Thursday, 21 January 2016

Krishnamacharya, Asana practice and menstruation


"If women practise primarily this asana (Bhujapidasana) during times of menstruation, the disturbances and problems related to menstruation will disappear. This is a definite and easy way to obtain relief from problems of the stomach".



Krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda (Mysore 1934).


Krishnamacharya's wife Namagiriammal in urddhva kukkutasana



While reading through yesterdays post on Krishnamacharya and arm balances, I was surprised to come across the above quote regarding the practice of Bhujapidasana, an arm balance, and menstruation. At first I thought Krishnamacharya was perhaps talking in general terms, that the asana may be beneficial in the long term but no, he actually writes about practising the  asana during menstruation.

As we can see below Krishnamacharya taught asana to his wife (as well as to his young daughters), Krishnamacharya's wife Namagiriammal was by all accounts quite an advanced asana practitioner. 


Krishnamacharya's writing on the benefits of certain asana for menstruation as well as the teaching of asana to his wife and daughters questions the long held theory that Krishnamacharya was not prepared to teach Yoga to woman until pressured into teaching Indra Devi by the Maharaja of Mysore. It seems more likely that Krishnamacharya was not at first convinced of the seriousness of Indra Devi's desire to learn Yoga from him, once convinced he seemed more than happy to teach her and supposedly encouraged her to pass on his teaching. Indra Devi studied with Krishnamacharya in 1938, the same year as the video above and four years after Krishnamacharya wrote Yoga Makaranda.

Below is the full instruction and photos for Bhujapindasana as well as the referred to benefits. 

I also went through Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda Part I and II to see if he mentioned any other asana with similar benefits, he does.

NOTE: Krishnamacharya  mentions primarily practicing Bhujapindasana during menstruation, this shouldn't perhaps be seen as a green light to get on with ones regular practice during menstruation, ignoring what is ghappening in the body, especially if that practice happens to be Ashtanga Vinyasa. 

Practicing a full, unmodified Ashtanga series is not perhaps advisable during menstruation and much is written on this topic, advice can be taken from a doctor, one or more experienced teacher as well as exploring through the laboratory of ones own body. In the beginning the Ashtanga series can be physically demanding, less so perhaps as we become more flexible and more energy efficient in our transitions. An experienced practitioner may say that they still practice during menstruation, but their practice may have become be less demanding and experience may have led them to leave out certain asana, to modify their practice as well perhaps their employment of bandhas.

Krishnamacharya had a more flexible approach to asana than his student Pattabhi Jois. Krishnamacharya employed groups of asana, primary, middle and proficient from which he would, it appears, direct students to choose appropriate asana for practice. Pattabhi Jois took those groups, mostly it seems as they were laid out in Kriashnamacharya asana table (see this post for the Krishnamacharya's 1941 Yogasanagalu table of asana), and turned them into mostly fixed sequences, Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A and Advanced B. I say mostly fixed sequences because Pattabhi Jois would still of course modify the practice if he deemed it necessary for individual students. 

Manju, Pattabhi Jois' son mentioned in a workshop I attended that his mother, an advanced asana practitioner herself, would take a week off practice during menstruation.

Krishnamacharya was an Ayurveda practitioner.

For a perspective from another Ayurveda practitioner and Ashtangi who is also a woman and thus able to explore this question through her own body listen to Christine Hoar podcast interview with Peg Mulqueen starting at 7.18  until around 11.46


Note: For ease of reference, I've highlighted in bold the relevant quotes for each of the asana below.


Asana in which Krishnamacharya mentions  menstruation

 Instruction from Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (Mysore 1938)

These are the only asana in Yoga Makaranda in which Krishnamacharya directly mentions menstruation.  Krishnamacharya taught hundreds of other asana and variations not mentioned in  this text. I've included a section from Yoga Makaranda part II ( Salutations to the teacher the eternal one) at the end of the post on Menstruation and also preganancy.

19 Bhujapidasana



"If women practise primarily this asana doing times of menstruation, the disturbances and problems related to menstruation will disappear".




