitioners. As an offshoot of Bristol Yoga, the center carries on the lineage of the famous Sri K. Pattabhi Jois yogi who taught traditional Ashtanga yoga. Owner Anna Blackwell feels fortunate to be working in the heart of the scenic Green Mountains in Bristol, Vermont.

Blackwell's former yoga teacher Christine Hoar started Bristol Yoga 20 years ago, eventually conferring the studio and practice to her. The Village Shala has stayed true to the roots of Ashtanga, the ancient system of yoga that was introduced to the west by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

"We have a very strong sense of community in our studio, so making sure that continued was most important to me when my teacher moved," Blackwell said. "Ashtanga is a very traditional style of yoga with a strong teacher-student relationship."

The main components of Ashtanga are Vinyasa, a breathing and movement system, Tristhana or three places of attention or action, and elimination of the six bodily poisons. Through relying on these three fulcrums, Ashtanga refocuses the mind while strengthening and purifying the body.

In Ashtanga, for each movement, there is one corresponding breath. This school of yoga teaches that breathing and moving together while performing asanas or postures are instrumental in increasing the temperature of the blood in one's body, thereby making it less viscous. Thinner blood circulates freely around the joints, taking away aches and moving through the organs while flushing out impurities.

​Students receive personalized instruction even in group classes, which makes for a highly effective learning experience. Although a laid-back attitude pervades the learning environment, The Village Shala instructors are some of the most disciplined and experienced teachers in their field and are eager to see progress in their students' practice.

"We have a laid back attitude while still remaining dedicated and true to the practice," Blackwell said. "My goal as a teacher is to instill dedication in the practice while not taking it or ourselves too seriously."

The students come from all walks of life and possess varying yoga backgrounds. One of the strengths of the The Village Shala is that its instructors are able to mold their teaching to fit a student with any level of experience.

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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