Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May 2012 Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami-My Facebook Phase

Warm Greetings!!

During April I did three extended weekend workshops, all very
purposeful and satisfying. The participation in all the three places
was very heart warming. I was teaching at Valerie Schneiderman's Yoga
Shala in Ridgefield Connecticut, Pam Johnson's Heights School of Yoga
in Houston and the ebullient Ricky Tran's Krama Yoga Center near
Dallas in Texas. Yoga for Internal Organs, Vinyasakrama Yoga Practice,
Krishnamacharya's Teachings, Pranayama and Mantra Meditation Practice,
Introductory talk on Upanishad, The Yoga Sutras, many privates and
some chanting—it was comprehensive. Many thanks to Valerie, Pam, Ricky
and the host of nice yogis who attended the programs and supported the
I am going to Esalen Institute at Big Sur in California during May 6
to 11, 2012 to teach a 26 hour program titled “Practicum on Hatayoga
and Raja Yoga”
I am scheduled to go to One Yoga in Vancouver,, Canada about the end
of the month to teach a certificate program on Core Vinyasakrama yoga,
a 25 hour program
Of course the next involved program scheduled will be the 200 hour
Teacher Training Program at LMU in July/ August and the registration
has opened

I am also contemplating doing the 25 hour “Core Vinyasakrama Asana
Certificate program” in different places so that more yoga teachers
may get exposed to Vinyasakrama asana as I learnt from my Guru Sri
Krishnamacharya and incorporate the beautiful but laggard Vinyasakrama
Yoga into their teaching and practice..


Since Aug 2009 I have been using or rather overusing Facebook to make 
some observations on Yoga and related topics. (I hope to post more 
selectively in  facebook henceforth) . I thought that I may share some 
of the postings already made with friends in the Google Group. And 
here are some. 


Keeping the legs together in Tadasana, Dhanurasna, Ushtrasana and 
others, jumping through and back with legs together in lead sequences 
and suryanamaskara (rather than crossing the legs or moving the legs 
one after the other), taking the legs up together in inversions like 
headstand instead of kicking one leg up and then the other,jumping 
gently to Trikonasana from Samastiti rather than side-stepping are all 
aimed at maintaining body symmetry during the transition. 


When a Yogabhyasi 'attains' a difficult posture with ease and 
steadiness, then one may attempt to increase the length of stay in the 
posture bit by bit and also simultaneously attempt to reduce the 
number of breaths taken per unit time. 


Deep thoracic puraka (inhalation) and antahkumbhaka ( breath 
holding) help to draw increased venous blood to the heart. Thorough 
(complete) exhalation aided by the deep drawing of muscles of the 
rectum, pelvis, abdomen and the diaphragm in tandem helps to squeeze 
upward venous blood to the heart. A few rounds of involved pranayama 
everyday helps the heart by improving the venous return of the blood 
through a very efficient respiratory pump effect and hence 
raktasanchara (blood circulation) to the whole body. Pranayama is 
central to the health of both the respiratory and the circulatory 
systems. Sri Krishnamacharya exhibited an exceptional control over the 
breathing apparatus. 


The olden day Indian philosophers recognized three kinds of space 
or 'akasa'. Firstly is Cit-akasa or the space of consciousness the 
Vedantins (esp advaita) discuss about extensively. According to them 
in the one atomic consciousness everything-- including the universe 
and all of us-- exists but appear to be outside of it.. so much so 
consciousness appears to be inside us in our hearts where we may by 
meditation find It, the Cit. The second space is the chitta-akasa or 
the mind-space which the Yogis deal with extensively. According to 
them all our experiences take place in the chitta akasa as different 
kinds of chitta vrittis and by controlling them in the mental space or 
chitta akasa one can have a control over one's experiences or 
chittavrittis (good and mostly painful according to them) and even 
stop them.. Of course the third Bhuta akasa or the physical space is 
known to all of us and we spend our lifetime dealing with it and of 
which the scientists are extremely knowledgeable. 


