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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Namarupa : Richard Schechner's notebook on his studies with Krishanamacharya

Thank you to Claudia (and Krishna ) for the heads up on this article from Namarupa.

Here's the teaser/intro that Namarupa provide.

by Daniel Dale
Photographs by Eddie Stern

It was in the spring of 2009. I had just finished teaching a yoga class at a health club in Manhattan, when a man who had been waiting by the door entered and began to do his own practice. I immediately took note of his uncommon form. He was moving and breathing just as I had seen demonstrated by Srivatsa Ramaswami and A.G. Mohan, two notable students of Krishnamacharya’s. I begged the man’s pardon for interrupting, but asked if he wouldn’t mind my asking where he had learned to practice in such a way.
“I learned in Madras, back in the 70s,” he said. “May I ask, from whom?” I inquired, to which he replied, “You probably haven’t heard of him.” I believe I then said, “Try me.” I was soon glad I had persisted; much to my delight, he said he had studied with “a man named Krishnamacharya.” ... continued online...

And I did. I know of this magazine from an article Ramaswami wrote on his own studies with Krishnamacharya. I highly recommend it, only a couple of pounds/dollars to download an edition with the option of ordering the paper copy if you so wish.

The article on Richard's notebooks blew me away. He studied with Krishnamacharya in the 70's, only for a few months, but at the same time as my own teacher Ramaswami, perhaps they crossed on the stairs going up to Krishnamacharya's room.

So the description of Krishnamacharya, his style of teaching, what he was teaching, was familiar to me from all the stories Ramaswami had told of his 30 odd years with him. And yet here, in Richard's article, is Krishnamacharya teaching in English, and it's as if his teaching has been preserved in wax.

'Richard said K’s teaching methodology consisted of 4 steps. First, he would demonstrate. Then he would dictate the steps verbally and Richard would take notes and/or draw a picture. Then K had Richard do it while he dictated the steps. Lastly, Richard would do it on his own and K would watch without dictating'. p6

So in the article, Richard is flicking through his notebook for the first time in years, it's somehow like hearing a faint echo.... 

We're used to hearing Krishnamacharya 2nd hand, 10th hand, in translation, through a process of Chinese whispers. Ramaswami was taught by him in Tamil I believe, so even here as close to the source as you can now get, there's still a translation to English and a constant revisiting. It's Krishnamacharya but it's also Ramaswami (and perhaps all the better for it). That said I remember towards the end of Ramaswami's TT course seeing a copy of Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu, as I flicked through the 120 odd pictures of Krishnamacharya in asana I was struck by the thought, "This is exactly, exactly, what Ramaswami has been teaching us". The postures, the variations, all exactly the same.

With Richard's notebooks, there's such an immediacy,  I can hear Krishnamacharya's voice as if he's talking directly to me and in a sense he is.

"Later, he tells me how to organize my yoga notes for teaching. ‘Each section, yes, standing positions, laying positions, jumping, sitting positions, face up positions, face down.’ But for now, I must keep this book as it is, chronologically.” p22

This by the way is pretty much exactly as Ramaswami organized his book The Complete book of Vinyasa Krama.

And Krishnamacharya's teaching is preserved 'in wax' in another way too. Although he only studied four to five days a week for a couple of months, Richard has continued to practice, alone, for the last thirty years just as Krishnamacharya taught him. In a sense he's not part of the US 'yoga community/lifestyle as we tend to think of it, he's just someone who went to India and continued to practice the yoga he was taught there, just as he learned it. 

How refreshing is that.

It reminds me of how privileged I was to be able to study with Ramaswami, who also  continues to practice and teach just as Krishnamacharya taught him. And how just a couple of days before I read the article I had decided to go back to practicing Vinyasa Krama as Ramaswami had taught me....the article was a confirmation of sorts.

Is this what lineage is all about?

Perhaps I should consider a little teaching, passing on what was passed on to me.

Richard actually says something quite wonderful about lineage, here's a taster, buy the article for this alone

'Richard: Yeah. I mean, these documents also remain, but basically what remains is our students. And that can fetch back very far. I sometimes, in a class, say, okay, let’s say you’re fifty. You are in your vital time. Or, fifty-five. And you teach something really important to a five-year-old. And that five-year- old remembers it. And when that five- year-old gets to be fifty-five, she teaches it to a five-year-old. How far back can this class reach? So, it goes 2000, 1950, 1900, 1850. You know, it takes
twenty people to get back a thousand years'. p17

Love that.

Or get the article/magazine for the clear and precise instructions Krishnamacharya gives Richard on the breath, on certain postures, how he introduces him to pranayama after just a couple of weeks. Of how he invites him to teach, expects him to teach but only one student at a time, two at most. Or for where he recommends 45 minutes practice, an hour at most or for where he tells Richard,

Too many people battle and torture their way through yoga, go too fast.’ p22

But my favourite quote from the article comes right at the end.

"Going over the materials brought 1971 back again, clear as crystal. And K along with it all, his eyes, his delicate way of moving, his strength, his humanity. And the love and respect you and the others have. A great gift.”p25

Thank you Richard for Sharing your notebooks and all at Namupura for sharing them with the rest of us.

