The Blog title poster above forms part of a series of posters I made up for a book, 'Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga Yoga', based on the public domain translation from the Tamil edition of Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (Mysore 1934) . It's available for free on my Free Downloads page above. There is a print edition on Lulu.com ( Note: It's best to buy it in print from Lulu as I can reduce the price down almost to cost rather than on Amazon where I have less control of pricing.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Vinyasa Krama Meditative poses sequence

I'm still finding it hard to see Kapo, and especially the one legged version Eka pada raja kapotasana, as meditative but everything is built around the classic meditative posture, vajrasana, so I take the point. I've been doing backbending subroutines all week to build up to filming this as it's the last main sequence I needed for the sister blog. Despite the extra backbending I still didn't manage to land on my heels in the kapo's (seems to come and go) and had to walk in.

The Ustrasana is the scary pose for me here. In Ashtanga we dropback into kapo but here you drop back to Ustrasana, ideally straight on to the heels and then push up straightening the arms as much as possible, very deep backbend. Then you lower down into your kapo. I'm looking at Sweeney's Kapo B in his book, he takes the heel in Kapo A then releases them before pushing up to Kapo B.

Oh and of course in Vinyasa krama the heels as well as the knees are supposed to be together for the kapo's etc dropbacks too for that matter, maybe one day.

Eka pada raja Kapotasana is of course scary too, balance is the concern here and figuring out where the heck your foot has disappeared to.

So here's the full sequence with some clumsy editing (sorry, hadn't planned on filming it just then) and below the links to the individual subroutines on the sister blog Vinyasa Krama yoga Sequences and subroutines


Now you don't have to practice this as a stand alone sequence, although it's useful at first to see how the postures relate to and often build upon each other. You can practice the subroutines found within the full sequence separately. I tend to do the kapotasana subroutine after most of the Vinyasa Bow sequence every other day to give a strong backbend focus. If your still working on developing your lotus then the Vajrasana subroutine might be a nice option towards the end of your practice. Here's a link to some of my daily practice sequences to give one idea of how you might develop a practice out of Vinyasa Krama subroutines.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

backbends ......behind the scenes

Coming up from UD and dropping back.


Now it struck me the other morning that I don't tend to show the whole story with regard to my dropbacks etc. I mean you don't want to see all the faffing about right, the coming and going, walking onto the mat, walking back to the camera to turn it off, your busy yogi's you expect a little editing, you just want the main event. And yet it struck me that it gives the impression that I just stand there, drop back, come back up, finish. And something else struck me, if that is how it appears watching the video then is that what, all you who are working on coming up and dropping back, expect. I think I just expected to come up one day and drop back first time. Actually I did dropback first time I tried but the second time, a week later, I landed on my head.

Now I can dropback cold and seven times out of ten come up first time but as a rule I tend to faff about a little. I stretch back and forward, wake my hips up..... well here's the whole story...

Actually there is a little more. I usually get on the mat around 5:30 AM and do ten - fifteen minutes of Tadasana and that includes a couple of light back stretches, which if you haven't seen them before are here here , 3 minutes into the video. Then it's into my backbend faffing about.

What happens in the shalas I wonder, does every one work up to, lots of swaying back and forth, etra little stretches here and there or is it just one, two three.....


PS. Just wanted to mention a blog many might miss in my blog list as it's in Japanese. have a look at this post on C's Practice, practice, practice blog. It's has pictures of a 2nd series led class and there's a video at the end of everybody dropping back . Complete opposite of my faffing about. Everyone drops back over a count of five and come straight back up on a count of three. Check it out here.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Tapas poses : On one leg sequences

Loved how Ramaswami introduced this series on the course. He said that these poses were tapas postures. Tapas postures are those you use to gain the attention of the gods. In the Mahabharata, Amba says she stood on one toe in the snows of the Himalayas for eleven years....can't complain about three to six breaths then then.

This is an evil series and balance poses have always been one of my weakest areas and yet it's grown on me, these poses have grown on me. I'm less excited by the fancy arm balances these days, give me the classical natajarasana or a half decent, steady uttita hasta padangushtasana.

Oh, I was just reading the Darby's interview in the Guruji book and they said Uttita hasta padangushtasana used to be introduced with intermediate poses, back in the day. That interview is worth the price of the book alone, Joanne Darby! Think that was the interview unless I've mixed them up, twenty- thirty interviews, twenty-thirty Ashtanga's, all different and all the same and all the better for it.

So one leg sequence


Highlights for me, engaging bandhas deeply in Bhairatasana, the squats in Vrikasana (also the low point, agony) Supposed to be able to come back up with control as well, you can see me try for a moment before bailing and putting my hands down.

I like the squat in Uttita hasta Padangushtasana, when I practice at home after coming up I let go and hold my leg out alla ashtanga (utthita hasta padasana), don't do it here because I'm trying to stick to the book and it's not in VK.

Virabharasana...... not good at it, Ramaswami made us go lower on the course, I try at home but played safe for the shot here. I like it when you come all the way up and get it just right, everything in a line, feels good.

Natajarasana is only hinted at in the video below as I hadn't done any backbend prep. I've done it better in the link above but can still only hold it for a breath or two, love the thought of one day being able to hold it for ten long, slow, steady breaths.

Durvasana, love the idea of it. I'm used to getting into it from seated, can't get my leg far enough over from standing without hopping all over the mat, played safe again here just to hint at it.

So, as evil as the triangle sequencee ( it too has lots of one leg squats ) but with more charm about it, no wonder the gods would pay attention. Didn't Siddhartha stand on his leg all night outside his fathers room so he would be allowed to leave the palace in Hesse's book.

One more thing, this is presented as a sequence and you can practice it like that, all in one go or you can divide it into subroutines as above and practice just one or more as part of your regular practice, perhaps rotating the subroutines over a week or so.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Mantra meditation : Gayatrii Japam, 1008

OK, a very quick post on this in case someone on the other side of the Atlantic ,waking up soon, might feel like doing this today.

I saw this yesterday in one of Ramaswami's status updates

"On the full moon day (today) during this Shravana month(aug15/Sep15) many in India who have bee initiated into vedic studies do a ceremony restarting the vedic studiess. The following day one sits down and does 1008 japa of the famous Gayatri mantra, after doing 10 times of mantra pranayama."

I've been practicing mantra meditation since the course last month, usually fifteen minutes to half an hour but had been considering a longer sit. I worked it out, 108 gayatrii's would take around fifteen minutes, that means what, well over two hours, strewth.

Then again, on the course Ramaswami chanted the Sury Namaskara mantra from Yajur Veda, it took 2hrs and we would do a Sun salute after each of the 32 sections. I thought that if the course had been this month then Ramaswami would perhaps have invited us to practice the gayatri japam in the mantra and meditation class to give us a little taste of the experience of a longer mantra meditation session.

