|Continuing with Krishnamacharya Week while looking forward to the English version of the Krishnamacharya documentary, Breath of the Gods, showing this week in the UK.|
22.2.2013: Theatrical release in the UK: ICA, London -
See Earlier post
|In a late interview Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois points out that Krishnamacharya is standing on him while in Kapotasana in the above picture|
Pattabhi Jois caught up again with Krishnamacharya, in Mysore in 1932 while attending another Yoga demonstration, he was 17 and began to take lessons with Krishnamacharya once again.
Krishnamacharya wrote his Yoga Makaranda in 1934 'over a couple of days' suggesting the method of practice outlined in the book was well established (as also suggested by Jois' comment that Krishnamacharya was "jumping from asana to asana" seven years earlier). In this text we find the key elements of Ashtanga Vinyasa, the linking of breath to movement, the Sanskrit count of the movements associated with each asana, the use of Ujjayi breath, bandha control and drishti (gaze).
Yoga Makaranda was Krishnamacharya's first book and was published by the state and given freely to the schools and colleges to promote 'authentic yoga practice'. Yogasanagalu (1941) was published, again by the state and for free distribution to schools, and is perhaps a more accessible treatment of yoga practice. Both books were written by Krishnamacharya while teaching the young Pattabhi Jois.
After over twenty to thirty years of intense study and practice this is what Krishnamacharya wanted the state to know and understand about authentic yoga practice.
"In pranayama practice (yogangabhyasis), inhalation and exhalation motion is performed using both nostrils, trachea, tip of the tongue, between two lips and in between two rows of teeth.
Normally during yogasana practice, inhalation and exhalation is performed via the trachea deeply, subtly and with sound. This is common practice with everyone. This type of breathing is called “anuloma ujjayi” and quoted in -
मुख॑ स॑यम्य नाडीभ्या॑ आक्रुष्य पवन॑ शनैः॥
यथा लगति क॑टात्तु ह्रुदयावदि सस्वनम्।
पूर्वावत्कु॑भयेत्प्राण॑ रेचयेदिडया ततः।
श्लेष्मदेषहर॑ क॑टे देहानलविवर्धन॑।
गच्छतातिष्टता कार्य॑ उच्छामोख्यन्तु कु॑भक॑।
Mukham samyamya nadibhyam aakrushya pavanam shanih
yatha lagati kantattu hrudayavadi sasvanam
poorvavathubhayetpranam rechayadhidaya tatah
shleshmadeshaharam kante dehanalavivardhanam
gacchatatishtata karyam ucchamochyamtu kumbhakam
(Hatayogapradipika, 2, 51, 52, 53)
51. Having closed the opening of the Nadi (larynx), the air should be drawn in such a
way that it goes touching from the throat to the chest, and making noise while passing.
52. It should be restrained, as before, and then let out through the Ida (the left nostril). This removes slesma (phlegm) in the throat and increases the appetite.
53. It destroys the defects of the nadis, dropsy and disorders of Dhatu (humors). Ujjayi should be performed in all conditions of life, even while walking or sitting.
from this online translation
Bending the head (face) forward, pressing the chin to the chest tightly, through both nostrils via the trachea all the way down to the chest, making a slight hissing sound, take a deep inhalation (first timers as per their capacity) slowly without difficulty exhale through the left nostril. This is called gurumukha.
This will eliminate the kapha (phlegm) from your throat and make you hungry. Eliminates impurities from the nadis, stomach, lungs, excretory organs, kidnyes, and bone joints. Also prevents jalodhara and mahodhara ailments. This can be practiced sitting, standing, walking and lying down".
T. Krishnamacharya Yogasanagalu
"...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.
"...The movement (activation) of these chakras are caused by the greatness (power) of pranayama and the variety of rechaka, puraka and kumbhaka".
