Friday, 30 August 2013

NEW: Manju Jois TT course Part 4C of 4 : Questions and Answers - Friday, final Q and A day. Woman and Ashtanga, Advanced series? Watching his father practice etc...

More transcriptions from Manju's TT In Crete last week. This transcription is from the final Q and A session, just last Friday in fact (Has it really only been a week?)

Below: Manju on Advanced series

See the earlier posts (links at bottom of post) for the sketchy notes from Monday the full transcription from Tuesday, sketchy notes from Wednesday and full transcription from Thursday.

I've decided to include a video again from an EARLIER workshop. Listening to the recordings of our workshop in Crete while transcribing I have Manju's voice, his relaxed manner so clear in my head. Hopefully if you watch this video before reading the transcript you'll hear Manju's voice more clearly yourselves as you read the following transcription.

MJ: is Manju Jois, 
Me: is Myself
Q: are questions from others on the course



MJ: Any Questions?

Q: If you are sick is it OK to practice?

MJ: It depends on what kind of sick you have. If you have a headache you can still do it, if you have a stomachache, (it's OK)..

Q: And a fever?

MJ: High fever NO. If you have a stomach problem you still do it. Any other kind of fever... or cold, just take it easy. If you have cold don't practice, the mucus is coming out, let it come out, don't practice. Because they are all natural things. If your body produces more mucus it automatically discharges it. So people should not take any medication to stop it. And high fever, it is the pita, the body gets overheated and the body starts sweating so you don't overheat it by practicng.

Q: And pregnant women? They can do after the third semester?

MJ: After three months, yeah. And after they have the baby they can take a break for a month, then jump on the waggon.

Q: What about women having their period, what is it they can do and cannot do?

MJ: We don't advise them to practice yoga then, take the period off. Because this menstrual cycle you go through, if you mess with that then in the future they will have problems. So that's why you have to take it easy. Be like an Indian women, they don't do anything for three days. They don't cook for three days, they don't clean for three days, just watching soap opera...the husband comes home and has to do all the things when he comes home, "Nothing is made what happened"? "It's My period". " Oh my god..". Then he has to get in the Kitchen and start cooking. So that's why we all know how to cook.

Manju had cooked  some amazing food for us a couple of nights before, this is only part of it. took him less than an hour although we helped with some of the prep.

MJ: Next time I come back I'm planning on doing a cooking class too....we'll rent a kitchen... I'll come with a cooking kit, pans, German knives...

----------------------

So any other questions?

A couple of questions here on Pranayama relating to the earlier pranayama session that only really makes sense if I were transcribing the whole pranayama session (I'm not). Manju's pranayama is pretty much like the regular Ashtanga pranayama ( see my pranayama page at the top of the blog) but with some subtle, minor, variations that I haven't sat down and sorted out yet. 
This was perhaps the only disappointing part of the course for me. Manju wanted to spend more time on pranayama in the course ( in this Q and A, he mentions that we are here for another couple of days and will be spending more time learning different pranayamas. However he was so keen to keep re enforcing the adjustments he'd taught us that we just ran out of time. Luckily I'd already been taught pranayama and have been practicng for a few years but I imagine if learning pranayama was one of your main reasons for joining the course you might have been disappointed. If you take the course ask Manju pranayama questions on the first Q and A session to show how much your interested in this area of practice. 
Next year I'll swamp him with pranayama and Philosophy questions, watch this space : )

MJ: So have YOU got any questions?  

(Manju looked right at me here, we'd been discussing a couple of things regarding asana in the break and I felt Manju wanted to mention them in the class. He'd been concerned about a couple of instances in the course book we were given where the chin was on the mat or knee rather than the forehead).

ME: I wanted to ask you about, you adjusted me today, thank-you, in supta kurmasana...

