Saturday, 30 August 2014

My Heraklion Workshop

Heraklion
Organised by Areti Karantzikou
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yoga-Martial-Arts-Esoteric-Studies-in-Heraklion/303464323012067?sk=info

Unfortunately no pictures of the actual workshop in Heraklion but some nice pictures of Areti's charming shala in Knossos.

Yep, that Knossos, Ancient Minoan Knossos, the Archeological site is just down the road from the shala












Friday, 29 August 2014

Ashtanga Backbends: Kapotasana, catching ankles without adjustments, also 25 breaths in Kapo


I was talking with Kristina this morning, we've been having an ongoing 'discussion' concerning adjustments and assists all summer, we were talking about Kapotasana and why I decline the assist.

My argument is that I reached my ankles on my own without adjustments so why receive them (adjustments/assists) now.

Currently I'm barely grabbing my toes (I injured back moving house a couple of months back) but taking ankles and heels from the air have come and gone over the years, it'll come back.... or not. Heels would be nice, gives you something to grab onto and draw yourself in nicely, would settle for heels again.

So I had a quick look on my youtube channel, I seem to remember posting "heels are back" videos and "heels are back again" videos. I thought it might be encouraging to anyone whose recently lost their best kapo and are beginning to doubt if it will ever come back.

This first video I notice I titled Ankles in Kapo from Vinyasa Krama. I remember this video. I tended to to think that you really needed to practice Kapo every day to get a deep kapo (or leg behind head postures say), a benefit of the Ashtanga approach of practicing the same series everyday. Here though I had been practising Vinyasa Karma all those extra backbend postures in the Bow and Mediative series that help to open up the back gradually.

This is one of my arguments against strong assists, if somebody is really struggling with kapo perhaps more preparatory postures might be the way to go rather than taking somebody into the posture groan by groan.

Perhaps both ways achieve the same results.



I thought the next one was interesting, this is the first time I caught my ankles but I noticed how rather than pushing up and walking my hands in, the real work seems to be done at my hips and top of thighs, look how they keep moving forward, must try that again tomorrow.

 I remember noticing how Manju's half drop back technique that Kristina also employs really works the top of the thighs, dropping back to the wall or just hang backs do a similar thing, I should work on those again perhaps.



The last one is another on getting ankles back after a period in the kapo wilderness this time I credit Richard Freeman.


and and

I forget why I mentioned Richard, ah, here's why, there's a link to a post that I'd forgotten about

Exploring something Richard Freeman seemed to be saying'ish at AYC. I've tended to bring my sitting bones together then nutate my hips as much as possible, tilting my hips upwards before dropping back. Richard talked about bringing the sitting bones together and the coccyx forward but then also attempting the draw the pubic bone back towards the coccyx, bringing all four points towards each other and drawing up mula bandha ...then bringing the sacrum through, so the whole unit comes forward and up...something like that, either way it made a surprising difference to my kapo today which has tended to be semi committed winter kapo's for the last couple of months. 

from this post Richard Freeman AYC backbending workshop transcribed, "It works I tell ya".

Just one more because I loved this project. This from the Rishi series project (supposedly Pattabhi Jois told David Williams that after Advanced series there was the Rishi series where you choose ten postures and stay for 25 or 50 breaths). I tried it out for all the asana in Primary and 2nd series and found it transformational. Lets hear it for long stay's with slow breathing! Something Krishnamacharya advocates in his Original Ashtanga from Yoga Makaranda (1934) back when he was teaching the young Pattabhi Jois.

More on the Rishi Series HERE http://grimmly2007.blogspot.gr/p/ashtanga-rishi-seriesapproach.html


And finally heres a link to my Kapotasana progression post

Kapotasana Progress videos Dec 08 to present (march 2012)

So I don't know, I've enjoyed adjustments I've received from Kristina and Niko, Manju too this summer but I'm still not sure how I feel about them in the abstract, perhaps we just over employ them, don't need them to give or receive them as much as we think we do, perhaps there are other ways, approaches and of course for the home ashtangi we need other options.

I'll be teaching the Vinyasa Krama backbend sequences, Bow and Meditative, on my workshop at StillPoint Yoga London next Sunday (still places) as well as Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga, pranayama etc. Because the breath is slow and kumbhaka's are employed, Krishnamacharya original Ashtanga is a slower practice, so don't be put off by the 'Ashtanga' label, beginner's very welcome.







Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Flexibility within the system of Ashtanga ; Pattabhi Jois' Yoga Mala

"As the bodily constitution of each human being is different, it is important to practice the asanas accordingly. The benefit to be had from one asana or pranayama can be derived just as well from another that better suits the structure of a person’s body. 


*

Those who don't know any better (usually from outside Ashtanga but unfortunately sometimes from within) tend to think of Ashtanga as a rigid, fixed, system, a one size fits all, a fit yourself to the sequence rather than the other way around kind of a deal. It's understandable I suppose, when you present a sequence as a sequence on a cheat sheet it does look kind of fixed and to be fair to the critics some do seem to teach it that way.

from Ashtangayogaleeds

It's not been my experience however,  but then I'm a home Ashtangi, I started out with David Swenson's Ashtanga book with several variations sitting alongside the state of an asana, hell there was even the occasional prop. And then at the back of David's book there were the short versions of practice, 10 minutes, 20, 45 minute variations of the sequence, this was my introduction to Ashtanga.

I continued to approach my practice this way, adapting, using variations, the occasional prop, to work towards a posture I was struggling with.

Now that Sharath has his own Ashtanga book out I hope people still buy his grandfather's Yoga Mala. If you're only going to buy one please still go with Yoga Mala  it's a beautiful book ( surely Pattabhi Jois had his teacher Krishnamacharya's Yoga Mala on the table next to his typewriter/notebook).

