Friday, 7 February 2014

Once we slow down our Ashtanga a little....posts on Prashant Iyengar's books also Iyengar's Library (picture)

Iyengar's Library, I've been looking for an actual picture of this legendary room for some time, thank you R.

 re Janu  Sirsasana

"... While holding the feet with the hands, pull and clasp the feet tightly. Keep the head or face or nose on top of the kneecap and remain in this sthiti from 5 minutes up to half an hour. If it is not possible to stay in recaka for that long, raise the head in between, do puraka kumbhaka and then, doing recaka, place the head back down on the knee. While keeping the head lowered onto the knee, puraka kumbhaka should not be done. This rule must be followed in all asanas". 
Krishnamacharya - Yoga makaranda (1934)

"...Next, doing rechaka slowly, place the forehead or chin on the knee of the outstretched leg, and do rechaka and puraka fully as much as possible; this is the 8th vinyasa"
Pattabhi Jois Yoga Mala 1950s


Once we slow down our Ashtanga a little (a lot), bringing it in line with Pattabhi Jois' Yoga Mala and especially Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda we have perhaps more time to explore the asan. I mentioned in my previous post on Norman Sjoman's workshop that we can bring attention to the movement within the asan. I'm not talking about the vinyasa, the movement into and out of the asana but the subtle movements within the asan itself, the physical, mental, emotional and perhaps spiritual movements, more to come on this with another post I'm working on based on Norman Sjoman's writing.

"...In Yoga Touchstone and Dead Birds, I have made a case for movement being the vehicle of access to consciousness. Movement, in the form of asanas, with their particular movement sequence, becomes the object/subject of introspective meditation.
Patañjali’s definition is in striking contrast to the dogma of modern postural yoga. Modern postural yoga uses the āsana object as the aim or goal of yoga. Breath and awareness are only adventitious adjuncts to the āsana. It goes much further than this. Āsana can be a means to access our own consciousness. This is indicated in Patañjali’s definition by the words anantasamāpattibhyām. The whole definition thus indicates attention to the objective (if only by releasing our grip on it) and awareness of the
219
subjective. Thus āsana is accomplished by transiting from the objective element to the subjective keeping them both in the sphere of awareness. This can be compared to the Śaivites nime􏳐a and unme􏳐a. (See Netratantram 8.8 under YS2.29)
To be even more specific, it is possible to experience this directly in advanced āsanas, in moving āsanas such as viparītacakrāsana where one must allow a certain body/mind
awareness and at the same time abandon that – the matter of hanging on and letting go at the same time. These ideas are presented in more detail in Yoga Touchstone and Dead Birds".
Norman Sjoman Yogasutracintamani p219

Listening to Norman reminded me a little of Prashant ( I need to explore the differences as well as any similarities) and I've been revisiting my earlier posts and his books. I was also sent a few pages from a book of his transcribed lessons, Tuesdays with Prashant. I'm supposed to be getting rid of books not buying them but I couldn't resist this and there was a good price from Yogamatters.

I'd love to go to Pune and study with him but my understanding is that you have to have been an Iyengar student for eight years, he does come to Europe occasionally though I understand, typical, just as I'm moving back to Japan (May).

Tuesday's with Prashant

Prashant applies his experiments of practice to sequencing his classes. Tuesdays with Prashant is the transcription of an entire year of classes. RIMYI closes for the hot months of the Indian climate during April and May. The classes begin in June and progress to a climax in April of the following calendar year. This word-for-word transcription gives the reader the opportunity to ascertain the depth of thought brought to the instruction. Each day has a preface describing the climatic conditions and a list of the asanas taken. No matter how intently we all attempt to write notes after class, or even if we write as an observer while he is teaching, we never get it all onto the page. This 255-page compilation is a true work of Bhakti yoga edited by Vibha Kale. 
Intro above from here








Have a look at this online article by prashant Iyengar also A class after a class 

Some earlier posts on prashant Iyengar's books.

from 27 December 2012

A peek into Prashant Iyengar's Chittavijana of Yogasanas
Quite intrigued and excited by this big little book by Prashant Iyengar, a phenomenology of Asana?











I bought my copy from Yogamatters in the UK but if in the US you can find a copy here http://iynaus.org/store/books/chittavijnana-of-yogasanas-prashant-iyengar

While your at it you might want to pick up his Alpha and Omega of Trikonasana
http://iynaus.org/store/books/chittavijnana-of-yogasanas-prashant-iyengar

from 19th december 2012

Un-Yoga and Prashant Iyengar's Paradigms of Practice



 “We cannot expect that millions are practicing real yoga just because millions of people claim to be doing yoga all over the globe.  What has spread all over the world is not yoga.  It is not even non-yoga; it is un-yoga.”  The undue emphasis, particularly in the West, on asana as the crux of Yoga dilutes the essence of the spiritual practice and its ultimate goal of moksha".

from a 2005 interview with Prashant Iyengar, son of B.K.S. Iyengar, published in Namarupa magazine

That's not to say that whatever the above mentioned millions do practice, myself included, in all it's modern myriad forms is in anyway bad, but if we're going to make use of the term Yoga then it's good perhaps to reflect on it's wider context and possibilities.


