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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Yoga and Cricket

Is it wrong to listen to the Cricket while practicing Vinyasa Krama? I'm not talking about Radio 5 live obviously, but Radio four's test match special, that would be OK, wouldn't it?

The Ashes are on. Do I have to explain the ashes? England lost to Australia at the Oval in 1882 ( forget 1066 this is the only date that matters in British history) somebody burnt the bails and put the ashes in a little terracotta urn, symbolising the death of British cricket.

Every two years these two mighty nations do join battle, over five matches, to gain/regain possession of the Urn (actually the urn never leaves Lords ). Currently, WE have the ashes having beaten Australia in 2009 and are now in over in Australia for the 2011 ashes tour.

Given that the matches are played in Australia I wake up for practice, in the UK, around the time of the final session of the day at the Gabba. This morning I woke to find our noble batsman had declared at 517 for 1 on the final day and had put the Australians in for the last couple of hours. I was sorely tempted to have the radio playing in the background while I practiced but it was pretty much certain to be a draw so I resisted, this time. But what happens as the series hots up, as it was I sneaked a look at the score on my itouch before going into my long paschimottasana.

It's a well known fact of course that Yoga, like baseball, derives from Cricket. Why else would the yogi cultivate one pointedness if not in preparation for facing spin or bodyline.

Practice Diary
This morning was Vinyasa Krama. I think I might settle into a straight forward core VK practice on Monday's, long stays in the key asanas (paschimottanasana, maha mudra, inversions) and a shorter practice to give me time for a full session of pranayama. Nice too after the madness of Sunday's third series. Really felt it this morning, arms shoulders, legs, sure I was walking bow legged when I go out of bed from all those LBH postures. Can you practice third only once a week, I wonder.

After the two preceding six day Ashtanga weeks, last weeks morning practice turned out like this

Monday - Primary
Tuesday - Intermediate
Wednesday - Vinyasa Krama (asymm/seated focus)
Thursday - Vinyasa krama ( Bow focus)
Friday - primary
Saturday - Vinyasa Krama (core asanas)
Sunday - Advanced A

Evening practice was a bit hit and miss, think I managed to get on the mat only about four times and sometimes just for a handful of Surys before Pranayama and meditation. I should start putting that in the diary too and getting it settled again now morning practice is stable.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Medicinal Advanced A

I'd planned on practicing Intermediate this morning but after last nights Martini and Sake, something a little more sweaty was called for. Gives an idea how cold it's getting, heating on full plus a space heater and even 2nd isn't raising much of a sweat, having to resort to 3rd for some serious detox.

This was my first time practicing 3rd in, what, eighteen months? I've practiced many of the postures of course in Vinyasa Krama but not as a series..... big difference. Last summer I decided 3rd wasn't for me, the arm balances were bulking me up and, at the time, I felt they were less interesting than the twists and binds that I was finding more challenging. And of course I was getting into Vinyasa Krama in a big way exploring a bunch of the postures from the second half of 3rd.

Come to think of it, it's not the first time in eighteen months, I seem to remember practicing it once, a few months back, with the Jois Advanced A videos on YouTube.

I came up with the idea of practicing it once a week on my day off, a detox practice, besides there are some nice Krama's in it, the LBH series for example. I figured Primary on Friday, Intermediate on Sunday and Advanced A on Tuesday with Vinyasa Krama the other four days of the week. Practicing 3rd only once a week shouldn't bulk me up too much but I wonder how smooth I'll be able to make it, those transitions may always be clunky.

I decided to video it to give me a point of reference and something to look at critically, see what needs most work. First thing I need to do is practice along with Swenson's Advanced A a few times, I got lost, forgot how some of the exits went, very very rusty. There were a couple of times where I had to stop and pull out my Itouch to check what came next and how.

I was pleasently suprised by the first couple of postures Vasisthasana and Viswamitrana, I remember being dreadful at these, still pretty rough but a little less embarassing than they used to be. Durvasana was the big disappointment, I've practiced it on and off in VK, it's been coming along but for some reason I couldn't manage it here and even abandoned the second side, perhaps something to do with practicing it as part of a series. The arm balances are rough but I was delighted at being able to get back up to headstand from Koundinyasana to Asavakrasana, was never able to do that before, used to jump back to plank.

The camera started beeping away through the second side of Purna Matsyendrasana so had to stop recording there, bit of a shame as I was pleased with my hanumanasana and especially Eka Pada raja Kapotasana, deeper than usual, got the back of my head right into my instep. I usually practice them in Vinyasa krama in a backbend sequence, I wonder if all the stretching out of the legs in the arm balances and Eka pada Viparita dandasana somehow helped. I'll record the second half next week.

As I said this is really rough and there are mistakes everywhere so I recommend the Swenson 2nd and 3rd series DVD to talk you through it. I have a play list of the Jois led Advanced A on YouTube, you can find it here.

Was warming up so decided to change after the above clip before it was too late.

Must get a new camera, one I can record for two hours in one go. I like the idea of recording a whole series or VK sequence every few months and having something to refer back to. Be nice to have something to look at when coming across some great tips/suggestions on other blogs etc. see the difference between what I'm doing and what's being suggested.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Garbha Pindasana in Winter

I was asked about Garbha Pindasana recently in relation to which Primary series DVD I recommended for the home Ashtangi who'd been practicing awhile. I went for Kino's ( I tend to recommend the Mark Darby DVD for the complete beginner. Good Primary series DVD reviews HERE btw, especially in the comment section). I remembered she, Kino, had some extras for beginners, as it happens, she doesn't cover Garbha P in the beginner section but I did notice something interesting.

I've always had trouble steering in Garbaha P, fine if I keep my hands on my knees ( early video here ) or at a push keep one hand on my head and the other on my forearm, like a joystick, but both hands on my forehead and I invariable end up falling off to the side. On Kino's DVD, however, I noticed she doesn't have her hands fixed on her forehead but keeps them about an inch in frount. I suspect that little bit of space helps with steering. I tried it this morning and managed to steer pretty much OK although my equa towel was bone dry ( not sweating much in winter) so I couldn't get much purchase, noticed in the video that my fingers are actually touching my forehead, lightly.

