Interesting to practice Primary this morning (last Friday) after Two weeks of Vinyasa Krama. I'd kept Friday for Primary and Sunday for Intermediate but the rest of the time I'd been working through the VK sequences. Have been looking forward to primary for the last couple of days and was excited about it last night. I LOVE Primary.
I Seemed to practice Standing with more intensity and was already sweating buckets by the time I reached Seated. I was wondering if I'd still be able to make all the binds, but as it turned out I managed to get deeper, much deeper, into every asana. It seems I'm more flexible this week from all the VK work, although perhaps not as fit. My breath was getting ragged towards the end and I continued to sweat even more than usual. Weighed myself afterwards and I'd lost a kilo and a half during practice. Jumping back became a bit of an effort by the end but my Jump through was better, which is curious. My Dwi pada entry into Supta K was my best yet and I noticed more lift coming out of Navasana, is this the Bandha effect, I wonder.
I said a while ago that I didn't think the bandhas would get you off the ground (you need good technique for that) but once your off, I thought perhaps the bandhas might give you that 'little bit extra'. I kinda stand by that but might clarify it to 'quite a lot extra', am I coming around?
(this is the updated bit)
Found a similar thing with Intermediate on Sunday. I'd lost some of the fitness but gained flexibility and control. Amazing how you get used to pulling all those jump backs in between asanas. You don't have that in Vinyasa Krama jumping in only at the beginning of the sequence and and then out at the end. I think the idea is that your body is aligned and you try to keep that alignment through each of the variations. We have the same thing of course in the Pachimottanasana sequence in Primary, we don't jump back in between A, B , and C but wait until the end of that sub routine then jump back and take the counter pose Purvottanasana. I kind of tweak Vinyasa Krama by taking a Jump back in between each subroutine within a sequence but it's still a shock to the system when you come back to ashtanga proper and twenty odd JB's rather than say five.
So it's tiring, hard work, but the improved flexibility makes up for it. The Bow sequence has been helping my backbends deepen, nice kapo's and coming up from that and Laghu almost effortless. My solo Supta vajrasana is taken for granted now and I do it three times rather than just once (hands/toes too slippery by then for five). I've mentioned how the Vinyasa Krama work with it's extra prep poses have helped my Eka pada and Dwi pada Sirasana, getting deeper both sides now and could even pull Chaorasana ( I know, it's in 3rd now but i got used to doing it in 2nd from the Swenson book so have kept it) on my left side and hold it for five which was a first (left had always been my weaker side). Able to straighten my back a little now before going into Dwi and able to balance for a half decent namaste. Getting deeper in to the Titti's, legs a little straighter but the nicest surprise came in Karandavasana. Must be something to do with all the bandha work in VK because I engaged them and came down very slowly, smoothly and very controlled. Going back up wasn't pretty but up is up and I'll take that for now.
To recap, in Vinyasa Krama the breath becomes a little more central. Without the jump backs and jump through the practice seems to slow down, you tend to elongate the inhale and exhale and even hold the breath for a couple of seconds at the end of both. When holding at the end of the exhale you engage mula and then Uddiyana bandha. Now you do the math, a lot of exhaling in a 90 minute practice, four days a week (in fact it's spilt over into my standing and finishing sequences in primary and intermediate so six days, that's a lot of focus on the bandhas. Plus I find myself practicing this breathing throughout my day at work. 'The bandhas are becoming strong inside you young Skywalker'.
Should say that in Vinyasa Krama the breath is adapted quite a lot, in binds and legs to chest etc. the inhale might be shallow and shorter with longer slower exhales. I've noticed a few people saying they've bought the book after hearing me go on about it so much. Bit apprehensive as it's not cheap but I figure the breath awareness and bandha focus you might get from it is worth the price alone. I know we're supposed to be very breath and bandha conscious in Ashtnaga but I suspect it gets neglected, settling on just the ujaii and a tightening of your mula and Uddiyana when you need a little extra va va voom.
I'd planned on doing this Vinyasa experiment for a month and I'm half way through. I think at the end of the month I'll go back to focusing on Intermediate and trying to improve the flow and consistency but will probably carry a few extra poses from VK into my practice. So probably
Saturday something restful/relaxing from VK + lots of pranayama
Tuesday (day off) exploring 3rd ( have tasted most of the poses from 3rd in VK now and don't want to give them up completely).
Which means today, being Tuesday is 3rd.
I tend to have breakfast early on my day off and leave it for a couple of hours before practice which should give me a little extra energy for all those arm balances. Nice thing about the arm balances in 3rd is that you approach them from headstand rather than jumping straight into them which is how I learned them in The rocket.
Still need to do a post on the Vinyasa Krama Jump back, bit different, you go back straighter. watch this space.