You can get this edition of Namarupa HERE

Srivatsa Ramaswami is teaching his 200 hour Vinyasa Krama teacher training, based on his own studies with Krishnamacharya HERE

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Vinyasa Krama is the new 3rd Plus Ramaswami's 200 Hour VK TT course

Well for me anyway.

Had the best practice this morning. Ashtanga rest day so switched to Vinyasa Krama and practiced the Bow and Meditative sequences with some inversions followed by Pranayama and Japa mantra meditation. Caught my heels for the first time in six weeks in Kapo too and really nice pranayama.

Interesting, this is my first long Vinyasa Krama practice in about six weeks, what with the month long, led primary with Sharath project. I've practiced a shorter VK and pranayama practice in the evenings but even this was interrupted by the tictac project, so nice to have a proper practice.

I've missed it. Ashtanga is great, love it, enjoy it, feel fitter and stronger, the detox aspect seems to work but somehow, the last week or two I can't help feeling that I've moved on, Ashtanga's no longer enough.

This is no criticism of Ashtanga, it's a vary personal reaction  but somehow the pranayama, the meditation, the chanting, my whole attitude to anything 'yogic' seem to marry better with Vinyasa Krama.

Perhaps it's just because I began to explore those areas while practicing Vinyasa Krama and associate them with it or maybe it's just that I'm too hot and sweaty after Ashtanga practice and don't like sitting on a sweaty Equa towel for pranayama. I know, I could change, and switch towels but it's more than that, somehow Vinyasa Krama practice seems to flow into pranayama, the longer slower breathing of that approach to asana perhaps. Could be why some Ashtangi's practice pranayama before their practice.

Ramaswami taught that the asana reduces the Raja's, the agitation, restlessness, then you practice pranayama to reduce tamas (eg. lethargy), setting you up perfectly, putting you at your most satvic, for your meditative practice. And It makes sense to me, the asana, pranayama, pratyahara all there to prepare you for a more effective meditation practice, to create the best conditions for concentration. Ashtanga is great for dealing with rajas but does it really put me in the best state for a concentrated, focussed meditation practice? For falling asleep in savasana perhaps but not for meditation. At least not me.

But then of course the argument is that Ashtanga combines everything, it is the meditation practice.

there's something else though, I don't know how else to put it. Ashtanga seems to dominate my practice, my day, I feel less relaxed, less calm,  less.... equanimous.

Also less flexible.

But that's OK it's been an excellent six weeks, sharpened up my primary, had a good detox.

I figure I'll just think of Vinyasa Krama as my 3rd series. Practice Primary on Fridays, 2nd series on Sunday ( for the detox and to keep my hand in) and Vinyasa Krama the rest of the week. I might still take a month of led 2nd to tidy it up, August perhaps. So still going to practice Ashtanga and my even my Vinyasa Krama practice has a kind of loose Ashtanga structure to it, Standing, main body, finishing etc.

Also I want to spend June/July shadowing Ramaswami's Vinyasa krama TT course. I have all my notes and have been wanting to revisit them, so when the course starts in LA I'll do the same asana here at home as I did last year and reread and chant the yoga sutras, Krishnamacharya's Makaranda etc, the pranayama and meditation and perhaps post on it.

Here are the details of Ramaswami's VK TT course, can't recommend it enough and if you want a second opinion here's Claudia, a card carrying Ashtangi on Ramaswami's 20 hour Yoga Sutra course last week.

Clic on the title below for the link and if you have any questions regarding the course feel free to contact me, email address is under contact me in the About me profile section of the blog.

200-Hour Vinyasa Krama Yoga Teacher Training

event_ramaswamiThe 200-Hour Vinyasa Krama Yoga Teacher Training program, which is registered with Yoga Alliance®, is open to those seeking intense study in the Traditional Yoga as learned from the legendary Yogi Sri T. Krishnamacharya.  Upon completion in the program, participants are eligible for Yoga Alliance® RYT® or E-RYTSM certification.  This 200-hour program, under the direction of Srivatsa Ramaswami, will impart a comprehensive and in-depth grounding to Traditional Yoga as learned from Krishnamacharya.  In the complete Vinyasa Krama series, the entire range of sequences, numbering about 700 with important pranayama, chanting and meditation methods taught by Krishnamacharya, will be explored.

Srivatsa Ramaswami is Krishnamacharya's longest-standing student outside the family. He has mastered Vinyasa Krama, Vedic Chanting, and Yoga Therapy.  He is a registered Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance at the E-RYT500 (500 hour) level. This is the highest level of certification the Yoga Alliance offers. He has studied the classic Yoga texts extensively and has written countless articles, recorded more than 35 cassettes of Sanskrit mantra, and has written two books: Yoga for the Three Stages of Life and Krishnamacharya's Vinyasa Yoga.

