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.

"When once a fair proficiency has been attained in asana and pranayama, the aspirant to dhyana has to regulate the time to be spent on each and choose the particular asanas and pranayama which will have the most effect in strengthening the higher organs and centres of perception and thus aid him in attaining dhyana". Krishnamacharya - Dhyana or meditation Yoga Makaranda part II

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Practice, also Richard Freeman influence.

The Yoga Workshop 
Can't seem to write about practice these days and yet stuff's been going on, working itself out that I feel I should write something about it at least.

Practice is... nice.

There you go that's probably all I need to say about it.

Practice is nice, I'm enjoying it, relishing it more like. It's always been good of course, never had trouble getting on the mat but I don't know if I would have used the word 'relish' before.

I'm relishing my practice, hmmmm.

Interesting things that have happened with it recently.

I gave up on Ashtanga for a week, possibly two, long time for an Ashtangi ( I was still practising Vinyasa Krama though). I'd decided that Ashtanga was no longer... relevant to me. Then after a couple of weeks, missed it so much that decided the practice was relevant it was just everything else surrounding it that wasn't.

Somewhere along the way I decided to ignore 3rd series altogether, so easy to end up defining yourself by the series, by your practice (obviously not suggesting everyone does this). I've practiced it as Advanced A, most of Advanced B too for that matter, fun stuff, challenging but it just goes on and on, there's always another asana, so easy to get wrapped up in that, yoga madness. I still practice a lot of the postures from the Advanced series in my Vinyasa Krama practice but they come up in a context that takes some of the drama away, an advanced posture is just an extension of another posture, no big deal that way. It works for me, each to their own.

So just Primary and 2nd series in my Ashtanga practice to play with.

And along comes Richard Freeman on the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence. I'd practiced a couple of days with Nancy's workshop video, loved that but then practiced with Richard and it was a revelation, a savouring of asana in a way I was familiar with in Vinyasa Krama but in an Ashtanga context. Ahhhhhhh ( as Richard would say).

So I transcribed his workshop, fished out his old DVD's that I'd buried away a few years back because they hadn't worked for me then and have been practicing with them in mind ever since, almost a month now.

I should write about how the asana make a different kind of sense how all that instruction of his starts to filter into the background and that there's a quietness despite all these subconscious cue's going on.

It's most pleasant.

I like his writing how he doesn't try to push his ideas about practice and tell you what it is and isn't about, encourages you to question and question again and yet at the same time offers you a banquet of ideas surrounding practice (and served as a buffet ).

Best of all thought I love that's it's Richard Freeman's Ashtanga. There's no question of whether and to what extent it's original, official, authorised, sanctified Ashtanga it's just how Richard approaches his practice, how he brings together different threads and how he encourages you to develop your own practice.

Quite wonderful actually.

Of course Richard was taught by Sri K. Patthabhi Jois himself and for a long time and certified by him but I have the feeling that it was always Richards approach to Ashtanga.

I'm enjoying bringing some of that approach to my Vinyasa Krama practice too, playing with it.

As I said, relishing practice.

That will have to do, doesn't really capture what I wanted to write about but the mat's calling so will have to do.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Has anyone in the UK done his month long teaching intensive in Boulder?

Highly recommend Richard Freeman's website  http://yogaworkshop.com/

Have a listen to some of his studio talks perhaps. http://yogaworkshop.com/studio-talks

Some of the 'Ask the experts" blog posts http://yogaworkshop.com/ask-the-experts-is-yoga-dangerous/

See my earlier post http://grimmly2007.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/richard-freemans-yoga-workshop-boulder.html

and on his back bending workshop at the Confluence. http://grimmly2007.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/richard-freeman-ayc-backbending.html

UPDATE
Just vacated the home shala to be met by M. with a fresh glass of orange juice who then preceded to stumble sleepily into the shala and roll out her mat. Sounds of ujayii coming from behind me as I type
: )

8 comments:

  1. Ahhh, yes indeed "relishing", a very RF kind of word... and M practicing, sounds like life is great! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. My goal is to get to Boulder for the teacher immersion in 2013. He also does a five day in March so I would like to go to that too. I am going to a three day workshop in Ohio with him in November.

