Tuesday, 29 October 2013

'Much More to Mysore' Part II - Vinay Kumar and Prana Vashya's kumbhaka

Trianga mukhottanasana -Vinay Kumar Prana Vashya

If you saw my guest post from Michelle recently ( Much More to Mysore) you'll see that she was writing about some of the other shala options available in Mysore, good to know with KPJAYI  filling up so quickly each year.

"There appears to be a misconception amongst some yoga practitioners that coming to Mysore means coming to study at KPJAYI (http://kpjayi.org), but that just isn't true. And unfortunately many people are put off coming to study in Mysore, worrying that their practice is somehow under-par. This makes me extremely sad! The truth is that there are tens of yoga teachers in Mysore, teaching all types of yoga. There's literally a style of yoga for everyone. In my group of friends one friend was studying classical hatha yoga at Yoga Dharshanam (http://www.yogadarshanam.org), another was a beginner studying with Saraswati, one at Mystic School (http://mysoreyoga.in), one at the Mandala (www.ashtanga.org) and one with Vinay Kumar (www.pranavashya.com). I study with Vinay's younger brother Vijay at Ashtanga Saadhana (www.ashtangasaadhana.com). Such a great mix of people and everyone has something great to say about their respective teachers.

This year saw an unprecedented number of applications to study at KPJAYI. Having planned this trip for 18 months I was pretty shocked when registration to study at KPJAYI was closed within just two days...and I was too late! I think every month now until February is already full (and the shala closes in March), which means that unless you plan strategically, you may be disappointed! So, fear not - you can study in Mysore"! 
from Michelle Much More to Mysore

Michelle is practising pretty standard Ashtanga with Vijay Kumar I believe, this post is about Vijay's big brother Vinay Kumar.

I was very curious to hear that in his Prana Vashyu  approach to Yoga, Vinay Kumar employs kumbhaka (breath locks) - see my previous post on Krishnamacharya and Kumbhaka.

Here' Vinya Kumar's introduction from his website

"Pranayama is such an essential part of yoga, I focused on its relationship to performing the asana and discovered that the asana actually follows the breath and not the other way around if done properly with full awareness. Prana Vashya follows the breath instead of following the movement and maintains the rhythm of the breath throughout the practice. Through breath control, Prana Vashya keeps the attention fixed on the asana, not allowing the mind to wander. Utilizing Kumbhakas (breath locks) in certain movements while performing asana and vinyasa has a very powerful and dynamic effect that develops intense stamina Physically, Physiologically and Psychologically.

This developed capacity can be drawn from the mat and taken into life.

Practice Prana Vashya Yoga for these benefits".

Vinay Kumar.


*

I'm very curious how he goes about employing the kumbhaka's, does it follow the descriptions we find in Krishnamacharya, if not how does it differ.


Here's part of an interview from his website where he talks about kumbhaka

"So Prana Vashya Yoga is really more pranayama practice....

"Not as pranayama is generally understood. Pranayama is often a separate yoga practice whereas traditionally it was always a part of it. Prana Vashya Yoga fully integrates the two, in great part, with the application of kumbhakas (breath locks) so that one also experiences the effect of pranayama during the asana practice. There are actually sixty asanas in the sequence."

Can you talk a bit more about kumbhakas?

"A significant development of potential is experienced during the practice of kumbhakas. The use of kumbhakas helps quiet the mind and keeps the awareness on the breath/asana. The body experiences a better development in its resistance power and this helps to impart the complete effect of the asana practice without fatigue. Concentration on the bandhas isn't necessary when consciousness is on the simultaneous action of the breath and movements."

How does it compare to Ashtanga, Hatha, Iyengar, etc? Is PVY adaptable to other styles?

"The vinyasa is different, but most of the asanas are essentially the same; there are just more of them. Prana Vashya vinyasa provides a true equilibrium for the upper and lower body as there is a complete utilization of the shoulders, hip joints, thigh muscles, calf muscles, and hamstrings which help build and maintain strength and stamina in the legs as well.

Prana Vashya is distinguished by its unique approach to flow and balance. The flow is slow, deliberate, and deep, and the body is trained evenly along its front, back and transverse lines. This approach equally trains the body in strength, balance and flexibility while calming the mind and nervous system.