Examples of usage of Kumbhaka (Breath retention) in asana in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (1934)
In the examples below I am quoting just those elements of the asana description where the kumbhaka is explicitly noted. In #2 Parvottanasana, for example, just the Antara Kumbhaka, the breath retention after the inhalation, is mentioned before the fold into the full expression of the posture.Likewise in #8 Paschimottanasana, the same Antara Kumbhaka before the fold is mentioned.
"When practising asana, the breath that is inhaled into the body and the breath that is exhaled out must be kept equal. Moreover, practise the asana with their vinyasas by breathing only through the nose". p27
"Brahmana kriya means to take in the outside air through the nose, pull it inside, and hold it in firmly. This is called puraka kumbhaka.
Langhana kriya means to exhale the air that is inside the body out through he nose and to hold the breath firmly without allowing any air from outside into the body. This is called recaka kumbhaka".
"In each section for each particular asana, we have included a description and an enumeration of its vinyasas. The vinyasas in which the head is raised are to be done with puraka kumbhaka and the ones in which the head is lowered must be done with recaka kumbhaka. Uthpluthi (raising the body from the floor with only the support of both hands on the floor is called uthpluthi) should be done on recaka kumbhaka for a fat person and on puraka kumbhaka for a thin person...." p28
"Following the rules for tadasana (yogasana samasthiti krama) (Figure 4.1, 4.2), stand erect. Afterwards, while exhaling the breath out slowly, bend the upper part of the body (that is, the part above the hip) little by little and place the palms down by the legs. The knees must not be even slightly bent. Raise the head upwards and fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. While doing this, draw in clean air through the nostril, hold the breath firmly and maintain this position. This is called sahitha kumbhaka...." p51
"...Standing in tadasana krama, draw in clean air through the nose and practise kumbhaka...." p59
3 Prasarita Padottanasana
"...Stand in tadasana krama. Jump the legs apart, placing the feet 3 mozhams apart on the ground. Practise jumping and placing the feet at the correct distance all in one jump. While jumping, either puraka kumbhaka or recaka kumbhaka can be done...." p61
4 Ardhabaddha Padmottanasana
"From tadasana, do puraka kumbhaka. After this, choose either leg and place its foot on top of the opposite thigh. Slowly, little by little, move the foot up until the back of the heel is pressed against the lower abdomen. Whichever leg is raised, move the same hand behind the back and clasp the big toe of that foot (from behind the back). Keep the other hand in tadasana sthiti and do puraka kumbhaka. After this, slowly exhale through the nose and bend the upper part of the body forward down to the floor. Place the palm down by the foot and keep it firmly pressed against the floor. Release the breath out completely, and without inhaling, practise kumbhaka and lower the head, placing it on top of the kneecap of the extended leg...."p61
"This has 4 vinyasas. Vinyasas 1, 2, and 3 are exactly as for uttanasana. The 4th vinyasa is to be done following the same method as for caturanga dandasana. But in caturanga dandasana, there are 4 angulas of space between the body and the floor everywhere. In this asana, the palms and toes are as in caturanga dandasana. However even while keeping the lower part of the body from the toes to the thighs just as in caturanga dandasana, raise the upper part of the body. Make sure that the navel rests between the hands and do puraka kumbhaka...." p65
8 Pascimattanasana or Pascimottanasana
"...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...." p69
"...This form follows the hatha yoga principles. Another form follows the raja yoga method. The practitioner should learn the difference. First, take either leg and extend it straight out in front. Keep the heel pressed firmly on the floor with the toes pointing upward. That is, the leg should not lean to either side. The base (back) of the knee should be pressed against the ground. Fold the other leg and place the heel against the genitals, with the area above the knee (the thigh) placed straight against the hip. That is, arrange the straight leg which has been extended in front and the folded leg so that together they form an “L”. Up to this point, there is no difference between the practice of the hatha yogi and the raja yogi.
For the hatha yoga practitioner, the heel of the bent leg should be pressed firmly between the rectum and the scrotum. Tightly clasp the extended foot with both hands, raise the head and do puraka kumbhaka. Remain in this position for some time and then, doing recaka, lower the head and place the face onto the knee of the outstretched leg. While doing this, do not pull the breath in. It may be exhaled. After this, raise the head and do puraka. Repeat this on the other side following the rules mentioned above.
