|from here http://www.pccfun.us/mantra-so-ham/|
I mentioned in my last post that I was planning on practicing Ashtanga 2nd series all next year.
I was asked if that means I'm no longer practicing Vinyasa Krama.
Vinyasa Krama as a name for denoting that which is taught /presented/shared by Srivatsa Ramaswami is, as I understand it, an integrated yoga practice.
This I believe has been Ramaswami's goal/project all along, to show that Krishnamacharya taught more than just asana, or just an approach to asana.
Ramaswami taught us Asana in a particular way but also Pranayama, Pratyahara, Meditation. He recommended that before falling asleep we reflect on the yamaniyamas in relation to our day.
"The fledgling yogi may do well to revisit the yamaniyamas regularly, say at bedtime and/or first thing in the morning, to reign in the rather wayward mind . The new year may be a good time to give it a try". Ramaswami fb status update
He also taught chanting, study of the yoga sutras and encouraged study of other texts.
In my own practice, along with asana, I try to include all these elements, just as Ramaswami taught us and as Krishnamacharya taught him.
"So many beautiful asanas, such a variety of pranayamas, wholesome yamaniyamas, delightful shanmukhimudra, very fruitful antaranga sadhana (meditation), a solid considerate life changing philosophy--- there is something useful, uplifting for everyone in Yoga. Ask a friend/family member to start taking interest in Yoga in the new year.." Ramaswami fb status update
But perhaps the questioner is asking if I have stopped practicing the Vinyasa Krama approach to asana.
No, I don't think so.
On Ramaswami's Vinyasa Krama TT course he taught us the sequences found in his book The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga. These sequences are made up in turn of smaller subroutines. Ramaswami recommended we practice those full sequences so as to learn the relationship of the postures. Once learnt we would then construct our daily practice from subroutines taken from the different sequences. Certain postures were considered key and should be ideally practiced everyday. paschimottanasana, shoulderstand and headstand for example. Our daily practice would most likely change depending on our needs, we might feel we need more backbends, focus on a particular subroutine or to include asana that affect an area of the body perhaps deemed neglected.
As well as the sequences of postures Ramaswami taught an approach to asana. The breathing was long and full, the movements following the breath would also be slow and deliberate. Counter postures would be included and as a rule there would be less jumping back and forth than in Pattabhi Jois' Ashtanga. The jump back or return to Samasthithi appears in Vinyasa krama but would tend to occur in between subroutines rather than between each posture. There was also a focus on bandhas of course, less so on drishti as the head is more often than not tilted slightly down, the gaze then is lowered the eyes often closed, the drishti is more internal perhaps.
Ramaswami also taught a course on Krishnamacharya where we studied line by line Kishnamacharya's texts and even practiced each asana we were able, following Krishnamacharya's descriptions in Yoga Makaranda.
In my Ashtanga practice my own breathing is as long, slow and full as in Ramaswami's teaching ( as also in Krishnamacharya early writing and also as suggested by Pattabhi Jois), the movements are slow, following the breath. I focus on bandhas, I include kumbhaka's (as outlined by Krishnamacharya in Yoga Makaranda), my gaze tends to be down depending on the asana.
So my approach to Pattabhi Jois' Ashtanga sequences is, to my mind, very much in line with my Vinyasa Krama teaching.
But what of the sequences.
Ashtanga's 2nd series in Vinyasa krama terms includes a Bow sequences followed by a Meditative sequence. A Seated sequence follows an Asymmetric sequence, there is a logical progression, a krama from the leg behind the head in eka pada sirsasana through dwi pada sirsasana to yoga nidra that feels very much in keeping with Vinyasa krama ( I will often include Akarna Dhanurasana A and B) as a Vinyasa krama lead in to the leg behind head postures perhaps preceded by Janu sirsasana A and C in my 2nd series Ashtanga just as in Vinyasa krama.
I also tend to include vinyasa's in my shoulderstands and headstands in the finishing sequence, more in keeping with Vinyasa Krama than Ashtanga.
Ashtanga 2nd series IS, I believe, Vinyasa Krama, my approach to the series certainly feels that way.
After the asana I practice pranayama, pratyahara, Japa mantra meditation. I try to include some chanting and continue to study the shastras. I try to remember to reflect on the yamaniyamas in relation to my day before falling asleep.
I also have an extra evening practice where I includes a couple of Ramaswami's subroutines from the different sequences that I tend to otherwise neglect, before settling into a longer pranayama practice than in the mornings.
So I would argue that, as a whole, I continue to practice Vinyasa Krama in line with Ramaswami's teachings.
However I do employ Pattabhi Jois' 2nd series (which closely reflects the asana in the middle group in Krishnamacharya's yogasanagalu table) as a framework for my asana, not perhaps as strictly as in Jois Yoga, no doubt it's a little closer to Krishnamacharya's version in Yoga Makaranda and yogasangalu, but close enough.