General Information 

 Program Location Units Courses Tuition Enrollment
 Begins Jun 6, 2011
 Meets daily
6 Weeks
 Loyola Marymount Univ.
 1 LMU Drive
 Los Angeles, CA 90045
 20.0 YGPX 900.01
 (or individual
 $3,300 March, 2011

This teacher training program runs six consecutive weeks in the Summer.  Classes meet in the morning, afternoon and evening daily.  Schedules and tuition are subject to change.  Additional fees may be incurred for housing, books and materials.  Please check the Web site for updates.  Submit an enrollment form for the program via direct mail, or contact LMU Extension at 310.338.1971 to handle your enrollment over the phone.  You can also register for courses individually online.

Following the guidelines outlined by Yoga Alliance® for registered 200-hour teacher training programs, this program qualifies participants to register for the 200-hour credential, as verified by Srivatsa Ramaswami.  This teacher training program may not be applied towards a Yoga Philosophy certificate.


Shared housing is available for a limited number of students during the program.  Students will be staying the Tendrich Apartments on the LMU campus for 41 nights.  The cost of housing (separate from tuition and related fees) is $1,845.  Students will be assigned two (2) to a room; four (4) to a two-room apartment.  Please contact us directly to make arrangements: 310-338-2799 or email  Housing is limited and only open to those who have already registered for the program.  Housing is assigned on a first come, first serve basis.


The next cohort begins Monday, June 6, 2011.  Students enrolling in the teacher training are invited to attend a program orientation the evening of Sunday, June 5 prior to the start of class (schedule is listed below).  Students must make sure they are enrolled in 200-Hour Teacher Training (YGPX 900.01), which automatically enrolls in the student in the required courses necessary for the 200 hours.  Please contact the Center with any questions at 310.338.2358.

Student Orientation
Sunday, June 5, 2010; 3:00 - 6:00 pm

200-Hour Teacher Training
Course Number: YGPX 900.01
Schedule: Monday - Saturday, June 6 - July 15, 2011; 8:30 am - 5:30 pm (holiday exceptions)

Required Courses

Students who do not intend to pursue the 200-Hour Teacher Training are welcome to enroll in one or more of the courses below for their own personal enrichment.  Otherwise, students pursuing the teacher training must enroll in 200-Hour Teacher Training (YGPX 900.01) as listed above.

Vinyasa Krama I
Course Number:
 HYTX 801.01
Schedule: Monday-Saturday, June 6-11, 2011; 8:30 - 11:00 am
Location:  Burns 239

Chanting Yoga Sutras and Subtle Anatomy
Course Number: 
YGPX 828.01
Schedule:Chanting Yoga Sutras: Saturday, June 11, 18 2011; 12:00-2:30 pm
Subtle Anatomy: Tuesday, July 5, 2011; 8:30-11:30 am, 1:00-3:00 pm
Location:  University Hall 1859

Vinyasa Krama II
Course Number: 
HYTX 802.01
Schedule: Monday-Saturday, June 13-18, 2011; 8:30 - 11:00 am
Location:  Burns 239

Raja Yoga (Yoga Sutra) Studies
Course Number:
 YGPX 820.08
Schedule: Monday - Friday, June 6-17, 2011; 12:30 - 2:30 pm
Location:  University Hall 1859

Pranayama Methods
Course Number:
 YGPX 906.01
Schedule: Monday - Friday, June 6-17, 2011; 3:30 - 5:30 pm
Location:  Burns 239

Anatomy and Physiology
Course Number: 
YGPX 896.02
Schedule: Wednesday-Thursday, July 6-7, 2011; 8:30-11:30pm, 1:00-3:00pm
Guest Instructor: Carl Flowers, MA
Location:  University Hall 1859

Vinyasa Krama III
Course Number: 
HYTX 803.01
Schedule: Monday-Saturday, June 20 - 25, 2011; 8:30 - 11:00 am
Location:  Burns 239

Independence Day (University Holiday)No Classes July 2, 3, 4, 2011

Vinyasa Krama IV
Course Number: 
HYTX 804.01
Schedule: Monday-Friday, June 27 - July 1, 2011; 8:30 - 11:30 am
Location:  Burns 239

Sri T. Krishnamacharyas's Works
Course Number:
 YGPX 904.01
Schedule: Monday - Friday, June 20 - July 1, 2011; 12:30 - 2:30 pm
Location:  University Hall 1859

Mantras and Meditation
Course Number:
 YGPX 855.02
Schedule: Monday - Friday, June 20- July 1, 2011; 3:30 - 5:30 pm
Location:  Burns 239

Yoga Business and Teaching Methodology
Course Number: 
YGPX 860.01
Schedule: Friday-Saturday, July 8 - 9, 2011; 8:30-11:30am, 1:00-3:00pm
Location:  University Hall 1859

Visesha Vinyasas and Vinyasa Krama
Course Number:
 YGPX 907.01
Schedule: Monday-Friday, July 11-15, 2011; 8:30 am - 12:30 pm
Location: TBD

Yoga for the Internal Organs
Course Number: YGPX 880.01
Schedule: Monday-Friday, July 11-15, 2011; 4:00-6:00 pm
Location:  University Hall 1859


blog_ramaswamiSrivatsa Ramaswami is Krishnamacharya's longest-standing student outside the family. He has mastered Vinyasa Krama, Vedic Chanting, and Yoga Therapy. He has studied the classic Yoga texts extensively and has written countless articles, recorded more than 35 cassettes of Sanskrit mantra, and has written two books: Yoga for the Three Stages of Life and Krishnamacarya's Vinyasa Yoga.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Using the sofa / couch to work on landing Bakasana

Thought this might be a good way to do some bakasana homework, the fear is toppling on your face right? This way the sofa stops your arms going too far forward.

