“One of my goals in life is to do the slowest Primary Series anywhere… rather than the quickest”. Richard Freeman

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Vinyasa

Quite the joyous practice this morning. Throat infection Is pretty much gone, ujjayi back, thus rhythm back, thus practice back. Was having so much fun that I added a few of those float to headstands plus some extra leg behind head work after supt kurmasana, seems bhuddasana hasn't one south after all, fancy that. Then after Konasana I added a little hanumanasana and some Sama konasana work, they still seemed possible with a little work too. Was having such a ball that I carried on through to 2nd up to Kapo, nice nice practice.

Part of the good mood was possibly due to watching one of Meghan Currie's videos before practice somebody had linked to one she did recently on the beach.

Vinyasa, that linking of breath and movement....I get so wrapped up with the breath, especially lately that I tend to forget the whole movement aspect. Meghan reminds you of that joy of movement that perhaps we often forget in this practice when we focus on the static aspect of the stay in the asana. Full vinyasa brings back some of that joy and a good breath focus too can bring out that sense of movement as you move in deeper with every breath, but Meghan she's almost bacchanalian in the dance like flow from one posture to the next, it's like, "oh yeah, look what we do". I might not plan to practice like that myself anytime soon but this morning, I must admit, I was kind of tempted, if only for the sheer joy of it.

One more thing about Vinyasa, the vinysa count is to highlight which breaths go with which movement, where the inhalation goes, where the exhalation goes, that doesn't mean that we cant squeeze in a couple of extra breaths where appropriate. If you have a dodgy knee for example or are working on a particular posture It's fine to take a couple of extra breaths to work your way into the pose using our vinyasa awareness to suggest when to lengthen on the inhalation perhaps and to deepen, to work our way further in on each exhalation. We can also stay for three, five, ten breaths twent-five or even more in a posture before resuming the count as we exit as well as take a couple of extra breaths if necessary on the exit, or go straight in and out of the posture on the breath with no stay at all in the variations say, perhaps just the key asana of that group. I would argue that we can find evidence for this in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda and Pattabhi Jois' Yoga Mala.

That said I'm all for the semblance at least of a seemingly fixed system with a fixed count. The trick seems to retain that seemingly fixed framework and yet retain enough wiggle room.

And you don't want to wiggle too much perhaps in one practice.

Here's the beach clip from Meghan I saw the link to this morning and then the other one because its a classic, love the improvisation.

Music: Encore by Nicolas Jaar 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nico-N...


Music by: mock and toof~ farewell to wendo

For some reason the 'watch it on youtube button isn't showing up anymore so here's the link to Meghan Currie"s Youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/KeaghanlizaMurrie

And here website http://www.meghancurrieyoga.com


Been meaning to write this long post on whether Ashatnaga and Vinyasa Krama are compatible or if the principles are completely different and if in practicing one you are betraying the principles of the other.

Decided that's not the case.

If you practice a fast, short breath, Ashatanga then perhaps but if your breathing is long and slow and you stay in your postures for as long as indicated, those longer stays in finishing postures for example then it's very much in line with Vinyasa Krama. Your covering a wide range of asana, there's the long stays in key postures.

Ashtanga is a Vinyasa Krama.

The only problem comes if you'r too strict in your Ashtanga and not taking into account the needs of your own body but I'm thinking more and more that even within Ashtanga everyone is adapting the practice, certain postures we'll back off slightly if we have little tweaks or weak areas... we'll milk certain other postures for all they're worth one morning if we feel the need in our bodies, the up dog and Urdhva danurasana say, if we feel we need a bit more of a back stretch, we're always adapting the practice, it's just a little more subtle than perhaps it appears.

The sequences in Vinyasa Krama are more for learning the relationships of the different asana, once we've learned that we still have to build our daly practice. In Vinyasa Krama that might mean different is 'routines' each day, in Ashatnaga the postures are the same but perhaps the stress we give to some of the postures within that fixed sequence changes daily.

Either way I feel less hung up on the issue....which is good, no.


17 comments:

  1. Hi Grimmly,

    Glad to read that you are feeling better, I can feel the thankfulness and radiating energy through your words!

