Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Surrendering up, letting go

Ramaswami, myself and Chris LMU 2010  photo by Barry Wadsworth

I have it all wrong of course, rather than looking for the Vinyasa Krama in Ashtanga and the Ashtanga in Vinyasa Krama I should be looking at the Yoga Makaranda in Vinyasa Krama, the Vinyasa Krama in Yoga Makranda.

And that should be the side project, in the shorter asana practice in the evening before my longer pranayama session, not my main practice.

Surrendering (up), letting go, I'm lousy at that, perhaps I should work on it as a New Years Resolution, What was that letting go of a thousand things that was doing the rounds a few years ago?

And first to be surrendered up, let go, should be my Ashtanga practice, I cling to it so.

It struck me (yet) again that I have (neglected) responsibilities, duties, giri, obligation whatever we want to call it. For whatever reason I found my way to LA not Mysore and took Ramaswami for my teacher not Sharath or Tim or Lino.

I'm a little in awe of my friend Wyatt's practice, not so much the practice itself(although it's excellent) but his devotion to it, and it makes me a little guilty too. He has continued with the practice just as Ramaswami taught us (we were on the same VK TT course), his devotion to this is rather wonderful.

Ramaswami taught us, just as Krishnamacharya had taught him and that's the teaching I should be exploring further, deepening, embodying and passing on in turn.

Lot's of Ashtangi's passing on the teaching, it's well seeded, but not so many of us to share the Vinyasa Krama approach, to pass it along, there's a responsibility there.

I've been a little selfish I think.

Delving into those subroutines and sequences and their relationship to the other limbs....Krishnamacharya spent his life arriving at that point of his teaching, a lifetime of yoga practice.

And there is such a richness there.

Still explore Krishnamacharya's other writings and practice of course, a Krishnamacharya course was part of my studies with Ramaswami. But I should be passing on what I learnt, sharing that approach to asana and I do happen to believe that you should only teach what you practice.

If I want to Share Ramaswami's teaching more directly then that should be the main focus of my own practice of course not relegated to a couple of subroutines in the evening.

A year of 2nd series Ashtanga was a nice thought (see THIS post), even a trip to Mysore finally at the end of the year but what am I thinking, that ship has passed, let it go.

Chennai rather than Mysore

Surrender it up.

Perhaps it's not so hard.


.....sounds so melodramatic when you put it in a post, it's really not.

19 comments:

  1. i'm going to have to think where that leaves my blog. I think perhaps it doesn't have to have too much effect. There's been less focus on actual asana practice here for some time, things can probably go on pretty much as they have, focussing on other aspects of practice much of which we share in whatever manifestation of the Krishnamacharya tradition we practice.

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  2. This can be a tough time of year for that kind of decision making, given the sheer numbers of people going to Mysore and reporting back on their experiences there. Even if you have no intention of ever going, it's easy to get 'Mysore-envy'. It sounds like you're not letting that skew your judgement about the direction of your practice. I don't have any advice. Mainly, just wanted to say that I understand, I've felt the same way at times. Oh - and Happy New Year! ;-)

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    Replies
    1. Lovely to see your flying pig here again Kai.
      Thankfully it wasn't so tough, saw how absurd it was that I was being sucked into an Ashtanga practice again, straight (ish) 2nd, and decided to give it up altogether rather than going half and half. Easier to sacrifice something your in love with than something your consumed with angst over ( been there two years ago). I spent so much time wondering which practice was best for me.... In the end it's easy, this is how I was taught, this is what I should teach, so this is how I should practice. Have a wonderful 2013

      Delete
  3. It sounds like you consider Ramaswami your teacher, so it makes perfect sense to learn from him and want to go spend time with him. Happy 2013!

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    1. Hi Karen, loving your Mysore blogging, nice to hear your voice again through your writing.
      I don't know if that's it exactly more a feeling of growing responsibility to what and how I was taught...the whole having your cake and eating it thing doesn't work perhaps.In the end it's just the specific approach to asana aspect I'm giving up on, a small thing, one aspect of one limb.
      A very happy 2013 to you too.

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  4. Happy New Year to you, Grim and thanks for your informative blog!

    I'm sure you have written about the main distinctions between ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama. Do you have a link to a post on that theme? Is it only the asana practice that differ or maybe only the approach to the asana practice or is there a difference on the other limbs as well?

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  5. Thank you Monica and a happy 2013 to you too.
    I'm sure i have written about the main distinctions but always useful to do so again, especially as I've spent so long recently looking at what they have in common.

    Vinyasa krama can be defines as movement and sequence methodology (Ramaswami).
    As such Ashtanga is a Vinyasa krama. Ashtanga though has fixed sequences, it has own character shall we say, something to do perhaps with the transition in between each posture, ie the jump back and through.

    Vinyasa krama still focuses on the breath but it's long and slow and full as standard...it's possible to practice Ashtanga that way of course as I've shown recently.