I keep stumbling upon sections I'd either missed or forgotten like these on the flexibility inherent in our practice.

From Shri K. Pattabhi Jois' Yoga Mala

Yoga Mala

Flexibility within Ashtanga 1.

"For people over fifty, it is enough to practice some of the easier and more useful asanas, as well as some of the pranayamas. Those who have been practicing for many years, however, can do any asana or pranayama without a problem. Older people who want to start yoga, however, will find practicing the following ten asanas sufficient [see Chapter 2 for detailed descriptions of individual asanas]: first, the Surya Namaskara (types 1 and 2); then Paschimattanasana; Sarvangasana; Halasana; Karnapidasana; Urdhva Padmasana; Pindasana; Matsyasana; Uttana Padasana; and Shirshasana. It is preferable to do these in concert with the vinyasas [breathing and movement systems], but if this is not possible, then practicing while focusing on rechaka and puraka will suffice. Shirshasana should be practiced for at least ten minutes, and the rest, for at least ten rechaka and puraka while in the state of the asana [see fn. 39]. By practicing in this way, the body and sense organs will become firm, the mind purified, longevity will be increased, and the body will be filled with fresh energy.
For the middle-aged, it is best to do all the asanas. The more they are practiced, the stronger the body becomes, and obstacles such as disease cease to be a problem. Pranayama is easier, the mind becomes more harmonious as the quality of sattva [purity] comes to predominate, and intellectual power and longevity are augmented.

For the very old, however, who find the practice of Sarvangasana, Halasana, Uttana Padasana, Shirshasana, and Padmasana too difficult, it is enough to practice mahabandha daily, as well as rechaka kumbhaka pranayama, puraka kumbhaka pranayama, samavritti vishamavritti pranayama, and sithali pranayama. These will help them live happier and longer lives, and will insulate them from disease.

The weak and the sick, too, should gradually practice suitable asanas and pranayamas, and over time, as their strength increases, their practices should also increase. In this way, the diseases of the sick and the strength-lessness of the weak will be eliminated, leaving them healthy and vigorous.
The aspirant that goes to a Guru will find that the Guru will tailor his practice to his particular bodily constitution." p28

...the more useful asana?

People over fifty.... focus on the more useful asana. Sometimes I think Krishnamachrya's personal practice (see previous post) is a distillation of of his original Ashtanga, of Vinyasa Krama, what is left if you strip it down to it's essentials.


But I don't see it as an age thing, not a case of taking it easy but more about the direction you wish to take you practice after a period. Do we keep working towards the next asana the next series or consider more the quality of the asana, the practice as a whole, not in the sense of one practice is better than another but rather the intention behind our practice. For me personally I've become more interested in the breath, slowing it, lengthening it including appropriate kumbhakas. I'm interested in more time for pranayama and meditation and put together that means cutting back on the asana within a practice. 

Online version
On distilling

"To be sure, Baldini’s laboratory was not a proper place for fabricating floral or herbal oils on a grand scale. It would have been hard to find sufficient quantities of fresh plants in Paris for that. But from time to time, when they could get cheap, fresh rosemary, sage, mint, or anise seeds at the market, or a shipment of valerian roots, caraway seeds, nutmegs, or dried clove blossoms had come in, then the alchemist in Baldini would stir, and he would bring out the large alembic, a copper distilling vessel, atop it a head for condensing liquids-a so-called moor’s head alembic, he proudly announced-which he had used forty years before for distilling lavender out on the open southern exposures of Liguria’s slopes and on the heights of the Luberon. And while Grenouille chopped up what was to be distilled, Baldini hectically bustled about heating a brick-lined hearth— because speed was the alpha and omega of this procedure-and placed on it a copper kettle, the bottom well covered with water. He threw in the minced plants, quickly closed off the double-walled moor’s head, and connected two hoses to allow water to pass in and out. This clever mechanism for cooling the water, he explained, was something he had added on later, since out in the field, of course, one had simply used bellowed air for cooling. And then he blew on the fire.
Slowly the kettle came to a boil. And after a while, the distillate started to flow out of the moor’s head’s third tap into a Florentine flask that Baldini had set below it-at first hesitantly, drop by drop, then in a threadlike stream. It looked rather unimpressive to begin with, like some thin, murky soup. Bit by bit, however-especially after the first flask had been replaced with a second and set aside to settle-the brew separated into two different liquids: below, the floral or herbal fluid; above, a thick floating layer of oil. If one carefully poured off the fluid-which had only the lightest aroma-through the lower spout of the Florentine flask, the pure oil was left behind-the essence, the heavily scented principle of the plant.
Grenouille was fascinated by the process. If ever anything in his life had kindled his enthusiasm— granted, not a visible enthusiasm but a hidden one, an excitement burning with a cold flame-then it was this procedure for using fire, water, steam, and a cunning apparatus to snatch the scented soul from matter". Patrick Süskind Perfume 


And then there's this. I posted it on fb and my Viniyoga friends kept saying this is Desikachar's Viniyoga. Of course, it all comes from the same source (Krishnamacharya) he was always one for adapting practice to the individual needs of the students. It was there in the early Mysore days and there still in Chennai right up until he passed away.

Flexibility within Ashtanga 2

"As the bodily constitution of each human being is different, it is important to practice the asanas accordingly. The benefit to be had from one asana or pranayama can be derived just as well from another that better suits the structure of a person’s body. Some asanas are not suitable for particular people and may be painful. A Guru will understand this and be able to explain it, so the practitioner of yoga must be certain to follow his guidance." p30  Pattabhi Jois Yoga Mala

In  my own practice at Kristina's shala in Rethymno I've been cutting back to half a series giving much more time for a longer slower breath. This morning it was half standing, half 2nd series (second half) and it still took over two hours. I need to strip it back even further, less asana to leave more time for pranayama. I'm starting to think a third of the practice...... split the standing postures over the week and Primary and Second series into three each, finishing too cut back.

