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

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Ashtanga Rishi Series made up of Rishi asana?

'Originally there were five series: Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, Advanced B, and the fifth was the “rishi” series'.
Nancy Gilgoff 'Yoga as it was'

This interesting comment on one of my Rishi series posts this morning

"Astanga Yoga practitioners can recognise the names of these Rishis as many positions are named in his honor. My mentor, Manju Jois, explained the practice of a series called "Rishi Sequence", a separate series of Vinyasa in which postures are practiced only with names of Rishis."

from http://www.vaidika.com/?p=1631 (in Spanish)

So here are some pictures related to the Rishi/Sage, I chose my favourite picture from those that google  image search had to offer, most link below the picture to an interesting website with one version of a story relating to the Sage.

The Introductions to each Rishi are from Wikipedia with links for more info.

Admittedly the leg behind head postures are a bit tricky but most of the others are doable perhaps if you can manage a half lotus. I've chosen Marchi H just to make a change but standard marichyasana is relatively straight forward as is the half matsyendrasana. Kashyapasana is awkward but then you can do an unbound version, sure the Rishi won't mind too much.

The Rishi picture is followed by the posture named after the Sage.

RISHIS
from Srivatsa Ramaswami's December 2012 Newsletter


"During my long studentship with Sri Krishnamacharya, he taught several
asanas and vinyasas normally not well known at that time. Some bore
the names of renowned sages or rishis. I had known about rishis being
associated with a few asanas even earlier but these were mostly seated
poses, basically meditative postures like Vajrasana also known as
Dadhichi asana about which I had written earlier. But Sri
Krishnamacharya taught several new asanas I had not known, not even
heard of before. These were also featured in his book Yoga Makaranda.

Some like Bhardwajasana, Marichyasana are simple seated poses but many
others are more difficult ones and one may wonder if the rishi would
be able to stay for a long time in those postures and also meditate.
Of course some of the asanas were one legged poses like Bhagiratasana
and Durvasasana but I had heard  and also read in some puranas that
such one legged standing poses were resorted to by several tapasvins
to get the blessings of the Lord. The asanas named after rishis and
taught by my Guru can be classifies into simple seated meditative
poses like Dadhichi asana (vajrasana), more involved seated poses like
Bharadvajasana, Matsyendrasana, Marichyasana and others. Then we have
a few poses which can form a group like the 'side plank' poses such as
Vashishtasana, Viswamitrasana, Kasyapasana and others. Then we have a
series of poses centered around 'ekapada sirsasana' like Kapilasana.
Krishnamacharya thus taught many asanas bearing the names of well
known rishis—many of which I had not heard of, before I came to study
with him.

These Rishis were well known though, not necessarily for their
yogasana capabilities. There is a view that the entire vedas was
called Arsha or the creation of rishis, even though Sri
Krishnamacharya would say, quoting the vedas, that the vedas are
apourusheya or not created by human beings. The view is that the vedas
were created by creator Brahma when creation took place but were
dormant. The rishis with their deep contemplation were able to tune in
with the hidden vedic mantras and then gave it to human beings for
proper use and understanding. So the rishis were known as “seers of
mantras”, as Yaska the vedic etymologist would say “Rishayah
Mantradrashtarah”. But then vedas were considered revelation of the
absolute truth so another definition of a Rishi as quoted by Sri
Krishnamacharya from a well known Sanskrit thesaurus “Amarakosa” is
that Rishis are revealers of Truth (Rishayah Satyavachasah). Of course
both the definitions could amount to the same. So we can say Rishis
are those who reveal the absolute truth after they experience the
truth through the discovery of vedic mantras. Some scholars indicate
that the words Rishi, Rtam (truth), Rju (proof), Rk( vedic mantra),
Arjava (straightforwardness) can be traced to one sanskrit root “rj'
meaning 'to be straight'" .



