Sunday, 30 August 2009

Vinyasa Krama : Hasta variations

Vinyasa Krama has a number of hasta/hand variations. They all show up in the 'On your feet' sequence but they pop up every now and again in other sequences.

In Tadasana at the beginning of my practice, the arms raise up to the side on the inhale and the hands lock together with the palms turning to face upwards, push up with the hands to get the full stretch. They release and drop back on the exhale and this is repeated three to six times. The final time you hold the pose while taking three to six breaths.

The next hand variations start the same, arms up, locking, turning palms upwards but on the exhale the alms bend at the elbow and the hands come to rest in their new position (see pictures). You can then raise them again on the inhale and then drop them to the
sides and repeat or hold in position for three to six breaths. Obviously each hand position is activating the stretch in a different part of your body and the variations keep you interested in this seemingly basic stretch.

The last three are interesting in that they can be used in back bending. With the arms behind your back this way they draw the shoulders back and your chest wants to lift up allowing you to lean back into them. Best of all they give your back some support, blogger wont seem to let me rearrange the pictures but I tend to do picture five next, followed by seven and then the hands in anjali / reverse prayer, picture six.

With my back prepared in this supported way I then move on into Purna-Uttanasana (complete forward stretch) beginning in the hand raised back bend (last picture) and folding on over to the familliar Uttanasana. In the book, Ramaswami recommends doing this three to six times, the final time you would hold for a 'considerable' time (say five minutes or ten long slow breaths) engaging your bandhas at the end of the exhale. You could do the hand behind the back variations three, four and five in Uttanasana as well. Another sub-routine that comes to mind where you may employ these variations is Paschimotasana in the seated sequence.

Hope this makes sense, obviously your better off getting Srivatsa Ramaswami's book ' The complete book of Vinyasa Yoga ' where you'll get a much better and fuller description of these variations.
























I do just a part of the 'On your feet' sequence each day as a warm up and the full sequence on Saturday

The full Sequence and sub-routines of the 'On your feet' are..

HASTA VINYASAS
Lateral side movements Parsva Bhaga
Frontal stretch Purva bhaga
Sweeping movement Prasarana
Elbow movement
Hands on Shoulder blades vinyasas
Hands locked behind vinyasas
Back salute Prishtanjali
Shoulder rotation Vinyasas

SIDE POSES Pasva Bhangi
Side bending Pasva Bhanai I
Side twist Parva bhangi II
Twisting hasta vinyasa Parsva Bhangi Vinyasa
Twisting arm in back salute Parsva Bhangi-Prishtanjali

THE FORWARD BEND Uttanasana
Half forward stretch Ardha-Uttanasana
Complete forward stretch Purna-Uttanasana

FORWARD BEND FURTHER VINYASAS
Hand-feet posture Pada Hasatasana
Forward stretch without support Niralamba Uttanasana
Straight forward stretch Parsva Bhaga Uttanasana
Standing turtle Kurmanasana Vinyasa
Standing complete back stretch Tiryang-Murkha-Uttanasana

HIP STRETCH OR HIP SQUAT Utkatasana
Half squat Hasta vinyasas Ardha-Utkatasana
Full hip stretch Purna Utkatasana
Turtle Squat Poses Kurmasana
Golden belt pose Kanchyasana
Noose pose Pasana

THE COMPLETE HILL POSE Tadasana
CORPSE POSE Savasana

Vinyasa Krama's Maha Mudra

In my last post I mentioned some poses from Ramaswami's Vinyasa Krama that are perhaps less familiar to some. This one, Maha mudra, is, as the name implies a mudra rather than an actual asana.

In my understanding of Vinyasa Krama, you can stay in Maha Mudra for the usual three to six breaths as part of the Aysmmetric seated vinyasa sequence or, at the end of the practice and as a lead into Pranayama, you can stay for a 'considerable' time. I aim to stay for around five minutes each side, about ten breaths at a 5:5:5:5 ratio (that's a count of five as you inhale, hold the breath for another five, five as you exhale and five more as you hold the exhale and engage the bandhas. I'm working up to 10:5:10:5 )
This video is part of the latter and has the extended inhale and exhale with breath retention. While holding the exhale you engage mula and uddiyana bandhas, jalahandra bandha is engaged throughout.
By the way, the right foot is placed alongside the thigh the heel pressed into the perineum



Lots to add on this as it's a key pose and my favourite at the moment, very very intense. Will come back to it later.

This was bothering me in the bath just now and had to check. As I suspected in the video I'm holding my left big toe with the first two fingers and thumb of the RIGHT hand with my left hand on top, it should be the other way around. Sorry, my mistake.

