Thursday, 8 November 2012

Best Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga YouTube video ever?

Best ever? Certainly the most delightful and again from the Tom Sewell  archive.

I'm going to stick with best ever, most of the Pattabhi Jois YouTube videos I can think of are of Patabhi Jois leading the count, working a room or giving a short talk. Here we have him giving an introduction and then talking over a small group working through Ashtanga postures, chuckling away to himself, fascinating stuff and wish we had the video of the whole demonstration.

Here's that 10 second Inhalation/10 second exhalation again. (6:00)

48 Suryanamaskaras every day (7.00)

finishing sequence (11:30)

150 breaths in Shoulderstand (12.35)

also the three hour headstand and where to place the head or not

29 comments:

  1. Excellent video yes. Thanks for putting the time of the talking points, very helpful when watching in a time crunch situation

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  2. Far out! Is that Lino Miele in the Tarzan-like speedo?

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  3. thanks for this video Grimmly.

    There is something i really don't get with Pattabhi. Why does he keeps advising a 5, 10 or even 15 seconds length for each inhalation and exhalation and at the same time is leading classes with such a pace that it is totally impossible to have more than 2 seconds for each breath ??? And it's the same for each and every ashtanga teacher.
    I'd be really happy to hear your insights on that because i find it quite troubling that a teacher teaches something but do not acts accordingly. How are we suppose to learn the right way ?
    Thank you again for your excellent blog !

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    1. I Know obobinde, frustrating isn't it, 10 seconds mentioned here,15 seconds mentioned elsewhere and yet 2, 3, 5 seconds at most throughout the demo. Going by their mayurasana's these guys are pretty advanced and yet they are racing through almost like an ujjayi pant rather than a breath. And it's the same in all the Jois led videos although standing and finishing are taken a little slower. I used to blame it on the run time of VHS or DVD's but I wonder.

      Keni, (a student of Lino), if your reading this does Lino take the count slower at all. I know he keeps full vinyasa alive does he do something similar with the slower breathing?

      And of course Sharath's DVD is quickest of all, although to be fair he never seems rushed. I've heard too in Mysore blogs that he 'teases' those who's practice is really slow rather than encourages it. Do we put it all down to numbers? Bum's on mats?

      In my own practice I aim for 10 seconds but it's probably around 8 and 5 in the binds. If I'm short of time I'd rather do three long breaths in a posture rather than five shorter ones but of course there used to be 8 breaths in a posture.

      When Ramaswami was teaching us on the TT his count would be around ten seconds but it's a little bit faster in his own demo videos.

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  4. obobinde, well put! After watching this video, I too thought to myself about slow inhalation/slow movement, but then you see the Lino Miele-look-alike in this video inhale in the first suryanamaskara in, like, two seconds. It's much too quick.

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  5. Hi Claudia, your welcome. yes like those time cues, useful on longer videos and when we're cruising around the blogs before practice say and don't really have the time for longer visits.

    I'm guessing he's from the Derek Ireland school of yoga attire Anon......never practiced in speedo's perhaps they're practical. not sure I would want to ware them on stage for a demo though.

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  6. I've asked different teachers about length of breath/speed of practice, and have always gotten an "it depends on the individual" answer. David Garrigues talked about balancing the energies that can arise -- tamasic, potentially, if you go too slow; rajasic, if too fast. Instead of a "correct" answer, it's about the individual paying attention to the energy he/she is creating with the breath. That said, led classes are about practicing correct vinyasas -- moving faster does help one keep a perspective on the movement/breath relationship -- and I think Guruji wanted to reinforce that correct practice. Then everyone could go more slowly in their

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  7. Oops. Meant to end that sentence with "self practice."

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  8. I hear you Karen and I even did that post here that sowed videos of real shala's around the world that showed people practicing at a more regular pace than led. But nowhere do you seem to see anyone practicing anywhere near as slow as 10 second inhalations and 10 second exhalations let alone 15. I'm curious why that is, if we've compromised that or if it was always just an ideal. I'm talking Ashtanga, in Vinyasa Krama the breath is that long and slow, Desikachar too i'm guessing. I practice my Ashtanga that slow as well as far as I can but that's my VK influence, I like it.We stress that this is a breathing practice but how much are we encouraged to really exhale fully right to the end before taking that next breath....aprt from Richard Freeman perhaps

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  9. Thanks Anthony for this great and rare video. It was filmed in 1993 and yes the Tarzan look-alike is Lino, he was 40 !
    Lino puts great emphasis on the length of the breath and the fluidity of the vinyasa, hence he encourages slow half-vinyasa practice, the movement starts and ends with the breath, not the other way around. The length of the breath cycle is up to the individual and not fixed at 10 or 15 sec and also it varies according to the sequence. At the beginning surias are very slow with breaths 15 sec, then each one finds his pace. Lino emphasis the importance of a fluid practice with no pause and intense concentration on the drishtis.
    I like very much Karen's last comment and David's image of balancing energies and I think Lino would probably agree with that.
    I'll be practicing with Lino and David in Kovalam from Dec to Feb so I'll raise the question again and post a feedback if I can remember.