    I can certainly feel the disconnect you have experienced regarding Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama. I may be wrong, but I read your posts as a cathartic expression of attempting to discern which path makes most sense to you. I think that is a healthy process. Although I presume, that it may present a challenge when you feel pulled in both directions. Like various "religions" and yoga, I feel that all paths when practiced with a sincere heart, all lead to the same source. The path is preferential, what suits the practitioner-at least in this case-in yoga, perhaps we take into account age, body constitution, et al.

    No yoga is better than the other, to think so, is to engage the ego. I just practice the best that I can. In this case, it is Ashtanga.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment Lu, yes, certainly not a case of one approach being 'better' than another, more a case of which is better or rather right for ME....now.
      I think for a long time I had a rather fixed or rigid idea of what Ashatanga is, this whole process has opened that up somewhat.
      And I agree, the most important thing is the attitude we bring to practice, whatever that practice happens to be, just to do the best we can, to practice sincerely, day in day out.

      Delete
    2. I agree with you, Grimmly. Although Ashtanga has evolved, I think it's important to take note, as you've mentioned before, that Guruji always said, "teach what I have taught you" to his most senior teachers, for example, Nancy G., where she was taught with less vinyasas between asanas.

      Delete
  2. Help a philistine. How can I look up the piece of music she is using on the beach video?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For some reason the play it on YouTube button link doesn't seem to appear anymore but if you watch the video on YouTube there's music info and a link
      The music is called Encore by Nicholas Jaar
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nico-Nicolas-Jaar/15727540611

      Delete
    2. Have added music info under the videos as well as links to Meghan's website and Youtube channel

      Delete
  3. perhaps look outside of the practice instead of inside it. E.g. What about an astanga practice helps you be a more compassionate person in the world/deal with life's daily highs and lows? Similarly, Vinyasa Krama. The asanas are a means to an end, but to what end, aside from felling physically good, does it all lead you to? What insight?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed anon, seem to remember writing on this way back in the early days of this blog and my practice. Something along the lines of how the practice changes us somewhat as we become more attached to our practice, the simplicity of it, just a mat ( or a beach towel when i first started). When something so simple, that requires so little can give us such joy and , why not, fulfilment, it can put everything else in perspective, what we really need, require for a satisfying life.
      The attempt to still the mind and focus on the breath in our practice makes us more aware of the constant barrage of thoughts that race through our head, the confusion, how can we not become more empathic and compassionate when we know that everyone else is going through the same and perhaps without some of the coping skills we perhaps take for granted.
      I think all that stuff just happens, a byproduct of the practice whether we realise it or even intend it but your right, good to focus on that more perhaps and develop that aspect of practice.

      Delete
  4. Hi Grim, love these videos. Reminds me of Angela Farmer's work, the joy in the movement, Angela is another oldtimer with a 40 year practice.
    I wonder sometimes if I worked enough whether I could ever get this strong and flexible, or if it is too late for me, you know, at 42 and counting. Or if I even am willing to do whatever work it would take to get there. Not that asana accomplishment is the goal, but it does look *fun*! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Maya, will google Angela Farmer
    Good thing about strength work is that it doesn't take so much time to build up, a little a couple of times a day will make a hell of a difference also unlike flexibility you don't need so much prep you can pretty much throw down a few bakasana's anytime you want. Add a strength focus to your practice, dwell in chatauranga, in buja, be stubborn with utpluthi and in headstand stay a little longer trying to raise your head ever so slightly. Few minutes a day in handstand to start trying to work away from the wall, play with some of those 3rd series arm balances (easier than they look) oh and try to work in that kino half handstand jump through even if you just jump up to it, hold it and then lower and shuffle through. Your flexibility is coming anyway with the regular practice just need more backbend work to work towards dropping back and coming up comfortably.... A year for the strength work and backbending to start paying off.....why not : ) have you every tried doing the practice without staying in the postures, just go in on the breath and come straight back out again, it's fun.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'll throw learning to levitate in there and oh, why not a perfect triple axle while we're at it. :) No, you're right, of course 42 isn't some cut off where gains can no longer be made. It is the psychological game of doing it that gets harder, I suppose. I'm so much less willing to suffer than I was in my 20s, really, I've become such a wimp when it comes to physical challenges. I'm listening to you, though. I think I'll try a few strength-focused practices and see what that's like, I'm usually all about the easing in and out of things with minimum fuss, haha. Have to watch out for injuries, always, though, for me, I'm so prone. But no, when next you see me I'll be Hulked out with muscles. Positively ripped, I tell you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey Grimmly,