Bhagiratha (Sanskrit: भगीरथ, bhagīratha) was a great king in Hindu mythology who brought the River Ganges, personified as the river goddess Ganga, to Earth from the heavens.
picture from here 
Bhagirathasana
Rishi Marichi or Mareechi or Marishi (ṛṣi Marīci, ऋषि मरीचि) (meaning a ray of light) is the son of Brahma, the cosmic creator, and also one of theSaptarshi (Seven Great Sages Rishi), in the First Manvantara, with others being AtriAngiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya, and Vashishtha.[1]

Picture from here
Marichyasana H
Kashyapa (Sanskrit कश्यप kaśyapa) was an ancient sage (rishis), who is one of the Saptarshis in the present Manvantara; with others being AtriVashishthaVishvamitraGautamaJamadagni,Bharadwaja [1]

picture from here
Kashyapasana

"Maharshi Kashypa is another well known vedic rishi. Reference of 
Kashyapa is found in some Buddhist literature also. Rishi Kashypa is 
mentioned along with the understanding of the solar system in the well 
known Surynamaskara portion of the vedas. ”Kashyapaf pashyako 
bhavati”. He is said to be the son of Marichi (does it ring a bell?) 
who was believed to be one of the ten 'mind children' (manasputras) of 
Brahma. Here is an interesting story about how different species were 
created. Kashyapaa married 13 women and through them were born so many 
offspring/progeny that the whole universe was filled different beings. 
Divine beings like the 12 suns (adityas), several creeds of demons, 
tigers and lions, birds like garuda (eagle), then snakes and other 
reptiles all were born to these women, each set of species to 
different wives. Kashyapa thus became the father of all beings and all 
beings of the universe were considered to be related to one another 
(not just the human beings) through a common forefather Kashyapa. Thus 
not only other human beings but all the beings belonging to all the 
species were considered kith and kin. Many families in India still 
carry his name".
from Srivatsa Ramaswami's Dec 2012 Newsletter

Bharadwaja (Sanskritभरद्वाजIAST Bharadvāja, also spelled Bhardwaj) was one of the greatest Hindu sages (Maharshis) descendant of rishi Angirasa, whose accomplishments are detailed in the Puranas. He is one of the Saptarshis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the present Manvantara; with others being AtriVashishthaVishvamitraGautamaJamadagniKashyapa.[1]

picture from here
Bharadwajrasana

"Sage Bharadwaja is another renowned vedic rishi. He is considered to 
be a great vedic scholar and teacher. An episode found in the Kaataka 
portion of the Taittiriya sakha of Yajur Veda would be of interest. 
Bharadwaja was so much concentrating in studying the vedas that even 
as the life was coming to an end  he was still continuing with his 
studies. Indra, the Lord appeared before him and reminded him that it 
was almost the end of his life. He told Bharadwaj, “Bharadwaja!! If I 
give you another human life what would you like to do?” Back came the 
reply, “I will study the Vedas further”. Upon that, the Lord asked him 
to look at the three huge mountains the Lord created and took out from 
each one of them a handful of earth and placed them before Bharadwaja 
and said, “These mountains represent the three vedas and the three 
handfuls of dirt in front of you represent the vedas you have studied 
so far. You see the vedas are innumerable and infinite (ananta vai 
vedaH) and any number of births would not be sufficient to exhaust all 
the vedas. You try to understand the essence of the vedas, the source 
of all the Universe, the Brahman.” And Bharadwaja became a great 
spiritual teacher of the vedas. Again many families carry the 
Bharadwaja name".
from Srivatsa Ramaswami's Dec 2012 Newsletter

Matsyendra or Matsyendranatha ( Sanskrit : मत्स्येन्द्र, Matsyendra m;. Pali : Macchanda; Hindi: Macchendranath) is a legendary Indian saint and founder of the Kaula Tantra . He was the teacher of Goraksha and probably lived in the 6th or 7 Century, but possibly also in the 10th After one century Matsyendra is Asana named: the Matsyendrasana , a simplified version of it is the Ardha Matsyendrasana .

