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

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalua pages 14-15 : 'The number of yogasanas are countless...'

Visit The ongoing Yogasanagalu Translation Project page above for the translation we have so far.

Pages (screenshot) 14-15

'The number of yogasanas are countless. Although the quote “Asanani cha tavanti yavanto Jeevarashayah” from Dhyanabindupanishat has been widely known, people who keep on saying that there are only eighty four (postures), must be under delusion. Whoever practices yogasanas with appropriate breathing technique will not be bothered by diseases.  Yogasanas that are suitable for obese body, lean body and underweight body have been listed in the yoga shastra texts ( listed in the table coming up).  Some people are saying “yoga practice will lead to a very lean body and pranayama practice can cause madness.”  Respectable people who make such statements, did they get mad by practicing and then got cured by some treatment?  Our youth must ask this question. Some others bring up the dangers to sensationalize the issue. Without proper training and understanding there is danger in everything.  We have to assume that the reason some doctors have an unfavourable view of yoga is that the practice is not currently in vogue.

Yogasanas must be only practiced with vinyasas and never without it. Vinyasas from 1 to 7 are equal in all asanas.  Vinyasas create movement in the kosha (sheath), nerve, arteries, muscles and spaces between bones and helps eliminate impurities in these areas.  In addition, muscle tissue develops and becomes strong.

Practicing  yogasanas without vinyasa will make the body lean and emaciated.  Some people who did not learn yoga through a guru and practice without vinyasa have brought bad reputation to yoga  which is very unfortunate.

Therefore, how many vinysas for asanas? Asana position comes at which vinyasa count?  When do you perform rechanka and puraka?  When to do antah kumbhaka and bahya kumbhaka?  What are its benefits?  For yoga practitioners information, it is listed in the table below.

Yoga practitioners must perform pranayama on an individual basis. However, yogasanas can be performed individually or as a group.  When teaching yoga in a group, it is advised to separate people with obese, lean, and short body types.  Otherwise, they will not get their desired results.  People with obese body naturally want to get lean. Drill and other exercises also follow this rule. All can not perform all types of practices (sadhanas).  Can an obese person run like a lean man?  Can he raise and bend hands and legs (in the same fashion)?.  For instance, if he runs hard due to drill masters orders, he could be put in danger due to elevated heart rate.

In yoganga practice, asanas that are possible for a lean person are impossible for an obese person. However, we don’t need to increase the number of yoga instructors.  Yoga practitioners may be divided approximately on the basis of body type and the same instructor can teach them. In the same way, practitioners with common disease types may be divided and treated (with yoga). Yoga sadhana is without risk compared to many of the body exercises that require equipment.  Yoganga sadhana must be done standing, sitting, sideways and upside down.

All these types of asanas are given in this edition.  Interested practitioners and instructors must study carefully, practice and teach. Many asanas are also printed for ladies.  From this, we can get an idea of our ancestors behaviour.

Lazy people can not make progress in any work while energetic will not be left behind. India’s cultural and spiritual wealth was not only permeated by speech. The courageous overcome obstacles and practiced.  In this edition, it is once again suggested that yoga sadhana is for people of all ages'.

Next up the full table....


In the second paragraph of this section of the translation Krishnamacharya writes

'Yogasanas must be only practiced with vinyasas and never without it. Vinyasas from 1 to 7 are equal in all asanas'.

In the table these are the asana 1-7

It appears here that Krishnamacharya is referring to the lead in to postures. It seems unlikely that he intends us to practice Padangustasana and padahastasana each time or paschimattanasana but rather the move through,Uttanasana, Chaturangadandasana, Urdhwamukhaswanasana, Adhomukhaswanasana to Dandasana

In the Yoga Makaranda we have..

'1. Uttanasana
Following the rules for Tadasana (yogasana, samashtiti, krama) stand erect, Afterwards, while exhaling the breath out slowly, bend the upper part of the body (that is the part above the hip) little by little and place the palms down by the legs...'

'8. Paschimattanasana
This asana has many kramas. Of these the first form has 16 vinyasas. Just doing the asana sthiti by sitting in the same spot without doing the vinyasas will not yield the complete benefits mentioned in the yoga sastras.
The first three vinyasas are exactly the same as for Uttanasana, the fourth vinyasa is Chaturangadandasana, the 5th vinyasa is Urdhwamukhaswanasana, the 6th vinyasa is Adhomukhaswanasana. Practice these following the earlier instructions. In the 6th vinyasa, doing puraka kumbhaka, jump and arrive at the 7th vinyasa. That is from, from Adhomukhaswanasana sthiti, jump forward and move both legs through the arms without allowing the legs to touch the floor. Extend the legs forward and sit down'.

Then for most of the postures described in Yoga makaranda we will find something like this...

'13 Baddhakonasana.
This has 15 vinyasas. The 8th vinyasa is thew asana sthiti. The 1st to the 6th vinyasas are like the 1st to the 6th in paschimottanasana'.

Or in something other than a seated asana

'Supta Padangushtasana
The first Krama for this has 21 vinyasas. through the 6th vinyasa, it is exactly as for paschimattanasana. in the 7th vinyasa, lie down facing upwards...'.

No doubt this will be made explicit when we get to the asana description section of Yogasanagalu.

