“One of my goals in life is to do the slowest Primary Series anywhere… rather than the quickest”. Richard Freeman

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Part 2 of Sharath and Uddiyana Bandha in Karandavasana

Part 1 here

My rest day today so just a light Vinyasa Krama practice, mainly some of the Tadasana sequence leading into some back bends. Moved on to the key asanas, Utanasana, Paschimotasana, Maha mudra, Sarvangasana and Sirasana.

In Sirasana I wanted to work on the inverted Uddiyana bandha* I mentioned in Part 1. It took a couple of breathes to start getting the hang of it but it felt pretty good and I think I'll be doing this everyday for the next couple of weeks.






The belly doesn't seem to cave as much when you engage Uddiyana* upside down, but perhaps that's just me not having got the hang of it yet. I'm happy with this for now and more important is to be in better control of it.




So there's a video of this, if your a fan of watching paint dry of grass grow. I think you can see it get more pronounced as things go on. At the end of the video I bind a lotus and bring it down while trying to keep Uddiyana engaged, tricky, very tricky

video

After that I couldn't resist giving Karandavasana one go at least.

Again, hard to engage a strong Uddiyana while coming down but I think I had something going on and it did seem to give more control of the descent. I tried to engage it fully as I went back up again too. Better than yesterday and I seem to have my Chatuaranga exit back although my left hand slipped as I didn't have a towel on my mat.


Difficult to gauge how effective this is having been away from Karandavasana for three weeks, think this was my third since my knee improved. A good scientist would have got his Karanda back to it's best first before starting to explore all this.

Perhaps there's nothing to it anyway, just a hunch and some bits and pieces from Sharath that I'm putting together to see if it adds up to anything.

Bandha work is always good though whatever the reason.

*This is how I approach/experience the bandhas (taken from an earlier post). Towards the end of the exhale (2/3) I let myself become aware of the slight lifting sensation of moola bandha. I begin to focus on it and intensify it, drawing it up. As it gets as 'raised as it's going to get, uddiyana bandha has begun to become slightly activated, my lower abdomen drawing back towards my spine and up.
This next bit (uddiyana) is an added extra. At the end of the exhale I draw my abdomen all the way up creating a cave beneath my ribs .

Uddiyana bandha
here refers to the gentle drawing in of the abdomen up to the spine following the engaging of moola bandha.

Uddiyana refers to the more dramatic extension of Uddiyana bandha drawing the abdomen right in and up creating a cave as in 'Pond gesture' pose and as if in preparation for nauli kriya.


Picture: Krishnamacharya's uddiyana

16 comments:

  1. Hmm.. now how could you come down in karandavasana WITHOUT strong uddiyana?? Doesn't seem possible. But to me it happens naturally in every forward bend from uttanasana and downdog to karandavasana, eka pada, etc.. the belly folds in. I also think it's easier upside down - your lower abdomen is going in and UP towards the spine, hence upside down you have gravity on your side and it happens with no effort at all... best position to find this is urdhva padmasana. Not talking about full uddiyana on exhale retention of course, which I wouldn't be doing upside down...

    Nice karanda, I've still only nailed the full exit once (it's not chakrasana though, just chaturanga.. chakrasana refers to backward roll).

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  2. I know, my bandhas are pretty good i think and coming along but i was hoping that with a really strong Uddiyana i might be able to bring the lotus in tighter and under more control. Kinda drops a little at the end. Came across your video while looking for your CB, you have a lot of control coming dow, seem to use your shoulders more than I am. Are you still touching your head down to come up?

    No don't want to be doing a backward roll out of it bad plan, have corrected it. It's strange that exit, a kind of flip, I was working on it as an exit to pincha as I thought I'd be less tired than after karanda.

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  3. I wanted to mention something that I've been thinking about - the chin on the floor. I am not sure if you realize this, but the ability to even PUT your chin to the floor in Karandavasana is really a feat. I cannot even come close...my forehead is what hits the floor, not my nose, not my mouth, not my chin! Not even close!