"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 disturbances and problems related to menstruation will disappear. This is a definite and easy way to obtain relief from problems of the stomach".



3 Prasarita Padottanasana (Figure 4.10)


"This asana should not be practised by women after beginning menstruation". 


Stand in tadasana krama. Jump the legs apart, placing the feet 3 mozhams apart on the ground. Practise jumping and placing the feet at the correct distance all in one jump. While jumping, either puraka kumbhaka or recaka kumbhaka can be done. There should be no noise while jumping and pressing the feet onto the floor. Now raise the arms and slowly exhale through the nose. While doing recaka, bend forward and lower the upper part of the body (above the hips) down towards the ground. Take the hands between the legs and moving them back step- by-step, place the palms on the ground. Lower the head down between the hands. At this time, the legs should not be even slightly bent. After remaining in this position for some time, raise the head, draw in clean air through the nose and slowly raise the body. After standing up, jump back to tadasana. This asana should not be practised by women after beginning menstruation. In the same way, follow the rules while practising the various forms of uttanasana. (This has 5 vinyasas).


11 Janusirsasana (Figure 4.33, 4.34)


"If women who have stomach pain during menstruation practise this asana following the instructions mentioned above, in one or two months, all the germs that cause the stomach pain will be removed from the blood channels and will be expelled out of the body through the urinary tract".



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.

Important Observation:
After practising the asana for just one or two minutes, do not whine that you did not receive any benefits. However little effort there is, if you keep practising the asana daily for at least 5 to 10 minutes, you will start experiencing its benefits in a few days. There is no doubt about this. If you keep practising it from half an hour to an hour following the given rules, you will get the benefits mentioned below.
1. Diseases of the spleen will be removed.
2. People suffering from a low-grade persistent fever in the stomach will notice that the fever, the resulting anaemia and other such dangerous diseases will be wiped out. Continuous and recurrent cough, bloated stomach, flatulence and the first symptoms of tuberculosis will disappear. As a result of these intestinal doshas being removed, the digestive power increases and one feels hunger at the appropriate time. When you are very hungry, it is essential to eat sattvic foods cooked in pure ghee or cow’s milk or goat’s milk. Rice avul, kara boondi (fried peanut flour), kara vadai, peanuts, chickpeas — these tamasic foods should never be eaten. Eating high-quality fruits and kanda mulam is very beneficial.

When they are hungry, some people will eat terrible things without thinking about it. This is a despicable matter. Because of this, they keep catching various diseases and suffering as a result.
If one keeps practising janusirsasana according to the rules described above, then whatever diseases cause blocking of urine and faeces, increase the heat in the nadis, cause an increase in vata, if any such acute diseases occur, they will be destroyed from the root and the practitioner will be in good health very soon.
Heavy head, burning eyes, weakness of the body, burning in the urinary area, fever caused by toxins built up due to indigestion and constipation, loss of ap- petite and sense of taste in the tongue due to a spoilt tongue, laziness or lethargy — all these will be removed by practising the asana in the highest standard. That is, all diseases caused by weakness of the nadis nearby will be removed.
It is important to always remember that it is necessary to practise such asanas like janusirsasana on both the left and right sides. The reason for this is that the strength of the body should be the same on both the left and right sides. Nowadays, modern games and physical exercises give strength to only one side of the body without developing proper blood circulation on the other side. This will result in paralysis and other such diseases. Therefore, every asana must definitely be practised equally on both the left and the right side.