The raja yogi should place the back of the sole of the folded leg between the scrotum and the genitals. Now practise following the other rules described above for the hatha yogis. There are 22 vinyasas for janusirsasana. Please note carefully that all parts of the outstretched leg and the folded leg should touch the floor. While holding the feet with the hands, pull and clasp the feet tightly. Keep the head or face or nose on top of the kneecap and remain in this sthiti from 5 minutes up to half an hour. If it is not possible to stay in recaka for that long, raise the head in between, do puraka kumbhaka and then, doing recaka, place the head back down on the knee. While keeping the head lowered onto the knee, puraka kumbhaka should not be done..." p79-80
"This has 15 vinyasas. Recaka kumbhaka is its primary principle...." p83
"This has 15 vinyasas. The 8th vinyasa is the asana sthiti. The 1st to the 6th vinyasas are like the 1st till the 6th vinyasas for pascimottanasana. In the 7th vinyasa, just like the 7th vinyasa for pascimottanasana, keep the hands down and bring the legs forward in uthpluthi. But instead of straightening them, fold the legs and place them down on the ground. Folding them means that the heel of the right foot is pasted against the base of the right thigh and the heel of the left foot is pasted against the base of the left thigh. When the legs are folded in this manner, the soles of the feet will be facing each other. Hold the sole of the left foot firmly with the left hand and hold the right sole firmly with the right hand. Clasping the soles together firmly, do recaka kumbhaka, lower the head and place it on the floor in front of the feet..."
14 Supta Padangushtasana
"...The first krama for this has 21 vinyasas. Through the 6th vinyasa, it is exactly as for pascimottanasana. In the 7th vinyasa, lie down facing upwards instead of extending the legs and sitting as in pascimottanasana. While lying down, the entire body must be pressed against the ground. The toes must point upwards and the back of the heels must be stuck to the ground. This is also called savasana by other schools. This is the 7th vinyasa for supta padangushthasana. In the 8th vinyasa, slowly raise the right leg straight up. Hold the big toe of the right foot with the fingers of the right hand, do recaka kumbhaka and remain in this position for as long as possible. .."p86
17 Utthitahasta Padangushtasana
"...First, push the chest forward and stand erect with equal balance. While standing this way, make sure that the head, neck, back, hips, arms and legs are aligned properly and gaze at the tip of the nose. The feet must be kept together. Now, raise one leg up slowly and maintain this position with the extended leg kept straight out in front at the height of the navel. The knee should not bend and the leg must be kept straight for the entire time that it is being raised. After the leg has been raised about 3/4 of the way without any assistance, take the first three fingers of the corresponding hand (the same as whichever leg was raised) and tightly clasp the big toe of the raised foot. Remain in this position for some time. Keep the other hand on the hip. Inhalation and exhalation of the breath must be slow and of equal duration. One says the sthiti is correct if there is the same measure of distance between the standing leg and the raised leg. In this there are many other forms.
After staying in this sthiti for some time, take either the face or the nose towards the knee of the raised leg and place it there. 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 upper body. Now carefully pull in the stomach as much as one’s strength allows and hold it in. Stay in this sthiti for at least one minute..." p99
"...Place the right foot on top of the left thigh and the left foot on top of the right thigh. Take the hands behind the back and tightly clasp the big toe of the right foot with the first three fingers of the right hand and tightly clasp the big toe of the left foot with the first three fingers of the left hand.
Press the chin firmly against the chest. Keep the gaze fixed on the midbrow. Sit down, keeping the rest of the body straight. This has the name baddhapad- masana. This asana must be repeated on the other side (that is, first place the left foot on top of the right thigh and then the right foot on top of the left thigh) in order to exercise both sides of the body.
