Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Original Ashtanga Intermediate / Middle group asana with Kumbhaka,




This post is work in progress, a place to bring together some notes on Krishnamacharya's middle group asana.

Last year or so I put up a post bringing together the photo's and asana instructions from Krishnamacharya's first book Yoga Makaranda (mysore 1934) into current Ashtanga primary series order. which was pretty much in line with the table of primary asana found in Krishnamacharya's second book Yogasanagalu (1941)



I stressed at the time that this was a pedagogic tool, a teaching aid, a way for those familiar with current Ashtanga to take a closer look at Krishnamacharya's original instruction for these asana. Due to the long slow breathing indicated, the employment of kumbhaka and occasional  extended stay it seemed unlikely that Krishnamacharya would have practiced or taught all of the postures in the Primary group as a sequence, at least not in line with the instructions in Yoga Makaranda, which may represent his/the ideal approach to the asanas.

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.

Krishnamacharya's middle group is more challenging to treat in the same manner. The Yogasangalu table is again close to the Intermediate series of current Ashtanga practice however there are only a few of the intermediate/middle group asana represented in Yoga Makaranda, mostly the leg behind head postures (Yoga makaranda is mainly made up of Primary and Proficient/advanced group asana). We do have several more of the Middle group asana included in Yoga makaranda part II a text perhaps begun in the 1950s but the instructions differ in that in most cases the vinyasa into and out of the postures is closer to that of Vinyasa Krama. In some cases the vinyasa does follow closely current practice in Ashtanga, Mayurasana for example (see below).

In the 'poster' at the top of the post is a collection of some of the middle group asana as practiced by Krishnamacharya himself both in the 1934s when he was 50 years old as well as in the 1980's from a later (4th edition) of Yogasanagalu. We also see Krishnamacharya's wife and children as well as BKS Iyengar from the 1938 demonstration video while still a student of Krishnamacharya ( although he had just moved to Pune) and one of Krishnamacharya's students from the Mysore palace years.

Below I've included the Middle Group asana table from Krishnamacharya's 1934 Yogasanagalu as well as a pictorial representation of the the table made up of old pictures of my own in the asana.

Below the table I've listed the current Ashtanga Intermediate series with the Kumbhaka indicated by Krishnamacharya in the Yogasanagalu table. As a rough guide to practice, extend the natural pause between the inhalation and/or exhalation to two seconds in the beginning build up to five seconds over a few weeks.  Remember this is not pranayama practice so the longer kumbhaka that may be explored in that practice may not be appropriate for most of the asana except perhaps certain seated asana and mudras. In my own practice I tend to stick with between five and ten second kumbhaka's when practicing asana, no more than twenty in mudras ( or in my Pranayama practice in fact).

Below the asana /kumbhaka list I've included all the instruction for middle group asana that I could find from Krishnamacharya's writing and put them into current Ashtanga practice order, again for ease of reference for those familiar with that system. I've also put the asana instructions into block capitals to separate it from the different entry to the asana of the vinyasa Krama approach.

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.


See the pages tabs at the top of the blog for Krishnamacharya links including free downloads of his texts.


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


Pashasana - 14* 7/8  - Bhaya Kumbhaka 

Krounchasana - 22* 7/8 +14/15 - Bhaya Kumbhaka 
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Shalabhasana A / Shalabhasana B - 10* 5/6 - Antha Kumbhaka

Bhekasana - 9* 5 - Antha Kumbhaka 

Dhanurasana - 9* 5 - Antha Kumbhaka 

Parshva Dhanurasana - 11* 5/7 - Antha Kumbhaka 

Ustrasana - 15* 7/8/9 - Antha Kumbhaka

Laghu Vajrasana -  15* 7/8/9 - Ubhaya Kumbhaka 

Kapotasana A B -  15* 8 - Antha Kumbhaka 

Supta Vajrasana -  18* 9/11 Ubhaya Kumbhaka 
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Bakasana A B -  12* 7/8 - N/A

Bharadvajasana -  15* 8/10 - Bhaya Kumbhaka


Ardha Matsyendrasana - Bhaya Kumbhaka (proficient group)

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Eka Pada Shirshasana - Bhaya Kumbhaka 22* 7/8/9 + 14/15/16  (in YM Krishnamacharya indicates bhaya kumbhaka)

Dwi Pada Shirshasana - Bhaya Kumbhaka -14*  7/8/9 (Kumbhaka not indicated in YM)