Janusirsasana 2nd Krama


Whichever leg was folded and placed such that the back of the foot was between the rectum and genitals, place the back of the sole of that foot instead against the top of the thigh of the outstretched leg, firmly pressing against it. Now practise according to the rules described earlier. But the benefits of this will be received very slowly. Some people will not be able to place the head on top of the knee on the first day. But one should not abandon the effort thinking that this is impossible. If one keeps practising this for one or two months daily without fail, following the prescribed rules, then it will become possible. It will be very difficult for those who have allowed excessive flesh to grow in the stomach and hips to practise this. By practising this regularly over a period of time, all the excessive flesh that has grown in or near the stomach and hips will melt, the joints of the bones and nadis will clear up, the stomach will grow thinner and eventually the head will touch the knee. The deposits of excessive flesh are the main cause for the lack of flexibility in the body. All this can be melted away with asana abhyasa.
Many people who have a protruding stomach like a pumpkin believe that they are healthy. Others think that they have correspondingly as much more strength as their arms, legs and thighs are excessively huge, and they keep trying to enlarge the girth of the body. One can clearly say that this is a result of their stupidity. Being blessed with good health is not in the plumpness of the body. The limbs of small children are soft and supple — to lift and bend them is easy. The limbs of adults should be similarly soft and supple and strong and there should be no obstruction to the prana vayu and the blood circulation. Everybody knows that people who have overly large stomachs or who are obese often have excessive breathlessness and bloating of the stomach.
But they have not realized that the vayu sancharam is not proper in any part of the body. When there is no proper movement of air in the body, mounds of excessive flesh will collect in the body forming a barrier. Without proper air circulation, how will the dust fly away? Without water, how can the earth become soft? Similarly, in our bodies, if we want the blood to circulate and the prana vayu to flow properly without obstruction, we need to first knock down and remove the bad deposits of flesh (durmamsam) which appear like a wall. Only prana vayu has the capacity and power to completely destroy the excessive blobs of flesh that exist here and there in the body. This cannot be done with any other medicine.
The stomach is the only cause of an untimely death. There is no other reason. The dwelling place of death in the body is only the big stomach and nowhere else. Even though we desire long life and good health, why do we make our stomachs very large and leave room for death in them? Is this not a terrible thing? Therefore, by practising janusirsasana following the krama with correct instructions, one can melt away the stomach, no matter how large it is. You can definitely believe that as the stomach reduces in size, the death dwelling in it will leave the body. There is no doubt about this.
It is superior to regularly practise this janusirsasana before becoming pregnant. One should not do it after becoming pregnant. If women who have stomach pain during menstruation practise this asana following the instructions mentioned above, in one or two months, all the germs that cause the stomach pain will be removed from the blood channels and will be expelled out of the body through the urinary tract.
This has 22 vinyasas. The 8th and the 15th vinyasas are themselves the asana sthiti. The benefit is correspondingly as great as one’s capacity for recaka.


12 Upavistakonasana (Figure 4.35)


"If all women practise this upavisthakonasana for one half hour both in the morning and evening according to the prescribed rules during the time of menstruation, all the diseases of the uterus will be cured. This asana, along with janusirsasana and baddhakonasana must be practised daily without fail by any- body who has irregular menstruation. In three months, they will have proper healthy regular menstrual cycles".

This has 15 vinyasas. Recaka kumbhaka is its primary principle. All the vinyasas must be done following the instructions for pascimottanasana. But in the 7th vinyasa for pascimottanasana, we extend the legs straight out between the two hands. In the 7th vinyasa for upavishtakonasana, instead of extending the legs out in front between the two hands, spread the legs as far apart as possible while extending them. Remember that the knees should not be raised or bent. Then follow the instructions just as described for pascimottanasana. Clasp the big toes with the fingers of the hand, lower the head and place the face on the floor between the legs. This is called upavishtakonasana (the 8th vinyasa). The 9th vinyasa is like pascimottanasana’s 10th vinyasa. The 10th to the 15th vinyasas are like the 11th to the 16th vinyasas of pascimottanasana. After this, return to samasthiti. This must also be done while lying down on the back.

Benefit: Hip pain, knee pain, any disease that occurs near the region where the thighs meet, violent stomach pain, and flatulence will be cured.
If all women practise this upavisthakonasana for one half hour both in the morning and evening according to the prescribed rules during the time of menstruation, all the diseases of the uterus will be cured. This asana, along with janusirsasana and baddhakonasana must be practised daily without fail by any- body who has irregular menstruation. In three months, they will have proper healthy regular menstrual cycles.


