Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Ashtanga Rishi approach, Seventh Day (2nd series), leg behind head..

Patanjali
*Three posts today, this one another 'Dear Nancy...' post and the full 45 minute 1938 Krishnamacharya movie.


First the intro bit again...
A series of posts exploring the the 'Ashtanga Rishi Series' mentioned at the end of Nancy Gilgoff's Article (see link below) and outlined in a reply by David Willams on his forum below (the headings in block capitals are mine).

I'll be starting each of these posts with this same introduction/reminder of the the context.

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

Ashtanga Rishi Approach
'...Doing a practice of 10 postures for up to 50 breaths is a method of preparing for "advanced series" after one has learned 1st and 2nd. It can be done once or twice a week. One does the "salutations" and then starts going thru the series, holding each posture for as long as comfortably possible. Notice which postures could be held for 50 breaths. The next time you practice this way, the postures which you could hold for 50 are omitted and new ones are added at the end. One gradually works thru the series, dropping and adding asanas, still doing 10 asanas per session. I have gone all the way thru 1st and 2nd this way several times over the years and have found it beneficiall'.

Ashtanga Rishi Series
'Then, once one has mastered all of the asanas, one can practice "the rishi series", the most advanced practice. One does the 10 postures that one intuits will be the most beneficial and appropriate for that day, holding each posture for up to 50 comfortable breaths'.

Ashtanga Rishi Blog post series
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, first day Paschimottanasana to Janu sirsasana A
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, second day  Janu Sirsasana B to Navasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, third day Bhuja pindasana to badha konasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fourth day Upavishta konasana to Supta bandhasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fifth day Pasasana to Kapotasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, sixth day Supta vajrasana to Ardha Matsyendrasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, Seventh Day  Eka pada sirsasana to Tittibhasana C (below)
Ashtanga Rishi Approach. Eighth Day Pincha Mayurasana to Headstands

The Ashtanga Rishi approach, Seventh Day (2nd series).

Sury A x3 / Sury  B x 3

Ardha badha padma paschimottanasana (25  breaths each side) Added this as a preparation for the LBH asana to come.

Eka pada Sirsasana A & B (25 breaths each in A and B and each side). Spent a little extra time trying to get a deeper placement in preparation for the longer stay. Haven't practiced 4th series for awhile so my Buddhasana has left me and I can't get my leg as far down the shoulder as I used to. Eka pada A was comfortable enough (especially on the second side) but B is tough as your having your face squished between your knee and the foot behind your head, more irritating than anything else. on the second side I included a quick Purvottanasana between A and b to stretch out the neck. Fity breaths in A would be OK with improved leg placement but I'm not sure about B.

Dwi pada sirsasana (25 breaths) Still haven't worked out how sharath manages to keep his legs so far apart on off the neck, i think it's something to do with the placement of the second foot as if he gets it furth down the first leg, I have a go at it here but still haven't managed it. the 25 breaths felt OK but I'm hunched not looking up and seem to get a little more hunched as time goes on.

Yoga Nidrasana (50 breaths). I was looking forward to this, it's sleeping yogi, yu should be able to stay for a considerable time. It felt comfortable. I was expecting circulation problems but it was fine and I could probably have stayed for twice as long. dristi was the back of my eyelids.



Tittibhasana A (25 breaths). I normally point my legs up higher for this but went for a more horizontal position thinking it would be better for the wrists. As Arm balances go it's quite secure perhaps because you have the counterweight of your feet and backside, could probably stayed longer but 25 seems plenty for an arm balance. the Titthibhasana series has always been a weak area for me, haven't worked out out to jump my arms as far round my arm as I'd like.

Tittibhasana B (50 breaths). Fifty, but short ones. Don't think I've ever posted a video of this one, bit  embarressed or at least self conscious about it, have never seemed to be able to straighten my legs enough and get my body through. So I was surprised to notice half way through that I was pretty deep and had a very clear view of my ...mula bandha, perhaps the long stays in the previous postures have paid off. Again, had expected circulation problems because of the bind but either I've worked it out now or it's not such an issue in this particular bind.

Tittibhasana B walk (50 steps). Was feeling playful, how can you not with this charming but ridicullous  asana so went for fifty steps, ten up ten down etc.

Tittibhasana C (50 breaths). My least favourite asana in any series, give me 50 breaths in Kapo any day.



Sarvangasana (50 breaths).