I used to have the slinky, straight arm, floaty version, you can see it at the end of the above clip but I seem to have lost the exit, haven't done 2nd Series for six weeks ( the Led primary for a month experiment) so am a little rusty.

Here's how I used to do it, must try and get that back.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Completely pointless yoga party trick # 7 : Lotus without hands UPDATED with list

Perhaps it was all the popping into lotus without hands at the lake last week (see previous post) but I popped into this first time trying this morning, must have stuck in muscle memory.

I just about learnt to do this last year ( see this post )after seeing Chris and Wyatt from the VK TT course do it, I managed it but only after a lot of bruises from smashing my heel into my shin.

Completely pointless as far as I can tell but amusing and fun to do.

Clumsy straight leg jump through, wasn't concentrating, slightly better one here.
Update 22/06/11
Perhaps not so pointless because once you can do that then this becomes possible

and isn't that in Advanced B

Oh, and what are the other six pointless yoga party tricks?

Suggestions on a postcard, or at least in the comment box.

Ok, after much consideration ( five minutes ) here's MY list of the...

10 most pointless yoga party tricks ( in no particular order ).

1. Tittibhasana B ( the walking one )
2. Dropback
3. Straight leg jump through
4. Most of the arm balances from 3rd series ( Ok I'll give you the Kukkutasana's )
5. the seven deadlies ( 2nd series headstands)
6. Sayanasana
7. No hands lotus (above)
8. Tictac
9. Chakra Bandhasana (enough is enough)
10. Handstand to Hanumanasana

This is not to say that I don't love them or wish I could nail the last three but really : )

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Water Lotus

Perhaps it's the water of Lake Vouliagmeni (just outside Athens), kind of like a Japanese onsen, or I guess a Spa. Naturally heated, a constant 24 degrees C, high mineral content, your buoyant, relaxed, joints seem loose allowing me to pop straight into lotus without hands and just float about. Tried to sit on the bottom holding onto weeds and at one point, when I got the balance right, it felt like levitating.

If you want a similar effect then a floatation tank isn't a bad substitute, which reminds me I have one more ticket to use up.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Practice or lack of it in Athens : UPDATED

Back from Athens.


Practice was limited (didn't feel too bad had saved up a Rest and Moon day from last week), did manage to do a full Primary on the balcony one morning as  the sun was coming up, the acropolis over my right shoulder, one of my all time favourite practices. So that's what it's like doing it outside. Managed a little Vinyasa Krama, some Pranayama but not so much, looking forward to getting my evening VK practice back on track this week.

Also found small salt lake that's supposed to be a bit of a Spa, nice buoyancy, good for pulling into a no hands lotus. 
Seems they have the Red Bull cliff diving championship there and were setting up for it,  the day we were there, practice dives etc.. Thankfully we missed the crowds.

Wonder if these guys do some yoga.

There's a moment ( 30 seconds into the video ) when Orlando, the guy with the broken ankle and championship leader up to that point, hops along and looks up at the cliff. That was recorded the day we were there, took them a few takes to get just the right wistful expression on his face as he looked up at the platform.

...and of course I couldn't help myself. M was most disapproving when I suggested a headstand on the Acropolis.

 ...and so to home practice, in my own space, looking forward to it despite the aches, pains and cramps from too much walking

Practice was hard, aching all over from walking miles and miles over the last couple of days. Interestingly all the swimming, while making my arms and shoulders ache, seems to have increased strength and I floated up to handstand in a couple of Sury's. Yes I know Sharath scoffed at this, but then Ashtanga doesn't include a full prostration in it's Sury, so excuse me if I treat the scoffing with a wry smile. I dropped the playful handstand a while back but have added a couple again since working on the tictac.

Nice to practice though, detoxing all the Saganaki and Ouzo, feel better for it.

Might keep up the swimming, couple of times a week, not so much for the handstand but just for the general all over good feeling, seems to complement Ashtanga well, anyone else find this?

I'm thinking a week of straight primary then go back to adding on 2nd up to Kapo then Karanda for a month before starting a month of Led 2nd series with the Jois Yogaworks DVD.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

BANDHAS.... forgetaboutit

So much about the bandhas at the moment, core too (what is that exactly) couple of times I've started to comment but deleted, backed away, know this is something people feel strongly about, can't hold it in any longer.


Forget em, don't worry about em, don't lose any sleep worrying what when where or how.

Will they help you get the jump back, Bhuja, utpluthi, kapo, bakasana, Tittibhasana, KARANDAVASANA, that slinky lift to Sirsasana, urdhava kukkutasana...........Viranchyasana, Punga, Parsva dandasana, Omakrasana, Oh or the Viparita chakrasana, the tictac?

