Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga.

SLOW ASHTANGA : Pattabhi Jois talked in interviews, as well as when writing in Yoga Mala, that if we had less time we should practice less asana. In my own practice time is an issue. I prefer to breathe more slowly in the asana and vinyasas, lengthening my inhalation and exhalation, "slow like the pouring of oil" as Krishnamacharya puts it in Yoga Makaranda. I like to explore kumbhaka and the occasional extended stay, in Mudras especially. I also prefer to practice, much of the time, with my eyes closed, employing internal drishti at different vital focal points and I like to introduce vinyasas, extra preparatory asana on days when they feel appropriate as well as perhaps extending an asana into more challenging, 'proficient' forms on the more flexible days, in keeping perhaps with Krishnamacharya's, Primary, Middle and proficient groups of asana rather than Pattabhi Jois' fixed sequences. I like to practice Pranayama before and after my asana practice as well as finishing my practice with a 'meditative activity'. I was first introduced to Yoga through the Ashtanga sequences and I still maintain that general structure in my main practice but I would rather sacrifice half or more than half a sequence than these other factors and perhaps practice the asana ‘missed’ in the following days, I still consider this to be Ashtanga, Slow Ashtanga.

"When once a fair proficiency has been attained in asana and pranayama, the aspirant to dhyana has to regulate the time to be spent on each and choose the particular asanas and pranayama which will have the most effect in strengthening the higher organs and centres of perception and thus aid him in attaining dhyana". Krishnamacharya - Dhyana or meditation Yoga Makaranda part II

Monday, 30 April 2012

Pages 12-13 of Yogasanagalu ; notes on the art of yoga practice

Here are a couple of lines on breathing from p13 below

'In yoganga sadhana we don’t see these (above mentioned) irregularities and with regular practice all organs will become strong.  How is that?  When practicing asanas, we need to maintain deep inhalation and exhalation to normalise the uneven respiration through nasal passages.

 In yoga positions where eyes, head and forehead are raised, inhalation must be performed slowly through the nostrils until the lungs are filled.  Then the chest is pushed forward and puffed up, abdomen tightly tucked in, focusing the eyes on the tip of the nose, and straighten the back bones tightly as much as possible.  This type of inhalation which fills the lungs signifies Puraka.

In yoga positions where eyes, head, forehead, chest and the hip are lowered, we have to slowly exhale the filled air.  Tucking in tightly the upper abdomen, the eyes must be closed.  This type of exhalation is called Rechaka.

Holding the breath is called Kumbhaka.'
from Yogasanagalu p12-13 ( page numbers refer to screenshots) below
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I'm finding a freshness, an immediacy  to the Yogasanagalu that I didn't expect.  The Yoga Makaranda seems, despite it's radical approach to asana, a more ...traditional, classical text. Perhaps because Yogasanagalu is much more of a practical manual where the Yoga makaranda comes across as half treatise on yoga. Both wonderful in their own way.

There's also a clarity, an explicitness that's coming across already in the Yogasanagalu we have so far that allows us to reflect on whether the Ashtanga of Krishnamacharya's student Pattabhi Jois was a refinement or simplification of his teachers approach that seems to becoming ever more rigid. 

All asanas are not the same. Some asana allow for longer stays and this may be required to achieve the full benefits of the posture. Other postures allow for deeply engaged bandhas and still others retention on the exhalation or even inhalation. In one posture we might seek to increase the length of the inhalation in another the exhalation. Krishnamacharya states clearly that for the full benefit of certain asana it's vinyasa/variations should be included. This appears is in keeping with Krishnamacharya's philosophy of teaching the appropriate practice to a particular student in a particular situation and environment.

For me, still drawn to an 'Ashtanga' practice along with Vinyasa Krama, the challenge remains how to bring both approaches together, to retain a frame work of an Ashtanga series and yet allow for flexibility and variability in Vinyasa, breathing and bandhas, to develop a more sophisticated approach to practice and yet still retain a simplicity.

Embracing the contradiction.

In the 1938 video below (despite the demonstration aspect) I'm finding it interesting seeing Ashtnga (Iyengar) and Vinyasa Krama (Krishnamacharya) existing side by side, suggesting not a change in an approach to teaching asana over the years, so much as a flexibility inherent in the approach from the early days.

Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu Pages 12-13

12
13

from the body making it swift and light, fourth one will make you realize Jeevatma, Paramatma, and the essense of the universe, fifth one removes ego and selfishness.  In today’s state, we need all of the above five that are elements of the 2nd limb.
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11. 3rd Limb and Authority

Third step is the asana.  People who make sincere efforts to practice the first and second steps (limbs) as much as possible, no matter what the conditions  are will have the authority to go into the 3rd step that is “Asana.”