picture from here
Purna matsyendrasana
Vashishta (Sanskritवशिष्ठThai: Vasit) is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the seventh, i.e. the present Manvantara,.[1] Vashista is a manasputra of God Brahma. He had in his possession the divine cow Kamadhenu, and Nandini her child, who could grant anything to their owners. Arundhati is the name of the wife of Vashista.
picture from here
Vashishtasana
The illustrious son of Chyavana, celebrated by the name of Richika, of the race of Bhrigu, endued with austere penances, sought the hand of this lady. Gadhi, the destroyer of his enemies, thinking him to be poor, did not bestow her in marriage upon the high-souled Richika

picture from this charming Ramayana website
Richikasana also called Skandasana
Kapila (Hindi: /Nepali कपिल ऋषि) was a Vedic sage and an incarnation of Supreme Godhead Vishnu, credited as one of the founders of the Samkhyaschool of philosophy. He is prominent in the Bhagavata Purana, which features a theistic version of his Samkhya philosophy.[1] Traditional Hindusources describe him as a descendant of Manu, a grandson of Brahma. The Bhagavad Gita depicts Kapila as a yogi hermit with highly developedsiddhis, or spiritual powers.

picture from here
Kapilasana

"Kapila was a vedic rishi, and still some Indian families carry his 
name. According to Bhgavata purana he was the avatar of Lord Narayana 
Himself. His discussions and advice to his mother on spiritual matters 
known as “Kapila-devaahuti samvada” is very well known. He is credited 
with the formalization of the Samkhya philosophy. It was also known as 
Seswar Samkhya. He is also credited with the Samkhya Sutras one of the 
earliest works on Samkhya even as Iswarakrishna's Samkhyakarika became 
the standard text for Samkhya philosophy. Kapila also is associated 
with the story of how the Ganga was brought to earth from the lofty 
heights of the Himalayas by Bhagirata. Please read the story of 
Bhagirata in an earlier Newsletter".
from Srivatsa Ramaswami's Dec 2012 Newsletter


In Hindu mythology, Durvasa (दुर्वास in Devanagari or durvāsa in IAST, pronounced [d̪urʋɑːsɐ] in classical Sanskrit), or Durvasas, was an ancient sage, the son of Atri and Anasuya. He is supposed to be an incarnation of Shiva.[1][2][3][4][5] He is known for his short temper. Hence, wherever he went, he was received with great reverence from humans and Devas alike.[1]

Picture from here
Durvasana
Ashtavakra (Sanskritअष्टावक्रःIAST Aṣṭāvakra) is a sage mentioned in Hindu scriptures. He is described as one born with deformities in eight limbs of the body (two feet, two knees, two hands, the chest and the head). In SanskritAshtavakra means "one having eight bends". Ashta (IAST Aṣṭa) means eight, while Vakra means bend or deformity. Ashtavakra is the author of the work Ashtavakra Gita, also known as Ashtavakra Samhita, a treatise on the instruction by Ashtavakra to Janaka about the Self. Ashtavakra is the Guru of the king Janaka and the sage Yajnavalkya.

picture from here
Ashtvakrasana

Supposedly the Rishi series as explained to David Williams by Shri K Pattabhi Jois was ten postures held for a longer period than usual. 

Here are some extra arm balances named after sages, these are in Iyengar but not Ramaswami, familiar to Ashtangi's however.

Brahmarshi Vishvamitra (Sanskritविश्वामित्र viśvā-mitra "friend of the world"; Kannadaವಿಶ್ವಾಮಿತ್ರMalayalamവിശ്വാമിത്രൻTeluguవిశ్వామిత్రTamil:விஸ்வாமித்திரன் Visvāmittiraṉ; ThaiSwamitBurmeseBodawJavaneseWiswamitra) is one of the most venerated rishis or sages of ancient times inIndia. He is also credited as the author of most of Mandala 3 of the Rigveda, including the Gayatri Mantra.
picture from here
Visvamitrasana