Winter is a... bind for Garbha Pindasana. If your struggling with it in Summer then winter is your worst nightmare. I don't know how anyone manages it with trousers/tights/leggings/capri pants or whatever, I need skin. I tend to up the tempo through the Marichi's, full on Kino jump throughs to try to get a sweat up and if I don't manage it then out comes the water bottle (had to go and find it last week for winter practice). I go crazy with it, spraying inside of my legs, outside, feet, arms, shoulders even .

Getting the arms through, ( I have a post on that here) I try to create as much space as possible and just keep working them through ever deeper. I noticed Kino pulls up on her arm as if she's making an inappropriate gesture ( I do it on the video below), it helps, it all helps. Spray the mat/towel to help you get some purchase, I didn't here, not much of a roll the first few times so I had to compensate in the latter ones. Spraying the arms heavily helps when rolling up to Kukktasana too and especially when lowering back down. Spray the towel where your hands are going to go to or your lotus jump back will be as lame as mine here, almost buried my face in the mat. Hell, spray everything, set up a sprinkler system in your home shala for the winter.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Vinyasa krama, my 3rd series.

Just came up with a nice way to square the circle re Vinyasa Krama and Ashtanga.

What if I think of Vinyasa Krama as my 3rd series. In Ashtanga, when moving on to 2nd, you still practice Primary on Friday and on moving to 3rd you practice Primary Friday, rest Saturday, practice 2nd on Sunday and then 3rd the rest of the week. Once a week is supposedly enough to keep the previous two series ticking along nicely, so how about I do the same but practice Vinyasa Krama the rest of the week in place of 3rd.

Feels like a neat, angst free solution (enough angst about the cricket).

So this morning I practiced Vinyasa Krama built around the Bow sequence. It's a backbend sequence so I emphasised those aspects in the tadasana sequence that started my practice and included dropbacks. I simplified Bow sequence a little but kept the Viparita Salabhasana and Garbha Bherundasana and extended the theme a little into Eka pada raja kapotasana, Ustrasana, Laghu and Kapo. I used the long five minute Paschimottanasana as a counter pose then went into the shoulderstand prep and long inversions with their variations ( Viparita andEka pada viparita dandasanas in Shoulderstand). Finished with Maha mudra, Badha konasana and Badha padmasana/Yoga mudra before 108 kapalbhati, twenty minutes of nadi shodana pranayama with the pranayama mantra on the inhaled retention, five minutes pratyahara (shanmukhi mudra) and three times round the mala for japa mantra meditation

'Ashtanga is who I am, Vinyasa Krama who I'd like to be'.

Although Saturday is traditionally the Ashtanga rest day, I tend to take mine on Wednesdays. I work Saturdays but have a little extra time in the morning for a longer practice and besides, I usually overdo it a bit on Tuesdays, my day off work.

However, when you wake up at 5am without the alarm, roll over, fall back to sleep and wake up again to find it's still only 5:30, you might as well practice. As it was supposed to be my Ashtanga rest day today I thought I'd do Vinyasa Krama instead. This month I switched Ashtanga to my morning practice slot so my VK practice has been a lot shorter, twenty minutes asana as prep for pranayama and meditation, this would be my first long Vinyasa Krama practice for a month (taking into account the recent 'injuries')

It was a joyous practice, more time spent in postures, long long breathes, a slower pace, inhabiting poses, wonderful, half way through a curious thought popped into my head...

Ashtanga is who I am, Vinyasa Krama who I'd like to be.

Now where the heck did that come from?

I've been thinking how Ashtanga appealed to me and, indeed, suited me in the beginning. I don't think any other form of yoga at the time would have grabbed me. I remembered, too, the impression Vinyasa Krama made on me last year when I first tried it, while working around a knee injury, there was a profound sense of peace, a calmness, it's how I felt this morning while I was practicing. I love Ashtanga, love the detox aspect, the routine, same postures, same sequence, reminds me of the Kata I used to practice in Aikido and later Iaido. I like the focus and there is a meditative quality, to my Primary at least, but not peace. Another thing, I find it hard to practice Pranayama and to Meditate after Ashtanga, unlike Vinyasa Krama.

Makes me wonder if I should be trying to force myself back into an Ashtanga practice, perhaps I've just moved on and should accept it. If I'm honest what I've missed most is the detox aspect of Ashtanga and I seem to remember sweating buckets when practicing the Vinyasa Krama triangle sequence. perhaps all I need is the occasional detox Krama.

Of course this is just me, clearly others find peace within the practice ( LATER: Just read this from Maya on the Tristana ) and perhaps if I hadn't come across Vinyasa Krama when I did, I would have too. Or perhaps it's something to do with which aspects of Ashtanga your drawn to in the first place. I'm certainly not suggesting Vinyasa Krama is in any way superior to Ashtanga, both come from Krishnamacharya. My Apologies, this conflict must be becoming more than a little tiresome by now.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Vinyasa Krama liberated

Really nice Vinyasa Krama practice this evening, it feels liberated.

Vinyasa Krama has a couple of core recommended daily postures, a long five to ten minute Paschimottanasana, Maha mudra, long Shoulderstands and Headstands, plus I like to practice the ten minute Tadasana sequence daily as well.

Practicing Ashtanga again in the morning I'm able to include all those postures, just making them a little longer than in a regular Ashtanga practice ( I squeeze Maha mudra in before Janu A) and I tend to do the tadasana sequence as soon as I get on the mat, before the Sury's.

With the Core asana out of the way in the morning, I'm able to explore a couple of different Vinyasa Krama subroutines in the evening, for twenty minutes or so, before moving on to Pranayama and meditation. This evening I built a mini sequence around Hanumanasana, Eka pada raja kapotasana and Natajarasana including some prep poses ( a variation of p223 in Ramaswami's book), it felt great.

Love the sense of play/improvisation, tis Jazz! Great way to burn off the days Raja's and I'm totally sold on the benefits of prefacing your meditation with a little asana and pranayama, much better than getting home and jumping straight on the cushion and spending twenty minutes trying to settle.

And this morning... (sat 20th)

Fifth Ashtanga practice of the week, seem to be slipping back into the routine nicely. Was looking forward to practice when I went to bed last night and only a slight hesitation when my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning. Practice was excellent, 2ND series, at one point I had to check my Sweeney to make sure I hadn't missed a pose or two, I hadn't. Kapo was fine not deep but stress free and comfortable, LBH's deeper, smoothly up and down in Karanda with less squish and a really nice long mayurasana. Wondering if my legs are getting stronger from the Kandasana work as coming up from dropbacks, kapo B and Laghu seemed effortless.

