Friday, 27 January 2012

Straight friday primary after Rishi week and Dwi pada sirsasana

After a week of the Ashtanga Rishi approach, working through Primary  series fifty breaths (almost) in every posture I was looking forward to Straight Friday primary, curious to see if felt any different.

Yes and no.

It was a joy, as ever on a Friday, to fly through it, get lost in the flow and familiarity of the series. I was struck by something iIcan only describe as a closer... intimacy with the postures. That's perhaps to be expected, fifty breaths in Marchi D, Navasana etc, bound to feel you have... history. Felt like I'd found more space in many of the postures, everything felt a little  more comfortable.

I was asked about my joints, tendons, ligaments if they feel more 'stretched' after the long stays, feels something like that, not exactly an ache but you  know you've worked them there's a sensation, not unpleasant a kind of awareness of ligaments you took for granted, a parallel to the 'muscles didn't know I had' type thing.

I've decided to take a bit of time, a few weeks,  before starting on the Rishi approach to 2nd series. I included most of the backbends from the first part of 2nd after the shoulder stands last week, they felt OK and I did a trial run of twenty five breaths in pasanasa and kapotasana but I'm very aware of the fact that I've only just reintroduced 2nd series. While revisiting all the Vinyasa krama subroutines in the mornings over three months for the book I was mostly practicing Primary in the evenings, My 2nd is OK but it could be better. Dwipada sirsasana for instance.

A friend mention on FB that Sharath had given her dwipada the treatment ( though then preceded to give her the next pose so it couldn't have been that bad), bit of a hard time about not having her feet far enough apart, directing her attention to his own picture on the wall of the Mysore Shala (see above). I'm sure all of us doing 2nd were particularly conscious of our own Dwipada next practice, I know I was.

I just had a look at it after this mornings practice.

Here's my first one, OK admittedly it's winter, it's cold in the home shala, I'm not very sweaty and the legs aren't moving into place. i haven't been doing 2nd that much but I always include the dwipada entry to Supta kurmasana so no excuses. As you can see the feet are very close together, i was so proud of my fantail too and that I wasn't hooking them anymore, oh well.

In the next picture you can see I've made a conscious effort to get my first leg further over my shoulder and the second leg further over the first to bring the feet further apart.

What, you can't see that... No, me neither. Part of it is the lack of sweat I need to be able to come further through my waist roll over the calf on the second leg to allow me to draw my second foot down the first leg. That in turn will stop the second leg pushing through the first and pushing my head down.....I think I know what I should be doing.... I also need to get my legs lower, my leg tends to go quite nicely over my shoulder in eka pada, even to allow buddhasana (see my profile pic) but it's that second leg...think I need to draw the knees back too, perhaps try and push the knees up which will bring the legs down... hmmm.

You can see perhaps why I want to put 2nd series Rishi off. if I'm going to stay in Dwipada for 50 breaths I want it more like Sharath's than mine above, no pressure at all on the head.

I enjoyed the Rishi experiment, the first day was the best though, where I was exploring the vinyasa Krama breathing in the longer stays. Just staying in a pose for fifty breaths feels more like a tapas challenge. I want to inhabit the posture, explore the breath. I accept the argument for equal inhalation and exhalation in Ashtanga, the lack of breath retention, medium length breathing, makes sense in the context of a flowing practice but If you going for long stays, a less energetic practice then perhaps it allows for more sophistication in the breathing practice. That's something Vinyasa Krama offers, staying in a posture for ten minutes, same as Ashtanga rishi but instead of taking fifty breaths aiming to take just ten. jun slow breaths, retention, longer exhalation, it makes sense to me.

That's another experiment for another day.

Oh here's the Rishi approach 50 breath sunpta kurmasana again with the phone call from the wife. It includes, 1 minute in, the dwipada sirsasasana entry.

Think I'm going to explore the Vinyasa Krama 'Rishi' approach next week. I have a good idea of how long the 50 breaths took in all the postures, want to take that time and then quarter the number of breaths, so five minutes in Supta kurmasana but only 12 long slow breaths with retention rather than the 50. Or perhaps stay in 10 asana for ten minutes each (where realistic) aiming for a twenty second breath cycle rather than the Ashtanga ten.

