Pattabhi Jois in interview's
"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!"
"Long breathing - inhalation long breathing, your chest expanding and you will be very strong after. If long breathing, inhalation is not correct or if only the exhalation is coming long, that is heart trouble is starting. That is very bad. Inhalation more you take, exhalation little down you take. There is no problem. Inhalation you want, long inhalation'.
Totally unfair I know as these are demonstration videos rather than representative of anybody's practice but perhaps they may suggest the degree to which the slowness and fullness of the breath is stressed within this context.
Feel free though if you've practiced with any of these teachers or taken a workshop and feel that they teach the breath at a slower rate than in their video. Richard Freeman for instance took three hours to lead us through to Navasana earlier in the year.
Some questions after the videos if anybody's interested.
Filmed at Tim's school in Encinitas, CA, 1987, October
"...the point I think is just to work on lengthening the breath and breathe as fully as possible given the limitations of the posture while at the same time exploring those perceived limitations."
Five questions as an afterthought.
I've numbered these in case anyone does feel like picking up on one or more in comments.
1. So in your own practice, would you say your breath rate is closer to Richard Freeman or Kino, David Swenson or Lino?
2. Putting 10 second inhalations and exhalations to one side, how long would you say your inhalation actually is during practice, two seconds, three, four....five and is your exhalation equal?
3. How does that differ in different kinds of postures, the twists say or binds, backbends?
4. If you increase by one second the inhalation and the exhalation, what kind of difference do you find that makes, if any?
5. How about two seconds or three? Too much?
6. Is there a point at which you consider it to be an ideal breath rate for you that you would like to aspire to and practice at consistently or do you prefer to stick with how you practice currently?
...then thought it's only fair to answer them myself
1. (up until this experiment) Probably Richard Freeman but then I've practiced with his videos quite a lot, especially recently. I've been practicing more slowly recently, more in keeping with how he taught his workshop.
2. A five second inhalation and five second exhalation feels comfortable enough and probably reflects my current practice especially since I began to include the mantra in my practice.
3. The difference shows up more as you begin to lengthen the breath throughout your practice. In my regular practice there was probably only about a difference of a second or so in Marichi D or Pashana but in this experiment I find I can't extend the breath in those postures much at all, still around four or five second inhalation at most where else where I'm able to slow it down to a fuller eight second inhalation.
4 & 5. This week I've been extending the breath and find 8 seconds doable, more like how I practice Vinyasa Krama. But would I want to practice my Ashtanga at around 8 seconds inhalation and 8 seconds exhalation from now on? I'm not sure, I suspect it might be too slow but aren't sure why I feel that way. Why is it Ok for Vinyasa Krama but not for Ashtanga or is it just habit, what I'm used to. I've always felt the half vinyasa between sides and postures gives the practice a forward driving aspect, it drives the practice on and carries you along with it. Slowing it down this much seems to take more discipline to keep at it, perhaps, just perhaps, it's something to do with the David Garrigues quote on energy from Karen on the previous post.
"...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."
6. I tend to practice at around five seconds anyway, perhaps just a little slower 6 seconds say to really deepen the breath. I imagine that this changes and as I become more used to six seconds then seven might become more appropriate.
Ten seconds feels unrealistic at this time other than for experimentation.