    Vinyasa krama is made up of subroutines, a posture has it's place within other postures that either prepare that or another posture and/or extend the posture. We find that too in Ashtanga, the first few seated asana in primary, the Marichi sequence, those postures leading up to kapotasana in 2nd series. Of course in Ashtanga that development and preparation is limited somewhat because of the compromise to the sequence

    Yoga is always compromise it seems, so much yoga so little time.

    You can practice Ashtanga as Vinyasa krama but I think you begin to lose a lot of the character of Ashtanga we know and love, perhaps your constantly getting drawn back into the regular...perhaps more natural way of practicing it....not necessarily a bad thing.

    So really it's more of a distinction of character, feel...tempo, ...rhythm perhaps.

    If you plan on teaching/sharing Vinyasa Krama then I think you need to spend more time exploring the relationship of the postures to their subroutines, the effects on the body, the slowness of the breath and it's relationship with the asana.

    There seems a natural inclination to spend more time in a posture in Vinyasa krama, to inhabit it, explore the breath and slight variations of the posture, in Ashtanga we've long moved on to the next posture in the sequence and have to wait until tomorrow perhaps to explore it some more.

    Vinyasa krama is an integrated practice, pranayama, pratyahara meditation practice as well as focus on the yamaniyamas come as standard from early on in the practice if not the beginning. Ashtanga tends to focus just on the asana for a long time ( although arguably binging in pranayama- breath, pratyahara, drishti and meditative aspects the tristana as a whole and within the practice itself). It has it's argument for that but I find doing your asana and then sitting for pranayama. pratyahara and meditation practice effective.

    Does that make sense at all?

    Difficult, when you write it down there feels less distinction but if you've practiced Ashtanga and Vinyasa krama your very much aware of the different characters of each, they are the same but different, (different and yet the same too).

    perhaps it's the same if you practice Iyengar and Ashtanga, so much in common but a very different feel and perhaps focus of the practice.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm sure it doesn't really matter. You're happy right?, still fascinated and drawn to your mat and your book collection regularly, still get lots of correspondence and 'e-Satsang' (though I always feel that you are really missing out by not physically mingling with your 'peer group').

    Here's a thought, from an asana perspective; You could take salutations, standing, back bending and finishing from Ashtanga i.e. the 'bread & butter' parts that all Ashtanga practitioners do irrespective of their series, and you could do your chosen sub-routine in-between that. You could even reset your objectives with the moon phases, which is a nice amount of time to meaningfully explore a routine (I find that the rough and the smooth surface in that timeframe, as the practice ebbs & flows like everything else).

    It's interesting that you noted a temptation to do 2nd series for a year though (tacking primary on the start & finish of the week AND taking the necessary rest days though). That has to be marriage talk, when you've often said that you only date with Ashtanga! I wonder what new elements might come up if you did that? I think there's a certain quality to being able to move through a practice, or series, without the need to be led, and well versed in it enough to concentrate on nothing other than breath and drishti.

    Anyway, hope 2013 is kind to you. Better to make no decision at this point in time. I think Kai raised a very valid point above. There's heaps of Mysore love in the air right now, so you maybe feel a bit orphaned. It must be awful trying to decide if you're doing both or neither. Why don't you just be the pioneer of 'Bloga'?

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  7. Hi Steve, yep happy, relieved in a way,lighter somehow it's been interesting but a bit of a struggle trying to balance the two approaches to practice.
    Really nice practice this morning.
    Don't think it need affect the blog that much, wposting more on anything connected to the Krishnamacharya tradition lately, sometimes it'll relate more directly or be of interest to Ashtangi's than other's. One of the aspects I was afraid to lose was the knowledge base within the Ashtanga community, a lot of writing and videos etc floating around on technique, getting and staying on the mat, breathm focus etc. Most of the book on Vinyasa Krama practice I 'published' was tips, hints caution's I'd picked up here and tried out in practice.

    re the asana perspective. My VK practice tends to have a very similar shape to Ashtanga anyway. I do my Yoga Makaranda approach to Surynamaskara, couple of breaths with kumbhaka at each stage, then a Surynamaskara with mantra and a couple of regular Ashtanga Sury B's.

    Finishing is very similar but longer time spent in shoulderstand and headstand.

    I know the VK sequences and subroutines pretty well so it's easy for me now, don't need to thnk about it too much but I agree it's good to practice the same sequence for an extend period.
    I keep a general frame work of sury's/standing/XXXX/backbends/Inversions/finishing where the XXXX will focus on a particular sequence.that seems to work pretty well. For now it's the meditative sequence (leading into kapo's) with a bit of Bow prep. Was planning on doing that for a week or tendays but following the moon idea is interesting, just need to make sure I have enough hip openers and twists in there too.

    Did I say i only dated Ashtanga? We we're living together for quite sometime...one of those irritating relationships where you keep getting back together...then when you do meet somebody else you try to turn them into your first love : )

    Don't think i feel a mysore orphan so much though finally came around to the idea it might be nice to be in Mysore the same time as people I care about and would like to practice in the same room with...oh well.