13 Baddhakonasana (Figure 4.36, 4.37)

"If women practise this especially during menstruation, it will cure all menstrual diseases and will clean the uterus. It will be very helpful for women who wish to conceive".



This has 15 vinyasas. The 8th vinyasa is the asana sthiti. The 1st to the 6th vinyasas are like the 1st till the 6th vinyasas for pascimottanasana. In the 7th vinyasa, just like the 7th vinyasa for pascimottanasana, keep the hands down and bring the legs forward in uthpluthi. But instead of straightening them, fold the legs and place them down on the ground. Folding them means that the heel of the right foot is pasted against the base of the right thigh and the heel of the left foot is pasted against the base of the left thigh. When the legs are folded in this manner, the soles of the feet will be facing each other. Hold the sole of the left
  
foot firmly with the left hand and hold the right sole firmly with the right hand. Clasping the soles together firmly, do recaka kumbhaka, lower the head and place it on the floor in front of the feet. After practising this properly, press the head against the top of the soles of the feet. While keeping the head either on the floor or on the soles of the feet, make sure that the seat of the body does not rise up from the floor and remains stuck to the floor. This sthiti is baddhakonasana. After this, from the 8th until the 15th vinyasas, practise as in upavishtakonasana and then return to samasthiti.

Benefit: Coughing, urinary diseases (constant dripping of urine, burning urine), genital discharges, collapsing of the navel inward — such diseases will be cured.
If women practise this especially during menstruation, it will cure all menstrual diseases and will clean the uterus. It will be very helpful for women who wish to conceive.

22 Kurmasana (Figure 4.62)
   
"If women with irregular menstruation practise this asana with all the vinyasas for a few months, this affliction of the uterus and of menstrual disturbance will dissolve and they will have regular menstruation".



This has 16 vinyasas. The 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th vinyasas demonstrate the sampurna sthiti of the asana. Only the 7th vinyasa is shown in the picture.

Benefit: The apana vayu is cleaned; nocturnal discharges are stopped. This is also a very good method for curing piles.
If women with irregular menstruation practise this asana with all the vinyasas for a few months, this affliction of the uterus and of menstrual disturbance will dissolve and they will have regular menstruation.
Important Rule: The practitioners of kurmasana must not practise it within 3 hours of eating. It must not be done on a full stomach.


13. Supta Konasana (Figure 4.64, 4.65)

"If women who have stomach pain during the time of menstruation prac- tise this asana along with upavishtakonasana during the time of menstruation, the pain will disappear quickly".



This has 14 vinyasas. The 9th vinyasa is the asana sthiti. In the 7th vinyasa, stay as shown in the picture.
The 8th vinyasa is uthpluthi. From uthpluthi, move to the position shown in the second picture and then do recaka. The position shown in the second picture is the 9th vinyasa.
This 9th vinyasa itself is the suptakonasana sthiti. The 10th vinyasa is catu- ranga dandasana. The four remaining vinyasas are just the last four vinyasas of pascimottanasana. Study the picture very carefully. Remember that the stomach needs to be pulled in and held in.

Benefit: It will not allow sluggishness due to mahodaram jadyam (dropsy). It will cause timely expulsion of faeces. It will prevent the occurrence of goiter, of inflammation of the glands of the neck, and of any kapha diseases.
Suppose that a woman does not want any children. If she does this asana and along with this, practises krounchasana, then, as desired, she will not have any offspring. If women who have stomach pain during the time of menstruation practise this asana along with upavishtakonasana during the time of menstruation, the pain will disappear quickly.


*


from Yoga Makaranda Part II (Salutations to the teacher the eternal one)

5. DISEASES REGARDING MENSTRUATION:

Due to the climate, the food taken, heredity etc., the proper age for the appearance of menses varies. Between the ages of 12 to 20 it may be taken as normal. In some cases it may be as late 28 years as early as 10 or 11 years. These cases should be considered as abnormal. 14 to 20 may be considered as a proper age when the organs reasonably mature. There are a number of diseases connected with menses but they respond well to Yogic treatment. The particular course of treatment has naturally to be modified according to the symptoms that are present. Answers to the following questions will be necessary:

1. What type of pain occurs? Shooting pain, bleeding pain, when it occurs, duration etc.

2. What is the nature of discharge? Is it scanty or copious? How long does it last? Does it smell badly?

3. General: How is the sleep during the periods? Does urine pass freely during these days? Is there constipation? State of general health.