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    1. That really is Lino Keni : ) It didn't even cross my mind until anon mentioned it. 1993, Lino's book came out in '94 I believe.

      Yes, I agree, the sequence makes a difference, the Janu's suit a longer breath than the marchi twist for an obvious example. I'm not suggesting that it needs to be fixed but looking at SKPJ's 10 seconds more as a guideline (elsewhere he even mentions 15 seconds) this is a long full breath to the ends of the inhalation and the ends of the exhalation where the bandhas are perhaps more naturally engaged than consciously 'pulling up the anus'. Plus that longer breath gives a lightly longer automatic pause between the inhalation and exhalation and exhalation and inhalation of a couple of seconds ( a mini kumbhaka). A guideline of ten seconds is quite different from one of five say where the breath is perhaps not completed before the next one begins, plus the shorter breath is perhaps more forceful. i take your point about the first sury's being slower, i remember reading about one of the 'senior teachers' mentioning that SKPJ would take the Standing and finishing sequences slower than the middle section.

      This long slow 10 second'ish breath is standard in the Vinyasa Krama I practice and we find it in Krishnamacharya's writing but find it too in Pattabhi Jois's and here in this 1993 video. I guess the question I'm asking here is have we lost sight of the full breath in our Ashtanga practice....and I guess does that matter.

      I take on board though karen's quoting of David G. concerning enegetics and it's true there's a sense that a faster practice carries you through the series, i find I have to resist the urge to race through my 2nd series practice whereas I tend to end up having to cut out parts of My primary because I've taken it ever more slowly.
      Sorry, long response.

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  10. Meant to add...
    Lino does not teach or encourages full vinayasa any longer.
    As far as guide practice is concerned, breath is fast because Guruji lead a demo at a fast pace, the comments about 10 sec breath length refers to a mysore self practice

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    1. re full Vinyasa, my understanding was that Lino would include it in his workshops perhaps on the last day, seem to remember noticing it there on a workshop of his I was looking at in bath a year or two ago when I was exploring full V.
      Ahh you would know perhaps, In his Advanced A series video with Gwendoline, does he do full vinyasa there, always wondered what that would look like on 3rd.

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    2. Well I haven't seen Lino teach full vinyasa in in workshops lately, the point about it is if you're ready to dedicate the time and perhaps only do first series, it builds up strength and has a healing value. I'll talk to Lino about this and breath length when in Kovalam and get bac to you on that.
      As far as I remember in the video when Gwen he was doing half vinyasa, in fact I have only seen him do full in the first.

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    3. I do feel there's more to full vinyasa than just certain health benefits and building strength, there's a ....completeness to a posture when it begins and finishes at standing. In Krishnamacharya's yoga makaranda all the postures begin and finish that way and that of course is the vinyasa count, half vinyasa is surely a compromise made from perceived necessity, as you say the time available.

      This relates to the breath too surely, a long slow full/complete breath of eight to ten seconds, add to that full vinyasa and how many postures can you actually complete in an hour or ninety minutes or even two hours (my pprimary this morning was two hours and I reached janu sirsasana A before jumping to finishing) and of course Krishnamacharya expected you to move on to pranayama and meditation. Perhaps this is the reason Krishnamacharya seemed to prefer to group the postures rather than refer to them as a fixed sequence in his Yogasanagalu. The problem comes when you try to have a fixed sequence and a limited amount of time in which to complete it. So we compromise, the breath gets shorter, and then faster, five breaths instead of eight, pranayama and meditation get cut... Senior teachers try to preserve a slower practice but they wont be around for ever, it's a concern no. I hope Lino continues to offer a Full Vinyasa class occasionally, be shame if it was lost completely.

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  11. Grimmly, are there any specific effects that you might have observed with the long breaths in ashtanga ? deeper concentration? any effects on bandhas ? able to go deeper in postures? how does it take for the full first serie ?