This has 16 vinyasas. The 8th and 9th vinyasas are the asana sthiti. The other vinyasas are like pascimottanasana. Study the pictures (Figures 4.52, 4.53) and learn how to keep the gaze. In this asana, one must do puraka kumbhaka..." p103
"This has 22 vinyasas. This needs to be done on both the left and the right sides. Study the sannaha sthiti (the preparatory state) of marichasana in the picture. This sthiti is the 7th vinyasa.
The right-side marichasana paristhiti is shown in the second picture. Maricha Maharishi was known for bringing this asana to public knowledge and hence it is named for him.
Stay in the 7th vinyasa for some time doing puraka kumbhaka. After this, do recaka and come to the 8th vinyasa. Stay in this position for as long as possible. In case your head starts reeling (you get dizzy), come back to the 7th vinyasa, do puraka kumbhaka, close the eyes and remain here for some time. The dizziness will stop.
The 9th vinyasa is like the 7th vinyasa. The 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th vinyasas are like the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th vinyasas of janusirsasana.
The 14th vinyasa is marichasana sannaha sthiti on the left side. This is demonstrated in the 3rd picture. The 15th vinyasa is the left-side marichasana paristhiti. This is demonstrated in the 4th picture. In the 14th vinyasa do puraka kumbhaka and in the 15th vinyasa do only recaka..." p115
26 Niralamba Sarvangasana
"This has 14 vinyasas. The 8th vinyasa is the asana sthiti. The form depicted in the picture is the 8th vinyasa. This is niralamba sarvangasana paristhiti. In order to get to this sthiti, slowly raise the arms and legs either together or one-by- one in the 7th vinyasa . Do only recaka at this time. Never do puraka kumbhaka..." p115
27 Ekapada Sirsasana
"This has two forms: dakshina ekapada sirsasana and vama ekapada sirsasana. Both these forms together have 18 vinyasas. The first picture depicts dakshina ekapada sirsasana and the second picture vama ekapada sirsasana. The 7th and 12th vinyasas are the asana sthitis of these different forms. For this asana, you need to do sama svasauchvasam (same ratio breathing). In the 7th vinyasa, the left leg, and in the 12th vinyasa the right leg, should be extended and kept straight from the thigh to the heel. No part should be bent.
Keep the hands as shown in the picture. In this sthiti one needs to do equal ra- tio breathing. When the hands are joined together in ekapada sirsasana paristhiti, one must do puraka kumbhaka. One must never do recaka..." p120
29 Yoga Nidrasana
"This has 12 vinyasas. The 7th vinyasa is yoga nidrasana sthiti. The first 6 vinyasas for kurmasana are the first 6 vinyasas for this. In the 7th vinyasa, sit like you did in dvipada sirsasana and instead of keeping the two legs on the back of the neck, first lie back facing upwards. Then lift the legs up and place them on the back of the neck.
In dvipada sirsasana, we joined the hands together in prayer and placed them next to the muladhara cakra. In this asana, following the krama, take the shoul- ders (that is, the arms) on both the left and right sides over the top of the two thighs, and hold the right wrist tightly with the fingers of the left hand beneath the spine. Study the picture.
In the 7th vinyasa, after doing only recaka, arrive at the asana sthiti. Then, one should do puraka kumbhaka and lie down...." p123
"This has 20 vinyasas. The 8th and the 14th vinyasas are the right and left side asana sthitis.
From the 1st until the 7th vinyasa, follow the method for ekapada sirsasana. In the 8th vinyasa, instead of keeping the hands at the muladhara cakra (as in ekapada sirsasana), hug both arms together tightly as seen in the picture and lie down looking upwards. While remaining here, do puraka kumbhaka, raise the neck upwards and gaze at the midbrow...". p129
"This has 20 vinyasas. This is from the Kapila Matham.