So this morning I got up at 5am, did half an hour of asana, 10 rounds of Nadi Shodana with the full pranayama mantra followed by the 1008 gayatri's. Actually it went quite quickly, I had to stand up and walk around for five minutes in the middle and needed to change posture a couple of times but otherwise it was quite pleasant.

The hardest thing for me was the mantra. I'm used to saying the pranayama mantra forty odd times a day which contains the gayatrii mantra in the middle although in a slightly different form. I kept mixing up the beginning (where it differs slightly) or I would forget to stop and keep on going half way through the full pranayama mantra before I realized. Helped keep me focused though.

I want to write more about mantra meditation but need to get off to work and am too mellowed out to write much anyway.

But if your tempted, and your taking today as you day off practice for moon day then here's the gayatrii mantra

Aum Bhur Bhuvah Swah, Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi, Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat

or you might prefer this transliteration

Om bhur bhuvah svah
tat-savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah pracodayat


A link to a site with the mantra's meaning, word by word here or perhaps this one here

and another site that seems to detail the full gayatrii japam ritual, here.

A quick note on counting. I used my 108 bead mala, going round nine times then an the extra 36 on my 36 bead wrist mala. I used japanese Go stones to mark each time around the mala, Curious to know how it's normally counted.

Let me know if you give it a go and how it went.

UPDATE

I've been reflecting on this a little since yesterday. Two hours, two hours! Actually it was more like two and a quarter, that's a long sit. In the past I've sat mainly for forty minutes, very occasionally fifty at a time. Some day's I sat for forty, did a kind of walking meditation for ten minutes and then sat again for another forty. Many years ago I sat in the Zen'ish tradition but for the last few years I've practiced Vipassana. The Zen was too long ago for me to comment on now except to say forty minutes can seem a long time attempting to keep the mind empty whether holding thoughts at bay or letting them float on through.

Vipassana though, funny, but for all my blogging about asana I've never really wanted to write about my meditation. In the last year or so I've been questioning my Vipassana practice, perhaps in a similar way to how I've been questioning ashtanga. Coming from an analytical, philosophical background (Psych's seem to be drawn to it too as well as those in search of free therapy ) Vipassana seems ideal, don't fight the thoughts, push them away or ignore them as they float by, mentally note them instead, make them the objects of your meditation, the aches that come up, the emotions, the dominant thoughts,note em all, more grist to the mill (over simplification, i know but roll with me here).

Of course this is bad practice, your not supposed to get sucked into them but keep an objectivity, just be present. Hard though , so easy to get suckered into analyzing everything, there's that potentiality in the practice that can lead to a tendency, just as in Ashtanga there is the potentiality to end up getting wrapped up in the next pose, next sequence, to focus too much on the asana. Again bad practice perhaps but not surprising so many of us end up in that tendency. What draws us to the practice, whether Vipassana or Ashtanga can be the very same thing which leads us astray.

Vinyasa Krama seemed a calmer practice, seemed somehow more what I needed than perhaps what I wanted at the time. I recognized it but still thought I needed an ashtanga practice. Somebody compared it to an addiction recently, yep, I can see that. I don't think I would ever have got into Yoga if I had started with Vinyasa Krama, not with my character and yet now it's the only way I want to practice.

And Mantra meditation, not convinced at all when Ramaswami introduced it into the course. Basically, the idea is that you recite a mantra in your head, don't worry about the meaning but just focus on the sound and keep bringing the mind back to that. I've worked on breath meditation, bringing the mind back to the breath, it's kind of a warm up in Vipassana and Jana, it's similar. And that's it. That's it? No noting, is there no more, nope, just keep bringing the mind gently back to the sound of the mantra, perhaps focus on the third eye, but that's pretty much the practice as I understand it.

I've been doing that for fifteen minutes, in the morning, half hour in the evening but had felt a little unsatisfied, still kind of felt like a warm up. It took a month. Last week It finally started to sink in, quite a profound peace, a stillness. And yesterday two hours bringing the mind back to a mantra, focus, concentration, one pointedness you can see where it's going. A mantra, so much easier than the breath or was it that I'd preceded it with the pranayama and some asana. Is there something to Mr Patanjali after all, asana, pranayama, meditation, prepare the mind for meditation, then go ahead and meditate.

I'm not dissing Vipassana, not in the slightest but perhaps it's not best suited to me, and perhaps for the very reasons I'm drawn to it.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

New Vinyasa Krama Yoga Blog, sequences and subroutines.

Here's an open invitation to visit my new blog, Vinyasa Krama Yoga, sequences & subroutines, humbly dedicated to my teacher Srivatsa Ramaswami. I want to stress humbly because the blog is intended as a presentation of the sequences and subroutines found in his book The complete book of Vinyasa Yoga and yet there are so many errors and inaccuracies that I hesitate to make the association. I hope to update most of the videos ( mostly taken before I attended his VK TT course ) over time to bring them into greater correspondence with the text.

Although much taken with the book, when I first came across it around June 2009 (here's my review, the day after I received it ) I found it difficult to develop a practice based upon it. I was used to Ashtanga and the same set postures every day, faced with the 10 sequences in the book and it's hundreds of vinyasas as well as no DVD's available (unlike Ashtanga ) I really didn't know where to start.

Having so many vinyasas (variations ) made it difficult to learn too, I had to keep stopping to look at the book and work out where I was and how one pose moved into the next and one subroutine into another.

Ramaswami has pointed out that while good to learn the sequences as laid out in the book and how each pose relates to one another, one should not necessarily approach one's daily practice in this manner. He did suggest however, that it might be beneficial to occasionally review the sequences.

The key, for me at least, has been to be to see the book as a collection of subroutines rather than whole sequences or individual postures. In your practice you might do a number of subroutines taken from different sequences based on the needs of your body and ability. Ramaswami stresses some key postures that his teacher, Krishnamacharya, recommended to practice daily, long stays in Paschimottanasana, Sarvangasana, Sirsasana and maha mudra and that, in your daily practice, you might aim to include these postures while attempting to cover a wide range of vinyasas over a weekly or fortnightly cycle.

The new blog seeks to present the different subroutines in order of the book, as divided up and numbered by Ramaswami in his September newsletter. The hope is that a visual representation may help in learning the sequences and transitions.

Here, In my current blog , over the last few weeks I've included some practice reports. The idea is that in the future I can present a report with links to the different subroutines on the sister blog, as well as offering some alternative practices aimed at different levels of ability.

So, for example, I tend to do a variation of the backbend focused practice below, pretty much every other day just switching some of the different vinyasas but keeping a large backbending element. A click on the highlighted subroutine takes you to the video on the sister blog.

