Philippe suggested I write up my recent trip to Tokyo and Beijing. While there, I attended both Mysore practice as well as led primaries. Some highlights:
In Tokyo, I attended the lead primary series at YogaJaya. This was led in a combination of Japanse, English and Sanskrit which was fun to follow. E.g. “ekadasa -something in Japanese – one, two, three, four, five – something in Japanese….” (at least, this is how my brain processed it)
I also tried the Tarik Thami’s Mysore classes multiple times right across the street from Shibuya Station.
This was one of the best environments I have ever practiced in – very friendly, laidback, lots of laughter in the room, yet at the same time everyone was very focused on their practice and their asanas.
One thing that stood out in my mind re: ashtanga in Tokyo is it is much more acrobatic then the practices I have seen while traveling to other places. Many more students (even those not progressing too far in the primary series) appeared to be doing (or attempting) headstands at different points, e.g. right after utkatasana. There was also a lot of floating into chataranga, which was fun to see.
In Beijing I attended Mysore with Sheri and the led primary series with May. Beijing Yoga has two locations, and for all the classes I went to the newer one (SOHO New Town) which had only been around for 3 months (conveniently located by the Dawanglu subway stop). Classes at SOHO New Town were on the small side due to the newness of the studio. The other studio at Pinnacle Plaza (Shunyi) is supposed to have much larger classes. This meant a lot of individual attention and great adjustments from both Sherri and May. May will be travelling with others from Beijing yoga to Mysore in December/Jan, so this is a good opportunity to meet them for anyone heading to India towards the end of the year.
Overall, Ashtanga seems to be thriving in Tokyo and growing rapidly in Beijing. There are many passionate teachers and students in both locations, and I look forward to having the opportunity to practice with them again.