Did everybody see the recent Iyengar interview on CNN where he mentioned that he used to practice yoga ten hours a day....I bet even then he wished he had another couple of hours to practice.
In the beginning I used to practice David Swenson's Ashtanga short forms, his forty minute version of the Ashtanga primary series. I guess with a lot of faffing about and working on postures I never felt I had enough time for the full practice in the morning.
Then I came across Sharath's Primary DVD and great I could practice the whole series in an hour, get it in before work, no time for woosy savasana though.
And then you start adding on postures from 2nd series....
and later, perhaps much later, from Advanced
and finally that ten minute Savasana.
Sometime or other you start slowing the practice down a little, you get up earlier, devote 90 minutes to the practice, two hours.
Perhaps you include an extra, short evening practice cutting into your meditation time, a kind of workshop session which eventually, for me at least, became Primary in the morning, 2nd series in the evening
When I came across Vinyasa Krama, Primary got bumped to the evening slot which meant I had to whizz through it again at Sharath pace.
The Vinyasa Krama sequences were quite long and the breath slow, ever so slow, twice, three times as slow as Ashtanga breathing ( or so I thought).
And then after Ramaswami's TT course there was pranayama to include followed by pratyahara and meditation....
So much yoga so little time.
How to balance the Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama elements of my practice....if only I could merge them somehow, find some consistency between these two practices I love.
Both Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois were aware of this problem, the householder problem, not everyone has time to practice all the asana, nobody has time to practice all the asana.
In his Yogasanagalu Krishnamacharya divided the asana into groups of Primary, Middle and Proficient asana. he indicated a handful of key asana that should ideally be practiced everyday. If you had some extra time then you could choose some of the other asana from the appropriate group along with their variations.
Pattabhi Jois took those groups and called them sequences (perhaps Krishnamacharya had already done so, for the boys), they were already pretty much in the right order, now you could practice the full group in sequence BUT, if you were short of time you could just do 3 sury A's and three Sury B's from the sequence and the the last three finishing postures. Again if you had extra time you could practice other postures from the sequence, again depending on how much time one had available.
Time, it's all about time.
It's not a case of devoting enough time to our practice however, but rather of devoting enough time to the breath.
One asana with one perfect breath.
Time never enough time.
What is more important the breath or the asana, which do we sacrifice, where do we compromise.
We compromise the breath, gone is the long, deep, full inhalation and exhalation,
like the pouring of oil,
instead more asana, ever more asana.
But the breath IS the practice, that's it, that's all there is, movement follows breath, the asana follows the breath
It's not the other way around.
The idea is to breath more slowly than we do at any other time of our day, more fully, more deeply.
What's the least number inhalations and exhalations, of breaths, we can take in one hour, in ninety minutes?
That should tell us how many asana we have time for
The asana follows the breath.
And later we save time for pranayama and for pratyahara and for meditation, that's the practice, the tradition, the lineage if we want to call it that.
How much time do I have available to practice.
How much of that time should I devote to pranayama, fifteen minutes? The same perhaps for meditation/concentration, five minutes minimum for pratyahara?
How much time is left?
What's the least number of breaths that can be taken in that time?
That's the guide to how many asana to include in the practice
And to hold an asana for three breaths, five, eight?
That's the guide to how many asana to include in the practice?
Remembering to include the key postures.
How much time do you have left?
What's the least number of breaths you can take in that time.
That's the guide for how many asana to include in your practice
Even if it's just one
One asana with one perfect breath.