Depending on how strong one practices detailed aspects of the 2nd and 3rd limbs, so fast will they experience the corresponding benefits. In yoganga, no practice will go to waste.  However, one should practice daily at an appropriate time with devotion, sincerity and respect and without going against how it was taught by the guru.

12. Caution

Especially those who want to start practicing the two yoganga’s “Asana” and “Pranayama” without following the aforementioned niyamas, following drawing charts and practicing on  their own freewill will not receive benefits but may also be responsible for tarnishing the name and bringing disrepute.  Unlike other practices, yoganga sadhana not only nourishes muscles.  It benefits body, musculature, and mind and according to the age of the practitioner improves the active energy, extends life, eliminates diseases, provides stability of the mind, comprehension of subtle reality and self knowledge.

13. Review

Body exercises can be divided into two types: Sarvanga Sadhana and Anga Sadhana.
The system which provides vigorous motion to one section of limbs while providing limited or no activities to other section is called Angabhaga Sadhaka.  I haven’t expanded on this since the current generation of youth may well imagine the examples that I am referring to.

Examples of well known body exercises that are classified under the Sarvanga Sadhaka are: Talinkhana, Garudi, etc. From these body exercises one can achieve more than necessary strong and bulky muscles resulting in impaired brain function and in these individuals respiration (inhalation and exhalation) will be irregular, but never even.

Niyama
  1. In yoganga sadhana we don’t see these (above mentioned) irregularities and with regular practice all organs will become strong.  How is that?  When practicing asanas, we need to maintain deep inhalation and exhalation to normalise the uneven respiration through nasal pasages.
  2. In yoga positions where eyes, head and forehead are raised, inhalation must be performed slowly through the nostrils until the lungs are filled.  Then the chest is pushed forward and puffed up, abdomen tightly tucked in, focusing the eyes on the tip of the nose, and straighten the back bones tightly as much as possible.  This type of inhalation which fills the lungs signifies Puraka.
  3. In yoga positions where eyes, head, forehead, chest and the hip are lowered, we have to slowly exhale the filled air.  Tucking in tightly the upper abdomen, the eyes must be closed.  This type of exhalation is called Rechaka.
  4. Holding the breath is called Kumbhaka.
  5. We have to discontinue laughter and shouting hard.  Reason?  Lungs become weak and you will start losing prana shakti.
  6. Do not hold the urge to urinate or defecate before, during or after practice.  Holding will lead to putrefacation of excreta internally therefore leading to diseases.
  7. Before practice and immediately afterwards no type of food must be taken.
  8. Foods that are very hot, sour, salty, bitter and smelling bad must be given up.
  9. Liquor, smoking, women (outside of marriage), eating fire must be rejected by the practitioner.
  10. Private parts must be held with appropriate attire during practice.
  11. It is said that these Niyamas must be followed by the yoganga practitioners in Patanjali yogashastra, Hathayoga pradipika and many other texts is mainly for our benefit and not for our misery. By practicing these Niyamas, our ancestors used to live without too much worry and have brought enormous fame and glory to the country of Bharata.

The art of yoga which had been in hibernation for some reason, has seen a resurrection due to encouragement by some very important people and it is the responsibility of the young boys and girls to make it a success.  Unlike other practices, yoga practice does not require spending money on various apparatus. Unnecesssary food or drinks are not required.  Expensive clothing and attire are not needed.  Big buildings are not necessary.  Differences in caste, creed, young-old, men-women do not matter.  However, deep desire, faith, courage, perseverence, Satvic (pure) and limited food - these are required.  There is simply no reason why this yoganga sadhana which provides so much benefits and is so simple must be given up by us, impoverished Indians.
While Foreigners have come to the growing yoga shala supported by Sri Maharaja, taken photos of the drawing charts and displaying it in their countries, it is not right that we sit still and do nothing.

Bharata, which is the home of all philosophical/spiritual sciences, we have it our hand to ensure that others don’t become teachers of our youth.  This amazing system is not being practiced along with spiritual sciences with the help of a Guru, but is being abused by some of us is very unfortunate.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Krishnamacharya's Complete 'Original' 1941 Ashtanga Syllabus inc. Proficient group

Many Thanks to Satya Murthy for translating and passing on the final group of postures from the table of asanas in Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu. This is basically a preview, for those of us who couldn't wait, of the full translation to come, still a few pages off in the ongoing translation (see the page at the top of my blog). The original table includes the numbered postures in the three groups along with Vinyasa counts, the postures place in the vinyasa count and notes on breathing as well as benefits to be gained from the asana.

I've just gone through the list of the Proficient series and all but the last two asana at the end of the list are familiar to me. To remind myself which series, Advanced A or B the postures belong to in modern Ashtanga I used my David Williams Complete Ashtanga syllabus wall chart.