As per the way I learnt asanas (esp., vinyasakrama) from my Guru 
Sri Krishnamacharya, the default position of the head in asana 
practice is 'head-down'. It helps maintain good control over breathing 
in asana practice ( an essential ingredient of Krishnmacharya's Yoga), 
keep the back straighter and stretch the spine more freely for getting 
more inter-vertebral space and also maintain good balance (sthira). 
See his asana pictures in his book “Yoga Makaranda” 


I have experienced innumerable ups and downs, many an agony and 
ecstasy, hope and despair, pleasure and pain, bliss and depression, 
courage and fear, praise and ridicule, acceptance and rejection, 
success and failure, warmth and cold, clarity and confusion and many 
more pairs of opposites (dvanda). I have incessantly been trying to 
get the favorable one (anukula)of the pairs and get rid of the other 
unfavorable (pratikula) all my life and perhaps the lives before and 
am really tired. As I pull myself through the last lap of my present 
journey, Oh Lord Iswara, give me the uninterrupted and unalloyed peace 
(prasanta vahita) as promised in Yoga. With a focused mind, the whole 
heart and full, open throat, I chant Your name ' AUM'!! 


Blessed is the Yogi who is able to undertake the arduous lifelong 
journey in the complicated outside world and the uncharted inward 
journey with consummate ease and equal grace. 


The Vinyasa system (krama) of asana I learnt from Sri 
Krishnamacharya has hundreds of vinyasas, scores of asanas arranged 
into a few major sequences. It has a solid core but highly adaptable 
to the requirements of different individuals and different groups. The 
way I teach Sarvangasana or any major sequence is similar to how I 
taught it in the last years TT programs but not identical. In 
Vinyasakrama the asanas and vinyasas are practised slowly, 'mindfully' 
with the breath, very conscious of one's range/limitations, usually 
singly in an uncompetitive environment thus reducing the unnecessary 
risks of voluntary/ self-inflicted injuries. 


As we get older the respiratory sytem muscles weaken like other 
muscles and hence one's vital capacity comes down. It is therefore 
necessary to maintain the tone of these muscles by practicing yogic 
breathing exercises like pranayama and one can not learn them and 
practice effectively if started late in life. All yogis should 
consider strengthening the respiratory system even as they practice 
asanas. Even simple pranayama would be helpful and there is no reason 
to postpone pranayama to a unplanned future date. 


Heals the body 
Frees the mind 


Sri Krishnamacharya used to mention that orthodox yoga was a 
Sarvanga sadhana. It implies that as a system it helps maintain the 
health all aspects of the human being, the skeletal system, the vital 
internal organs, the brain... . Exercises regimen which tend to 
abuse,disuse or lopsided use of various parts and thus harm the 
individual are called angabhanga sadhana ( injury prone procedures) 
according to him (pl refer to his Yoga Makaranda) . It is a bit odd 
that contemporary yoga has to defend itself against its health hazard 
whispers. Yoga is meant to heal the body and mind and not hurt. 


Anybody and everybody--skilled,semi skilled and unskilled- at any 
age can find some safe yoga procedures appropriate to them for 
practice from Vinyasa Krama Yoga, because it is versatile and 


If I am happy, making others happy, I am Satwic 
To make myself happy, if I make others unhappy, I am Rajasic 
Because others are happy, if I am unhappy, I am Tamasic 


Sukha is a beautiful sanskrit word. Su=agreeable and kha=space 
sukha means agreeable (internal) space and in contrast dukkha would 
mean intolerable (internal) space. Yoga leads to satwa and it leads to 
sustainable sukha 


A well balanced yogic diet of asana, pranayama and dhyana 
(meditation) would help touch base regularly with the peace zone of 
one's brain. 


On Santosha (contentment) a yogic trait (niyama). The happiness 
one gets by the fulfillment of worldly desires and the joy one may get 
by reaching the heavenly abodes mentioned in the scriptures are not 
comparable to even a sixteenth part of the great internal 
space( sukha) one gets by the eradication of the very desires.— 
Mahabharata, a Sanskrit epic (itihasa) 


The wind carries the sweet fragrance of a tree full of flowers 
and it is smelt even at a distance..likewise the positive effects of 
good actions (punya karma) travel far and wide..yajur veda 


Blessed are the Yogis who have found their yoga 


Rishis are those who speak the Truth..( rishayah satya vachasah-- 
amarakosha, a sanskrit thesaurus). Rishis meditate upon and speak of 
what is Absolutely Real. 


