|BKS Iyengar 1938 - See Appendix 3. for the 1938 film footage|
"In 1935 having cleared the Primary, Elementary and Advanced diploma course in yoga he (BKS Iyengar) stood first in 98% marks (12:33)".
This suggests perhaps that at Krishnamacharya's Mysore yoga school in the 1930s, when Pattabhi Jois was a student, there seem to have been exams, a Primary, Elementary and Advanced course/diploma.
Mark Singleton's refers to this in Guru's of modern yoga (my bold).
"Iyengar has claimed that personal instruction in yogāsana with Krishnamacharya
was limited to three intense days, but Iyengar also practiced regularly
in the yogaśalā with the other students (Iyengar undated: 1–2). By October
1935 Iyengar reported that he was judged to have given the best performance
of all of Krishnamacharya’s students in all three grades of “elementary, intermediate,
and advanced courses” of yogāsana (Iyengar undated: 3). "
Guru's of Modern Yoga p155 LINK
Does this correspond to the Primary, Middle and Proficient asana groups in Krishnamacharya book Yogasanagalu (Mysore 1941)? See Appendix 1. below.
|Krishnamacharya's 1941 Asana table -full translation in Appendix 1. below|
I've often wondered where the table of asana originally came from. Did Krishnamacharya come up with the table himself for the 1941 text, did it form the framework for the asana practice at the school, going back to 1933 when Krishnamacharya was asked to teach at the Jagamohan palace, did it form a syllabus for the school and the basis for the exams?
"In 1931, Krishnamacharya was invited to teach at the Sanskrit College in Mysore. The Maharaja, who felt that yoga had helped cure his many ailments, asked Krishnamacharya to open a yoga school under his patronage and was subsequently given the wing of a nearby palace, the Jaganmohan Palace, to start the Yogashala, an independent yoga institution, which opened on August 11, 1933". Singleton.
Or did the table perhaps go back even further, in many ways the table seems incomplete, did it derive perhaps from notes taken from an old text 'partly eaten by ants' ?
In the late 30s (1937?) Pattabhi Jois was himself asked by the Maharaja to teach at the Sanskrit college, supposedly a four year Diploma. Pattabhi Jois states that he took the four year syllabus to Krishnamacharya to ask for his approval, which he received. Was the four year diploma in yoga that Pattabhi jois was to teach closely based on a three year diploma course in asana that Krishnamacharya was teaching, the two tables of asana do seem closely related.
And was the four year diploma course Pattabji Jois presented to Krishnamacharya for his approval in essence the same as the four year diploma syllabus Pattabhi Jois gave to Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams in 1973.
Pattabhi jois has suggested that Krishnamacharya had a more flexible approach to asana, introducing a 'mountain of asana', asana outside of the syllabus perhaps that Krishnamacharya himself discovered in his ongoing research or developed himself as variations to other asana or to help students towards achieving a challenging asana.
We know that Krishnamacharya also taught privately, occasionally in a side room of the yogashala while Pattabhi Jois, his assistant, led the regular students through their class (the syllabus?).
There seems to have been two approaches to asana that Krishnamacharya was presenting in Mysore.
The first, a yoga syllabus approach to asana, designed specifically to prepare the boys of the palace to take exams in asana as well as to present public demonstrations. The class an hour long, a guiding framework/syllabus, the asana perhaps taken at a faster pace (the class was said to be an hour long) that Pattabhi Jois carried forward as the 'Ashtanga' vinyasa we know today.
Secondly, a slower, arguably more flexible 'traditional' bespoke approach dependent on the requirements of the students, long slow breathing, kumbhaka (breath control), some longer stays, the asana integrated with pranayama and a meditative activity, (chanting, japa, more formal seated concentration practice) that we find outlined in Krishnamacharya first book Yoga Makaranda (1934) and that he continued teaching (and developing ) himself after leaving Mysore in the 1950s and that his student. Srivatsa Ramaswami from the 1950s until Krishnamacharya' passing in 1989 continues to pass along as Vinyasa Krama .
'Therefore, how many vinysas for asanas? Asana position comes at which vinyasa count? When do you perform rechanka and puraka? When to do antah kumbhaka and bahya kumbhaka? What are its benefits? For yoga practitioners information, it is listed in the table below'. Yogasanagalu
Yogasanagalu Asana table
"In fact, David and I had no idea that there were two separate series until the end of that first four-month trip, when we were leaving, at which point Guruji gave us a sheet of paper with a list of the postures, which were listed as Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, and Advanced B. At this point he told us to practice one series a day, and only once a day".
from Ashtanga Yoga as it was (The long and the short of it ) Nancy Gilgoff
Available as pfd download from googledocs
See my earlier blog post on Nancy's article