    I did a supported Pincha Mayurasana/Scorpion pose today using my bed to support my feet and I tried to get my chin to the floor...I felt as if my back was going to break. It just doesn't bend that way, at least not currently. I decided to do some holds with the goal being chin to the floor, and I could feel my back cracking a bit (in a good way).

    Just thought I would mention this, and I am interested to know if you realize how much flexibility your upper back needs in order to even USE the chin in Karanda.

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  4. I suck at that exit... from pincha I can do it, but I don't really lift my hands completely off like you're supposed to. Still grazing my head to come up, it's not really resting on my floor, but it's there as a consequence of having to get my head under my hips. Backward roll out would be funny, as long as someone else was doing it and not me :)

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  5. Hi YC, I'm confused... you were putting your chin to the floor in pincha/scorpion? That's completely different from doing it in karanda.... one is a forward bend, the other a backbend. Putting your chin to the floor in karanda is just like bhuja. Am I missing something?

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  6. Lots of comments coming in and I'm stuck upstairs with the chinchilla and my itouch. Susan your saying Karanda is a forward bend. I hadn't thought of it that way, but I guess your right, interesting will remember that tomorrow before I do it and see if that makes me approach it differently.

    Thanks YC, I'm not really complaining about my Karanda, I love that I'm able to go back up but that chin on the mat has me all squished up and doesn't feel right by any means. Susan uses her forehead rather than chin, is that still the case Susan , was going by your video? No doubt the best way is somewher between the two of us. Nut hey, it works for now.

    The exit is scary, real leap or flip of faith

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  7. Hey Susan(anda - the "anda" feels so formal sometimes). Yes, in a sense the chin down is like buja...BUT...for me, having the forearms down is WAY different from having my palms down. In general, having the forearms down while holding the body inverted seems (from my experience) to require a decent amount of length in the front body (and by length, I mean flexibility, not actual tallness). And to add to that placing the chin on the floor...wow. I notice that when I try to do Kapotasana, it feels as if my forehead gets stuck. I can't lift it up to keep crawling my hands in. Same kind of thing, only upside down. Does that make sense?

    And yes, I am hoping to keep working on this, by introducing slightly more bend into my upper back, if there is any to introduce. Perhaps milimeters? But perhaps milimeters is all it would take?

    It's funny to me that I haven't much cared about getting my forehead unstuck in Kapotasana, but I DO care about getting my chin forward in Pincha Mayurasana and Karandavasana. I suppose it's my long held love of inversions at work, versus my "who gives a crap" about my sucky backbends.

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  8. Re. "how could you come down in karandavasana WITHOUT strong uddiyana??"....I am sure many a gymnast has done many a move that is akin to Karandavasana without ever even knowing what uddiyana is.

    What we do in asana practice is really just gymnastics or contortion. It could be done without all the yoga stuff, without bhandas, without meditation, without breathing. It could. Then it wouldn't be yoga. But it could be done, nevertheless.c

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  9. I've wondered about this YC. How we tend to say in the yoga community that if you don't employ bandhas then your just doing gymnastics or if you don't focus on the breath, same thing.

    I've wondered how true that is. Surely gymnasts do make excellent use of their breath and I suspect they use the same muscles that we call bandhas,(do thay call it core strength now?) I wonder, any ex gymnasts around? perhaps the difference is that for the gymast bandhas and the breath are tools were as for us they are supposed to be pretty much the be all and end all. (apart from the fact that the whole asana/breath/bandha is supposed to be a tool for something further).

    Oh and my forehead gets stuck in Kapo too sometimes, pulls my bandana off unsticking it. times like that I'm glad I'm at home. but then i think i take my head too far back as if I'm aiming my forehead to the floor, trying to work on aiming my crown to the floor instead.

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  10. Grimmly, I am a little annoyed because I feel like you twisted my words and got a completely different meaning, but I don't WANT to be annoyed, so I am just going to assume that I wasn't clear and attempt now to clarify what I meant:

    The physical activity in which we engage during asana practice could be done without breath and bhandas.

