following the sequences as laid out in the book,
practicing Ashtanga as Vinyasa Krama,
practicing Vinyasa Krama as Ashtanga,
practicing Key VK asanas with alternating VK sequences,
sandwiching a Vinyasa Krama Sequence between Ashtanga Standing and finishing,
following the sequences as laid out in the book with a VK Standing and VK finishing sequence.
The last approach, spending a week on each sequence, has been useful recently for gaining familiarity with the sequences. I still miss a few things here and there but on the whole I'm feeling more comfortable with the practice.
I can't seem to escape Ashtanga though, it creeps into my practice, hijacks it a little. I love Ashtanga I practiced it everyday for a couple of years, I enjoy it, really enjoy it, I find it joyous to practice, and yet.... and yet I'm not sure it's good for me, for me personally, for my temperament. I get drawn into the next pose thing, the physically demanding aspect, the challenge of it, the other aspects of Ashtanga tend to get drowned out. It was great for getting myself in shape, I'm strong fit, flexible but there's always another pose, always another inch up your feet to aim at. Perhaps in a Shala that aspect might have been down played and others drawn out, but I doubt it, it's just me, it's my temperament.
Vinyasa Krama has tended to bring out other sides of my character, the more peaceful meditative... I can't bring myself to say spiritual side, it carries too much baggage, whatever, I just feel more grounded. I can feel like that for a while with Ashtanga but before I know it I'm reflecting on tick tock's on Mulabhandasanas, on Sayanasana.....
I still practice Vinyasa Krama on an Ashtanga framework, Sury's, Standing, the VK Sequence, Finishing. Recently I started to speculate on how else I could approach the practice. I thought about the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP). Perhaps I could focus on those old classic asanas, make them key asanas, make that the framework. One day focus more on HYP seated asana and add VK variations, another day focus on Lotus poses or Supine or Bow.
While thinking about that I came across a couple of books in the local Library. They were new, probably requested by some local yogi, one was the Jivamukta book and the other, the most recent addition of the Sivananda book, The new book of Yoga.
I knew a little about the Sivananda tradition but not much. It always seemed a little old fashioned, kind of like the yoga that you would get on TV in the 70 and early 80's. This new edition of their classic text is excellent though. The layout, the pictures, it's just a great book. It starts out with the basic sequence of, what, 15 asanas but the second half is all the variations around those key asanas. There are some very advanced postures and big full page pictures of them too, it's beautiful. I'm looking at these variations and thinking, "hang on , this is Vinyasa Krama". Ok not exactly, but there's your key posture, here the variations that help you approach it and there variations that allow you to extend , develop and even transform it, Interesting.
All week I've been looking forward to today to try it out.
One thing though....it's topsy, turvy, it's Alice through the looking glass, from an Ashtangi's perspective that is.
You start off with Pranayama, OK, I heard Tim Miller does that, or at least he does it before he a starts his own practice. Next up though is a long headstand (after sun salutation) and then Halasana (plough) and get this, you end the practice with a triangle posture. That's messed up.....or is it?
Something the better side of me has been wanting for a long while is a simpler practice with a greater focus on Pranayama and long headstands. Great, I get to start the practice with them. I know that whatever else happens, whether I'm running late or not, I'm going to get ten to fifteen minutes of Pranayama and a ten minute Headstand, If i have to drop anything it will be the arm balances that come right at the end.
Anyway I practiced it this morning and it was wonderful. Loved the Pranayama and Sirsasana and I imagine if your having trouble getting on the mat then this might be for you (don't think any further ahead than the breathing and standing on your head, let the rest lead on from that). I'm familiar enough now with all the Vinyasa Krama variations that I could just add some to the key stages. Some Supine variations to the Shoulderstand, plough and bridge. The book too has lots of variations that I'm familiar with from VK so I did some of those for Seated, chucked in Vipparita Slamabhasana and Ganda B in the locust section aftera little of it's prep, Kapo etc in Bow and so on.
Practice came out at two hours, but I was exploring. On a regular work day I'd pick a different section to develop on alternating days, a ninty minute practice including the pranayama. The book has sections called cycles, the backbend cycle, lotus cycle, seated cycle, these kind of correspond to the Vinyasa Krama sequences. So Monday I might explore the seated cycle/sequence, Tuseday arm balance cycle/Inverted sequence...
Best of all it's so not Ashtanga, it's completely different, it's... Sivananda Vinyasa Krama, which means I can still do a couple of Ashtanga practices in the evening for the sheer joy of it without it seeping into my morning Vinyasa Krama practice.
Oh, another great thing about the book is a nice section on Pranayama and even one on Kriyas, there's also a little anatomy section in the back, check it out on Amazon LOOK INSIDE feature. In the US it's called The Sivananda companion to Yoga but I'm pretty sure it's the same book.
So I'll explore this for the next week or two and see how it works out. I need to read the book too, rather than just looking at all the pretty pictures and charts. At the moment all I'm doing is nicking the framework for my Vinyasa Krama practice, perhaps it's not as compatible with Vinyasa Krama as it at first appears.
Anybody know any good Sivananda blogs, always good to hear from somebody who's actually practicing something day in day out.
Still love the look of the book but think this was a bit of a wrong turn for me. Thought I could just take the structure and bring in breath awareness, bandhas and more Vinyasa Krama developing that variation aspect inherent in Sivananda practice. Was just all over the place yesterday and had a frustrating, irritating practice. I seem to need a standing sequence as a warm up and like how the poses develop from one another in Vinyasa Krama (and ashtanga, to a lesser degree). Interesting experiment though