Oh and I forgot to mention, the new pose, Kandasana, I dreamt last night I was doing it over and over....

...and is it a moon day tomorrow? Typical, don't feel I want or need one now. looking forward to practice, tomorrow will make two, Ashtanga, six morning weeks in a row, finally getting into a routine now, sorry moon.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Towards Kandasana update

Kandasana is coming along nicely (see Tuesday's post), long way to go but I think I'm getting the feel for the motion, it almost feels like there's a rowing action to bringing the feet up and in. I'm beginning to feel how the legs are supposed to come around and down, there's a point in the video after I roll up where the knees start to drop ( see picture, annoyingly almost out of shot). Once I get the knees down I can see about straightening my back and sitting upright, should be as ramrod straight as padmasana, hard to believe this will be possible hands free.

Best of all it's doing it's job in motivating me onto the mat, nice to know I've got it to work on half way through the practice. Practice was really nice yesterday and I almost bounced out of practice and down to my mat this morning.

In the video I'm approaching it first from Yoga nidrasana then from Baddha konasana (with the help of a zafu), I use the first in 2nd series and the later in Primary

...and a tutorial from Odie on how it should be done.

Can't wait.....

to practice Primary tomorrow morning,

am I cured?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Regaining the discipline: A new pose plus update

It struck me that one of the things that helps you get on the mat in the morning, is working on or towards a new pose. Through most of Primary I was obsessed with jumping back and through and couldn't wait to get on the mat. Of course we're always working on our poses, tweaking them, developing them but there's nothing like a new pose to get you out of bed. I want to keep my Ashtanga simple, as stripped down as possible but perhaps just one new pose, but which, only just had stitches out of my head so can't work on flipping out of Viparita Dandasana.

I was given this old copy of Iyengar's light on yoga last week, it has the best cover photo.

Kandasana, now there's a pose, one of those classic yoga postures like Natajarasana, Eka pada Kaja Kapotasana, Purna matsyendrasana, something beautiful about it. Here's Sharath on the left and below on the KPJAYI logo, I don't think I ever noticed there was a logo let alone that it had Kandasana on it. Thanks, R, for pointing it out.

Best of all it's a development of Baddha Konasana so slips right into Primary without disrupting things too much. Oh and there's a way of working towards it from Yoga Nidrasana so I can slip it into 2nd series as well, something to look forward to around the middle of both practices and a reason to get up when it's cold and dark.

A nice byproduct of practicing Ashtanga in the morning is that I'm covering the key Vinyasa Krama postures there, the long paschi, long shoulderstand and headstand as well as a tadasana sequence before my Surys. It frees me to explore mini Vinyasa Krama sequences and subroutines in the evening as prep for pranayama and meditation. I'm thinking a Standing triangle sequence pose then perhaps Maha Mudra, Paschimattanasana, Upavista Konasana (Seated angle pose), Baddha Konasana and Kandasana followed by Padmasana ready for pranayama.

Still a way to go of course, but then that's the point. I tried it after Yoga Nidrasana this morning while laying on my back, it felt close, I could feel my legs coming around and my feet coming into my chest, just a bit more leg strength needed.

I'll try and video the Yoga Nidrasana approach later but for now a very much work in progress seated attempt. This was taken after practice as I don't want to interrupt the flow of my practice at the moment.

Probably best not to try this one unless you have a really, nice knees- flat-on-the-ground Baddha Konasana.

UPDATE 27/02/12

Started working on Kandasana again with some improvement. The knees came more around today and down, a case now of bringing the knees closer together now to take the feet higher and deeper so i can let go, fascinating posture

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Dread

Anyone else get this? Early evening your looking forward to the mornings practice, late evening....the Dread.

This afternoon I'm having a tooth pulled, yet it's the thought of practice not the visit to the Dentist that gives me pause to groan.

It's my day off, practice on hold for a couple of hours, always a mistake, should have got up at my usual time and just got on with it, now it feels feels like.... like my bed is the Shire and my mat lies somewhere behind the gates of Mordor, that's it my black Manduka is Barad-dûr.

Cowboy up Frodo, Intermediate this morning.

Yesterday's Primary was of course fine....once I dragged myself through the Mines of Moria.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Rebuilding the discipline. First six morning Ashtanga week in six months

First a big thank you to everyone who commented on my last post, ' I'm struggling here', with words of advice and encouragement, it helped, thank you.

And secondly, a clarification. Although this has been my first six morning ashtanga week in six months it's not as if I haven't kept up a steady morning yoga practice.

Six months ago I started to prepare for the summer Vinyasa Krama course in LA by doing a few days Ashtanga and a few days Vinyasa Krama then a week on each Vinyasa krama sequence. On the course I practiced ashtanga in the stairwell most morning before the asana class but probably only four or five days a week. When I came back from the course I was practicing Vinyasa Krama in the mornings except for Friday's Primary. Missing Ashtanga I started to practice Primary in the evenings but still Vinyasa Krama in the mornings. This started well but for one reason or another, working late, shopping for dinner, whatever, I'd often get home late and not have time for a full practice and have to cut it short or do some Vinyasa Krama subroutines instead, so as not to cut back on the pranayama and meditation. Then of course there were the 'injuries' that disrupted my practice last month, the inflamed coccyx (still taking pills for that and rolling around in LBH to avoid sitting on it), the tooth abscess (tooth coming out Tuesday), the cut leg from hitting a train in the wet ( pretty much healed) and the three stitches in the top of my head ( stitches out now and pretty much healed up).

So this isn't as dramatic as not having stopped practicing yoga every morning, just a case of not having practiced Ashtanga for the full six mornings for six months. Anyone who doesn't practice ashtanga is probably asking, what's the big deal?

I didn't expect jumping back into morning ashtanga to be so hard either, I still had a morning practice routine and been practicing Ashtanga on and off in the evenings, thought it would be straight forward.


I have a renewed respect for the practice itself and for those who get up and do it every morning, It's tough, mentally as well as physically, it's really quite something, pat yourselves on the back ashtangis, look at what you do. To push yourself through that every morning for ninety minutes/two hours, day in day out, to stay focused (mostly), concentrated, it's quite a discipline, a helluva tapas. Let alone those of you coming up to a split and doing a series and a half.