    Keni thank for your answer, has lino ever told you how long it would take him to do the primary serie ?

    Grimmly, i do think that it's been compromised but not by us !
    here is my working hypothesis tell me if completely out of line:

    We know, thanks to mark singleton, that the revival of yoga asanas in the 20th happened in specific milier which was strongly linked to the indian nationalism, the borrowed ideal of culturism and to the great interest of the mysore maharaja into the performance of these asanas.

    We know that Krishnamacharya did not teach the same thing his whole life and that the period he was teaching the proto series was the one when he had pattabhi as a student.

    We know that there is indeed a himalayan (tantric buddhist one) system of yoga which teaches asanas linked with breaths with external and internal retention, longer breaths and that the goal of it is to keep the body in good health, clear pranic obstacles and prepare the body and mind for meditation.

    We know that Krishnamacharya has been in the himalayas during seven years at the feet of his guru.
    We know that the yoga Korunta is very very unlikely to have existed, it's been 10 years that i study pali and tibetan manuscripts and i've never heard of any insects eating manuscripts (mold yes, political turmoil for sure but insects...)

    we know,thanks to David gordon white, that yogis were, throughout indian history, despised, dreaded, associated with black magic, and used as a guild of warriors in warfare.

    So here is the story:

    Krishnamacharya goes to the himalayas, learns the tsa lung 'phrul 'khor or the nyi zla system of yoga, went back to india to find this specific milieu we talked about. He decided to teach part of what he learned taking out the esoteric things, keeping the strongly asana oriented part. At this period one of his main students is Patthabhi. Now i'm sure Krishnamacharya must have talked about the longer breath but did not implement the teaching because the situation was not ripe for it (no demand, fear of yogis...). But later on the situation changed and Krishnamacharya started to teach this different way but still he had to keep some part secret, as there is generally a vow of secrecy on these himalayan practices. This period is reflected by his later students (Ramaswami, desikachar...).

    So maybe i'm totally out of the line but still i kinda link this story...

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    1. A full vinyasa first series can take up to 1,5 hour depending on the individual and breath length. It builds up strength and the pace should be adapted to the purification/healing that is required by each person. Primary series have strong emphasis on healing so one should adapt the practice to the needs of the individual.

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  12. I like the story too obobinde, but then I like stories.
    You say much was kept hidden and yet Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda displays much for all to see, long slow breathing, retentions after both inhalation and exhalation dependent on the posture etc. and then there's his yogasanagalu also and his assertion that nothing should remain hidden in yoga, that this would lead to the problems David Gordon White describes. I'drather say that Mark S 'has argued' rather than that he 'has shown' us, I like his book a lot but aren't convinced by all of it. I do think though that the environment of teaching asana to young boys had an impact, perhaps speeding things up a bit ( he taught Indra Devi at the same time quite differently).
    My own story is that the western students got carried away with the asana, the breath got shorter and shorter and Pattabhi Jois just let them get on with it. But I'd like to ask all those early students if I'm wrong on this, If he would constantly seek to slow and lengthen their breathing.

    "Grimmly, are there any specific effects that you might have observed with the long breaths in ashtanga ? deeper concentration? any effects on bandhas ? able to go deeper in postures? how does it take for the full first serie ?"

    You put me on the spot here, deeper concentration, better bandhas, Ashtangi's seem to have excellent concentration and bandha focus so I can't really say breathing more fully is more effective or that it allows me to go deeper in postures.

    What can I say. When i practiced Vinyasa Krama i was profoundly affected by the longer slower breathing. I did feel more focussed, calmer and felt I was inhabiting the postures more. the whole practice became about the breath rather than the asana. I noticed that after practicing Vinyasa Krama I would feel more ...internal for more of the day, Ashtanga tended to make me more open, shoulders back, chest out, ready to face the outside world : )
    When i finally managed to integrate them and see Ashtanga as a Vinyasa krama and breath more fully through my Ashtanga practice I started to feel the same way after Ashtanga as i used to after Vinyasa Krama. But that was just me and my temperament , perhaps it was a very personal reaction.
    I did find it helped my Pranayama and meditation practice, they tend to roll into one another more seamlessly.
    Also I lost interest in the Advanced series I used to practice
    How long? Primary takes me two and a half hours or so, 2nd series a little under two hours. i tend to have to cut the series back rather than sacrifice the breath or cut into my pranayama meditation time ( I'd rather sacrifice the number of asana now than the other limbs), so I'll do half of Primary and then pick it up the next day where I left off, same with second although just recently I'm doing a blend of primary and 2nd series. So second series backbends followed by first half of primary leading into Leg behind head work. The postures I miss get picked up in my evening practice as part of a vinyasa Krama sequence.