Yoga Nidrasana - Bhaya Kumbhaka - 13* 8 (in YM Krishnamacharya indicates bhaya kumbhaka)
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Tittibhasana A B C - 14* 7/8 - ? ( Proficient )
Pincha Mayurasana - 10* 8/9 - ? (proficient ) 

Karandavasana - 15* 9 - ? (proficient )
Mayurasana -  9* 5 - Bhaya Kumbhaka
Nakrasana - 9* 5 - Ubhaya Kumbhaka
Vatayanasana - 18* 7/12 - Ubhaya Kumbhaka (proficient) 

Parighasana - 20* 7/8/ + 12/13 - ? (proficient)

Gomukhasana A B - 14* 7/8 - Ubhaya Kumbhaka (proficient ) 
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Supta Urdhva Pada Vajrasana - 15* 8/10 -  ?



Mukta Hasta Shirshasana A B C - ?



Baddha Hasta Sirshasana A B C D - ?






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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.


PASHASANA  from YM2

This asana is so called because it binds the vital fluid.
Technique:
1. Stand upright, feet together. Interlock the fingers and stretch the arms over the head, with the palms turned upwards.
2. Bring back the neck and spine back to the normal upright position, but keep the arms still stretched overhead. While exhaling, bend the knees and squat on the heels. The foot should be firmly in contact with the ground, the knees together, and the spine erect. The thighs should be in close contact with the chest.
3. While exhaling, twist the trunk to the left, keeping the spine upright. Unlock the fingers and bring the arms down. Take the right arm round the left knee and towards the back. The left arm is taken round the back and the left hand catches hold of the right wrist. Turn head towards the right, so that the chin comes over the right shoulder without touching it.
4. Take three deep breaths. No retention.
5. Bring the head to face front, bring back the arms to the front untwist the trunk and repeat on the other side.
6. Stretch the arms overhead with the fingers interlocked and the palms turned upwards. While inhaling stand upright.
7. While exhaling, bend body at the hips and place the palms on either side of the feet and as far as back as possible. The leg should not be bent but kept stretched. The forehead should touch the kneecaps.
8. While inhaling, come up to the normal standing posture.
Note: For getting the full benefits of this asana, the steps 1, 3, 6, 7, and 8 are important.
The counter pose, KANCHYASANA should be done immediately after PASHASANA. 

KANCHYASANA from YM2

This asana is the counter pose to PASHASANA and should be done immediately after it. Technique:
1. Steps 1 and 2 are the same as in Pashasana.
2. Spread the knees. Bend the trunk forward, and take the arms round the shins
towards the back of the body catching hold of the fingers of the hand by the fingers of the other. See the Photographic illustration.
3. Inhale and exhale.
4. Get back to the position as at the end of step 1 and do the steps 6, 7 and 8 of
PASHASANA.


KRAUNCASANA from YM2

Preparatory Exercise:
Technique
1. Sit on a piece of folded soft cloth, with one leg stretched in front, and the other folded back at the knee, so that the heel is by the side of the buttocks, the sole of the foot upturned, toes stretched and the back of the foot touching the cloth. The knees should be as close as possible. The foot of the leg stretched in front should be upright to the ground and not inclined sideways. The toes should be pointed. The body should be erect, and the spinal column should be stretched. Chin lock.
2. Place the palms of the hands on the folded cloth so that the fingers are outstretched, close together, pointing forward, and on either side of the body, and not more than one foot behind the buttocks. The distance between the palms to be about a foot.
3. While inhaling, lift trunk, and bend the neck backward as far as possible.
4. While exhaling lower trunk to position (2).
5. Repeat the movements in steps (3) & (4).
6. Repeat with the other leg.


The asana proper:
Technique:
1. Step (1) is the same as for the preliminary exercise.
2. Interlock the fingers, stretch the arms upward and while exhaling lower the stretched
arms, so that the palms touch the sole of the foot stretched in front. Now. lift the stretched leg, without bending the knee, as far back as possible. In the final stage, the knee will be by the side of the ear. No undue force should be used. As practice advances, the abdominal muscles become supple, and the final position will become attainable with ease.
Note: The trunk should be kept erect throughout or slightly leaning to the back. The backbone should be kept straight and stretched.
3. A few deep breaths can be taken. Maximum benefit is obtained when in this position the breath is kept out (Bahya Kumbhakam).
4. While inhaling, lower the leg to the position in position (1).
5. Repeat movements in steps (2) and (3) a few times.
6. Repeat with the other leg.