Sirsasana (50 breaths).
-----------------------------------------------------
To reiterate the plan. The idea is to run through Primary and Second series with the Ashtanga breath, equal inhalation and exhalation, take a note of how long I'm staying in the asana and then revisit the asana with the Vinyasa krama breathing. Here I'll reduce the number of breaths by lengthening the inhalation and especially the exhalation and employing breath retention where appropriate. So the same time in the pose but perhaps half or a quarter the number of breaths. This seems a more interesting approach to me than just staying in the asana for 25-50 breaths, if we're going to be in the posture that long it seems to make sense to explore the breath as fully as possible.


UPDATE
Not sure what it was about that practice this morning, something to do with the a foot pressing against the back of my head but I've been feeling triply all day. Pranayama was buzzy, meditation Janaesque and I had a craving for a coke afterwards that had me heading off up the road to get a caffeine fix  and something cold and fizzy .

Just finished my evening practice, 2nd series up Supya ardha matsyendrasana, some more pranayama and a short sit and still ....tingly. What's that all about.

Dear Nancy.... head up/down, jalandhara bandha, 'guruji said...'

Another note from Nancy Gilgoff following on from the previous posts. Earlier we had discussed the head being up or down. It's down for example in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda and Pattabhi Jois has his head down in the forward bends in Yoga Mala though Sharath has his head up looking at his toes, padhayoragrai. In Ramaswami, representing Krishnamacharya's later teaching, the head tends to be down in forward bends, (forehead to the knee as in Nancy's description below) in most asana in fact (In Ramaswami's teaching) the chin is tilted slightly down,  not full jalandhara bandha but perhaps a hint of it. However in Ramaswami's teaching  Ujayii breathing is employed and retention after the exhalation is often applied in asana thus the availability of jalansdhara (some postures it would be engaged more fully). Ujayii is also referred too in Yoga Makaranda.

That's the background to our conversation/email's see the posts below.

Dear Nancy the breath in 73
Nancy Gilgoff Article 'Yoga as it was'
--------------------------------------------------------
Hi Nancy, Can't thank you enough for your reply, really clears some things up for me. I think now that perhaps your right that it's a mistake to compare Ashtanga to Yoga Makaranda too much and yet it does make one wonder why they are so different and how we account for that. Perhaps the clue is in the 'breath follows movement', with such a flowing practice maybe it would be a mistake to include breath retention plus there's the need to keep the energy up so equal inhalation and exhalation and again the head up to maximise the inhalation all help to carry you through the practice. Guruji seems to be more of an innovator than I imagined.... or just, perhaps a VERY good teacher.
-----------------------------------------------------
aloha anthony....one more comment from me......guruji always taught me to go into and come out of the forward bends, with my head down so my forehead is the first thing that touches my leg....the neck is not straight unless it can slide out on the leg.....the dristi changes to nose if the head stays tucked. no jalandhara bandha does not mean the head is up. this is a misunderstanding of the method.  after the forehead touches the leg, the chin can slide out but always stays connected to the legs. this method develops uddiyana bandha very naturally.
there are MANY different yoga methods.....with different breathing methods. each has it's reason for being the way it is taught.....to achieve a particular state of being the methods will vary. some hold the breath, some use open mouthed, others closed mouth. same for eyes....guruji taught to keep them open....other practices keep them shut.   so how one is practiced depends on what the practice is meant to achieve. mixing them up, in my opinion, is what is causing the confusion amongst the yogis of today. so it is very good that you want to know the origins of this practice and what we are wanting to achieve through doing it.  guruji said he thought this method was the fastest to attain good health which helps us in the other aspects of practice (pranayama, meditation) and in our life. 
it is meant to heal the body so it is not a hindrance to advanced practices......n

The full 45 minute Krishnamacharya (and Iyengar) 1938 silent Newsreel

Nice to sees new version of  this in full, up till now it's been in five sections. Are there some bits that I don't remember from the chopped up version? Iyenger jumping straight into Vatyanasana for example at 29:09, at first I thought he was going for lotus but got it wrong. Got to try that.

Enjoy



Had to give it go, first side is just about OK but the second side a struggle, don't manage to get the foot high enough into the groin, cute party trick though, nice play a bit after such a heavy practice this morning.



This is a 'freestyle' approach to Vatayanasana As opposed to this one which is closer to the Ashtanga approach 'Working on getting my vatyanasana back'.

Should also add that it's perhaps something to think twice about before trying at home as your messing with your knees. I've spent quite some time playing with the hands free getting into lotus and hop to lotus jump through,

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Ashtanga Rishi approach, Sixth Day (2nd series).

Vashistha
Everybody gets this is an experiment right? Still doing my regular straight Ashtanga practice in the evenings, this is temporarily taking the place of my morning VK practice thus the VK influence. Not suggesting anyone should replace their practice with the rishi approach but rather that it might be interesting to explore, extrcurricular as it were. If not ten asana then perhaps five or three.