"Vasishta and Viswamitra are two renowned vedic rishis. I have already 
written about these two in an earlier article “Yogagate”. Viswamitra 
is credited with revealing one of the most important mantras of the 
vedas, the Gayatri which is used by thousands everyday and is the 
mantra used lifelong by many. Viswamitra also is credited with 
teaching a pair of important mantras to Lord Rama (and Lakshmana), 
known as balaa and atibalaa mantras in the Ramayana. If one masters 
the bala mantra one would not tire during a war and the atibala would 
protect the disciple from thirst and hunger while on the battlefield. 
Again many families still carry the name of Vasishta and Viswamitra's 
earlier name Kausika".
from Srivatsa Ramaswami's Dec 2012 Newsletter

Kaundinya (Sanskrit: कौण्डिन्यKauṇḍinyaPaliKondañña) also known as Ajnata Kaundinya (Sanskrit: अज्ञात कौण्डिन्यĀjñātakauṇḍinyaPaliAñña Kondañña) was a Buddhist bhikkhu in the sangha of Gautama Buddha and the first to become an arahant. He lived during the 6th century BCE in what is now Uttar Pradesh and BiharIndia.

picture from here
Koundinyasana B
And put altogether on one sheet. Not keen on spending twenty-five to fifty breaths in all these but then as I wrote in my reply to the comment, perhaps Manju was joking, or his father was or perhaps Krishnamacharya teasing or perhaps they were all seeking to silence the yoga student asking 'What next' after Advanced B

Still, can't wait to give it a try tomorrow no doubt with a few Sury's and some standing followed by a finishing sequence along the lines of Krishnamacharya's 'Life saving' sequence.

----------------------

see also this
Richard Rosen article on names of postures
http://www.piedmontyoga.com/uploads/1/0/6/6/10664798/rosen_asana_names_hindu_gods.pdf

UPDATE

Anon has commented on this post ( and I'm guessing the original quote at the beginning of the post is from the same Anon), pointing out that many of the asana in the Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu are named after Rishi and Deities.


"Looks that half of this series has names rishi in proficient, perhaps follow the order of the series and support 10 rishi by 50 breaths per session

in said yogasanagulu
bairangha external sadhana
antarangha internal sadhana
paratmanga sadhana is only one

might want to say about aspiring to be yoga rishi

hold this position deve be deve difiil good health is to teach Krishnamacharya could generate the interest and devotion to the rishi and meditate on the personal deity
and bring the state

Perhaps this was the intention of the outer KRISHANAMCHARYA to peace only one end?"


13 comments:

  1. yogasanangulu

    series practioner series

    look advanced series
    order practioner vinyasa krama series regular ashtanga ¿only 50 breaths por 10 rishi ?

    1 vashista
    2kashyapana
    3 vrinchi
    4 wishvamitra
    5bairabasana

    8 doorvasana
    18 gomukhasana
    19vatayasana
    20maytsendriya
    21

    kapilasana
    verasana
    hanumasana
    trivrramasana and supta
    natarajasana
    simhasana
    sidhasana
    gherandasana
    gandaberudasana


    Proficient
    Vasishta
    Kashyapa
    Virinchi
    Vishwamitra
    Bhairava
    Rajakapota
    Ekapada Rajakapota
    Doorvasa
    Ekapada Baka, a,b
    Niralamba sarvanga
    Niralamba sheersha
    Salamba sheersha
    Urdhwa kukkuta
    Vipareeta danda
    Ekapada vipareeta danda
    Ekapada danuh
    Bakasana (hatha yoga)
    Gomukhasana
    Vatayanasana
    Ardha matsyendrasana
    Poorna matsyendrasana
    Vrishikasana
    Moolabhandasana
    Akranadhanurasana
    Ashtavakrasana
    Buddhasana
    Kapilasana
    Vipareeta shalabasana
    Karandavasana
    Ekapadakapota
    Padangushtadhanurasana
    Ardhachakrasana
    Tittibhasana
    Veerasana
    Samanasana
    Parivruttasana
    Hanumasana
    Utthitaswastikasana
    Trivikramasana(supta)
    Trivikramasana(utthita)
    Natarajasana
    Simhasana
    Siddhasana
    Parighasana
    Samakonasana
    Vrikshasana
    Gherandasana
    Paryankasana
    Tiryanmukha utthitatrikonasana
    Kandapeedasana
    Suptakanda
    Yogadanda
    Ghandaberundasana
    Pinchamayura
    OOrdhwapravrutapada
    Yogapatta
    -------------------