The following is the general outline of treatment:

VAJRASANA: Twelve deep breaths, with retention of breath after inhalation, ANTAR kumbhakam, and retention out of breath, BAHYA kumbhakam, one second each round. MAHAMUDRA: Twelve rounds each side. First begin with the right leg stretched and the left leg bent.

BADDHA-KONASANA: Sixteen rounds.

UPAVISHTAKONASANA: Three rounds, with central and side bending. BHUJANGASANA: Three rounds. The navel should not be raised above the ground when the trunk is raised.

SALABHASANA: All types; three rounds each. Here again it should be watched that the navel is not raised from the ground.

Note: In all the cases the breathing should be deep, even and long and with rubbing sensation in the throat. Antar and Bahya kumbhakam one second per round.

Pranayama: UJJAYI and SITALI: Eight rounds each, with ANTAR kumbhakam three seconds each round. No BAHYA kumbhakam.

Note: If at any time there is a feeling of strain, sufficient rest should be taken before continuing the pranayama. Pranayama (with undue strain) should not be done during menses period.

BADDHAKONASANA and UPAVISHTAKONASANA may be done during the periods. This gives considerable benefit. Other asanas should not be done.

If possible SARVANGASANA and SIRSHASANA may be learnt as these are beneficial. For the first ten days there may be feeling of weakness but this will soon go and one need not feel alarmed. The Yogic exercises need not be done for more than half an hour each day. Pranayama should be done each day, preferably twice a day, one in the morning and once in the evening. The asanas may be taken by turns.

Do some meditation each day after the Yogic exercises, except during the days of the periods.

Diet Restrictions: During the four days of the periods, only ven-pongal with Payatham paruppu,(moong dhal) can use Jeerakam, but milagu, pepper should not be used. Ghee should be used in a fairly liberal measure. For the first two months of the treatment avoid the use of tamarind, curds and butter-milk. Plenty of milk may be used. Reduce salt, condiments, and hot condiments (pepper and chilly) during the treatment.


6. YOGIC PRACTICES DURING PREGNANCY.

Whatever be the stage of pregnancy there is absolutely no danger in practicing Yogic asanas and Pranayamas with proper precautions. On the other hand there will be considerable benefit, the health will improve and the delivery will be easy, and the child will be healthy and strong. The main object of these exercises is to strengthen those parts of the body which will later have to bear the strains of childbirth, at the same time ensuring that the muscles do not become stiff and compress the womb and thus harm the proper development of the child.

In the case of those who have been practicing before the conception and in the case of those who have started the exercises before the third month the restrictions may be relaxed to some extent. Those who start the exercises after the third month should scrupulously observe the restrictions. The outline given below is for those in normal health. In the case of those who have any complaints it is better to get guidance of a Yogic teacher. After the third month of pregnancy, Sirshasana and Sarvangasana should not be done.

Food restrictions should also be observed so that they do not catch cold or get cough.
Those who start on Yogic exercises for the first time after conception, should start with the preliminary exercise given below. This consists of doing breathing exercises in either the SVASTIKASANA or in BRAHMASANA or the LAGHU SVASTIKASANA. Best results are obtained in SVASTIKASANA and the other two are for those who cannot sit in SVASTIKASANA.
SVASTIKASANA:

Technique:

1. Spread something on the ground, for example, a folded blanket to have something soft and fairly firm to sit on. Sit on it cross legged, with the left leg bent at the knee, and the toes placed between the thigh and calf of the right leg. The right leg is bent at the knee and leg crossed over the left leg and the toes of the right foot placed between the thigh and the calf of the left leg. The right leg will have to be slightly twisted to admit the toes of the right foot being placed as above between the thigh and the calf of the left leg. Both the shins should touch the blanket. This way the sides of the body above the hips are spread out. Sit erect with the head erect facing to the front and with the chin slightly lowered but without chin lock.

