Monday, 15 February 2010

Right argument, wrong discipline

or Back with the program...... the er, other program.

It's a cliche really. Kind of like a relationship that you wont admit is over. You keep trying to give it another go, you take each other back, try your best, you really do, but finally you just have to admit that it was over a long time ago.

Maybe it's because today is Valentines Day but I can't seem to think about this in any other way than as some Romantic melodrama.

Vinyasa Krama as the other woman, Ashtanga as my first love.

.... the argument was right, wrong discipline.

You find a regime, a discipline and stick with it. I chose the wrong one to try and stick with.

I loved Ashtanga, loved practicing it, but Vinyasa Krama was a revelation to me. The only problem with Vinyasa Krama was that it wasn't Ashtanga. I was used to practicing yoga in a particular way and couldn't seem to square Vinyasa Krama with the only way I knew how to practice. I tried to bring the two together, found so much in common and wrote a lot of posts on that. I'm probably going to need a couple of posts to work out why that didn't work out, why and how they are different and perhaps incompatible.

It's difficult, to say why I think Ashtanga is the wrong choice for me personally, it could seem like I'm being critical of Ashtanga and some may take offense at that. That of course is part of the problem. I want to explore Yoga, the philosophy as well as the practice. For me exploring is engaging, questioning, challenging. I see that as respect rather than disrespect. The practice would be OK but it's everything that surrounds it, I become frustrated angry even, that doesn't work for me. But I don't want to go there, don't want to say anything more about it. It's a wonderful practice, if it works for you great, it just doesn't for me anymore.

I've been doing a little Vinyasa Krama in the evening and practicing Ashtanga in the morning. However, it's the evening VK practice that I find myself looking forward to the most and finding more rewarding. I always assumed I would end up doing a Vinyasa Krama practice eventually, either because I was getting too old for Ashtanga ( not suggesting Ashtanga is a young persons game here but speculating I might become less interested in all the jumping about) , an injury (old knee injury coming back perhaps) or because I'd finally grow out of the need for such a pneumatic practice. I might miss some aspects of it occasionally but I think I can deal with that now. I don't know what it is, I just find VK more grounding, more..... profound.

I love Ramaswami's books, they're intelligent, philosophical, engaging, they make me want to understand more about this practice this tradition......

Yesterday I practiced the Lotus sequence today it was Vajrasana and I didn't miss Ashtanga one bit. Perhaps I'm finally ready to move on and let it go.

15 comments:

  1. What exactly is vinyasa krama? What does it involve?

    Tara

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  2. You're running off with that slut of a mistress!!! :(

    Just kidding. I don't think you're too old for Astanga at all, but if something else rewards you more than of course you should go that way.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yep, the shameless seductress, what can I do. I'm putty in her hands

    No Boodi, I don't think I'm too old for Ashtanga either, perhaps no one is ever too old for it. I've always loved the physical aspect of the practice, it's hard giving up all those jump backs and jump through's, handstands and flourishes you get to squeeze in here and there,the flow and pace of it, love all that stuff. The arm balances of 3rd etc all good fun. I don't have any problem DOING Ashtanga, it's more the why do it that's the issue.

    I don't know what it is, just feel more grounded with VK somehow, feel more IN an asana that in Ashtanga where it feels the next one is coming along in a second. Actually really tough too. I was doing the meditative sequence yesterday built around Vajrasana and some weird version of Kapo comes up. So Vajrasana then come up on to your knees, step forward one leg and then drop back and grab you ankle !!!! there's something like it in 4th I believe though there the leading leg is stretched out. Oh and normal kapo but with your knees together, hard, really hard : )

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Tara.
    Vinyasa krama, it's how S. Ramaswami refers to the practice he was taught by Krishnamacharya over thirty years. You might call it Late Krishnamacharya, from the period after he left Mysore palace (where he taught SKPJ etc). Bit like Deskichar's yoga perhaps but with a strong focus on breath, bandhas and a wider range of asana variations.

    Ashtanga has fixed sequences that you have to adapt yourself too, in VK you adapt the practice to yourself.