    I did some pretty advanced gymnastics as a child and never once heard the word "bhanda". And "bhanda" is something WAY different from just engaging a muscle or muscle group. It is an energetic lock, whatever the hell that means. You could tell someone to pull their stomach in and up, but that doesn't mean you've taught them uddiyana bhanda. You could tell someone to tuck their chin, but that doesn't mean that you've taught them jalandara bhanda (that is the correct pronunciation by the way - ja-lan-dar-a). And you could tell someone to contract their anus or do kegel exercises. That is still not moola bhanda.

    I was in no way making that OBNOXIOUS crack about what is and is not yoga. I totally do not even BELIEVE that "if you don't focus on breath and bhandas, it's just gymnastics, and not yoga." It's ALL yoga, in my opinion. Everything you do has the capacity to BE yoga, cooking, gardening, writing, manicuring, bathing, whatever. Breath and bhanda doesn't make it yoga. The corralling of thought away from center stage does, and that happens whether we try or not. Geez, I hate that elitist attitude about breath and bhanda, and I would NEVER say what you implied that I said.

    So, back to my main point: the physical feats of yoga do not require breath or bhandas. You could do karandavasana without ever knowing what bhanda was.

    And in my opinion, jalandara is just tucking the chin, no hocus pocus involved. And honestly, I don't see the hocus pocus of pulling in your abs either, or engaging your pelvic floor. Yeah, they are a hidden source of strength (not jalandara), but other than that...meh.

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  11. Also, can't you please consider moderating the comments after publication? It is really disturbing to not be able to go back and reread the comment in published format and decide whether or not to delete and edit or just throw the whole thing in the trash. Please consider it. So what if people say bad things to you or to each other? You can still delete.

    It is very disturbing to not be able to review my comments once I hit "publish" and to have to wait for you to approve before I can decide if I want to throw my comment in the garbage after all.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sorry YC, didn't mean to twist what you were saying. think I might have missed the 're' where you were quoting Susan and just added the first two sentences together.
    so let me go through what you say bit by bit.
    'The physical activity in which we engage during asana practice could be done without breath and bhandas. '

    I agree, my early jump back posts are based on this. Used to annoy me when on being asked how to do it, you'd get told , 'engage your bandhas', 'Cant do it? 'work on your bandhas'. I figured it was just a case of coordinating all the right elements. I've changed my thinking a little now, i still think you need the elements to get off the ground but that engaging your bandhas will make it a little easier, give you more control perhaps.

    'It is an energetic lock, whatever the hell that means.'

    For me the jury is still out on the energy lock idea, not dismissing it out of hand, but don't understand it. I've finally accepted the bandhas are there but I think I just see them as a group of muscles. Your last bit, no hocus pocus to it,are we saying the same thing. Do you go for the energy lock idea or just muscles?


    I like the 'it's all Yoga/has the capacity to be' idea. Sounds a bit like Zen. Cooking can be Zen if you focus on what your doing, on the moment. I remember the story of the Zen chef who everytime someone spoke to him he would put down his knife, turn, give his answer and then turn back and pick up his knife. Speak to him again and he would stop again turn etc etc.

    If I understand you correctly your saying that a gymnast could do the asana without the bandhas (I agree) and that it's not the breath and the bandhas that make it Yoga but more like the frame of mind you approach your practice with? How you aproach it or how you practice it (mentaly), is that the same or a subtle difference I wonder.

    I think for me the breath and the bandhas help me with the asana and help me get into and stay in the frame of mind I want to be in when I praqctice. Are we on the same page?

    Probably shouldn't have responded to this now as I'm on my lunch break and a bit rushed.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi.. first of all YC, please feel free to call me Susan, susananda is just the name of my blog, I don't actually go around calling myself that :)

    Re bandhas, I'm perfectly happy to say, how could you do karandavasana without folding your belly back into a deep fold? Gymnasts do this too. I think there's more to bandhas, but that's all I meant in this case.

