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Friday, 30 July 2010

The grip; Natajarasana and Eka pada raja kapotasana

These poses are very much work in progress but I seem to have finally worked out what's going on with the grip.
One of the things I noticed during the recent VK TT course was how useful certain aspects of my ashtanga background have been, in particular the way we tend to work on the same poses day after day. In many yoga classes it seems, the poses and sequences can change from one class to the next, thus a posture you find difficult might not come around again for a couple of weeks. In Ashtanga, if your last posture is laghu vajrasana, you'll work on on it five days a week until you nail it and once you do you'll continue to polish it day after day. It's a possible drawback to Vinyasa Krama in that your encouraged to try to cover as many postures as possible over a week or a fortnight, although you do have a couple of key asanas that your advised to practice everyday.

My way around this is to practice the key asana as advised and then choose a couple of challenging asana to work on, if not daily then every other day, the rest of the practice will then rotate through the different sub routines and sequences over the week. The 'challenging' postures (to me anyway) that I try to work on everyday are Natajarasana, Hanumanasana and Eka pada Raja kapotasana.

One of the difficulties with Natjarasana and Eka pada raja kapotasana is the grip on the foot. here they are at full speed and then in slow motion.


and some screen shots, notice how the elbow rotates out from underneath.









5 comments:

  1. Hi Grimmly,

    That's a very interesting point (what do you practice repetitively). I, personally, only know 'the Ashtanga way' but I've often wondered what other systems do.

    Although it was different in the past, I only see a teacher for a month each year now, so it's comforting having a well defined and well documented path/course to follow. If that weren't the case, and I went 'freestyle', I think it might pose two problems for me.
    i) If I worked repetitively on, say, handstands, my backbend would suffer. It would be like shaving a little off of each leg of a table, trying to stop it from wobbling i.e. I don't think I'd ever quite find the balance. By sticking to series though, everything gets worked.
    ii) I feel that there are two kinds of practice. There is doing the postures, and there is doing the postures gracefully (i.e. almost as if the practitioner has left the body). That kind of gracefulness is what I found absolutely captivating, the first time that I ever saw an Ashtanga practice, and got attracted to it, and I reckon that this is only achieved by doing the series over and over and over again. I might be wrong though!
    I love all the stuff in the VK book, but I feel like I need another life, to do it in. That said, it's great for putting some little embellishments into a daily home practice, and it's also great for providing some ideas for restorative work (we all have days when we feel 'wired' right?).

    Out of interest, what were the 'key postures' that you mentioned, and any idea why they're regarded as such?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Steve.
    I think the idea behind Vinyasa Krama and working through all the postures (that are available to you)over a week or so is that you do work everything, or 'access all areas of the body'as R puts it. I kind of see Ashtanga as a vinyasa krama practice designed for someone with a lot of rajas to get rid of, thus all the jump backs. I practiced Primary this morning and it's very close to my regular VK practice (see last tuesdays post that has an outline of my practice).
    The diferences are perhaps interesting. I'm not confined to the same triangle postures in standing and might do a different one, same goes for the on one leg postures, I could do the usual ashtanga ones or an alternative. Ashtanga has the forward bending posture in all the leg variations, Marichi, janu Sirsasana etc. In VK you might do a bunch of diferent vinyasa of half lotus, twists, forward bend, counterpose and then on another day do vinyasas of the Marichi's (again see tuesday)say or the leg folded back.
    Paschimottanasana is one of the key asanas we practice everyday along with long shoulderstands, headstands and Maha mudra. Then there might be some seated vinyasa, Ashtanga has some too, Kurmasana for example. In Vk you might practice that too with some postures that lead up to it or an alternative. Then you would probably be into some Shoulderstand prep, shoulderstand,long headstand (perhaps including some vinyasas) then another Shoulderstand with vinyasas, a backbend counter then probably Maha Mudra and baddha konasana before moving into Lotus and on through pranayama. Oh the whole thing would start with some tadasana vinyasas, again they can change about a bit.

    I see the above as a hip opener focus and do that a couple of days a week. I'll also do a backbend focus for a couple of days that will be similar but have Bow sequence or other backbend subroutines in place of the Asymmetric and seated postures, this makes it a little like Ashtanga intermediate.

    Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to post a week of my daily practice to show how it switches through most of the sub routines.

    I think your right though,it's important to work on the same and/or similar postures to become really comfortable in them. I think you can do that in VK, it's one of the things I want to explore this year.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks. I look forward to those posts. As I said, I love the book, but can't see the big (VK) picture yet. Maybe in the fullness of time, Rangaswami will sanction a dvd, or series of dvd's that illustrate a vinyasa krama practice (and the book).

    Have a good weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Grimmly
    I'm reading at night, so the internet connection is slower; will need to return in the morning to watch the videos. But the pictures of Natajarasana (is is that one?) show how bendy you are that you can grab the toes. It looks great.

    I look back at my self practice last year and it was sort of like VK in that I moved primary, intermediate and a few of third series of ashtanga, sequentially throughout the week, with opening and closing poses. Now at the moment I'm in the room of a traditional ashtanga teacher, so I'm following the ashtanga method. But if I was in the room of one of my SF teachers, she would allow me to do what I was doing of sequencing. That's actually where I developed that practice.
    cheers,
    Arturo

    ReplyDelete
  5. A DVD would be great. The frame work I mention here, and particularly the one posted last tuesday is pretty much what we ended up practicing in the penultimate asana class on the course. Ramaswami was at pains to stress that the format of the book was for learning the postures and subroutines and I guess how they relate to one another, once you've learnt that you would construct your practice somewhat along the lines of the framework above. That's how I understood it anyway.

    Some other differences/similarities from/with Ashtanga worth mentioning might be the entry into and repeating of postures and the length of stay in the key asanas. So you would go in and out of a posture three to six times or perhaps three times and on the third time stay for a number of breaths. Paschimottanasana in Ashtanga primary is a little like that in that you enter it a little deeper each time. If as in the old days you remain in Paschi for eight breaths x 3 (for Paschi A, B + C ) and you make those exhales long and slow as in Yoga Mala then your getting close to the ten minutes that Ramaswami said his teacher recommended. Same goes for Shoulderstand and headstand, in fact SKPJ in Yoga Mala doesn't see the benefit in doing them for less than five minutes.

    Hi Arturo, yeah I think you need a good backbend to create the space for your arm to come under like that or find another way to create the space required.
    I find I'm becoming more comfortable daily with the VK sequencing, where I struggled before and became frustrated now it seems to make more sense, the framework is there it's just a case of alternating the subroutines.
    It's great that your teacher in SF allowed you that flexibility, but then I'm sure that experienced teacher are adapting the practice to the students they know well enough all over, no?

    ReplyDelete

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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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