let’s start with AYA.

Ashtanga Yoga Arona was born in October 2017. we founded this project/space with a dream: to promote inner evolutions and revolutions, to share experience and knowledge, to do research, to hold space for practice and to make room for safe and inclusive gatherings. every morning people living around Lake Maggiore and in surrounding towns come to practice - alone but together - in a Mysore room. this is our base, where we are committed to daily teaching and practicing.
our shala is rooted in a small town, even though it is held by two ex-big-city-dwellers. living outside the big city has been a personal/couple experiment where opening a shala in a place of a different scale became a sociological exercise, an architecture project and a new quiet life that remains enriched by what big cities represent to us. it is still a work in progress, one that has already seen many smiles (and healing tears) and samasthitihs.
there is not much new about how this shala works: we teach ashtanga yoga as it has been shared with us by our teachers and mentors. nevertheless, our tone, partnered voice and creativity, are personal contributions that we offer to a method that has for a long time existed in an adaptable and changing fashion. we want to be part of a generation of teachers that seeks - heartily, slowly and respectfully - this evolution.

check out AYA’s website: ashtangayogarona.org

authorised level 2 teacher SYC

born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, she has been living in Europe for about 16 years. she moved to Milan when she was 20 and did her bachelor’s and masters’ degree in Architecture at Politecnico di Milano; later on, she worked there as an architect and in international cooperation before moving to Paris in 2013.

she started practicing ashtanga yoga in 2008 at La Yoga Shala in Milan and she hasn’t stopped ever since, that’s about 15 years (some people like the numbers).

in Paris, while doing her PhD at La Sorbonne, she was encouraged by her dear local teachers Linda and Gérald to start teaching and thus a whole new journey started to shape up in front of her. what started as a practice that stabilized her system and allowed her to navigate studies and work with more grace and less drama became an integrative part of her life which transformed into service.

since 2018 she travels to Mysore to study under the guidance of Sharath Jois whom in silence but with clarity has given her plenty: her breath, gaze and internal observation of her/their bodies get a lot of information every time she practices with him and this reverberates in her home shala when teaching. she received his authorisation (level 2) at the beginning of 2024 reinforcing her commitment and love for this practice.

Amanda has a mentor, deliberately chosen when she was ready, one she sought but that she waited for. her name is Angela Jamison and she is the best guide she has encountered so far in the west. AJ teaches in Ann Arbor (Michigan) and nurtures a few relationships abroad bringing clarity and compassion to other teachers’ works through her radical and clean insight. there is nothing authoritarian nor patriarchal in her teaching: it is honest, direct and compassionate.

Amanda likes to study, there is nowhere we can hide that, so she is a fierce student of Chase Bossart’s yoga sutras classes and has learnt to chant and study texts traditionally with Jayashree and Narasimhan in Mysore. all of this knowledge, as many know, is ungraspable - even useless - outside of the framework of a daily practice so her nerdy tendencies have been controlled by freeing the rational mind through practice and by deconstructing herself through many other things - therapy and friends included.

one person has taught Amanda to remain a beginner forever: that’s Chuck Miller.

Amanda also has a sitting-dogma-free practice. for a long time she had a serious pranayama program that followed Sri Tiwari’s lineage which eventually allowed her to feel ready to meditate, that’s when she found zazen. nowadays, she just sits.

informal settlements have been major gurus in Amanda’s life, also the place where she met the love of her life and partner-in-everything Giacomo. the barrios  have taught her decolonization, to appreciate local mastery, to respect, to step away, to be kind and loving, to launch revolutions - mostly internal ones - through relationships. it is within these contexts that both Giacomo and Amanda started to question important choices in their lives and where they began to build together a set of values that still stands today in an evolving way.

Amanda learns from giacomo every day, their relationship is awakened, alive and conscious, nourished by the vows they said to each other and by them showing up for both of their personal growths.