I wrote the I'm struggling here post on Friday, your comments helped me get on the mat Saturday for Intermediate, which went well (that made five mornings), I stripped the practice down, no VK extras. I did the same this morning, almost faltered though, Maya curled up on the sofa cruelly tempting me away from the mat, but I managed to drag myself away and into the Shala for another 2nd series. I confess I felt a most unyogic feeling of triumph when I reached shoulderstand, that I'd managed the six morning week, three primary, three Intermediate.

Intermediate was OK, didn't over dramatize the Kapo, dropped back to my toes, Karanda wasn't pretty but I landed it and got it back up for the exit. LBH is awkward with the coccyx still playing up, I have to keep Dwi pada raised the whole time, dropbacks and coming up were fine. Weirdly I'm finding 2nd series easier to face than Primary, what's that about?

Tomorrow of course is another week so I'm not feeling that triumphant, perhaps if I can keep it up for a month I might feel I'm back in the routine and can relax a bit and start enjoying it. Six months and I might feel I'm an ashtangi again.

Did I hear someone shout "Try six years mate"?

And yes I still practice Vinyasa Krama but I've stopped thinking of it as an asana practice. I do fifteen/twenty minutes of asana, some VK subroutines, then twenty of pranayama and twenty of meditation. I prefer to think of it as my evening meditation practice, the asana and pranayama just prep, that seems to help somewhat, I don't feel that I'm doing two practices so can drop a morning Ashtanga. That said I've dropped a few evening practices this week and need to get that back on track too.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Rebuilding the discipline. I'm struggling here!

For three years I didn't have much difficulty getting on the mat in the mornings, Summer or Winter. I begrudgingly took rest days and can probably count the moon days I've taken on one hand with fingers to spare. I've practiced while on holiday and usually when sick and a for lot of that period practiced twice a day, usually ashtanga in the morning and some kind of mini practice in the evenings whether working on particular tricky postures or later exploring Vinyasa Krama. I've written posts on discipline and techniques for getting on the mat but truth be told I've always found it pretty easy, try to practice at the same time and don't think further ahead than the Surys. So getting on the mat, no problem...

until now.

I'm struggling here.

I'm having to drag myself out of bed. I'm greedily lapping up moon days and rest days. When I do prise myself out of bed I'm delaying, putting off, avoiding my practice room, it's an effort, a struggle.

And when I do get on the mat I'm having to grind it out, not really enjoying it. I catch myself looking at the clock, find myself tempted to rush through the second half of the practice or think of excuses to skip poses. So far I've just about managed to stay on program, the breath, bandhas, the mantra I use throughout, have helped but it's all a bit tedious.

OK I'm being melodramatic, it's not as bad as that, I'm enjoying some parts of it and some days are better than others but overall.... it's a struggle.

I'm not sure how it's come about, I've switched my practice around before. Ashtanga was OK in the evening although I had to cut it short a few times, cut out most of finishing or done a VK practice because I was running late but that was kind of OK because I'd been practicing Vinyasa Krama in the morning. I've never stopped having a morning practice. No, it's going back to ashtanga in the mornings. I'd forgotten what a long hard practice it is. When I first started, of course, I built up to it and then it had become a routine that I just got on with, enjoyed it most of the time, ground it out when It felt hard work, no big deal but here I'm jumping back into full practice, getting up at five-thirty on six hours sleep to face that Sisyphean boulder every morning and it's an effort. More melodrama, indulge me this once.

Figured I shouldn't be keeping it to myself, 'bout time I hit a wall huh.

It'll pass right? It's just a case of rebuilding the discipline, getting back in the routine, becoming used to two hours of full on practice ( morning Vinyasa Krama was very relaxing, mellow, hard work at times but a much slower pace ). It'll be fun again, No?

Oh I worked it out. I didn't practice Ashtanga in July or August (except on Fridays, always kept Friday primary up) Eight times in September, Five x Primary, three x Intermediate. Eighteen times in October, Eleven x Primary, seven x Intermediate and so far Seven times in November, six x Primary and Intermediate just the once.

And tomorrow it's Intermediate, groan.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

First intermediate series in a month

The dreamlike dropback from yesterday's post eluded me this morning. I thought I could still feel them in my body, when I got up, perhaps I should have started with backbends while they were still fresh but by the time I got around to them, at the end of my practice, they had faded away. I made the mistake too of practicing Intermediate instead of Primary, should have kept everything as much the same as possible, oh and I practiced late morning. Now of course the hint of something special has passed and I feel my regular backbends in my body, so no clues. Still, perhaps it'll come back when I least expect it.

But I practiced 2nd series, first time in a month and for only the tenth time in the last three. In fact I checked my practice diary and I've only practiced primary twenty times in the last three months. I've been practicing Vinyasa krama almost everyday but my Ashtanga practice has been decimated. I'd hoped to keep it up in the evenings but I would often end up running late and considered pranayama and meditation more important. I'd end up doing a short VK sequence or two. Susan's right, as ever, hard to keep an Ashtanga practice up in the evenings.

Convinced of the benefits of the detox aspect, I want to rebuild my Ashtanga practice in the mornings and shift Vinyasa krama, pranayama and meditation to after work. I'll still keep some VK aspects in the morning, start with tadasana sequence, long paschimattanasana, Shoulderstands and headstands as well as finishing with kapalabhati, and a little pranayama and japa meditation. It'll free me to practice some different VK subroutines in the evening too, perhaps fifteen minutes of asana.

So first Intermediate in a month, I was surprised Kapo was still pretty much there, managed to grab my heels but had to work for it and couldn't grab them from the air. Actually the video is the second in a month, I did it once, caught my toes and decided to film the next one as I already had the camera set up to try and capture the mythical dropback. My knees are too far apart but I liked the coming back up from kapo B, quads are strong from the VK squats.

I filmed Karandavasana too. I didn't think I'd be able to get it back up and wanted to watch where I was showing weakness. As it happened I lowered it OK, although a little fast at the end, and managed to raise it inch by inch, thought I wasn't going to make it at one point and would have to bail but it got there. All squished again, had just started to reduce that although my chin was just off the mat. The exit from such a squished position is clumsy, but I'll take it.

