- My Workshops and Books on Krishnamacharya's Original Ashtanga Practice and Vinyasa Krama yoga
- Free Downloads
- Ashtanga History
- Asana Lists Inc. Original 1974 Ashtanga Syllabus
- Ashtanga Rishi Series
- Yoga Makaranda Part I and II
- Yogasanagalu (translation project)
- Krishnamacharya resource page
- Sri K. Pattabhi Jois - Resources
- Manju Pattabhi Jois Resource
- Srivatsa Ramaswami Vinyasa Krama Resource page
- VINYASA KRAMA sequences/subroutines
- Ashtanga Workshops Reviews
- Guest Posts.
- Mysore rooms around the world
- Chanting Yoga Sutras
- Developing a home practice
- On Ashtanga Practice
Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga.
Pattabhi Jois talked in interviews, as well as when writing in Yoga Mala, that if we had less time we should practice less asana. In my own practice time is an issue. I prefer to breathe more slowly in the asana and vinyasas, lengthening my inhalation and exhalation, "slow like the pouring of oil" as Krishnamacharya puts it in Yoga Makaranda. I like to explore kumbhaka and the occasional extended stay, in Mudras especially. I also prefer to practice, much of the time, with my eyes closed, employing internal drishti at different vital focal points and I like to introduce vinyasas, extra preparatory asana on days when they feel appropriate as well as perhaps extending an asana into more challenging, 'proficient' forms on the more flexible days, in keeping perhaps with the idea of groups of asana rather than fixed sequences. I like to practice Pranayama before and after my asana practice as well as finishing my practice with a 'meditative activity'. I was first introduced to Yoga through the Ashtanga sequences and I still maintain that general structure in my main practice but I would rather sacrifice half or more than half a sequence than these other factors and perhaps practice the asana ‘missed’ in the following days, I still consider this to be Ashtanga, the 'original' Ashtanga of Krishnamacharya.
Friday, 28 November 2008
On miwamiwa's blog I believe she was discussing the different perspective on Ashtanga from Japan in particular in this case and in the West. I don't think she was being critical, in a negative sense, when she commented on the apparent focus on the physical aspect in the west and on the meditative in Japan. Interesting, as this debate tends to come up a lot, more in the sense of the physical and/or spiritual focus in the west and in India, in particular, as representative of the East. I don't think the spiritual and meditative are necessarily interchangeable here.
Miwa uses blogs as indicators and my blog among others as an example of the focus on the physical and/or on asana and in my case a seeming obsession with the Jump Back in particular. Though she says she enjoys my blog and isn't critical of this I wanted to respond both for myself and for anyone who finds the Jump Back important aspect of practice to them.
I started this blog to focus on one aspect of ashtanga, the Jump back. I've had to resist the urge to comment on other aspects of practice or to get involved in other discussions surrounding Ashtanga (especially hard at times as I come from a philosophical background). I've started and deleted several blogs that went off topic. And perhaps it has become a bit of an obsession in the process of writing about my progress several times a week.
However, I focused on the Jump Back because I felt it was important despite what many teachers say. I still believe it's one of the most important aspects of practice if not the defining aspect of Ashtanga. The Jump Back and Jump Through link the Asana, it's what makes Ashtanga a flowing practice. When the practice flows we're able to focus more on the breath and on the meditative aspect Miwa mentions, rather than focusing on the breath in just the one asana as in other styles of yoga. The whole Ashtanga practice becomes one long meditation. I used to practice Vippasana meditation as well as Ashtanga, now my practice has become an extended Vipasanna meditation. An hour to an hour and a half rather than the 20-40 minutes I used to practice Vipasanna or indeed Zen in the past. As random thoughts enter my mind in practice I try to treat them as I would in Vipassana. This all becomes more effective with a flowing transition between asana.
If you look back to my June and July videos this is when I latch on to a style of Jump Back that begins to flow more and allowed me to focus more on the practice as a whole. The developments since then have been to improve that flow and to achieve a lighter more, graceful practice. It's all abut the breath, the rhythm and flow. If we focus on the asana and we all do at times. isn't it because the asana we struggle with interrupt the flow. Yes there's the sense of triumph and achievement when we begin to get them but we're Ashtangi's, it's the practice as a whole we focus on and every morning (or afternoon) and never really the individual asana, though we might give one or another more attention for awhile. And the practice IS a meditation, what else could it be.