    Not in any way saying my way is the right way or even that we should all switch to 20-30 second breaths just raising the question and exploring it in my practice.

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  13. Grimmly, your answer is much more than i expected !
    Thank you so much for your insights. I usually do 1 hour of meditation before ashtanga because strangely my mind doesn't feel like doing it after asana practice. From now on i'll try to really lengthen the breath in asanas and do the meditation afterward to see how it goes as this should be the normal way.

    Thank you again for your answer.

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    1. Primary friday so went for a straight primary this morning but with 10 second inhalation and 10 second exhalation. Standing took just under an hour and I had to switch to finishing after janu Sirsasana A. first sury to janu A to a ten minute savasana was two hours. This is why I tend to cut out asana now, or cut the series in two or three (although anything I cut gets practiced the following day or in my evening Vinyasa Krama practice and I'll pick up the series pretty much from where i left off the day before). Still exploring this.

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  14. obobinde, your observation re: "strangely my mind doesn't feel like doing it after asana practice" is quite relevant and could be due to the rate of your breathing. A somewhat rapid breathing may in fact be the cause of this, at the end of which practice your mind may be too "rajasic" to then sit and still itself. you should experiment with this and see if slowing the breath allows you to reverse the asana and meditation. perhaps it won't make any difference for you, but then again it might.

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  15. thank you anonymous.
    I'm planning to start tomorrow and i'll let you know how it influences my meditation.

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  16. More entropy on the topic..

    Due to therapeutic reasons, the last month I have modified my stuff on the weekends starting from 7:00 A.M. as the following:

    . Ujai pranayama (10/15/20/25/30 seconds inhalation, equal exhalation) with half and full lotus sequences (1 hour and half)
    . free slot (1 hour and half)
    . Full primary ashtanga asana practice with some add-ons at the end part

    Up to now, my experiment results a really smooth asana practice since the first to the last asana. The slow and deep breathing created on the surya-A/B ( I usually remain around 20 minutes doing them) seems fully expanded around the primary. My practice is since the last two years six days per week.

    I usually hold the ultra-slow pattern in the first suryas area and on the finishing parts sarvangasana/sirshana 25 breaths, 10 breaths for others and so on.. Without the pranayamas stage (the rest of the week) if I extend too far this slow pattern i feel really in troubles with lack of transpiration and internal temperature..

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  17. Interesting approach Juanba. I hear you re internal heat, especially going into the colder weather. I tend to feel I'm warm enough but not sweaty enough for garbha pindasana and kukkutasana. I find mini kumbhaka between the inhalation and exhalation and exhalation and inhalation helps keep the heat up a little. I'm prepared to sacrifice garbha p etc through the winter or perhaps resort to water spray occasionally.

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  18. OT just fyi there's Ramaswami interview in wildyogi http://wildyogi.info/en/issue/huge-variety-krishnamacharyas-teachings-interview-srivatsa-ramaswami

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  19. Thanks Philp, yes saw it yesterday, excellent indepth interview, must ask them if I can reproduce it here.

    New post on the 10 second inhalation/10 second exhalation topic up today along with some video of the old Shala.

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  20. I think another point of interest in the video is a bit at the end when Pattabhi Jois tells them to take rest and says something like "this is not śavāsana". It seems like the implication is that śavāsana is something to be practised at another time...

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  21. Thanks for posting this great video. Quite a few people seem to be confused about Pattabhi Jois' comment about '10 second inhale'. He's not making a suggestion on the length of inhale/exhale, he's saying that your inhales and exhales should be the same length; if inhale is 10 seconds, exhale should be 10 seconds. He says something similar in this lecture from '91, ' 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!'

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  22. Yes I've pointed that out elsewhere Anon, that they are stressing that they should be equal. However in the first edition of his book Sharath used the example of two seconds, in the second edition he changed it to five. Pattabhi Jois always seemed to use examples of 10 or fifteen seconds, here he is in the French interviews from Guy's website 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!
    http://aysnyc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=100&Itemid=162

    Both Jois and krishnamachrya stressed that the breathing should be slow as well as equal, like the pouring of oil.

    Krishnamacharya would also talk of four breaths a minute, two in Sirsasana

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A Reminder

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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