MJ: Yes

Me: ...and I learnt somewhere, somewhere or other I picked up that once you practiced Intermediate series then you do a dwi pada sirsasana  (both legs behind head while seated) entry to Supta Kurmasana, you go in with the legs behind the head...but I noticed you brought my legs out from behind my head (/neck/shoulders) (on to the top of my head)...

MJ: Yes, they were never on top of your head in Supta kurmasana. It's all new. yYah there was never... you are not supposed to put your legs behind, they should always be..(above the head not behind) because if you look at a tortoise the head goes in the back is round. Somebody started doing that and in the future that's going to cause a lot of problems for people with their necks, it is not supposed to take so much weight. See that's when they are trying to slowly change all the things, not the way they are supposed to be doing it...

Me: ( I ask ) Because it made it into the book ( the Greek version of Manju's Adjutments book and also Manju's Ashtanga Yoga co written with Greg Tebi) ..., It's behind the neck here ( showing picture).

Manju says the forehead should be down in supta Kurmasana
Forehead down in Yoga mudra
Forehead to the knee ( as in the name of the asana) in Ardhabadhapadmapaschimottanasana
 And here the same 'errors' in Manju's Ashtanga Yoga with Greg Tebi




MJ: See we're going to clean all that up (laughs)

Me: That makes sense because the exit (from supta kurmasana) is tittbhaasana..

MJ: The only time you can do that (legs behind head) is in dwi pada sirsasana because you are sitting and in yoga mudra you are actually laying on your feet. We did that book in a rush, that's why.

In our discussion earlier, outside class, Manju had been talking about the clues (often) being in the names, so in Janushirsasana the head should be on the knee. He's asked to check something in the book, Yoga mudra, and said that the forehead should be on the mat not the chin. He seemed concerned about these aspects.

Kristina questioned Manju here about the structure of the rest of the course. Found it interesting that Manju stressed once more that he wanted us to have the time to practice again and again the adjustments, to reenforce them. I liked this, I was afraid before the course that we would only get to practice each adjustment once or twice But Manju made sure we constantly re enforced them, going right back to those from the first day and to practice them in different groups and thus on different body types, an excellent aspect of the course.

MJ: Yes, last day just a practice and then practice everything we went through, just to make sure they are not going to forget. then they don't see me until next year. Then we're going to sit down and correct all the postures you know. There are all these postures that have got mixed up, done wrongly, we're going to sit down and make sure you all know the right way of doing them.  

Like we (looking at me) were talking about padaangustasana, pada angusta. Pada hasta has never been there...somebody start to do it and then everybody start to do it that way... and in Supta Konasana they are holding here ( around the side of the feet) but it should always be here (the toes) otherwise it's impossible to come up. Small details to be cleaned out.

Me: I noticed in janu shirsasana this morning that you chanted naasaagradrishti ( this was the led Primary with listen and repeat of the names of the postures, vinyasa count and drishti) not padangushtadrishti.

MJ: Yes, everything is wrong, wrong, wrong.

-----------------

Q: In savasana today I felt very good after the chanting... it was different.

MJ: Well good, Good. We actually did a very traditional practice today, we did complete... meditation, pranayama, relaxation. Utpluthi is optional you know. In traditional practice you don't jump back and jump through, you take your rest and finish.

Q: Will we do a led class again ( the listen and repeat led)?

MJ: It depends on my mood...You like the led class : )

All/Most: yes, yes..

MJ: So how many of you do the second series?

Tashi (named : )  LED SECOND!?

(collective groan/gasp)

Me: be careful what you wish for

(nervous laughter around the room)

MJ: Led second is actually easier than the first one because there are less jump backs and jump throughs.
So maybe we can introduce that... perhaps tomorrow. We'll do a led class, intermediate, tomorrow.

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Q: (Can't hear the question clearly here - back of the room - seem to be asking about perhaps the future of Ashtanga Vinyasa, and traditional practice).

