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Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga.
SLOW ASHTANGA : Pattabhi Jois talked in interviews, as well as when writing in Yoga Mala, that if we had less time we should practice less asana. In my own practice time is an issue. I prefer to breathe more slowly in the asana and vinyasas, lengthening my inhalation and exhalation, "slow like the pouring of oil" as Krishnamacharya puts it in Yoga Makaranda. I like to explore kumbhaka and the occasional extended stay, in Mudras especially. I also prefer to practice, much of the time, with my eyes closed, employing internal drishti at different vital focal points and I like to introduce vinyasas, extra preparatory asana on days when they feel appropriate as well as perhaps extending an asana into more challenging, 'proficient' forms on the more flexible days, in keeping perhaps with Krishnamacharya's, Primary, Middle and proficient groups of asana rather than Pattabhi Jois' fixed sequences. I like to practice Pranayama before and after my asana practice as well as finishing my practice with a 'meditative activity'. I was first introduced to Yoga through the Ashtanga sequences and I still maintain that general structure in my main practice but I would rather sacrifice half or more than half a sequence than these other factors and perhaps practice the asana ‘missed’ in the following days, I still consider this to be Ashtanga, Slow Ashtanga.
Monday, 22 August 2011
The Seven deadlies, 2nd series headstands. UPDATED with 'distinct' chaturanga
A couple of years back I had started doing a half drop, bringing the legs slowly down to pike and then dropping from there. The main reason was that it was a lot quiter on my floorboards of a morning but I figured it was probably gentler on the toes too.
The full drop from headstand can be a little daunting, the half version less so but I think there's also something about lowering the legs half way that sets you up for a more controlled drop which you can then shift to the full drop.
I'm engaging my bandhas ( clenching your butt and sucking in your belly is the simplest way to describe that, gets a little more subtle as you explore the bandhas more but it's enough to be going on with) and pushing down into the mat as I drop which slows the descent, sucks some of the energy out of the drop and gives me time to bring my hands into position.
The hand thing can be tricky. I used to balance on my head for a moment (fraction of a second) while I started to move my hands, kind of get ahead of the game if you like.
I've seen a few different versions of this, I do it Chuck style, stepping in lowering one knee then the other before getting my hands in position but I've seen a little mini jump to both knees. Kino has a neat version, she pretty much stays in down dog lowers her head, then brings her arms into position.
You can go up one leg at a time or bring your knees to your chest and push up from there but the float up is nice. The trick to floating up is walking in as close as you can bringing your hips over your shoulders, as you lean back a little your legs pretty much start to go up on their own, although your belly strength will have to do the rest of the work.
The trickiest one is baddha haste Sirsasana C or the 6th one with your hands in pincha but it's just a case of walking in even further, try it with the wall behind you to get over the fear of falling backwards. Talking of pincha mayurasana, I saw somebody float up into that in a video recently. Tried it this morning and can't for the life of me imagine how she did it....my new project. Must ask if she minds me posting it here, quite beautiful
Here then are my current seven deadlies with the full drop and below that the half drop, gentler, quieter version that I used for a couple of years.
V just told me in comments that I should be landing in a distinct chaturanga. Surely this is something that's changed over the years, no? NO?
I skimmed through my iTunes Ashtanga movie playlist, Jois led 2nd from Yogaworks? Nooooo, Chaturanga. Kino? Chaturanga. Swensen, surely our David, old school and all that, nope Chaturanga (you let me down David) ...chaturanga, chaturanga, CHATURANGA,
Bugger, my bad.
OK, so not everything changes.
Here then is my first, long overdue, attempt at a 'distinct' chaturanga landing ....fresh from a very hot bath.
Elbows could be less splayed perhaps, but close enough?
Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga at home by Anthony Grim Hall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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