Becoming very curious/fascinated by Prashant Iyengar and what he's up in his discussions of the possibilities of asana.

A friend recently, fondly referred to him as a mad scientist

I'm thinking more Heston Blumenthal

Get a taste of his work through this article from Alan Goode at Yoga-Mandir
https://www.yogamandir.com.au/resource/are-paradigms-practice-necessary

Here's the intro to the paradigms idea from that article.

"Paradigms
Prashant Iyengar has designated seven paradigms of practice to aid the sadhaka. Seven modes in which the sadhaka might act. He names these as

• Learning
• Studying
• Practicing
• Maturing
• Consolidating
• Improving/Becoming profound
• Accomplishing Sadhana

A brief summary of each follows.

Learning. As a learner we adopt a mode of beginner when we practice. Fresh to the experience,
we should be free of expectation in the outcomes.

Studying. We study the asana when we move the focus from the attempt adopt the idealized
stance and apply the asana with a focus upon the dynamic relationship of body, mind, senses and breath.

Practicing. Prashant indicates that to practice is to replicate. When we practice we apply what has been taught in an attempt to recreate and verify experience.

Maturing. In which the sadhaka becomes independent of the environmental factors in practice. A stage in which there is clarity in the practice experience and a capacity to enter that experience at will.

Consolidating. Where the sadhaka diminishes the intensity of effort without diminishing the experience. ‘To lessen the efforts in a way that the effects will not be lessened’

Improving/Becoming profound. To study the subtle aspects within the practice. To develop intense stability in practice so that one observes the energetic aspects. ‘To do this the sadhaka would need to perform Trikonasana with various kriyas focusing on the five Pranas or the six Chakras.’

Accomplishing Sadhana. The transformation of the practice into a meditative process.

These categories are covered more fully in appendix A, where I have attached Prashant’s descriptions of each stage. I note however these should not be seen as progression from beginner to experienced sadhaka. Even the most experienced sadhaka will adopt a mode of learning when encountering a new asana or may return to learn or study something which he/she assumes is known. These are modes of practice that the sadhaka can adopt at any stage or time, with any asana.

Are paradigms a means to address the klesas?
When we look at the seven modes of practice what is seen is a way for the sadhaka to discipline their involvement with experience so that we can address the klesas. Ignorance, (avidya), pride (asmita), attachment (raga), aversion (dvesa), and fear of death (abhinivesa) all serve to entangle us and cloud perception. These, in turn, provoke the five modifications in the consciousness (vrtti). The consciousness

Are paradigms of practice necessary
can move between direct perception (pramana), mistaken identity -illusion (viparyaya), imagination (vikalpa), memory (smrti), and sleep (nidra). This sequence gives rise to the fluctuations in the citta.
By applying these paradigms of practice is it possible to consolidate experience on the level of the consciousness? Is this a system aiming to identify and replicate experiential states within practice to observe the citta? By consolidating the experiences through the paradigms, the sadhaka can then study the reflection of our actions in the citta. The klesas can be identified as they reflect in the citta. The klesas can be studied.
Prashant takes this work further by applying referentials, sequentials, hierarchies etc. His aim is to move from a doing mode to devise a means to systematically study experience.
Whether these paradigms of practice are essential or not will form ongoing discussion and disputation. It is clear however that from working with the paradigms of practice there is a direct and tangible effect in the citta. It is also possible to recreate the experiential modes.
The study of consciousness has begun!"
Allan Goode Pune Dec 07

Needless to say my Christmas reading is sorted.

See also
Yoga - An Integrated Science
A class after Class. - Online version
http://www.iyengar-yoga.com/articles/integratedscience/

3 comments:

  1. Philosopher that Prasant is, I recall reading somewhere where he said something to the effect of, "the 'shape' of an asana is the frame of a painting but the 'breath' IS the painting itself" - love that!! AC

    ReplyDelete
  2. I keep hearing him referred to affectionately as a 'mad alchemist'. I'm tending to think of him more as a poet, not quite in control of his material yet every now and again a line will catch you unawares and redescribe the/your world anew.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, the philosopher-poet - most of the time I have no clue what he goes on about and my eyes roll, but now and then there's a gem of a sentence and he just melts my heart!! AC

    ReplyDelete

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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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