Tadasana p.1
Usual key vinyasas but extra attention on backbend variations
*Dropbacks x 5 including Eka & Dwi pada chakra bandhasana.

Triangle Element p.147

On one leg element p87
Standing marichi, Ardha-Badha-padmasana in Vrikshasana (half locked lotus in tree pose inc toe balance) *Natajarasana

*I should really be doing my Paschimottanasana here before Bow rather than after but I want to take a long 10 min paschi as a counterpose to all the backbends coming up.

Bow Sequence p.137

Meditative pose Sequence p.176
Ustrasana (camel) subroutine, includes *Kapotasana and *Eka Pada kapotasana

Paschimottanasana p.71 10 min.
as counter to all the backbending

Apanasana (pelvic lift)
U- formation (arms and legs raised while supine)
Dwipadpitam (Desk pose)

Shoulderstand 5mins p.123
Dropping back into uttana mayurasana as a counterpose

Headstand 10 mins p.161

Shoulderstand 5 mins p.123

feet together UD as counterpose

Lotus element p.189
Bhandrasana (peaceful pose), Yoga mudra and it's vinyasas etc

Kapalabhati 108

Pranayama
Nadi Shodhana 30 minutes

Pratyahara 3min

Mantra meditation 30 min

takes about 2 1/2 hours

As you can see, there are still some videos I haven't posted. I'm thinking it might be possible to link the videos together and perhaps speed it up to have a video of the actual practice. I'm planning on posting some pranayama videos in the next week or two as well. I also hope to link from there to posts here on some of the more challenging postures I've already posted on in the context of Ashtanga.

The new blog then, is intended as an aid/resource to help in developing a Vinyasa Krama practice, to make it easier, more accessible, as such I welcome suggestions and recommendations for improving it.

Links to the individual subroutines can also be found at the bottom of this blog

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Aparigraha : A story

Aparigraha (non-accumulation) the fifth yama.

I was reading David Hurwitz's new book, A Brief Introduction to Yoga Philosophy and came across a story that I remember Ramaswami telling in the Yoga Sutra class on the VK TT course. This is not surprising as the subtitle of the book is, Based on the Lectures of Srivatsa Ramaswami. David took the Yoga sutra class twice and I think he even taped it.

So I've met David a couple of times and I even owe him lunch so take that in consideration if I overdo the plug. If you click on the link above it'll take you to Amazon and you can have a 'Look Inside' for yourself. It's basically notes on and around the Yoga Sutras. It's not a commentary as such and it can be frustrating as it often doesn't follow a liner structure. However if you read it as a collection of detailed notes and background notes it's rewarding.

I recommend reading it straight through once, just roll with it, eventually it all starts to come together. Then keep it beside you the next time you read through the Sutras, it's then it'll come into it's own.

One thing though, an index and glossary would have been nice, that said it's small enough, with lots of headings that you can flick through it to find what you need.

But to the story. I was going to type it out but my typing is slow and clumsy and my eyes are pretty bad. I decided to tell it myself and record it, not as good as either Ramaswami or David's telling perhaps but will have to do.

Sorry about the sound quality, the whirring is the camera




David and Ramaswami wrote a book together, Yoga beneath the Surface. Excellent book, highly recommended, it has a question and answer layout and will probably answer any question you have about Vinyasa krama as well as many you may have about Yoga in general. Again you can take a 'Look Inside' on the link above.


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Two week Tadasana challenge

OK, I wanted to make it a Five week Tadasana challenge (the length of the VK TT course where we did this everyday, often twice a day) but thought that might be pushing it, besides I noticed the difference after a couple of weeks if not after the first week.

Now you know how I've been about arm balances and all that other crazy stuff, there's got to be something in this for me to get so excited about just waving my arms up and down

If I could put my finger on one thing that's transformed my practice it's the 'tadasana' sequence from the 'On your feet' chapter (chapt 1) from Ramaswami's Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga. I used to do it occasionally before I attended the course, I liked it, nice to do a for a few minutes when I'd first step on the mat. However, a completely different ball game when Ramaswami teaches it.

The first thing to mention is the pelvis. In all of these variations, and the full sequence can go on for forty minutes, you are stretching/lifting up and then out of the pelvis as much as possible. You raise your arms slowly up over your head, lifting up out of your pelvis and then keep lifting as you "stretch, stretch, stretch' all the way up and then try to stay lifted as you lower your arms with the exhale. You keep coming back to it, each vinyasa, one after the other being constantly mindful of your pelvis, mentally reminding yourself to lift and stay lifted.

Do this sequence, even if it's the shortened version ( and I have two here one at ten minute and one at just under twenty minutes) and it stays with you, through your backbends, your twists, forward bends and that makes a difference, it all becomes a little easier, deeper and probably safer.

The arms and shoulders. God it hurts after a while, you can really feel it, Vinyasa Krama is not a soft option, it probably helped my arm balances but mostly you just feel longer, taller, stretched out, am I overcooking this?

The breath. Your just standing there right, lifting your arms up and down, some slight variations but basically just standing there. You can really concentrate on your breath, making it longer, steadier. You can engage your bandhas, lots to explore while you do this deceptively simple sequence.

Balance. You keep coming back to it. After a couple of vinyasas you might take a moment, move your hips a little forward shoulders back, settle deeper into jalahandra bandha, pick your drishti on the mat, take a breath or two before the next Vinyasa, your constantly resetting yourself up, great training.

OK, perhaps if I'd gone to a shala from the start I might have had some of this drummed into me, but pretty much everyone I spoke to on the course about this seemed to experience the same thing.

So the challenge, two weeks, do one of these every day as soon as you step on the mat, before your Sury namaskaras perhaps, and see if you notice a difference in all areas of your practice.

Of course if you go to a Shala and can't do it there before practice why not try it at home, 10 minutes after work before some pranayama and meditation perhaps.

So here is the quick ten minute version.


The twenty minute version below is split into two parts because of the Youtube limit
Part 2


And the full sequence speeded up times 4. This was filmed before the course so some little mistakes here and there which I point out on an earlier post here. I haven't looked but I wonder if you can see the difference between the one below from a few months ago and those above from last week.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Garbha pindasana - getting the arms through

I don't tend to do this posture as often in Vinyasa krama as in Ashtanga, so had to relearn how best to get my arms through. Also I'm not as sweaty in the slower VK practice.

Here, once in lotus, I lift my left leg a little away from the right holding just above the ankle. this creates a little more space to get the first arm through. For the second arm I press the top side of my left foot against my right thigh flexing the ankle a little to lever the leg up a little thus creating more of an opening to pass the arm through.