BHEKASANA - FROG POSE from YM2

Technique:
1. Stand upright with feet together and legs stretched. Stretch the arms downwards behind the back and interlock the fingers. While inhaling, bend the neck and spine in an arch as far backwards as possible.
2. While exhaling, straighten the back and the neck and regain the upright position. Disengage the fingers, and while inhaling, lift the arms (keeping them stretched) to the side of the body and with a sweeping motion take the arms overhead, interlock the fingers and turn the palms upward.
3. While exhaling, bend the body at the hips, and place the palms on the ground on either side of the feet, and as far back as possible. The knees should not be bent.
4. Keep the palms firmly on the ground, and while inhaling, jump as far backwards as possible with both feet together, bend the elbows, and lie on the ground, with the legs stretched, the knees together, and toes pointed, and the back of the feet touching the ground.
The chest and the head should be lifted.
5. While exhaling, bend the legs at the knees and catch hold of the feet by the hands, so that the palms cover the back of the feet. Press the feet downwards, so that the heels touch the ground on either side of the body and as close to it as possible. Study the photographic illustration.
6. While inhaling, lift the chest and bend the neck as far backwards as possible.
7. Take a few deep breaths, only slow inhaling and slow exhaling, but no retention.
8. Regain the position as at the end of step (4) by retracing the movements. Lift the
body keeping it straight as a plank, so that the body is supported by the toes and the palms. Lift the hips and stretch the arms without moving the palms, and bring the head between the arms. Now jump forward with both the feet and bring them between the palms. Straighten the legs and touch the knees with forehead. Inhale, lift the trunk and stretch the arms overhead. Exhale, bring down the arms and resume the normal standing posture.

Benefits: This gives relief in the case of backache and stomach ache. It tones up the kidneys and the bladder.

SUPTA VAJRASANA( in padmasana) from YM2

Technique:
1. Take the first two steps as in the case of Baddha Padma Asana.
2. Bend the trunk backwards and the head backwards, so that the top of the head
touches the ground. The back forms an arch. The knees should be touching the ground.
3. Keep eyes closed. Maintain normal breathing.
4. Raise the trunk and get back to normal position.
Note: When the back is arched the elbows rest on the ground and it is better to have a soft seat when doing this asana.

MARICASANA - Section C. from YM2

Technique:
1. Sit erect, with both legs stretched in front. Bend the right leg at the knee and place the right foot on the left groin, the right heel being placed as near the navel as possible, as in 35
the ARDHAPADMASANA position. The right thigh and knee should be touching the ground and continue touching the ground throughout the asana. The left leg is bent at the knee and brought to the position as described in step (1) of Section A. Take the left arm round the left knee and behind the back. The right arm is taken behind the back by the right side of the body and the left wrist is god hold of the right hand. The movement of the arms is as in the case of step (2) in Section A.
2. Take a few deep breaths.
3. While exhaling, bend the trunk and touch the ground with the top of the head.
4. Take a few regulated breaths, without retention of breath.
5. While inhaling, lift trunk.
6. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: In addition to the benefits mentioned under Section A & B this asana cures cases where ladies have pains during their monthly periods.
This asana tones up the liver and the spleen.

MARICASANA - Section D from YM2

Technique:
1. Sit erect, with both legs stretched in front. Bend one leg, say the left knee, at the knee, backwards, and bring the heels by the side of the buttocks (see illustration). The other leg, the right, is bent at the knee and the foot placed firmly on the ground near the buttocks in front of the body. The chin should be kept vertical. (See illustration.) The right leg is as in Maricasana Section A.
2. Take the right arm round the right knee and towards the back. The left arm is taken round the back and the right wrist is caught hold of by the left hand. A point to be carefully noted is that the right thigh should be closely pressing the body.
3. While exhaling, bend the trunk at the hips and touch the ground with the forehead.
36
The spine should be kept as straight possible. The right foot should continue touching the ground and the heel should not be lifted when the trunk is bent forward.
4. While inhaling lift trunk. This forward bending and lifting of the trunk may be repeated.
5. Release the hands and bring back the legs to the original position and repeat on the other side.