Probably not .

One of my favourite saying of Grandaddy Jois is 'bandhas, pull up your anus'....or something like that.

Hardly subtle is it, not what we're used to from the Mula bandha key, but I figure Guruji ( don't use that often but I'm fond of him here) knew that it really didn't matter because by the time you'd gained any facility with bandhas you were probably half way through 2nd or 3rd series anyway. Pulling up your anus in Primary? Probably not going to make much difference. It's not going to get you any of those poses above but eventually, it'll give you a little more control perhaps, a little more finesse.

That said focusing on the 'bandhas' whatever you decide they are and you'll never get two Ashtangi's to agree, makes a nice point to focus the attention on (give or take an inch), added to all the other elements of a pose, it might make the difference of a month or two.

Don't get me wrong, not dismissing the bandhas out of hand, I work on them a lot in Vinyasa Krama as well as Ashtanga ( not so strongly though as it's hard to get a decent exhale in that frenetic practice) and especially in pranayama ( how I've ended up approaching it is more of a gentle lift at the end of the exhale for mula and a drawing back and up for uddiyana but take that or leave it), I think the work I've done on them in my Pranayama practice has, perhaps, somehow helped my asana practice but in subtle way that I don't pretend to understand.

But my key point is.... 'in Subtle ways'.

You want to jump back? Work on the different elements of technique and bringing them together along with your timing,.... oh and you can pull up your anus too if you want, somewhere down the line when you've been jumping through for a year or two it'll make it prettier....perhaps.

Of course, what do I know, just a daily practitioner like you, just bloggin' here....

Before you jump to their defence in the Ashtanga context, just think, who knows, Sharath may drop em altogether in a week or two along with ujaii, they are more closely associated with pranayama anyway and don't forget Jalandhara bandha never made it from the Makaranda to the Mala

Monday, 16 May 2011

Tictac D-Day ( UPDATED ) and one approach to challenging aspects of practice

Part 3 of David Garrigues' Vipraita chakrasana ( tictac, tictoc or whatever ) online tutorial is up and today's the day to nail some reasonable semblance of it so I can stop obsessing and get back to my regular practice.

It's almost there, I have the tic and can tac/toc from two cushions and just about hold it from one. That single cushion is thin and squishy so I'm not that far off the mat. If I can get the timing right, if I can send my pelvis forward (or is that backward) as well as up, if I can bring my shoulders over my hands and if I can bring my head and chest through at just the right moment, if I can hold it and if I can just bring my legs back up to handstand and back down to the mat..... then it should be there.

OK I admit, six big ifs or three big ifs and three small ones.

So why today, day 13? It was supposed to be tomorrow which would make it two weeks and mirrors the two week Karanadavasana project* from a couple of years back but my day off got switched to today I have some extra time to work on it.

Mainly though I just want to move on, get over it. The plan was to use this as a little raja burning asana in place of my Vinyasa Krama short evening practice, which is mainly prep for my pranayama and meditation. It's taken over of course leaving me no time for meditation and the last few days, no time for pranayama either. Practicing Ashtanga in the morning again, I need my Evening Vinyasa Krama practice.

By the way, when I refer to my Vinyasa Krama practice, take it as read that I'm referring to an asana element (some subroutines from Ramaswami's book), Pranayama, pratyahara and a meditation practice, (Japa mantra, vipassana or perhaps some chanting).

Ashtanga is a nice practice but it's hot and sweaty and though I still do some pranayama and a little japa afterwards they don't seem to marry as well as with the slower VK practice, for me at least.

So do I stop working on tictac after today, whether I nail it or not?

No, but it goes on the back burner, ticking over as it were.

I find this works well, whether it's working on the jump back/though, dropping back or coming up, Kapo or Karandavasana, leg behind head poses, Marich B and D, Pasasana, whatever challenging aspect of the practice we come up against. Give it two weeks focus, obsess about it, blog about it, Video it, slow it down, take screenshots, watch others nailing it on Youtube, pick over every element and then see where you are at the end of the fortnight, you might not have nailed it but you'll be closer I guarantee it. Meanwhile, other aspects of your practice, under less of a gaze will often come along nicely on their own. I remember obsessing over the jump back and hardly noticed that I had begun to bind Mari D at the wrist, it just happened on it's own.

And of course it doesn't have to be just tricky postures. Your Vinyasa and general timing a bit out, practice a little untidy, too much faffing about or modifications? A couple of weeks or, indeed, a month of practicing along to a counted CD or DVD can do wonders.

Not an approach that works for everyone perhaps but it's worked well for me.

So after today, Ok perhaps tomorrow... no make that Wednesday because then were off to Athens early Thursday morning and I'm not going to tictac in a tiny hotel room. So from next week, I'll go through my Primary to kapo as usual, dropback  three times then throw in one or two tictac attempts and move on, let the action settle and work itself out. Then perhaps in a month or so I'll have another serious look at it and see if I can polish it off once and for all, get three in a row or something.