It's looking at what is and perhaps isn't doable or advisable, what modifications might be called for, which asana benefit from a longer stay and which don't, what a longer stay shows up in a posture, in your technique, circulation issues for example. 


'I have gone all the way thru 1st and 2nd this way several times over the years and have found it beneficial.' David Williams


First the intro bit again...
A series of posts exploring the the 'Ashtanga Rishi Series' mentioned at the end of Nancy Gilgoff's Article (see link below) and outlined in a reply by David Willams on his forum below ( the headings in block capitals are mine.


I'll be starting each of these posts with this same introduction/reminder of the the context.

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

Ashtanga Rishi Approach
'...Doing a practice of 10 postures for up to 50 breaths is a method of preparing for "advanced series" after one has learned 1st and 2nd. It can be done once or twice a week. One does the "salutations" and then starts going thru the series, holding each posture for as long as comfortably possible. Notice which postures could be held for 50 breaths. The next time you practice this way, the postures which you could hold for 50 are omitted and new ones are added at the end. One gradually works thru the series, dropping and adding asanas, still doing 10 asanas per session. I have gone all the way thru 1st and 2nd this way several times over the years and have found it beneficiall'.

Ashtanga Rishi Series
'Then, once one has mastered all of the asanas, one can practice "the rishi series", the most advanced practice. One does the 10 postures that one intuits will be the most beneficial and appropriate for that day, holding each posture for up to 50 comfortable breaths'.

The Ashtanga Rishi approach, Sixth Day (2nd series).

Sury A x3 / Sury B x 3

Ardha badha padma paschimottanasana (25 breaths each side) Included this as a warm up for Supta vajrasna

Supta vajrasana (25 breaths) Dropped back and stayed for 15 breaths but had to come up due to the circulation in my arms being cut off, went back down again managed only five and then again for five more, circulation is a real problem with the bind, might be something to do with dropping back over the bolster.

Bakasana (25 breaths) Kind of a cross between the squeezing the thighs against the outside of the arms and the balancing approach wanted to make the most of both techniques so the squeezing in the beginning to take some of the weight off the arms and then just balancing as my legs became too tired to squeeze. Arms aren't as straight as in the regular version. if I was still doing 3rd then I might be strong enough for fifty breaths but at what cost to the wrists, not sure of the value of long stays in the arm balances. 
Nicer floaty entry HERE, name of the game in this one is conserving energy, Sharath is excellent at that by the way, check out his Primary DVD in my post yesterday morning.



Bharadvajrasana (25 breaths each side) Was looking forward to this one, nice asana for a longer stay, could have stayed for fifty each side if I had more time.

Ardha Matsyendrasana (25 breaths ) As Bharadvajrasana above.

Pincha Mayurasana (15 breaths) Wanted to leave all the leg behind head postures for tomorrow and thought I'd do a trial run of Pincha M., hard, only managed 15 breaths before I dropped out of it.

Sarvangasana (50 breaths)

Salabhasana A & B (25 breaths in each) As counter to the shoulder stand. Re recent discussion in comments to day 5, I'm approaching a long stay in an asana differently than in the short stay, think 100m and 1500 or 5000m, still running but different approach. These salabhasana are less ...engaged (see HERE for my regular Salabhasana and the new approach I'm having success with lately), we're in for the long haul. Also, I use the Vinyasa Krama drishti for this asana here (looking straight ahead), don't see the point of looking up and squishing the back of the neck for five breaths let alone 25.



Sirsasana (50 breaths)

Pranayama.
---------------------------------------------


To reiterate the plan. The idea is to run through Primary and Second series with the Ashtanga breath, equal inhalation and exhalation, take a note of how long I'm staying in the asana and then revisit the asana with the Vinyasa krama breathing. Here I'll reduce the number of breaths by lengthening the inhalation and especially the exhalation and employing breath retention where appropriate. So the same time in the pose but perhaps half or a quarter the number of breaths. This seems a more interesting approach to me than just staying in the asana for 25-50 breaths, if we're going to be in the posture that long it seems to make sense to explore the breath as fully as possible.


Ashtanga Rishi Blog post series
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, first day Paschimottanasana to Janu sirsasana A
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, second day  Janu Sirsasana B to Navasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, third day Bhuja pindasana to badha konasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fourth day Upavishta konasana to Supta bandhasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fifth day Pasasana to Kapotasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, sixth day Supta vajrasana to Ardha Matsyendrasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, Seventh Day  Eka pada sirsasana to Tittibhasana C 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Ashtanga Rishi Approach fifth day (2nd series)

Vyasa
I know, I know I said I was going to take a break from this for a couple of weeks and work on the Vinyasa Krama version instead.