MJ: Yeah, that's why I'm trying to keep it as traditional as possible. That's the problem, everybody starts there own styles and that, it's quite dangerous actually because they don't know what they're doing. Even all the asana we do are sacred mudras actually, all the mudras we do in the posture are supposed to be accurate otherwise we don't get any benefit from it, so...I try my best to keep the way the original. Then I look at how many people are practicing and that's how it grows.

Q: if you don't know those mudras you use in the asanas, some people do mudras in marichasana(?). If you don;t know those you leave them out or... should we use those mudras?

MJ: You don't have to use the mudra in that one but if you use it no problem.

K: Nobody told me but naturally it came up.

MJ: When you start getting into more and more meditative yoga then automatically the mudra will go by itself, you don't have to do anything you see. So that's what happens ....there are so many mudras. (Manju shows a few different mudras here).
So all these mudras we can learn but as I say asana is a mudra, that's why you have to be a more traditional way to practice it, to get the complete benefit. It should not be like a circus. It's supposed to be a work of the physical and spiritual, they both merge there. If your practicing yoga you get the benefit.

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Me: Can I ask how important you feel that moving on into Advanced series is, as opposed to just deepening your primary and maybe your second series. you've been talking about chanting, you've been talking about the pranayama and bringing those in, you've been talking about slower breathing...rather than just... How important is Advanced series?

MJ: Not really important...because it is there people do it (laughs). I think the first and the second part(series) is perfect practice. It's not really that you have to do it (advanced series), It's not important. But it's just about balancing, all about balancing. 

Me: Once you've learnt second series, normally the way it's done is that you only do your Primary on Friday but do you feel it would be better, once your comfortable with your 2nd series, as comfortable as you are with your Primary. Is it better, do you think, to do one day Primary one day 2nd, one day Primary one day 2nd, alternating them

MJ: Yes

Me: .... or half of primary half of 2nd...?

MJ: Once you know all the second part (of primary) you just do all the standing postures, then paschimottanasana, purvottanasana then go to passasana , krounchasana.. If you know only a few 2nd series then you just go up to navasana and then you change it to pasasana, krounchasana.

Me: But once you know?

MJ: Once you know then one day you do Primary, one day Intermediate. And if your practicing 3rd series so you do only Primary plus a little bit of 2nd and then you add... but you don't do all the second, then, again you go back... you see you should never stop doing Primary and the Intermediate because people are doing only the 3rd part ( series), different muscles will start developing and then they'll come back to the pasasana and they can't do it.... because they're not using the muscles. Everything has to be managed (balanced?).

(pause) That's my own personal experience as I found out. Because I was not a fan of the first part of Intermediate and then when I started 3rd I loved it. I even did not do three or five salutations sometimes, I just wanted to jump in. So I'd do three or four salutations and then start doing vasisthasana viswamitrasana... And then one day my father would say today... we are doing 2nd series today. Because he used to do a led class for us every other day. So when he said pasasana I would go like this...couldn't do it. Then he said pasasana PASASANA! " OK Dad, I'm trying you know.."I pulled my back muscles. So then I had to quit doing it  for a while. So that's what happens when you do the handstands like this..., these muscles take a lot of pressure and start developing and then when you want to twist your lower muscles lock up... so that's why it's not a balanced. You have to balance it.

So if your doing 3rd series you can stop anywhere (anytime?) you want.

----------------------

Me: Can I ask just one more question? I remember in one of your interviews, I think in one of the German magazines you mentioned that you used to watch your father practice and he would do long stays in certain postures. Your maybe the only person who's seen your father practice. I wondered if you could share anything you remember from watching him practice?

MJ: Oh a lot of memories about my father, first he like to teach us then he wants to practice as well, sometimes I used to practice with him. he had a really nice body, the strength he had, amazing. that why I started getting impressed with this practice...sometimes he would stop his practice and help me with mine... but his help was pretty... hard (laughs). He just yanks you wild like sometimes.
It was actually very very nice to watch him do that (practice).