2. Stretch the arms so that the wrists rest on the respective knees. Palms should face downwards and the fingers kept close together and stretched.

3. Take long, deep, even inhalations and exhalations through the nose but with a hissing sound and rubbing sensation in the throat.

Kumbhakam i.e. retention of breath after inhalation should not be for more than a second each per round. The number of rounds of breathing to be done is discussed later.

There may be cases where the thighs and the calves are overweight that the above asana is not possible. In such cases Brahmasana may be tried. This is similar to the above but the toes of the feet are not placed between the thigh and the calf. The sole of the left foot is placed below the right thigh touching it. The sole of back of the right foot is placed on the left thigh, with the sole facing upwards. Both the knees should be touching the blanket. The rest of the steps are the same as SVASTIKASANA.

The eyes should be kept closed, so that the mind may not be distracted. Making a mental picture of an effulgent light in the centre of the chest (not in the region of the heart) is beneficial. The mouth is kept closed the and the breathing is through the nose.

If Yogic asanas have been practiced even before conception or are begun within three months of pregnancy the number of rounds of breath could safely be as many as can conveniently be done without strain. However in the case of those who start practicing after the third month of pregnancy the number of rounds of deep breaths should be limited to six or at the most eight in this asana. If at any time there is a feeling to gasp or to take a quick intake of breath, disturbing the even rhythm of breathing, rest should be taken by lying on the back with the head facing upwards for at least three minutes.

This preliminary exercise should be done in the morning and evening.

In the same sitting posture as the above, the following movements are done to strengthen the arms and the upper parts of the body.

1. Stretch arms horizontally to the sides of the body with the palms facing upwards. While inhaling, lift the arms upward, the palms to face each other. Interlock the fingers and turn the palms upwards.

2. While exhaling bend the elbows and bring the interlocked fingers behind the neck keeping the palms facing upwards.

3. While inhaling straighten the arms keeping the fingers interlocked and palms upwards.

4. While exhaling bring the stretched arms to the horizontal position in front of the body, the fingers continuing throughout to be interlocked and the palms facing upwards.

5. While inhaling, bend the elbows and make the back of the palms to touch the chest just below the chin, the elbows taken as far back as possible.

6. While exhaling, straighten the elbows and bring the arms to the position in step (4).

7. While inhaling, move the arms to the upright position overhead as in step (3).

8. While exhaling, unlock the fingers and bring down the stretched arms to the
horizontal position as in step (1).

In the first week of practice two rounds of the movement may be done, in the second three rounds. No further increase in the subsequent weeks.

The movements should be slow and steady and not jerky. The muscles should not be in tension during the movements. The breathing should be long even and deep and not jerky or violent.

These arm movements should be practised in any of the following asanas each day: 

DANDASANA
VAJRASANA
TADASAMA
PADMASANA (but not in BADDHA PADMASANA)
BADDHA KONASANA

This is of special benefit in strengthening the pelvic region, and it is important to practice this asana regularly.

Technique:

1. Spread something on the ground to form a comfortable seat. Sit erect, with the legs bent at the knees, the edges of the feet touching each other, the soles facing upwards, the heels placed below the generating organs, (if this position is not possible as near this position as possible but not more than four inches away), the two thighs touching the seat and in a straight line.

2. Hold the feet by the palms of the respective hands. Keep spine erect and stretched. Form chin-lock, as mentioned in step (1) of SVASTIKASANA.

3. Close the eyes, so that the mind may not get distracted. Do deep inhalations and exhalations. These have to be even, slow and as long as possible with rubbing sensation in the throat. As many rounds of deep breathing can be taken as can be done without strain. Exercises which involve twisting of the trunk or bending should be avoided if the Yogic practices have begun after pregnancy.

PRANAYAMAS

The following types of pranayamas may be practised.

