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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, 14 November 2011
Raja Kapotasana first toes to head.
Too excited about this not to post on it right away, not a lot of equanimity floating around the home shala this evening I'm ashamed to say.
Raja kapotasana is doable, fancy that.
Was it really only yesterday I wrote about Raja kapotasana (in THIS post ) though I think I was writing about the evening before after a bit of a layoff from serious backbends. I was questioning whether it was doable and considering a two week challenge. Here's the picture of the best one I could manage.
This evening I decided to start the campaign with regular primary up to upavishta konasana but skipping the marichi's. I wanted to relax my hips as much as possible the whole lliopsoas group (hip flexors) as Mike suggested. Next I switched to Vinyasa Krama and the Bow sequence (subroutine posts to come on that next week) then some drop backs and on into the VK Meditative sequence and vajrasana, kapotasana, eka pada kapotasana before having a go at Raja kapotasana, was thinking of all the postures that might help prepare for the Raja..
The first couple of attempts were exploratory, trying to get the hips further through and yet ground them on the mat. Looking at the results on the camera there seemed to be some improvement and it looked like I could bring my legs further in so I did another, that looked even closer and it struck me that perhaps if I stretched through the legs more they would come up a little closer, plus I wanted to push my chest out more and try again to ground my hips.
The fifth attempt I felt my toes touch my head and managed to hold them there for, what a second perhaps two. I was a little worried about my calves cramping up and pulling something so decided to call it a night and move on to some winding down and basic finishing sequence.
The best thing about it is that my backbends are still pretty rusty. I used to be able to grab my heels from the air in regular kapo but at the moment I'm catching my toes and only managing to hold my feet. As the backbends comeback Raja kapo should become a little deeper, a little more stable. I think I like it too.
Here are the best screen shots from the first four attempts as i get a little closer each time.
Just a posture?
Yes and No, it's another example of something that you don't believe is possible for you ...and then it is. Whether that is getting your legs flat in paschimottanasana, jumping back, binding in Marichiyasana D, dropping back, coming up, catching toes and then heels in Kapo....tictac, whatever it is for you. There is that aspect to the practice, of exceeding our expectations.
And of course after feeling pleased with ourselves for a little bit the realisation that though doable now the pose is tatty, shabby, the breath unstable, the posture itself unsteady and so the constant refining and that too is another wonderful aspect and lesson of the practice.
Of course nailing it was the fun part, making it constant and stable is the hard graft
....enjoyable in a different way.
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