We are rapidly approaching the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence of 2016, held once again at the Catamaran Resort in San Diego on the weekend of March 3-6, a very special event to celebrate the life’s work of K. Pattabhi Jois, aka “Guriji”, and the dynamic and profound practice of Ashtanga yoga that he bequeathed to us. Five years ago two of my yoga students, Jenny Barrett and Deborah Ifill, approached my wife and me with the idea of creating the first yoga conference exclusively devoted to the practice of Ashtanga yoga. Being a veteran, if not a fan, of many eclectic yoga conferences, I was intrigued by the idea of an all Ashtanga event, an immersion in a specific tradition rather than a tasting menu of many diverse styles of practice. I told Jen and Deb that I would reach out to some of my old friends and long time teachers of Ashtanga yoga to see if there was any interest in this idea. To my surprise and delight, everyone I talked to was an enthusiastic supporter of the idea. To me, the single most important aspect of this intended event was selecting the teachers that would represent Guruji and the practice he taught in the best possible light, so I invited people who were not only great teachers, but extraordinary human beings as well. The lineup of principal teachers for the first event was Richard Freeman, David Swenson, Nancy Gilgoff, Eddie Stern, and me. My wife Carol and myself, along with Deb and Jen, created a schedule of classes, panels, and other events to flesh out this first Ashtanga conference. Carol came up with the idea of calling it a “confluence” because she liked the imagery of many streams coming together to form one mighty river. After several months of planning, checking out different venues and endless communications with all the teachers, registration for the first Ashtanga Yoga Confluence opened on September 1st, 2011. We had no idea what kind of response we would get from the community, and were somewhat shocked at the veritable feeding frenzy that ensued. Within two weeks we had 350 people registered for the event, which was our capacity. When the dust finally settled, we had an additional 500 people on a waiting list. That initial Confluence, on the first weekend of March 2012 at the Catamaran Resort, was a roaring success. All of the participants, as well as the teachers, had a great time. It was a no-brainer to do it again in 2013. The response was a little less enthusiastic but still excellent, so we began planning a third Confluence in 2014. There was a scheduling conflict with the Catamaran in 2014, so we shifted venues to the Marriot Marquis in San Diego. This was a very nice facility, but was a bit too corporate for my taste and lacked the charm of the Catamaran. Again we had a very successful event, with just a slight decrease in attendance from the previous year.
After the third Confluence in 2014, by consensus, we decided to take a year off and come back strong in 2016. The good news is that we are back at the Catamaran Resort this year. For 2016 we have six principle teachers—Manju Jois, Dena Kingsberg, Eddie Stern, David Swenson, Richard Freeman, and me. It takes a minor miracle to get all of these teachers in the same place at the same time because they are all in great demand and are consistently traveling all over the world to share their expertise. To have them all teaching together is a great opportunity for any committed student of Ashtanga yoga—it is a veritable “all-star team”. In addition there will be a number of over qualified “assistants”—Dominic Corigliano, Jon Smith, Cathy Cooper, Mary Taylor, Noah Williams, Leigha Nicole, Jack Wiseman, Jocelyn Stern, Shelley Washington, and Diana Christinson. If you’ve never participated in a Mysore class with 150-200 students and a dozen teachers, it’s quite an energizing experience. The panel discussions are informative and often hilarious, and this year, for the first time, there will be a panel especially for women. The afternoon workshops are an opportunity to learn about specific subjects in greater depth. This year I’m looking forward to teaching the Art of Adjusting with my dear friend David Swenson. Although Ashtanga yoga continues to grow in popularity throughout the world, the community of teachers and students still feels like a family. Perhaps more than anything else we strive to create this feeling of Family at the Confluence—to create the kind of event that would make Guruji happy. There are a limited number of spots still available for the 2016 Ashtanga Yoga Confluence.