ANULOMA UJJAYI
NADISODHANA
SITALI

The number of rounds should be restricted to eight rounds. A minimum of six rounds at least should be practiced. Retention of breath after inhalation should not exceed three seconds. There should be no keeping out the breath after exhalation. If at any time there is a feeling of gasping and even rhythm is likely to be upset, rest at least for three minutes by lying on the back with the head facing upwards.
At the end of the breathing exercises sit in meditation for some time.

7. YOGIC EXERCISES AFTER DELIVERY FOR THOSE IN NORMAL HEALTH 

The following outline is intended for those who have been practicing Yoga asanas during pregnancy and who have had normal delivery. For others specific advice should be taken from a Yoga teacher before starting on Yoga practices. The outline given below covers the period after delivery to the first appearance of menstrual cycle.

In the Vedic times evidently people were living a much simpler and healthier life and there are mantras which show that Jathakarma ceremony in which the woman (mother) participated was to be done soon after childbirth. It was then laid down that without such a ceremony no breast feeding should be given. There were mantras for the beginning of the breast feeding. But these restrictions have been gradually relaxed and at present Jathakarma and other purification ceremonies are done only on the eleventh day after childbirth.

Till three days after the discharge of the afterbirth-No exercises.

For the next three days-only breathing exercises: These are to be done in semi-reclined posture with pillows supporting the back. Six deep inhalations and exhalations may be done at a time interval of an hour. ANTAR KUMBHAKAM or retaining of breath after inhalation and BAHYA KUMBHAKAM i.e. retaining of breath after exhalation may be for one second each round. The inhalation and exhalation should be done with rubbing sensation in the throat. This exercise may be done twice in the morning and twice in the evening with an hour interval.

Note: In the case of those where the contractions are weak and there is difficulty in the discharge of the afterbirth, breathing exercises will have to be done in a semi reclining posture, but with ANTAR KUMHBAKAM of two seconds and BAHYA KUMBHAKAM of one second each round, twice in the morning and twice in the evening six rounds each time with an interval of an hour between each practice. This will facilitate the discharge of the afterbirth.

For the next ten days: A few simple asanas and pranayamas.

DANDASANA: With the arms stretched and the palms flat on the ground by the side of the body. Six rounds of deep breathing with ANTAR and BAHYA kumbhakam of one second each, each round.

ARDHA-PADMA-PASCHIMATHANASANA: With forward bending. This replaces the organs in their place. Six rounds each side.

Next ten days: Slightly more difficult asanas and pranayamas.

PARVATASANA: In a sitting posture, with arm movements-three rounds.

BADDHA PADMASANA: Longer inhalations and exhalations with ANTAR and BAHYA kumbhakam of one second each per round. Six rounds. 

PASCHIMATANASANA: With regulated breathing and forward bending. Six rounds. KUMBHAKAM one second each per round.

NADISODHANA PRANAYAMA: Six to sixteen rounds as is possible without strain. 

ANTAR KUMBHAKAM five seconds each round. 

No BAHYA KUMBHAKAM.
till the appearance of the first menses:

Some of the following asanas may be done once during the day. The number of rounds, duration of exercise etc. is best prescribed by the Yoga teacher, who will no doubt take into consideration the individual’s condition.

ASANAS:
BHARADWAJASANA
VAJRASANA
SARVANGASANA
HALASANA
SIRSHASANA
BHEKASANA
BHUJANGASANA
PRANAYAMAS:
NADISODHANA
SITALI
Six rounds each. To be done twice a day.

DHYANAM: 
After the PRANAYAMA sit in meditation for some time. Thus the practice of meditation will be twice each day.

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Relating to yoga and pregnancy see this series of posts with articles by Srivatsa Ramaswami a student of krsihnamacharya for over thirty years and married to a gynecologist.






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This post follows on from yesterdays post on Krishnamacharya and arm Balances (which includes many early pictures of Krishnamacharya, Krishnamacharya's family, BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois demonstrating a range of arm balances ). 


The post came about in response to my friend Joelle's upcoming arm balance workshop ( Saturday 26th Jan), below is my original fb post.


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.

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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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