    A Happy New Year to you and your also.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Maybe this is a Krishnmacharya blog. It doesn't need to change. Your blog serves a unique purpose in educating all of us about Krisnamacharya's teachings over his lifetime as transmitted through his students, Pattabhi Jois and Ramaswami. Your blog, for a long time, has been about trying to find the thread and commonalities in these teachings.

    A convoluted way of saying thank you for putting it all out there and giving us a place to learn and please keep doing it! (Perhaps a book someday on this topic...?)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you omiya, I appreciate it. Not sure about a book but I have thought about self publishing a booklet of some kind. I keep hoping somebody a lot more qualified would do something like that and without slanting it towards their own agenda, unfortunately that seems not to be the case.

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  10. Is it possible that one of the reasons for your strong connection to Vinyasa Krama is having experienced the personal relationship with a teacher in this context? That relationship, rather than the advice on asana, may be one thing ashtangis get from a shala. It gives power and meaning to the practice sometimes at its best. Doesn't matter, your blog is a gift to us readers, and you should practice whatever you love and what works for you. Just something to think about--the value of the teacher/student relationship and the resulting sense of obligation to pass on what you've learned.

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    Replies
    1. A good question Anon. I felt quite a profound connection with the approach to Vinyasa krama the fist time I practiced it her at home with the book though. The movements with the long, slow, full breathing has always been appealing to me, the inhabiting of asana.
      But your right my reasons for choosing this direction is our of respect for Ramaswami and the desire to honour what he shared with us by seeking to explore it more fully and share it myself in turn. The desire or feeling of responsibility to pass on the teaching at least comes from that relationship, perhaps if I had gone to Mysore a few years ago then i would feel the same about Ashtanga. I've always loved to practice it but never felt the desire to teach it. Thank you for commenting.

      Delete
  11. First of all, I really, really, really, love your blog, your texts and studies, and your evolution. For years, that was a true inspiration for me.

    Well, I've been a practitioner and instructor of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in Brazil for many years (I do not like to call it simply Ashtanga Yoga, because it is not), but with the passage of time, all that repetition began to lose sense, and repeat every day the same thing, even when my body was asking for something else, made me angry and frustrated, adding with all the scandals coming from Pattabhi Jois (check mula bandha in women!). Another thing that made me angry was the knowledge that, to evolve as a practitioner and teacher, I would have to travel to India. It is not every day that a Yoga teacher manages money for such a thing, especially with family and children, and especially to get locked in a room with a bunch of strangers, simply repeating a lot of asanas without detailed instructions with adjustments made in a way incorrect, inaccurate or damaging (Sharath literally broke the back of a friend of mine, Peter Kupfer - www.yoga.pro.br). Furthermore, the greed of Pattabhi over the years made him forget everything that is healthy and part of Hatha Yoga and instructions of Krishnamacharya, as a deepening of breath, other techniques of pranayama, bandhas and other forms of mudras, others mantras, etc.., making the practice became every day more mechanical, superficial, and controlled by a breath that has nothing to do with the whole spirit of Hatha Yoga.

    Saying that the Ashtanga Vinyasa is stronger than the other systems is a big fallacy. Who practiced Ashtanga Vinyasa and think it is strong, thinks so because it is forced to do it that way, or is not "authentic" AVY of Patthabhi Jois. Please internalize up and ask yourself if there is really a need to make 5 Surya A, 5 Surya B and be jumping so much? Actually, your body needs it to stay healthy? The Ashtanga Vinyasa of Pattabhi is better and stronger, simply because we have to give hundreds of jumps forward and backward jumps, following a short and rapid breathing, which contradicts all true yoga masters of the past?

    Anyway, I think actually very healthy and rolling, as well as hundreds of practitioners and teachers around the world, changing the shallowness of Ashtanga Vinyasa of Pattabhi for something more authentic, where there is a teacher really interested in showing and apply the philosophy of Hatha Yoga and continuity of lineage, to simply want to be making money from the purity and innocence of others.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the nice words re the blog.
      I don't know Rafael, I can see your still angry and frustrated with Ashtanga but I have a kinder view of the practice, lots of questions still and I feel there are many contradictions and inconstancies but overall I still love the practice and give it up reluctantly. For me it has been a transformative practice and a positive experience overall, it got me to the point where I want to delve deeper into practice and the theory behind it. I still choose to believe that the intentions behind the development of the practice we have now were sincere.

      Delete
  12. Oh my god. This is actually exciting to read.

    Our disagreements in past years have had to do with our own respective lack of clarity, and difference in process, in exactly this area, I think.

    Looking forward to this.

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  13. Thank you for your comment Tara had forgotten about this post and here I am six months later practicing Ashtanga again. Six months of focusing on Krishnamacharya yoga Makaranda approach and all the distinctions between Ashatnaga and vinyasa Krama seem to have just dropped away, breath slow and there is no contradiction, curious how letting go of the attachment somehow resulted in letting go of the distinctions also.

    ReplyDelete

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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