Note on the term Vinyasa

I've tended to use the term as variation with Ramaswami Vinyasa Krama in mind whereas of course in relation to Modern Ashtanga we tend to think of Vinyasa as the jump through or jump back.

On reflection I'm starting to think of vinyasa as 'related postures', the postures leading up to and away from an asana sthiti and the variations one may employ.

Vinyasa krama would then be the method (or art) or skilful practice of relating those postures to each other.


  1. I was just rereading/reconsidering the description for "8 Pascimattanasana or Pascimottanasana (Figure 4.19— 4.28)" in Yogamakaranda, for example, and it occured to me that Krishnamacharya does not introduce the garland or "mala" concept, as Jois does. Correct me if I am wrong. I will be interested to learn from Yogasanagalu if in fact Krishnamacharya intended his "primary series" to be practiced as a continuous garland, or whether one could practice different asanas at different times, so long as one observed the "vinyasa" for entry into and out of the asana sthiti.

  2. Hi Anon,
    As Grimmly rightly pointed out in an earlier post, I believe Krishnamacharya's groups are not to be taken as a series or sequence like ashtanga. In fact, at the beginning of the second section (that comes after the tables), he specifically mentions "Shirshasana, sarvangasana, mayurasana, paschimotanasana and Baddha padmasana must be practiced daily. Others can be practiced according to ones convenience and advancement(proficiency). He adds "after asanas, 15 min pranayama and 5 min shavasana must not be missed."

    Therefore, Krishnamacharya's approach to asanas is much more flexible and integrated with other limbs.

  3. Cheers, Savim! Keep up the good work!

  4. Hm, mentions of the "lazy"... interesting, I love recognizing Jois in krishnamacharya.

    Watching with attention here, as you and Savim go on :-)

  5. It's worthwhile to reflect on this interview with Jois, in light of these recent postings of Yogasanagalu:

  6. I think, in the ashtanga yoga system, a 'vinyasa' is a single breath-related movement i.e. there are 9 vinyasas in Surynamaskar A, (the first sun salutation).

    Jumping back then, would comprise of two vinyasas 'inhale, lift, exhale jump back'.

    Guruji's vinyasa count was (and Sharath's is) always based on a full vinyasa count (returning to samastihiti in every posture), so makes understanding the sanskrit count, a tad confusing when we do the widely known 'Half vinyasa practice'; 'supta'(seven), becomes the first vinyasa etc.

  7. Thanks for the question Anon and the reply Satya gave. Your comment Stya sounds like it could have been written by Ramaswami

    "Shirshasana, sarvangasana, mayurasana, paschimotanasana and Baddha padmasana must be practiced daily. Others can be practiced according to ones convenience and advancement(proficiency). He adds "after asanas, 15 min pranayama and 5 min shavasana must not be missed."

    ...except for the bit about mayurasana although I can see why it's included and it's in HYP of course also.

    As I've mentioned before I'm thinking of the groups as more of a framework. Possibly quite a standard framework given that Pattabhi Jois employed it later pretty much as is.

    Yes, lazy, that comes from somewhere else i think Claudia, possibly yogayajnavelkya, came across it recently, must check.

    Thank you so much for the link Anon, had read that a couple of years ago, as you sat good to read it again , i'll feature it in an upcoming post.

    hi Steve, wondered what happened to your comment. Yes, based on the full count (have you read the interview with SKPJ in the link Anono providers above, he's talking about full vinyasa as an ideal there....assuming you have the time Five hours or so (because back then he's talking about the long slow 10-15 second inhalations and exhalations, long ten breath holds etc).

    I like related posture because it's broad enough to allow the general Ashtanga usage of vinyasa (jump backs etc), the Vinyasa kranma usage of related variations and it fits in nicely it seems with what we're finding in Yogasanagalu but I like single breath-related movement(or postures) even better.

  8. Hi Tony,
    Just read the interview. Thanks for posting it. Very interesting to hear of how he started beginners but, when you read it, do you get the impression that a day-1 beginner would rest for a week after learning 3 x A & 3 x B? That's how it read to me, but presumably he meant ' go away & practice A & B daily, then come back when strong & open enough for more.

    I so wish I had learned primary that way, when I think back to my first 3 years; gate crashing my way through the whole series, then trying to mask the aches & pains.

    The thought of longer breaths sounds great & I think I might try that on the weaker postures of my practice, as opposed to your idea of splitting it up. I am too fond of the meditative quality of doing the full series, and I lose that if I cut stuff out. Excited to have, yet another point of focus for the next moon phase, it keeps it interesting ....

  9. I'm thinking go away for a a week and practice on your own, i remember spending a couple of weeks on just the sury's when I started. Wsn't there somebody in the Gurujui book who, in Mysore, had to going the women's class upstairs and just do sury's for three weeks or something.
    i know what you mean about the rhythm but it's familiar enough i find and you get to change the pace, slow it down here and then then pick it up again, it's different, having fun with it.

    i was thinking how in the beginning people are often stopped at mari D then move to finishing, same thing, instead of going on into 2nd series you could cut back to half primary again but then practice the whole series with twice as slow inhalations and exhalations and twice as many breaths. Kind of think both could be considered advanced practice, or rather proficient which I like better.



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