This blog is essentially 'sleeping'.

I've deleted or returned to draft 80% of the blog, gone are most, if not all, of the videos I posted of Pattabhi Jois, gone are most of the posts regarding my own practice as well as most of my practice videos in YouTube, other than those linked to my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book).

Mostly I've just retained the 'Research' posts, those relating to Krishnamacharya in particular.

Blog Comments are turned off, there are no "members" of this blog .

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Day 59 : Supine : Apanaasana (pelvic floor poses) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Supine sequence

VIDEO LINK

This subroutine alternates vinyasas of two postures, apanasana, pelvic floor poses and pavanamuktasana, wind relieving posture.

HINTS/TIPS/SUGGESTIONS

In all the anapanasana vinyasas the head stays on the mat, the hip lifts to bring the knee or knees to the chest.

In all the pavamuktasana vinyasas the head lifts off the mat to bring with the chin, nose or forehead to the knee or knees.

It's acceptable to raise the head when catching the knee in anapanasana but once caught lower the head, and tighten the grip around the leg or legs and press the thigh(s) against the lower abdomen.

In the pavamuktasana vinyasas be careful not to strain when bringing your forehead to your knee, stretch up through the length of your spine and drop your shoulder blades down your back.

Engaging uddiyana at the end of the exhalation may also help to allow the forehead to reach the knee.

Ramaswami includes anapanasana along with urdwa-parasarita-pada-hastasana ("U" formation) and dwipadapitam (desk pose) as important sarvangasana (shoulder stand ) preparation.

I also find anapanasana and urdwa-parasarita-pada-hastasana ("U" formation) to be excellent counter postures to intense back bending along with yesterday's tatakamudra ( pond gesture).

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Day 58 : Supine : Tatakamudra (pond gesture) & Jayaraparivritti (belly twist) Subroutinesubroutine from Vinyasa Krama Meditative sequence

VIDEO LINK

Tatakamudra (pond gesture), so called because the pronounced abdominal cavity created by engaging the bandhas fully, resembles a pond.

We engage the bandhas and create this pond effect while the arms are by the side, above our head and also, if we wish, while in jataraparivritti, the belly twist.

To create the effect, Ramaswami writes...

'Exhale completely. Anchor your heels , tailbone, arms and back; press down through your palms and draw in the rectum; pull the lower abdomen in and towards your back. holed the locks for five to ten seconds. your chin should be locked as well' p105  Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga : Srivatsa Ramaswami

The abdominal lock in the arms raised above head position is perhaps the most effective and thus has the most pronounced 'pond' effect, the legs to the sides in jataraparivritti, the belly twist, the least pronounced.


TIPS/HINTS/SUGGESTIONS
Ramaswami recommends holding the bandhas for ten  seconds, this is something to build towards, start with three and then five.

Towards the end of the exhalation begin to focus on mula bandha, and begin to prepare for drawing in the rectum at the end of a full exhalation.

I like to imagine that I'm drawing my mula bandha up but also back where it meets the uddiyana, drawing the belly back towards the spine as if a thread is attached to your belly button. Flatten the spine against the mat eliminating the space caused by the curve of the back and continue to draw back and up your belly to create a cavity beneath the ribcage.

To create a deeper cavity and intensify uddiyana bandha even more once you have drawn your belly back and up as far as it will go stretch the ribcage up and outwards.

Remember to engage jalandhara bandha, the throat lock by bringing the chin firmly down to the chest as much as possible without raising the head.

You may choose to put a small pillow under your head to help engage jalandhara without straining the neck.

Eliminating the space between the mat and the spine seems to relax the spine making this an ideal preparation posture for paschimottanasana, especially on a cold morning or when you have had less of a warm up.

Flatening the length of the spine along the mat also works as a way of relaxing the spine after intense backbends with or without engaging the bandhas fully.

Tatakamudra is an excellent posture for beginning an exploration of bandhas

In jayaraparivritti be careful not to lift the opposite hip to the direction your moving. So if you've moved your legs to the right don't allow the left hip to rise, press it firmly down into the mat.