Amanda has other interests outside of yoga, many actually: architecture, art, cinema, books, cats, feminism, drag queens, hiking, swims, family, fashion (who would have thought), traveling, cooking, writing, ayurveda, menstrual cycle, balconies, astrology, chocolate.

a few phrases Amanda likes these days:

when you pray, move your feet (african proverb)

when the mind is calm, FOMO cannot exist (AJ)

empty the asana, fill it with prana.

my grandmother’s prayers are still being listened.

love is a bet, a wild one, placed on freedom. not my own; the freedom of the other (Octavio Paz).

authorised level 2 teacher SYC

born and raised in Milan, Italy, he has always cultivated an instinctive fascination for the world as something alive, where art meets science, words meet numbers, differences are specialities. architectural studies seemed to nurture this complexity well, merging different realms of knowledge and savoir faire, but he found no answer to the beating existential and identity questions that kept emerging, sometimes almost hunting him. this brought Giacomo to engage in international cooperation and to investing one year in a research project on the environmental re-qualification in Mathare Slum, Nairobi, Kenya. studying the slum reality and building heartfelt relationships with the locals has been a mind-blowing and re-defining experience. in hindsight that has probably been his first profound yogic experience since it has allowed him to get free of so many conditionings he inherited from the environment he grew up in. it was an opportunity to re-settle his own values in a much more universal mindset. it is around the Nairobi project that Amanda and Giacomo first met, and it’s there that Amanda led him and other two friends along his first yoga practice. yes, Giacomo loves these poetic coincidences: it was also the first time ever Amanda taught (more like improvised) a yoga class…not destiny, but good synchro for sure.

after graduating at the Politecnico of Milan he went to the IUAV Venice for a master in Environmental Urban Planning. with time it became clear how little is the space of action we have in changing the world directly in name of ecology, love, ideals of equality and justice. it was 2013 and it was at that time he started establishing for the first time a routine around his yoga practice. in 2015 he joins Amanda in Paris and there he started to go to AYP regularly, building gradually a 6 days/week ashtanga yoga practice. in spite of his love for his studies he lost faith in the possibility of making a tangible contribution for a better world by pursuing the profession. tough realization, but it became clear that the only, true and profound revolution is with-in, not out-there. thus, he kept directing more interest and effort in the intimacy of practice and selfless action.

that’s all he did, and the events, more or less slowly, started to unfold towards other possibilities.

that’s how - briefly - Giacomo also approached teaching practice. a gem manifested, an invitation opened, and he decided to accept it and take care of it until it eventually blossomed.

in 2017 Amanda and Giacomo, invited by a long term practitioner and friend to do so, decided to open a shala in the lake town of Arona. for G. it has been a great learning experience: his practice grew deeply thanks to the time spent assisting Amanda and, with time, he found confidence to share his experience of the practice.

teachers are everywhere: any situation can carry big revelations if we are open to listen. that said, there are certain human beings with whom we resonate more and that we chose as teachers and spiritual friends. Chuck Miller and Angela Jamison are Giacomo’s chosen gurus in ashtanga land. Chuck taught Giacomo how to mature his personal relationship with the practice; how to look for equanimity and sama in the asana practice and beyond; and how to listen to the silence within us while waiting for the emergence of our inner teacher. Angela, through her example, showed Giacomo how to prepare the ground for a healthy and strong yoga community and how to cultivate integrity and regenerative feedback loops in the teacher-student relationship - this is why both A&G chose Angela as their mentor.

Giacomo admires and respects the role of Sharath Jois as the steward of the ashtanga lineage and is thankful for every trip made to Mysore both for practicing under his sheltering presence and for getting in touch with the Indian context where this practice emerged, feeling connected with the roots. he is an authorised level 2 teacher and received Sharathji’s recognition along with Amanda during their third visit to the source.

ordinary is extraordinary.

we are not our attractions nor our repulsions, we are not our fears, we are not who we are told we are.

we are much more than what we identify with.

there is always a margin of choice, and it matters.

photos A&G --> © Heinui Poura