Sukha is a beautiful sanskrit word. Su=agreeable and kha=space 
sukha means agreeable (internal) space and in contrast dukkha would 
mean intolerable (internal) space. Yoga leads to satwa and it leads to 
sustainable sukha 


May noble thoughts from all over the world come to us (Aa no 
Bhadra ritavo yantu --A vedic prayer 


“Story of Patanjali” in my book “Yoga for the Three Stages of 
Life”. In Google books I was able to access it (free) pages 20 to 29. 
It contains many sketches . I hope you can find these pages.http:// 


The tongue (jihwa) has two tendencies/weaknesses (chapalya). One 
is to taste (and eat) excess stimulating food. The other is to talk in 
excess and without purpose. Tapas, a yogic niyama is to keep the twin 
functions of the tongue under a leash by moderation is speech (mita 
bhaashana) and moderation in diet (mita aahaara)--From my class notes 
on YS with Sri Krishnamacharya 


As per the way I learnt asanas (esp., vinyasakrama) from my Guru 
Sri Krishnamacharya, the default position of the head in asana 
practice is 'head-down'. It helps maintain good control over breathing 
in asana practice ( an essential ingredient of Krishnmacharya's Yoga), 
keep the back straighter and stretch the spine more freely for getting 
more inter-vertebral space and also maintain good balance (sthira). 
See his asana pictures in his book “yoga Makaranda” 


Our day to day experience is replete with duality;subject/object, 
you and I, seer and the seen. Underneath this duality there is only 
one principle that exists and can qualify to have 'existence' (Satya). 
Knowing it logically and experientially is the main thrust of Vedanta 
Darsana, Yoga's big brother. 


My Novemeber 2009 Newsletter contains an article on 
Meditation.Srivatsa Ramaswami 
More articles can be found in the other newsletters in this same site 


Aerobics and some fast paced yoga systems like the multiple 
suryanamaskara are an antithesis of yoga exercises (vinyasa krama), 
even as both confer their own unique benefits. Usually aerobics is 
strenuous,fast paced and increases the heart rate and breath rate 
whereas yoga exercises (vinyasa krama) are deliberate,slow, breath 
centered, comprehensive and tend to reduce breath rate, heart rate and 
distraction rate of the mind. 


My world is not perfect 
My body is not perfect 
My thoughts are not perfect 
My reasoning is not perfect 
I as an individual am not perfect 
But I, the Self, that experiences all these imperfections 
Is (am) perfect 


Yoga procedures adopted during growing years (vriddhi krama) need 
to be significantly modified during midlife (sthiti krama) which again 
will have to be drastically altered during the last lap of one's life 
journey to avoid instantaneous and cumulative injuries. The Yoga 
Makaranda of Sri Krishnamacharya has two sets of asana pictures. One 
set of beautifully executed intricate asanas by kid/s is for growing 
years (vridhi krama) and the other set performed majestically by 
Krishnamacharya himself is more appropriate to midlife (sthti krama). 


The Purusha (indwelling Self) is amrita (immortal)says a mantra 
from Suryanamaskara (Sun Salutation) in Yajur Veda. The state of 
Kaivlaya of Purusha or the indwelling Self and the concomitant 
cittavrittinirodha of the mind is neither a state of excitement nor 
passive dullness/depression. It is said to be a state of uninterrupted 
flow (vahita) of unadulterated peace (prashanta). 


When Prana circulates in surya (sun) Nadi, Rajas comes to the 
forefront, the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated and one feels 
the pitta dosha's effects. Prana in Chandra(moon) Nadi makes one 
tamasic , Kapha increases and the parasympathetic nervous system is 
stimulated. When Prana is in Agni nadi, one tends to be Satwic, vata 
dominated and the central nervous system is in control. So it is 
beneficial to do pranayama. 