Down in the left corner of the poster David has written an introduction to the syllabus, here's part of it.
http://www.ashtangayogi.com/HTML/the-complete-asana-poster.html


'When I arrived in Mysore in 1973, the "Ashtanga Yoga Syllabus" was framed and hung on the wall of Pattabhi Jois' Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. Pattabhi Jois told me the syllabus was the list of the four
series of postures and pranayama from the Yoga Korunta, written in the 12th century by the yogi, Vamana. He explained to me that this ancient text was taught orally to his guru, T. Krishnamacharya, by his guru in
Tibet, Rama Mohan Brahmachari. Several years later, Krishnamacharya, following the directions of his guru, found a written copy of the Yoga Korunta in the library of the Maharaja of Calcutta. Krishnamacharya made
a copy of the manuscript.
Krishnamacharya showed the Yoga Korunta to his student, Pattabhi Jois. The text included all of the basic yoga asanas, from elementary to advanced, detailed move by move, breath by breath'.

Here's four of the five pages of the table from the Yogasanagalu.

...and here's Satya Murthy's translation of the asana lists.

The Primary and Middle series are pretty close to the Primary and 2nd series taught now in Mysore. A few 2nd series asana are missing from the Middle sequence but most of these turn up in the Proficient series. I seem to remember David Williams writing or saying in an interview that originally there was just Primary, Intermediate and Advanced series asana, the Advanced postures later being ordered into Advanced A and B series ( and then later again into 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th series.

Proficient series correspondence with David Williams Ashtanga Syllabus
Advanced A Series
1-9, 13-20, 37, 39-41, 53, 
Advanced  B Series
21-28, 30, 35, 38, 42-45, 47-51, 55-56
2nd series
10-12, 29, 31, 33, 52, 54
?
34, 36, 46,

Yogasanagalu was written in 1941, Krishnamacharya continued to teach at the Mysore palace until 1954 so we might expect that the Asana list we have here would have been tweaked and played with a little, it may well have ended up even closer to the Ashtanga syllabus we have now.

It seems pretty safe to argue that this is the original Ashtanga syllabus.

UPDATE

Below is a first draft of a Proficient 'group' practice sheet, I hesitate to call it a series as I suspect it wasn't intended to be practiced as such, this raises questions regarding how we practice advanced postures currently. practice sheets for the primary and Middle group of postures are on the Yogasanagalu project page at the top of the blog

This is mainly for my own use something for me work from and explore in practice. The pictures are all old ones I had on file, some better than others, some at the very beginning of approaching a posture. I'm still not sure of many of the versions of the posture referred to in the list, it's a working document, hopefully from this something more accurate will develop.






* I didn't have 39. Trivikramasana(supta) 40. Trivikramasana (utthita) on file, the pictures here are just a reminder. 51. Suptakandasana is a sketch based on David Williams from His Complete Syllabus poster, it's a posture I've never tried and am probably still a way from realising.

Here's Iyengar performing many of the advanced asana in the list but in a demonstrating setting. Krishnamacharya's own demonstration in the video of shoulder stand and headstand vinyasas is very similar to the approach he taught Ramaswami in the 50's-80's and how Ramaswami in turn passed them on to us in his Vinyasa Krama TT course and workshops. The main difference I would point out is the breathing, outside of a demonstration setting, would be long and slow inhalation and exhalations with longer stay's in postures and breath retention where appropriate.



UPDATE 13/01/14

Following on from the Krishnamacharya Primary series and intermediate series, slight, rearrangement of postures from Yoga Makaranda and Yogasanagalu, I was asked if there was a Krishnamacharya a Advanced Series practice poster coming. Well no, not really, I'm not convinced the advanced postures are best suited in a series or were ever intended as such but rather as optional extentions or perhaps substitutions for postures in the previous groups/series.

And of course if Pattabhi Jois had taught a two year course instead of four back in the 40s he probably wouldn't have formalised one either, perhaps it's a distraction

Practicing Pratyahara - 10 techniques

Off work for a couple of days with a medial calf strain, this is sometimes referred to as 'tennis leg'

Tennis leg’ is an incomplete rupture of the inside of the calf muscle (figure 1). It is a typical tennis injury that often occurs in players in the 35 to 50 age group. This muscle injury may occur as a result of a sudden contraction of the calf muscles, for instance during a sprint. Symptoms are a sudden, sharp or burning pain in the leg, sometimes accompanied by an audible sound. In most cases, the player is unable to continue play because of the severe pain. Depending on the severity of the injury, recovery may take between a few days and six weeks'.

Here's a very (very ) slim argument against Mark Singleton's Yoga Body...

Tennis leg is NOT a yoga injury, run thorough a practice in your mind, can you think of any posture any movement where you're at risk of tennis leg (if you can then your probably doing it wrong).  'A sudden contraction of the calf muscles'? No, of course notwe don't do sudden. That's where the similarity between western gymnastics and Krishnamacharya's asana practice falls down.

