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Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga.
SLOW 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 Krishnamacharya's, Primary, Middle and proficient groups of asana rather than Pattabhi Jois' 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, Slow Ashtanga.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Developing a home practice Part 17, Cybershala
I'm not really sure what the Cybershala is but I've heard it referred to more and more lately. It seems to be an online community not located at any one site or of a fixed membership. It seems to be made up of blogs, comment threads and forums, corners of facebook, YouTube, chatrooms, and skype connections. Anywhere where one's practice can be posted, discussed, commented on.
When I began this blog with the intention of exploring the Jump back I'd hoped it might be a two way street, that others might send some links to articles or forum threads. I'd hoped I might get the occasional comment on one of my videos, perhaps with a suggestion or two, but truth be told I didn't really expect that many people to come across this.
Looking at my blog counter today, I see that I've received over thirty thousand visitors and am averaging a hundred and fifty hits a day. From the feedjit application I see that visitors come here, stay a few minutes and then head off to one of the other blogs mentioned on my page, sometimes coming back a few minutes later before flitting off somewhere else. I have this image of bees buzzing from flower to flower. Twenty percent of visitors are new and arrive following a google search for something or other, which delights me when it's something I know I've posted on. My favourite is when someone arrives for the first time while googling 'Jump back' , I'm thinking, I've got fifty-eight posts on the ruddy Jump back, knock yourself out. I love it too when someone searches for me by name, 'grimmly jump back guy' being my favourite.
Visitors come from all over the world, I'm looking at feedjit now and in the last three hours visitors have arrived from USA, Korea, UK, Australia, France, Switzerland, Japan, Austria, Turkey, Germany and Spain, Singapore (i was actually born in Singapore, hi). I like to look at feedjit at different times of the day and watch patterns of timezones emerge. And this is just a small Ashtanga video blog that's only been around for a year I've seen blogs with feedjit maps blanketed with red visitor dots from all over the globe and comment threads of fifty or so.
It's always nice to receive a comment on a post. Comments range from words of encouragement, suggestions for improvement, constructive criticisms to warnings of impending injury. All are welcomed. I couldn't have progressed as I have without the feedback and encouragement I've received. My favourite comments though, are those that come out of the blue, from someone who's never commented before, but wanted to say that they've found something that's motivated and inspired them in their practice. Hearing this is inspiring and motivating in return.
And friendships are formed. From visiting one another's blogs regularly and becoming familiar with each others practice, to comments shared along with in jokes and references that may connect through three four or more blogs and are more like shared conversations.
A home practice doesn't have to be a completely solitary affair. The community I've woken up to, fond myself a part of has had a tremendous impact on my practice, inspiring, motivating, encouraging and generous. Thank you.
I'm sure we're all thinking, off and on today, about Guruji's passing, our sympathies being with the family in their loss but also with all who have felt touched by the man whether directly or indirectly. I wasn't going to write anything myself. However writing this post has made me think not just about the gift of the practice itself or how it may have changed us for the better (am sure it saved me from a heart attack at fifty), but how this practice connects us.
PS. I just went to close down feedjit and found somebody had just arrived from Utah, googling 'youtube ducks jumping catching' .
Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga at home by Anthony Grim Hall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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