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

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Injuries and Vinyasa Krama

One of the benefits of practicing Vinyasa Krama is it's ability to cope with injuries within the practice. If I retained any sense of caution while practicing Ashtanga it was from the fear of an injury that would keep me from my practicing. Of course, if you have an experienced teacher then no doubt you'll have help in coping with an injury but practicing at home, it would probably be a case of deciding which asana you have to leave out.

I've had two injuries since I started practicing yoga, an old knee problem that flared up while walking too long in London and the sore coccyx I have at the moment. My response to the knee problem was to only practice asana on one side, with the coccyx I'm a little better prepared.

This is where Vinyasa Krama comes into it's own. Having trouble practicing the seated* Marichiyasanas ( and I am), that's OK, there's a standing option. In fact, for pretty much all the seated postures in Ashtanga there are standing versions in VK, whether on one leg or two. Getting fed up of Standing postures? That's fine, there are versions of the seated asanas in Supine, in Shoulderstand and even headstand.

If you've came to Ashtanga from other styles of yoga then you've probably been exposed to different asanas and possibly practiced a different sequence every time you took a class. I started out with Ashtanga and it's fixed sequence, it was the only yoga I knew, I was terrified of wrist injuries.

Ramaswami recommends familiarity with as wide a range of asana as possible. Practicing the different asana allows you to access all areas of the body with a high degree of localization but it also gives you a wide range of options when faced with injury, whether your own or, I would imagine, your students.

One of the things I noted while reading Mohan's, Krishnamacharya and the Guruji book was how both teachers we're able to respond to students, referred to them by doctors, with individualized practices. I remember too, Manju Jois mentioning, in an interview how, when he would struggle with a posture, his father would give him asana that would help prepare him for the more difficult posture.

*Seated postures are OK for me at the moment as long as I sit far forward on my sit bones. Still able to do my long Paschimottanasanas and my lotus is fine for pranayama and meditation. Actually most postures are OK, it's more a case of getting in and out of them that's painful, in ashtanga I've always rocked back a little before lifting up, perhaps it's time to break that habit and work on lifting straight up.


  1. Hi Grimmly! Having been an ashtangi for 3 years, and never strayed from the set path,and then experiencing injuries, I know where you're coming from. I've myslef just found out about the Krama way, and it makes a lot of sense. I've started doing hip openers where I can't do anything heavy on the knees, seems to be working and now I know about Krama I don't beat myself up so much when I can't do them! Hope the coccyx gets better soon, I fractured mine as a child, v uncomfortable!

  2. Hi Micqui, thanks for commenting. It is a relief having all the other options and knowing your yogic world doesn't have to end. Hip openers have done wonders for my lotus. Re your knees, I had operations on mine in my twenties that forced me give up Aikido and change jobs. I have problems if I walk around too long in cold weather and can't run for very long but for some reason Yoga has been fine despite all the weird postures we get into, can even do those insane Viranchyasana B's from 3rd, go figure. Hope yours sort themselves out soon. Another good thing about the Krama options, they probably mean your less likely to rush your recovery.

    Fractured Coccyx, ouch. Hope it's not that, seeing the doctor in a fortnight.

    Good luck with the new blog.

  3. Dear Grimmly
    My left leg has been bothering me and sometimes have to go easy on some half lotus poses with it; and sometimes I can't bind on one side. Good to know you don't have to fret. Have entertained the idea of returning to home practice at least during the week. But now the new shala location is about a block behind my office! hehe.

  4. Hi Arturo. I have that a little with my left, the knee doesn't point straight down in Ardha Baddha padmottanasana, full bend in Janu C brings pause and I can't bind Purna matsyendrasana on that side. Just doesn't bend as well as the right, some days are better than others though. But, hey it could be a lot worse, still amazed i can do what I can with it after twenty years nursing it.

    I was wondering how far away your new shala was, behind your office, excellent.

    Hope your leg settles down again.



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