As I mentioned, Prana Vashya Yoga asanas are essentially the same as Hatha and Iyengar, but with an intensified application of each asana, and the attention and utilization of the breath and kumbhakas (breath locks). It is not difficult to learn the basic vinyasa, though becoming adept as it requires increased stamina, balance and flexibility. There is a different dynamic to the Prana Vashya Yoga breath/asana relationship. It takes 1-2 weeks to really start to experience this dynamic and it is quite profound. Prana Vashya Yoga can be considered as an enhancement to an existing practice, not as a conflict." http://www.pranavashya.com/interview

*
Here's a Video of the prana vashya sun salutation (from here http://www.pranayoga.cz), it's a little different from what we're familiar with perhaps, the breath locks are indicated (you may have to watch it on YouTube to see the annotations).


UPDATE: Gabriella has kindly commented on this post, here's the part on Kumbhaka 

"About kumbaka. Yes, the Prana Vashya sequence includes many antar kumbhakas or puraka, after inhalation kumbakas, and bahir (outside) or recaka, after exhalation kumbhakas. Vinay only requires regular people to do the kumbhakas in the vinyasas but if you study a teacher's training course with him it all gets even more elaborate. Studying one on one with him I had to do kumbhakas not only in vinyasa, but also for coming into the positions most of the time. This was a natural development for me, since after a while my body naturally started to hold the breath in and out. Practicing this way brings about a moving meditation, and the stilling of the mind. That is actually a general experience many students feel after taking up the practice". 


For more about my experiences with Prana Vashya yoga, please read my previous blog post: http://yoginigabi.blogspot.hu/2012/09/prana-vashya-transformation-in-body-and.html

Here's a taste from Gabrielle's blog post

"I am sitting on the floor in padmasana. It is hot outside, the cows are lowing, the street is full of noises. In the smaller room I am sitting with another eight in silence. Oooone, twooooo, threeee...I hear the annoyingly slow counts. Vinay's calm but ruthless commands dictate my breath. I feel I am suffocating, I cannot breathe so slowly. On top of that, my body wants to boil from the inside. I thought that with two Indian TTCs and years of practice under my belt, I can do yoga, but I start to understand that this is the beginning of the real practice.
“For true practice to occur, you must give justice to every breath”, says Vinay and he means it. There are no excuses, you must follow his breath choreography not only during the pranayama class, but also during asana practice.

There is no yoga without conscious breathing. This information has been coded into my cells during the months I spent with him. Prana Vashya, prana control, in other words the extension of consciousness and the life force to our every part. This makes the system of Prana Vashya truly unique. It creates such a focus in the practitioner, that leads to an elevated level of consciousness where physical and internal transformation can take place.
I learned it through my own experience. During the months in India, I acquired such an incredible physical strength and stamina that was wowed by my fellow students. Though the most important change happened on the inside. The eye is the mirror of the soul and funnily enough I also recognized that my look has changed in India this time. It became more powerful, meaningful and determined. I grew up and found the way back to myself." http://yoginigabi.blogspot.hu/2012/09/prana-vashya-transformation-in-body-and.html

Prana Vashya Yoga

http://www.pranayoga.cz

http://www.pranayoga.cz

http://www.pranayoga.cz

A you Tube video from F. Gabriella Toth showing some of the asana, speeded up though so we don't get to see how the kumbhaka (breath locks ) are employed.
Here's a version of her site put through google translate


If anyone has studied with Vinya Kumar in mysore and can explain his use of Kumbhaka to me in asana, where and how long I would be grateful, otherwise I may well have to make the trip myself.

If anyone sends anything (guest post?) in I'll update the post accordingly

Vinay Kumar himself in a demonstration.

Jump to four minutes in for the beginning of the demonstration, amazing backbend in the first sun salutation.
At his shala in Mysore there is a back bending class in the afternoons that is suppose to be..... transformative

 





*
Going back a while, back when I had my last case of severe does of asana madness I posted a picture on my blog, a posture that I has seen somewhere and wanted to try but didn't know the name of.

My guess was Ardha baddha padma eka pada raja kapotasana 

Turns out it was this by Vinay Kumar's 


Except that on his back bending flexibility stage 1 gallery page
he calls it Eka pada raja kapotasana

On my earlier post Vinya was kind enough to leave a comment clearing it up.
  1. Namasthe,
    The position is called Baddha (bound) Eka Pada Raja Kapottasana. There seems to be a mistake done while uploading the photo and their names.
    Vinay Kumar,
    Prana Vashya Yoga Shala,
    Mysore.
    *

8 comments:

  1. I heard about Vinay maybe my 2nd trip to Mysore. I think that he took the mantle, so to speak, from Venki on the afternoon back bending classes. Venki was not much of a people person. Vinay was, I heard, very thorough, cheaper and a LOT nicer.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Boodi : ) Was hunting through your hang back videos to see if was Vinay you went to I'd forgotten it was Venkatesh, wanted to ask you before I posted but thought it was too early in NYC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After my final trip to Mysore I wished I'd gone to Vinay instead! The thing was, Venki had helped me a lot the first two trips. I didn't care if he was warm & cuddly or even merly polite (which he's not). I was just there to bump up my range of motion to finally nail solo FOH (Gandha B, Raja Kapo). But ya.... he'd shortened his classes. There was no rope wall. I got nothing out of being there. Who knew?

