“One of my goals in life is to do the slowest Primary Series anywhere… rather than the quickest”. Richard Freeman

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Current Practice Original Ashtanga / Ashtanga / Vinyasa Krama

"Use of breath in asana and vinyasa practice not only facilitates perfection in posture (YS Ch II 47 ) as taught by Krishnmacharya but also prepares the breathing apparatus (with long recaka and puraka and occasional kumbhaka) for the next anga, Pranayama. Then use of mantra in Pranayama (samantraka pranayama) helps a good pranayama workout with the right ratios and also prepares the yogi for the next stage, antaranga (meditation) practice". Ramaswami Srivatsa

Maha Mudra

I thought today was a good or at least fairly clear example of how my practice is evolving and might be of interest to anyone exploring similar avenues.

The basic premise is that the practice is governed by the breath, Krishnamacharya writes, long, slow, thin breathing, like the pouring of oil, Pattabhi Jois talks of long inhalations and exhalation (10-15 seconds).  Mine tend to be closer to eight, it's what feels most comfortable. Krishnamacharya includes kumbhaka (breath retention) in his descriptions/explanations of most of his postures in Yoga Makaranda, usually 2-5 seconds. Which Kumbhaka, puraka (after inhalation) or recaka (after exhalation), will depend on the posture but as a rule of thumb it's recaka when folded over puraka when upright neither on twists or backbends, wither on utpluthi.

With the breath that long and slow something has to give.

I'm going by Krishnamacharya's Yogasangalu table where the postures are separated into groups rather than sequences, Primary, Middle and Proficient. This liberates me somewhat from being attached to a fixed sequence although I accept a certain logic to the order of postures within that groups which bear a striking resemblance to the current Ashtanga primary and second series. Also of course several postures 'fit' together forming subroutines (today'a Mariyasana's  for example), same as in Ramaswami's Vinyasa Krama presentation, Ashtanga is of course a Vinyasa Krama as Manju Jois so right draws attention to.

My background is Ashtanga and the general sequence of postures works well for me as a framework for my practice. Both Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois as well as Ramaswami recommend some key asana but after that which postures you do and how many are dependent on the time you have available. With long slow breathing you have time for less postures.

So I've started to trim down the regular Ashtanga sequence, still cover the bases but I tend now to think of Primary and Second series in terms of the week rather than a daily practice. Today for example I included the marichiyasana subroutine, yesterday was the backbend sequence from 2nd series ( similar to the Bow sequence in Ramaswami's vinyasa krama. Earlier in the week I practiced the Ashtanga Asymmetric sequence at the beginning of Primary series with a few extra vinyasa krama postures thrown in for luck. Tomorrow I'll probably look at the postures around kurmasana possibly working in the leg behind head postures from 2nd and 3rd series.

Ramaswami presentation of Vinyasa Krama allows one to see more easily the different subroutines within the Ashtanga series as well as seeing individual postures in a particular series  and considering where they might fit into a subroutine of their own. Kapotasana for example can be seen as a backbend development of the shalabhasana and dhanurasana postures of second but can also be seen as part of a vajrasana subroutine (which prepares the quads nicely). Eka pada sirsasana ( a leg behind head posture) appears out of nowhere in 2nd series but in Vinyasa Krama is part of an asymmetric subroutine which includes some postures found in Advanced B Ashtanga ( Akarna Dhanurasana A&B). This means I can choose to practice the clear subroutines already found in Ashtanga, but for postures that come up on their own, rather than miss them out altogether, I can bring in other postures from Vinyasa krama to form another subroutine for practice This is another way of freeing oneself from dependence on a fixed sequence.

Here then is this morning's practice and below that some notes explaining the thinking behind it.


Friday's Practice

Nauli
Kapalabhati
Surya heda pranayama
------------------------------
Tadasana hand arm movements (5 mins)
-----------------------------

Surya Namaskara A x 1 slow with kumbhaka
Surya Namaskara B x 1 slow with kumbhaka

Utthita Trikonasana

Parivritta Parshvakonasana

Prasarita Padottanasana C

Parshvottanasana
-----------------------------------
Dandasana
Paschimattanasana
Purvatanasana

Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimattanasana

Marichyasana A
Marichyasana B
Marichyasana C
Marichyasana D

Navasana

mayurasana
-------------------------------------
Sarvangasana (6mins with vinyasas)

Urdhva Dhanurasana

Shirshasana (12 mins with Vinyasas)

Halasana
Karnapidasana
Urdhva Padmasana
Pindasana
Matsyasana
Uttana Padasana
--------------------------------------
maha mudra
badha konasana

Ardha matsendrasana

Baddha Padmasana
yogamudra

Padmasana
Uth Pluthi

Shavasana
----------------------------------------
pranayama
Pratyahara
Japa Mantra meditation


Practice Notes
I start with a light pranayama as per Krishnamacharya's 'life saving practice' presented on the Derr Atmende gott ) the breathing god) DVD, I liked that approach and have decided to keep it. That's followed by a shortened Vinyasa Krama tadasana sequence, just a few movements to focus the breath for the rest of the practice.
Krishnamacharya didn't seem to teach Sury's but he did encourage long stays in postures found at each stage of the sun salutation, I seem to have adopted that approach.

