Thursday PM : Fundamentals of Krishnamacharya tradition
Breath linked to movements, Vinyasa count, bandhas, drishti.
First day, some were arriving a little late so this was a short class, originally it was going to be a Krishnamacharya Primary series but I wanted to give that class more time so moved it to the morning. In place of that we looked at fundamentals of Krishnamacharya's practice as well as an introduction to the life of the man himself.
I borrowed John Scott's twelve step breathing exercise as a way to introduce the vinyasa count as well as the idea of kumbhaka. He says....
thumb to base of index finger
- ekam puraka
- ekam rechaka
thumb to middle of index finger
- dve puraka
- dve rechaka
thumb to tip of index finger
- trini puraka
- trini rechaka
and then carry
He points out that there is a natural suspension of the breath at the end of the inhalation where he says the count.
This was such a good idea actually as for the rest of the retreat I could just use puraka and recheka and the vinyasa count and avoid altogether much of the whole English/ language translation issue. So glad I took John's workshop before the retreat.
We looked at Krishnamacharya's approach to the postures that make up the familiar sun salutation. For Krishnamacharya these are stand-alone asana and he will suggest you stay in them for a significant period of time. Also in uttanasana, the standing forward bend he will exhale into the posture then inhale and raising the head and straightening the back but still keeping the hands on the floor, he introduces kumbhaka here before folding back into uttanasana proper on recheka. This is a nice way to draw attention to the the extra breaths we take as well as introducing the kumbhaka that will be explored more fully in the mornings class on Krishnamacharya's primary.
|Thank you to Cosmin and Andreea for the translation|
|T-Shirt from http://www.leyogashop.com/blogs/lejournal photo by Daniel|
Friday AM : Krishnamacharya's Primary (with kumbhaka)
In this class we looked at Krishnamacharya's approach to asana in his first book Yoga Makaranda. I used the asana table in Krishnamacharya's second book to show how his Primary group was almost exactly the same as in contemporary Ashtanga. The big difference is that Krishnamacharya employs kumbhaka throughout and the stress is on long slow inhalations and exhalations. This slows things down nicely so makes a good into class, also Krishnamacharya misses out some of the more challenging asana in his Primary group, Marichi B and D for example as well as supta kurmasana and the twists in Trikonasana, these all come in the middle group in the Yogasanagalu (1942) asana table.
Friday PM : Cosmin's Hatha Yoga class
Nice for me to take a class off and sit in on Cosmin's class, very different from the approach I'm familiar with and challenging too, some asana there I haven't practiced for a couple of years.
|Cosmin by Cecilia Cristolovean|
Saturday AM : Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga to Navasana (full vinyasa)
We began this class by going through the standing sequence on the count using puraka /rechaka and the sanskrit count. These were familar from the previous days class. We workshopped the rest of the asana up to navasana and in line with Yoga Mala we practiced Full vinyasa with long slow breathing and longer stays in the asana.
Saturday PM : Vinyasa Krama backbend sequences (Bow and meditative)
In Sunday's class I hoped to go as far as the easier back stretching postures of Ashtanga second series. Vinyasa Krama is a perfect way to approach these as there is a much slower development of the asana and variations. After a shorter tadasana and some challenging one leg squats from the on one leg and triangle sequence we focused on the Bow and Meditative sequences. The meditative sequence is called thus because it's based around vajrasana and ultimately leads up to kapotasana.
Sunday AM : Nancy's 'Ashtanga as it was' Primary (fewer vinyasa) up to Ustrasana (kapo and drop backs for some) in 2nd series
Nancy's article on how she was originally taught by pattabhi jois in 1974 (actually '73) strikes me as an excellent resource as well as a useful approach to teaching Ashtanga. We went through the sury's, standing and first half of the Ashtanga series up to navasana on the count but half vinyasa this time and no vinyasa between sides or between the same groups of postures, the janu sirsasana's for example and marichiyasana's. This saved time and allowed us to workshop the second half of Primary and continue straight into the back stretches up to ustrasana (kapotasana for some) before moving onto the finishing sequence.
|Cosmic and I. photo by Juan|
Sunday PM : Model Vinyasa Krama practice with key asana
In this class I wanted to present a model Vinyasa Krama practice with the key asana recommended by Ramaswami and of course Krishnamacharya, so paschimottanasana, maha mudra, sarvangasana and sirsasana. A nice chance to focus on the inversions and variations in them as well as to bring in some extra 'fun' and challenging asana away from the pressure of an Ashtanga series. Mayurasana, for example is an asana that Krishnamacharya recommended we practice everyday in his first book Yoga Makaranda, we looked at the regular version as well as padmamayurasana.
|photo by Andreea Gherman|
Monday AM : Mysore Room morning, mixed style Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama... in the same room!
This was an opportunity for everyone to practice in a 'Mysore room' environment. Self practice but with others. Freedom was given to practice whatever anyone wanted to practice 9within reason). One could do straight Ashtanga, full primary, half primary/half 2nd, Contemporary ashtanga, Ashtanga with kumbhaka, full or half vinyasa or Nancy style with less vinyasa. Or perhaps practice Vinyasa Krama, a mixture of Vinyasa Krama and Ashtanga or even their own practice just as they practiced it before they arrived on the workshop.
It was a highlight of the retreat for me to go to the back of the room and see a mixture of Vinyasa Krama and Ashtanga and how slow the breath was. After ten minutes or so I walked the room offering support here a little adjustment there. It's been suggested that a mixed style Mysore room would be unworkable as the teacher wouldn't know what people were up to and couldn't assist effectively. I didn't find that at all and I'm not by any means that experienced in a mysore room, we know the basic postures, the fundamentals, as well as the basic principles of adjusting, it worked fine I felt.
|photo by Andreea Gherman|