BANDHAS?
As we become more confident with our asana we should begin to work on engaging the bandhas as these can help to steady us in our postures.
Jalandhara bandha
'There are three important band has. the first is jalandhara bandha, or locking the chin against the breastbone. This may be done during kumbhkas and whenever the the posture requires the chin to be locked, which is normally the case during forward bends and when keeping the back erect. In backbends and twisting postures it is not possible to do jalandhara bandha'. p127

Mula and Uddiyana bandha
'The other two bandhas, however, should be practiced in most of the asanas, especially after exhalation. The first is mula bandha, which means "constricting of the anus" It is done after a complete exhalation. After the exhalation is over, the abhyasi (yoga student) should anchor the body in the asana he or she is in and then slowly and deliberately close the anus and draw in the rectum by contracting the perineal and surrounding muscles of the pelvic floor. Then as if in a continuous movement, the abdomen, including the navel, is drawn in, pushing up the diaphragm into the now almost empty chest cavity, which is then called uddiyana bandha ( drawing in of the diaphragm)... This technique is one of the specialities of yogic breathing' p127

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Day 56 : Meditative : Simhasana (lion pose) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Meditative sequence

VIDEO LINK
Simhasana is a Vinyasa of Virasana, as such the same practice notes apply.

Raise up off the thighs on the inhalation bringing the arms above the head, lower and place the hands on the knees fingers spread, breathe in and on the exhalation make the lion face. 

Lions face: on the exhalation, exhaling with a long "haaaa" sound eyes wide, tongue outstretched.

There are several versions of Simhasana, this one in Virasana with is perhaps the classic but also another  in padmasana. in the Lotus sequence as we shall. Below is another variation.

Simhasana in utpluthi padmasana
The Virasana subroutine is excellent for working on the quadriceps, the muscles at the front of the thighs. Strong quads are important for giving support in ushtrasana and kapotasana from the previous Meditative sequence subroutines. In backbends the hips tend to want to be carried back as we arch backwards, strong quads help keep control of the hips keeping them forward and raised. 

The virasana subroutine also involves nutation ( titling ) the pelvis as well as rotating the femurs inwards, two more useful tips for developing back bending.

Virasana is one of the few postures where the femurs and thighs are rotated inwards and towards each other rather than away from each other, as such it is an excellent counter posture for intense hip openers like badha konasana and samakonasana to name but two.

You may not feel ready for postures like kapotasana or dropping back into Urdhava dhanurasana but Virasana can provide some of the groundwork and skills that can be employed later.

TIPS/TRICKS/SUGGESTIONS
If your feet don't lie flat in Vajrasana you can roll up a small towel and place it between the front of the foot and the ankle.

If your knees feel stressed or tilt upwards you can place a small cushion beneath your buttocks or a rolled up yoga mat that you can sit on and even lay back upon in in pictures 7 and 8

Props don't tend to be used that much in Vinyasa Krama but because of the stress that can be put on the knees this seems a subroutine where they might be considered.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Day 55 : Meditative : Virasana ( hero pose) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Meditative sequence

VIDEO LINK

The Virasana subroutine is excellent for working on the quadriceps, the muscles at the front of the thighs. Strong quads are important for giving support in ushtrasana and kapotasana from the previous Meditative sequence subroutines. In backbends the hips tend to want to be carried back as we arch backwards, strong quads help keep control of the hips keeping them forward and raised. 

The virasana subroutine also involves nutation ( titling ) the pelvis as well as rotating the femurs inwards, two more useful tips for developing back bending.

Virasana is one of the few postures where the femurs and thighs are rotated inwards and towards each other rather than away from each other, as such it is an excellent counter posture for intense hip openers like badha konasana and samakonasana to name but two.

You may not feel ready for postures like kapotasana or dropping back into Urdhava dhanurasana but Virasana can provide some of the groundwork and skills that can be employed later.

TIPS/TRICKS/SUGGESTIONS
If your feet don't lie flat in Vajrasana you can roll up a small towel and place it between the front of the foot and the ankle.

If your knees feel stressed or tilt upwards you can place a small cushion beneath your buttocks or a rolled up yoga mat that you can sit on and even lay back upon in in pictures 7 and 8

Props don't tend to be used that much in Vinyasa Krama but because of the stress that can be put on the knees this seems a subroutine where they might be considered.

The reclining supta virasana (pics 7& 8) puts the most stress on the knees and should be avoided until the other postures feel comfortable.

Virasana can also stimulate the knee complex and build strength in the muscles that cross the knee.

In picture 3 the knees stay together but the feet come wide enough apart to be able to sit between them.