That should bring it down to the ten to fifteen postures we find in Krishnamacharya personal practice, time to breathe, time for pranayama and meditation.

I'm reminded of the Rishi series (see this page). David Williams supposedly asked Pattabhi Jois what comes after Advanced series, The Rishi series said Guruji. You take ten postures and practice them fifty breaths each.

10 postures, a life saving practice?

Here's the video of Krishnamacharya's Life saving practice, his own personal practice along the lines of which he supposedly practiced for the five years up until his death.

I'd just downloaded the Super 8 app and was playing.

I'll be teaching this as my final Vinyasa Karma class in Rethymno tonight at 6pm



"Starting from the 50s more and more visitors came from the West to Krishnamacharya in Madras, to learm Yoga from him, the 'teacher of teachers'. Krishnamacharya developed for them a specific sequence that he named 'Life saving yoga session'. Yoga to extend life, the name did not fail to work. Krishnamacharya's idea was to use this sequence to lead Westerners to an unconfessional and undogmatic experience of the Divine, since their pluralistic culture would not permit an automatic access to religious matters.
The sequence, which was not taught anymore after Krishnamacharya's death and which was taught by his son TK shribayam to director Jan Schmidt-Garre after years of acquaintance during the filming of 'Der atmende Gott', is here disclosed in its original form.
Characteristic of the later Krishnamacharya and of the 'Life saving Yoga session' is the connection of postures, breathing and concentration in the sense of the orientation of the gaze and awareness of a focal point. Only when these elements form an organic connection can Yoga happen, according to Krishnamacharya

1. sit for 30-60 seconds with crossed legs in Padmasana. Concentration on Nasagra (point of the nose)

2. 16-24 Kapalabhati breaths (breath of fire, energeti inhale and exhale)

3. 12 breaths of ujjayi anuloma. Inhale: ujjayi, with slightly constricted throat, to drwa air into the lungs. Exhale: the hand forms a claw with thumb, ring- and little-fingers with which one nostril is alternately kept closed. Exhale very slowly through the open nostril, without ujjayi, beginning with the left

4. 3 breaths in matsyasana. Legs are closed in the lotus position

5. 3 breaths in bhujangasana. Start with open eyes and during the progression of movement, which start with the forehead, close the eyes. Concentration on Bhrumhadya (between the eyebrows)

6. 12 breaths in sarvangasana. The chin is closed in front of the straightened body. Hands close to the shoulderblades, concentration on Kanta (throat)

7. 12 breaths in sirsasana. Concentration on Nasagra (tip of the nose)

8. 3 breaths in halasana. Arms on the floor, hands clasped, palms towards the outside

9. 3 breaths in bhujangasana. Again start with open eyes and close them during the movement. Cncentration on Bhrumadhya (between the eyebrows)

10. 12 breaths in Maha-mudra (one-sided forward bend) six times on the left, then six times on the right. With the first inhale bring the arms over the head, with hands clasped, palms up. With the exhale get into the posture. Concentration on navel

11. 12 breaths in paschimottanasana, preparation and in maha mudra. The hands clasp the big toes, the back stays straight, neck and back form a lune. Concentration on the navel.

12. 30-60 Bastri breaths (rapid alternate breathing) in padmasana. The right hand builds a clasp as for anuloma ujjayi. Inhale and exhale through the left nostril, then change the grip and rapidly inhale and exhale through the right nostril. No ujjayi. end with an exhale from the left nostril and without pause move ot a long inhale in nadi shodan. Concentration on Nasagra

13. 12 breaths in nadi shodan (alternate breathing). Inhale very slowly from the half-closed left nostril, exchange grip ad after a short pause exhale very slowly through the half-closed right nostril. After a short pause inhale very slowly through the half-closed right nostril, change grip and after a short pause exhale through the half-clodes left nostril. No ujjayi. The left hand counts the breaths, with the thumb gliding over the twelve parts of the four fingers, from the third falanx of the little fingers in the direction towards outside to the point of the index finger. Concentration on Hrudaya (heart)

14. Prayer. Concentration on Hrudaya (heart)

In the coming book fom Shribashyam "How Yoga really was" this and similar sequences are explained in detail

*Thank you again to Chiara fro the translation from the German.

Here are some print out practice sheets.



See this post on pimping it up a little.


Ill be presenting a workshop on Krishnamacharya's Original Ashtanga as well as an intro to Vinyasa karma including the back bending sequences that give good prep for the Ashtanga second series backbends, pranayama, pratyahara etc at Stillpoint London Sunday 7th Sept. this will be my last workshop before moving to Japan.

Keeping Yoga clothes and Yoga Towels clean on a two moth retreat. Also taking care of your mat

I've been practicing at Kristina' shala (http://www.yogapractice.gr) for the last two months, down to my last couple of days.

Kristina said the nicest thing this morning, or asked me the nicest question anyway.....

How do you stop your clothes and towels from smelling when you sweat so much?

Especially nice as I've heard her tell people to wash their yoga towel, their mats etc., feared I might be next.

My towel back home, as bad here, two towels like this when I arrived in fact
The secret of my sucesss


Bucket soak, or rather bottom of the shower soak.

I just lay them out in the bottom of the shower with a good shake of Tide (hand wash) then take my shower and tread them for a bit. Eventually the water drains away and I fill it again, couple of times a day then finally a last rinse before hanging them up to dry in the room.

Seems to work.

I should turn comments back on for this post as I'm sure many of you have your own ways and means that work.

