Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Did Krishnamacharya teach arm balances? plus arm balances by BKS Iyengar, Krishnamacharya's wife, Pattabhi Jois and Jessica Walden


My friend Joelle's is offering an arm balancing workshop in Maidenhead (where I was living before moving to Japan), 20-40 minutes by train from London Paddington, 5 minutes walk from the station.

Joelle's teacher is David Garrigues, she knows her stuff.

I went off arm balances for a time, however, they can be interesting in that while they may seem to be all about the fancy stuff they actually allow you to move through your regular practice more subtly, a better sense of your body in space. Moving efficiently to and from a point of balance can allow us to employ less effort in our practice (after all, subtle implies cleverly, without brute force), they are all about getting the physics right. To practice them safely arm balances demand mental focus, if your head is all over the place throw one in early on in your practice and you may, ironically, feel more.... grounded. I rarely practice intermediate advanced series arm balances any more but having spent time with them in the past my practice requires less effort and is perhaps more efficient, probably safer too in that they require you to think about your hand placement, your wrists, shoulders, back... making for a less gung ho jump back and through.

Joelle https://www.facebook.com/NelumboYoga/?ref=br_rs

Wish I could be there, details of the workshop can be found here



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Did Krishnamacharya teach arm balances?

Seeing Joelle's workshop got me thinking about Krishnamacharya and arm balances, he used to teach them of course and not just in the early days, here he is with his son Desikachar, at a demonstration perhaps.




and he practiced them himself

19 Bhujapidasana







instruction from Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (Mysore 1938)


"This has 15 vinyasas. Vinyasas 1 through 6 are like pascimottanasana. With- out allowing the feet to touch the floor, jump very carefully from the 6th vinyasa to the 7th vinyasa and hug the shoulders with the legs as shown in the picture. In the 8th and 9th vinyasas, take the legs back in between the shoulders, keeping them centred, and remain in this position using the strength of the shoulders. The hands must not move from the place where they are initially placed. The 7th, 8th and 9th vinyasas must be done only in recaka. While taking the legs towards the back in the 11th vinyasa, make sure that they do not touch the ground. The other vinyasas are like those for pascimottanasana.
Benefit: Not only does it give extraordinary strength to the shoulders, it removes various diseases of the heart and the brain. It maintains proper blood circulation in the neck and creates an easy and clear path for the susumna nadi.

If women practise primarily this asana doing times of menstruation, the dis- turbances and problems related to menstruation will disappear. This is a definite and easy way to obtain relief from problems of the stomach".


26. PINCA MAYURASANA

from Yoga Makaranda Part II

"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."


41 Mayurasana


from Yoga Makaranda part I 

"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 min- imum 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."



Krishnamacharya also taught arm balances to his wife




and of course to his student Iyengar, here's BKS Iyengar in the 193mostotage.















BKS Iyengar, still teaching arm balances in 1977



Mayurasana, considered by Krishnamacharya to be one of the most important asana, one we should perhaps practice everyday.



Iyengar's jump to lotus
I couldn't resist trying to learn it....



More of Krishnamacharya from the same 1938 footage

Krishnamacharya

Sirsasana, rather than being a headstand is actually an arm balance, most if not all our weight should be on our arms.

Krishnamacharya, sirsasana variation, all the headstand variations we see in the 1938 film footage Krishnamacharya was still teaching to his students like Ramaswami who taught them to us in his Vinyasa krama TT.
below Krishnamacharya's wife, same 1938 film footage.



Krishnamacharya continued to practice sirsasana (headstand) into his 80s







Srivatsa Ramaswami, Krishnamacharya's student of 30+ years ( 1950s-70s ) includes a section on arm balances in his Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga.

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Krishnamacharya would have taught Pattabhi Jois arm balances also, here are some early photos from around the time he was a student of Krishnamacharya See this post 








Pattabhi Jois's sone Manju
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Below, the 1938 footage of Krishnamacharya with his family and BKS Iyengar.



Here are the details of Joelle's workshop

And here's the reason why I started to reconsider arm balances a short while back, Jessica Walden, demonstrating control and focus..... oh and there's Pattabhi Jois in handstand over on the left




Workshop details

Joelle and I shared a practice space in Maidenhead for a time (picture above), I remember her asking me if I thought her Picha Mayurasana was straight..... pretty much


Joelle's ARM BALANCING INVERSIONS WORKSHOP
- This Saturday 23rd January at 13.30 - 15.30 running at Inspire Hot Yoga in Maidenhead
Only a couple of spaces left now for my workshop this weekend.
Loads of you have already booked but if you haven't don't wait too long as it's almost full. Can't wait to see you all there. 
Joelle x
Nelumbo Yoga

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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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