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Mark Robberds  Sept 22-27 GREEK ISLANDS 🇬🇷 RETREAT - 10-15 students maximum Sept 29-30 Athens Oct 5-7 Milan Nov 1-21 Goa Jan 19-Feb 1 Goa

Confessions of a former Instagram junkie. It has been a while since I posted a photo - the last was May 15, and before that April 1. A lot of things changed for me this year and it has been reflected in my Instagram. One reason was that once I got to 100K at the beginning of the year I felt like that was enough - otherwise there was this never ending feeling of wanting more. It was like a void that could never be filled. It was not good for my mental health to be obsessing over likes and followers and to have my feeling of self worth determined by the popularity of my posts. It was not good to be in competition with others and judging them and feeling jealous. Another reason was that I was bored of seeing yoga photos on social media and realised I was just as much a part of the problem as the people I was sick of seeing. I really questioned what the hell are we actually doing with all this anyway - is it artistic expression or narcissism? The difference gets blurry sometimes. For a yoga teacher that is a serious question since the whole purpose of yoga is to reduce the grip of the ego. I hated seeing photos of people doing advanced postures with a caption that had no relation to the photo - either spouting some cliches presented as wisdom or spewing emotional baggage from the past. I thought I could try to use this platform for educational posts but then realised that to film and edit and write, is a full time job and taking away time from my real life. Less and less I feel the need to post which feels liberating, but there is the lingering doubt or concern about what will happen to my work if I don’t have any online presence? As for the ethical questions about whether or not it is right for a ‘yogi’ to be putting themselves out there, this is something that I have had some interesting insights into lately as I realise more and more that the term ‘yogi’ has meant different things at different times in history, and what we are seeing now has been seen before. I’ll talk more about that in upcoming posts.
For now though, it was hard to resist doing a one arm handstand in front of this church in Santorini-especially considering my name is Marko Francisco 🇬🇷

I was flicking through some old Facebook photos and came across this one on the left - from a 2012 workshop - and had to compare my handstand then to my handstand today. Back in those days in the yoga world most of us didn’t even know about the hollow body position and a straight handstand just meant stacking the hands, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles - but the scapular and head position was completely different as you can see.
I was first introduced to the handbalancing style of the straight handstand around 2015 and have been working on finding my line ever since. There have been many a day where I really wanted to give up on it and the amount of times I thought that my body is not genetically capable of doing it is countless.
Am I any happier now because I can do it? I should say something ‘yogic’ like, “no, it doesn’t make any difference, happiness is on the inside etc etc”, but the truth is “Hell Yes I am!!!” haha.... because it’s by having goals and putting in hard work and having to fight for things that gives life it’s richness. I bet you that any movie based on real life that has opened your heart and made you cry is full of these battles. A part of our purpose on this earth is to fulfil these desires - the desires are interchangeable, it’s everything that you learn about yourself along the way that makes it meaningful.

Hey guys, I’m getting excited about my workshop coming up in Milan, Oct 5-7, and I’m really looking forward to seeing you there. To get us all ready for it these awesome brands: @liforme , @liquidoactive and @thekozm are giving away these great prizes for people from all over the globe:

One amazing @liforme (my favourite) Yoga Mat
One pair of beautiful leggings @liquidoactive
One pair of the best men’s yoga sweat pants (which are also the perfect ‘boyfriend’ pants) from @thekozm
There are also some special prizes only for people participating in the ‘Mark Robberds’ workshop in Milan:
One single free workshop for the Mark Robberds’ event in Milan.
Five professional photos taken one of the days of the workshop in Milan by @sigismondiphotography

Hosts: @markrobberds @sigismondiphotography
How to participate:
1. Follow @markrobberds @sigismondiphotography and the sponsors @liforme and @liquidoactive @thekozm
2. Repost this text and tag @layogavita and @cityzenmilano workshop organizers.
3. Tag your post #Beyondthemat and one friend that would like to start yoga. ———————————————————
There will be 5 winners. They will be drawn the day after the giveaway and contact by Instagram Direct Message.

Happy birthday to my love Deepika ❤️ We first met in Mysore in 2002... what a journey it has been since then! Here’s to many more @deepikamehtayoga 💘

Putting theory into practice with our student and assistant @martimegghi . A big part of our teaching is about educating our students on the importance of reducing the gap between what they can and can’t do with and without assistance from an external force - either the teacher’s hands or gravity. The greater the difference between the two - the greater the chance of injury. This is something @simonsynergy was talking about back in the 90’s and it’s great to see that the difference between active flexibility, end-range control and mobility: in this sense being the ability to control the movement of different joints, is coming more and more into the mainstream.
A perfect example of this is this pose (Chakrabandhasana/Tiriang Mukha Uttanasana) demonstrated by Martina. There are very few people who can do it like this - unassisted and with symmetry of the arms/catching the legs both hands at the same time. She is naturally gifted with passive range flexibility beyond average for sure, but she has been working hard on her active flexibility as well as her mobility work and end range control and the results are paying off. 👌🏼

