Friday, 4 May 2012

Sri K Pattabhi Jois Interview 'On Vinyasa', at Guy Donahaye's website

I was sent an excellent link to an interview with Sri K Pattabhi Jois on my previous post on the Yogasanagalu (Thanks Anon.) the section below is where he is talking about vinyasa. At the bottom of this section on the link are direction arrows that allow you to go back and forth through the interview.

this of course is Guy Donahaye's Shala, co writer with Eddie stern of the Guruji book and is as you would expect filled will all kinds of articles, interviews and videos'. I haven't been to this page for a long time, this time I remembered to bookmark it.

Just to get you in the mood here's a video clip from the same trip to Paris so probably around the time the interview was conducted.


Ashtanga Yoga NYC

On Vinyasa
Sri K Pattabhi Jois Public Talks on Ashtanga Yoga - France 1991
Written by guy   
Samedi/Saturday 24.8.91

Guruji: Every asana you take one by one. That is good method. That isreal method. You don’t do asana without vinyasa. You don’t asana. Why?

Without vinyasa you don’t do asana. Why? One part (of body) you bending - you can understand? For example, paschimottanasana, Ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana, you doing one leg, bend one leg, and take back your foot. How long? Long time. After little (restricted) blood circulation, every joint stopping. After again take up, jump back again, next posture, next leg you put it. After your jumping time, tight your whole body, don’t loose, tight it (for vinyasa, the body should be engaged, not relaxed). After blood circulation automatically is going (moving). That pain quickly is going.

You without vinyasa, you do every pose (without vinyasa), all the joints so blood circulation so blood circulation not correctly. Circulation is not coming, stopping there (in the joint). After sitting posture you do completely, all body sick, gradually sick(nes is) starting. "Oh! Yoga is given (making me) sick - not liking" (i dont like it). People is not liking. That some asana - "Oh! It is very bad. Very pain is coming. Oh! left it (I dont want to do it). That asana don’t do!" Some people is telling. Why that? This is method you don’t understanding (why? because they dont understand the correct method). That is why you this method you follow - no trouble! Body also is very perfect. You can understand? That is the method.

Question: In the class with beginners, is it correct to teach and ask students to do little vinyasa? Not so many vinyasa and gradually ask to do more. Is it correct? For them not to be too much tired.

Answer: No, no. I telling beginners you start one suryanamaskar 3 times, 2nd suryanamaskar 3 times. You do first day, one week stop! Don’t take asana. You complete stop. Tomorrow take. One week same suryanamaskar. After some better (some improvement). Second (week) padangusthasana standing position; padangusthasana, pada hastasana, utthita trikonasana, parsvakanasana, standing positions you do. Stop it one week. After utkatasana, virabhadrasana include, suryanamaskar, trikonasana, parsvakonasana, all including utkatasana, virabhadrasana, stop it one week. Again take with paschimottanasana, purvottanasana you do - stop it! Next day take next.

Same method you take practice. Only for one place I am coming for one month or one and half month, one week or two weeks I will be staying, that is why that method I will take (if I am only coming to teach for a short time, I conduct led classes). That is why you come India. I take it same method. You can understand. That is why, different here teaching and India teaching different. But one asana is perfect, next asana I am telling (teaching): this one asana is not perfect, next asana I am not telling (teaching).

Question: When is it good to do full vinyasa? That is come back to Samasthiti after each asana. Is it correct?
Answer: Yes correct. Take one asana, finish it. After full vinyasa you do, standing position you come. Again next. Your strength how is you use (depending on your strength you should do half or full vinyasa). Without strength chat (sixth vinyasa) stop (If you are not strong stop at the sixth vinyasa eg do half vinyasa). Increasing your strength, you full vinyasa you take. Now there is no time (too many students).

That is why I am telling. One asana, for example paschimottanasana (has) 16 vinyasas, Purvottanasana - 15, Ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana, tiriang mukeka pada paschimottanasana, janu sirsasana A, B, C, marichyasana A, B, all 22 vinyasas. Full vinyasa .

