This post is a follow on or continuation of my previous post
Did Pattabhi Jois practice some or all of the Series he created and if so for how long?
Sometime after writing the above post I decided to add an appendix relating to Pattabhi Jois' early photoshoot that resulted in the photo's that were included in Yoga Mala. Pattabhi Jois also seems to have had some advanced/proficient asana photo's taken at or around the same time.
His Visvamitrasana caught my eye
|Pattabhi Jois' Visvamitrasana (1940s?)|
We have two dates for Pattabhi Jois' development of the Ashtanga syllabus, apparently based on Krishnamacharya's asana group table ( primary, Middle and Proficient asana) and in response to the request for a four year yoga syllabus. 1939 has been given as one date but this may well have been when Pattabhi Jois entered the Sanskrit college as an advanced student. 1947 is the other date given for when Pattabhi Jois started to teach the four year course, this from his life long friend T. S. Krishnamurthyas quoted in Guruji.
Pattabhi Jois' Visvamitrasana does not look very comfortable here, it's certainly not as proficient as many of the other asana photos he had taken, it's not suggestive of daily or regular practice of this asana.
Here is my own photo of visvamitrasana from around the time I first attempted it, pretty similar and suggesting to me that Pattabhi Jois had not been practicing the asana that often or that regularly either, when his photo was taken in the 1940s
Iyengar's is a little more accomplished in this photo taken for his book Light on Yoga,
But Iyengar's Visvamitrasana was looking much more.... disciplined a few years earlier in the 1938 movie, around the time he had been giving asana demonstrations for Krishnamacharya. Visvamitrasana was an asana in Krishnamacharya's proficient asana table, he gives the states of the asana as vinyasa's 7, 8 and 9
|Visvamitrasana vinyasa 7|
|Visvamitrasana vinyasa 8|
|Visvamitrasana vinyasa 9|
The other conclusion perhaps is that the syllabus was just that, a teaching tool and Pattabhi jois himself continued to practice asana in a more flexible approach in accordance with the methodology of his teacher Krishnamacharya. These proficient asana were always considered demonstration postures and perhaps did not form a regular part of Pattabhi Jois' own practice.
|Vasisthasana, first asana of Advanced A (later 3rd series)|
Here are more recent presentations of Visvamitrasana from Jessica Walden and Andrew Hilam ( the latter at Jois Yoga) who have been working on the posture almost daily following current Ashtanga methodology
|The iconic David Swenson shot|
Sharath from the 1999 demonstration of Advanced A
This post is about Advanced series but these days I tend to feel that some slow Primary or Middle group asana in half a series or not seems plenty. I looked at Advanced A again for this and the previous post and wondered how many of the postures in the Advanced series or proficient group I could conceive of staying in for a significant number of slow breaths (See the Ashtanga Rishi series of posts), very few. As both Krishnamacharya Pattabhi Jois indicated, the so called Advanced postures are more for demonstration and perhaps a distraction.
On double checking that Visvamitrasana was indeed on the 1973 syllabus given to Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams when they first practiced with Pattabhi Jois ( it is) I noticed, for the first time I think, that there was no Vinyasa count on the syllabus for Advanced A and B although it is there for Primary and Intermediate, how curious.
It may be that Pattabhi Jois typed the list out for Nancy and David and the count as far as Intermediate, reflected the stage they were at in the practice at the time but then why not just type out those two series. It seems more likely that this was a copy of the original syllabus, thus the division into years and the reading list but if so why was the vinyasa count not included on the original syllabus?
|LINK to post with full syllabus|
Here is the beginning of proficient table of asana from Krishnamacharya's original table of asana divided into three groups (primary, middle, proficient) published in Yogasanagalu in 1941 (Mysore). Note the vinyasa count and that Krishnamacharya gives the stats of the asana as vinyasas 7,8,9 and 13,14,15 (see the movie screenshots of BKS Iyengar above).
|LINK to full table|
|Original table in Kannada language|
Here is BKS Iyengar in the 1938 movie with Krishnamacharya and his family. Iyengar demonstrates Visvamitrasana 7:00 minutes into the movie