The forward bend in picture 5 is surprisingly unstable, there's a point as you fold forward where you can overbalance sending our face towards the mat, in this version the arms are outstretched but we can also fold forward with the hands behind the back in reverse prayer although caution is advised, engage the bandhas stingily and press the feet firmly into the mat.

Ideally the buttocks will stay on the mat in the forward bend and our forehead and hands will touch the mat at the same moment.

When arching back in picture 7 it's acceptable to place your forearms on the mat with the hands on the heels.

When arching back tilt (nutate) the coccyx towards the pubic bone and rotate the femurs and thus the thighs inwards. 

Press the toes, the feet  the legs firmly into the mat as you lower backwards to help support the back. Do the same when coming back up,  

It is acceptable to push down on the heels to come back up

Virasana is a beautiful posture, ideal for spending a considerable time and working on engaging the bandhas and elongating the breath.

Virasana is one of the five postures rRmaswami recommends at the end of his book, The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga for pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation, the other four are, Padmasana, Siddhasana, Gomukhasana and vajrasana.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Day 54 : Meditative : Advanced Camel walk subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Meditative sequence

VIDEO LINK

This is the advanced version of yesterday's Camel walk subroutine with the advanced Ushtrasana (Picture 5&9).

HINTS/TIPS/SUGGESTIONS

For the advanced Ushtrasana on one knee, a major concerns is of course balance. In the beginning consider stepping through slightly to the outside of the line with the hip, this will make your base more stable.

It's very important to lead with the hip when coming up from this posture.

Advanced Ushtrasana ( from Day 52 ).

Remembering to lift out of the hips and keep pressing the leg, from the toes to the knee, firmly into the mat, engaging the thighs and pushing forward the pelvis, arch back and take your arms over your shoulders towards your heels.

At first you may only be able to reach the mat behind you and may have to work towards taking your heels or ankles over time.

To avoid collapsing as you arch backwards it's necessary to keep your thighs strongly engaged and your hips forward and keep lifting out of your pelvis.

To reach your heels: one way is to land your hands on the mat and then walk them in towards and up your feet.

Ideally you will want to reach your heels from the air, this will take time but the trick is to keep the pelvis forward and the thighs engaged.

Work on strengthening the thighs and keeping the hips forward in other Vinyasa Krama postures, particularly the table subroutine in the Supine sequence.

An advanced extension of this version of Ushtrasana is Eka pada kapotasana, where we lower the head to the food and stretch out the leading leg.
Eka pada kapotasana

The same suggestions for the standard camel walk subroutine from Day 53 apply here but with some extra considerations due to the fact we're stepping up onto one foot.

Step forward about a foot in front of the trailing knee, when you arch back your knee will come forward, you want to step far enough forward that your don't over extend your knee past your toes.

Press down on all four corners of the foot, as you arch back you'll press more firmly on the ball of the foot and the toes.

Press the back toes of the trailing foot into the mat, all of them

Press the back of the foot into the mat

Press the whole of the lower leg from the toes to the knees into the mat

Keep pressing into the mat from the moment you begin to raise your arms above your head, throughout your stay in ustrasana and until you return to vajrasana stithy

Engage uddiyana bandha drawing in your belly as you fold over your leg

Engage your bandhas, draw up your anus and suck in the belly, imagine the muscles of the bandhas holding the base of the spine firmly, (Ramaswami's fishing rod example).

Engage the front of your thighs ( make the most of any postures that engage the quads so as to develop strength).

Most important of all bring the hips forward and keep encouraging them forward throughout, all the way back into ushtrasana and throughout your stay in the posture.

With every inhalation raise up your chest and with every exhalation push your pelvis a little further forward.

As you raise your arms and lift up of your knees lift out of your pelvis and try to keep lift up out of your pelvis throughout your stay in ustrasana.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Day 53 : Meditative : Standard Camel walk subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Meditative sequence

VIDEO LINK

I've split the camel walk up into two sequences the, standard and advanced depending on which version of Ushtrasana is employed.

This is a curious subroutine and has more of the feel of a sequence like the Sun salutation or of some of the other Visesha vinyasa krama's that Ramaswami brings together in Chapter 11 of his Complete book of vinyasa yoga like the Vasishtasana, Halasana, and Ajaneyasana sequences.

HINTS/TIPS/SUGGESTIONS

The same suggestions for the ushtrasana subroutine apply here but with some extra considerations due to the fact we're stepping up onto one foot.