* Re the 14 day Karandavasana challenge mentioned above, I managed to come down but not up that time, a month later I had another Karandavasana week and nailed it, see HERE, the exit came on it's own two months after that.

and so to practice.....


I'll settle for this, feeling relatively comfortable flipping back and forth on the two cushions, it's fun and something to look forward to after dropbacks in the morning. It feels pretty much like a done deal, couple of weeks of this and the action should be solid enough to switch back to one cushion, which is almost there but not quite. Perhaps another intensive look at this a month from now.

Lots to work on, holding the handstand longer, bringing the feet closer to my head and dropping into a tighter Urdhava Dhanurasana and the same flipping back.

A big thank you to David Garrigues for inspiring me to work on on this and thus getting over the fear of dropping from headstand, the tic. Splitting his tutorial into three parts encouraged me to stick with it long enough to get the tac too, if only from a couple of cushions.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Primary to Kapo UPDATED inc. tictac Day 12

Remembered we're off to Athens Thursday for a long weekend, decided to skip the rest day yesterday and practice after all, might not have the room for Ashtanga in the hotel. Actually I'm looking forward to some nice Vinyasa Krama practice while I'm away.

So Friday was the end of the 'led Primary with Sharath for a month' project. The idea has been to tighten up my Ashtanga practice after all the modifications and tweaking I've been doing for the last year, take it back to basics as it were.

It's been good, quite easy getting on the mat every morning and if I've been running a little late I've used his speedy primary DVD, mostly though, it's been last month's Stream from Joisyoga which runs around an hour and a half.

I certainly feel fitter and stronger ( M says I look beefier) and there does seem to be that detox factor that I miss in Vinyasa Krama, but perhaps that's nothing other than sweating buckets for an hour.

Much less flexible though (perhaps the beefiness). I tend to practice a wider range of asana in Vinyasa Krama and stay much longer in postures, really working into them. Of course I've been doing  led, practicing at your own pace you can slow it down a bit but too much and you lose that rhythm, it's a compromise.

I've been keeping up my pranayama practice in the morning too so don't mind sacrificing the long inhalation and exhalations so much but if I didn't have that....

My evening Vinyasa Krama practice has been a bit taken over by the tictac work too but only a couple more days of that and I can get back to a better balance.

My practice is tighter, my ashtanga's more flowing, got the rhythm back, the project has done it's job.

So why not take it a little further. Yesterday I added on 2nd series to Kapo, thought I'd do the for a couple of weeks then go up to karandavasana before splitting at the end of the month and doing a month of led 2nd, tighten that series up too.

I have the Jois led primary and 2nd series from Yogaworks and have spliced the appropriate sections from 2nd into the Primary making  Jois led Primary to Kapo and Primary to Karanda video's to practice with.

Practicing up to kapo yesterday was fine, primary works as a nice warm up and the backbend work is a joy after all the forward bending. It's only an extra ten- fifteen minutes, hardly feel it on a led practice where your going at a faster rate than normal.

My kapo was off though, first one in a month and I could only just grab my toes, despite all the backbending work in tictac's. Coming up from laghu was a strain too, managed it but only just but that will all come back. Wonder if I can still come up from Karandavasana, might have a lame duck.

Dropbacks were nice after the bit of 2nd, especially liked the first one of the video below.

Anyway it's just gone 7am time for practice.


At the last minute I decided to a normal practice IE. not led, sans video. Nice practice, Primary - Kapo came out at a smidgin under two hours from first Sury to laying down in savasana and included a couple of tictac attempts ( video to come on that but pretty much the same as yesterday). Nice chanting the sanskrit count in my head whenever my mind would wander from the breath, good way to refocus.

Thinking I might practice solo for a month, two weeks up to Kapo followed by another two up to Karandavasana and then switch to led Intermediate for a month.

Tictac day 12
Pretty much the same as day 11, almost caught it but just failed to get the head and shoulders through, back to the sofa perhaps to 'fix' the motion.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Towards tictac Day 11 ; a fail

Down to one cushion on the mat, a fail, but almost held it,

 "pelvis in space I tell ya, pelvis in space".

Day 30 and Day 10

Day 30ish of the one month Led primary project with Sharath, ( actually it's 25 what with rest and moon days) should probably reflect on that in another post. Sunday I start the One month led primary and half of 23nd with Jois and Yogaworks, more on that later.

You can see I'm making this brief in case it doesn't post or blogger goes AWOL again.


DAY 10 of the towards tic-tac with David Garrigues project

Context:  David's Viparīta Chakrāsana exercise

It's coming on, three videos stitched together below, first one dropping to the sofa, more controlled I think, though still not coming back up first time. Second one is to the floor....just to see. Drop was OK but completely missing something when trying to flip back up. Think I find what's missing in the third video. Dropping down to a couple of cushions here, so lower than the sofa. A light bulb moment as I remember 'pelvis in space' from the floating up to handstand work and Lydia's video on Being and Yoga. Focusing on the pelvis seems to help, forget about the feet just think about floating your pelvis up and THEN opening the chest and bringing the head through.

.....I think.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

New camera and Tictac day, where are we, nine?

