Santosha Yoga is run by Scott Carden and offers a comprehensive program of hatha yoga practices appropriate for students of all levels. Scott has practiced continuously since 2008. He offers instruction in the following:
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in the tradition of Krishna Pattabhi Jois
Classes are taught in the traditional style of guided self-practice (often called Mysore style). Each student receives individual instruction in a group setting.
Kaivalyadhama Pranayama in the tradition of Swami Kuvalyananda
Scott is guided and supported in his practice and teaching of these traditions by Paul Dallaghan, with whom he has had a relationship since 2008.
The best way to learn about the practice is to come and try it. Email any time to set up your first class. In the meantime, to learn more about Scott, those lineages, how he comes to them, and more, keep reading below.
It is my deeply held conviction that right practice involves a debt to the past in all areas of life. That debt weighs especially heavy when practices come to us accross historical and cultural thresholds complicated by multiple languages, mythologies, colonialisms, nationalisms, and markets. Clarity in such matters, if it is even possible, emerges when facile truisms, however reassuring, are set aside. I think students should have a sense, from the start, of the complicated derivation of the practices they will learn.
At Santosha, I teach a set of practices, which I would characterize as techniques of self-culture, linked in complicated ways by two contemporary traditions to the the medieval and ancient yoga traditions of South Asia. Both of the contemporary traditions involve, in varying ways and to different degrees, reconstruction, borrowing, and innovation. But so did the ancient and medieval traditions they interpreted, reconstructed, and allow us to borrow. The postural practices (asana) come through the lineage of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, especially as handed down by Pattabhi Jois, but with cognizance of others, like B.K.S. Iyengar, Srivatsa Ramaswami, and T.K.V. Desikachar, who received his teachings differently and developed them accordingly. The pranayama (breathing exercises), kriyas (internal cleansing practices), and associated sitting practices come through the lineage of Swami Kuvalyananda as handed down by O.P. Tiwari. My own teacher, Paul Dallaghan, is certified in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga by the late Pattabhi Jois. He is also a senior student of O.P. Tiwari, director of the Kaivalyadhama Institute, one of only two to be privately instructed by him. I have been a student of asana, with various teachers since January of 2008. Later that same year, I took up pranayama. I have practiced continuously under Paul’s guidance since, and I am grateful to have his support and blessing to teach it. I am also an avid student of Eastern (including what we would now call Middle-Eastern) and Western philosophy. I hold a B.A. from Vanderbilt University and an M.A. from DePaul University, both in Philosophy.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga was developed by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and formalized by his student, Pattabhi Jois, during the first half of the twentieth century. They, like others in India and around the world, were in the process of discovering and rediscovering the importance of a multifaceted approach to self-culture, one involving physical as well as intellectual and spiritual exercises. The wide variety of postures for which Ashtanga Yoga is known today was originally devised by Krishnamacharya as a native alternative to the physical culture he saw young Indian men taking over from the British. In creating it, he looked to historical texts on Hatha Yoga as well as manuals for traditional forms of wrestling and fencing. The set series we now know as Ashtanga were put together by Pattabhi Jois as a syllabus for courses offered at the Sanskrit College in Mysore, a city in South India. Over the years, he refined and further divided the sequences to arrive at the six we know today as Primary Series (Yoga Chikitsa), Intermediate Series (Nadi Shoddhana) and the four Advanced Series (Sthira Bhaga). It is known that the primary original audience for Krishnamacharya and Jois consisted mostly of young, healthy men. It is also known that, where those conditions did not hold, they provided instruction that fit the circumstances of the student with whom they were working.
I begin from their syllabus, but also follow their examples, and that of my own teacher, in departing from it as needed for each student. Hence, most students will start with the two types of sun salute and handful of standing postures which form the foundation of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. From there, postures will be added slowly, as needed, in one to one consultation between the student and the teacher. In this way, a practice is developed that is safe and effective for each student.
The myth that Ashtanga Yoga needs to be harsh and hard or works best when practiced at a prescribed cadence follows from a faulty understanding of vinyasa. Literally, vinyasa means right placement; Pattabhi Jois used it to refer to the synchronization of movement and breathing. It is meant to enable the student to learn how to move to their own breath so that they discover proper alignment from the inside out. That requires a certain subtlety and softness that develops over time. It is highly individual.
Mysore or Self-Practice
Mysore-style classes facilitate the development of a highly individual practice. They feel like a private lesson in a group setting. You’ll get individual instruction while other students practice around you. In this, they remind me of art classes, in which each student works on their piece with the teacher circulating quietly among them offering guidance individually. If you’ve never practiced Ashtanga, your practices will start out at 20-30 minutes and grow from there. Eventually most students practice between one and three hours per day. Each person’s practice will evolve at a different pace.
Students with an existing practice in Ashtanga are welcome to come and practice as they have been instructed. Those who prefer to practice in another style are also welcome and will receive support and feedback.
If the popularity of posture practice is largely due to Krishnamachrya and his students, Jois and Iyengar, it is to his older contemporary, Swami Kuvalyananda, and his students, O.P. Tiwari and Paul Dallaghan, that we owe the most vibrant contemporary tradition of pranayama (breathing exercises). They too faced a situation of rapid modernization and felt drawn to a recovery of indigenous practices. Their tendency was, in a way, more modern an progressive in that they looked to the methods of modern empirical science to confirm and enrich the understanding they received from indigenous written and oral traditions. Though his reconstruction also involved a postural element, Swami Kuvalyananda urged that students maintain a sharp distinction between posture practice undertaken as a means of physical culture and posture practice undertaken as a means of spiritual culture. The former aimed at health, and it was certainly not to be despised. The latter aimed, beyond basic health, at creating the proper environment for pranayama and other seated practices. This was the understanding of posture found in the ancient texts on yoga: a meditative seat in which to journey inward.
Pranayama, done well, is highly individual to an even higher degree than posture practice; it requires one to one instruction from a qualified teacher. There is no set sequence and no set progression. And there are certainly no shortcuts. One establishes a relationship with a teacher and a tradition; through these, one establishes a relationship with oneself, through the breath, that is simply not available in any other way. It is difficult to describe to the point of confounding expression, unless one has an aptitude for poetry. I do not. Thankfully, history has given us the Yoga Sutras attributed to Patanjali as well as the Hathapradipika and other medieval texts, written by sages who knew how to leave a vivid account. Thankfully, in Swami Kuvalyananada history has given us what ancient texts call a true teacher, in Sanskrit an “apta,” one fully realized as a scholar, practitioner, and teacher, so that the meaning of those texts is available to us, not just vividly but clearly, through his students, especially O.P. Tiwari and Paul Dallaghan.