      From what I can remember Vinay sounds like he's got some similar techniques but he still likes teaching & doesn't seem to hate westerners. I'd be interested in hearing about your experiences if you go! You are such a thorough blogger.

      BTW: re your latest post which I just skimmed through. Laruga has an excellent clip about taking your ankles. I could be assisted into freestanding but only if I was hauled in and helped north to my upper calves. The technique appears to be the same as learning Kapo. Crawling hands along outside of feet. For the past few months I've been taking fingertips to back of heels after the final "tick".

      I'd never touched both heels at the same time & no one had ever encouraged me in that direction. It's very taut-bow feeling. I once didn't take my time, lost my balance & fell on my butt :) Anyway, just touching both heels (no wall) is challenging enough for me at the moment, but if I feel ready to further at any point I'll go for trying to grab one ankle at a time.

      Delete
  3. Hi, It is Gabriella from Hungary, and ....from the video, you shared in this blog:).

    I finished a teacher's training course with both Vinay and Venkatesh. I think you should go and see Vinay in person, he is a wonderful and very warm-hearted person. He is also a great teacher. His Prana Vashya yoga is just a wonder. It is something really intense and really transformative. I can only recommend him, I think he is a great new talent of Mysore.

    About kumbaka. Yes, the Prana Vashya sequence includes many antar kumbhakas or puraka, after inhalation kumbakas, and bahir (outside) or recaka, after exhalation kumbhakas. Vinay only requires regular people to do the kumbhakas in the vinyasas but if you study a teacher's training course with him it all gets even more elaborate. Studying one on one with him I had to do kumbhakas not only in vinyasa, but also for coming into the positions most of the time. This was a natural development for me, since after a while my body naturally started to hold the breath in and out. Practicing this way brings about a moving meditation, and the stilling of the mind. That is actually a general experience many students feel after taking up the practice.

    For more about my experiences with Prana Vashya yoga, please read my previous blog post: http://yoginigabi.blogspot.hu/2012/09/prana-vashya-transformation-in-body-and.html

    If you have further questions, please contact me on yoginigabi@gmail.com.
    Namaste,
    Gabriella

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for commenting here Gabriella and passing on more info about Vinay's use of Kubhaka, it's something I've explored myself to some degree for the last year or two but I came to it through Krishnamacharya's descriptions in Yoga Makaranda, wonderful to hear of somebody teaching it in Mysore. It's there in Ramaswami's Vinyasa Krama of course and Desikachar seems to have taught it too but it always seemed on the margins of their concerns. For me it's central to Krishnamacharya's presentation of asana in the Yoga Makaranda period and from what you say here and on your blog it sounds central to Vinay Kumar too. Interesting, makes Mysore very tempting and his TT especially with the opportunity to explore this in more depth with him. Thank you again.

      Delete
  4. Hello,

    I have just one remark to the asana posters which you used from my site (pranayoga.cz). The first picture is Vinay's PVY primary series as it it taught by him, the second poster is just the way I shortened the sequence for beginners which attend my courses, so please be aware that the full sequence is the one which is done i Mysore.

    Regarding the Prana Vashya and the kumbhakas - one has to try it to really understand the concept better. It can be a little bit uncomfortable for the first try, but very quickly it comes natural.
    I used to be an Ashtanga Vinyasa practitioner and I thought that I will never stop practicing Ashtanga.. but then I met Vinay and tried PVY in Mysore. Since then I have not practiced ashtanga anymore. Both practices are fine of course, its not about comparison and saying that one is better then the other.

    Almost every year Vinay comes to Prague, Czech Republic, to give us some PVY workshops, so if you cannot come to Mysore, you can try it in Europe.

    namasthe,
    Petr
    www.pranayoga.cz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The correct youtube link for prana vashya sun salutation video is following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BaXSTMEQac

      Delete
    2. Thank you Petr, for the intro concerning the posters and Vinay's visits to Prague. Also for the video update ( have added it to the post) if that was from you too.

      re Kumbhaka I explore it following Krishnamacharya's direction in his book Yoga makaranda, I think I was just wondering how the approach coma pares. Thank you again.

      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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