Asana Seekers

Training with Tony

Málaga Masters - Part 2

Photos and words by Chris W. Hubbard


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Warming up.


We first heard about Tony Sanchez while reading the book Hellbent by Benjamin Lorr—which is a fascinating story about competitive yoga and the Bikram yoga scene. In the book, Tony stood out as a truly genuine and compassionate teacher and we knew we would love to train with him.

We also spent years staring at a large poster of Tony—hanging on a wall in the hot yoga studio we frequent—executing all of the most advanced postures flawlessly. We just weren’t aware of the fact it was Tony back then. So when we finally found ourselves in the same room as the legend, it was an astonishing and surreal feeling at first.

But Tony is shockingly down-to-earth. There is nothing otherworldly or guru-ish about him. He never presents himself as anything other than a regular guy, who just happens to have over 40 years experience of practicing and teaching yoga.


On yoga gurus:

Traditionally, it was necessary for students of yoga to find a guru for proper guidance on the path of yoga. Nowadays with so much information available through the internet, social media, blogs and websites it seems many yoga aficionados are taking the role of guru without proper training. Some have large followings and take advantage of their privileged positions leaving behind much pain and suffering. Their behavior has created much confusion and a level of uncertainty among many yoga practitioners and teachers as well. Gurus should be great teachers and spiritual leaders who set an example and can lead us through the dark and challenging times in life. Clarify your objective for practicing yoga, follow correct practice guidelines, surrender or give yourself to your daily practice, not to a guru, and you will find physical and mental health, balance, happiness and bliss.
— Tony Sanchez

Tony was quick to emphasis a smarter yoga practice based on alignment and awareness and avoiding extremes like practicing in intense heat, pushing too hard, or over-focusing on performance.


On a smart yoga practice:

Over-working or straining your body with extreme yoga techniques will eventually wear you down. Exertion taxes the mind, internal organs and energy systems in the body creating physical and mental imbalances. A smart yoga practice is based on solid yoga techniques and a moderate well-balanced effort.
— Tony Sanchez

On Energy:

The currency of yoga is energy. Learn to be wise with the currency you have available to you, and frugal at times. Most people are practicing on credit, they are building up interest they can’t afford and it will eventually break their physical banks. Use what you have available to you, but don’t live beyond your means, then you will develop a very powerful yoga practice.
— Tony Sanchez

Tony Spent a lot of time engaging us in conversation, and encouraging us to ask questions and express ourselves and the ideas we may have about yoga and our practices. These discussions could range from interesting and profound, to distracting and absurd. There is a saying that goes “a good leader doesn’t take you to the destination, he simply shows the way.” Our class conversations, while not always leading to a clear insight or answer, seemed to be Tony’s method of showing us the way.


Scroll down to our adventure log for details and links


To the core.

During the second half of our training, the intensity of practice picked up. Throughout our 8 hour days with Tony, he would lead us through guided practices of Core40, MastersCore, QiGong, and various strength building routines designed to challenge our endurance and concentration. It really broke some of us down. It was exhausting and it wore us out. After classes, we would find ourselves back at home trying to power nap as much as possible before the next session began. However, the exhaustion and the pain helped us better understand Tony’s teachings, forcing us to modify and slow down and gain a greater appreciation for gentler movements and postures.


On daily practice:

I had a qigong teacher who said ‘NPNB’, short for: No practice no breakfast. His point was regardless of your chosen self-development discipline your practice should come first without any exceptions. Whether it is a sunny, happy day, a rainy day when you feel down, or a cold snowy day, your practice must remain strong. If you are experiencing success or failure in life, your practice should remain committed. Happy, sad or stressed out, your practice should always come first. From time to time your practice will show you progress but most times all you see is the challenge ahead. That challenge is what makes you strong. No matter what it is, stay focused and do your very best.
— Tony Sanchez

Most of the students attending the training could be considered advanced yoga practitioners, yet it was fascinating to observe how everyone’s bodies and capabilities varied. While some students may have been incredibly flexible with impeccable balance, others where extremely strong and focused. No one student seemed to embody everything—each struggled with something personal.

On the challenge of yoga:

We are all challenged by some of the poses in our yoga practice. According to Ghosh, the most challenging poses are the most beneficial ones, for the simple reason that they work in the areas of the body that need the most work. The easy poses work in the areas that are already properly developed. That is why they are easy! A good yoga student faces challenges in yoga practice head on and sees their challenges as a blessing they can learn a great deal from. These students never surrender, no matter how great their challenge is. They move in and out of the poses like a wise explorer, slowly, carefully and meticulously for best results. They know the more they practice the easier the poses will become and the greater the rewards such as strength, flexibility, balance, determination, concentration and patience are going to be. Their personal strength comes from a strong belief in themselves and in the practice of yoga.
— Tony Sanchez

Scroll down to our adventure log for details and links


Adventure Log


Details & highlights from part two of our Málaga Masters adventure


What we did:

  • We did a lot of after-class shopping for avocados, sandwich supplies, snacks, and bubbly water at this supermarket

  • We had lunch with the class at this vegetarian place with great people watching in the plaza.

  • We started hitting up this amazing ice cream and gelato shop at night before bed.

  • We bought some great ground coffee beans from this Starbucks where a very nice guy with great English helped us out.


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More Málaga Masters


Meeting Málaga

Part 1

— Coming Soon —
Exploring Málaga

Part 3



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