Yoga sutras and the Upanishads answer questions that one does not 
even ask, like”Who am I 


What is the purpose of Life? 
The purpose of life is to realize that 
There is no purpose to Life. 
That's weird, but what after this 'realization'? 
One would work to avoid another birth 
... Supposing I don't believe in rebirth? 
Supposing rebirth does not depend on your belief? 
That is even more crazy Guruji.. 
Have to find another teacher- 
Comforting, not unsettling. 


My normal day to day impressions of myself( a 73 year 'old' man) 
are negated by my experiences during my dreams. My impressions of who 
I am during dreams (a 16 year old struggling student for instance) are 
negated by my normal day to day experiences. My sleep “experiences” 
negate both the waking and dream state impressions of myself as they 
negate my very existence. But I exist. Who am I? Would the Yoga's 
Kaivalya state of Freedom and the fourth state of consciousness or the 
Turiya state of Vedanta be my real state? 


Faulty Breath, restless mind 
Smooth flowing breath, restful mind -Based on HYP 
Learn and observe Yogic Breathing Procedures 
To Charm the Mind and calm the mind 


RAJA YOGA: Brahmananda refers to Patanjali's Yoga as Raja Yoga in 
his commentary on Hata Yoga Pradipika-so do several others. Raja is 
derived from the Sanskrit root 'raajr' meaning illuminating (raajr 
diptau). So Raja Yoga is 'Yoga of Enlightenment'. 


VINYASAKRAMA ASANA BREATHING: In Vinyasakrama asana practice, 
breath synchronization with slow movements is an essential element. 
One would start the movement with the beginning of inhalation or 
exhalation and complete the movement with the completion of that 
breathing phase. The time taken in actual practice may be between 5 to 
10 or 12 seconds depending on one's capacity and control. If it 
goes ...below 5 seconds one would stop the practice and rest to regain 
the vinyasa krama acceptable breath. My Guru, Sri T Krishnamacharya 
would say 'breathe with hissing sound '(a la cobra, refer to ananta 
samapatti in YS) or 'with a mild rubbing sensation in the throat'--. 
Some hints about breathing in asanas as per vinyasa krama which will 
be discussed in my Teacher Training program in July/Aug 2012 at LMU. 


Kaivalya can take place in and instant as per Kaivalya Navaneetham— 
like the time taken to swallow a sweet bit of butter. But the instant 
may take long time to come, maybe a lifetime or even more. 


The Yogi's mind (chitta) is said to undergo three major 
transformations (parinama). In the first place, the habitually 
distracted mind is made into one that is habitually focused 
(ekagrata) . Then in the next transformation the one pointed mind 
becomes totally absorbed in an object of contemplation even forgetting 
oneself (samadhi). In the final transformation, the citta, totally 
satisfied due to the direct perception of the Self, effortlessly 
eschews all thoughts or vrittis including about the Self and is 
resolved into its pristine condition in which all the gunas are in a 
state of samyavasta or equilibrium (nirodha)--From YS. 


A short while ago my website www.vinyasakrama.com received the 
100,000th 'hit', and the most frequent visitor was myself. My friend 
Ross Smith created for me this useful website a few years ago and gave 
it to me as a gift. Thank you Ross for your generosity and kindness 


Steadiness with proper anchoring (stira), practising within one's 
comfort zone (sukha), unhurried breathing during asana practice 
(saithilya) and total mindfulness (samapatti) are the ingredients of 
(safe) yogasana practice—based on Yogasutras 


While teaching seated postures especially while doing pranayama my 
Guru Sri T Krishnamacharya would urge one to "Iduppai thookki 
pidiyungo" meaning Lift (thookki) and hold up(pidiyungo) your waist/ 
hips (iduppai) 


Kapalabhati is voluntary sneezing; Ujjayi is voluntary wheezing,: 
Bhastrika is voluntary coughing--these simple yogic procedure help to 
overcome the underlying breathing problem 

Thank You and with best Wishes
Srivatsa Ramaswami

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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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