The thing is, the Vinyasa Krama 'Rishi approach' is to do the asana and then do it again for the same amount of time but with, say, half the number of breaths. The idea is to use fewer and fewer breaths but also to keep them smooth and steady. So it's useful doing the Ashtanga version first and getting an idea how long fifty breaths take so that I can then stay in the same asana for the same amount of time but start reducing the breaths, lengthening the exhalation, including retention where appropriate etc.

Even if the Rishi series/approach turns out to be a myth.

I kind of like the VK version better, feel there's more of a point to the long stays when your working with the breath, just staying for 50 breaths seems more like tapas, OK perhaps I get a boon from the gods and the poses do open a little more but it seems a wasted opportunity.

Anyway a reminder of the Rishi approach...

First the intro bit again...

A series of posts exploring the the 'Ashtanga Rishi Series' mentioned at the end of Nancy Gilgoff's Article (see link below) and outlined in a reply by David Willams on his forum below ( the headings in block capitals are mine.

I'll be starting each of these posts with this same introduction/reminder of the the context.

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

Ashtanga Rishi Approach
'...Doing a practice of 10 postures for up to 50 breaths is a method of preparing for "advanced series" after one has learned 1st and 2nd. It can be done once or twice a week. One does the "salutations" and then starts going thru the series, holding each posture for as long as comfortably possible. Notice which postures could be held for 50 breaths. The next time you practice this way, the postures which you could hold for 50 are omitted and new ones are added at the end. One gradually works thru the series, dropping and adding asanas, still doing 10 asanas per session. I have gone all the way thru 1st and 2nd this way several times over the years and have found it beneficiall'.

Ashtanga Rishi Series
'Then, once one has mastered all of the asanas, one can practice "the rishi series", the most advanced practice. One does the 10 postures that one intuits will be the most beneficial and appropriate for that day, holding each posture for up to 50 comfortable breaths'.

The Ashtanga Rishi approach, Fifth Day (2nd series).

Sury A x 3 / Sury B x 3

Pasasana (25 breaths each side) First side was OK, just made 25 but was slipping off one knee after 23. the second leg I placed a towel over my leg for grip. Needed to really lay on the bandhas to anchor myself, can't imagine doing fifty a side.

Krounchasana (25 breaths each side). Nice, gets easier and settle into the posture more as it goes on.

Salabhasana A (50 breaths). Both A and B were OK with the pelvic tilt engaged, really trying to push down and up through the mat. Used the belly button holding a pea technique as well (no not a real one). these techniques have been revolutionary in my approach to these bow sequence postures, much easier, makes the long stay possible and more of a stretch too, quite proud of my Salabhasana's now.

Salabhasana B (25 breaths). See A. above

Bhekasana (25 breaths). As Salabhasana A and B above with the pelvic tilt and pea techniques but I can't say I was pressing my feet down equally throughout, relaxed them a couple of times.

Dhanurasana (25 breaths). Bit lame, the will was weak and I baled after 25 breaths, fifty is possible with the above approach I think, perhaps if I did it first

Parsva Dhanurasana (25 breaths each side). Took both sides easy I have to admit as i knew kapo was coming up and I wanted to relax my quads a little.

Ustrasana (25 breaths). Fifty is doable but I wasn't sure how the kapo would go so wanted to save myself a little for that, nice to spend the time working on the pelvic tilt and pushing hips forward.

Kapotasana (25 breaths). And so Kapo which was hanging over the whole practice as ever, the elephant in the room. I'd done a trial run of this earlier in the week but had only held the side of my feet. Perhaps the good work in Ustrasana on the tilt and getting the hips forward allowed me to catch my heels, not from the air as I used to be able to do but then I haven't worked at kapo much for some time.

The long hold was difficult, no panic and I managed to keep the breath regular but I started to get all tingly and a little numb. Couldn't think of anyway I could be cutting off circulation as in Marichi D say, so figured it was psychological and stuck with it. Was tempted to carry on past 25, to 40 perhaps and then see but wanted to be sure of coming up so settled on 25 and just a couple of breaths in B. 

Interesting experience though, did iyengar REALLY stay 15 minutes in kapo? And what about that picture of Krishnamacharya standing on the young Patthabi Jois while he was in Kapo, that was in the 30's took forever to set up a photo in those days.
Sarvangasana (50 breaths).

Sirsasana (50 breaths).
--------------------------------------------------------------------

The next section of 2nd series should be OK, Dwi pada Sirsaasana is where I expect problems but that would be on the following day, the 7th day. Whether I explore that will depend on whether we manage to work out Sharath's Dwi pada secret.