OK, said it was a slim argument ( a very slim argument )but it came to mind after I pulled the muscle suddenly, deciding to run up a hill ( was a little late and had a flat so no bike) and while hobbling the rest of the way to work Thursday.

I actually really liked Mark's book and highly recommend it, don't think I agree with some of his conclusions but that's no reason for not recommending it, it's a great read and will challenge some of your assumptions and force you to think them through, always good.

Here's an interesting discourse between Ramaswami and Mark Singleton.

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So I'm at home and haven't had a decent practice since Wednesday evening. I tried modifying practice, (some light on your feet seated and supine) but my heart hasn't been in it. I missed practice Thursday morning making up the practice sheets for the Yogasanagalu practice (that's why I was running late) and was looking forward to practicing it when I got home and over the weekend.

Still there's pranayama (second part of Richard Freeman's on line pranayama course -more to come on that soon) and pratyahara.

With time to spare I decided to reread the Yogayajnavalkya Samhita, this is probably the second most important text on Yoga, (no not the HYP, that's a relative newcomer, Yogayajnavalkya is old school, it's where HYP gets all it's good stuff from) not as old as Patanjali's Yoga sutras but not far off. Yajnavalkya also wrote one of the ten major Upanishads, the Bruhadarankya Upanishad, it includes one of the most famous peace chants

oṁ asato mā sad gamaya
tamaso mā jyotir gamaya
mṛtyor mā amṛtaṁ gamaya
oṁ śānti śānti śāntiḥ – bṛhadāraṇyaka upaniṣad 1.3.28

Lead Us From the Unreal To the Real,
Lead Us From Darkness To Light,
Lead Us From Death To Immortality,
Let There Be Peace Peace Peace. – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28.



PRACTICING PRATYAHARA


Anyway, I'd forgotten but Yogayajnavalkya Samhita has one of the best treatments of pratyahara I've come across. I've tended to think of pratyahara as the Cinderella limb of Ashtanga, so often neglected, overlooked and yet I've always suspected it should be given more attention but how.....

Technique1. Shanmukhi mudra/ Yoni mudra  (sealing the senses)
Ramaswami taught us to practice pratyahara using Shanmukhi mudra (sealing the senses ) thumb closing the ears, first and index fingers lightly on the eyelids, third fingers resting gently on the sides of the nose and the pinky on the corner of the mouth. Apart from the thumbs the fingers are just a gesture, your not pressing into your eyes or nose.

So after your pranayama practice you take up Shanmukhi mudra and withdraw the sense for five to ten minutes.

Technique 2 (nada yoga)
Researching it recently I came across linking pratyahara with nada yoga (yoga of sound), withdrawing the senses inward and picking up and then focussing on an internal sound, that might be your heartbeat, a hum, ringing, whatever the sound that's most subtle, for me it's a hum.

The Yogayajnavalkya Samhita and Pratyahara/pranayama techniques.

http://shrifreedom.org/yogapratyahara.shtml

The first couple of techniques use the marman points, this is a little like Yoga Nidra, if your familiar with it, where you shift your attention slowly from your toes to your fingertips to the top of your head.

You might have tried something similar if your having trouble sleeping, tense the big toe for a moment then relax it, move on to the other toes and the the foot, the ankle, the lower leg.... there's probably more but I usually drop off to sleep by the time I get to the knees.

The Marma points are supposed to be little energy or nerve centres centres.

The yogayajnavalky links these with pranayama you exhale practice breath retention, and then move the prana from one point to the next.

Technique 3.
Focus the prana at the ankle and then shift it from one point to the next up to your forehead.

Technique 4.
Focus the prana at the forehead, between the eyebrows and mentally move it from one point to the next down to your ankle.

Technique 5
This is interesting, came across it by accident, it's an article on the indian martial art Marma Shastra that uses pressure points or the marma's to inflict pain or injury (reminds me a little of my old Aikido/Aki-jitsu days).


Marma Shastra Meditation
Marma knowledge is the mother of all Chi/Prana information. The martial arts aspect of this ancient knowledge, going back to the beginning of the fifth root race, has been said to be more lethal than far eastern martial arts. What is known is that the cleansing and energizing of the marmas results in more physical, emotional and mental poise with a more sonorous voice. Eso- terically, when energized on the Tantric and non-dual paths, the marmas can act much like the mitochondria of the cells and that they are focal points of power. Ashramically, the disciple (once enough of the samskaras are transformed and transpersonal Love, the soul Love of presence) can receive real help and direction in service. The energies can be both outgoing and ingoing, in other words, the inbreathing of energies through the marmas can provide very accurate information to the ashram. This oper- ates analogously to digital information.