Step forward about a foot in front of the trailing knee, when you arch back your knee will come forward, you want to step far enough forward that your don't over extend your knee past your toes.

Press down on all four corners of the foot, as you arch back you'll press more firmly on the ball of the foot and the toes.

Press the back toes of the trailing foot into the mat, all of them

Press the back of the foot into the mat

Press the whole of the lower leg from the toes to the knees into the mat

Keep pressing into the mat from the moment you begin to raise your arms above your head, throughout your stay in ustrasana and until you return to vajrasana stithy

Engage uddiyana bandha drawing in your belly as you fold over your leg

Engage your bandhas, draw up your anus and suck in the belly, imagine the muscles of the bandhas holding the base of the spine firmly, (Ramaswami's fishing rod example).

Engage the front of your thighs ( make the most of any postures that engage the quads so as to develop strength).

In this version of ustrasana we reach around to take hold of our foot rather than taking our arms over our shoulders ( advanced version - see tomorrow Day 54)

Most important of all bring the hips forward and keep encouraging them forward throughout all the way back into ushtrasana and throughout your stay in the posture.

With every inhalation raise up your chest and with every exhalation push your pelvis a little further forward.

As you raise your arms and lift up of your knees lift out of your pelvis and try to keep lift up out of your pelvis throughout your stay in ustrasana.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Day 52 : Meditative : Ushtrasana ( camel ) to Kapotasana (pigeon) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Meditative sequence

VIDEO LINK
This is an extended Ushtrasana subroutine (Day 51) that continues on into Kapotasana (pigeon), kapotasana is a challenging posture, it's wise to work on becoming comfortable and stable in Ustrasana then advanced Ustrasana before moving on to Kapotasna for which they prepare you.


HINTS/TIPS/SUGGESTIONS

These are the same as for yesterdays ushtrasana subroutine (Day 51)


The danger in kapotasana is to put too great a strain on the lower back, to avoid this we want to create a strong and stable base, ushtrasana allows us to focus on developing that stability.

Press the toes into the mat, all of them

Press the feet into the mat

Press the whole of the lower leg from the toes to the knees into the mat

Keep pressing into the mat from the moment you begin to raise your arms above your head, throughout your stay in ustrasana and until you return to vajrasana stithi

Engage your bandhas, draw up your anus and suck in the belly, imagine the muscles of the bandhas holding the base of the spine firmly, (Ramaswami's fishing rod example).

Engage the front of your thighs ( make the most of any postures that engage the quads so as to develop strength).

Most important of all bring the hips forward and keep encouraging them forward throughout all the way back into ushtrasana and throughout your stay in the posture.

With every inhalation raise up your chest and with every exhalation push your pelvis a little further forward.

As you raise your arms and lift up of your knees lift out of your pelvis and try to keep lift ion out of your pelvis throughout your stay in ustrasana.

Ideally your legs and thighs should be together, this may be something to work towards as it is  less stable


Advanced Ushtrasana (picture 6)

Remembering all of the above, the lifting out of the hips and keeping the legs from the toes to the knee firmly into the mat, engaging the thighs and pushing forward the pelvis, arch back and take your arms over your shoulders towards your heels.

At first you may only be able to reach the mat behind you and may have to work towards taking your heels or ankles over time.

To avoid collapsing as you arch backwards it's necessary to keep your thighs strongly engaged and your hips forward and keep lifting out of your pelvis.

To reach your heels: one way is to land your hands on the mat and then walk them in towards and up your feet.

Ideally you will want to reach your heels from the air, this will take time but the trick is to keep the pelvis forward and the thighs engaged.

Work on strengthening the thighs and keeping the hips forward in other Vinyasa Krama postures, particularly the table subroutine in the Supine sequence.

If Kapotasana is beyond you for now you will bend to come back up from advanced Ustrasana. To do so press your legs from the toes to the knees into the mat, engage the thighs strongly and most importantly lift from the hip pushing your pelvis forward.

Kapotasana
From Advanced Ustrasana inhale, press your palms, engage your thighs and tighten your buttocks, push your pelvis forward as if you were going to come back up to seated but instead lower your head to the mat as near your feet as is possible for you.

By acting as if to lift out of the pose when lowering you give your self more control in lowering into the deep back bend.

You may wish to stay in this version of Kapotasana for a number of breathes, lifting the chest on the inhale and pushing forward the hips on the exhalation.