A water spray on the arms and legs also helps.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana after standard Kapo

Boodiba mentioned that she slips in a Kapotasana before EPRK and that she finds it helps. Tried it this morning and it was much better, more space. Was pleased with my kapo too, first time catching my heels for a long time. Pleased, that was, until I watched the video a moment ago, all bit untidy, elbows really sticking out, oh well.



Practice was nice this morning, Saturday backbends.

Tadasana sequence (A post coming on this in the next couple of days with a ten minute version video, can't stress enough how much it's helped almost every area of my practice, all that lifting out of the pelvis)
Dropbacks X 5
A little Triangle and On one leg

Bow sequence with Viparita Salabhasana and Ganda B
Ustrasana and Kapo
Eka pada raja kapotasana
Leg raises in UD inc forearm version
Natajarasana A and B

10 minute Paschimottanasana
Shoulderstand prep
5 Min Shoulderstand
10 min Headstand
5 min shoulderstand plus halasana etc

30 min pranayama
10 min mantra Meditation

Thinking I should use Sunday for those sequences I don't get around to during the week, Some of the Supine and lotus subroutines perhaps.

have a good weekend

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The itouch and the modern Yogi

See, Larry Payne would love this blog title, using 'itouch' bound to increase hits. He suggested, on the business section of the recent TT course, that we start a blog and create posts that link to something topical thus increasing our profile. This is pretty much the only thing I remember from that portion of the course, it was the only note I took and I ended it with several exclamation marks out of disgust.

Why does does yoga and business wind so many of us up? I've been thinking about this in the fall out to the NYT Anusura article. Do we even have it in the UK? I don't know anyone who practices it, never likely to go to a class and yet I react against it almost immediately. Same with Joisyoga, hackles straight up and I know a lot of yogis have the same reaction to Bikram. Curiously I never felt that way about Bikram, perhaps I never really thought of it as yoga, it was just that Hot, sweaty, Bikram thingy. I came across a couple of Bikram blogs, just like this one and others in my blog list, people loving their Yoga, enthusiastic about their practice. That's what matters right, it always comes down to you and the mat, everything else is periphery. So if someone can recommend a nice Anusura blog, not a teacher, just a regular practitioner loving their practice, might be good to read that and put it in perspective.

But back to the why does yoga and business wind some of us up question. For me, my practice, my couple of hours on the mat every morning, is this perfect space, somehow separate from everything ignoble and... disappointing, in the world. Something honest about it, struggling with this, overcoming that, finding determination here, exhilaration there. The peace, when it comes and the calm. You just don't want all that associated in any way with money and 'increasing your profile', business models and trappings of wealth. Idealistic, yep disregarding the realities, no doubt.

God, hadn't planned on going there, back to the itouch and the modern yogi. The pranayama app, was useful in the beginning though I don't use it anymore, the meditation timer though is excellent, I use it to time my 10 minute paschimottanasana, 5 minute shoulderstands and 10 min headstands. This morning I used my itouch for the Sun salutations with mantras. I don't practice this enough so haven't learned them all, this way I can load the video, hit play and practice along. It's laid out in Ramaswamis Complete book of Vinyasa Krama and we did it a couple of times on the course. This morning I slipped it in after the tadasana subroutine. It's hard work, your having to hold each position on the breath retention while saying the mantra in your head.
Here it is.



Tuesday, 10 August 2010

My two ideal Vinyasa Krama practices

Below are my two, personal, model practices, one with a forward bending and leg behind head focus the other focusing on back bending. Since the June/July VK course I've pretty much been alternating between variations of these, three days on one, three days on the other plus a rest day. My Friday Primary fits into the forward bending/LBH focus, as I include a Dwi Pada Sirsasana entry into Supta kurmasana, it's close enough.

I tend to vary some of the subroutines and vinyasas in the different sequences to cover a wide range of postures throughout the week while retaining the main focus of the practice.

One of the benefits of coming to Vinyasa Krama from Ashtanga has been the awareness of how important it is to work on the same challenging asanas, if not daily then, every other day. While there's a lot to be gained from working through the different postures and vinyasa, I don't believe your going to get far with your Kapo or Leg behind head poses if you only practice them once a week. It takes time gaining the confidence to enter the more difficult asana and even longer becoming comfortable in them such that you can slow and control the breath. The approach below seems to balance exploring and rotating the range of postures and Vinyasas while keeping a regular focus on the more challenging poses.

It could be argued that while not practicing Kapo say, you can still work on deep backbends from the different sequences. One day you might practice Viparita Salabhasana, another day the dropback in tadasana, perhaps Natajarasana on still another. That's true, but however deep your backbend nothing quite prepares you for Kapo like, well, Kapo. I find the same goes for Natajarasana, I need to work on it pretty much everyday.

Something I've struggled with recently is the balance between pranyama/meditation and asana. I'm sold on Pranayama, I love it, in my evening practice I do just fifteen minutes of asana and seventy-five of pranayama/meditation, the asana is preparation for the pranayama, how it should be. I'm tempted to do something similar in the morning, perhaps an hour of asana and ninety of pranayama/meditation. An hour would only cover the essentials, however, Tadasana and the long stays in Paschimottanasana, shoulderstand and headstand, I might have lost some of the asana madness but asanas still have their allure. I'm less acquisitive of postures perhaps but I still enjoy exploring them. I've become a bit of a girls blouse about it too (as my father would say), more interested in the classical standing postures than arm balances and I can't seem to resist the leg raises, I used to be the same about redheads.

Guess I'm just not ready to let go of it yet. A bit of Abhinivasah in this perhaps. Doesn't help that I seem to be in such a good place at the moment with regards my practice. Postures seem to be coming along nicely and almost anything seems approachable, mentally I feel relaxed and comfortable with where I am and what I'm doing.

So why the backbending and Leg behind head focus? The more challenging asana often seem to fall into these two camps, think Kapo, Natajarasana, Chakra bandhasana, Ganda B in backbending and Durvasna, Dwi pada sirsasana, Omkarasana etc. in LBH. Some of those other nasty postures like Yoga dandasana will benefit from the work done in LBH too. I came to VK from Ashtanga and had a pretty deep Kapo and Dwi pada, for me it's a case of keeping them up and perhaps extending their expressions a little more. By creating a focus on these kind of poses in my practice I'm able to choose postures in the earlier stages that prepare me nicely, the gentle backbends in 'Tadasana' say or half lotus tree pose in the 'On one leg' sequence.

Of course you could develop a practice with a different focus but this seems to be working for me at the moment.

Sunday 8th Aug AM 6:30 start Backbending focus


Tadasana p.1
Usual key vinyasas but extra attention on backbend variations
*Dropbacks x 5 including Eka & Dwi pada chakra bandhasana.