New camera arrived yesterday ( the other one broke in the line of yoga duty ). This time I went for the Samsung WB210 14mp, 12x Zoom and a 24mm ultra wide lens that can, through some fancy pants wizardry take 21mm ultra ultra wide shots. Had hope I'd be able to film movies in the 21mm but seems it only takes photo's.

It has the same kind of touchscreen as my Samsung galaxy phone, so quick to use and you get to choose which settings you actually want on the home screen rather than having to hunt through lots of menu's, like that.

Here are some test shots of the home shala on the ultra wide setting.

and one zooming in on the yoga bookshelf

Tictac Day 9
Context:  David's Viparīta Chakrāsana exercise

This is filmed on something called palette effect setting at 640x480 but i think there's another way of doing straight black and white, think this is some kind of vintage effect, hell of a lot of contrast, not sure about it. There is an HD setting but too slow uploading to Youtube.

This mornings, tictac work went well, dropped to the floor and tried to hop up from there, just to see, but still miles off that.

Looking at these pictures of the shala after posting this and I'm thinking I need a clear out, it's too....busy. too many things on the wall, too many bits and pieces lying around and that godawful sofa we inherited with the house has really got to go, 'though it is useful at the moment for the tictac work.

Can you see now how I gashed my foot the other week on chakrasana, not much room, supta konasana in particular is a problem.

Day 8 : Towards Vipari..... well you know the drill.

Context:  David's Viparīta Chakrāsana exercise

Just a quick post on this as I have to go and let the Chinchilla out.

Practiced the tictac this morning after practice and it went OK, the plan now is to refine refine refine.

I watched David's Video again, 'open the chest, bring the head through',  got it, "chest open, head through, chest open head through..."

As soon as I got home from work I went through my prep and got straight down to it "chest open, head through, chest open head through..."

Thing is I know what I want to do, can pretty much visualize it and even feel it in my body but when I get on the mat...

Too much muscle not enough technique.

I'm still not used to doing handstands away from the wall, straining a little to force it and then hold  it rather than floating it up as usual. I'm trying to lower my legs down more slowly, more straining... too much muscle not enough technique.

Coming up I still haven't got the action, not syncing the breath and movement so getting out of breath, in fact I notice I'm snatching at my breath just as I used to trying to come up from dropbacks. I suspect the breath is key, isn't it always.

I don't know, giving myself another week on this then I'll calm down, do a couple after morning practice ( after dropbacks) and let it come when it's ready.

Might manage to flip back over from the mat by the end of the week, just might but it's not really going to be a tictac. I'd be dropping into UD from handstand, walk my hands in closer, take a couple of run ups and flip over on the second or third attempt, hardly the smooth flip back and forth.

but its a start.

So the Day 8 video, attempting to refine it, to lower more slowly and to try to catch the flip back into Vrschikasana then hold it before taking it up...long way to go still.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Towards Viparīta Chakrāsana with David Garrigues Day 7

Second post of the day, you might like to check out this morning's Yoga bloopers post

Context:  David's Viparīta Chakrāsana exercise

Before I get onto this mornings work, day 7, a few thoughts on yesterday.

It had it's ups and downs, two in particular the first a crash and burn where I forgot to keep my arms straight and strong as I went over and the other, my first drop from headstand into Urdhva Dhanurasana.

What was all the fuss about, all the... trepidation, we're getting old, we used to do this all the time, fearlessly,  as kids. And yet it seems such a long way to drop, counter intuitive and are the arms really going to be OK and not break off at the shoulder. And so the working up to it, handstand to the wall, coming over onto a three fold futon and then two fold, one fold and finally to the mat and even then I had three on top of each other.

To be honest is seems quite a natural motion to drop onto the feet, it's not the same as dropping back, in that you have to have enough of a backbend to get your arms down but here your arms are already down and you knees, well they seem to naturally bend so as to land squarely.

This wasn't one of David's exercises but I've been doing the one where you try to push off the futon/pads and was paranoid that while trying to come up off the futons I might drop back miss it and land on the floor, I wanted to make sure I could land on the floor safely.

It's basically there, now I don't have any fear of landing I can work on holding the handstand and lowering the feet closer and closer to my head before dropping, want to try and get the softest landing I can.

Day 7 ( This morning)
All this week I've been trying these exercises in the evening after some light backbend prep, this morning I practiced with the Sharath Primary, originally streamed from Joisyoga, stopped it after the urdhva Dhanurasana's, dropped back three times then gave the drop to the floor another go, to consolidate as it were, or find out if yesterday was a fluke.

Now it's one thing doing this as a, pretty much, stand alone practice, quite something else doing it after an hour's practice and sweating 1.5 kilos, let alone after 3rd and all those arm balances, RESPECT. But perhaps that's because I'm muscling it, rather than employing good technique but that will come, it'll get easier..... wont it?

The video has the handstand drop to UD then a tentative, only half serious attempt at coming back up ( actually, come to think of it, was pretty damned serious at the time). Then it's back to dropping to the sofa to work on David's exercise, I need to watch his video again, lost the action somewhat.