Rest of 2nd was OK, krounchasana seems to have improved, probably from all the long forward bends I do in VK. Leg behind heads poses again fine, if anything deeper no doubt from my work on wide angle pose and baddha konasana. I missed out the headstands as I still have three stitches in the top of my head but the seven deadlies are usually fine especially as I do those long long headstands in VK.

I'm thinking a month of four Primarys, two Intermediates to rebuild the discipline and then switch it back the other way around in the new year to properly bring 2nd series up to scratch. thinking of attending some workshops next year too and perhaps the odd Sunday visit to a shala to work on tidying everything up.

Did I dream those backbends?

Do you ever wonder if you dreamt your yoga? I get up 5:30am , light a candle, go through the familiar practice chanting my mantra. After a savasana I get up and go about my day and perhaps pause to assure myself I did actually practice that morning rather than just dream it.

Sometimes there are little flashbacks of something I'd forgoten, I just had one getting out of the bath, those backbends, did I dream those backbends?

I practiced primary this morning ( I think), everything has been so disrupted what with the coccyx, the leg, the tooth, the head..... that I've gone back to basics, morning Primary, evening VK/pranayama/meditation.

I did five urdhva danurasanas then moved my mat to the wall for my backbends. I usually work into it but this morning after a couple of stretches, dropped back and came up without tapping off the wall ( I usually tap off for the first couple just to work my way into it). Something felt different, I realized I had hardly moved my feet and felt taller somehow. I started dropping back and coming up on the breath, I'm hoping my body remembers more clearly what I was doing than my head tomorrow. I was still nutating my pelvis but somehow lifting too, I seemed straighter, taller. Normally my feet splay but here only the left foot was turning out and less than usual and I was coming up almost effortlessly.

I did think about getting the camera, kind of wish I had now as I'm paranoid it'll be like trying to get back to sleep and take up the dream where you left off. I don't know, I think something happened, it's as if my body, my back, has a secret. It's whispering to me now, not a pain or an ache but a presence, that backbend from this morning it's still there, for now at least, but will it come morning?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Light on Yoga

Nice surprise at work today, one of the son's of my late boss brought me down a book. Seems they were clearing out one of their fathers rooms and came across a copy of Iyengar's Light on Yoga (1985), well thumbed too so it looks like he might have practiced a bit.

Always nice when you find out someone practiced for a while back in the day. Reminded me that I'd had a brief flirtation with it in my twenties. I remember buying a hardback edition of the same book and trying a bunch of the postures, I remember getting frustrated with the layout of the book back then just as now, still the coolest yoga book ever though.

No not saying it's the best nor my favourite just the coolest (the old paperback edition anyway)..

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

That hurt.

Yesterday I was going on about how wonderful my first Ashtanga Primary was after a week off, still being able to nail all the full extensions of the poses and fancy transitions. No doubt because it was so fresh and I was feeling good I might have over done it a bit because this morning was a hard slog. hamstrings felt tighter from the start and never seemed to loosen up fully. I felt weak and my will was struggling. I was doing the mantra, split between the inhale and exhale thing, which I've found to focus the mind nicely but from as early as Standing I was hearing whispers of "Perhaps you should forget it for today" or " Hammies are tight, better to rest up no?" and so on at intervals throughout the practice.

I managed to get though it by thinking ahead to the more restful postures " I can rest in a long paschi", "Forward bends will chill me out", " I get to lay down in Supta hasta padangustthasana". I rushed finishing a little and all I could think about in Savasana was my grapefruit. So got through it but it hurt, sure I wont be looking forward to stepping on the mat tomorrow.

I'd forgotten how hard primary can be. Practicing intermediate it's such a pleasure to practice Primary on Friday that the sheer joy of it carries you through, haven't struggled with primary for a long time.

One thing I did notice was my weight. I weighed myself before practice yesterday and I was 77 kilo's. Recently I've been floating around the mid 77's to 78 ( I'd probably dropped a little from the tooth thing and not being able to eat properly although I did put away quite a bit of Ice cream). After practice I weighed 76 dead, so lost a kilo in sweat throughout the practice, that's kind of normal for me though, the time I went to the shala in London I lost two kilo's in one go. This morning though I weighed myself before practice and I was still 76kilos, that was a bit strange, after practice 75.2 that's probably the least I've weighed in twenty years. I think when I lost all that weight on the course and weighed myself when I came back I was 75.4. No wonder I felt weak throughout practice this morning.

In case you don't work in Kilo's

77 kilo is 169.8 pounds or 12 stone in proper weight
76 kilo is 167.6 pounds, 11 stone 9
75.2 kilo is 165 ponds, 11 stone 8

I don't tend to obsess about weight just keep half an eye on it. If I go up over 78 then I wonder if I've been eating to much junk or been doing too many arm balances. 77 is a weight I'm comfortable with but having gradually dropped down to 75 on the course I found it an excellent weight to be practicing a, I felt great and wouldn't mind going back to that but gradually though eating properly rather than being silly. This was too sudden a drop in weight though, feel shattered now and wish i could go back to bed rather than to work. Oh for reference I was 94.5 kilo three years ago when I started the practice, thats 208 pounds or 14 stone 9oz in real money

Oh and on the sweaty topic from yesterday I'm as fresh as a daisy this morning, yesterday must have been a result of the tooth infection (which has pretty much cleared up finally ) rather than the medication.

Ashtanga Primary ; The stench of a detox practice.

OK I'm going to go all Henry Miller on you so you might not want to read this while eating your breakfast.

One of the things I remember from when I first started practicing Ashtanga was the smell. I would sweat buckets and I have to say, I stank. My body stank, the clothes I was wearing stank, the towel I practiced on, they all stank. This went on for about six weeks and then the smell went away. All the gunk in my body, built up over the years sweated out of me by the practice. Of course, if on my day off, say, I practiced and didn't shower right away I would notice the stale sweat smell after a few hours, but this too went after few weeks of practice after becoming vegetarian. Now I can practice and even miss a shower if I'm running late and get away with it ( not a regular occurrence I hasten to add). How curious, I've always loved this detox aspect of the practice.

I don't tend to drink much anymore, I water my wine turning it viryually into grape juice, half an inch of wine, the glass topped up with fizzy water, actually it's pretty much just coloured water. Saturday's though are cocktail night, it's the only evening I get to spend with M and we celebrate it with a martini, sometimes two (although these have tended to be watered down lately also) and if it's Japanese food then there will be a pot of Sake, very occasionally two. Apart from finding the balancing poses a little more difficult the following morning, the main thing I notice is the smell of detoxing, sweating the alcohol out, it's a sweatier, smellier practice. I notice the same thing when practicing through a cold or flue.