I know horrendous bathroom/shower but the cheapest deal in Rethymno



Good tip though, if you're going to go on retreat for a few months get new kit. I remember at Ramaswami month long TT in LA I brought my favourite, most comfortable, shorts and towels, thought they smelled nice and clean and fresh when I left but after a couple of days they started to pong a bit had togo  shop.

And you, what works........?

PS this from  Renaissance Yoga on keeping your yoga mat clean
http://www.renyoga.com/blog/how-to-clean-your-yoga-mat/

Or this from dailycupofyoga for my dear friend Michelle on breaking in a fancy new but slippery Manduka and taking care of it.
http://www.dailycupofyoga.com/2010/08/28/how-to-care-for-manduka-black-mat-pro/

...which includes this from manduka.com

To Break In: The surface texture of the Black Mat PRO improves with use. Our customers have found that the best way to “break in” their mat is to use it on a daily basis. Another trick is to sprinkle coarse sea salt over your mat, scrub it down with a sponge, and air dry in the sunshine [Never thought of this, but sounds good for a brand new mat].

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Updated: Ashtanga and the Body. Hatha and Raja yoga in Krishnamacharya

"Janu Sirsasana
This form follows the hatha yoga principles. Another form follows the raja yoga method. The practitioner should learn the difference". Krishnamacharya. Yoga Makaranda (1934)

This is a very personal post, I'm not making blanket statements or judgements here but perhaps it resonates with others, is there nodding or furious shaking of head (rhetorical question, comments still turned off while traveling).

 Context
"Hatha Yoga comes in for some criticism for its fixation on the physical body. This is truer of modern ãsana yoga than of classical Hatha. The Hatha yogi views the body as a multilayered system of which the physical is only the outer rung, inseparable from inner levels of prána, mind and consciousness. The Hatha yogi is not concerned with the physical in itself but only as a means to access the deeper levels of body and mind. Hatha Yoga is in fact more concerned with prãna than with the body, and looks at the body as a pränic or energy system, not as a mere physiological structure or set of biochemical reactions".
Mikel Burley. Hatha-Yoga Its Context, Theory and Practice

"....But are the two goals, kaivalya of the raja yogi and the positioning of prana in Brahmarandhra (a chakra) of the hatha yogi, the same? Well, one leads to kaivalya or total release and the snapping of the cycle of samsara, but what of the other? One is not sure if the Hatha yogi's goal will give total release from samsara. What do you think?" p193
Ramaswami. Yoga Beneath the Surface (with David Hurwitz).

*****

"Hatha Yoga comes in for some criticism for its fixation on the physical body. This is truer of modern ãsana yoga than of classical Hatha".

And what of my Ashtanga practice, is there a fixation on the body here, is it a danger, a temptation, a tendency...... something to watch out for?

I've been thinking of this recently in my asana practice. I'm so aware of my body during practice, of my sensations, sometimes it seems that in any given asana I'm aware of the movement of not only every joint but every sinew, tendon. I have an eye out for any warning signs of pain, "is it safe?" I focus on the breath, how can I breathe more effectively in this posture.... I look to the quality of the breath. I'm aware of the fluctuations of my will. I may not be moved to tears personally in kapotasana but I'm aware of my emotions, how I feel in an asana, the frustrations, anxieties I seek to let go of, the delight I choose to hold on to.

And now in the Shala I'm aware through an adjustments not only my own body but that of another, of the use of their body in their adjustment the weight of the adjustment, the skill, their breath as well as my own, there is a connection between the adjuster and adjusted.

OK, I exaggerate a little, perhaps it used to be like that when I was first working on asana or on new asana, these days I seek to keep my focus on the breath. I have felt though that in the shala I keep coming back to the body, to the asana as Kristina or Niko.... or Manju passes, tidy the asana up a little, and especially so in an adjustment.

Is this all a good thing, are we too much in the body, too much in the senses, is Ashtanga a sensual practice, is a 90-120 asana practice without paranayama and meditation a little much, is it unbalanced.

And after practice, how are we then, do we have a heightened spider-sense, are we more aware of our bodies outside of the shala, of those around us, of our emotions, our senses are we more or less sensual beings outside of the shala.

I remember writing here once how after a Vinyasa Krama practice I felt I walked with my gaze more down, more inward in the sense of less touched by the world around me, withdrawn.... perhaps too withdrawn, while after my Ashtanga practice I would somehow walk taller, shoulders back, head up gaze more outward to the world of experience.

What is the goal of practice, does one practice feed my samskaras another reduce them.

Does one practice, given my personal make up, lead me to be more rajistic another less so.

Does it make sense to say that Ashtanga might make one more rajistic and yet somebody else less so, that Vinyasa Krama could more readily make one person more satvic and yet another perhaps more tamistic (ie. send them to sleep).

I've been thinking of my practice a while back, before I moved the shala to another room. I was practising a form of Vinyasa Krama, Krishnamacharya's own practice as presented by his son  Sri. K. Sribhashyam (see this Link ).

The practice, after an offering began with a little pranayama, then there would be perhaps 8-12 asana and mudra with a mixture of shorter and longer stays most including a strong mental focal point. The practice tends to include sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and shirsasna (headstand) and end with more pranayama. The practice would take a little over an hour depending on the pranayama, I tended to follow it up with Japa meditation (thinking of presenting this in my last class here tomorrow).

Have been wondering if this practice was/is perhaps better for me.... personally, for my make up, my temperament, my personal samkaras.It will be nice to explore it again in my return to home practice next week.

The video below was an excuse to try out a new Super 8 app for iPhone and some of it's filters recommended by my friend Steve..

I struggle with the word 'spiritual' but I kind of get perhaps what somebody is trying to express when they use the word. Perhaps I'm more comfortable saying that after this practice I felt at my most satvic. The asana/mudra practice marries well with pranayama and meditation practice,  for me at least.