Me: Was it quite slow and meditative or dynamic..?

MJ: Just like we did today actuall.... inhale, exhale. Everything has to be a full, filled up to here and push everything out... and so we used to do about fifteen salutations and no carpet or anything just a cement floor. And it was hot but every time you got to chatwari it was like, "Oh it feels so good"(cool cement floor). Then we would start sweating and the sweat was running all over the floor because every Indian house has a hole, a water hole all the sweat would go down that..

MJ: I'd seen my mother doing yoga too, she had a good practice.

Me: How did she used to practice?

MJ: She used to do Advanced postures and everything my mother, yeah she was pretty good at that. But the only problem was they had to do all their practice with their sari's on, Leotards hadn't been invented then.

Q: What was the reason guruji stopped practicing... in his 50s, I don't know if it's true?

MJ: Oh no he did not stop practicing in his 50s, no he practiced until 75, 76. Then he got real busy but he still practiced. he used to do pranayama, chanting for almost an hour and a half everyday and early morning chanting, which drove my mother crazy. Until 90 years he was great and then he hit 90 and actually I think the car destroyed him. Buying the car was the biggest mistake because once he got the car he never walked.

OK thank you everybody.

-------------------------

27 comments:

  1. Hey...thanks for this. I have been thinking about the Janusirsasana and head to knee for a while. I seem better able to establish Uddhyana Bandha when its head to knee and not shin to chin.
    Most modern practitioners have pics of these perfectly straight backs whilst in seated forward bends but both Krishnamachariya and BKS Iyengar's pics have curved backs in their pics of Paschimottanāsana.
    What are your thoughts on this?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Rani. Krishnamacharya mentions several different approach to paschimottanasana doesn't he, we seem to have head (forehead) down, face and chin ( chin would find us lookingtowards the feet) so he sets up variations. In Yoga Mala there's a lot of forehead down, a bit of both. Most of the old SKPJ photos have him with his head down the later ones of sharath vhin down. Somewhere along the way Ashtanga seems to have settled on chin to knee for most things. Ramaswami (reflecting later Krishnamacharya) teaches forehead down, a light jalandhara that can be engaged more fully if and when you wish, perhaps for retentions etc.

    Manju was saying naasaagadrishi throughout the chanted/repeated Primary which seem to leave it up to us. He stressed janu sirsasana because it's in the name and there were a couple of other postures mentioned that he clearly wanted to stress as NOT being chin to mat.

    I like the leaving it up to us idea except where clearly stated. As Krishnamacharya indicates in YM we should try them all.

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  3. Thanks again for putting all this information out there, only you could have written such detailed posts about your workshop. It was a pleasure to read and I'm kind of sad that it's now over and there are no more workshop notes ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Still hoping to get my hands on the audio for the missing days ( Monday and wednesday), transcribing the other days makes me realise how much I must have missed and or forgotten. Glad you enjoyed them Kitharo

      Delete
  4. Thanks so much for these post, and especially for the link you sent! It is perfect. I downloaded, very excited to give it a whirl. You're the best!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad the download worked Maya, have fun.

      Delete
    2. Ps. Off for a bath with the ipad in a plastic bag so I can read your new book, struck me that I always end up caring about your characters after only the first page or two, neat trick.

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  5. Thank you Anon, you really noticed it well, that G's left shoulder is significantly higher on his cover photo. I'm sure that Krishnamacharya would've
    noticed it in a second,and not only that, he would've required to change the photo.Yoga is about symmetry and this conveys I am not aware of it or I am unable to change it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Think you put this on the wrong post Anon, and who is this famous Yogi 'G' your both referring too?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is famous Yogi Grimmly :) who seems to be leaned to the right side, that is why the left shoulder is higher then right, and upper body goes to the right. That in time can develop pain in the right knee or hip or something else because the body is carrying more weight on the right side(especially if a person is obese-even more weight). This also creates asymmetry in lot of muscles.Being a good yogi, I am sure that will know how to correct it.