    I am doing the practice to his tapes too. He does interlace his knowledge of yoga and philosphy in an interesting manner. He is also light and very humorous in person. He gives one hell of a dharma talk.

    yogagodess

    ReplyDelete
  3. Grimmly, thanks to your continued research & insight on this blog I'm heading down to Big Sur in May to study with Srivatsa Ramaswami! Can't wait! Also, this line of yours really sticks with me, and is precisely why I have decided to study Vinyasa Krama now: "I still practice a lot of the postures from the Advanced series in my Vinyasa Krama practice but they come up in a context that takes some of the drama away, an advanced posture is just an extension of another posture, no big deal that way." I have been pushing into ashtanga but when I practice vinyasa krama, the push seems to disappear and I find myself back in an original state of curiosity. This is what brought me into asana practice and I am going with it for the time being.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sometimes I feel like I need to pick a teacher and stick with him/her. First it was Integral Yoga with Swami Satchidananda - but, physically, it was too easy too soon. Then I switched to Ashtanga with David Swenson - but there wasn't enough on pranayama and meditation. Then it was back to Integral Yoga - again, not enough. Maybe yoga isn't the answer (or the question) I'm looking for - let's try CrossFit! Another miss - ego persuits don't quite satisfy like they used to (I'm getting too old to convince myself that one day I will be the best in the world). Back to yoga - Freeman, Sweeney, Jois, Krishnamacharya, Mohan, Ramaswami...

    How about this combination: Ashtanga asana, Integral pranayama, and Shambhala meditation. Each of them demanding more and more of my time for better returns. Returns? Liberation. Or was it union? Basic goodness?

    Looks like I need to read Freeman's "The Mirror of Yoga" chapter on "Cutting Through Fundamentalism." Loaded with good quotes, but here is one:

    "The view of yoga as a matrix allows us to return to the very begining of the practice again and again and again because we need not accumulate embellishments to our ego in the form of yoga practice." (pg. 201)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes, think I might be taking her through most if not all of Primary this morning, that'll be a first.

    Hi Joan. I've just booked a five day intensive in London with him end of August ( My first Workshop ever), post to come. Like the idea of his month immersion too and miss the mountains so might apply too 2013 or14.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Anon. So happy your going to be studying with Ramaswami, I looked at the Big Sur course, should manage to get a start on that integrated practice aspect of his teaching, the asana/pranayama/meditation. Check out the meditation stand alone page at the top of my blog and have a go at learning the pranayama mantra perhaps, won't matter if you don't but will be nice to have that under your belt. Love your line 'I find myself back in an original state of curiosity'.

    ReplyDelete
  7. 'Sometimes I feel like I need to pick a teacher and stick with him/her'.

    Perhaps you already have Beaux, inner guru and all that. I think there's a lot of nonsense about sticking with the same guru/teacher. The idea as I understand it is that you would look for (or keep an eye out) and eventually find (if you were lucky) the 'right' teacher, who would then act as a facilitator to your own physical/mental/spiritual research/'growth'. You didn't just stick with the first one you came across, four members of the same family might end up with a different teacher/guru ( I remember Ramaswami saying that).

    Mostly now we have asana teachers.

    That said their are some senior teachers who have spent their adult lives exploring many areas of the practice in the context of the west, I find that interesting. Richard would be one of course which is one reason I find him so interesting.

    Interesting to reread Ramaswami on experience with Krishnamacharya he studied asana with him of course but also pranayama, philosophy, literature chanting, everything, no wonder he stayed with him so long. Jois too learned in a similar way from Krishnamacharya (to an extent).

    In the end I doubt it really matters what we practice as long as we do practice, explore different approaches to asana, to pranayama, to meditation ...eventually it'll settle into an approach of it's own that works for us and adapts to the different stages of our lives as will the reading and rereading of 'thought' provoking texts and acting 'well'.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the pranayama mantra hint--I've never been taught proper pranayama, having practiced ashtanga. I'm reading now from your chanting post and listening to Ramaswami's mp3 from his vinyasa krama site. I'll let you know how the retreat goes. Enjoy your study with Richard! All best.

    ReplyDelete

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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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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