You doing full vinyasa all - that is the best. Secondary you with sixth vinyasa all the asanas is coming. That you changing, this time (when) your strength is more, you changing that time. Sixth, seventh (vinyasa) paschimottanasana you do. After 8 – 9 then jump again. “sat” (six) position you go. I every day I teaching now. Same method you do. Both is no problem

Method is good no problem. Work is there. He is going work. (for a working man half vinyasa method is good) Your yoga practice, you take one hour. One hour or two hours your expanding your time. That time all the asanas taken one day full vinyasa you do at least five hours also you want you can understand (if you take full vinyasa, you need 5 hours to complete practice). One primary asanas doing, 5 hours also you want. That is why. You (are a) working (man). You not spending all the time on the yoga practice.

You can understand. Full time you take, full vinyasa you doing. Only for (completing) primary asanas takes 5 hours. 5 hours primary postures (with) full vinyasa. 50 asanas is there completely primary postures. That 50 asanas you doing taken 5 hours, with full vinyasa. You working. Another place is working. Yes you take money, you eating food, all you want. That only for your spending (free) time only for yoga, very rare (little time), very difficult also yourself. That is why you short cut you take. That is one or two hours. Two hours spent your yoga practice. That is good. That is also is good. Yes OK. That I tell you.

Question: In the vinyasa, practicing vinyasa should the student go deep into the asana or should he go gently through it? For example from chatwari, going to urdhva mukha svanasana, should it be slight or strong bending?

Answer: No no strong, stiff bending. Same. Vinyasa means (should be same as asanas) same not loose. Does it mean vinyasa as perfect as one asana? Yes, that is why I am telling all the asanas perfectly you do, taken 3 hours. You can understand? That is why you take short time. You do short time. You take practice. That is also benefit you get is possible. Shastra (scripture) is telling about vinyasa:

“Without vinyasa don’t do asana!” Without vinyasa don’t do asana. That is very bad practice. That bad practice is not giving good knowledge.

Patanjali is telling:
"yogāṅgānuṣṭhānād aśuddhikśaye jñānadīptir āvivekakhyāteḥ (YS 2.28)"
(through the practice of the limbs of yoga, there is a diminishing ofthe impurities and cultivation of the light of discriminating wisdom)

That is real. But aśuddhikśaye means: your inside poison completely is gone, going out. You loose your body you do (if the body is not engaged when practicing). One hour you do. Not sweat is coming. Only for posture he is doing what use?! You want real yoga, same method you follow. That is method.

Question: Doing vinyasa is it correct to stop for example in urdhva mukha svanasana for more than one breath?

Answer: Only one breath, inhale one breath, exhale. Inhale, exhale only one breath. Inhale 10 seconds or 15 seconds then exhalation also 10 seconds or 15 seconds. This is 10 times I am telling, you don’t understand!

Question: Yassin is asking if he should stay longer in kurmasana or in back bendings. You give some timing like 10 breaths for kurmasana. You give 3 times five breaths for urdhva dhanurasana. Yassin is asking if he should stay longer. He wants to stay longer sometimes. 

Answer: I telling: all the asanas you take practice how long your strength is so there, you take. Long time he is doing, 100 asanas you do - 1 asana is perfect. Long time sitting all the asanas he is doing time, you 1 take 10 breath or 15 breathing. You count it. Practice, that is all. You long time you sitting, kurmasana is long time, 3 hours is possible. One asana is perfect, taken 3 hours. Now practice how much your strength is there, you take. That is no problem. Your strength is 10 breathing is doing possible, you do 10 breathing, 15 breathing you possible, you do 15 breathing. One hundred possible, 100 you do. 5 you do, 5 is possible, 5 you do. Take practice, that is all. I am telling only for practice. Fix completely perfect. Asana, one asana siddhi, you do hundred asanas, one asana is coming, one asana perfectly is coming. That is real.

Sthirasukhamāsanam (YS 2.46)

Sthira means perfect. Sukha means happiness. That posture you sit and very happy you, don’t anyone pain: That is Stira Sukham. That is called asana. You can understand.

… one asana is perfect perfect perfect. There is one link from one asana to one asana. Link is there. Those asanas you take, all. One by one. One by one, all perfect it. After you do back bendings. That is back bendings asanas. Primary asanas, not much back-bendings is coming - you know! Intermediate asanas little, little starting: Ustrasana, laghuvajrasana, kapotasana.