Triangle Element p.147

On one leg element p87
Standing marichi, Ardha-Badha-padmasana in Vrikshasana (half locked lotus in tree pose inc toe balance) *Natajarasana

*I should really be doing my Paschimottanasana here before Bow rather than after but I want to take a long 10 min paschi as a counterpose to all the backbends coming up.

Bow Sequence p.137

Meditative pose Sequence p.176
Ustrasana (camel) subroutine, includes *Kapotasana and *Eka Pada kapotasana

Paschimottanasana p.71 10 min.
as counter to all the backbending

Apanasana (pelvic lift)
U- formation (arms and legs raised while supine)
Dwipadpitam (Desk pose)

Shoulderstand 5mins p.123
Dropping back into uttana mayurasana as a counterpose

Headstand 10 mins p.161

Shoulderstand 5 mins p.123

feet together UD as counterpose

Lotus element p.189
Bhandrasana (peaceful pose), Yoga mudra and it's vinyasas etc

Kapalabhati 108

Pranayama
Nadi Shodhana 30 minutes

Pratyahara 3min

Mantra meditation 30 min

Came out at about 2 1/2 hours


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Monday 9th AM 5:30 start Forward bend and leg behind head focus

Tadasana p.1
Usual key vinyasas
Dropbacks x 3

Triangle Element p.147
Usual key vinyasas I tend to do Uttita trikonasana, Parivritta Trikonasana, Uttita Parsva konasana and Prasarita Padottanasana daily occasionally adding something different

On one leg element p87
Uttita Padangustasana subroutine, Half lotus routine, *Natajarasana


Asymmetric Element p.35
This morning it was *Hanumanasana, *Eka pada raja kapotasana. Mahamudra, Ardha padmasana subroutine (half lotus), Akarna Danurasana (archer) , Kraunchasana (heron),*Eka pada sirsasana subroutine (leg behind head).

Seated element p.71
10 min Paschimottanasana, Upavishta konasana subroutine, Kukkutasana, *Dwi pada sirsasana, Supta Kurmasana, *Yoga nidra

Shoulderstand prep p.122
Apanasana (pelvic lift)
U- formation (arms and legs raised while supine)
Dwipadpitam (Desk pose)

Shoulderstand 5mins p.123
Dropping back into uttana mayurasana as a counterpose

Headstand 10 minsp.161
inc. some lotus variations

Shoulderstand 5 mins p.123
inc. some leg to floor in frount and behind vinyasas.

feet together UD as counterpose

Lotus element p.189
Bhandrasana (peaceful pose), Yoga mudra and it's vinyasas etc

Kapalabhati 108

Pranayama
Nadi Shodhana 30 minutes

Pratyahara 3min

Mantra meditation 30 min

Again, came out at about 2 1/2 hours

* I've put a star against some of the more challenging postures, if they are a bit much you could leave them out or slip in something else, possibly a couple of the postures in the book leading up to them.

Monday, 9 August 2010

One more leg raise, Tirang mukkha Uttanasana



A couple of weeks ago I posted on leg raises, something I've been exploring recently. Just come up with another one, think it might be called Eka pada chakra bandhasana.

Very much work in progress but the idea seems to be to drop back, walk in and lower to forearms. I thought it was perfect for another bit of leg raising, checked my Sweeney and there it was in the asana dictionary.

I'm interested in the forearm bit as I figure it's going to give me confidence to drop all the way over from Pinca, came close this morning but bailed at the last minute.

So, if your feeling a little bored with your dropbacks....



According to the Sweeney book, both forearms on the mat is called Dwi pada chakra bandhasana.






Come to think of it I think I saw this on Tony Sanchez's Yoga challenge IV video.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

"...Forgive me for setting my feet and walking on you,"

"samudra vasate devi
parvata stana mandite
vishnu patni namastubhyam
paada chaaram kshamasva me"


"Oh beautiful Mother Earth with rivers and mountains! Salutations to you, the consort of Lord Vishna. Forgive me for setting my feet and walking on you, the Divine."


Love this, Ramaswami mentioned a prayer his father used to say every morning before getting out of bed. I asked him about it again this week and he got back to me with the sloka and then with it's translation (or was that the other way around).

Not sure why I'm so taken with this, just seems a great way to start your day.

Friday, 6 August 2010

From the practice diary : Shorter practice

This is yesterday's practice, thought it makes a nice contrast with Tuesday's which, my day off. Yesterday was a bit rushed, I only had an hour and a half as opposed to the two and a half hours available Tuesday. My usual practice is about two hours so these are the extremes.

Just the bare minimum though some nice variations/vinyasas in headstand and the second shoulderstand

Tadasana p.1
Just the key/essential daily vinyasas (see tuesday)

Dropbacks x 5

Triangle Element p.147
Prasarita Padottanasana

Seated element p.71
5 min Paschimottanasana,

Shoulderstand prep p.122
Apanasana (pelvic lift)
U- formation (arms and legs raised while supine)
Dwipadpitam (Desk pose)

Shoulderstand 5mins p.123
Dropping back into uttana mayurasana as a counterpose

Headstand 10 minsp.161
inc. some lotus variations

Shoulderstand 5 mins p.123
inc. some leg to flour infrount and behind vinyasas.

feet together UD as counterpose

Kapalabhati 108 (in Lotus)

Pranayama 15 min
Viloma ujaii

Pratyahara 3min

Mantra meditation 15 min

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

From the practice diary

I've been keeping a practice diary since I came back from the VK TT course and plan on posting them backdated. They'll just appear between past posts, I'll make a label which will bring them all up in order. It should show how I'm approaching my VK practice and how it retains a basic structure while alternating through the different subroutines. Until I get around to that, here's today's practice

Tadasana p.1
Just the key/essential daily vinyasas. Below is a highly edited version of that taken from the full sequence which can be found here (pre course). Just bought a secondhand HD camera which should arrive tomorrow, I want to record all the subroutines (see list bottom of blog), as I remember them from the course.