      Delete
  7. We wondered if you meant me as the G anon but M. and I where staring at my book cover but couldn't see. Trying to think of a single instance where K. Mentions alignment, must check when I get back from work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Grimmly, for me it is obvious, but I have an eye for those things, your left shoulder is higher and not only on cover photo but on few other photos as well. You can try and open photos in editor and then draw vertical line through the middle, and horizontal line at the level of shoulders or the line connecting tips of the shoulders and you will see it. I hope that I'm wrong but I don't think so.
      Iyengar doesn't stress alignment for no reason.
      All the best

      Delete
    2. Or even simpler, just open the book in pdf and by doubleclicking the mouse you can draw vertical and horizontal lines(just tried it).
      The postural assessment,alignment and correction should be made one of the first things to learn in hatha yoga.(especially if you want to be a teacher)
      Just mad at K. that he didn't write 30-50 books.Wandering if what Manju said was true-keeping things for himself for some reasons? But that was originally yoga-
      not everyone was allowed to knowledge and secrets.

      Delete
    3. And here is the "proof " of K.'s absolute and precise awareness of alignment. If you remember the story that K. noticed the change in the legs just because riding the motorcycle!?
      Was it Mohan?

      Delete
    4. Yes it was Mohan. He was shifting with one leg and it became stronger. Also K talked of alignment in speaking of the archrer as one who must use all muscles equally. Think that is in makaranda. Also, manju seems to speak of alignment as "balance." P.s. this is a different anon from the ones above...

      Delete
    5. Mohan discusses K' s insistence on awareness of alignment and balance on page 26 and 27 of his book. Great stories.

      Also, K discusses the archer and fencer on page 29 of makaranda.

      Delete
    6. Just read the archer and fencer p29 of Makaranda, don't really get why you mention it but I did find this on page 59 where he writes about Ustrasana

      "Keeping the legs spread as far apart as possible, hold the big toe of the right foot with the fingers of the left hand and the big toe of the left foot with the fingers of the right hand, as described above. Lower the head and place it between both legs making sure that it is aligned properly. " p59

      that's all i could find.

      Just read the Mohan. Yes there's always this strong focus in K. of doing the asana on both sides to balance the body. I remember Ramaswami arguing that it was one of the reasons for not jumping back between sides. manju was talking about Balancing the practice, not doing advanced series ( if and when you reach that series) but continuing with primary and intermediate also.

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    7. Not sure i can say anything more to make clear K's insistence on balance and equanimity if his writings are not clear to you. Perhaps you are taking alignment literally as in the word itself? Best wishes

      Delete
    8. Of course I agree re K on balance and equanimity. Several different anonymous comments on the same thread is getting confusing. Think from now on everyone is going to have to at least include an initial or something to save on some of the confusion : )

      Delete
  8. Does Iyengar quote any old sources other than his own for the importance of alignment? I confess I've only had the bare minimal interest in alignment, that dictated by the breath and a general sense of balance. It gets worse I have almost zero interest in yoga and 'health' I always skim over the suggested health benefits of an asana. My interest in yoga and my own practice lie elsewhere, more towards raja than hatha perhaps. I think Manju was mistaken re K. not sharing, perhaps other things were going on there.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Iyengar doesn't have to quote old sources for me because it is just common sense. If your body is leaned to the one side then several things happen:
    the weight is not distributed evenly, and there is more wear and tear for one side. Then also the muscles on one side are locked-short,and on the other are locked long. If the posture is perfect then no additional muscles have to work. If the posture is disbalanced, some muscles have to work, and that creates unnecessary tension, both physically and emotionally, since the body and mind are very connected.Also if you are leaned you are compressing the internal organs on one side, and of course breath is free on one side and impaired on another, and there is more... Fortunately I think that you have mostly mild clavicular or thoracal scoliosis. You should read Manju's interview in Australia that you posted, yoga is not a circus. K. said it-fancy asanas are for propaganda, you can have the effect with normal asanas. And to the question "What is most important in life?" he answered:"Health,longevity and tranquil mind".So if you do really respect him, then you can not underestimate health(although I do not agree, for me it's God)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree. K was all about health and balance, equipose of mind, etc. Also, one need only consider Iyengar'desription to Tadasana in light on Yoga to get his thrust on alignment and balance. It is vastly important.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your help both. it was the clutch !!!:)
      Love you all my friends

