Tuesday is a good day and I like to make the most of it.
So what to practice today? Recently I've been using it for Vinyasa Krama's long sequences. I would usually do my VK routine but include the whole of the On your feet Sequence the Supine or Asymmetric Sequence and spend more time than I'm usually able on Finishing with some Pranayama, Meditation and Chanting.
Following the Vinyasa Krama focus on long slow breathing and bandhas I've gone back to SKPJ's Yoga Mala and rediscovered the same focus there. I knew breath and bandhas were a major element of Ashtanga of course but reading these lines ' ....while in the state, do Puraka and Rechka , slowly and deeply as much as possible', again and again in Yoga Mala has made me dramatically slow down my Ashtanga practice. Where before, following Sharath's DVD I'd been practicing Primary in just under an hour it's become slower and slower, yesterday it was 110 minutes. I find this comfortable with Primary but a struggle with Intermediate. I've always considered Primary more meditative and flowing and it seems to suit the slower practice, Intermediate I've found scrappy, bitty, disjointed, the slower practice seems to emphasize that. But of course that's just me and perhaps I need a good Tuesday practice to overcome it.
It might turn out that my irritation with Intermediate is a result of trying to practice it at the same speed I used to practice Primary, a slower pace may suit it and me once I become used to it. But I tried on Sunday (my other favourite practice day) and had a horrible practice, rescued only by shifting to a VK practice half way through.
And last night I was looking at Lino Miele's Full Vinyasa Primary DVD. I'd always found it a little awe inspiring but disheartening at the same time. I probably have enough strength, control and fancy moves now to practice along with him and Guruji's count .... especially if I'm just listening and can avert my eye every time he does one of his straight leg lift ups.
Has anyone seen his Intermediate DVD, the one with Gwendoline Hunt, does he do full Vinyasa in that DVD too? Would like to get a copy but Yogamatters want almost 40 GBP, I guess you do get Advanced A too. Full Vinyasa in 3rd? Phew.
So decision time
1. Long Vinyasa Krama Sequence ?
2. Long, slow Intermediate ?
3. Lino's Full Vinyasa primary ?
This is the problem of course. It was much easier when I was just practicing Ashtanga and you knew where you were, Sunday to Thursday Intermediate, Friday Primary and Saturday rest. Will I ever love intermediate enough to want to practice it five days a week? The Gregor Maehle Intermediate book is coming out soon as is Kino's Intermediate DVD (where is that, they said summer 2009?). Perhaps I can get wrapped up in those and develop and affection for it.
I seem to be drawn back into an Ashtanga practice. As you read Yoga Mala carefully the distinction between Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama become blurred. To practice Vinyasa Krama daily you need a routine, a framework of essential asanas and then add a mixture of subroutines. Well that's what Ashtanga is. Yoga Mala stresses the same extended periods in the same 'essential' Asanas' as Vinyasa Krama, Shirsasana, sarvangasana, Uttasana (padangushtasana and Padahastasana in Ashtanga) and Maha Mudra ( the Janu's in Ashtanga).
Both Vinyasa Krama and Ashtanga stress the long slow steady inhale and exhale and engagement of bandhas.
Of course the number of Vinyasas (jump back/through Sury's )is a major difference between the styles, only taken in the lead into the sequence in VK but between each Asana in Ashtanga. These used to be an issue making me sweat more and lose control of the breath but practicing so much more slowly I find I'm sweating much less now and my breath is fine.
The major difference seems to be flexibility. In Vinyasa Krama you're free to adapt your practice to what best suits you or is most appropriate, an Ashtanga series/routine seems to suit me well at the moment. The gift of Vinyasa Krama has been a greater awareness and understanding of Asana and their relation to each other and the freedom to occasionally adapt my Ashtanga practice by adding an asana here or there as I feel appropriate. Of course practicing at home I'm free to do that, I wouldn't be if I wanted to practice with others but then perhaps that's the price of preserving the integrity of SKPJ and the early Krishnamacharya's practice reasonably intact.
Perhaps another difference might be the stress on Pranayama, Meditation and Chanting (PMC). In Vinyasa Krama it becomes closely linked to the practice, Ramaswami was advised by Krishnamachrya to spend 40 minutes on Asana and 20 minutes on PMC. These are still mentioned in Yoga Mala of course and Ashtanga practice begins and ends with a chanted mantra but they're less closely connected to the actual practice. When practicing Ashtanga now, I follow my practice with as much PMC as I'm able and if pushed for time would rather cut out part of the series than cut back the PMC or time spent in the finishing sequence, how things change. (but see Roselil's comment in the Comment section on this).
If I do allow myself to be drawn back into an essentially Ashtanga practice I'll probably keep at least one day a week to continue exploring Vinyasa Krama, that day would probably be Tuesday (see what I did there : ). Though an Ashtanga routine may suit me for now, that could change as I become older or suffer any injuries, it would be good to have fuller understanding of Krishnamacharya's methods.
Think I'm going to go with the Lino full vinyasa.