Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga.
Pattabhi Jois talked in interviews, as well as when writing in Yoga Mala, that if we had less time we should practice less asana. In my own practice time is an issue. I prefer to breathe more slowly in the asana and vinyasas, lengthening my inhalation and exhalation, "slow like the pouring of oil" as Krishnamacharya puts it in Yoga Makaranda. I like to explore kumbhaka and the occasional extended stay, in Mudras especially. I also prefer to practice, much of the time, with my eyes closed, employing internal drishti at different vital focal points and I like to introduce vinyasas, extra preparatory asana on days when they feel appropriate as well as perhaps extending an asana into more challenging, 'proficient' forms on the more flexible days and in keeping perhaps with the idea of groups of asana rather than fixed sequences. I like to practice Pranayama before and after my asana practice as well as finishing my practice with a 'meditative activity'. I was first introduced to Yoga through the Ashtanga sequences and I still maintain that general structure in my main practice but I would rather sacrifice half or more than half a sequence than these other factors and perhaps practice the asana missed in the following days, I still consider this to be Ashtanga, the 'original' Ashtanga of Krishnamacharya.
As I mentioned, work in progress, mostly I'm just bringing notes together here for my own practice and exploration of Krishnamacharya's approach to middle group asana.
|Pictorial representation of Middle group table (from old pictures)|
Kumbhaka list from Yogasanagalu table for middle (and some proficient ) asana in Ashtanga Intermediate series order
Bhaya Kumbhaka = retain air out after exhalation
Antha Kumbhaka = retain air in after inhalation
Ubhaya Kumbhaka = both kumbhakas may be practiced
? = Kumbhaka not indicated in table
Krishnamacharya's Instructions from
YM= Yoga Makaranda YM (1934)
YM2 = Yoga Makaranda Part II (1950's?)
Note that there are some differences in the kumbhaka indications in the table above from Yogasanagalu and the instructions from Yoga Makaranda Part II below, the which seems to be aimed at more of an introductory level. There are places in Yoga Makaranda part II where Krishnamacharya talks about introducing kumbhaka gradually.
BHEKASANA - FROG POSE from YM2
MARICASANA - Section F Technique:
This has two forms: dakshina ekapada sirsasana and vama ekapada sirsasana. Both these forms together have 18 vinyasas. The first picture depicts dakshina ekapada sirsasana and the second picture vama ekapada sirsasana.
The 7th and 12th vinyasas are the asana sthitis of these dierent forms. For this asana, you need to do sama svasauchvasam (same ratio breathing).
In the 7th vinyasa, the left leg, and in the 12th vinyasa the right leg, should be extended and kept straight from the thigh to the heel. No part should be bent.
Keep the hands as shown in the picture. In this sthiti one needs to do equal ra- tio breathing. When the hands are joined together in ekapada sirsasana paristhiti, one must do puraka kumbhaka. One must never do recaka.
While doing the 7th and the 12th vinyasas, the head must be raised and the gaze must be fixed at the midbrow.
In the 7th vinyasa, the right leg, and in the 12th vinyasa, the left leg, must be placed on top of the back of the neck. Study the picture carefully. The other vinyasas are like those for ardhabaddhapadma pascimottanasana.
Dvipada Sirsasana YM
While practising the 7th vinyasa, place both legs on top of the shoulders, and do uthpluthi as in the 7th vinyasa for bhujapidasana.
Then lean the rear of the body forward and sit down.
While remaining in this state, do puraka kumbhaka and raise the head.
Bring the hands next to the muladhara cakra and join them together in prayer.
From the 8th vinyasa until the 14th vinyasa practise just as for bhujapidasana.
The 7th vinyasa is yoga nidrasana sthiti.
The first 6 vinyasas for kurmasana are the first 6 vinyasas for this.
In the 7th vinyasa, sit like you did in dvipada sirsasana and instead of keeping the two legs on the back of the neck, first lie back facing upwards. Then lift the legs up and place them on the back of the neck.
In this asana, following the krama, take the shoulders (that is, the arms) on both the left and right sides over the top of the two thighs, and hold the right wrist tightly with the fingers of the left hand beneath the spine. Study the picture.
The 5th vinyasa itself is the asana sthiti. This asana has two forms. One form is called sampurna mayurasana. The second is called one-handed mayurasana. The picture included here depicts only sampurna mayurasana. In this asana, both hands should be firmly pressed down on the ground and with the strength of the arms, the whole body should be balanced like a bar in a balance scale with both sides at the same level.
This asana sthiti should be held from 1 minute up to 3 hours according to the practitioner’s capa- bility. It is good to practise this regularly and to remain in this sthiti for longer periods during the winter or colder months rather than in the summer.
Benefits: Of the various types of Sarvangasana this gives the maximum benefits. The thyroid gets special benefits. The waist line is reduced. The liver is toned. This asana cures gastric troubles and piles. It also prevents these diseases.