My Vinyasa Krama a little less so but that's perhaps because I tend to include more asana than necessary, I over balance it perhaps.

Ashtanga with it's 90-120 minutes of Asana.... you need a lot of free time in the morning to add another chunk of pranayama and a sit and then your all hot and sweaty on a soaking mat, I am at least. If I end up neglecting my pranayama and meditation practice after my asana practice (saving it for the evening even) then it's perhaps no wonder my practice feels unbalanced, that I'm not feeling that satvic.

No doubt that's why Manju Jois stresses the importance of pranayama and chanting following asana practice, arguing that the practice is incomplete without them.

The idea supposedly is that the asana gets rid of the rajas(agitation), the pranayama (lethargy) the tamas leaving you nice and satvic for your sit.

But it might be argued that the practice is supposed to be about the body, that's the hatha aspect that according to hathayogapradipka (HYP) leads to raja yoga.

I'm not convinced by hatha yoga, by HYP, I fns myself nodding when I read that quote from Ramaswami above, here it is again.

"....But are the two goals, kaivalya of the raja yogi and the positioning of prana in Brahmarandhra (a chakra) of the hatha yogi, the same? Well, one leads to kaivalya or total release and the snapping of the cycle of samsara, but what of the other? One is not sure if the Hatha yogi's goal will give total release from samsara. What do you think?" p193
Ramaswami. Yoga Beneath the Surface (with David Hurwitz).

I'll be presenting a workshop on Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga and and intro to Vinyasa Krama at Stillpoint yoga, London Bridge on 7th September
http://grimmly2007.blogspot.gr/2014/08/my-workshop-in-london-at-stillpoint.html

http://www.stillpointyogalondon.com

Here's Krishnamacharya on Hatha and Raja yoga, first up AG Mohan who studied with Krishnamacharya in the 70s and 80s followed by references to Hatha and Raja yoga in Krishnamacharya's first book Yoga Makaranda (1934).


*******

Appendix 1

AG Mohan on Krishnamacharya: Hatha and Raja Yoga

"In the West, Krishnamacharya is mostly known for his contribution to the revival of the more physically oriented disciplines and practices of hatha yoga.  Therefore, he is often referred to as “the father of modern yoga.”

The notion that Krishnamacharya practiced and taught yoga that was somehow “new” or “modern” is primarily due to the many distortions or misunderstandings about the link between the physical practices of hatha yoga and the meditational practices of raja yoga.   He was the conservator of the ancient teachings of raja yoga.

As a master of yoga and a great scholar, he practiced and linked the physical practices of hatha yoga with the mental states of samadhi described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.    Let us listen to the great master on what is yoga.

Krishnamacharya:  Yoga is an awareness, a type of knowing.  Yoga will end in awareness. Yoga is arresting the fluctuations of the mind as said in the Yoga  Sutras (of Patanjali): citta vritti nirodha.  When the mind is without any movement, maybe for a quarter of an hour, or even quarter of a minute, you will realize that yoga is of the nature of infinite awareness, infinite knowing.  There is no other object there.”

During my interview of Krishnamacharya in 1988, he continued to expand on his personal experience of this yogic state of samadhi.

This state of samadhi — the pinnacle of sustained mental focus and the goal of classical yoga — can be reached through pranayama.  Krishnamacharya used to say that pranayama is critical among the eight limbs of yoga.  The practice of pranayama is preceded by the practice of the mudras and the practice of asanas. "

There is only one yoga, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This is also known as raja yoga.  Hatha yoga, laya yoga, and mantra yoga each have four steps.   They involve the practice of some of the eight limbs of the Yoga Sutras, like the yamas and niyamas.  They merge into the sixth limb of yoga, dharana, which leads to samadhi. Krishnamacharya with his depth of knowledge and practice was clear about these connections.

In the 1930s, Krishnamacharya tried to resolve the prevailing confusions among the then-yoga luminaries. He later recalled:

“In 1933 through 1937, some people were talking about different varieties of yoga, like hatha yoga, raja yoga, and kundalini yoga.  Some said that the kriyas were the most important, and that that was (true) yoga.  I was in the yoga school in Mysore, under the patronage of the king.  I wrote letters to well-known yoga teachers like Paramahamsa Yogananda, Kuvalayananda, and Yogindra, saying that we should have a meeting and resolve such confusion.  Eventually, however, no meeting took place and nothing came out of the correspondence.”

AG Mohan Krishnamacharya.net

*******

Appendix 2

Hatha and Raja Yoga Mention By Krishnamacharya in Yoga Makaranda 


There are many types of this yoga — 1. hatha yoga, 2. mantra yoga, 3. laya yoga, 4. raja yoga.

Hatha yoga focusses mainly on descriptions of the methods for doing asanas.

Raja yoga teaches the means to improve the skills and talents of the mind through the processes of dharana and dhyana. It also explains how to bring the eleven indriyas under control and stop their activities in the third eye (the eye of wisdom), the ajn ̃a cakra, or the thousand-petalled lotus position (that is turn their attention inward and not outward) and describes how to see the jivatma, the paramatma and all the states of the universe. But even here it is mentioned that to clean the nadis it is necessary to follow the pranayama kramas. p21

