Jois: Yoga's latest extension

Posted: May 7, 2012 at 1:11 am

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The way Sonia Jones describes it, discovering the practice of Ashtanga yoga -- a method that, in its most basic form, combines focused breathing with a set sequence of postures -- is a powerful, heady experience.

"It's like when you first fall in love and want to go back and see your first love again -- it was like that," Jones said. "It wasn't just like going to the gym and taking a yoga class."

Last month, Jones opened Jois Yoga in Greenwich, the most recent of three studios she manages in conjunction with Salima Ruffin, an entrepreneur in San Diego, and the family members of Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois, the founder of the Ashtanga yoga method. Since 2008, Jois Yoga has opened studios in Sydney, Australia, and Encinitas, Calif., specializing in the traditional practice of Ashtanga -- meaning "eight-limbed" in Sanskrit -- yoga.

For Jones, an Australian-born former model, Greenwich resident and wife of billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones II, that initial love for Ashtanga grew out of pain: a blown disk in her back that left her numb from the waist down. Friends urged her to try yoga as a method of healing.

"I said, `Oh, I don't have time and it's so annoying to take the time to stop and do yoga,' and all those misconceptions," Jones said.

Jones, like many traditional Ashtanga practitioners, traveled to Mysore, India, to study with Pattabhi Jois, known to his followers as Guruji. Jois died in 2009.

Ashtanga yoga consists of "set sequences of yoga asanas, or postures, that are coordinated with the inhaling and exhaling breath," according to Valerie Schneiderman, the Ashtanga practitioner and owner/director of the Yoga Shala in Ridgefield. The poses follow six series of increasing difficulty, and students progress through the positions at their own pace. They don't move on to new poses until they have mastered the preceding ones.

"You could characterize the practice as being a practice where every movement is coordinated with an inhaling and exhaling breath," Schneiderman said. "The beautiful thing of a practice like this is that it's very grounding."

Jones' first leap into teaching and entrepreneurship grew organically, and the latest extension of Jois Yoga emerged when the group of practitioners she recruited locally became too large to practice comfortably in her Greenwich home.

"I wanted to take the myth away that Ashtanga is for very fit, strong people," Jones said. "You learn for your ability."

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Jois: Yoga's latest extension

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May 7th, 2012 at 1:11 am

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