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Stillpoints: A Podcast with Scott Johnson

Oct 10, 2020

#019: Laruga Glaser

Scott talks to Laruga Glaser on her life as a yoga student and teacher of Ashtanga yoga. She also shares her experience as a woman of colour in the yoga industry.



On 3rd June Laruga shared a 52:39 face to camera Instagram post on her experience as a POC in Ashtanga yoga. The majority of her conversation (with Scott) references Laruga's post. It would be highly beneficial to watch this whole share. It is beautiful, powerful and raw....

Laruga Glaser was first drawn to yoga in 1996, and after coming across Ashtanga in 1998 she fully immersed herself in the method and now has over 20 years of dedicated Ashtanga yoga practise. She made her first trip to Mysore to study at KPJAYI in 2007 and has returned every year ever since. A committed student, an advanced practitioner and a Certified teacher, Laruga endeavours to pass on the tradition of Ashtanga yoga. Laruga shares the teachings of Ashtanga yoga as an act of deep love with which she aspires to create an open, challenging and inspiring space in which each individual who comes to her can realise their full potential. 

Laruga leads the Ashtanga Yoga program at Yogayama in Stockholm, Sweden and teaches workshops and retreats around the world. You can find out more about Laruga's teaching schedule here.


Leaning in to Vulnerability - Laruga Glaser. 

Scott and Laruga have a beautifully open conversation on Laruga's life as a student and teacher of Ashtanga yoga. She shares how she left a corporate life to become one of the most recognised faces in Ashtanga Yoga. She also shares how she has had to struggle as a woman of colour in the world of yoga and push hard to get to where she is. Scott and Laruga also talk about how to make yoga spaces more diverse. 

In this inspiring conversation Laruga shares:

  • The ways that yoga has landed for her many times in her life, right from the very first time -  a series of ‘aha’ moments, of finding inner stillness.
  • How she began practising by following Iyengar-inspired videos by Patricia Walden and Rodney Yi, which helped her to release back pain and encouraged her to carry on practising. 
  • How she started learning Ashtanga from David Swenson’s videos and books, which she considers to be her first virtual teacher 
  • That despite ‘doing things wrong’, like not holding the drishti or poses for long enough, she still felt a shift, another ‘aha’ moment
  • How Ashtanga felt ‘complete’ to her
  • Her sense of finally feeling at home when she found yoga, that she was in her space, where she’s supposed to be.
  • That while she was at university in Ohio she found an ad in the student paper for 90 days of yoga for $90 - she went every single day.
  • That she found Laurel Howdry, her first Ashtanga yoga teacher, in her last year of university, 
  • How her dedicated Ashtanga practise kept her sane and grounded while she was on a corporate career path.
  • That when she found herself at a crossroads between her career and yoga, she decided to follow yoga.
  • When she made her first trip to Mysore in 2007 it was to be a student, to go and study at the source.
  • How she began teaching internationally after that first trip to Mysore, when a fellow student invited her to teach in Taiwan. 
  • About her 14 trips to Mysore and how the energy in the new shala still remains the same
  • The importance of being a student.
  • The strong energetic pull she felt that led her to share in depth on about the lack of diversity in Ashtanga yoga, and how it was a vulnerable thing for her to do.
  • About how it finally felt like people were collectively willing to listen to her experience, despite having been speaking out on individual level for years
  • That she spoke out for the people who didn't feel they fit in 
  • About having to deal with microaggressions from within the yoga community, and how she’s been the one who’s had to do the work unpacking these.
  • That these uncomfortable moments have pushed her to a place of confidence, having transformed toxicity into something positive.
  • That she’s nurtured a culture of diversity in her Mysore room, making all people feel welcome and comfortable.
  • About feeling overwhelmed by the response to her video, with many people of colour sharing their experience that yoga spaces don't feel conducive to people from diverse backgrounds, and that the practise feels elitist in a socio-economic sense.
  • How she challenges organisers when she teaches in countries where people of colour are the majority but not represented in her workshop. 
  • Her experience of resistance within the Ashtanga yoga community to discuss uncomfortable things.
  • How she’s experienced dismissiveness from her peers, a sense of being ‘put in her place’ 
  • About her relationship with her father, a white European, who’s done the work and who sees diversity as a beautiful thing
  • That she’s learned more from her dad through seeing example than the yoga teachers she used to look up to 
  • That we don’t need to look so far outside ourselves for these lessons. 
  • What it means to her to live a contemplative life.



‘'This conversation with Laruga was so valuable to have. She shares so openly about how she has had to navigate the yoga world as a woman of colour and how she has created a diverse and mindful yoga space in her home of Stockholm. Her courage and strength in speaking out is so inspiring. We are left with how we can find ways to navigate open conversations that matter. To listen...

Scott Johnson - September 2020 

If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Wambui Njuguna Räisänen, Deepika Mehta and Ann Weston.