    The sequences are grouped by type, 'Seated", "Lotus' 'Supine' etc. Each asana is built on the previous one, becoming more challenging as you go on. The first part of Primary after Paschi is part of the VK Asymmetric sequence that carries on into Leg behind head. The Marichi's are a part of a sequence as are the Parasita's in Standing.

    You go into an asana in the sequence and stay in it for six breathes say and then you might repeat it, you tend to keep coming back to a starting pose. it would be like going back to Dandasana after every asana in Primary say. You only tend to jump back or through at the beginning of the practice and at the end (though I squeeze in a couple of extras). There are some key asana it's suggested do everyday Paschi, headstand, shoulder stand, etc

    Pranayama for example is encouraged from the beginning rather than from the end of 2nd Series

    That's a VERY rough sketch of it. In the labels section on my blog you can see a bunch of references and some examples of practice, try this link
    http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/search/label/Vinyasa%20Krama

    ReplyDelete
  5. that "other practice" does it again! I am officially inspired/curious, just ordered ramaswami's book, had been putting it off, maybe because of fear... now I am facing it.

    This is fascinating, so happy you are writing about it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Grimmly!

    I like the metaphor with love. :) I, too, often think about what's the purpose of what you call 'Ashtanga' is. Athletes are a lot better in the physical aspect anyway, so why spend too much time on it? Isn't it just a preparation for something? (So when one's prepared it's time to move on - to explore what that 'something' is.)

    I don't know what's best for you, but as your reader, I'm selfish :) Probably I will be even more interested to read about your experiences of 'VK' than 'Ashtanga'.

    All the best: Balázs

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  7. Hi Grimmly,

    Very interesting post indeed.

    Asana practice as well as that of Pranayama are NOTING BUT, and NOTHING MORE THAN a preparation of your body and mind for the meditation.

    This asana practice is "almost" worthless if you do not practice YAMA and NIYAMA ... because they are the foundation, without which you could not build anything, without which you could not practice Pratyara, probably the most important and also the most difficult step.

    What does this clearly mean ?

    It would be better to be able to maintain yourself in Siddhasana ... saying, during 2 hours with the whole hearted, whole minded concentration THAN to master the advanced B of ashtanga vinyasa yoga.

    That's the core teaching of the sage Patañjali's Yoga Sutras.


    With metta

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is fascinating! I cannot wait to learn more from you about Vinyasa Krama.

    I have some of Ramaswami's books on it but they haven't really connected with me yet...

    thank you for being so open and honest on your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nice to know somebody will still reading : ) Thank you the nice comments. You bought his book Claudia, hope you like it. If nothing else it's interesting seeing the Ashtanga asana's in the context of similar postures. When was doing both I found it useful to add a couple of the asanas that proceed a tricky one as a little extra prep. Love how he writes too " You might like to stay here for six breathes'. You may find it useful too....'It's as if everything is a polite suggestion rather than a do this do that.

    I'm excited about the thought of writing about it again and trying to work out how to make it work as a daily practice.

    I know what you mean about athletes Balázs, Boodiba's blog was good for putting things into perspective. She would have all these Gymnastics and Ballet video's. There you are pretty pleased with yourself for pressing to handstand from Navasana or pulling a half decent Kapo and there would be some gymnast bent in two. It's fun but i'm too easily tempted by all that stuff, i want that side of me tempered rather than tempted by my practice.

    Thank you so much for that Christina. i know what you mean about R's books. I can see how they might be hard to get into. i didn't know what to do with three stages at first, terrible cover, it's an Advanced book on Yoga but looks like it's for beginners. The complete Vinyasa book, fantastic but a challenge to work out how to use it. i want to focus on that in the blog. The one co written with his student I find fascinating and keep going back to it. Love how he welcomes the engagement, the questions and how he seeks to reply by almost thinking it through with you. Though a teacher there is something of the eternal student of Yoga about him.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you Nataraja (still love your avatar ). I'm almost in agreement with you but i kind of feel that the Yama's and Niyama's got worked on by practicing the asana. Something about the discipline you impose on yourself. After a while you change your habits on account of the practice. You eat less, drink less perhaps, you become more peaceful relaxed in yourself and towards others. You want to practice with more discipline, understand the practice more, you seem to need less. A few books, a mat and an apple Ipad would probably do me. Sometimes i think Patanjali could have put Asana right at the beginning.