Traditionally, there are 107 marma points in the body with the 108th being at region of the brahmarandra.

The marma points can be energized for purposes of healing. There is a way of applying healing to another via their marma points. It is not until the dis- ciple has been sufficiently cleared of the samskaras, and enough time in consecrated service that the hierarchical functioning begins to impact the life.

Below we have presented a form of meditation and Pratyahara using marma points according to this yogic teaching, as Vasishta Samhita states,

“One should practice concentration by drawing one’s Prana by the power of attention from each of these marma regions.”

To do this, practice the following method carefully, using inhalation and exhalation at each marma region, much like flexing and relaxing of the muscles. It is important to prepare by following the breath foce, and doing the following through any awareness practice through the sense of presence.

1. Direct your attention to your toes. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
2. Move your attention to your ankles. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize (intend or feel) this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
3. Move your attention to the middle of your calves. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
4. Move your attention to the base of your knees. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
5. Move your attention to the middle of your knees. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
6. Move your energy to the middle of your thighs. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
7. Move your energy to the root of your anus. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
8. Move your energy to the middle of your hips. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
9. Move your energy to the root of your urethra. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
10. Move your energy to your navel. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
11. Move your energy to your heart. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
12. Move your energy to the root of your throat. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
13. Move your attention to the root of your tongue. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
14. Move your attention to the root of your nose. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
15. Move your attention to your eyes. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
16. Move your attention to the point between your brows. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
17. Move your attention to the middle of your forehead. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visu- alize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.
18. Move your attention to the top of the head. On inhalation, gather your energy there. On exhalation, release it. Visualize this region of your body energized, healed and relaxed.

In this practice one concentrates both mind and Prana in each of these regions starting with the feet. Gather your attention from one marma region to another like climbing a series of steps from the bottom of the body to the top of the body. Finally, you can hold your awareness at the top of the head in the space of the Supreme Self beyond birth and death and all suffering. However, you can also direct your breath and attention to any of these marma sites to heal that area or for specific therapeutic purposes.'
from Sevanti Wellness

Pratyahara/meditation techniques

Technique 6. - Candle flame
Download your candle app from iTunes (or if you can still find a shop that still sells them buy a real one).
Stare at the candle flame for a minute or so, close your eyes and focus on the image of the flame, holding it in the minds eye until it fades. Repeat

Technique 7.
Same as above but choose an icon of a deity

Techniques 8
Choose any strong visual impression, now you could use a memory but I think the idea is to withdraw the senses from 'something actual' to it's image in the mind.

So, sit in front of a tree and use the same technique as with the candle, or look up at a blue sky, stare at the ocean, a pebble, a tree stump ( no not a tree stump, conjures up too many ideas of death, for the same reason avoid cherry blossom, we don't want to withdraw our senses only to end up with our mids getting all philosophical).

Technique 9  - Charles MacInerney's Sense Withdrawal 
I came across this one a couple of years back, practiced it for a while and then forgot about it.

'I recommend you begin the practice of sense withdrawal by focusing on sounds. With eyes closed, covered, or lights turned out, listen to all the sounds in your environment. Of all the sounds you can hear, choose to focus on the most subtle. As you improve your ability to focus your mind, the most subtle sound will become louder, and louder. Then ask yourself, is there a more subtler sound beneath the one you are focusing on. Shift your attention to this new sound until it becomes louder.

This is the most important aspect of this practice... do not attempt to "not hear" the louder sounds. Let them come and go. They are of no consequence. Stay focused on the most subtle. As you step back further and further along this chain of sounds you eventually hear your own breathing, beneath that perhaps your heart, beneath that... eventually you are hearing imaginary sounds, sounds of consciousness. Of all of these imaginary sounds, which is the most subtle? Focus on that. Eventually they say that you hear the sound of creation. The echo left over from the big bang, and when asked what does that sound like the sages would reply AAAUUUMMM.... AAAUUUMMM.... AAAUUUMMM'.

Technique 10 - OM
This last one I remember reading about somewhere but can't find the link.

I dismissed it at the time as I wasn't comfortable, Bhagavan Das has changed my thinking on that now and I'm all for big powerful AUM'ing



The idea is to chant Om/Aum nice and loud and long with good vibration. As your OM trails off there's a point where there's no actual sound but you can still kind of hear it the OM in your head, focus on that, allow it perhaps to get louder but don't force it don't engage with it just allow it to happen kind of how that irritating Trololo song seems to get louder and louder in your head until it's all you can hear.

You could use the fella's smile for technique 8. too.



Which technique do I practice? 
The one Ramaswami taught me,  Technique 1. Shanmukhi mudra/ Yoni mudra  (sealing the senses) is my bread and butter pratyahara, five minutes at least between pranayama and meditation but if I have a little extra time I work on Technique 2. nada yoga/pratyahara and recently Technique 10 - OM but in the evenings when M. is out.

