“Aṣṭāṅga Yoga Anuṣṭhāna”: 1st vs. 2nd Edition
The one thing that jumped out for me of course was this
1st edition: Breathing if you inhale for two seconds,
the exhale should be for two
2nd edition: if you inhale for ﬁve seconds,
the exhale should be for ﬁve
Five seconds inhale, five seconds exhale, that's much more like it, can live with that, Mysore here I come.... or at least I would if it wasn't for the crowds.
NB: The 'should' above is of course stressing that the inhalation and exhalation should be of equal duration, the 5 seconds is an example only, although it's interesting he changed it from the 2 second example in the first book.
Five second inhalation plus five second exhalation makes for a ten second breath, five of those gives us fifty seconds in the state of an asana. Actually there's that slight pause between the inhalation and exhaltion and the exhalation and inhalation. The slower the breath the longer the natural pause or mini kumbhaka as I like to think of it. At five seconds each I make it a one second pause between each so that's an extra two seconds a breath making it a full minute in the state of an asana.
I compared the breathing on teachers DVD's in a previous post. Their DVD presentations should be their ideal practice right.
Here are some comparisons to put it in perspective, all for when in Janu Sirsasana at astau/eight, the state of the asana ( this is hardly fair though as the time varies slightly in the different postures, especially in the led classes of Manju and his father ( it's guess work in Led), for example Manju left them in the preceding posture for 30 seconds), the demo's are a different case. gives an idea though of the general pace of the practice.
Update: I've added hyperlinks to reviews, click on the names
David Robson - 40 seconds!
David Garrigues - 30 seconds
Richard Freeman - 29 seconds
Manju Jois - 25 seconds
Lino - 24 seconds
Derek Ireland - 20 seconds
John Scott - 20 seconds
Mark Darby - 20 seconds
Kino - 20 seconds
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois - 20 seconds
David Swenson - 19 seconds
Sharath - 13 seconds
( I've heard a recent recording of Sharaths' Led where it comes in at 25 seconds)
David Robson comes closest to a minute but that's perhaps because he has the 1 second beat of the drum to guide him on his Primary with Drums Video/CD/MP3 - Highly recommended. However, if I remember correctly the drumbeat is set at 4 second inhalation, 4 second exhalation. If you want to explore a slower pace download his mp3 or follow the link (click on his name above) and practice along to my Sury A video on that post with the drum beat in the background. There should be a link to a post where I explore the drum beat with second series.
Bit of a game changer?
Notice how many of the above are around 20 seconds, that actually works out at 2 second inhalation, 2 second exhalation, which is of course what Sharath included in the first edition of his book. That perhaps reflects the pace the practice is generally taken, how it's come down to us, how we tend to practice. What I find most interesting is that Sharath consciously, pointedly, changed it to 5 seconds. We might practice at 2 seconds but perhaps we should be aiming to take it a little slower, even perhaps twice as slowly. We can explore it at least.
I have a great deal of respect for Sharath, for all of the above and in fact for anyone who has maintained this practice for the number of years they have but for me the final authority is the practice, my practice, not Sharath', not his Grandfather or even Krishnamacharya. I'll happily explore how they present it, really spend time with their approach, their instruction but ultimately I'll go with what feels right for me. At one point I tried to slow my Ashtanga right down, ten seconds for inhalation, ten for exhalation, I really worked at that. I thought at the time it reflected 'original practice' or the original intention perhaps, didn't work, eight seconds may work fine in Vinyasa Krama but in Ashtanga six seconds is about as slow as I can comfortably take it and maintain the integrity of the practice as a whole, although I currently I tend to add in kumbhakas. Once you do find an approach, a pace that works for you however, it seems good practice to stick with it for a significant period before exploring any slightly different approach. Ashtanga seems to be all about routine, it seems to work best when you know exactly where you are and what you are doing. Personal opinion of course. A shorter pre pranayama evening practice is good for exploring.
Sharath is using the conditional of course, IF we inhale for five seconds THEN we exhale for five seconds, he's stressing that the breath should be equal but using a five second example rather than one of two second sends a message perhaps, slower, fuller breathing encouraged.
Of course breathing rates are always merely a guide, we can breathe at whatever pace we are most comfortable with and that will of course change as our practice develops and as we focus on and explore different aspects of the practice but we should surely be aiming for a full, steady, stable breath at least at whatever pace we take it and Krishnamacharya does recommend, "slow like the pouring of oil". In interviews Pattabhi Jois talked of 10, 15 even 20 seconds each for inhalation and exhalations. My own preference is around eight in Vinyasa Krama, probably averaging six in my Ashtanga practice (1.5 in navasana). My workaround when practicing with DVDs or in Led is to take three longer breaths or sometimes just two if I'm including kumbhaka.
Take a look at my page at the top of the blog, 'Mysore rooms around the world' to get an idea of the pace others actually practice in their Mysore rooms.
Here'a link to my review of the original.
Book(let) Review : Ashtanga yoga Anusthana - R. Sharath Jois
News: Off to John Scott's workshop in Brighton tomorrow.