    I find it interesting what patanjali says about asana and pranayama as preparation for Meditation but I've been practicing for a few years, Vipassana. No Asana no Pranayama just hop on your mat and off you go. That said I find the concentration you develop in asana and Pranayama very beneficial to my meditation practice.

    And yet there is something about asana. Can't put my finger on it yet. i'm not talking about the cool, flashy, asana even Paschimottanasana say. I practice the seated series this morning half of it is built on Paschi, find it quite powerful spending a long period of time on these different variations of the same posture, something subtle going on here i feel. I find I don't want to dismiss asana as just preparatory.

    But I agree Standing and Finishing are just as, if not more beneficial than Advanced series, trouble is you seem to need to spend a bit of time with 3rd for that to really sink in.

    I'm looking forward to exploring all this, somehow I feel liberated.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks Grimmly, I'll check out the link. I really had no idea of all of this. Sounds like you have found something just right for you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I bought that book & actually tossed it! I keep most yoga books too but somehow I knew I'd never use it. For my temperament the information wasn't put forth in a usable way. I'd take a class in it for fun though.

    Yes there's an Eka Pada Kapo in 4th somewhere. I'm not adding poses any time soon though!!! I have to race through my practice to finish in anything like good time and I don't want to drop any 3rd at this point. It's too perfectly put together (for me) to mess with...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, a problematic book. I love it but your left with the problem of how to actually use it. I'd already learnt most of the postures so that helped, though some surprises pop up like that Eka pada kapo thing. That was just funny, kept falling over. Supposed to be in a meditative frame of mind and I couldn't stop giggling to myself.

    I think it's great as a teacher's book, where you have someone telling/guiding you through the sequences but for self study I found it a pain, had to keep stopping and reading ahead.
    I think I'll probably spend the next couple of months here trying to make it easier to approach and turn into a daily practice, videos of all the sequences and sub routines perhaps.

    Going to do a week on each sequence just to really fix them in my head

    Oh and I'm hoping to study with him for a month this summer.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Grimmly- as I read your posts I can't help but see the same pattern within myself over the last 2 years. I even went to practice with Kino on Sunday for mysore in Atlanta. It was lovely...but when I left I felt like I missed something in my practice. I actually have both of the Vinyasa Karma books you speak of. I've begun to read them as well.
    Right now my yoga teacher training is non-dogma in one style. She brings in teachers from Anusara, Ashtanga, Iyengar and the list goes on. She wants us to explore and find what speaks to us. I always said I was an Ashtangi and that is that...
    but when I tried other styles (and due to recents bouts of Sciatica from my piriformis muscle) a few other styles just "click" I feel complete and grounded.
    Sometimes I start with Primary but end up doing more a flow or maybe even Yin. (I really enjoy Sarah Powers Yin/Yang yoga)
    So...I can relate. I dislike that I also have this looming guilt as well.
    But a great friend said that perhaps Ashtanga was my gateway practice. It brought me to where I truly need to be right now.
    So maybe say my thanks and with respect practice Ahimsa towards myself and honor what I feel is right for my body...

    ReplyDelete
  15. Nice to explore some different styles. I'm interested in some aspects of iyengar but do find all the props a bit of a turn off, sure thats not fair but in Ashtanga we get so used to settling for just a mat and some sweat.
    I was doing some yin yoga for a while in the evenings (ashtanga in the mornings) I liked it. I had the Grilley and the Powers DVD's. I should dig them out, be nice a couple of times a week.
    Funny you mention the guilt, feels almost like a betrayal to me, how insane is that! been nice getting these comments of support and encouragement over the last couple of days.
    i think your right too about the gateway aspect (or rather your friend was). I don't think I would have been able to develop a daily practice with any other style, I needed Ashtanga to get to this point.

    ReplyDelete

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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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