Vinyasa Krama Home practice routine UPDATED

I wasn't sure how to start up blogging again. Should I write about what I've been up to in August, the two weeks of 2nd series or the switch from Ashtanga to Vinyasa Krama. Perhaps a daily diary post from my lesson notes from the Yurt. There are a lot of posts running around my head, key elements of Vinyasa Krama, the breath, bandhas, key asana's/mudra', what i like about this practice so much and why I'm drawn to it. Plus I've discovered that I like chanting (that was a surprise, wasn't expecting ever to go there), think it's something to do with Lee Marvin and 'I was born under a wandering star', used to sing it in the bath in my best gravelly Lee Marvin voice and enjoy the whole bathroom vibrate (not a lot of people know that Lee Marvin spent 7 years in a Tibetan monastery high up in the Himalayas learning Tibetan chant.
http://i33.tinypic.com/ern408.jpgIn the end I figured
I'd just jump straight in as if I hadn't been away and write about the practice.

One of the goals of this week of VK lessons was to get help in working out a home practice. All these long sequences in Vinyasa Krama, how do you decide what to practice? Up until now I'd been working through a sequence a day, or perhaps two of the shorter ones. I'd tried sandwiching a sequence between Ashtanga Standing and Finishing and I'd tried building a routine around the LBH and Kapo that I really didn't want to risk losing.
One of the things that S. stressed, that Ramaswami stressed that Krishnamachariya stressed, was the importance of a couple of key poses that should be done everyday and stayed in for a 'considerable' time.
UTTANASANA
PASCHIMOTASANA
SARVANGASANA
MAHA MUDRA
Now if your aiming to spend five to ten minutes in each of those with long slow breathing / breath retention and fully engaged bandhas, plus the Tadasana 'warm up' (10 minutes), lead in sub routines, preparatory poses and counter poses you already have a 40 minute practice. Then of course there's the Pranayama and some meditation to close and you have an hour.
Luckily us lapsed Ashtangi's are used to long practices of 90-120 minutes. What if you use the above format as your skeleton practice and then slot in an additional sequence at an appropriate place. So on Monday following Uttanasana I slot in the 'On one leg' sequence which should take about half an hour. Tuesday, my day off so I have extra time I slot in the LONG 'Asymmetrical seated sequence' after Paschimotasana. Wednesday 'Lotus sequence' in the same place. On Thursday I slot in 'Inverted sequence' before Saravangasana, Friday would be Triangle after Uttrasana. Saturday I include the whole 'On your feet sequence' of which Tadasana and Uttrasana are a part. And finally, Sunday I slot in 'Bow sequence', probably after Sarvangasana.

It should look something like this, Fixed daily practice in black, the additional sequences to be slotted in on the appropriate day are in red.

DAILY VINYASA KRAMA PRACTICE ROUTINE

TADASANA subroutine
PRISHTANJALI
PURNA *UTTANASANA (ten long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )

ON YOUR FEET SEQUENCE Saturday
TRIANGLE SEQUENCE Friday
ON ONE LEG SEQUENCE Monday

SURYNAMASKARA Sub routine with chant
*PASCHIMOTASANA (ten long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale)

ASYMMETRICAL SEATED SEQUENCE Tuesday
SEATED SEQUENCE Friday
LOTUS SEQUENCE Wednesday

JUMP BACK lead in

BOW SEQUENCE Sunday
INVERTED SEQUENCE Thursday
SUPINE SEQUENCE Saturday

APANASANA prep. pose 1
URDWA-PRASARITA-PADA-HASASANA prep pose 2
DWIPADAPITAM prep pose 3
*SARVANGASANA (3-6 breaths)
*SIRSASANA ( 10 long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )
*SARVANGASANA ( 10 long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )
UTTANA MAYURASANA

*MAHA MUDRA ( 10 long slow breaths each side, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )
BADHA KONASANA
PADMASANA
PRANAYAMA/MEDITATION

*Key poses for extended stay


Prishtanjali ( The back Salute )






In the practice above I would practice a little backbending while in Prishtanjali, it gives the back some support before moving into Purna Uttanasana (Complete forward stretch ).












This is like the Uttanasana we know and love but starting in a backbend


The minimum prep poses for Sarvangasana that you might not be familiar with are below








APANASANA











URDWA-PRASARITA-PADA-HASASANA







DWIPADAPITAM


Now obviously this is a work in progress and I need to try it for a couple of weeks to see how it works out. I tried it this morning though and it was excellent, came out at 90 minutes.

Once I have a deeper understanding of the sequences I can look at it again and possibly adapt it further at the subroutine level rather than the sequence level as required.