The depth of your kapotasana will depend on your Ushtrasana, if you begin to lower while your hands are on the mat, your toes or half way up your feet that will be the extent of your kapo. To go deeper into the posture you will need to take your feet, ankles of calves in Ustrasana and then lower.

It is harder to deepen your Kapotasana once you have lowered your head to the mat although it is possible to take a rest and then straighten the arms and lifting the head and walking back in.

The depth of your kapotasana seems to be directly related to how far your able to push tour pelvis forward and keep it forward.

On the exhalation take your arms around to the side and hold your thighs.

To come back up return your arms to your heels on the inhalation and return as in Advanced ushtrasana above, pressing your legs from the toes to the knees into the mat, engaging the thighs strongly and most importantly lifting from the hip and pushing your pelvis forward.

The ideal is to perform this subroutine with your feet, knees and thighs together, this is challenging as it gives you a less secure base and there is the danger of toppling over to one side, good bandha control is necessary as well as smooth and steady breathing.




NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Day 51 : Meditative : Ushtrasana ( camel ) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Meditative sequence

VIDEO LINK
In the video I enter ushtrasana from 'namaste' position, with the hands palms together, in the Book Ramaswami has you enter ushtrasana from arms raised as in the pictures above.

Day 52, tomorrow, will look at moving from Ushtrasana to Kapotasana. Kapotasana is an advanced position and challenging without a certain degree of preparation, key to that preparation is Ushtrasana.

HINTS/TIPS/SUGGESTIONS

The danger in kapotasana is to put too great a strain on the lower back, to avoid this we want to create a strong and stable base, ushtrasana allows us to focus on developing that stability.

Press the toes into the mat, all of them

Press the feet into the mat

Press the whole of the lower leg from the toes to the knees into the mat

Keep pressing into the mat from the moment you begin to raise your arms above your head, throughout your stay in ustrasana and until you return to vajrasana stithi

Engage your bandhas, draw up your anus and suck in the belly, imagine the muscles of the bandhas holding the base of the spine firmly, (Ramaswami's fishing rod example).

Engage the front of your thighs ( make the most of any postures that engage the quads so as to develop strength).

Most important of all bring the hips forward and keep encouraging them forward throughout all the way back into ushtrasana and throughout your stay in the posture.

With every inhalation raise up your chest and with every exhalation push your pelvis a little further forward.

As you raise your arms and lift up of your knees lift out of your pelvis and try to keep lift ion out of your pelvis throughout your stay in ustrasana.

Ideally your legs and thighs should be together, this may be something to work towards as it is  less stable

Monday, 21 November 2011

Day 50 : Meditative : Vajrasana (thunderbolt) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Bow sequence

VIDEO LINK





A relatively straight forward posture in which, as with tadasana and it's hand/arm vinyasas, we can focus on the breath and movement of the arms but also of the hips.

This is also an excellent posture for engaging the bandhas are lengthening the exhalation in the forward bends which me may choose to stay in for a considerable time.

The forward bends are are more challenging than they look as the posture is less stable than in say paschimottanasan and upavishta konasana. As we begging to fold forward our hips want to list and it's is difficult to control the decent and not end up head butting the mat.

Vajrasana may also be used as a posture for pranayama and meditation and may be the ideal alternative if you struggle with padmasana (lotus).

HINTS/TIPS/SUGGESTIONS.

Engage the bandhas, especially Mula bandha, drawing up the anus. this seems to act as an anchor, focusing our attention on where we need to counter the weight of our arms and upper body as it folds forward.

press the lower legs from the knees to the toes into the mat, especially focusing on the toes and dorsal feet.

The counter poses in the last two pictures are excellent positions to begin focusing on raising the hips as far as possible and pushing them forward, exploring nutation( the tilting of the pelvis both clockwise and counterclockwise) and strengthening the quads, all useful preparation for the backbends that come later in the meditative sequence as well as those in other sequences.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Day 49 : Bow Subroutine breakdown

VIDEO LINK

Day 44 : Bow : Makrasana (crocodile) & Manduka (frog) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Bow sequence


There are a number of intense back bending postures in Vinyasa Krama.
  • Dropping back into Purna chakrasana in the Standing sequence 
  • Raja kapotasana in Bow sequence
  • Gandha Bherundasana in Bow sequence
  • Kapotasana in Meditative the sequence
  • Urdhava Dhanurasana found in the Supine sequence
  • Uttanasana mayurasana in the Supine Sequence
  • Viparita Dandasana in the Inverted sequence
  • Vrishikasana in the Inverted sequence
The subroutines in Bow sequence give perhaps the most preparation and gradual development in developing your back bending facility. As such these subroutines might be included in your practice as preparation for the intense back bending postures in the other sequences.