      Delete
  10. I don't 'underestimate' health Anon, I of course feel that my practice is generally good for my overall health. I was merely trying to point out that it's not just 'alignment' that I'm a little dismissive of but also the 'health' aspect. I Didn't want you to think that I was prejudiced against Iyengar in particular but rather that I just happened to be less interested in certain aspects of practice.
    Ramaswami, who I respect greatly as I'm sure you know also has a strong focus on Yoga for health, it's just not an area I concern myself with greatly.

    I'm not that interested in 'fancy asana' anymore either, I grew out of that I think, for me the focus is the breath, for Iyengar perhaps it's alignment and maybe it doesn't matter what the focus is as long as there is a focus. I practice along to some Iyengar classes at home occasionally, I like them, tidies up my practice a little no doubt each time.

    I asked about the 'sources because you mentioned K. jokingly, that he would have me change my cover picture. That got me to thinking and I couldn't think of a single instance in which K. mentions alignment in his texts. Ramaswaami, reflecting 'later' Krishnamacharya doesn't mention alignment much either, it seems to be mostly the Iyengar school. Given that it's an area of interest of Iyengar I wondered if he had fished out any old sources mentioning alignment similar perhaps to the Zen teaching mentioned by the other anon ( or was that you, all these Anon comments, gets confusing).

    Sorry if you felt I was challenging you I was replying at work on my phone so my comments were a little short.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Light on Yoga is always a delight to read

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Grimmly,
    I think that K. doesn't talk about alignment because he takes it for granted, it is some kind of common knowledge in hatha yoga that body should be perfectly balanced. I was not talking about alignment in strictly Iyengar sense, but about correcting the postural structural disbalances. Mukunda Stiles has a book about it called Structural yoga therapy, and he is a Kripalu yogi,not Iyengar.
    That zen author Katsuki Sekida has in his book about meditation a list of nine drawings of most common spinal misalignments. But why would he be doing that?
    Because he is aware of the effect of those on mind.
    He also talks about tidal volume and minute ventilation which I consider very important and rarely mentioned.
    P. Jois also says that the reason for difference in stretching the two sides of the body is "different circulation", it would seem logical to correct it?
    So, the effect on mind is what is so important. You cannot be a raja yogi and have a collapsed chest, because it not only affects breath,diaphragm and internal organs but mind as well.Like Iyengar says: Show me your armpits and you can never be depressed.(meaning that opening the chest and shoulders produces different state of mind).
    That is why I think it is important to develop detailed consciousness about our posture.
    The first thing a yoga teacher should do with a new student is to inspect the posture in detail, and find out all the misalignments, and based on that develop a practice.
    An experienced yogi notices these things in the street, all the people with protruding heads,tilted heads,knocked knees, uneven shoulders, collapsed ankles...
    Adjustments also should have that aspect.
    Hope I was of some help.

    Milan from Belgrade

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Milan for commenting again, a couple of people using Anonymous in the same conversation thread just gets confusing and frankly frustrating.

      Our focus shifts in our practice, perhaps your comments will shift my own stubborn focus a little away from it's current obsession with the breath.

      When you mentioned Katsuki Selida in the previous common it reminded me of a scene in White Cranes where the author gets a visit from the monk who is the expert on seated posture. I've ordered the book, it's been mentioned too me a few times now.

      anyway thank you again and yes, you have been of some help.

      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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