Asana
11. Janusirsasana (Figure 4.33, 4.34)
This form follows the hatha yoga principles. Another form follows the raja yoga method. The practitioner should learn the difference. First, take either leg and extend it straight out in front. Keep the heel pressed firmly on the floor with the toes pointing upward. That is, the leg should not lean to either side. The base (back) of the knee should be pressed against the ground. Fold the other leg and place the heel against the genitals, with the area above the knee (the thigh) placed straight against the hip. That is, arrange the straight leg which has been extended in front and the folded leg so that together they form an “L”. Up to this point, there is no difference between the practice of the hatha yogi and the raja yogi.
For the hatha yoga practitioner, the heel of the bent leg should be pressed firmly between the rectum and the scrotum. Tightly clasp the extended foot with both hands, raise the head and do puraka kumbhaka. Remain in this position for some time and then, doing recaka, lower the head and place the face onto the knee of the outstretched leg. While doing this, do not pull the breath in. It may be exhaled. After this, raise the head and do puraka. Repeat this on the other side following the rules mentioned above.
The raja yogi should place the back of the sole of the folded leg between the scrotum and the genitals. Now practise following the other rules described above for the hatha yogis. There are 22 vinyasas for janusirsasana. Please note carefully that all parts of the outstretched leg and the folded leg should touch the floor. 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.
While practising this asana, however much the stomach is pulled in, there will be that much increase in the benefits received. While practising this, after exhaling the breath, hold the breath firmly. Without worrying about why this is so difficult, pull in the stomach beginning with the navel, keep the attention focussed on all the nadis in and near the rectal and the genital areas and pull these upwards — if you do the asana in this way, not only will all urinary diseases, diabetes and such diseases disappear, but wet dreams will stop, the viryam will thicken and the entire body will become strong.
Whoever is unable to pull in the nadis or the stomach may ignore just those instructions and follow the instructions mentioned earlier to the extent possible. Keep the nadis in and near the rectal and genital areas pulled up, the stomach pulled in and hold the prana vayu steady. Anybody with the power to practise this will very soon be free of disease and will get virya balam. Leaving this aside, if you follow the rules according to your capability, you will gradually attain the benefits mentioned below. 


Dhauti Kriya's

Several are referred to as either Raja or Hatha yoga p38-51

Mudras


5. Mulabandha Mudra: With the left heel, firmly press the kandasthana which is between the rectum and the genitals and pull the heel in tightly in order to close the anus. Pull in the stomach firmly and press it against the bones in the back (the spine). Bring in the right heel and place it on top of the genitals. This is in hatha yoga.


7. Mahadeva Mudra: Sit in mula bandha mudra and do kumbhaka in uddiyana bandha.
Benefit: This will increase the jathara agni and you will get the animadi guna siddhi — one of the eight siddhis which is the quality of becoming as minute as an atom. This belongs to raja yoga. 

 8. Khecari  Mudra: After first learning the yoga marmas with the help of a satguru who is still practising this, cut 1/12 of one angula measure (width of one hair) of the thin seed of skin at the bottom of the tongue with a sharp knife. Apply a well-powdered paste of sainthava lavanam salt (rock salt) on the area of the cut. Rub cow’s butter on both sides of the tongue, and holding the tip of the tongue with a small iron tong, pull the tongue out carefully, little by little. Repeat this (the pulling) every day. Once a week, as mentioned above, cut the seed of flesh at the base of the tongue very carefully. Practise this for three years. The tongue will lengthen and will easily be able to touch the middle of the eyebrows. After it lengthens this much, fold it inside the mouth, keep it in the cavity which is alongside the base of the inner tongue and fix the gaze on the mid-brow.
Benefit: Hunger and thirst subside without loss of body strength and with- out allowing room in the body for any disease. If practised daily, the body develops a lustre in a few days and one quickly reaches the state of samadhi and drinks the divine nectar. This belongs to hatha yoga.


9. Viparita Karani Mudra: Keeping the head on the ground, lift the legs up and hold the entire body straight without bending or curving the body in any direction. This is raja yoga.
Benefit: Activates the surya nadi that is in the navel so that it is present in the upper part, and the chandra nadi which is beneath the tongue so that it occupies the lower part; it overcomes birth and death. Even during the pralaya, the body will remain steady. 

11.(a):Vajroli Mudra Form 1: Using both hands, raise the body placing the entire body weight on the hands without allowing the head to touch the ground. Keeping the head this way, hold the body as in viparita karani mudra and do kumbhaka. This is raja yoga.


(b) Vajroli Mudra: Form 2: Take a 12 angula long thin glass pipette or lead pipe and through the genital opening insert it and remove it daily, increasing the amount of insertion by one angula each day. After you are able to practise inserting the pipe for a length of twelve angulas, draw in the outside air through such an opening in the genitals. After practising this, eventually draw in milk and then water and then push them out of the body. This is hatha yoga.

15. Sambhavi Mudra: Due to the strength of the traataka abhyasa mentioned in the shatkriyas, after the eyes have teared profusely, fix the gaze on the mid-brow.
Benefit: This gives rise to ekagrata citta and gives dhyana siddhi. This is raja yoga.

16. Aswini Mudra: Repeatedly close and open the anal opening many times.
Benefit: Cures diseases of the rectum, will render physical strength and sharpness of the intellect, awakens the power of kundalini and conquers untimely death. This is raja yoga.

17. Pasini Mudra: Take the two legs and place them behind the neck. Extend the arms, and with the support of the outstretched hands placed on the ground, raise the body.
Benefit: Kundalini being kindled nourishes the body. This is hatha yoga.

18. Kaka Mudra: Hold the mouth like a crow’s beak and inhale and pull
in the outside air into the stomach.
Benefit: All diseases will be eliminated and you will have a long life like a

crow. This is hatha yoga.

19. Mathangini Mudra: Stand in water up to the neck. Through the nostrils, draw in water and spit it out through the mouth. Then take in water through the mouth and expel it out through the nose. This is raja yoga.
Benefit: Practise this every day many times in the same place as described above. You will become strong like an elephant, you will not get any diseases and will conquer untimely death.

20. Bhujangini Mudra: Stay in bhujangasana, stretch the neck out in front and according to vata sara krama, pull in the outside air and do puraka kumbhaka.

