|Krishnamachrya (46?) left , Pattabhi Jois (25?) right|
Two posts today, this one and the earlier post
*How much of the Ashtanga series that we know today can we see in Krishnamacharya's early writing?
Well, we can see pretty much the bones of Primary and Second series in Krishnamacharya's second book Yogasanagalu 1941 here's the list of asana, look familiar? See also my appendix at the bottom of the post
But what about going back even earlier to Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda of 1934? Most readers seem to have written the asana in that book off as having no structure at all, but if we look more closely..., it's not the same as we have now but perhaps not a million miles away either...
Primary seated asana
Some more challenging Primary seated asana
If these are put later in the book because, as I'm suggesting, they are more challenging then it's likely that in practice they would be practiced close in position to where we might suspect - the 1938 video at the bottom of the post
...and here are the extra Advanced asana thrown in at the end of the book and remember Krishnamacharya had planned a second part that AG Mohan claims to have made available as Yoga Makaranda II (available from my free downloads page ).
My suggestion is that Krishnamacharya was presenting the asana in a certain intuitive order similar to what we have now, it's hard to see because he also included a few extra variations of the asana we tend to practice in ashtanga today( perhaps why Pattabhi Jois referred to Krishnamacharya as teaching a mountain of asana). If we take those out, as I've done above, we can start to see our sequence.
This comes even more into focus if we consider that perhaps Krishnamacharya was separating off some of the more challenging seated asana and then bringing in some advanced asana before moving to finishing postures.
What I've done in the photos sheets above is keep the order of asana in Yoga Makaranda but remove some of the extra more subtle variations and add the more challenging standing postures back to the end of standing and the more challenging seated asana to the end of seated before the final sheet of finishing asana.
This isn't to take ANYTHING away from Pattabhi Jois who seems to have done something along the lines of what I've done here but without the benefit of hindsight. He seems to have stripped away many of the variations, tidied up the order, made choices, compromises completely organised the more advanced postures into Advanced A and B series, basically brought the 'mountain of asana' into four sequences as we can see in the 'syllabus' given to Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams see the page above
Why didn't Krishnamacharya do this himself? He seems to have wanted to keep the flexibility, the adaptability, such that he could teach different asana and asana subroutines and sequences on different days depending on what he considered appropriate. And yet those asana naturally fell into groups of asana, subroutines and what might be considered an intuitive ordering, standing postures, asymmetric, seated, supine, inversions/finishing along with clearly defined vinyasa for each and every asana that he taught.
Pattabhi Jois' genius was to see that a set sequence that one could be practiced everyday had it's own unique benefits. Daily repetition allowed the practitioner to deepen their familiarity with an asana and it's vinyasa such that one could focus on the breath, not just for one asana and it's asana variations but for the length of the practice, 60, 90, 120 minutes of one pointed focus, ekagrata.
Both approaches have their benefits ( and champions) and each contain the possibilities of the other within. It's possible to add adaptability, flexibility to the set sequences of Pattabhi Jois if and when necessary and it is also possible to create fixed sequence out of the broader Vinyasa Krama of Krishnamacharya (as we find in Richard Schechner's notebook)
and here's my SLIGHT reordering
APPENDIX : Asana in Yogasanagalu (1941)
And here's the later asana list taken from the table in Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu (1941) which is even closer to what we have now.
The picture sequences below are intended as a rough visual representation of the list above.
Primary group : Standing
Primary Group : Seated
Primary Group : Finishing
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
10-12, 29, 31, 33, 52, 54
34, 36, 46,
Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu was written in 1941, the classic video below of Krishnamacharya and his student BKS Iyengar was shot three years earlier in 1938. The Kannada edition of Yoga Makaranda was published in 1934 the Tamil edition 1938, same year as the video.
The video begins with BKS Iyegar ( in his Ashtanga years, before he developed what we think of now as Iyengar yoga) demonstrating much of advanced A and B ( later to be called 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th series), notice how the postures are linked, just as they are in the Advanced series we have now, although the order of the linked groups of asana are different but remember this is a casual demonstration.