MARICASANA - Section E from YM2

Technique:
1. Take the position as in the last Section D in step (1).
2. Exhale, and twist the trunk to the right so that the navel is above the middle of the
right thigh, and the left shoulder is to the right of the right knee. The left arm is taken round the right knee, round the left side of the body and behind the back. Care should be taken that the left elbow is as below the right knee as possible so that the elbow may not be unduly strained. The right arm is taken behind the back, and the right hand catches hold of the left wrist. (This step is similar to step (2) of Section B. (See illustration).
3. Turn the head to the right so that the chin is over the right shoulder. keep the spine straight to the extent possible.
4. Take a few regulated breaths, but there should be no retention of breath. Care should be taken that there is no undue strain.
5. While inhaling, regain the position in step (1).
6. Repeat on the other side.

MARICASANA - Section F Technique:

1. Take the position as in step (2) of Section C.
2. Twist the trunk and move the hands as in step (2) of Section B.
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3. 3, 4, 5, 6 are the same as steps 3, 4, 5, and 6 of Section B.

MARICASANA - Section G from YM2

Technique:
1. Sit on the ground with both legs, stretched in front. Take one leg, say the left, round the left shoulder and behind the back and place the left calf on the neck and left ankle over the right shoulder. The right leg is now bent at the knee and brought to the position described in step (1) of Section D. The order in which the legs are bent is important.
2. The arms are moved as in step (2) of Section D.
3. 3, 4, and 5 are the same as steps 3, 4, and 5 of Section D.


BHARADVAJASANA from YM2

Technique:
1. Sit on a piece of soft folded cloth, with one leg stretched straight in front, and the other leg folded back at the knee, so that the foot is close and by the side of the buttocks, the sole of the foot upturned, toes stretched and the back of the foot touching the cloth. The knees should be as close as possible. The foot of the leg, stretched in front, should be upright, to the ground and not inclined sideways. The body should be erect and the spinal column stretched-chin lock.
2. Bend the stretched leg (say the right) at the knees and bring the right heel very near the umbilicus. The right knee should touch the ground. Both the knees should be as near to each other as possible.
3. The right hand is taken round the back to catch hold of the toes of the right leg. The palm to touch the back of the foot.
4. The palm of the left hand is placed on the cloth below the right thigh. The hand should be stretched and not bent at the elbow. The left wrist should touch the outside of the thigh.
5. Twist trunk to face front. Turn the head, so that the chin is over the left shoulder.
6. Take deep inhalations and exhalations with holding in of breath and holding out of
breath. Both types of kumbhakam are necessary. The total rounds of deep breaths may be slowly increased as practice advances, from 12 to 48.
7. Repeat with the other leg.
Note: This is contra indicated to those who have had abdominal operation.



ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA - Section A. from YM2

Technique:
1. Sit erect, with both legs stretched in front.
2. Bend one leg, say the right, at the knees, and place the foot of the right leg on the left
thigh, so that the heel of the right foot is as near the naval as possible. The tendency of the stretched leg to twist to the left should be resisted. The foot of the left leg should be perpendicular to the ground. The knees should not be more than 12 inches apart.
3. Exhale slowly, and twist the trunk to the left, keeping the spine erect. Take the left hand behind the back so that the fingers of the left hand may catch hold of the right leg at the shin, just above the ankle.
4. Twist the head to the left so that the chin is above the left shoulder.
5. The right hand is stretched and the outside of the left foot is caught hold of by the
palm of the right hand. The fingers of the right hand should touch the sole of the left foot. In this position the shoulder blades and right arms will be in a straight line.
6. The eyes should gaze at the tip of the nose in the case of married people. In the case of those who are unmarried the gaze may be to the midpoint of the eyebrows.
7. Take deep breaths. Not more than three at the beginning stages. The number may be slowly increased to twelve as practice advances.
8. Repeat on the other side.
Note: It is important that the counter pose should be done soon after the above asana is completed. The counter pose BADDHA PADMASANA, will be described later.

ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA - Section B from YM2

Technique:
1. Sit upright, with both legs stretched in front. Bend one of the legs, say the right, at the knee and bring the heel below the seat. The outside of the knee and the thigh should touch the ground. Bend the left leg and place the left foot by the side of the right knee and to the right of it. The left foot will be firmly placed flat on the ground and left foreleg will be perpendicular to the ground.
2. While exhaling, twist the trunk to the left and bring the stretched right arms so that the armpit is above the left thigh and the left knee touches the outside of the right upper arms and fingers of the right hand catch hold of the left foot.
Note: It should be carefully noted that to avoid danger to the elbow of the right arm, the right elbow reaches a position below the left knee as low as possible. See the illustration and note the position carefully.
3. The left arm is taken round the back, so that fingers touch the right thigh. Care should be taken that the spine is kept erect.
4. Turn the head to the left so that the chin is near the left shoulder.
5. Take three deep breaths.
6. Repeat on the other side.
Note: The deep breaths should be taken without retention of breath and without strain to the lungs.
As a variation, to make the asana somewhat easier, the heel of the right leg instead of being placed below the seat, may be placed a bit to the left so that balancing is easier in the final position.
Benefits: This is of special benefit to those suffering from stomach complaints. This rapidly reduces the waistline.

Ekapada Sirsasana YM 

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

This has 14 vinyasas. It is the same as for pascimottanasana up to the 6th vinyasa. 
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.
After this, do recaka and slowly and carefully place the left foot on top of the right foot on top of the back of the neck. That is, the right heel should be by the left ear and the left heel should be by the right ear. 
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.

Yoga Nidrasana YM from 

This has 12 vinyasas. 
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 dvipada sirsasana, we joined the hands together in prayer and placed them next to the muladhara cakra. 
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.
In the 7th vinyasa, after doing only recaka, arrive at the asana sthiti. Then, one should do puraka kumbhaka and lie down. 
The 8th vinyasa is caturanga dandasana. The last four vinyasas for this asana are exactly the last four vinyasas for pascimottanasana.



PINCA MAYURASANA from YM2

Technique:
1. Kneel on the ground. Now place the forearms on the ground in front parallel to each other and about 12 inches apart. The elbows should be about 12 inches in front of the knees. The palms with fingers stretched and close together should be touching the ground. 2. Raise the head. Lift the knees slightly from the ground. Inhale deeply, hold the breath, jump and take the legs above, so that the body is balanced on the forearms. Spread the legs. The legs are bent backward so that the leg is in the form of a bow.
3. Cross the legs as in Padmasana. Take one or two deep breaths. There should be no retention of breath. The eyes should gaze at the midpoint of the eye brows.
4. Unlock the crossed legs, bend the legs and body backwards so that the feet touch the ground and the body forms an arch. Lift the elbows and stretch the arms.
5. From this position, by jumping, bring the legs over the head and place the feet so that they lie midway between the palms. Stretch the legs, bend the head so that the forehead may touch the knees.
6. While inhaling, life the trunk and arms and reach the standing posture.
This combines both the asana and its counter pose, as doing the counter pose immediately after the asana is very important.


Mayurasana YM 

This has 9 vinyasas. 
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.
In the other type of mayurasana, keep only one hand on the ground and balance the body on this hand as mentioned above. Ordinarily, most people cannot do this type. So it is alright to just do sampurna mayurasana. Study the picture carefully to learn how to place the hands.
This asana must be done before eating (on an empty stomach). Wait a minimum of four hours after eating before practising this asana.
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.
If we make it a habit to practise this asana every day for at least fifteen minutes, we will attain tremendous benefits. First, it will not allow unnecessary flesh or excessive impurities to remain in our body — it will expel them out. It will increase digestive power. It will protect us from every disease and keep these diseases from approaching. We can say that it is the death of all respiratory diseases, all paralytic diseases — all such dangerous diseases. No disease will approach the people who practise this asana.

One handed mayurasana, tricky but doable (with a shirt )