Ashtanga Rishi Blog post series
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, first day Paschimottanasana to Janu sirsasana A
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, second day  Janu Sirsasana B to Navasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, third day Bhuja pindasana to badha konasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fourth day Upavishta konasana to Supta bandhasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fifth day Pasasana to Kapotasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, sixth day Supta vajrasana to Ardha Matsyendrasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, Seventh Day  Eka pada sirsasana to Tittibhasana C 



Sharath's Primary Series DVD Plus his Dwi Pada entry to Sputa K also Utkatasana and Virabhadrasana exits

So we've been wondering about Sharath's, frankly quite marvellous, Dwi pada Sirsasasana. How does he manage to get into the posture and look so darned comfortable. In my previous post I showed you my own, hunched up, version but also Iyengar's, a little hunched too it has to be said (which made me feel  better). However, If I want to consider staying in the posture for 50 breaths re the Rishi Approach (see my previous posts), Sharath's version is called for. In fact if even if your just staying for the regular five breaths you really donut want to be hunched and have any pressure on the back of the neck if you can help it.



Sharath's DVD is of Primary series so it doesn't cover Dwi pada sirsasana (2nd series asana) but it does include the dwi pada entry to sputa Kurmasana.
video

Unfortunately it's not that much different than my own, what does he do different for the 2nd series version where you stay in the posture for five breaths, is there different placement or did he just get better at it?


The DVD is excellent by the way, beautifully produced. Back when I first started Ashtanga and for quite some time, I was doing the shorter, forty minute David Swenson version of the practice offered in the back of his Ashtanga book and on his  video 'Ashtanga Short forms'. Sharath's DVD goes at quite a pace, the whole practice in just over an hour and yet it never seems rushed. I practiced along with this video for a long time, it allowed me to practice the full series before rushing off to work.

Later I just got up earlier and would slow the practice down as much as possible, back then though when I thought I only had an hour to practice, Sharath's DVD was a godsend.

Here's another preview, this time of Utkatasana to Virabhadrasana showing the exits Sharath was encouraging us to use in conference recently.

video

Utkatasana exit
Virabhadrasana exit
Here's my attempt at these in slowmo, I seem to remember somebody saying that Sharath would make you hold the lift for a bit before letting you take it back to Chaturanga. What I'm trying to show here is how you shift the weight forward, shoulders above the hands even a little in front of them. I take the leg up a little high in the virabhadrasana and pointing the foot would make it a little more elegant but you get the idea.
video

Here's what they have to say about Sharath's DVD on the KPJAYI website

Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series with R. Sharath was filmed in New York City during Pattabhi Jois’s 2002 world tour. Our mission was to convey the essence of Pattabhi Jois’s Ashtanga Yoga: continuous movement, dispassionate action, performed with focus, agility and strength. Sharath has been instructed in the practice and teaching of Ashtanga Yoga by Pattabhi Jois (his grandfather) for most of his life. What better place is there to learn, than from the source of Ashtanga Yoga?
What you will see in this DVD is a continuously filmed, three camera shoot, done with a minimum number of edits. We have added a few extra shots, such as an overhead angle, and a few close-ups to present a complete picture of the practice. Three digital camcorders were used in the film sequences, and a digital camera for the stills. You can see all three cameras angles in the ’split scene’ sequences. The colors are rich and beautiful.
The DVD is designed as a led class; Sharath calls out the practice in a voice over track as he demonstrates, uninterruptedly, the primary series on screen. The DVD menu design allows you to skip to individual asanas, or to play the whole practice. The subtitle track lists the asana names. This DVD will prove to be an important reference work that one can return to again and again when questions arise about specifics of the Primary Series.
Produced and Edited by Dominic Corigliano
Set Direction Caroline Laskow and Mary Wigmore
Cinematography Ku-Ling
Graphic Art Design Saskia Vidler
For more information and for purchasing the dvd, visit www.ashtangaproductions.com
Ashtanga Yoga Class, Primary Series with Sharath Rangaswamy
SharathCDAudio CD; Length 72 minutes.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Deleting a blog

Bit thrown yesterday when I heard that one of my favourite blogs had been deleted, a well loved and respected voice gone in a moment....OK it came back a moment later in a slightly different form but that's not the point.

I'm sure most of us who've been blogging for a little while think about doing the same. I've taken a break a couple of times, often think about quitting altogether but rarely consider deleting the whole thing.

It's no so much that think this blog is important, of any value but rather that I kind of feel I don't have the right to delete it, as if I don't have ownership. I know in the past a couple of you have felt the same re comments "How dare you delete my comment", so perhaps not such a strange idea.

