Just stumbled upon this 2012 video of Simon Borg-Olivier in Moscow. A nice straight forward presentation of the Yogasynergy spinal movements that I'm enjoying practicing so much.
At 2:35 Simon then effortlessly lifts into handstand, folds into lotus and lowers into headstand for a demonstration of some nifty 'hands free' inverted transitions into asana/vinyasa, interspersed with some one handed mayurasana variations ( a key asana for Krishnamacharya).
I naively thought I'd come up with something of my own with my recent Sirsasna to bharadvajrasana and back video but here's Simon, at 5:11, transitioning into bharadvajrasana from handstand.
The key idea throughout is to effortlessly enter an asana, padmasana for example, as "...as if folding the arms, no pulling a limb into a posture.
Though a demonstration this video shows perhaps the direction of my own practice of late (albeit less challenging), skipping standing and seated altogether and moving straight from Spinal movements to Inversion transitions in and out of asana where I might explore pranayama options leading up to siddhasana and a Sit. A final letting go of, if not Ashtanga, then perhaps the 'classic' Ashtanga Vinyasa structure that I'd seemed to cling on to so stubbornly, even throughout my focus on Vinyasa Krama where I would still seek to fit Ramaswami's teaching into the Ashtanga Vinyasa Structure.
And yet I still think of it as 'Ashtanga vinyasa', as a continuation, a natural progression, perhaps because 'Ashtanga' has come to mean to me the commitment to a sincere, focussed, daily practice rather than the form that practice takes.
Nice note from Simon on a share of this post
"In this blog Anthony also refers to an old video of me that I have not seen before of me demonstrating simple to advanced posture and movement at a workshop in Moscow some years ago. He comments on how the simple movements I start with have prepared me to do the more advanced postures at the end of the video. If you watch the video you will see that for the first few minutes it looks as though all I'm doing is moving my arms. But in fact what I'm doing is moving actively from my core (the kanda) using the same muscles that I need to do 'salute to the sun' and other introductory standing and floor posters. It is this combination of moving actively from the core that allows me then to go into the advanced postures without seemingly having warmed up to them".
Note: Simon is currently putting the finishing touches on an online Ashtanga course.
My blog (grimmly2007.blogspot.com) seems to have been a stream of questions over the last ten years...
1. Is it still Ashtanga if we learn from DVDs and books?
2. Is it Still Ashtanga if we only practice at home?
3. Is it Ashtanga if we eschew adjustments and assists?
4. Is it Ashtanga if we Practice full vinyasa rather than half?
5. Is it still Ashtanga if we skip vinyasa altogether and move asana to asana?
6. Is it Ashtanga if we practice more slowly?
7. Is it still Ashtanga if we break the 'rules', move on before a particular asana is perfect?
8. is it still Ashtanga if we move on to 2nd series before we can come up?
9. Is it still Ashtanga if we give up the chase after more asana, the next series?
10. Is it still ashtanga if we drop asana before our body demands it, going back to half primary or less?
11. Is it Ashtanga if we practice more quickly, one breath an asana?
12. Is it still Ashtanga if we include kumbhaka as krishnamacharya stressed but Pattabhi Jois dismissed?
13. Is it still Ashtanga if we have no interest in going to Mysore?
14. Is it still Ashtanga if we hare indifferent to KPJAYI?
15. Is it still Ashtanga if we have no interest in practicing with Sharath, or for that matter, Saraswati, or Manju, or any other teacher of the lineage?
16. Is it still ashtanga if we have no interest in lineage?
17. Is it still Ashtanga if we practice with music? HELL NO : )
18. Is it still Ashtanga if we close our eyes and forget about the nine drishti?
19. Is it It still Ashtanga if we 'breath to the abdomen' rather than the chest?
20. Is it still ashtanga if we keep the belly soft rather than drawn in?
21. Is it still Ashtanga if we let go of the count?
The last the most shocking for me to consider letting go of and yet why not....?
.... and more
Is it still Ashtanga if you no longer practice Sun salutations?
Is it still Ashtanga if you include qigong like movements (Chinese yoga?)?
Is it still Ashtanga if you don't practice inversions?
Is is still Ashtanga if if you don't float?
Is it still Ashtanga if you do?
Is it still Ashtanga if you punctuate your practice with handstands?
Is it still Ashtanga if you chant in latin rather than sanskrit.
Is it still Ashtanga if you follow the moral codes of your own culture rather than Patanjali's?
Is it still Ashtanga if you have no interest in visiting India?
Is it still ashtanga if you have no interest in Krishnamacharya?
Is it still Ashtanga if you don't practice on a Manduka?
Is it still Ashtanga if you practice with a pole rather than a mat?
Is it still Ashtanga if you practice only once a week?
Is it still Ashtanga if you have no interest in any of the above questions but just practice something, daily, with commitment and sincerity?
Feel free to add your own in comments.
I could of course change the title of the blog (again), call it something else....
In fact a friend asked me recently why Pattabhi Jois didn't just call what he taught 'yoga' rather than 'Ashtanga'.
But then what else is Ashtanga but Yoga, Patanjali's yoga. We get so wrapped up with the form, the rules....., we lose sight perhaps of the point of practice, or at least of trying to grasp the point of the practice. Is it Ashtanga vinyasa, Ashtanga....., or just yoga or even perhaps merely one small step towards yoga.
Just as I hit post on the fb version of this post Manju's new book arrived, like a sign of sorts, although of what I'm unsure. Review to come.