I was asked whether I would include jump back's/jump throughs etc. in my practice of the Primary and Middle sequence in Krishnamachary's Yogasanagalu Sequences (see below).
This points to larger question, of course...
How to practice Krishnamacharya's early ashtanga?
I think I'm most curious about the breath, , how slow, whether there are retentions in some postures, if inhale and exhale are equal or the exhale longer in some postures, if it suggests five breaths or eight etc.. curious whether there's anything on drishti too, if there's much on pranayama and pratyahara.... Lots to look forward to.
Yes Grimmly, there are retentions specified in many of the 2nd and 3rd level asanas. The next few pages really sets up the basics for starting a practice. Stay tuned. Satya.
For now I'm going with Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda published in 1934 (in Kannada) and 1938 (in Tamil).
There is a freely downloadable edition HERE
Let's take Paschimottanasana for example. Interestingly this seated posture appears in the Yogasanagalu in the middle of the opening standing sequence, one of several suprises.
Here are Krishnamacharya's instruction for Paschimattanasana in the 1938 Yoga Makaranda, the highlighted areas I'll be referring too later.
Yoga Makaranda. p69 T. Krishnamachacharya Translated from the Tamil (1938 ) by Sri C. M. V. Krishnamacharya / Sri S. Ranganathadesikachar
Below Krishnamacharya demonstrates vinyasas (variations) of paschimottanasana
'Learn some of the other forms of pascimottanasana krama by studying the pictures carefully'. p69
'...keep the gaze fixed on the mid brow' p103
'..gaze steadily at the tip of the nose' p69
HOW LONG TO STAY IN POSTURES
It is also clear that in some postures one would stay for longer and shorter periods than others.
Adhomukhasvanasana (Downward dog) an excellent posture for exploring and developing uddiyana bandha for example is an extreme case of this...
'As a result of the strength of the practice, one learns to hold this posture for fifteen minutes' p69
Again, how long one might wish to hold the posture would depend on the goal of that days practice
Breathing is sophisticated in Yoga Makaranda and I look forward to seeing how it's described in Yogasanagalu.
In some postures in the Yoga Makaranda, Krishnamacharya mentions making the inhalation and exhalation the same.
'Inhalation and exhalation of the breath must be slow and of equal duration' p99 Utthitahastapaddangusthasana
Many of the postures, however, include Kumbhaka (breath retention) often but not always on the exhalation but always made clear.
'While doing Janusirsasana, pull in the stomach to the extent possible. the benefits obtained will be greater. While drawing the stomach inward, exhale and then hold the breath' p 142
'Recaka kumbhaka must be done in this sthiti. That is expel the breath completely from the body, maintain this position and then without allowing any breath into the body, bend the the upper body. Now carefully pull in the stomach as much as one's strength allows and hold it in. p99 (another stage of Utthitahastapaddangusthasana).
We can see then that the practice of asana in Yoga Makaranda is highly sophisticated. Where modern Ashtanga has been simplified and standardized (not necessarily a criticism ), the approach to each asana in the Yoga Makaranda, at least, appears to be variable.
Yoga was considered an art after all
This adaptable approach to practice, even though we find set Primary and Middle sequences clearly laid out in table form in Yogasanagalu, seems to be consistent throughout Krishnamacharya's teaching. One adapts ones teaching to the student and teaching situation just as one adapts ones own practice to the goal of the day.
So in approaching the sequences in Yogasanagalu one might approach them in a standard, simplified manner of equal inhalation and exhalation with no retention, include jump throughs and back between asanas or sides and stick to the sequences as laid out while also including standard drishti, a modern Ashtanga approach.
Or, once one has garnered the basics, the essentials, one might also approach the sequences with more sophistication so as to 'derive the greatest benefit' from the asanas, from the practice.
Then we might choose to develop some areas of the sequence through vinyasas/variations, stay perhaps for extended periods in some postures but not in others and include bandhas (jalandhara would effect the drishti) more intensely in some postures and practice kumbhaka (breath retention) how, when, to what degree and where applicable.
Also, as was clearly Krishnamacharya's intention, to practice the asana in the context of an integrated yoga practice in which the other limbs are explored and developed as fully as the asana.