Dropbacks x 5

Triangle Element p.147
Usual key vinyasas I tend to do Uttita trikonasana, Parivritta Trikonasana, Uttita Parsva konasana and Prasarita Padottanasana daily occasionally adding something different

On one leg element p87
Uttita Padangustasana subroutine, *Natajarasana

Asymmetric Element p.35
This morning it was Tiryang mukkha ekapadasana subroutine inc. the hybrid Marichi version, *Hanumanasana, *Eka pada raja kapotasana. Mahamudra *Eka pada sirsasana subroutine

Seated element p.71
10 min Paschimottanasana, Upavishta konasana subroutine, Kukkutasana, *Dwi pada sirsasana Supta Kurmasana, *Yoga nidra

Shoulderstand prep p.122
Apanasana (pelvic lift)
U- formation (arms and legs raised while supine)
Dwipadpitam (Desk pose)

Shoulderstand 5mins p.123
Dropping back into uttana mayurasana as a counterpose

Headstand 10 minsp.161
inc. some lotus variations

Shoulderstand 5 mins p.123
inc. some leg to flour infrount and behind vinyasas.

feet together UD as counterpose

Lotus element p.189
didn't write these down and I kind of forget but yoga mudra etc

Kapalabhati 108

Pranayama
Viloma ujaii

Pratyahara 3min

Mantra meditation 15 min

Came out at about 2 1/2 hours

* I've put a star against some of the more challenging postures, if they are a bit much you could leave them out or slip in something else, possibly a couple of the postures in the book leading up to them.

Evening practice

Asana 15 min
Sury namaskaras with handstands, Arm balances etc

Pranayama 30min
Nadi Shodana with pranayama mantra

Pratyahara 3 min

Meditation 30 min


I should point out that today was my day off. Depending on what time I manage to get up and how much faffing about I do in the morning, practice might be half hour less. To make the practice above shorter just drop some of the postures from the different sections (some of the more challenging postures perhaps) or do less repeats (we tend to repeat a posture two or more times in Vinyasa karma staying for a number of breaths on the second or third entry). Ramaswami would encourage you to maintain a long stay in paschimottanasana, shoulderstand and headstand and adapt the rest of the practice around those postures.

Monday, 2 August 2010

August 2010 Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami—2010 VK-TT Program Feedback

From August 2010 Newsletter here

Warm Summer Greetings!

DAVID HURWITZ'S New Yoga Book
As mentioned in the earlier letter, David Hurwitz's book, “A Brief
Introduction to Yoga Philosophy” is now available on line from Amazon.
The book is based on my lectures on the subject. Here is the link


**************

FORTHCOMING PROGRAMS

The India Retreat program sponsored by Loyola Marymount University is
in place and the registration is open. Please contact Alana Bray, Yoga
Coordinator at LMU at yoga@lmu.edu. The retreat description/
registration is available at the following


In September 2010, I will be doing a ten day program at Chicago Yoga
Center in Chicago. The program includes two weekend workshops on Yoga
Sutras of Patanjali (Ch I and II) and on Mantras and Meditation. The
week days program (25 hrs) will be a certificate program on “Core
Vinyasa Krama Yoga”. Contact e mail
info@yogamind.com
********
200 HR TT PROGRAM FEEDBACKS

The 200 hr Teacher Training Program at LMU concluded on July 16, 2010.
Nineteen very talented and dedicated participants were there. The
group was practically split between ladies and gentlemen. It was very
enjoyable five weeks. It was remarkable the way the group participated
in all the programs, be it the insipid (that is what it appears from
outside) Pranayama or exciting new subroutines in visesha vinyasas or
studies of texts like Yogasutras or Yoga Makaranda or plain time
filling chanting, the participation was wholehearted. It was very nice
meeting, talking, listening to or teaching for almost 200 hours and
knowing all, each one of them. Teaching has multiple benefits, you
share what you know, learn and also make a living (pravritti). Thank
you all my friends for the wonderful time. All at LMU were very
helpful. I must thank Alana, Chris, Bob, Peggy,Pat, Steven, Louise and
a host of others for their help. This 200 hr TT program in
Vinyasakrama is an earnest attempt of an old man to pass on-with
minimal tinkering what little he learnt from his Guru over many years,
practiced and assimilated.

We had 80 hrs of asana practice. We covered 10 major sequences
consisting of more than 100 subroutines and hundreds of vinyasas. Some
lost significant weight, some lowered the blood pressure, a few who
had never done Lotus were able to stay for a significant time in it
and do vinyasas too. Some said that they were breathing more freely
and deeply. I thought almost everyone went a notch up thanks to
everyone's hard work. We had 20 hrs each of Pranayama and meditation.
Almost everyone did 80 pranayamas consistently day after day and
meditated easily for about 15 minutes. All (almost) developed a well
rounded routine of asanas, pranayama and meditation, call it, if you
may, the three pronged daily yoga practice. We had 25 hrs of Yoga
Sutras including chanting, 25 hrs of Yoga for Health, 20 hrs of Sri
Krishnamacharya's works, viz., Yoga Makaranda and Yoga Rahasya. It
was a very satisfying teaching experience, with such talent and
commitment around. I hope they will be able to maintain a good daily
practice and teach too, so that they may maintain abiding interest in
Yoga
and keep developing. I was reminded of the vedic prayer of a Teacher

“May earnest students from all directions come to me
May students of varied capabilities come to me
May highly gifted students come to me
May students with self control come to me
May students with peace in their heart come to me”


It was very encouraging and may be we would repeat the program next
summer. I am mulling over the idea of making it a six week long
program, it has been a rather crowded 5 weeks, with all the weekends
also taken up, giving hardly any time to recover from a 7 hour daily
routine. It would enable everyone to reflect, renew and prepare for
the morrow.

********

COURSE PAPERS
I had requested the participants to submit a paper if they were
inclined to and few did write. I am reproducing excerpts or the whole
paper hereunder


BARRY WADSWORTH
wrote a beautiful article on Consciousness and here is an excerpt
from it.

“Being on this course, I’ve run into a whole new set of philosophies
to reconcile. In Ramaswami’s Yoga Sutras class, it became apparent
that the Yoga of Patanjali was not the yoga I had learned from
Maharishi years ago. Patanjali is said to have written the Yoga Sutras
to clarify what had become a morass of conflicting yogic philosophies
in India. It was also a reaction to challenges to “orthodox” Indian
philosophy from Jain and Buddhist sources. But, in clarifying yoga,
Patanjali actually set it apart from Vedantic Brahmanism while
introducing a devotional path for those so inclined as well as a
purely meditative path for those that do not accept the notion of a
Creator God. Patanjali’s Yoga reaches its culmination in the
realization of the individual self (atman) as separate from the
universal Self. According to Patanjali, enlightenment is a state of
duality in which the individual Self is separate from all other
phenomena, including the universal Self. The Vedantic tradition sees
this duality as the last vestige of ignorance and seeks to remove it.
Circling back to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s teaching, the dualism of
Patanjali is equivalent to the state of Cosmic Consciousness. It is a
state of liberation, but not a fully enlightened state of Unity (or
Brahman) Consciousness.”