It still amazes me what we do. Getting up in the dark, cold winter mornings six days a week and going through our practice. Whether we practice at home or at a Shala, despite the occasional wandering drishti or monkey mind, for an hour and a half we absorb ourselves in the practice, in the breath. This is meditative and can't help but affect/effect us on a spiritual and indeed moral level. It's a discipline we impose on ourselves so of course it has those aspects. There is no essential difference between Ashtanga PRACTICE in the East and West, how could there be. The different perspectives we may have only surround the practice and dissolve when we step on the mat.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
What I like about it is that I tend to go straight up and get enough height to bring my legs back through without brushing the mat. My hips tend to go up higher and more smoothly, the whole thing has a nice pace about it. The Jump Through too is more controlled, again, I didn't brush the mat and my legs straightened nicely before coming down.
I think it can be improved of course, but this is basically what I've been after and I think the grace and consistency will come.
What's interesting is that it comes after a disrupted month of practice. A post or two before I mention that I've lost some arm and core strength (my jump through was completely shot), so the success here isn't down to just strength. Nor is it due to any mystical Bandha control, although I do draw my belly in and up, there's nothing mystical about it. I think it's just a matter of bringing several techniques together.
I'll try and focus on these in the next couple of posts
*By the way I'm thinking about a new camcorder for these videos,any suggestions? Something cheap, HD perhaps but nothing too fancy At the moment I'm just using my phone. None of the YouTube or cnet camcorder reviews give an idea of which would be best for recording this kind of thing indoors
Saturday, 22 November 2008
So I've moved my practice to after work. I get in at 6pm and have the house to myself until at least 8pm. My body is loose from the day and having just cycled home I'm all warmed up. Finding it a revelation. As my body is so much looser I'm able to bind more deeply and get further into a pose. My calves are finally touching the floor in Pashimottanasana I'm able to grab my wrist in marichyasana D rather than just link my fingers. Legs are starting to go more over my shoulder than just behind my neck in Eka pada sirasana and my backbends are so much higher and I'm able to walk in further. Best of all I can have a good fifteen min Savasana. I have time too to really take my time in Standing and Finishing and am starting to love them again. Feel too that I have that extra time to really work on things too (dropbacks?) and/or start wandering into 2nd series.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Basically I'm trying to sit up higher and straighter on my sit bones
Do the stretchy arm thing to make my arms really long (see earlier post)
Drop my shoulder blades down my back
Press my hands just in front of my buttocks (Tended to have them a little further forward before and think this is why I was going over/ forward too soon)
Press down and lift up, a bit straighter up than before
Try to begin my pivot forward a little higher up than I had been (I'd been pivoting forward and bending my arms at the same time up till now)
Being higher up when you swing forward your hips come up more, much smoother jump back and no touching of the toes.
OK, tried to catch it on video after all, feel sick now.
Notice my Jump Through is still weak since I hurt my toe. Coming down too soon, used to be able to do it, so know that I've just slipped back into bad habits. How much of Ashtanga is about breaking bad habits or learning new habits
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Went to the Island of Torcello on the second day and foolishly allowed a cat that needs swinging to jump up on my lap. Gave it a quick stroke while admiring the Last judgement mosaic in Torcello cathedral.
Come the evening I find I have fifty odd flea bites to my hands and arms and an allergic reaction to boot. This morning was the first morning I dared to practice and what a relief. Practiced a little gingerly at first bit afraid to put any weight on my hands or where to bind safely. Was also a little concerned about the effect of allowing my body to get too hot and whether sweat was a good thing or bad. In the end I decided to just trust the practice and hope that I'd release some toxins that needed releasing. Basically I went all New Age on my ass or arse as we say in the UK.
Curiously Jump Backs were an effort, felt weak and struggled half way through but my Jump Through felt all light and flighty as If I was effortlessly floating up. Perhaps I rely too much on Physical strength. Now I think about it I'm Sure that's a weakness in my Jump Back, I'm strong enough in my arms and shoulders to really muscle through it at the expense of Core strength and technique. Note to self......
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga at home by Anthony Grim Hall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://grimmly2007.blogspot.co.uk/.