Benefit: This will remove diseases like indigestion, agni mandam (low agni), stop stomach pain and leave you happy. This is raja yoga.


UPDATE

 And this from  SRi K. Pattabhi Jois' Yoga Mala
Notice how for "middle aged he mentions that doing all the asana is a satvic practice, interesting.

But best of all, for me at 51, I get to choose the most useful asana. 


"For people over fifty, it is enough to practice some of the easier and more useful asanas, as well as some of the pranayamas. Those who have been practicing for many years, however, can do any asana or pranayama without a problem. Older people who want to start yoga, however, will find practicing the following ten asanas sufficient [see Chapter 2 for detailed descriptions of individual asanas]: first, the Surya Namaskara (types 1 and 2); then Paschimattanasana; Sarvangasana; Halasana; Karnapidasana; Urdhva Padmasana; Pindasana; Matsyasana; Uttana Padasana; and Shirshasana. It is preferable to do these in concert with the vinyasas [breathing and movement systems], but if this is not possible, then practicing while focusing on rechaka and puraka will suffice. Shirshasana should be practiced for at least ten minutes, and the rest, for at least ten rechaka and puraka while in the state of the asana [see fn. 39]. By practicing in this way, the body and sense organs will become firm, the mind purified, longevity will be increased, and the body will be filled with fresh energy.

For the middle-aged, it is best to do all the asanas. The more they are practiced, the stronger the body becomes, and obstacles such as disease cease to be a problem. Pranayama is easier, the mind becomes more harmonious as the quality of sattva [purity] comes to predominate, and intellectual power and longevity are augmented".

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Yoga Philosophy Reading List


Last day of Manju's TT. After practice we were talking over coffee and a friend mentioned that we didn't get to ask so many questions this year, that she had wanted to ask Manju for any recommendations for yoga philosophy, from the Sankara side of things especially.

I remembered Ramaswami had a few pages of recommended yoga philosophy texts In his first book although Not necessarily related to Sankara) Yoga for the Three stages of life, of course he does, everything is in that book.
Excellent overview

Below then are mostly his recommendations with my hyperlinks for either Amazon or free online pdf's. I've also added some of the texts from my free Download page that sits at the top of the blog and an old post of mine on Krishnamacharya' Bibliography from Yoga Makaranda.

I remember somebody getting over excited when they noticed Krishnamacharya didn't mention Yoga Korunta, in that bibliography, have no fear he mentions the text in his second book Yogasangalu that we've ( read Satya Murthey) translated on/for this blog.

"I did not attempt a detailed review of all ancient yoga treatises since it will make this book very long and perhaps cause boredom to the readers.  Please forgive.  This writing is mainly based on the following texts:
Patanjalayogasutra
Hathayogapradipika
Rajayogaratnakara
Yogakuranti
Upanishads related to yoga
Learning’s from my Guru and self-experience"
Krishnamacharya Yogasanagalu 1941

Actually it's interesting that he mentioned it for that book as according to Eddie Sterne in Yoga Mala Korunta, means 'groups' and in Yogasanagalu Krishnamacharya presents a table of asana divided into three groups, Primary, Middle and Proficient. The first two groups are very close to what we practice Today in Ashtanga Primary and Intermediate series. Are these perhaps the original groups from the mythical/legendary Korunta text complete with Vinyasa count and kumbhaka indications?

"Guruji has often spoken about a text called the Yoga Korunta, an ancient manuscript on ashtanga yoga, which had been the basis of the practical lessons on yoga taught to him by Krishnamacharya. Attributed to the sage Vamana, it was one of the many texts taught orally to Krishnamacharya, which he learned by heart during the seven and a half years he spent living with his teacher, Rama Mohan Brahmachari. Korunta means “groups,” and the text was said to contain lists of many different groupings of asanas, as well as highly original teachings on vinyasa, drishti, bandhas, mudras, and philosophy". Eddie Stern (forward to Pattabhi Jois' Yoga mall).



But to the reading List, in as good an order as any other.

First my other Desert Island choice, Aranya's Commentary on the Yoga Sutras. The man actually lived this rather than just writing about it having spent most of his life in meditation and or seclusion.

Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali: Containing His Yoga Aphorisms with Vyasa's Commentary in Sanskrit and a Translation with Annotations Including Many Suggestions for the Practice of Yoga 
by Swami Hariharananda Aranya


A friend was asking about the Sankara (or possibly his students) Commentary

Sankara on the Yoga Sutras (A Full Translation of the Newly Discovered Text) 
by Trevor Leggett 


The Gita of course, I have a soft spot for the music of Mascaro version (slim volume too), he was a Jesuit priest I believe and it shows but there are many versions out there, several free online. check out my post on the Gita as it was (the argument goes that basically pretty much everything after the third chapter was added later)

The Gita Code, The Gita as it was

The Bhagavad Gita (Penguin Classics) Paperback 
by Anonymous (Author), Juan Mascaro (Translator)



For a highly readable Sankara treatment of the Gita

Realization of the Supreme Self: The Bhagavad Gita Yoga-s Paperback – January 1, 2002
by Trevor Leggett




Svatmarama's Hathayogapradipka (HYP)
with Brahmananda commentary perhaps)

Some free pdf version's out there of HYP
Free download HERE

Siva Samhita (SS)

Free download Here

Geranda samhita (GS
Free Download here

Keep an eye out for the out of print
Theos Bernard's Hatha Yoga,worth getting hold of if you can find it for a good price



This was pretty much his PHD thesis  I believe, working through his own practice of the hathayogapradipka with his teacher/guru. He includes substantial notes that compare large sections of HYP with GS and SS, nice mudra section.