This is no criticism of my friend who deleted her blog, I kind of admire her for just going ahead and doing it like that, cutting it loose, non attachment, it can feel like a stone around your neck sometimes.

Still, it kind feels a bit like Karma Yoga, not exactly or at least not always selfless, it has been helpful to my practice to work  things out here, post videos of my practice, reflect on it, view it with a more objective eye but there is the sense of giving something back to the community, offering a little support and encouragement especially to other home practitioners and at times a questioning voice, saying out loud what many of us have been thinking ( I know others have been thinking the same thing because they tell me in direct emails).

Every time I've started to think privately of giving up the blog I've tended to to receive a couple of emails asking for advice or thanking me for a post, often telling me that they're a home ashtangi too and that that the blog helps them get on the mat in the morning.

Sometimes I think I'm intentionally provocative to trying to push everyone away, not always, sometimes I'm just being an arse. I think the expression is to burn it. Funny thing is though, although many stop following the blog it then seems to become more popular, more hits, more followers, it has a life of it's own I swear.

Apologies to anyone I've offended in the past.

And of course I've received so much from the blog in return, support, encouragement for my own practice, a little extra push by saying I'm going to do something here and feeling obliged to follow it through, the karandavasana or drop back challenge say. And the friends I've made ....I'm the least social person I know, the interaction  here is probably good for me. So thank you to everyone for of that.

So it kind of feels like it's not so much my blog as the communities, I've posted 1026 times but there have been 5353 comments, is it fair to delete all those? Down the bottom of the blog there's the 'followers'  box 172 profile pics of people who've wanted to keep up with the posts enough to click the follow button. Then there's the long blog roll list over on the right, I'm sure many come here just as a place to jump off to other blogs love seeing that in the feedjit widget down the bottom left that shows where people come from and where they go off to, I started collecting the different flags a while back, still amazes me the global nature of our blogs, love that.

So here are some stats and screenshots of the community that builds up around a blog, not just my blog, any blog.

Visits 392164

1026 posts

 5353 Comments

Visiters come from over, just some of the flags I've collected, when I've remembered.


Love seeing where visitors come from and the blogs they go off too


Still can't get over the global nature of our practice

 I remember when i used to have 13 visitors and how amazed I was when it reached 30




....and yet I'm tired, wonder if there's a domino effect and a bunch of us who have been blogging for a little while and thinking about calling it quits will do so.


I've been thinking about it for some time but there's always something else.... I wanted to raise the profile of Vinyasa Krama a little and find a way to balance VK and Ashtanga and then the book project and trying to make VK more approachable and Rishi which I see as somewhere where Ashtanga and VK meet.

Enough is enough perhaps. I think it was five years ago this month or next month that I started practicing yoga or at least Ashtanga and four years of that I've been blogging about it.

Kind of fancy going caveyogi and just getting on and practicing and not writing about it anymore.

The other thing, for some reason so much that surrounds Ashtanga irritates me, need to seperate that from the aspect I love, the bit on the mat.

Finally got to a place where I can balance the two practices peacefully, VK in the morning, Ashtanga in the evening and yet already in the last couple of weeks with the Mysore post, Rishi I've felt like washing my hands on the whole practice.

So I guess that's it after all. Won't be deleting the blog, might trim it sometime or other to make it easier to find stuff that might be useful and possibly add one or two more Rishi posts to tie up the loose ends.

No shortage of wonderful blogs at the moment.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Straight friday primary after Rishi week and Dwi pada sirsasana

After a week of the Ashtanga Rishi approach, working through Primary  series fifty breaths (almost) in every posture I was looking forward to Straight Friday primary, curious to see if felt any different.

Yes and no.

It was a joy, as ever on a Friday, to fly through it, get lost in the flow and familiarity of the series. I was struck by something iIcan only describe as a closer... intimacy with the postures. That's perhaps to be expected, fifty breaths in Marchi D, Navasana etc, bound to feel you have... history. Felt like I'd found more space in many of the postures, everything felt a little  more comfortable.

I was asked about my joints, tendons, ligaments if they feel more 'stretched' after the long stays, feels something like that, not exactly an ache but you  know you've worked them there's a sensation, not unpleasant a kind of awareness of ligaments you took for granted, a parallel to the 'muscles didn't know I had' type thing.

I've decided to take a bit of time, a few weeks,  before starting on the Rishi approach to 2nd series. I included most of the backbends from the first part of 2nd after the shoulder stands last week, they felt OK and I did a trial run of twenty five breaths in pasanasa and kapotasana but I'm very aware of the fact that I've only just reintroduced 2nd series. While revisiting all the Vinyasa krama subroutines in the mornings over three months for the book I was mostly practicing Primary in the evenings, My 2nd is OK but it could be better. Dwipada sirsasana for instance.