Still want to work out Sharath's secret but not feeling as bad about mine now.


  1. Very interesting Grim. Very interesting indeed. I am far away from that dwi thing, but love reading about it and about how it felt to do just primary today.

    I myself have been doing some 6 breaths inspired by you, I know, not much, but inspiration anyway, and I find it incredible the effect that just one more breath can have! then again, as you said, perhaps it has to do with me still recovering...

  2. It's good plan too Claudia for when Sharath sneaks an extra breath in : )
    Going to explore the Vinyasa Krama Rishi approach next week I think. I have a good ide of how long the 50 breaths took in all the postures want to take that time and then quater the number of breaths, so five minutes in Supta kurmasana but only 12 long slow breaths with retention. Or perhaps stay in 10 asana for ten minutes each (where realistic) aiming for twenty second breath cycle rather than the Ashtanga ten. Love this stuff, Ramaswami said the old yogi's of the past were great experimenters.

    Perhaps do that in the morning with my regular ashtanga in the evening

  3. I would strongly recommend VK approach to maximize stay by decreasing breaths than taking 50 breath approach, I see two major advantages
    1) The food for mind is the breath the more you breath mind becomes more active which makes it extremely difficult to focus.
    2) All creatures are born with certain number of breaths so a wise man would minimise his breath thus giving him ample time to achieve the ultimate human goal thats the reason people live long when they regularly do pranayama.


  4. Well, I put my post up on this, but without the photo of me, but it looks much like yours.... I'm sitting up straighter, but my legs are similar.... not at all like Sharath's.

    I don't get how it's suddenly a new idea to practice holding poses for longer! I wouldn't do it with this one though. Instead I'd work a pigeon variation with one leg way forward and my head resting on the ankle, and hold THAT a long time.

    I'm not into this 'retro-ashtanga', LOL, I just do extra stuff when I feel the need.

  5. 'Food for the mind is the breath' like that Suya, thank you.

    Can't wait to read your Dwi pada post Susan, however....

    It's not a new idea to hold postures for a long time....except in the context of Ashtanga... ora at least , it seems perhaps, and old idea... or a passing fancy.

  6. A passing fancy, now that I like.

    It was basically just a long-winded tract saying my feet weren't as spread as I thought....

  7. I'm thinking that the proportions of the body must affect have one's dwi pada looks like. Meaning that if one has long legs the knees will come out to the sides more, especially if the back is short. If the legs are short the knees will need to be more behind the shoulders or one won't be able to cross ankles. Especielly if one has a long back also. So maybe it's not even possible for everyone to look like Sharath in dwi pada, no matter how flexible you are. What do you think?

  8. You have a point of course Linda, part of it may well be proportion but there are so many postures I thought i would never be able to do because of my age, build, proportion and most of them have come about sooner or later that I've given up saying never.

    I didn't think I'd be able to fan my feet out in Yoganidrasa for example, thought they would always be hooked, certainly never thought buddhasana would be possible (my profile pic). So i kind of act on the assumption that it may be possible but without too much attachment. Re buddhasana I feel that might be the key , getting that kind of an angle on both legs in dwipada.

    Thanks for the input.

  9. Kino does a very nice one, and she doesn't have long legs.....

    A google image search shows lots of people with long legs whose feet are very close together and way up above their head... the opposite of what we're trying to do.

    I've wondered the same, but I don't think it matters much.

  10. Yes, of course it's also about placement and not only about proportions. For me it's currently just about getting both legs back behind the head and trying to straighten the back, anything else will have to wait :) But I'm very interested to read your post on dwi pada Susan, the one that was deleted, so I hope you post it at some point.

  11. Just posted another picture which doesn't make me feel so bad, still aiming for a more nonchalant Dwi pada though....notice how far Sharath's knees stick out, mine go up more than out, think your right linda, all about placement perhaps.



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"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 Referral Teacher Listing