Sadly I seem to be practicing the Trololo version half the day while at work.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Practicing the 'original ashtanga' sequences in Krischnamacharya's Yogasanagalu

The Yogasanagalu translation project

I was asked whether I would include jump back's/jump throughs etc. in my practice of the Primary and Middle sequence in Krishnamachary's Yogasanagalu Sequences (see below).

This points to larger question, of course...

How to practice Krishnamacharya's early ashtanga?


Satya Murthy, who has been translating Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu, has indicated that there is good stuff to come on this as the translation of the text continues.

Grimmly said...
I think I'm most curious about the breath, , how slow, whether there are retentions in some postures, if inhale and exhale are equal or the exhale longer in some postures, if it suggests five breaths or eight etc.. curious whether there's anything on drishti too, if there's much on pranayama and pratyahara.... Lots to look forward to.


Savim said...
Yes Grimmly, there are retentions specified in many of the 2nd and 3rd level asanas. The next few pages really sets up the basics for starting a practice. Stay tuned. Satya.

For now I'm going with Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda published in 1934 (in Kannada) and 1938 (in Tamil).

There is a freely downloadable edition HERE

Let's take Paschimottanasana for example. Interestingly this seated posture appears in the Yogasanagalu in the middle of the opening standing sequence, one of several suprises.

Here are Krishnamacharya's instruction for Paschimattanasana in the 1938 Yoga Makaranda, the highlighted areas I'll be referring too later.

'Pascimattanasana or Pascimottanasana (Figure 4.19 — 4.28)
This asana has many kramas. Of these the first form has 16 vinyasas. Just doing the asana sthiti by sitting in the same spot without doing these vinyasas will not yield the complete benefits mentioned in the yoga sastras. This rule applies to all asanas.
The first three vinyasas are exactly as for uttanasana. The 4th vinyasa is caturanga dandasana, the 5th vinyasa is urdhvamukhasvanasana, the 6th vinyasa is adhomukhasvanasana. Practise these following the earlier instructions. In the 6th vinyasa, doing puraka kumbhaka, jump and arrive at the 7th vinyasa. That is, from adhomukhasvanasana sthiti, jump forward and move both legs between the arms without allowing the legs to touch the floor. Extend the legs out forward and sit down. Practise sitting like this with the rear part of the body either between the two hands or 4 angulas in front of the hands. It is better to learn the abhyasa krama from a guru. In this sthiti, push the chest forward, do puraka kumbhaka and gaze steadily at the tip of the nose. After this extend both arms out towards the feet (the legs are already extended in front). Clasp the big toes of the feet tightly with the first three fingers (thumb, index, middle) of the hands such that the left hand holds the left big toe and the right hand holds the right big toe. Do not raise the knees even slightly. Then, pull in the stomach while doing recaka, lower the head and press the face down onto the knee. The knees should not rise from the ground in this sthiti either. This is the 9th vinyasa. This is called pascimottanasana. In the beginning, everybody will find it very difficult. The nerves in the back, the thighs and the backs of the knees will feel as though they are being fiercely pulled and this will be extremely painful. The pain will remain for 8 days. After this, the pulling on the nerves will release and it will be possible to do the asana without any problem. This pascimottanasana has many forms. After first practising this asana with the face pressed onto the knee, practise it with the chin placed on the knee and then eventually with it placed 3 angulas below the knee on the calf. In the 10th vinyasa raise the head. In the 11th vinyasa, keeping the hands firmly pressed on the ground, raise the entire body off the ground and balance it in the air without touching the ground. The 11th vinyasa is called uthpluthi. The 12th vinyasa is caturanga dandasana. The 13th is urdhvamukhasvanasana. The 14th is adhomukhasvanasana. The 15th is the first vinyasa of uttanasana. The 16th vinyasa is the 2nd vinyasa of uttanasana. Afterwards, return to samasthiti. You should learn the intricacies of this vinyasa only from a guru.
Benefit: This will cure all diseases related to the stomach.
This asana can be done on the floor or on a mat according to the capabilities of one’s body. Learn some of the other forms of pascimottanasana krama by studying the pictures carefully. Pregnant women should not do this asana. But this can be done up to the third month of pregnancy. For men, there are no restrictions to practising this asana. If this is practised every day without fail for 15 minutes, all the bad diseases of the stomach will be removed.' 
Yoga Makaranda. p69 T. Krishnamachacharya Translated from the Tamil (1938 ) by Sri C. M. V. Krishnamacharya / Sri S. Ranganathadesikachar 
Here is an illustration of the transition in and out of the asana from the editors appendix to the Media Garuda edition (the boxed positions are an addition by the editor, not included in the instruction but assumed).