    Re kapo: yes, feeling stuck with the head on the floor makes total sense. I think we've all felt that feeling! Very difficult to walk the hands in if the head is already down, it's about finding the space to to keep the head off till the hands are all the way in, and then put it down. Keep working at it! Grimm, I rest the top of my forehead down in kapo, not the crown of the head.

    Re chin down in karanda: when you're holding for the five breaths, chin should be off the floor. Most people have to put either chin or head down to come back up, not sure it matters which. Coming back up without touching the head at all would be nice...

    But to me, although I take your point that it's not just like bhuja (harder on the forearms), it is still completely different from trying to put your chin down in pincha, which would be like 'pincha pushups' and is a completely different dynamic because you're balancing a backbend.. I'm not really interested in trying because I want to stay lifted as much as possible in pincha. In karanda you are lifting so much through the centre of the body that the head goes down naturally and you have to work to keep it up. And yes, karanda is a forward bend, because you are folded in half at the hips.

    Hope that makes sense??

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  14. So, Susan....I am not sure that we are talking about the same experience here at all, and I think it is one of those rare instances when one person's total lack of ability (mine) makes it completely impossible for you to translate what you mean into my experience (my bad, not yours). It reminds me of when I have asked students to do a lunge and then drop their front hip to the floor...and they just...don't. They can't. They can't even fathom it. It's like that for me, to hear anyone describe this buja action in pincha/karanda.

    Today, after doing some bed hangs, I put my forearms on the floor and popped up into pincha mayurasana. with the bed frame there to keep me balanced, I tried to put my chin down while keeping my legs (a) straight up, (b) vrichikasana-ed and (c) lotused (well, half-ass lotused. No WAY could I get my chin to the floor!!!! For me to begin to bend that lotus down into a karandavasana-like situation, I would have to place the top - the crown - of my head down for stability.

    I really think that you have to be as tight as I am to understand - tight between the armpits and the abdominals...the whole length of my front is tight (I did have a tummy tuck a few years ago...).

    Perhaps I will do a YouTube to show you what I mean, Susan.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi YC, sorry I'm so late back here. Well, if we're misunderstanding each other it's nobody's fault, I often wonder if what I'm saying makes any sense to anyone but me.. but I would find it extremely difficult to put my chin down in pincha or variations, and I don't really want to because you're supposed to keep it lifted.. otherwise I feel I would collapse into my shoulders, though I'm sure it's possible to learn to do it properly. But once you're in karanda (at the bottom), you can lift through your centre as you put your chin down and engage your abs, so it's easier. But then again you don't want to put it down there either, you want to keep it off if possible. No idea if this makes any sense..

    Coming down in karanda was very disorienting at first and I needed a lot of help with it in order to understand the action, I don't know if I ever could've learned that on my own. Also largely because it's something I never thought I'd be able to do, only teachers taking it as a matter of course made me believe I could.

    Rambling...

    A Youtube would be great!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm wondering if the whole chin thing comes from a mixing up of karandavasana and Pincha. i just checked back at your first comment YC and you mention only being able to get you forehead to the floor and not your chin. In Pincha I'm the same but when I come down in karandavasana in the last moments I kind of squish down, the angle of my arms reduced from 45 to 30 degrees or something. to push up i kind of push down a little with my chest to get the traction to lift back up again and it's here that my chin brushes the floor. I thik when you come down Susan your arms don't squish up as much thus a greater distance to the floor which is why you use your forehead to come back up. Kino does the same in her new DVD. I suspect the ideal is somewhere inbetween the two of us but probably closer to Susans than mine.
    I think i know where i go wrong, I lose control of my lotus right at the end and it comes down too quickly and out of control, it doesn't crash onto my arms as in the beginning but it's still not int control.
    But that's cool, it's down, it's up and that's something to be going on with but it'll be a good day when I get it just right.
    this post was based on the idea that a more focussed uddiyana might do that for me. I'm starting to suspect though that i need to do something with my shoulders ......was it Lydia from Being with yoga who said something about breathing into the shoulders/back space area....hmmmmm

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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