    ReplyDelete
  2. Proficient yogasanangulu

    Vasishta
    Kashyapa
    Virinchi
    Vishwamitra
    Bhairava
    Rajakapota
    Ekapada Rajakapota
    Doorvasa
    Ekapada Baka, a,b
    Niralamba sarvanga
    Niralamba sheersha
    Salamba sheersha
    Urdhwa kukkuta
    Vipareeta danda
    Ekapada vipareeta danda
    Ekapada danuh
    Bakasana (hatha yoga)
    Gomukhasana
    Vatayanasana
    Ardha matsyendrasana
    Poorna matsyendrasana
    Vrishikasana
    Moolabhandasana
    Akranadhanurasana
    Ashtavakrasana
    Buddhasana
    Kapilasana
    Vipareeta shalabasana
    Karandavasana
    Ekapadakapota
    Padangushtadhanurasana
    Ardhachakrasana
    Tittibhasana
    Veerasana
    Samanasana
    Parivruttasana
    Hanumasana
    Utthitaswastikasana
    Trivikramasana(supta)
    Trivikramasana(utthita)
    Natarajasana
    Simhasana
    Siddhasana
    Parighasana
    Samakonasana
    Vrikshasana
    Gherandasana
    Paryankasana
    Tiryanmukha utthitatrikonasana
    Kandapeedasana
    Suptakanda
    Yogadanda
    Ghandaberundasana
    Pinchamayura
    OOrdhwapravrutapada
    Yogapatta
    -------------------
    looks that half of this series has names rishi proficient perhaps follow the order of the series and support 10 rishi by 50 breaths per session

    in said yogasanagulu
    bairangha external sadhana
    antarangha internal sadhana
    paratmanga sadhana is only one

      might want to say about aspiring to be yoga rishi

    hold this position deve be deve difiil good health is to teach Krishnamacharya could generate the interest and devotion to the rishi and meditate on the personal deity
    and bring the state

    Perhaps this was the intention of the outer KRISHANAMCHARYA to peace only one end?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Anon, have included your comment in the post. I wonder If this is the kind of thing Manju had in mind, makes a very curious sequence but as you say perhaps the point is to focus on the Rishi while in the posture.

      Delete
  3. I love Yoga, but it seems to be hard to follow.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Like anything dog mat Yoga can get a little esoteric, this is perhaps in that direction. I repair woodwind instruments for a living and their are sites devoted to vintage saxophones that will tell you that the only Selmer mark VI alto to buy has a five digit serial number and was built by an old guy called Jaques. I once thought about making a website devoted to pictures of vintage saxophone cases.

    Alternatively of course you can also pick up a sax, learn a blues scale and and just blow and blow some more.

    Same goes for yoga, learn a few simple postures and move with the breath. I saw a Mark Whitwell video once where he had a group raise their arms above their heads then lower. He then had them do the same thing but while inhaling long and slow as their arms went up and exhaling long and slow as they lowered. "That's all there is to yoga" he said. I kind of agree with him, everything else, EVERYTHING ELSE just follows from that, kinda like Euclid.

    ReplyDelete
  5. watch this video from the second minute onwards

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8AoDaoki3A

    puricacion inyegar bns body speaks of a super body
    A super human is completely purified gross body and mind a rishi?
    speaks of the importance of Paschimotanasana like srivasta Ramaswami and Krishnamacharya in yogamakaranda and control IT Samana prana in practice as srivasta mudra, meditation, Cleaning Cloth, pranayama dharana, dhyana this purification is ashtanga vinyasa is said bns inyegar


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the link Anon, I keep thinking about the possibility of going to Mysore to Study with BNS Iyengar although I'm not sure how much he's cut back teaching recently. And yes interesting what he has to say about paschimotanasana, I always like finding these examples of continuity between Krishnamacharya's early and late teaching.