A friend mention on FB that Sharath had given her dwipada the treatment ( though then preceded to give her the next pose so it couldn't have been that bad), bit of a hard time about not having her feet far enough apart, directing her attention to his own picture on the wall of the Mysore Shala (see above). I'm sure all of us doing 2nd were particularly conscious of our own Dwipada next practice, I know I was.

I just had a look at it after this mornings practice.

Here's my first one, OK admittedly it's winter, it's cold in the home shala, I'm not very sweaty and the legs aren't moving into place. i haven't been doing 2nd that much but I always include the dwipada entry to Supta kurmasana so no excuses. As you can see the feet are very close together, i was so proud of my fantail too and that I wasn't hooking them anymore, oh well.


In the next picture you can see I've made a conscious effort to get my first leg further over my shoulder and the second leg further over the first to bring the feet further apart.


What, you can't see that... No, me neither. Part of it is the lack of sweat I need to be able to come further through my waist roll over the calf on the second leg to allow me to draw my second foot down the first leg. That in turn will stop the second leg pushing through the first and pushing my head down.....I think I know what I should be doing.... I also need to get my legs lower, my leg tends to go quite nicely over my shoulder in eka pada, even to allow buddhasana (see my profile pic) but it's that second leg...think I need to draw the knees back too, perhaps try and push the knees up which will bring the legs down... hmmm.

You can see perhaps why I want to put 2nd series Rishi off. if I'm going to stay in Dwipada for 50 breaths I want it more like Sharath's than mine above, no pressure at all on the head.

I enjoyed the Rishi experiment, the first day was the best though, where I was exploring the vinyasa Krama breathing in the longer stays. Just staying in a pose for fifty breaths feels more like a tapas challenge. I want to inhabit the posture, explore the breath. I accept the argument for equal inhalation and exhalation in Ashtanga, the lack of breath retention, medium length breathing, makes sense in the context of a flowing practice but If you going for long stays, a less energetic practice then perhaps it allows for more sophistication in the breathing practice. That's something Vinyasa Krama offers, staying in a posture for ten minutes, same as Ashtanga rishi but instead of taking fifty breaths aiming to take just ten. jun slow breaths, retention, longer exhalation, it makes sense to me.

That's another experiment for another day.

Oh here's the Rishi approach 50 breath sunpta kurmasana again with the phone call from the wife. It includes, 1 minute in, the dwipada sirsasasana entry.



UPDATE
Think I'm going to explore the Vinyasa Krama 'Rishi' approach next week. I have a good idea of how long the 50 breaths took in all the postures, want to take that time and then quarter the number of breaths, so five minutes in Supta kurmasana but only 12 long slow breaths with retention rather than the 50. Or perhaps stay in 10 asana for ten minutes each (where realistic) aiming for a twenty second breath cycle rather than the Ashtanga ten.

2nd UPDATE
Still want to work out Sharath's secret but not feeling as bad about mine now.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Ashtanga Rishi Approach, Fourth Day

Durvasana
First the intro bit again...

A series of posts exploring the the 'Ashtanga Rishi Series' mentioned at the end of Nancy Gilgoff's Article (see link below) and outlined in a reply by David Willams on his forum below ( the headings in block capitals are mine.

I'll be starting each of these posts with this same introduction/reminder of the the context.

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


Ashtanga Rishi Approach
'...Doing a practice of 10 postures for up to 50 breaths is a method of preparing for "advanced series" after one has learned 1st and 2nd. It can be done once or twice a week. One does the "salutations" and then starts going thru the series, holding each posture for as long as comfortably possible. Notice which postures could be held for 50 breaths. The next time you practice this way, the postures which you could hold for 50 are omitted and new ones are added at the end. One gradually works thru the series, dropping and adding asanas, still doing 10 asanas per session. I have gone all the way thru 1st and 2nd this way several times over the years and have found it beneficiall'.

Ashtanga Rishi Series
'Then, once one has mastered all of the asanas, one can practice "the rishi series", the most advanced practice. One does the 10 postures that one intuits will be the most beneficial and appropriate for that day, holding each posture for up to 50 comfortable breaths'.

The Ashtanga Rishi approach, Fourth Day

Yesterday I stopped at Badha konasana

FourthDay
Sury A x3 / Sury B x3

Paschimottanasana (50 breaths). Included  Paschi to warm up the hamstrings, didn't want to go straight into konasana

Upavishta konasana A (50 breaths). Familiar from Vinyasa Krama where we do long stays but with less prep here it took 25 breaths before my shoulders dropped to the mat.