Yoga Rahasya Nathamuni/Krishnamacharya

Yoga Yajnavalkya, AG Mohan's version



Yoga Vasistha

I like this one in two volumes, you can read a short section each day

The Supreme Yoga: A New Translation Of The Yoga Vasistha (2 volume)



Yoga Upanishads
Especially Isa, Svetasvatara, Chandogya, Sandilya.

Free Download of yoga Upanishads here

*See the old post I've added at the end of this post which has hype links to free pdf's of the Yoga Upanishads.

Other texts
 Dhyanabindu Upanishad
Advayatarka Upanishad
Svetasvatara Upanishad
Garbha Upanishad

Yoga Kuran-tam
Vrddha Satapatam
Tejabindu Upanishad
Geranda Samahita
yoga Taravali
Yogasira Upanishad
Advitananda Upanishad
Trisikhibrahmana Upanishad
Siva Samhita
Brahmavidya Upanishad
Ygasikha Upanishad
Yogakundalini Upanishad
Nadabindu upanishad
Darsana Upanishad
Amrtabindu Upanishad
Yogacudamanya Upanishad
Yogatattva Upanishad
Sambhu Rahasya
Yoga Rahasya
Suta Samhita
Yoga Yajnavalkya
Yoga vashitha

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

And from my free Download page at the top of the blog

Free Downloads

Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda

Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranada Part II

----------------------------------------------

Below is a post I put up a while back on the bibliography in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda

from Yogacarya Krishnamacharya - The Purnacarya. Edited by Mala Srivatsan

Unfortunately long out of print
NB: Italics in brackets are my explanatory notes




"Krishnamacharya went searching for the ashram of Rama Mohana Brahmacari. In a cave, a very tall hermit with a long beard, wearing wooden shoes stood at the entrance. It was evident to Krishnamacharya that this was his guru. He prostrated before him, gave his name and asked to be his disciple. Krishnamacharya was questioned in Hindi on the reason for his visit. After he expressed his desire to learn yoga he was called in. He met his guru's wife and three children. he was given fruits called Ankula to eat and the escorts who accompanied him were dismissed with a cup of tea.

Krishnamacharya's first instruction from his guru was, to take a bath and perform acamana. The first precept of pranayama was then taught. For eight days, the master said he would not teach him anything else and that Krishnamacharya should eat only fruits.

Thereafter Krishnamacharya became a part of the Rama Brahmacari's family who belonged to the Kasyapa gotta (family lineage). His daily food was chapathu (Indian bread), halwa ( a paste of vegetable or fruits sweetened along with ghee and tea). His period of gurukulam (stay with the guru ) in Tibet lasted for seven and a half years. Rama Mohana Brahmacari made him memorise the entire Yoga Kurantam in the Gurkha language. The various stages of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra were dealt with in that book. Various kinds of of yoga practises were also described with great clarity. Only with the help of Yoga Kurantam' could he understand the inner meanings and science of the Yoga Sutra. The first three years he was made to memorise the Yoga texts in the form of adhyayanam ( to memorise and recite correctly, with proper accents). His focus was in the study of the Yoga Sutra, Vyasa Bhasya and the Samkhya Darsana. In the next three years he practiced yogabhyasa and for the next one and a half years he studied the siksana krama (planning of practices based on the stage of life of an individualand the cikitsa krama (therapeutic approach).

During his seven and a half year stay with his guru, Krishnamacharya learnt all aspects of yoga practice, therapy and philosophy. His capacity to learn, his previous education and his discipline made him an ideal student.

Having spent seven and a half years with his guru he would happily have spent the rest of his life learning and serving him but Rama Mohana Brahmacari then told him to go back to society, lead the life of a married man and spread the message of Yoga. Following his guru's words he returned from Tibet in 1922"

Yogacarya Krishnamacharya - The Purnacarya. Edited by Mala Srivatsan p26-28

-----------------------------------------------

from Yoga Makaranda T. Krishnamacharya
"This text contains the essential concepts from many texts of antiquity listed below.
I have studied the texts listed below under the blessing of a great teacher and have explained the truths contained in them that I have personally experienced. I request that the Lord of the auspicious Karnataka throne, the great Lord and Emperor, the fourth Sri Krishna Rajendra, accept this work and allow my
humble self to fulfil my endeavor and bless me.
More than this, I have nothing to say in this preface.

Bibliography
1. Rajayoga Ratnakaram
2. Hathayoga Pradipika
3. Yoga Saravalli
4. Yoga Balaprathipikai
5. Ravana Nadi (Nadi Pariksa of Ravana) 6. Bhairava Kalpam
7. Sri Tattvanidhi
8. Yoga Ratnakarandam
9. Mano Narayaneeyam
10. Rudrayameelam (Rudrayamalam)
11. Brahmayameelam
12. Atharvana Rahasyam
13. Patanjala Yogadarshanam
14. Kapilasutram
15. Yogayajnavalkyam
16. Gheranda Samhita
17. Narada Pancharatra Samhita
18. Satvata Samhita
19. Siva Samhita
20. Dhyana Bindu Upanishad
21. Chandilya Upanishad
22. Yoga Shika Upanishad
23. Yoga Kundalya Upanishad
24. Ahir Buddhniya Samhita
25. Nada Bindu Upanishad
26. Amrita Bindu Upanishad
27. Garbha Upanishad


Thirty Minor Upanishads

tr. by K. Narayanasvami Aiyar

[1914]



--------------------------------

from Yogasanagaly T. Krishnamacharya
I did not attempt a detailed review of all ancient yoga treatises since it will make this book very long and perhaps cause boredom to the readers.  Please forgive.  This writing is mainly based on the following texts:
Patanjalayogasutra
Hathayogapradipika
Rajayogaratnakara
Yogakuranti
Upanishads related to yoga
Learning’s from my Guru and self-experience

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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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