Yoga Podcast Episode 41: Monica Gauci

“One of my biggest frustrations with being associated with Ashtanga Yoga is that other yogis perceive that my asana practice and thereby the asana I teach must adhere to what is known as the ‘traditional’ form (I place tradition here in inverted comas to refer to the popular Jois tradition and not the traditional Patanjali Ashtanga Yoga, which is actually what I do practice and teach!). And many have a negative impression of this ‘tradition’. This negativity stems from Ashtanga’s reputation of being dogmatic, inflexible and hard core. Actually, that’s not a criticism of the practice itself but of the attitude of many Ashtanga Yoga teachers. I practice and teach in a way that adapts the asana practice to the individual’s needs using safe, sound biomechanics and a compassionate approach.” – Monica Gauci: Ashtanga is Not the Problem, How It’s Taught Is (Part I)

Dr. Monica Gauci caught my attention long before this blog she published in December of 2018. In fact, I’ve followed her blog for quite some time, which used to be quite useful in explaining yoga postures, anatomically. But recently, as she shares in today’s episode of the Ashtanga Dispatch Podcast – her blog has undergone a slight change of subject:

“I felt I had to speak out and speak what was really true for me because a lot of what I wrote was all stuff that I’ve taught since 2000. But I was always much in the closet about it. Because I didn’t want to disrupt the more common traditional way Ashtanga Vinyasa was being taught. And there’s a fine line between respecting a system and seeing the individual.”

There are many voices out there still clinging to more dogmatic interpretations (as Monica indicates in the above excerpt) – while others will reject its brilliance simply because it’s flaws. But as Monica explains, it’s just not that simple.

“You can’t always chuck out the whole thing … (it’s) a lot more complicated than that.”

Monica says there is no simple recipe to teaching. Though in today’s podcast episode, Monica seems to do just that in a way that is both caring and intelligent.

See the person in front of you, listen, be kind, and always trust your heart. Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?

Ashtanga Yoga – Lost in Translation

The Ashtanga Vinyasa system is a great starting point and it’s only an experienced teacher who can really gauge whether that person is or isn’t a good person to modify things for them.

Perhaps this is where it’s getting lost in translation. We’re trying to adhere to a pretty good form – be it not perfect – but pretty damn good compared to anything else – and so students probably don’t understand that … the system isn’t quite as dictatorial as it seems.

Western vs. Eastern Approaches

There is a really classic difference between a western and eastern approach. I was in Mysore and all these students were discussing whether to raise arms out to the side or straight out in front of you. Someone asked Sharath:

“Sharath, should we raise our arms to the front or should we raise them to the sides? And Sharath just gave that beautiful head wiggle that the Indians do and he said, “Mmmm. Important – you raise your arms.”


One of the things I think happen – or happened for me during menopause anyway – was my intuition suddenly became stronger, more clear, and I find it easier to listen to myself, to the signals I get. And I’m learning to respond much more efficiently.

Read more about a woman’s transition through menopause.


Anxiety comes because we aren’t trusting. And I know it’s a scary thing to trust – but there actually is one thing in our lives that we can trust – and it’s in our own heart. So you can’t get closer and more intimate than that.

You don’t have to trust everything out in the world, but you need to be able to connect inside and learn to trust your heart. And maybe that’s one of the beauties of age is that you become so much more secure in that.


The Ashtanga Dispatch Podcast is edited and hosted by Peg Mulqueen along with Meghan Powell. We are an incredibly small but dedicated mother-daughter team – and we bring each episode to you without any third-party advertisers.

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