Upavishta konasana B (50 breaths). Have had trouble with my coccyx in the past so put a folded equal towel underneath. Toes feel a bit strained half way through, stretching up through the heels helped

Supta konasana (50 breaths). Again, familiar from Vinyasa Krama, drawing the belly in, the inhalation shorter than the exhalation, comfortable.

Supta hasta padangustasana (25 breaths each side). I did these 25 breaths each side ,in this and Supta Parsvahita below, in the usual order. SHP is the tricky one as there's strain on the neck, really need to engage the bandhas and stretch on down through the trailing leg to take the pressure off.

Supta Parsvahita (25 breaths each side). See above

Ubbaya padangusthasana/Urdhava mukha paschimottanasana (50 breaths, 25 in each changing hand position). Again an extra towel beneath to protect my coccyx as there is a bit of waving back and forth as you try to keep balance for such a long time. Changed hand position after 25 breaths.

Supta Bandhasana variation ( 25 breaths) This seemed insane to even consider such a long stay but I remembered a vinyasa krama variation where the elbows are on the floor and hands on the thighs so less pressure on the neck, 25 seemed plenty.

Sarvangasana (50 breaths).

Ushtrasana (25 breaths ). As a counter pose to the shoulder stand.

Sirsasana (50 breaths).

Nice practice, not as tough as the section of Primary I practiced last night. Was thinking how useful Vinyasa krama is for the prep poses in the subroutines these postures appear, especially as they are taken out of the context of the full primary series.

Tomorrow it's on to 2nd series, Pasasana to Dhanurasana, pasasana is the one I'm worried about.

Re the Breath

I can see the arguments for simplifying the breath from Krishnamacharya's Ujayii of the Yoga Makaranda to the 'medium' breath with sound of Ashtanga. It seems to make sense for the series for the particular style of Ashtanga  but I wonder with regard to the Rishi series. This is supposed to be an advanced practice and without the jumping about perhaps there's no need to simplify the breath. I wouldn't like to do the long ujaii breaths in every posture perhaps but there are some, upavishta konasana to name just one from this morning, where the more sophisticated breathing patterns can be explored, that's how I learned it in Vinyasa krama.
Ramaswami posted this on FB this morning
'VINYASAKRAMA ASANA BREATHING: In Vinyasakrama asana practice, breath synchronization with slow movements is an essential element. One would start the movement with the beginning of inhalation or exhalation and complete the movement with the completion of that breathing phase. The time taken in actual practice may be between 5 to 10 or 12 seconds depending on one's capacity and control. If it goes below 5 seconds one would stop the practice and rest to regain the vinyasa krama acceptable breath. My Guru, Sri T Krishnamacharya would say 'breathe with hissing sound '(a la cobra, refer to ananta samapatti in YS) or 'with a mild rubbing sensation in the throat'--. Some hints about breathing in asanas as per vinyasa krama which will be discussed in my Teacher Training program in July/Aug 2012 at LMU. 
http://registration.xenegrade.com/lmuextension/courseDisplay.cfm?schID=1430'


I'm reminded too of this from Ramaswami and an advanced Vinyasa Krama approach to the long stays in postures. It's a different approach from Ashtanga Rishi series, In Rishi we're aiming to stay for more breaths (Fifty) but in the VK approach below the idea is to stay for same length of time but to take perhaps a fifth of the breaths, slowing them right down.

'When one is able to stay in the posture (utkatasana) for three to six breaths, then one should slowly increase the time to complete a stipulated number of breaths. Thereafter, one should remain in the posture for a predetermined number of breaths chosen by the practitioner or teacher, or for a fixed persiod, say three to five minutes. Then one's practice should be aimed at reducing the number of breaths while remaining in the posture for the same duration. for instance one may take a total of twenty breaths while in the posture. Later on, it may be possible to remain in the posture steadily and comfortably (sthira and sukha) for five minutes with perhaps only ten breaths. This is one method for attaining asana siddhi (perfection in posture) that one can test of oneself. Having achieved this level of comfort in the posture, one can then introduce the band has, which will increase the time taken for each breath'.
Ramaswami Yoga for the Three Stages of Life P 127




Ashtanga Rishi Blog post series
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, first day Paschimottanasana to Janu sirsasana A
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, second day  Janu Sirsasana B to Navasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, third day Bhuja pindasana to badha konasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fourth day Upavishta konasana to Supta bandhasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fifth day Pasasana to Kapotasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, sixth day Supta vajrasana to Ardha Matsyendrasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, Seventh Day  Eka pada sirsasana to Tittibhasana C 

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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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