MAYURASANA from YM2

This asana has to be done on the bare ground. There should be no carpet or other spread on the ground.
Technique:
1. Stand upright with the legs together. Jump spread the legs apart so that there may be 12 inches between the feet. Lift the arms, interlace the fingers and turn the palms upwards. Stretch the body and the arms. Inhale.
2. While exhaling, lower the trunk by bending the body at the hips. Keep the arms stretched. When the hands are near the ground, the fingers are freed, the palms turned downwards and placed between the feet firmly on the ground, the finger pointing towards the back and the little fingers touching each other. The legs should be kept stretched and the knees should not be bent. The spine should be kept stretched and as straight as possible.
3. Inhale and lift the head.
4. Exhale, bend the head, spread, the elbows for the passage of the head and place the
head between the knees.
5. Inhale, lift the head and come back to the position in step (3)
6. Take a few deep breaths.
7. While inhaling, jump back with both feet, so that the navel may be above the
elbows, when the legs are stretched behind. The legs touch each other, stretched with the toes pointed and the back of the feet resting on the ground. The elbows are placed firmly on the either side of the navel, and the elbows kept as near to each other as possible.
8. Slowly inhale, the inhalation should be only to half the extent that was being done during the previous deep breathing, and move the body forward by about three inches, so that the body assumes the position of a horizontal plank. The legs are to be kept stretched, the knees together and the toes pointed. Head should be raised up.
Note: The final position prescribed above may not be possible in the beginning stages. The feet should be raised only about an inch in the beginning stages of practice, and the height lifted slowly increased as practice advances.
9. Breathe in and breathe out in a regulated manner but with no retention of breath.
10. While inhaling, lower the legs.
11. While inhaling, jump forward and bring the feet on either side of the palms and
while inhaling life the head to the position in step (3).
12. While exhaling, bend the head, widen the elbows and place the head between the knees.
13. While inhaling, life head and reach the position as in step (3).
14. Lift the trunk and with a jump bring the legs together and reach a position as at the
beginning of the asana.
In this asana, the stomach is compressed, and the lungs are also compressed, and it may appear that regulated breathing in this posture may not be possible. When Mayurasana has been mastered sufficiently to keep the body steadily horizontal for half a minute, the variation mentioned below-Padma Mayurasana can be done. This variation should not however be attempted unless by previous practice padmasana i.e., crossing of the legs can be done without the help of the hands in the Sarvangasana and Sirshasana positions. If at this stage, regulated breathing is practiced in Padma Mayurasana position, it becomes easy later to practice Pranayama even in the ordinary Mayurasana position. Care should however be taken to see that the lungs are not unduly strained. For maximum benefit Pranayama should be done for 5 minutes, when the body is held as a plank in the horizontal position. Proper practice of Pranayama is difficult, but becomes easy after practice.
Note: At least 4 hours should lapse after the last meal, before this asana is attempted. Benefits:
i. This prevents all diseases pertaining to the liver and spleen.
ii. This also cures diseases of the spleen and liver, but such treatment, in the case of those suffering from these diseases should be undertaken only under the personal guidance of a properly qualified teacher.
iii. This increases the powers of digestion.
This asana should not be done by those suffering from excessive fat, breathing trouble, blood pressure or kidney complaint. This asana should be done in moderation during summer.
Milk should form a regular article of diet while practicing this asana.



SALAMBA SARVANGASANA - SHOULDER STAND WITH SUPPORT from YM2

This asana tones up all the centres, nerves, organs, joints etc. and hence is called SARVANGASANA. The asana is of two kinds with support and without support, the former is dealt with below.
Technique:
1. Lie flat on the back, with legs stretched, knees close together and toes pointed. Raise the head and align the toes, knees and hand and return the head to the floor placing the chin on the chest. The arms lie stretched close by the side of the body with the palms touching the floor, fingers closed.
2. Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply with a rubbing sensation in the throat, through both nostrils three or four times.
3. Slowly exhale and raise both legs together. Bring the body to an upright position, the neck resting on the ground. Bend the elbows and bring the palms up to support the back on either side of the backbone, the palms being placed as near the shoulder blades as possible. The elbows should not spread out but be placed as close as possible, the distance between them will be about 12 inches.


NIRALAMBA SARVANGASANA - SHOULDER STAND WITHOUT SUPPORT from YM2

Technique:
1. Take three steps of Salamba Sarvangasana, so that the body is now resting on the back of the neck.
2. Reach the halasana position variation 2.
3. While inhaling, raise both the legs together, legs being kept together and stretched,
to an upright position, the arms still continuing to lie stretched behind the head.
4. Do deep breathing and try and balance the body so that the weight is supported by the shoulders. Try and lift the arms so that the palms rest on the thighs.
5. Take deep breaths.
Note: Start with 3 deep breaths. This number may slowly be increased by one round each week. Every care should be taken that there is no strain. The number of deep breaths can be increased to a maximum of 64.
6. Retrace the steps; the arms being taken to the position behind the head, the legs lowered to the Halasana positon, then raised to the upright position and get to the Sarvangasana with support position. The body is brought to the lying down position flat on the back, by a rolling movement as in the case of Salamba sarvangasana.
Note: This asana should not be attempted before mastering the Salamba Sarvangasana, halasana, ekapada Sarvangasana.

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.


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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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