After that is very perfect, take advanced postures. Advanced postures is more back bendings asanas: triang mukha uttanasana, padangustha dhanurasana, eka pada raja kapotasana, raja kapotasana, all is back-bending asanas. There is advanced postures is coming, more back-bendings asanas. But that time one by one you do, after no problem.

You first try primary. "Oh my body is bending! That is why I will take back-bendings. I will put it only for back, complete back bending. That is how it is better engaged." (my back is flexible so I will emphasise back bending in practice) After starting sick (you become sick). You don’t walk also! Many people suffering this one.

You take Gary. I am telling one example. Gary Lapodota.. Gary is taken a book. Iyengar book. From that book he has taken practice completely. After that he became my student. Yes, I telling I don’t know that man, oh very good. After primary intermediate and starting back pain, now also suffering. “What did you do? - real fact you tell me”. I telling (asking) one day. “Oh I take, I looking that book and take back bendings all…”

Completely, you take primary! after you take intermediate. Perfect it. After take advanced and make perfect. No sick anymore. Long time living possible. That is method.

That is why he is telling, all the shastras, yoga shastra. One by one, you take. Only one asana, another one asana. Link is there. Without link, finished…

I looking one student now. That student is taken yoga practice, that student did back bendings - back bendings he did. Back bendings did, after put it his back here, supta uttana salabhasana. Did triang mukha uttanasana he did. Serge is teaching: after I looking primary postures. That man baddha konasana, upavishta konasana he has not perfected. (Knees) going up completely. That man one day came here. After, no class. To class is not coming. One day I looking here - after here also is not coming. Where is this student? I do not understand. I looking - ah yes, suffering more. Suffering more diseases after 40 years.

See the link below for the full interview
I thought this was quite a long quote from the interview so wrote to Guy to make sure it was OK to use and received the nicest reply back which included some background information on the interview as well where to obtain another 50 odd pages of interviews.

Dear Anthony
Thank you for checking in with me about the post.

In the first place let me clarify some details about the talk.

The following text should have been visible on my site:

"These transcripts are a record of public talks given by Sri K Pattabhi Jois in France in August 1991. The questions were asked by Jean Claude Garnier and written down by Gilles Kerviche. Guruji's English is hard to follow at times so I have made some very minor edits to the text and included explanations in parentheses. These records form part of a larger collection of of questions and answers to Guruji over several years published in French as "Entretiens avec Guruji" (51 pages) and it can be obtained from Jean Claude Garnier for 20 € + mailing costs"

I discovered the photocopied hand written transcript circulating amongst Guruji's students and decided to digitize and share more widely.

I checked in with Jean Claude and he is happy for the material to be shared in this way.

I had intended to continue to develop my site and publish all the Guruji interviews and more when Eddie suggested making a book.

So my attention got sidetracked and here is an example of a detail which was never completed.

So thanks for drawing my attention to it. These transcripts are a perfect example of the difficulty of understanding Guruji's English and a major reason why I wanted to make the Guruji book (originally conceived as a documentary).
Great work you are doing on bringing Krishnamacharya's early teachings to light!

Best wishes



  1. My own feeling on this is that is that if long 10-15 second inhalations and exhalations and stays of 10 breaths or more cause the practice to take too much time then practice less postures, a shorter series.

    So if necessary just the standing sequence one day with the finishing postures, first half of seated the next, second half of seated the following day, then perhaps standing and the first half of 2nd series the day after that and so on.
    As we're seeing in Yogasanagalu and of course in Ramaswami's Vinyasa Krama, the series doesn't necessarily need to to be fixed at a certain length, we can even think of the series as a group of postures rather than as a series and practice the subroutines within the group in the style of Ramaswami Vinyasa krama with a loose frame work reflecting current ashtanga. it seems more important to me personally to keep the full approach to the asana we do practice than sacrifice that for more postures.
    That is just a personal view reflecting where I am in my own practice and currently finding most rewarding and beneficial.

  2. So glad you reached out to Guy! I didn't think much of posting the link, but so glad I did. Your comment above is right on.

    This sunday I will be going down to Big Sur to study with Ramaswami. Can't wait! Will let you know how it goes. Anything you want me to ask him?


    A book you will find very interesting..!!

    Thanx 4 sharing kannada version of yogasangalu

  4. I'm sure I'll think of something later Anon, things always come up i wish I'd asked him. have changed the link takes you to his website now.

    Thanks other anon will check out the book.



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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