But perhaps I still seek to have my cake and eat it.
I began my practice with Pattabhi Jois' presentation of Ashtanga, practising those sequences daily for two, three years. There is something about that approach to practice that I haven't given up on ( a particular kind of discipline perhaps). To do so would somehow seem to be a rejection of Krishnamacharya's approach inYoga Makaranda. I still want to believe that there is a consistency throughout Krishnamacharya's teaching, that it's possible to find the Vinyasa krama in Yoga Makaranda and Yoga makaranda in Vinyasa Krama.
For me that link is the breath, long, slow deep, full breathing the movements in and out of asana following the breath.
There are some still differences in approach approach of course. Ashtanga is more fixed than Vinyasa Krama ( although flexibility is I would argue inherent in Ashtanga, both Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois were able to adapt to the needs of the student, if somebody was injured for example, with their broad knowledge of asana possibilities). There are of course more jump backs but if we focus on the upward facing and downward facing dog rather than the actual 'jumping back and through' then this is pratkriya, conterpostures.
I think this year has been more about finding common ground than focusing on the distinctions, labels, finding the similarities for example between the asana table in Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu and Nancy Gilgoff's 1974 Ashtanga syllabus, the focus on long full breathing in Krishnamacharya's early writing as well as in certain Pattabhi Jois' interviews at different periods of his teaching. The flexibility inherent in the asana practice, it's always been adaptable, fixed sequences whether in Ashtanga or Vinyasa krama strike me now as more pedagogical than dogmatic. Their are many options for practice available to us, brought out and developed by many of the students, from different periods, of Krishnamacharya and also of course Pattabhi Jois.
In jazz terms ashtanga seems to have a more forward driving rhythm than Vinyasa Krama
Vinyasa krama _._._.
The jumping back and through seems to want to drive the practice forward, speed it up. Perhaps this is one reason why Ashtanga is so often practiced with a shorter breath than in Vinyasa krama, which feels more laid back in contrast, as if the practice is constantly seeking to slow the breath.
This tendency in Ashtanga to speed up and shorten the breath can be countered with use of a mantra, I use a long one on every inhalation and exhalation, It used to be the Jesus Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner
then I employed the Buddhist Loving Kindness mantra
May you be safe, may you be well, may be peaceful, may you be happy.
now I tend to go with a long slow SO-HAM mantra
A long slow SO on the inhalation
A long slow HAM on the exhalation
Sometimes I need to reset the length of the SO and the HAM by a couple of rounds of the jesus prayer or Loving Kindness mantra, especially after some of the postures where it's hard to keep the breath long and slow and full, EG. binds.
"A doting mother narrates different stories to her many children at different nights with the sole aim of putting them to sleep. People heading for the same city take different routes, different modes, different lengths of time to reach the same place. Likewise the veda mata (Mother Veda) explains the ultimate reality (Brahman) differently in different upanishads and upanishad vidyas to suit the different temperaments and capabilities of different aspirants-- Based on the explanation of Krishnamacharya to my query why there are so many upanishads" Ramaswami fb status update
Happy New Year.
I have it all wrong of course, rather than looking for the Vinyasa Krama in Ashtanga and the Ashtanga in Vinyasa Krama I should be looking at the Yoga Makaranda in Vinyasa Krama, the Vinyasa Krama in Yoga Makranda.
And that should be the side project, in the shorter asana practice in the evening before my longer pranayama session. Not my main practice.
Surrendering (up), letting go, I'm lousy at that, perhaps I should work on that as a New Years Resolution.
And first to be surrendered up, let go, should be my Ashtanga practice, I cling to it so.
It struck me (yet) again that I have responsibilities, duties, giri, obligation whatever we want to call it. For whatever reason I found my way to LA not Mysore and took Ramaswami for my teacher not Sharath or Tim or Lino or even Richard.
Ramaswami taught me, just as Krishnamacharya had taught him and that's the teaching I should be exploring further, deepening, embodying and passing on in turn.
Delving into those subroutines and sequences and their relationship to the other limbs
And there is such a richness there.
Still explore Krishnamacharya's other writings and practice of course, a Krishnamacharya course was part of my studies with Ramaswami. But I should be passing on what I learned, sharing that approach to asana and I do happen to believe that you should only teach what you practice.
If I want to Share Ramaswami's teaching more directly then that should be the main focus of my own practice of course not relegated to a couple of subroutines in the evening.
A year of 2nd series Ashtanga is a nice thought, even a trip to Mysore finally at the end of the year but what am I thinking, that ship has passed, let it go.
Chennai rather than Mysore
Surrender it up.
Perhaps it's not so hard.