Please read the full article from the following link

Barry also created a facebook group,Vinyasa Krama Yoga Group for
exchanging thoughts/materials on Vinyasa Krama Yoga. Here is the link

********

ANTHONY HALL
the non- teaching, 'teacher in the class',
wrote the following paper, reproduced in toto

Asana Madness :

Yoga Sutra III-37
te samadhi vupasarga vyutthane siddhaya;
For those interested in the ultimate samadhi these siddhis are
impediments even though for a distracted mind they are yogic
accomplishments YS III-37

This sutra refers back to previous sutras describing such remarkable
siddhis as gaining the strength of an elephant III-24, enormous mental
strength III-23, knowledge of the universe III-26. Here though I want
to consider this sutra in relation to advanced asana accomplishments.
While not perhaps a siddhi, is there not a sense, where the attaining
of ever more complicated and challenging asana might be considered an
impediment to yogic development.

I came to Vinyasa Krama via Ashtanga (here Ashtanga relates to the
practice associated with Pattabhi Jois )and while many senior Ashtanga
teachers will stress 'it's not about the asana' there is a tendency in
Ashtanga practice to fall into the trap of asana madness and become
fixated on the next posture, the next series. I've been guilty of this
myself, I moved on to 2nd series quite quickly and then 3rd, I seem to
remember I even tried a few 4th series postures. One of the reasons I
became interested in The Complete book of Vinyasa Krama (available
from all good bookstores) was that it covered a vast number of asanas
and appeared to offer an approach to the more complicated postures
through variations and postures that might be considered as
preparatory, staging post, poses.

A curious thing happened as I began to practice Vinyasa Krama, despite
having the freedom to try any pose without fear of the Ashtanga
police, the more complicated and challenging postures began to lose
their star quality. A long stay in Paschimottanasana or a spread leg
seated subroutine began to feel as challenging and satisfying as Purna
Matsyendrasana. I noticed I tended to feel more grounded in this
slower, deceptively gentle practice. Although the breath is stressed
in Ashtanga especially Jois' Yoga Mala (on almost every page) it
wasn't until I practiced Vinyasa Krama that I began to fully explore
the breath and bandhas as well as the feeling of truly stretching
through a pose as opposed to a mere nodding acquaintance. So the
fixation on the 'next' asana, on the ever more challenging posture
might indeed be seen as an impediment to finding the benefits inherent
in the more subtle poses and sequences.


Recently the question was raised on the Vinyasa Krama TT course, 'What
should I teach for my first Vinyasa Krama Class?' 'Tadasana sequence',
came our teachers reply. Pregnant silence. Everyone, other than our
teacher perhaps, saw the problem. Tadasana isn't sexy. Used to the
adventurous routines found in most modern yoga classes, the 'never the
same vinyasa class', Tadasana sequence might seem a little....bland?
And yet this is a shame because the sequence has been a revelation,
I've probably learnt more about yoga through this sequence over the
past month than in all three of the Ashtanga series I had practiced
previously.

And yet Vinyasa Krama, as I mentioned before, includes a vast number
of postures and variations, it's one of the facets that originally
drew me to system. Is asana madness, then, encouraged? There's a
difference. In Ashtanga there is the desire to complete the series and
then perhaps begin the next. In Vinyasa Krama the key word is Vinyasa
(variation). It's not so much a question of the next posture but of an
alternative posture. Vinyasa Krama seeks to exercise and access every
muscle and organ of the body. As an example, take the deceptively
simple Tadasana sequence again, three hasta (hand) variations change
the focus of the stretch from the thoracic to the cervical and lumbar
regions.

Maintaining interest is also recognised as an important element of
sustaining a lifelong practice and the large number of postures,
subroutines and sequences help towards this. While there are some key
postures that you are encouraged to practice everyday it is also
suggested that you add additional, supplementary sequences, as many as
time allows, so that you cover the majority of the poses available to
you within a week or so.

Vinyasa Krama does include some vary challenging postures, some found
in the advanced A and B Ashtanga series, what of these, can't these
lead to asana madness, fixation on a posture that can be an impediment
to your practice? Challenging postures, I would argue, have their
place, they can add spice to your practice and help maintain interest
but they also focus the mind intensly, although perhaps no more so
than a simple balancing posture. They can also allow you to access
deeper organs, in Purna Matsyendrasana the heel is forced ever more
deeply into the body than in a half lotus variation. I remember only a
few months ago writing a possible daily practice schedule that
included most the four and five star postures, this seems ridiculous
to me now. In vinyasa Krama the 'challenging' postures inhabit a
different environment they are features of interest in a landscape as
opposed to ledges on a rock face. It is this environmental difference
that helps me to avoid the asana madness of postural fixation that
was, I now consider, an impediment to my yoga practice.

We might take this further by considering that while challenging
postures are put into context through the use of Sub-routines and
sequences, asana too is contextualized through the importance our
teacher and his before him have placed on pranayama and meditation.
Where the challenging postures gain evermore importance as 'gate
keeper' poses in systems like Jois' ashtanga, in contrast, their role
becomes less significant in Vinyasa Krama where asana itself is placed
on an equal footing with pranayama and meditation.

Thank you so much for a wonderful course that has been everything I
had hoped and so much more besides.

Respectfully
Anthony Hall

Anthony Hall's blog

***********

CYNDI HOUCK

wrote in conclusion of her article “Yoga of Life”

“What yoga has come to mean to me is so much more than it meant even a
few weeks ago. It has been a true personal journey, opening my heart
as well as educating my mind. Even at 53 I am progressing in my asana
practice, not to where I once was (yet) but I am learning so much
about my body now. Pranayama is an exciting experience that I look
forward to. Having learned it with you Sir, I am feeling the expansion
in both my lungs and heart and the preparation for meditation. As for
meditation, I am true beginner but one who welcomes it at long last
into her life knowing the positive changes it has and will continue to
bring.”

CHRIS RAHLWES
I had expected, would write on some asanas considering his incredible
capacity for doing almost any asana and that too at the drop of a
hat, but wrote a very interesting piece on Iswara. Following is an
excerpt

“In Samakhya there is no creator and its sister philosophy, yoga,
borrows heavily from it, an example would be the concept of the 24
tattvas. I personally believe that Patanjali would not force the non-
believer to follow Isvarapranidhana in his system if this goes against
the individual’s belief, just as he would not force the believer to
reject the lord. In my mind anytime Isvara is brought up in the Sutra,
one should view it as it was stated in Sutra I-23---with an “or” in
front of it---or, at least with the idea that Isvarapranidhana is
really just asking for the individual to be modest.”