Below Krishnamacharya demonstrates vinyasas (variations) of paschimottanasana
'Learn some of the other forms of pascimottanasana krama by studying the pictures carefully'. p69





TRANSITIONING  (Jumping back and through)
Krishnamacharya stresses the vinyasas to arrive and exit the posture.

'Of these the first form has 16 vinyasas. Just doing the asana sthiti by sitting in the same spot without doing these vinyasas will not yield the complete benefits mentioned in the yoga sastras. This rule applies to all asanas. ' p69

So yes, clearly a jump though and jump back (or step through and back) to the posture or series of postures but not just the jump through, each stage of the lead in and out of a posture or series of postures is to be considered, perhaps as importantly as the posture itself. 

Of course this doesn't necessarily mean that one should include a jump back and through between each side or each variation. Srivatsa Ramaswami who studied with Ramaswami from the 1950's-80's was taught by Krishnamacharya to jump through to the asana in a similar way to that illustrated above, but once there, to perform the different vinyasas/variations of the key asana before then transitioning back out of the asana, subroutine or sequence.

VINYASAS
As with paschimattanasana many of the asana have several vinyasas/variations demonstrated in the book. Whether we would choose to practice one or more of those variations would depend on the goal of our practice for that day. 

This is why I interpret  the sequences in Yogasanagalu as signposts along the way, at any point one might include extra vinyasas of the key asana. It will be interesting to see if this is made explicit as we get further into the translation of Yogasanagalu.

DRISHTI
We also have drishti (gaze)

'...keep the gaze fixed on the mid brow' p103

'..gaze steadily at the tip of the nose' p69


HOW LONG TO STAY IN POSTURES
It is also clear that in some postures one would stay for longer and shorter periods than others.

Adhomukhasvanasana (Downward dog) an excellent posture for exploring and developing uddiyana bandha for example is an extreme case of this...

'As a result of the strength of the practice, one learns to hold this posture for fifteen minutes' p69


Again, how long one might wish to hold the posture would depend on the goal of that days practice

BREATHING
Breathing is sophisticated in Yoga Makaranda and I look forward to seeing how it's described in Yogasanagalu.

In some postures in the Yoga Makaranda, Krishnamacharya mentions making the inhalation and exhalation the same.

'Inhalation and exhalation of the breath must be slow and of equal duration' p99 Utthitahastapaddangusthasana

Many of the postures, however, include Kumbhaka (breath retention) often but not always on the exhalation but always made clear.

BANDHAS
'While doing Janusirsasana, pull in the stomach to the extent possible. the benefits obtained will be greater. While drawing the stomach inward, exhale and then hold the breath' p 142

'Recaka kumbhaka must be done in this sthiti. That is expel the breath completely from the body, maintain this position and then without allowing any breath into the body, bend the the upper body. Now carefully pull in the stomach as much as one's strength allows and hold it in.  p99 (another stage of Utthitahastapaddangusthasana).

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We can see then that the practice of asana in Yoga Makaranda is highly sophisticated. Where modern Ashtanga has been simplified and standardized (not necessarily a criticism ), the approach to each asana in the Yoga Makaranda, at least, appears to be variable.

Yoga was considered an art after all

This adaptable approach to practice, even though we find set Primary and Middle sequences clearly laid out in table form in Yogasanagalu, seems to be consistent throughout Krishnamacharya's teaching. One adapts ones teaching to the student and teaching situation just as one adapts ones own practice to the goal of the day.

So in approaching the sequences in Yogasanagalu one might approach them in a standard, simplified manner of equal inhalation and exhalation with no retention, include jump throughs and back between asanas or sides and stick to the sequences as laid out while also including standard drishti, a modern Ashtanga approach.

Or, once one has garnered the basics, the essentials, one might also approach the sequences with more sophistication so as to 'derive the greatest benefit' from the asanas, from the practice.

Then we might choose to develop some areas of the sequence through vinyasas/variations, stay perhaps for extended periods in some postures but not in others and include bandhas (jalandhara would effect the drishti) more intensely in some postures and practice kumbhaka (breath retention) how, when,  to what degree and where applicable.

Also, as was clearly Krishnamacharya's intention, to practice the asana in the context of an integrated yoga practice in which the other limbs are explored and developed as fully as the asana.

The picture sequences below are intended as a rough visual representation of the list above. 





Friday, 27 April 2012

More Yogasanagalu. Krishnamacharya on the Niyamas.


Two new pages (11 & 12 ) translated from Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu. Krishnamacharya on the Niyama's below


Krishnamacharya wrote his book Yoga Makaranda in 1934 in the Kannada language, the Tamil edition was published in 1938. 

Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu was first published in the Kannada language in 1941, the 3rd edition was published in 1972 

K. Pattabhi Jois wrote his book, Yoga Mālā, in Kannada in 1958, and it was published in 1962, but was not published in English until 1999

Yogasanagalu along with Krishnamacharya's other book Yoga Makaranda (downloadable HERE), was originally written in Mysore while Krishnamacharya was teaching at the Mysore Palace and while Sri K Pattabhi Jois was his student.



The Yogasanagalu translation project now has it's own page at the top of the blog just below the picture. I'll be updating the page as more of the translation comes in.

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8. Fruits of the 1st Limb

Above listed five foundations of the the 1st limb are: Ahimsa, Sathya, Asteya, Brahmacharya-Pativratya, and Aparigraha.  If we start practicing these principles in a small way, diseases related to the body, organs and mind will stop being obstacles to a happy life.  Practicing these will become joyful.

9. 2nd Limb: Niyama and its classification

1. Cleanliness in food, pleasure, sports, bath, body, mind and other activities in both internal and external aspects – this is called purity.

2.  Not feeling jealous of other people’s wealth and not feeling proud compared to other’s poverty, being always cheerful.  This is called contentment.

3. Not feeding our body which carries our life effortlessly with excess fat and performing fast at appropriate times so that the body fat can be decreased, eating moderately and on time.  This is called Tapas.

4. To prevent evil and impediments in life and to gain knowledge one must read vedas, puranas, scriptures, chant holy mantras while ruminating on its meaning and teach others.  This is called Swadhyaya.

5. Who built this tree of universe that has not stopped changing from the very minute (atomic) times undergoing many beautiful and wonderful changes;  Who must eat fruits bearing from this tree?  Why is that all are not eating these fruits equally without differences?  What is the reason?  Could someone like us plant another tree like that?  Why not?  The eternal that does not dry up but continues to give required fruits to the souls.  This creator, is he in front of us or not?  If not how does this work?  Without doubt we all realize that work does not happen without a reason. Therefore, one who is giving us this variety of unlimited fruits without end in this tree of universe must be immensely powerful, with unlimited knowledge, unfathomable, have infinite empathy and having many other amazing qualities.  His existence is documented in all vedas and puranas.  Although he exists, the reason we are not able to witness, we have to admit is our deficiency in body, faculty and mind.  Our ancestors called and praised him as “Paramatma and Sarveshvara.”  We have to resolve that we will practice sadhana to be able to see Paramatma and offer to Sarveshvara with great devotion our spiritual practices, without desire for any benefits. This is called Ishwarapranidhana.

10. Benefits of the 2nd Limb

From the above five, the first one will purify body and mind, remove environmental flaws, second will give mental happiness/contentment at all times, third one will reduce bad fat
from the body making it swift and light, fourth one will make you realize Jeevatma, Paramatma, and the essense of the universe, fifth one removes ego and selfishness.  In today’s state, we need all of the above five that are elements of the 2
nd limb.


11. 3rd Limb and Authority

Third step is the asana.  People who make sincere efforts to practice the first and second steps (limbs) as much as possible, no matter what the conditions  are will have the authority to go into the 3rd step that is “Asana.”

Depending on how strong one practices detailed aspects of the 2nd and 3rd limbs, so fast will they experience the corresponding benefits. In yoganga, no practice will go to waste.  However, one should practice daily at an appropriate time with devotion, sincerity and respect and without going against how it was taught by the guru.

12. Caution

Especially those who want to start practicing the two yoganga’s “Asana” and “Pranayama” without following the aforementioned niyamas, following drawing charts and practicing on  their own freewill will not receive benefits but may also be responsible for tarnishing the name and bringing disrepute.  Unlike other practices, yoganga sadhana not only nourishes muscles.  It benefits body, musculature, and mind and according to the age of the practitioner improves the active energy, extends life, eliminates diseases, provides stability of the mind, comprehension of subtle reality and self knowledge.

Krishnamacharya's Primary and Middle sequence practice sheets from Yogasanagalu (1941 )





Many many thanks to Satya Murthy for the continuing translation.

Krishnamacharya wrote his book Yoga Makaranda in 1934 in the Kannada language, the Tamil edition was published in 1938. 

Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu was first published in the Kannada language in 1941, the 3rd edition was published in 1972 


K. Pattabhi Jois wrote his book, Yoga Mālā, in Kannada in 1958, and it was published in 1962, but was not published in English until 1999

This, along with Krishnamacharya's other book Yoga Makaranda (downloadable HERE), was originally written in Mysore while Krishnamacharya was teaching at the Mysore Palace and while Sri K Pattabhi Jois was his student.




Introduction to his 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions can be found HERE

The translation thus far brought together in a single post (this will live in the sidebar over on the left of my blog above the free download section).


* Apologies for the inconsistency of the pictures in the practice sheets. I wanted to make up something to explore the sequences in my own practice and these are mostly pictures I already had on file, hopefully they give a better idea of the sequences than the list of asana.



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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

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