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Ashtanga Straight w/ No Chaser: Wisdom from Authorized Teacher Larry Hobbs

Larry Hobbs is the only Authorized teacher in North Carolina. His home Shala, Hanuman Asthanga Yoga, is in Wilmington NC. He is a quick trip from my home in Charlotte and we consider him to be the authorized teacher for Y2 Yoga. Larry Hobbs has been practicing Ashtanga for over 14 years. He started out with Pattabhi Jois and currently practices with Sharath and has assisted him in Mysore.

Larry is compassionate to his students and passionate about Ashtanga.  He is a perfect example of parampara and teaches the practice the way he was taught. No tricks, frills or chasers. He allows the practice to do the work and speak for itself.

This is a summery of the conference notes from this week’s practice.

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Asana Practice

  • It is not all or nothing.  You practice every day. So if you don’t do everything today, there is another day.
  • Let your breath guide your movement instead of letting your movement dictate your breath.
  • Don’t have a struggle with your body. Back off.
  • You don’t have to do your whole practice every day.
  • Don’t beat yourself up to the point where you cannot finish strong. Meaning you are huffing and puffing throughout the practice and have no energy for back bending. Better to close out early.
  • Your breath will tell you what you need to do. When your breath is out of sync, you get tired a lot quicker. You get sloppy and your practice falls apart. If you are huffing and puffing, it is better to stop
  • Set up your foundation/base first. Better to have the foundation and not go into the full state of the pose then to go into the full pose without a strong base/foundation.
  • If you are having trouble twisting in Marichyasana, go back and work Revolved Side Angle/Parsvakonasana B and hold it for 10-15-20 breaths. Work on it every day until you can get the hand down and then focus back on Marchyasana.

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  • If you are struggling with a pose, hold it until it gets comfortable or until you can breathe and relax.
  • If you feel really tight in a pose, you can do it a few more times until you feel more comfortable in it.
  • Practice every day…except moon days of course….
  • Led shows you how much work you are putting into your Mysore practice.
  • When you take a rest day, get up at the same time you would practice but don’t practice or exert yourself. Take it easy.
  • Don’t asana chase.
  • If you are just dabbling, you are wasting your teacher’s time.
  • Rest makes your practice grow.
  • If you practice properly, you look forward to rest.
  • Don’t practice at warp speed so you can say you practiced that day. Better to do fewer poses. Quality over quantity.
  • Your body will figure it out. Don’t over think. Just do it.


  • If you have an understanding of what you are doing, you do not need a lot of assists.
  • If two sides are really unbalanced,  you can hold the weaker or tighter side longer.
  • If you get stopped during Led, watch and do the breath counts with the class.


Other Practices Outside of Ashtanga

  • Don’t take another practice. If you are doing what you need to be doing in your Ashtanga practice, you don’t need another practice.
  • Give your body a chance to rest. Don’t take another practice that day. Do the work in one practice. Take the rest of your day and enjoy life. It is like running a marathon in the morning and a 5K in the afternoon.
  • When you do a lot of different practices, you slow your progression in Ashtanga.
  • If for some reason, (he doesn’t recommend it) you do other practices, at least make sure they are ones that support your Ashtanga practice and you are not dancing around on your mat. Practices that make you hold and move deeper into the body. If you do something else, at least make it something that uses similar principles to your Ashtanga practice. Or practice with someone who is familiar with what you do in Ashtanga. Look for something really similar. Don’t go to new teachers.

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  • If you can’t get to Ashtanga class in the morning, it is better to just practice at home.
  • Instead of doing a bunch of extra stretches, do the poses in Ashtanga more then once. Try to stay away from doing a lot of extra stuff.
  • The best way to learn a pose is to work that pose. If you want to do Urdhva Dhanurasana, don’t hang out on a yoga wheel, just work your Urdhva Dhanurasana. Do more then 3. Do like 8 of them.
  • If you are going to take anatomy or philosophy, find the best most knowledgeable person that you can. Don’t go to someone who just took a few weekend workshops or dabbles.



Diet and Practice

  • Watch what you eat the night before. Heavy foods make your practice feel heavy. Don’t eat too late.
  • Don’t eat before practice.
  • Try not to drink anything at least an hour before your practice.
  • The more empty the better. You don’t want your body to divert energy to digestion. Exception for people who have health problems like low blood sugar.

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Sickness and Injury

  • Unless you have a fever or are contagious, you still practice.
  • If you have serious pain, go find out what it is.
  • Soreness, still practice. Maybe lighter, but still practice.
  • You find ways to do things.
  • If you have an injury on one side, don’t skip that side. Do something. Maybe just  sit and do the breaths.

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  • Your practice is a breathing practice. You watch how your breath changes in response to the poses you are doing.
  • You can do some Nadi Shodhana.
  • The slower you inhale, the more you can take in. Fast inhales make Pranayama harder.

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  • Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali
  • Yoga Mala by Pattabhi Jois
  • Ashtanga Yoga Anusthana by Sharath Jois
  • Bhagavad Gita
  • Lino Miele’s Italian First Edition of Ashtanga Yoga
  • Functional Anatomy of Yoga by David Keil


For more information on Larry Hobbs, visit





Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail [email protected]