*****

LAUREEN SALOMON
in her interesting article on Becoming a Teacher concluded it as
follows
“My certainty comes in knowing that success in my own practice needs
to come first and foremost. Only then can I be an authentic and
successful teacher and example to others. This realization has slowly
crept into my mind and grows stronger as the strength of my own
practice, both of body and mind, continues to grow.
This is the surprising conclusion that I will have come away from
this training with …the inner strength and commitment to be a leader
and a teacher…but to myself first. The rest will follow. “

**********

DONALD P BRISKIN
who has been supporting me for a long time, wrote as follows

“Another important aspect of Vinyasa Krama Yoga is that I have been
impressed with is the versatility of its asana practice. This
versatility results from the sheer number of asanas within the 10 main
sequences of Vinyasa Krama Yoga , and an array of variations for each
posture. Moreover, there is also a wide range of difficulty of the
various asanas from asanas which are easy to perform to those which
are extremely difficult. As such, asana practice in Vinyasa Krama yoga
can be modified to meet the wide range of practitioners of different
skill levels(beginners to highly skilled) ages( young to elderly) and
state of general health. This versatility also allows sequences to be
adjusted to work different regions of the body according to personal
need or perhaps in a therapeutic context. Finally, sequences can be
modified simply to keep daily practice interesting, fresh and fun.
This is in contrast to other Yoga systems that I have explored where
fixed sequences, involving the same asanas, are utilized. While such
and approach can be beneficial in showing progress to the participant
towards mastery of asanas and seqence, I found that after a while
daily practice of the same sequence leads to boredom. In addition,
without the wide range in asana variation, it becomes difficult to
adjust sequences to make them accessible to beginners and challenging
to more advanced practitioners.”

**********

RENNIE SALOMON-LEVINE
whose graceful asanas were inspirational, concluded her paper as
follows

Traditional yoga is a system for self-healing on a holistic level, bringing into balance one’s physical, mental and emotional health. Unlike almost all other forms of exercise and healing, the individual is invited to actively participate in his or her own health. Yoga is more than exercise and more than a healing modality. Yoga is a lifestyle: first one implements a daily yogasana routine to promote balance, strength, and mobility; then one adds pranayama, through which the internal organs get a workout, ensuring that the entire system is functioning at its anabolic optimal level; then through meditation and chanting the patient’s mental health is also addressed. With consistent practice of the ancient art and science of traditional yoga, balance is maintained.

thank you for your energy.
thank you for your chanting.
thank you for your sattvic personality.
thank you for your inspiration.
thank you for your wisdom.

Thank you Friends, for the time and keenness about Yoga.

**********

Of all the bodies of knowledge, the knowledge of the Self/Soul is said
to be the highest (para vidya). Such knowledge is known variously as
atma vidya, para vidya, adhyatma vidya etc. Yoga, Samkhya and Vedanta,
especially the Upanishads are philosophies that deal with this para
vidya. Sri Krishnamacharya, himself a great scholar of this body of
knowledge desired and encouraged his students to learn these subjects
in depth. I had the opportunity to study many of these texts under my
guru. I intend to write about these texts in the coming letters.

If you would like to access and read the articles in the earlier
newsletters please visit my website
and click on the Newsletter tab

******

ANJALI MUDRA,--- here is an excerpt from my article on my Guru Sri
Krishnamacharya I wrote i n Namarupa a few years back. It has a
picture I took of Sri Krishnamacharya a long time back, Here is the
link
And the word Anjali itself means the cavity formed by folding and
joining the open hands together and mudra means a gesture

NAMASTE... The Sanskrit word Namaste can be split(vigraha) into namah
and te. Namah comes from the root Nam to bend/bow. And namah would
imply the act of bowing. te means 'to you' and hence namaste would
mean (I) bow to you. Socially, it is done with folded hands, in Anjali
Mudra and the head slightly down (lazy jalandharabandha) in a gesture
of bowing.

*****

Before I end, here is a dietary supplement advice given to me by my
Guru Sri Krishnamacharya. Add some ginger paste and gooseberry (amla)
paste to about 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls of yogurt made from cow's milk
(pachadi/ raita) and take it during lunch.
He also would say. ”Take care of the waist and thighs, keep them under
control and do not allow them to grow.” It would be good for yogis
to regularly watch the waist and thigh measurements.
He once said at the end of a class
“As you get older you must spend more time on aspects other than
asanas. If you do half an hour of asanas, do an hour of pranayama. If
you do one hour of pranayama then do dhyana(meditation) for twice that
time. Then you may experience a moment of Samadhi”

Best Wishes
Sincerely
Srivatsa Ramaswami

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Lotus to headstand from Vinyasa Krama Lotus sequence


I'd figured I would keep up with Ashtanga Primary and 2nd series on Friday and Saturday but decided to drop Intermediate yesterday. Enjoying VK so much at the moment and wanted to work on a lotus sequence we developed on the course, so did that instead.

I might drop Intermediate altogether and just keep Primary on Friday, I like the backbend work more in VK at the moment and tend to do arm balances in my evening practice.

I keep Primary because I still love it and like the idea of keeping some link between early and later Krishnamacharya, besides It's a nice way of practicing the Asymmetric hybrid postures.

The lotus sequence we developed on the course was to practice, as usual, through the essentials of Tadasana, some key vinyasas from Triangle and the On one foot elements ( including half lotus as prep). Then choose the Half lotus subroutine in the Asymmetric portion before Paschimottanasana. Next we go for the spread angle subroutine from Seated to open the hips nicely. Shoulderstand prep, then lotus variation in headstand and the second shoulderstand, then spend more time than usual in Lotus and it's vinyasas. The spread angle subroutine I found to be wonderful prep for my lotus.

Full Vinyasa Krama lotus sequence with practice sheets and subroutine videos as well as a speeded up x4 full sequence here.

http://grimmly2007.blogspot.jp/p/vinyasa-krama-yoga-sequences.htmlhttp://grimmly2007.blogspot.jp/p/vinyasa-krama-yoga-sequences.html

I remember trying to get the lotus to headstand move before the course, trying it again and again and not getting anywhere, seemed impossible, absurd, undoable until I saw Ricky and Chris do it in LA. Perhaps it's all the bandha work in pranayama but I managed it first time yesterday.

Note: I don't tend to think about rounding the back here, perhaps because I'm beginning from lotus rather than lowering down in karandavasana, the rounded back is more an effect of drawing the Knees up your arms towards your armpits, it's like engaging uddiyana bandha but while on an inhalation. If you aim your knees for your armpits your back is just going to curl.
Going down I tend to try and lower my lotus half way while keeping my hips high just like karandavasana and then while trying to keep the hips high curl my knees again towards my armpits and then try and glue them there as I lower eventually sliding the knees down the arms and back into your padmasana. For some resin I find it easier going up the arms than lowering the last couple of inches to a graceful rest, bit of a clunk at the end.
Here it is then, the first time properly and then the second time with a handy cheat bringing first one leg and then the other up onto the forearms.


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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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