After going on and on about the breath yet again and how I seem to be practicing less and less asana these days on account of breathing more slowly, kumbhaka, longer stays... pranayama, sitting.... M. asked me, why then are there so MANY asana.
Why are there so MANY asana?
Perhaps because there are just so many birds and beasts of the earth to name them after, so many rishi/sages to honour and be reminded of.
We choose our asana just as we choose our gods, our teachers.
Practicing asana should be an encounter, a meeting, a coming together
It's not or shouldn't be a quick
"hi howyadoin, howsitgoin', seeyaaround"
"How great to see you again, lets have coffee, lunch,...dinner, of course I have time, I'll make time".
A relationship, a correspondence rather than an a quick update and nodding acquaintance
Vajrasana, thunderbolt.... 'sacrifice post'..... sacrifice.... spend time here, laghu vajrasana, suptavajrasana, bharadvajrasana...... "know me".
"I'm listening... take your time, I'm in no hurry, nowhere better to be".
Krishnamacharya had groups of asana, and way back in Mysore he seems to have taught them often in subroutines that formed sequences perhaps but not completely fixed, never it seems as a series.
We have how Krishnamacharya taught asana but also perhaps how he himself practiced asana....
Asana for health and fitness with the faint hope perhaps that some might look for more in their asana just as he seems to have done.
He talked of long stays, fifteen minutes at least in an asana, fifteen minutes is a start, it's an encounter, we can listen to each other, learn from one another.... asana too grow, adapt, Become.
In the kumbhaka, the breath retention Krishnamacharya seemed to believe that one might know god, see god or seek for him there at least.
And if not looking for god, he suggested we might find love there, learn how to love there...
Same thing perhaps.
....and then the fixed sequence came, pedagogic requirement. Less and less breaths and taken quick, ever quicker rather than long and slow. Kumbhaka was the first to go, next came the variations, less of them and no repetitions either, gone the relaxed breaking of the ice, the gentle getting to one another in favour of a clumsy, fumbling, a lets get down to business
An imperfect enjoyment.
It's a phase of course, the asana aren't going anywhere, they always were - waiting, all 84,000,000+, never lost, not a single one..... just unfound.
I don't need to know every one - just you.
Our mats are clearings, we can encounter otherness there if we take the time and with apologies to Ricour, perhaps...
shatter reality and reinterpret each other anew.
Did Series kill asana, I suspect it only puts them to sleep*
*In his book Yoga Mala Pattabhi Jois, as did Krishnamacharya before him, suggested we inhale and exhale as much possible and practice however many asana as we have time for, just include the final three. If we are generous in our inhalations and exhalations, it may mean we only have time for a handful of asana, half a series, less than half, Krishnamacharya would no doubt approve as might Sage Marichi....
NOTE: This post should not suggest IN ANY WAY that I support those who criticise anyone coming at/to their practice in any other way, smugness has no place in yoga, what seems appropriate to me now may be exactly that.
Asana as gesture from The Yoga Podcast Episode 5 with David Garrigues: The Devotional Side Of Yoga - Transcript
and from my interview with Claudia, Asana as Mudra
Claudia Azula Altucher: When you say I’ll make the posture a bit more of a Mudra, what do you mean?
Anthony Hall: There’s something strange about Krishnamacharya’s instructions in his first book which he wrote in Mysore in 1934, the same time he was teaching. It is almost as if he’s treating a posture in Mudra. In Mudra, banners are engaged; usually the exhalation could be longer, maybe twice as long. Usually in Ashtanga, there is the same length of inhalation as exhalation. In the Mudra, the exhalation can be twice as long as that. There would be usually, say a Kumbhaka in a Mudra. Bandhas will be engaged and that will be a strong focal point, negative focal point, and concentration. When you look at the Asana instructions of Krishnamacharya, it seems like almost every posture, he seems to be treating them almost as Mudras. So in Bharadvajrasana [photo of Anthony below], which is a second series posture. One knee is bent back. The other leg is in half lotus, the other foot is in half lotus. You reach around and hold on to that foot in half lotus with the arms with that foot in half lotus. Then, the other hand goes under the knee.
It’s a deep twist. You look over say the right shoulder and that's where the twist is.
Claudia Azula Altucher: Right.
Anthony Hall: Krishnamacharya would have you look the other way. You would be looking towards the front which seems to allow more space in the chest and allow you to breath. In that posture with the head forward, you can really engage in the jalandhara bandha and chin can come down. You are able to do a Kumbhaka and he will tell you to save 12 breaths in this posture or he will suggest