Ashtanga Standing is trimmed, each day different postures/variations to cover all of standing over a week or so.

The middle part of the practice I've mentioned above, it will change daily working through the different subroutines in Ashtanga and Vinyasa krama, today focused on the marichi's. Mayurasana is a posture Krishnamacharya recommended practicing every day, I'm working towards five minutes as per his recommendations.

Finishing is a little different. A long shoulder stand with vinyasas, urdhva Dhanurasana as a counter posture then a long headstand with vinyasas. The vinyasas in shoulderstand and headstand are those found in the Yoga Makaranda (part II) released by AG Mohan and familiar from the old black and white footage of Krishnamacharya from 1938 but I also add some of those other variations I learned from Ramaswami and which I'm familiar with

Another shoulder stand (unsupported) and then the regular shoulderstand variations and counters found in Ashtanga.

Maha mudra (shown in the picture above) and badha konasana are also recommended (or at least suggested) daily postures, Ardha matsyendrasana as a counter to baddha konasana, then it's on to regular finishing.

It Takes between 90 and 120 minutes but of course with more time you can spend longer on pranayama and meditation. Krishnamacharya (of YM2) recommends fifteen minutes minimum pranayama, I tend to aim for half an hour to forty minutes as per Ramaswami;s recommendation.

I'm happy with this, it's still Ashtanga both Krishanamacharya's 'original' ashtanga but also the Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga I'm so familiar with. It's also Vinyasa Krama.

The key to it the approach and bringing all these threads together is lengthening the breath and not seeing the Ashtanga sequence as completely fixed but more a framework. 

I like it because of it's adaptability, despite retaining a clear and familiar Ashtanga framework. Here I'm adapting it, cutting out asana because of my focus on the longer, slower breath but it's also an approach that can be taken if your short of time or never know how long your going to have to practice. Although your cutting out asana, by looking at them as groups of postures/subroutines you can perhaps more easily cover the different subroutines over a weeks practice or perhaps ten days. It also allows you to focus on certain groups of postures or perhaps provide space to bring in extra preparatory postures or extensions of a posture you wish to work on. 

For all the adaptation it retains I think a clear core practice (key asana) and identity, one of the strengths of Ashtanga, you know where you are when you step on the mat. 

-You have your Sury's however you choose to approach them

-Your standing series although you may cut out postures (different ones each day so everything gets covered over a week, no skipping your least favourite posts)

-The central practice, but drastically reduced ( a different group of postures or subroutine each day perhaps)

-The inversions and finishing sequence

6 comments:

  1. the are to be a goal for a practice the goal is conquer nature by conquering death

    the vinyasa yoga practice reduces the fat on the waist trunk must be slim

    setu badhasana is the bridge in the between humanity and divinity

    supta kurmasana is the turtle that pulls its head and limbs into its house .the back get to strong that an elephant can stand on it

    malasana is the garland we are offering to the god

    pasasana is the noose to catch your inner demons

    the asanas series are like the scales .once your learned the scales ,you can play music

    mayuryasana a peacock thats not peacock,that more like a chameleon . perfect it first it eradicates all sins

    bns inyegar notes

    tkv krishnamacharya mantras for yoga makaranda

    1 Opening Prayer
    (before Asana practice)
    (from the Kourma Purana)
    ~
    jivamanani bhrajth phana
    sahasra vidruth vishwambara
    mandalaya ananthaya
    nagarajaya namaha
    abahu purushakaram
    shankacakrasi dharinam
    sahasra shirasam svetam
    pranamami patanjalim
    gurubyo namaha
    devatabyo namaha
    ~
    (B.N.S. IYENGAR)
    ~
    The common Soul (jeva) shines like an emerald on the head of the snake
    Which has one thousand heads and is all pervading
    with three circles unlimited
    King of snake – I pray my respect to you
    Manifest in human form
    bearing the ornaments of counch (divine sound) and wheel(infinite time)
    having one thousand snowhite heads
    I surrender to you Patanjali
    I pray respect to the Guru
    I pray respect to the Divine adepts