For Claudia,
Krishanamcharya's, sorry that should read Sri Nathamuni's Yogarahasya. Claudia just bought a new edition of this, I mentioned that I had a first edition of TKV Desikachar's translation and that the translation as well as the pictures are somewhat different. Here's a flick through it.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Towards Viparīta Chakrāsana with David Garrigues Day 5 : New Exercise, up and over

Second exercise from David came out today, here's the link

And here's my attempt, actually my second but first filmed.

Oh and David's post came out while I was sitting in bed with the paper, on my second cup of tea and after a few too many Sainsbury's 'Taste the difference' stem ginger biscuits, not the best time for practicing backbends but couldn't wait.

So, made it over, bit sloppy but it counts, no? It actually felt a lot easier than I expected, but of course I walked the hands and feet in a little and I'm starting from a foot plus off the ground. Still I'm getting the action, which is the point of the exercise. Now I want to spend the week tidying it up, dropping in tighter so I don't have to walk in and see if I can find something half as high to land on.


...going into the fourth week of the Led Primary for a month project. This morning it was the Sharath stream form JoisYoga, Hot and muggy this morning, sweated a kilo and a half and again, hard work after yesterday's ( sort of) rest day. Worked the Kino half handstand jump through back in to help with the tictoc above, so a mixture of straight leg and crossed leg jump throughs.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Ashtanga Rest day/Vinyasa Krama Saturday plus Swenson/Freeman Studio talk

Delicious Vinyasa Krama practice this morning.

My evening VK asana practice has been put on hold while I work on the tictac so especially nice this morning. Nice slow tadasana sequence, long paschi, long long inversions.

Best of all pranayama just seems to marry better with the slower Vinyasa Krama practice. I can see why some Ashtangi's do their pranayama before the asana. During the week I finish Primary lay down in savasana listening to Ramaswami chant for ten minutes then change into something dry for pranayama and Japa. This morning I didn't have to worry about being all hot and sweaty could just move straight into it.

Talking of Pranayama, nice 'studio talk' from Richard Freeman and David Swenson on Richard's site. I was listening to it last night, they move onto talking about Pranayama about twenty minutes in (That's as far as I've got so far).

Towards Viparīta Chakrāsana with David Garrigues Day 3

Continuing with David's Viparīta Chakrāsana exercise this evening ( See earlier post ).
1.4 (Exercise 1, Day 4)

Not exactly exercise 1 but I had to know, tomorrow I'll try taking it back up to Vrischikasana from here, had to stop as i was eating into my pranayama time.

PS. if your going to try the above approach then you need a couple of trial runs jumping to the wall then lowering yourself to the bech to get the right distance. First time I dropped i was a little to close to the wall and banged my knees slightly. Brought my hands out a few inches and it was fine.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Dropback for Maya

Hope this is OK to post this Maya

Maya posted a picture recently of her latest backbend and I suggested that it looked good enough for working on dropping back. She seemed skeptical in her response, so this post is just to explain why it was I said that.

Here's a picture of my own backbend, I don't think it's much deeper than hers, it's nice enough but not out of this world, not talking Susan or Kino here.

Now here's my backbend as I take my legs and hips forward and bend a little at the knee. The bend in the back is the same the rest of the bend is spread through the length of the body, you see in the video a half decent backbend begins in the toes and ends in the fingertips.

It takes work of course, getting the hips forward and remembering to keep them there, working on controlling the breath is hardest of all, stopping yourself from panicking a little, exhaling all the way down and inhaling all the way up ( for a long time I would snatch at the inhale and find myself half way back up with my lungs already full).

Laughter Yoga ?
And now for something completely different. Seeing as I had this stuck in my head all through practice (thank you Abi) I thought I'd share it, laughter yoga?

Towards Viparīta Chakrāsana with David Garrigues 1.3

Continuing with David's Viparīta Chakrāsana exercise this evening ( See yesterday's post ), again the aim is to keep landing lower and lower down the wall. I think I've gone pretty much as low as I can now without dropping all the way, was tempted this evening but decided against it at the last minute. Besides, David hasn't got there yet and I want to take my time and rebuild my handstands and start walking in again after dropping back both of which I've neglected recently. 

So here's the video.

And here's another, this is the embarrassing one that I had to get out of the way. Showing an attempt to hop back up to Vrschikasana. It's not really a serious attempt, more to show the challenge. As it happens the video is revealing in showing what I need to be doing, Getting my hands in closer for example, but then it would probably be a tighter UD if I'd dropped into it anyway. Also, notice how I'm trying to hop up, this is clearly absurd, the wrong action altogether. I think the idea is to pretty much forget about the legs and worry about bringing the head and chest through, everything else I suspect will follow, reminds me of a throw in Aikido. 

Looking at this now, just after posting I can see how my shoulders aren't over my hands, this is what  should praobably be aiming at with the kick, to create the momentum to push my shoulders over my hands and bring my head and chest through. of course easier said....

The fancy video effect BTW is caused by accidentally smearing the the camera lens of my phone with a sweaty hand.

On the 19th we're off to Athens to see our old Philosophy teacher and hopefully Delphi, that's what, two weeks to nail this thing.

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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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