This morning was my first Ashtanga practice since last Monday due to a couple of injuries picked up outside of practice, I've never taken more than two days off in a row before. I practiced Vinyasa Krama of course but that doesn't count when talking about detox. So first practice in a week and it was excellent, I was afraid I might have lost some strength but all my jump backs were fine even the half and full lotus, the half Kino jump through I do coming into a floating dandasana before lowering, all fine. Nailed my Mari D at the wrist, lifted feet in Kurmasana, LBH entry to Supta K and one of my best ever Badha konasanas, heels much closer to the body yet knees still flat to the floor. I was sweating buckets and my arms seemed to slide in almost to the shoulder in Garbha pindasana. Drop backs too were good, I'd been practicing through a little pain in the left psoas for the last few weeks but that seems to have healed up over the week off. My point here is that despite a week off I hadn't lost my practice, if anything the practice was better, fresher. We get so paranoid about taking a couple of days off sick, or what might happen if we're laid off through injury but I needn't have worried practice was delicious.

Oh and it had a Vinyasa Krama tinge to it too. I started with ten minutes of tadasana sequence before my Surys, stayed in paschimattanasana for five minutes, spent time in maha mudra before lowering to Janu A and took a long long Sarvangasana. I gave headstand a miss though because of the tooth. I also chanted my mantra split between the inhale and exhale throughout the practice.

So a good long sweaty practice. I threw on a T, ate my grapefruit and went up to take a shower. When I took my shirt off I sniffed it and there was the most disgusting smell, almost acidic. I should mention that I've been taking anti inflammatories for an inflamed coccyx and antibiotics for a tooth abscess that made my whole face swell up. I'm not sure if the sweaty stench came from the pus in my tooth, the drugs, or just not having practiced for a week, I suspect a little of each.

Now I love my Vinyasa Krama practice but have never experienced the same sense of detoxing I find in ashtanga. I'm sure there must be some going on due to the long Ujaii but it's not the same. That sweating everything out every morning combined with the Ujaii breathing seems a potent combination.

Makes me wonder too what it must be like in the newly opened shalas. Do you have twenty to forty newbies coming to their first practice sweating out several years of gunk from their bodies? Lovely, kind of glad I practiced alone those first six weeks. What saints Ashtanga teachers are.

Because I feel I need for this this detox I'm switching my practice around again. Ashtanga back to the mornings and I'm going to stick with just primary for a couple of weeks to get my focus and discipline back. I want to explore this chanting the mantra through the practice for an extended period more too, I've done it a couple of times but want to try it every day for a month or so, seems to work better though Primary. The evening will be like the summer course at LMU, fifteen minute vigorous asana practice then forty minutes pranayama, twenty minutes meditation.

Mouse Update.

I mentioned a few weeks back that I had a mouse in the house which I caught with a humane trap and let go in the woods. At the time I regretted not filming the release. This weekend we found we had another mouse but managed to film letting it go.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Srivatsa Ramaswami"s November 2010 Newsletter-Yajnyavalkya- also includes a response from Eddie Stern regarding 'Rest' days

Dear Friend;

Hope this finds you well.
I am going to India for about three months from late November. During
and Rishikesh organized by LMU, in LA. Please contact Alana Bray at
LMU at


A few years back I wrote an article about my Guru Yogacharya Sri T
Krishnamacharya which appeared in Namarupa magazine. It contains a few
exclusive pictures of him from my personal album. Here is the link.

Like stories? I wrote the “Story of Patanjali” in my book “Yoga for
the Three Stages of Life” published in 2000 by Inner Traditions. In
Google books I was able to access it (free) pages 21 to 29. It also
contains many nice hand drawn sketches to go with the story. I hope
you can find these pages here.


In one of my earlier newsletters I had written about “anadhtyayana”
days as follows

Certain days in the month are considered “anadhyayana” days. Some
people ask if Yoga should not be done on these anadhyayana days.
During my studies with my teacher he did not specify any days when we
should not practice Yoga. Anadhyayana is usually associated with study
of the vedas and anadhyayana days are days one should not study the
vedas, presumably with the teacher. In short we may say that the veda
pathasala or veda schools would be closed on these days. I started
learning veda chanting (with my father) when I was about 10 years old
and I had a teacher who would come to our house at about 5 in the
to teach vedic chanting. But he would not come on these
“anadhyayana” days. The smritis say that vedas should be chanted daily
(vedam nityam adhiyetaam). So we may say that the prohibition is with
respect to studying, perhaps new lessons but not chanting the portions
already learned (swadhyaya). On anadhyayana days like the new moon
day, one may refrain from learning with a teacher new vedic lessons,
but may chant what one has already learnt. It is a moot question if
this restriction applies to yogasana learning and certainly does not
appear to apply to home yogasana practice

Here is a response from Eddie Stern, a long time disciple of Sri
Pattabhi Jois
and also editor of Namarupa magazine

Dear Srivatsa Ramaswami,
Thank you once again for your latest newsletter, which is, as usual,
very informative and a delight to read.

I had one friendly comment to pass on about the 'anandhyanana' days:

It is possible that the student who asked you about any prohibition of
practicing yoga on the full or new moon days was doing so because of
the observances of Pattabhi Jois. Much has been made of this
observance, with all sorts of ideas about why he does this, and what
significance it may have. However, the matter is quite simple. As you
know, the Maharaja's Pathashala (Sankrit College) was closed each
month for classes on the moon days, and the day before and after.
Studies were continued by the students, but no new lessons taught. One
reason for this was that on amavasya and purnima, certain rituals had
to be performed by the teachers and students alike, who are all
brahmins - for example, the pitr tarpana which needs to be performed
on amavasya, and the ritual bathing the day after the moons - all
these things take time to be performed. As well, though I have never
been able to find the reference, Pattabhi Jois used to quote to us -
and I also heard this from my old Bhagavad Gita teacher in Mysore -
that if a teacher teaches new subjects on the moon days, his knowledge
will decline, and on the day before or after, the knowledge of the
student will decline! Perhaps you might know where this reference
comes from? When I spoke to Pattabhi Jois's astrologer while
interviewing him for the "Guruji" book, he concurred with the idea
that it has something to do with the idea of as above, so below: our
mind is the moon, and waxes, wanes, and retains information in a
similar cycle as the moon in the sky.
Since Pattabhi Jois was a student at the Maharaja's Pathashala, and
then was the Professor of Yoga there from 1937 to 1973, this became a
habit and observance for him. Since he held the view that yoga was a
practice of Vedic origin, and that the knowledge of the Upanishads was
to be accessed only through the doorway of asanas and pranayama, he
ascribed the same observances to teaching them as he did to teaching
Veda. He further used to say that on the full and new moon days, there
was a particular conjunction of nakshatras that made it easier to get
injured, and that the injury would take longer to heal. I have never
been able to verify this through jyotish; perhaps this is something
that he learned from his father, who was an accomplished jyotishi.
Pattabhi Jois knew quite a bit too - the name Jois is a South Indian
corruption of Jyotish, and astrology was in his family tradition.
I say all this to make the simple point that Pattabhi Jois had certain
habits from the time he was 14. Why he had these habits is
interesting, and though we may not be brahmins, or even Indian, as his
students it is good to understand why certain things were done by him,
and accept that if he felt them important enough to follow, that they
are applicable to us too. But we should not go making a big thing of
it and creating all sorts of fantastical ideas! Below is a funny story
to illustrate what happens when we (for example, Ashtanga Yoga
students!) do not take the time to investigate simple things in a
rational manner:
A saintly scholar used to give a class on Bhagavad Gita each evening
beneath a tree near a village. He had a pet cat, and this cat would
sometimes run through the crowd, making a disturbance. As a result the
sage began to tie the cat to the tree during the class. After some
time the speaker shuffled off his mortal coil. One of his disciples
continued to give the Bhagavad Gita class under the tree, and
continued to tie the cat to the tree during the class. After some time
the cat passed away, and the disciple bought another cat. After three
generations a disciple wrote a paper on the sacred tradition of tying
a cat to the tree while giving a class on Bhagavad Gita.
So, all that being said, I think that the moon day/practice observance
should be followed by the Ashtanga Yoga students out of respect for
Pattabhi Jois and his methods. The purpose of following these things,
and submitting ourselves to a lineage, is to create humility and
thoughtfulness in the student. We will (most likely) not go to hell if
we practice on these days, but surrendering oneself to a lineage has
its own charm and effect on our character, so why should we not try
it? I do not believe that all yoga students should refrain from
practice on these days - they too should follow the observances of
their teachers, and hopefully by aligning our minds with higher
principles, will we all find happiness in our practices. On moon days
or not!
Thank you very much.
I hope that I did not go on for too long, or present any
Yours truly,
Eddie Stern


Sage Yajnyavalkya sat down with his two wives, Katyayani and Maitreyi
to discuss something very important. Katyayani was the typical
obedient wife and would abide by everything her husband would tell
her. She had three children and was generally a very contented person.
Maitreyi was an intellectual and had married the sage due to his
brilliance. She adored him for his wisdom and enormous scholarship,
debating abilities and spiritual achievements. The sage said without
beating around the bush,”I have decided to take the fourth stage
(ashram) of life, viz., sanyasa or renunciation and live alone in the
forest. I will divide my property between you two equally.” Katyayani
said that she would abide by her husband's decision, as Yajnyavalkya
would do the right thing. Maitreyi thought for a moment. My husband,
this Yajnyavalkya is no ordinary man. He earned a huge amount of
wealth, with his scholarship and supported the family admirably. He
had a very large number of milch cows, landed property and even pots
of gold, perhaps he was the richest 'scholar' on earth. If he should
renounce all this which he had righteously earned and assiduously
nurtured, there should be something greater he was going after. It is
said that she asked him what was that he was going after which was
higher than the huge wealth he had earned. She asked him, “Will all
the wealth you give me make me immortal?'' “No, no!” said
Yajnyavalkya, it will only make you a mortal, a rich mortal. Wealth
can not give one immortality” In that case I am not interested in this
wealth, she said, please tell me about that which would give
immortality, that you are going after by this renunciation. Teach me
that which gives that wisdom. Yajnyavalkya was mighty pleased with his
beloved wife's earnest query. “Yes, I will tell that momentarily and
listen to me carefully”, he said. After you hear it, sit down and
think about it, ponder over it with a concentrated mind until it is
unambiguously clear to you. Then never deviate from It.

We all love several beings and objects outside of us. The reason why a
wife loves her husband is not for the sake of the husband per se, but
because basically the wife loves her Atman, herself. Likewise a
husband loves his wife not merely for the sake of the wife but
because he loves his own atman, his self. Yagnyavalkya gave a number
of examples in our daily lives. The implication is that we love beings
and objects like the spouse and wealth because they give us happiness
and comfort. Everyone basically loves oneself and subconsciously
works for one's own happiness. All our lives we act to bring
happiness to ourselves and remove unhappiness. However there are
differences among people as to what would give them happiness. Some
people, satwic people appear selfless and go out of the way to help
others. The reason they do it is because making others happy makes
them happy. There are a few others who may perhaps derive pleasure at
the misery of others and tend to even cause pain to others or
subjugate others to pain to get happiness for themselves. But
basically everyone looks for happiness as everyone loves oneself. Here
the purpose of this narration is not to merely talk about what one
should do to just change oneself so that one may get happiness due to
right conduct (dharma). What the sage wants his wife to know is that
since everyone is after one's own happiness, one should really
understand/ know what constitutes the real self for whose happiness
one strives hard all through the life. According to the scriptures
especially the Upanishad and Patanjali's Yoga, there is a complete
misunderstanding (avidya) about the nature of one's self and the
scriptures by several means or vidyas try to help lead the earnest
seeker to understand the true nature of one's self. Here the sage
tells his spouse to understand the nature of the self from the
scriptures (srotavya), then deeply analyze and contemplate upon it
(mantavya) and then remain completely established in it
(nidhidhyasitavya). Since the real self is established by these
scriptures as pure, non- changing or immutable consciousness, the
self is considered immortal. Inference and meditation of these sayings
through different vidyas help one to remain well established in the
Self itself.