    second mantra yoga makaranda tkv krishnamacharya prayer to adisesha

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbWjg12osts

    satvic mind

    play you yogasana krama

    ReplyDelete
  2. thank you Anon for this, particularly loved the quotes at the beginning on Setu bandhasana and pasasana, oh and asana series being like scales...perhaps the subroutines are chords. thank you too for the link so i can hear the chant.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mudra
    Mudra practice helps to counteract the influence emotional during concentration. The Mudra represent some yoga poses that include a concentration or a specific point on the body or outside the body. External objects are divine objects, lacking human emotions. In Yoga not use objects that have a dependency with our emotions and human relationships.
    The outer points are points of connection between the soul and the Creator.
    Points inside the body are like a network and relate to the existence of the soul in life. These very specific concentration points are considered divine objects.
    Is added to the concentration of a specific number of breaths (3, 6 or 12). The Mudra can be practiced alone, without a specific order, as their role is on an emotional level, which involves cutting the interrelation between the perception of the senses and emotions.
    Here are some highlights:
    - Adityas (Sun) is the solar disk, black and shiny, which is the door to go beyond this world. This concentration is against the practice.
    - The Star: lying on his back, directs the eye as far as possible in heaven.
    - Taraka: is the point on the horizon, infinity beyond the mundane world.
    - Murdhna: this is a point that is at the root of the nose. Murdhna gives us the support of spiritual masters. Thanks to its light, its spiritual strength as they continue to move towards the Creator. It is our belief that feeds and help us strengthen it.
    - Divya Chakshush:. Divya occiput point Chakshush means "vision of God" is one of the largest concentrations of the vision of our soul.
    - Nasaagra: tip of the nose. Dispersions reduced sensory perception.
    - Nabhi:. behind the navel Nabhi restore harmony in the emotional activity.
    - Mule: Mule means "root", which is located between the anus and genitals. This is a very important point. This is to bring all of our different human emotions to the root of emotions, Mula, to turn and give way to divine emotion.
    - Bruhmadhya: the point between the eyebrows. In philosophical terms, its meaning is "land between the two" heavenly and earthly.
    - Shirsha: fontanelle. Located in the upper part inside the skull. It is also a vital point, since the soul is supposed to go to death. The soul is often seen as limited to Mula. It is therefore necessary to create a way for him to go Shirsha, concentration up, by looking Mula and follow a vertical line Shirsha.
    - Hrudaya: the place of residence of God in us. It's a bit outside the physiological heart. In Mula concentration to Shirsha, Hrudaya automatically. This is protected from any human emotion. As a mental state Hrudaya occurs automatically when the field is free from mental sensations and emotions.

    Sribhashyam

    http://www.yogakshemam.net/French/newsletter/Newsletter23.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. this is an excellent reminder anon. I started to look more closely at Mudras a little while ago. there's a post here
    http://grimmly2007.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/full-body-mudra.html
    Tuesday's my day off. I'd like to look at your comments again more closely then when i have time to do them justice and perhaps turn them into another mudra post.
    As you say in your other comment there are similarities in the rishi approach i was looking at and the approach to Mudra your mentioning here (see also Ramaswami's newsletter on rishi postures today). i look forward to exploring this further , thank you again.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Reading your comment again i began to wonder about a pratyahara connection and then remembered that Ramaswami uses a mudra for pratyahara. I've always felt that pratyahara receives little attention compared to pranayama and asana, perhaps the mudra approach as you describe it here may be useful in relation to pratyahara and reconsidering it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. After a few asanas taught me the role of counter-offers, whose mission is to reverse certain negative consequences. He taught me a variety of asanas that I never knew. I never imposed their Sanskrit names and where possible use English - "bed position, mountain pose, standing on their shoulders, standing on his head, etc." On the other hand, taught me all the names of Pranayama Sanskrit. After a while he began to measure heart rate before and after class. My heart rate should not exceed 65 beats per minute, he was sure that my efforts followed harmonious breathing during asana practice. The time has flown by very quickly. Towards the end of my stay made special emphasis Krishnamacharya in the two positions and variations - and shirshasana Sarvangasanu. He asked me in these positions for the first time in 15 minutes, and then gradually to 20 minutes. He wanted to equalize the number of breaths in each case. I never managed to do in Sarvangasane, feeling more at ease working with shirshasana. So far, in my eyes is that past experience, printed in memory before leaving Madras. After a few asanas Krishnamacharya asked me to do a headstand and stay there for 30 minutes and counting the breath. He remained in the classroom, watching the clock, until the time is up. I was busy holding the account balance and the number of breaths. I lowered my fingers one by one back in every breath, so when I used my 10 fingers, I knew I had done 10 breaths. At the end of my maturity 36 Krishnamacharya told me to lie down for a while. I felt good, but when I left the classroom to the street, for me it was a very unusual thing.

    http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2012/10/yvonne-millerand-student-of.html

    srybashym, srivasta Ramaswami, TKV Desikachar, ganesh mohan all teacher, teaching special reduces the breath in sarvangasan asanas, sirshana (mudras)and (dhyasanas) ,my opionion all asanas saving the life Krishnamacharya

    breath long within their individual,
    for one minute is very dificulty yvonne-Millerand sirshana inthe western practioner in 60 days is inspiration for Western student right now

    ReplyDelete

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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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