And yet it doesn't feel that slow when I'm practicing, I mean, I know it's slow but I'm stunned watching this back how slow it actually is. It makes Oscar's Vinyasa Krama look brisk. I thought it would have been nice to have one of Oscar's Ashtangi's practicing along with us in the middle.
Why is it so slow?
Krishnamacharya writes about long slow breathing, like the pouring of oil, he writes about full breathing, my inhalations are around 8-10 seconds, I try to keep my exhalations the same.
Krishnamacharya includes 2-5 second Kumbhaka (breath retention) in his asana descriptions, if the head is up in a posture or perhaps before going into a posture then more often than not there's puraka kumbhaka, if the head is down then rechaka kumbhaka. In the second version of dandasana with which the video opens I'm employing puraka kumbhaka, holding the breath in for around five seconds. In the book krishnamacharya seems to include coming up out of forward bending postures for the full inhalations.
Krishnamacharya's asana practice becomes a pranayama practice.
Krishnamacharya describes full vinyasa in the Yoga Makaranda descriptions, so there's a coming back to standing, that makes sense to me in such a slow practice, I want to stretch the posture out with the vinyasa after staying so long. It's intense, the kumbhaka certainly keeps you warm
What to make of this, who would want to practice this slowly, it's limiting. If you only have an hour you won't get through many asana (not necessarily a bad thing, practice half a series). The full practice took around two and a half hours and I had to cut back on my pranayama but then perhaps there had been enough pranayama in the asana practice already, perhaps half an hour of nadi shodana, rounds it off nicely. Krishnamacharya includes a chakra focus in asana in Yoga makaranda that I'm only just beginning to explore so perhaps a little Japa meditation to close and I'm good to go. Three hours? Cut back a few asana to bring it down to two?
Watching this I wonder if anyone else would want to practice this way and yet I feel strongly somebody at least should. I've been exploring it off and on ( more and more on recently) for a year and a half, I'm settling in to it. This is such an intense practice and shouldn't be buried away in an old text, a museum piece, it should be a living tradition.
Did Krishnamacharya actually practice like this himself, we know he only had an hour lesson with the boys of the Mysore palace, it's unlikely it was this slow, Vinyasa Krama as we can see is faster, again perhaps because of the time limitations of a lesson. In the 1938 demonstration the asana flow into one another but then that was a demonstration.
But surely he must have practiced this slowly, at least for a time, otherwise why write Yoga Makaranda in this way, why want to share the practice in this way. Yoga Makaranda was Krishnamacharya's first book, as far as he knew it might have been the only book he would publish and there is at times a non compromising attitude to the text.
Watching this back I feel ever more strongly that Mark Singleton is mistaken regarding the influence of western gymnastics on Krishnamacharya's practice. It's not the international fitness movement influencing Krishnamacharya here but traditional pranayama practice brought into asana, surely it's that which most characterises this approach to practice.
Below is the Youtube description.
Oscar and I practicing alone in his studio Yoga Centro Victoria in Leon, Spain, recorded on my Krishnamacharya workshop last weekend. Oscar is on the left practicing Vinyasa Krama along the lines of that taught to Ramaswami in the 1950's-80's. I'm on the right practicing excruciatingly slowly employing kumbhaka's (breath retention) following the asana instructions found for the Primary group of asana in Krishnamacharya's 1934-38 'Mysore book' Yoga Makaranda, written while Krishnamacharya was teaching the young Pattabhi Jois. The Video is of part of the seated section of our practice.