The sastras that exhort the aspirants to go by this path are called
nivritti sastras and also known as adhyatma vidyas or the subject
dealing with the nature of the Self. Among the foremost of this group
of philosophies is Yoga, Raja Yoga. Others include the Upanishads,
Samkhya, etc. Even though there are differences among these sibling
philosophies, these are supposed to lead one to immortality as the
Self is immortal and knowing, identifying with the Self leads to
immortality, as the Upanishad says “Mrutyor ma amrutam gamaya” or lead
me from death to immortality. Sage Yajnyavalkya urged his wife
Maitreyi to follow the spiritual path. And that was his answer to her
regarding immortality. He also answered her further queries.

Sage Yajnyavalkya was a very revered person in the vedic lore. Brash,
brilliant and benevolent his incisive understanding of the vedic
wisdom brought him fame and some trouble. When young, he studied the
three different Vedas—rik, sama and atharva-- from three different
masters then finally settled down to study his own veda, the Yajur
veda under his maternal uncle Vaisampayana, who was then an authority
on Yajur veda.

Yajavalkya was just exceptional. The Uncle was pretty pleased with the
capacity of his nephew. He not only got the entire Yajur veda by heart
but also went into details of the philosophies and the minute details
of the various rites described in the Yajur veda. There were other
students in Vaisampayana's ashram, but none was comparable to him.
Slowly the young student started helping the uncle in the performance
of various religious rites. Initially everything was honky dory.
Slowly the young scholar started finding some infirmities in the way
the uncle was handling the teaching and using the vedas. He found that
in the branch of yajur veda Vaisampayana was teaching, there was
mixing up of the ritual portion and the mantra portion. The uncle was
slowly getting restless with the brilliance of his nephew, the
adoration was giving way to apathy and then anger and then jealousy.
There was a time when Vaisampayana was wanting to perform a particular
rite to expiate an adharmic action, but Yajnyavalkya who had studied
the other vedas opined that the proper propitiatory act was only in
another veda the atharva veda and what his uncle was contemplating
from yajur veda would not work. That was the last straw. Vaisampayana
shouted at his nephew to leave his ashram. As Yajnyavalkya was walking
towards the door, the uncle angrily said that since he had no respect
for what he taught he could as well return the knowledge. The young
man withdrew all the knowledge he learnt from the uncle and threw it
up, as it were. Vysampayana then directed his other disciples to
swallow it and they took the form of tittiri birds and swallowed what
was discarded by Yajnyavalkya. The tittiri birds got back the human
forms and chanted the whole veda which came to be known as taittiriya
branch of Yajur veda. This portion of yajur veda contains the famous
taittiriya upanishad which contains the panch kosa or five sheath
vidya, with which many yoga students are familiar.

Yajnyavalkya, a perfectionist, vowed he would never again go back to a
human Guru. As said in the sutra Ishwarapranidhana, he decided to
surrender to the Lord. He did intense tapas or penance to Surya or Sun
god, the Almighty manifest. Ultimately he reached the world of sun and
directly imbibed the yajur veda in its purest form. Upon his return he
wrote the entire yajur veda which because it was said to be pure, came
to be known as shukla or white/pure Yajur veda. In contrast the
vaisampayana's older version was known as krishna or black yajur veda
as it was contaminated. But in practice Krishna Yjur veda is the one
that is in vogue in most part of India especially South India. My Guru
and my family belong to the Krishna Yajur veda school. People who
follow the shukla yajur veda are not too many. But it is a beautiful
work. Unlike the krishna yajur veda which uses three notes or swaras,
this has two notes like the rhythmic notes of a horse trot. The two
outstanding upanishads of this veda are the Brihadaranyaka (the great
forest) and isavasya upanishad, both of which are highly venerated and
are part of the top ten upanishads. Yajnyavalkya also became one of
the foremost vedic scholars excelling in all aspects especially the
spiritual aspect of vedic knowledge. Yajnyavalkya means one who is
clad (valkya) in the yagna or the vedas. Yajnyavalkya=clad in vedas

The name Yajnyavalkya is found in several old texts, the smritis, the
vedas, upanishads, the puranas and other works. So, many conclude that
Yagnyavalkya became the name of a particular lineage and there were
many great personages with the same name. It is believed that one of
the oldest works on Hatayoga was authored by Sage Yajnyavalkya. It is
known as Yoga Yajyavalkya or Yoga Yajnyavalkya samhita and gives
detailed description of ashtanga yoga. This work can be considered as
one of the works which could be helpful for those who would like to
find material for therapeutic yoga. He says “That all internal
diseases and toxins are destroyed by the practice of asana, yama and
niyama” and that pranayama (breath practices) is said to destroy
diseases in all three doshas (psycho-physical body constitutions). It
describes the marmasthanas or vital points, the important nadis their
locations, and kandasthana, kundalini and other details. The detailed
descriptions of all the eight angas and a close affinity to vedanta
makes it an exceptional work on Yoga.

Traditional followers of Yajnyavalkya call him Yogeeswara
Yajnyavalkya. He defines Yoga as the union of the individual soul and
the supreme soul, following the vedantic school.. I studied both Yoga
Yajnyavalkya and several upanishad vidyas from Brihadaranyaka
Upanishad from my guru Sri Krishnamacharya.

It is said that Yajnyavalkya was also well versed in classical Indian
music and perhaps played an old string instrument called Veena, still
very popular . Veena is mentioned in the vedas. It is said that
playing the veena gives spiritual experience. As per an old sloka
attributed to the sage, one who plays the veena with the correct
knowledge of the instrument, well versed in swaras or notes (raga)
and rhythm or beats(tala), reaches the ultimate Brahman effortlessly
(veena vaadana tatwajah, swara sastr visaradah| talgnascha aprayatnena
parabrahmadhi gacchati.) Sri Krishnamacharya was able to play the


A few days ago I had gone to my son's house to spend time with my 3
year old grandsons (twins). They said that they were in preschool.
They were rattling on about what went on in the school and suddenly
one of them lay on the back on the floor, drew the feet close and
pressing the feet and back of the head and neck, lifted the hips.
Looking at me he said that he was doing ‘bridge’ and asked me, “Can
you do it thatha (grandpa)”?


Any comments or suggestions may be sent to

If you wish you may reproduce my letters and articles in your e mails
or webpage or blogs.

You may access the articles contained in the earlier newsletters---
click on newsletter tab in my website
Thanking you,

With best wishes
Srivatsa Ramaswami

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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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