    Having just begun my yoga sequence recently, I can tell you it's pretty disheartening to get into 1/2 hour and to get stuck, assuming I can find some time sans kids to do it in. This am, after dropping the kids off (it's my day off), I got on the mat, pre breakfast and managed 1/2 hr, until Uthita Hasta...and then...that was it. What diid you do at the beginning? Keep going, or stop? I've found it helpful at this stage to do the 5 Surya A and 3 Surya B on my own, then I follow Chris Croft till I can't follow anymore because I keep losing balance. Forget the strength work!!! Imaan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anon. I seem to remember that when i started the Surys took me forever and my mat was soaked by the end. In the beginning i used David Swenson's Ashtanga book, can't recommend it enough , he as big pictures of alternatives to the main postures, modifications for building up to the asana and at the back he has a layout of the sequences as well as layouts for shorter forms, a 10 min, 30 min and 45 minute version. I practiced the 45 minute version for a year or so before I got Sharath's speedy Primary DVD and could get through the practice in an hour. Later I came to slow the whole thing down again with longer slower breathing.
      Have a look too at this book by Dr Monica Gauci, Gregor Maehle's partner
      http://www.lulu.com/shop/dr-monica-gauci/ashtanga-yoga-beginners-course-manual-for-teachers/paperback/product-20991180.html#productDetails

      here she lays out an approach to teaching the primary series in stages. have a look at the preview under the picture of the book.

      Some argue that the Uttihita hasta padangustasana sequence was added once you had learned the rest of the primary series, same goes for utthita parsva konasana and I think I've read somewhere about Ardha baddha Padmottanasana being reintroduced in it's proper place once you've worked your way up to navasana.

      I'll do a post on this soon, it's a controversial area.

      Delete
    2. Anon, practice for balance. keep doing it and don't worry. balance will come in time. stand in between a door frame if it helps you feel more secure. it is helpful to keep your back straight & chest out and open, proud-like, chin up, and then draw your raised leg back into the socket to create a steadiness and firmness. Keep your grounded foot open and wide, receptive. Most people fall because they try clutching the ground. Easy relaxed foot. Don't worry about how high you can raise the leg or how far out you can swing it. pick a comfortable focus point with your eyes, as your balance depends heavily on your eye focus. Thoughts will also distract you and tip you over, so keep a focused mind. steady breathing.

      Delete
    3. Thanks for the tips guys, will try it out soon. I can only manage 1/2 hr three times a week, if that ATM, but I think about it more:) My arms burn in the down dog by the 3rd or 4th Surya...is that normal? And my muscles ache the next day...I hope that's all good... Imaan

      Delete
    4. Imaan, burn and sore is normal. for years to come, too! go slowly and at your own pace. just a little bit done with good focus is a great deal, indeed. don't rush or feel guilty about only getting only a half hour. feel good about it, rather.

      Delete
    5. Anon (first Anon) I've added a couple of bits to the new post on Kino's book with your comments in mind. I included the pages on the Uthita Hasta sequence although Anon 2 has covered plenty to be going on with (thank you for jumping in there). I've also included an extended quote on working up to a six day practice. Kino says that she starts students on three days a week for the first six months or so.

      "Taking a six-day- a-week practice is often hard for for new students, so I usually recommend that they begin with three days. Once they establish that level of regularity, they can add one day every six months until they reach the full six days a week. To make the transition from a fitness orientated approach to yoga to a devotional one, you need to practice consistently and regularly. A daily spiritual ritual in which you take time to connect internally to a deep sense of yourself requires dedication. The six day requirement is meant to develop the kind of mental, spiritual and devotional determination needed to progress along the internal path of yoga" p12

      You do what you can and build up if and when your ready (and able) to commit more time to the practice. Have a look at Kino's youtube videos on the sun salutations, Mark Darby's too all will give you tips for reducing unnecessary strain by shifting your body weight more effectively, we have to protect our wrists and shoulders in this practice.

      Delete

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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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