      Delete
  6. Interesting post, I never thought about the names actually meaning anything. So can we do all the poses with animal names for the animal sequence? Or more seriously, is there relevance to the several poses with "Yoga" in the name?

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's curious, most of the primary postures seem to be descriptions of the posture, the middle series brings in animal names and the proficient or advanced series named after rishi and deities, give or take.
    The idea of theAshtanga Rishi series ( if it existed) seems to have been, What next after learning the Advanced postures? The answer supposedly, to take ten postures and stay in them for a considerable length of time, fifty breaths say. I'd assumed you got to choose any ten postures and that seems to have been David Williams approach but Manju seems to be suggesting that there are set postures, the Rishi postures. that would make sense as most of them are quite advanced postures.

    not sure how seriously to take all this of course but I kind of like the idea of staying in Bhagirathasana for hours on end, mind focussed and seeking a boon from the gods....Durvasana not so much.

    Interesting point about the postures with yoga in the name.
    yoga dandasana = yoga stick
    Yoga nidra = yoga sleep
    are quite straight forward
    Yoga mudra (the body mudras would make an interesting group)
    Yoga narasimhasana = yoga manlion (lord narashima)
    any others?

    ReplyDelete
  8. http://www.franzandrini.com/?page_id=8


    Sri Pattabhi Jois’ home. He opened the door himself and I bowed down and touched his feet, a show of respect toward a great soul, guru, a parent or any elder. It is an ancient custom prevalent in India. I was somewhat awed. I told him that I have come to learn yoga from him. He asked me to come in the morning and watch the class. Excited and hungry, I checked into a nearby hotel. The next morning, I was there. The place was packed with yogis contorting in to a myriad of poses, in a way I have never seen before. It was real and authoritative. My heart was racing.Talking to another waiting student, I heard about the fee, which was too steep for me to afford with my meager savings. A little disappointed, yet upbeat, I returned to my hotel, where I did my own practice with newfound zeal.In a few days, I moved to a house where several yogis were sharing rooms. There, I was told about YogaVisharada Sri BNS Iyengar, who teaches at the Parakala Swami Mutt, a monastery and a temple for Vaishnava monks and priests, a line to which I had already been initiated into, in my ashram days.
    I met the master, late on the afternoon of August 9, 1999.
    I came up the stairs and saw him at a distance. I took off my shoes and proceeded toward him. He said, “Yes, what you want?” I bowed down and touched his feet. He had become uncomfortable with my act and said, plainly, “No need of that, just keep respect in your mind.”

    regular only hindu linage is bns inyegar parakalt swami yogashala ashtanga vinyasa

    pathabi jois occidental student regular ashtanga vinyasa
    arjuna and lino mielli ,gregor mahele student bns inyegar mudra pranayama and asana


    Yvonne Millerand article, 1960's Student of Krishnamac
    harya


    After a time, he trusted me enough to suggest I use the word "Narayana", another name for Vishnu, during Pranayama. He taught accentuating the letter "r", which must roll and made me repeat after him, until he was satisfied with my pronunciation ... He added, "This sacred name belongs to my tradition, you have to find in your own culture the name that you should speak to your deepest self "... He left me free of any influence, I could only thank him ...

    this series competent yogasanagulu o rishi is for dedicat practioner yogi state not for health in my opinion

    ReplyDelete
  9. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/nirvanas-new-stop/0/106441.html

    ashtanga yoga comparative and ashtanga yoga

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for the links Anon, interesting article I might ask the writer if it's Ok to repost it here

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ramaswami has just written his December 2012 newsletter on the topic of the Rishis
    https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups=#!topic/vinyasa-krama-announce/06AhABLvLvQ

    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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