It kind of has the familiar Ashtangaish structure that I'm so used to. If I'm pushed for time then I can just stick to the skeleton practice and not add any of the additional sequences but still cover those key asana/mudra. It has flexibility built in such that if I feel like I need some back bends or hip openers I can fit in the appropriate sequence.

The Maha Mudra/Pranayama/Meditation section can act as a stand alone evening meditation routine as well.

As I said, work in progress

PS. OK, so I might be mistaken Lee Marvin Tibetan link

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Vinyasa Krama daily practice sheet

MY DAILY VINYASA KRAMA STYLE PRACTICE ROUTINE
To be explained in future posts

DAILY VINYASA KRAMA PRACTICE ROUTINE

TADASANA subroutine
PRISHTANJALI
PURNA *UTTANASANA (ten long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )

Parassaritta Padottanasana and Uttita Padangustasana sub routines

ON YOUR FEET SEQUENCE -Monday
TRIANGLE SEQUENCE - Wednesday
ON ONE LEG SEQUENCE -Friday

SURYNAMASKARA Sub routine with chant
*PASCHIMOTASANA (ten long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale)

ASYMMETRICAL SEATED SEQUENCE - Tuesday
SEATED SEQUENCE - Wednesday
LOTUS SEQUENCE - Friday

JUMP BACK lead in

BOW SEQUENCE - Saturday
INVERTED SEQUENCE - Thursday
SUPINE SEQUENCE - Sunday

APANASANA prep. pose 1
URDWA-PRASARITA-PADA-HASASANA prep pose 2
DWIPADAPITAM prep pose 3
*SARVANGASANA (3-6 breaths)
*SIRSASANA ( 10 long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )
*SARVANGASANA ( 10 long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )
UTTANA MAYURASANA
URDHVA DANURASANA

*MAHA MUDRA ( 10 long slow breaths each side, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )
BADHA KONASANA
PADMASANA
PRANAYAMA/MEDITATION

*Key poses for extended stay

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Returning to Ramaswami's Vinyasa Krama

OK, so I know I said I wasn't going to blog throughout August, but this is a big change for me and I figure I should put some of my thinking down right away, rather than retrospectively a couple of weeks from now.

Back in June I came across Ramaswami's presentation of Krishnamachaya's Yoga and took a short break from my Intermediate to explore it. (link to my Vinyasa krama posts from June http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/search/label/Vinyasa%20Krama )

After two weeks I went back to Ashtanga, but as the weeks have gone I've been feeling more and more dissatisfied with my practice. I haven't been feeling as connected, as grounded. I've missed those long slow breaths, the repeating and deepening of poses, the engaging of bandhas at every exhale, the building up of poses. I tried to incorporate some of these elements into my Ashtanga practice but it hasn't worked out, I'm just in a different place.

Last week I decided to shift the main focus of my practice back to Vinyasa Krama, although I still intend to practice Primary and Intermediate one day a week.

One of my reasons for going back to Ashtanga at the time was that I missed the regularity of the practice, the familiarity. In Ashtanga you practice the same sequence every day (although this changes slightly as you advance to the 2nd series). You know where you are with Ashtanga, which is part of the point.

With Vinyasa Krama I really wasn't sure how to approach the practice as a home practitioner. Do I do one sequence one day, another the next and so on throughout the week. Should I do two of the smaller sequences on one day or split one of the longer sequences? Should I cherry pick from each sequence to create a new Ashtanga type series of my own? It became confusing. The main focus of this blog will now be concerned with the attempt to address those issues and turn this great big book of Asana sequences, Srivatsa Ramaswami's Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga into some kind of a home practice.

I had thought about starting a new Vinyasa Krama blog but, hey, this place feels like home now. No doubt I'll lose half my readers if not more, I'm sorry about that. However, I will still be practicing Ashtanga one day a week and it may be interesting to see how the Vinyasa Krama impacts on the Ashtanga. Besides which Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, of course, started out practicing Krishnamacharya's Vinyasa Krama. Ashtanga is derived from this, it's fascinating to me to come across all the elements of Ashtanga practice and get some glimpse into how it was turned into the system we know and love.

I have ten days off work coming up and want to spend it working through each sequence (spent three and a half hours on two of them this morning) and doing some serious meditation. I don't plan on turning on a computer in that time so wont be back posting until the beginning of September.

PS. I had trouble with my blog side bar a couple of weeks ago. Deleted the whole thing bit by bit. Found the problem eventually but in the process I deleted all my blog list. I think I added most of it back via Arturo's but if I've missed yours please let me know.

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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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