“The Exercises Which Gave Me Fame” from the 1935 Health and Strength magazine, sounds like an apt description for today’s Instagram yogis. Isn’t it interesting that our grandmothers generation were doing this in their own way back in those pre-WWII days? This classic case of ‘history repeating itself’ is an important piece in the puzzle of how we got from a place of yogins historically being male ascetics and renunciants, living on the fringes of Indian society, to the present day where the majority of people who consider themselves yoga practitioners are women - not just white, middle class, but we are also seeing an explosion happening across Asia. This, in my opinion, is one of the important topics raised by western academics currently researching the history and origins of both modern and ancient yoga practices.
It’s easy to point a finger at them and say that this Anglo-centric view of the history of Yoga is misguided, and many iconoclasts have latched on to this work and have published articles on the ‘Myth of Yoga’. I even read one hilarious comment the other day that Yoga comes from Norway! On the other hand many orthodox traditionalists are offended at what the research is suggesting as it challenges their belief systems.
Whichever way you look at it, it’s important to try to understand why there are more women practicing yoga today than men.
Something that Singleton points out in his research is that during the spiritual stretching (the fusion of the new thought movement, neo-Vedanta and physical culture) craze that became so popular amongst women in America and Europe, that many of the exercises that were considered “Yogic” or “Yoga” were not postures but breathing exercises and meditation. The postures were still considered to be a part of gymnastics in the western mind.
So the question still arises as to how posture/asana became synonymous with Yoga between this pre-WWII time of our grandmothers and the present day? We cannot, in my opinion, ignore the fact that women in the 1800’s and early 1900’s felt an affinity with this combination of stretching and spirituality as millions do today.

Progress report 🤚🤸🏼‍♂️ 24 seconds on the right hand yesterday and today. I feel like I’m at a stage in my practice that is requiring me to show up 100% mentally every time I put my hands on the ground. The amount of concentration needed at the moment is something that I haven’t really experienced before, as well as the delicate balance between determination and softness, between calming the nervous system by releasing the breath and emptying the mind, with having full conviction and believing in myself that I can do it. It’s an exciting stage. I can’t wait to get back on my hands tomorrow!

Stretching for God. In the debate about what is and what is not Yoga, it is interesting to look back into history a little and see that the original intention of modern gymnastics (both male and female) and physical culture, including body building and the development modern dance, was based upon the principles of “education not of the body but through the body” in order to bring about harmony of the ‘holy triad’, that being “Body, Mind and Spirit”; a concept that is evident today - but actually re-emerged in the 1800’s.
A very important element in this rise of body orientated spirituality was the emergence of the ‘New Thought’ (now known loosely as New Age) movement in the United States during this period. Wikipedia states that the beliefs of this movement were that: “New Thought holds that Infinite Intelligence, or God, is everywhere, spirit is the totality of real things, true human selfhood is divine, divine thought is a force for good, sickness originates in the mind, and "right thinking" has a healing effect.” Wikipedia further adds that the core beliefs are that: “God or Infinite Intelligence is "supreme, universal, and everlasting. Divinity dwells within each person, that all people are spiritual beings;the highest spiritual principle is loving one another unconditionally... and teaching and healing one another; and our mental states are carried forward into manifestation and become our experience in daily living". It’s obvious to see how people who had these belief systems would have connected to the Indian/Hindu teachings of Vedanta and Non-Duality and so when Yoga began to spread to the West many of the principles of the New Thought movement merged with those of Hinduism and Yoga and carries on to this day.
As Mark Singleton points out so clearly in Yoga Body, much of what has become popular in the world of Yoga today looks a lot like what was developing during the 19th century and into the 20th century. More about that in the next post.
In this video my love @deepikamehtayoga and I are involved in this continuing conversation between East and West; this ongoing merging and blending of cultures and traditions. 🙏

A few backbends from today’s practice. With all the handstands I’ve been doing, plus six hours per day of teaching it has been hard to balance everything - but today my body was feeling the need to check in with some of the principles of backbending that I’ve been teaching lately and to go a little deeper with it. I thought maybe I’d lost some flexibility but it seems to be still there (let’s see in another year at 45 what it’s like - at this point I think it really just comes down to motivation or priorities and at the moment the motivation is still there but not the same as when I was in my 30’s).

Many years ago now, Shandor Remete told me about his journey’s in India looking for the roots of Hatha Yoga and asana practice, and this led him to studying the art found on the temple walls of South India. Another one of my teachers, Clive Sheridan, told me about the Pancha Bhoota Stalam - the five temples dedicated to Shiva in Tamil Nadu - each temple representing the five elements of earth, water, fire, sky and ether. In 2006 I attempted this pilgrimage (didn’t manage to complete it) and it led me to Chidambaram - the Nataraj/dancing Shiva temple representing ether, where many images of Shiva in various yogic asanas can be found. The reason I’m telling you this is that while it has been quite comprehensively argued that modern yoga practice has been heavily influenced by western culture, it is easy to throw the baby out with the bath water and forget that there is also comprehensive evidence that various forms of asana practice have existed for thousands of years - and many of the the arm balances found on temple walls have a striking resemblance to many of many of the ‘funky’ instagram variations that I see nowadays!
One person who is taking a keen interest in finding this evidence from the Indian temples and comparing it to other ancient texts is Seth Powell from @yogicstudies - I highly recommend checking out his online courses. Seth has been kind enough to offer a 10% discount to any one who uses this code (link in bio)... be quick though because I think his next course - an Introduction into the History and Philosophy of Yoga begins soon. I found this course to be one of the best that I have done and it’s a must for all yoga teachers. 🙏

Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone - I’m one happy 🦁 I couldn’t ask for much more than all the blessings I have in my life right now. Thank you to all of you who are a part of it. 🙏❤️(this is my happy (sandy) face after trying back saults at the beach).

Parivrttasana(Revolved Turning Pose) or Mandalasana as it’s commonly known used to scare the hell out of me, but now it’s one of the postures that I find the most ‘fun’ and it feels amazing for the shoulders. I kind of like the Ashtanga name Parvttanasana because it is a good reminder of the the revolved (pariv) turnings (vrtti) of the mind that we are trying to make calm in this practice of yoga 🧘‍♂️.

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