After observing that this follows the form of flight of the cakora bird, this came to be called cakorasana. In the Dhyana Bindu Upanishad, Parameshwara advises Parvati that “There are as many asanas as there are living beings in the world”. We readers must always remember this. The 8th and 14th vinyasas are this asana’s sthitis. The 7th and the 13th vinyasas are like the 7th and the 13th vinyasas of ekapada sirsasana. In the 8th and the 14th vinyasas, press the palms of the hand firmly into the ground, do puraka kumbhaka, raise the body 6 angulas off the ground and hold it there. Carefully study the picture where this is demonstrated. Keep the gaze fixed on the midbrow. The other vinyasas are like those of bhairavasana..." p131-132
"This has 7 vinyasas. From the 1st to the 5th vinyasas and then the 7th vinyasa, practise following those for utthita hasta padangushtasana. Practise the 2nd and 7th vinyasas as shown in the picture (study it carefully) and remain in these positions. The 2nd vinyasa is the right-side trivikramasana sthiti. The 6th vinyasa as shown is the left-side trivikramasana sthiti. The picture shown here only demonstrates the left-side trivikramasana. It is important that equal recaka and puraka kumbhaka must be carefully observed while practising this asana. Keep the gaze fixed on the midbrow. Both legs must be held straight and must not lean or bend to any side...".
"This has 10 vinyasas. The 6th and 7th vinyasas show the asana sthiti. The first picture shows the 6th vinyasa and the second picture shows the 7th. In the 4th vinyasa, come to caturanga dandasana sthiti and in the 5th vinyasa proceed to viparita salabasana sthiti. In the 6th vinyasa, spread the arms out wide, keeping them straight like a stick (like a wire) as shown in the picture. Take the soles of both feet and place them next to the ears such that the heels touch the arms and keep them there.
Next, do the 7th vinyasa as shown in the second picture. This is called supta ganda bherundasana. In this asana sthiti and in the preliminary positions, do equal recaka puraka kumbhaka. Keep the gaze fixed on the midbrow. This must not be forgotten". p142
|Krishnamacharya, Sanskrit college, back left under picture frame of postures from Yoga Makaranda|
"In SIRSHASANA, normally no kumbhakam need be done (in the beginning), though about two seconds ANTHAR and BAHYA kumbhakam automatically result when we change over from deep inhalation to deep exhalation and vice versa. During the automatic pause, kumbhakam takes place. When after practice has advanced and kumbhakam is deliberately practised, ANTHAR kumbhakam can be done up to 5 seconds during each round and BAHYA kumbhakam up to 10 seconds.
In SARVANGASANA, there should be no deliberate practice of ANTHAR kumbhakam, 10
but BAHYA kumbhakam can be practiced up to 5 seconds in each round.
These deep breathings along with the asana help in slowing down the breathing rate with a consequent elongation of life. Sayanacharya prescribes that the number of deep breaths one should practice per day should not be less than 320. This number could be spread out during the day-some may be done along with asana in the morning and evening, some along with pranayama, morning, noon, evening and at midnight, or whenever some spare time is
"...Take deep inhalations and exhalations with hissing sound in the throat with holding
in of breath after inhalation has been completed. It is important to do both types of Kumbhakam to get the full benefit from this asana. The total number of deep breaths should be slowly increased as practice advances from 6 to 16". p25
"...Take deep inhalations and exhalations with holding in of breath and holding out of
"...Take deep breaths. The deep breaths in this asana can with advantage be with control both after inhalation and after exhalation i.e., both ANTHER AND BAHYA Kumbhakam. The retention of breath, in the beginning stages, should not be more than 5 seconds after inhalation and not more than two seconds after exhalation. The breathing in and breathing out should be as thin and as long possible, with rubbing sensation in the throat. The number of rounds can be as many as it is conveniently possible without strain". p40
In all these positions pranayama is to be done with holding out of breath after exhalation. Pranayama will have therefore periods of both Anther and Bahya kumbhakam. These two periods will be equal and be for 2 or 5 seconds. The number of bending of each leg will be as a maximum. The number of each leg should be the same so that both sides of the body may be equally exercised.
The above variations of the asana are according to RAJA YOGA. According to MATSYENDRANATH, GORAKHANATH and others of the Hatha Yoga school, a more strenuous variation of Karnapidasana is prescribed in the case of those suffering from stomach complaint"s. p44