|On pranayama in Asana|
Posts change, this started off as a post on Kraunchasana (see tomorrow), I mentioned as an aside that the vinyasa in Yoga Makaranda part II for mayurasana as being pretty much the same as today then decided I might as well include it as an appendix. While formatting the text I noticed the line below about pranayama in the posture that i seem to have missed in the last hundred times reading it. Seems you just have to spend enough time with the same material for lines to pop out and new connections get made.
We know Krishnamacharya included or saw the inclusion of kumbhaka as an ideal approach to practice but this is the first time I've noticed it referred to explicitly as pranayama in asana ...
"For maximum benefit Pranayama should be done for 5 minutes, when the body is held as a plank in the horizontal position. Proper practice of Pranayama is difficult, but becomes easy after practice".
"If at this stage, regulated breathing is practiced in Padma Mayurasana position, it becomes easy later to practice Pranayama even in the ordinary Mayurasana position".
This is from the Mayurasana instruction from Yoga Makaranda part II. Interestingly Krishnamacharya doesn't mention employing kumbhaka in the Yoga Makaranda instructions from part I which is where we usually find kumbhaka indications. And in the main body of the Yoga Makaranda part II instructions he specifically says NOT to include kumbhaka ( but this fits in with the apparent introductory focus of YM2.). The reference to practicing pranayama and thus kumbhaka comes as an addition at the end.
How Long to spend in Mayurasana
Three durations are mention for mayurasana, the shocking...
"This asana sthiti should be held from 1 minute up to 3 hours according to the practitioner’s capa- ability".
from Yoga Makaranda Part 1
which thankfully is followed immediately by...
"If we make it a habit to practise this asana every day for at least fifteen minutes, we will attain tremendous benefits".
And finally in Yoga makaranda part II
"For maximum benefit Pranayama should be done for 5 minutes, when the body is held as a plank in the horizontal position".
Which is attainable.
It's still curious as to why kumbhaka never made it into current Ashtanga, Pattabhi Jois seems to have carried over so much from his teacher ( he stated that is all he ever taught), the lists of asana (and basic order as we see in the Yogasanagalu table of 1941), the long slow breathing (which seems to have become lost somewhat along the way), the longer stays (also neglected) but not the kumbhaka.
And yet there it is in all three of Krishnamacharya's Primary texts and from the time when he was teaching the Young Pattabhi Jois (Yoga Makaranda Part II might have been just a little later).
We are not talking secondary sources or rumour here, Kumbhaka is everywhere in Yoga Makarada part I (1934) explicitly indicated for almost all asana. Those same instructions were carried over to Yogasanagalu (1941) and here we find reference again in Yoga Makaranda part II (1950s?).
We also find Kumbhaka in Krishnamacharya's later teaching as seen in Desikachar, Mohan, Sribhashyam and Ramaswami, even some references in Iyengar. Krishnamacharya seems to have retained kumbhaka as an important element of practice throughout his long life even when the vinyasa count was put to one side. It's only in the Pattabhi Jois tradition that it seems to be missing.
But where did Krishnamacharya come across the practice of kumbhaka in asana, which ancient texts, which teacher or is it his own introduction?
The 5th vinyasa itself is the asana sthiti.
This asana sthiti should be held from 1 minute up to 3 hours according to the practitioner’s capa- bility. It is good to practise this regularly and to remain in this sthiti for longer periods during the winter or colder months rather than in the summer.