If you don't feel ready for some of the more intense backbends in the other sequences and tend to skip the postures above, the Bow sequence, missing out Raja kapotasana and gandha berundasana, may be a good place to work towards them.

A light back bending practice might include any or all of the back bending subroutines below
  • The hand/arm variations back stretching subroutine from Standing
  • All of the Bow subroutines passing on raja kapotasana and gandha berundasana
  • Ustrasana subroutine from the meditative sequence missing out kapotasana.
  • The dwipaditam (desk pose) subroutine from Supine possible including urdhva danhurasana
  • Possibly the one legged uttana mayurasana subroutine from  Sequence Supine 
Remember to include a forward folding counter posture after you back bending postures, perhaps working gently into a long stay in paschimottanasana or upavishta konasana

I often tend to practice Bow subroutines and Meditative subroutines together, the Bow subroutines as a preparation for the Meditative sequences Kapotasana subroutine.

' Backbending' is perhaps not the best expression, rather we should think of these postures as an arching of the back, a back stretch rather than bend.

A back stretch begin in the toes and ends in the fingertips.

In the Bow sequence subroutines we stretch out through the legs feet, toes and stretch our body out of the pelvis and up through the arms.

Engaging the bandhas can support the base of the spine in all back bending postures. here's ramaswami from his Sept 2011 Newsletter


'The spinal column descends from the occipital region and we have the aajna chakra in that region and the sahasrara is in the cranial region. The tailbone is the baby of the assembly at the bottom and tucked nicely but is surrounded by heavy muscles and tissues and protected well. It has some mobility.


Since it is the root of the spine it is also known among Yogis as the Mula. Since both Hata Yoga and Kundalini Yoga are predominantly connected with the spine the mula becomes an important aspect of yoga. When one wants to work with the spine, it, the coccyx, should be firmly anchored. Let us consider the example of the fishing rod (old times). It has a flexible pole, a string and the bait. (sorry I could not think of an ahimsa example). One holds the pole at the far end and when the bait is taken, the pole bends. The fisherman will have to hold the pole firmly so that the pole can bend to the extent required, even though there will be some play or movement in the hand of the holder. Further he has to hold at the farthest point, holding a bit inside the pole reduces the leverage and the pole will not bend sufficiently.


The coccyx and sacrum (sacro-coccygeal section) are at the bottom of the backbone. The coccyx is at the very end of the spine. It represents a vestigial tail (hence the common term tailbone) and consists of three to five very small bones fused together. There is, limited movement between these bones permitted by fibrous joints and ligaments. The sacrum is a large triangular bone at the base of the spine and at the upper and back part of the pelvic cavity and where it is 'inserted' like a bone wedged between the two hip bones. Its upper part  is connected to the last lumbar vertebra and the bottom part to the coccyx. In children it consists normally of five unfused vertebrae which begin fusing around 16 years and become completely fused around 26. It is kyphotic (curved, concavity facing forward). Even so, it is
now an established fact that the sacrum moves between the ilia by both ambulatory and respiratory motions . It would therefore point to the logic of the use of fuller breathing in vinyasa movements as in Vinyasa Krama.


So the mula or the tail bone will have to be held firmly during the spinal exercises. And the yogis used the well known technique called mulabandha which is contracting a few groups of muscles surrounding the tailbone:  the perineum, rectum and the gluteal muscles. All spinal movements, the forward bend,the rounded back, the turn, the back bend, the side bend, all will be better if the mula is gripped firmly and engaged.'


NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Day 48 : Bow : Dhanurasana ( bow ) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Bow sequence

VIDEO LINK

Asymmetric Dhanurasana
Get a grip during exhalation
Pause for a breath
Pull in your leg on the next inhalation
Relax on the exhalation
Repeat three to six times
Pause for a breath after the final exhalation

Dhanurasana
Reach back and catch both legs on the exhalation
Drawin in the legs on the inhalation
Relax on the exhalation
Repeat three to six times.

Ideally the feet knees, thighs will stay together although in the beginning it's acceptable if not preferable to allow them to to be a few inches apart.

Drishti (gaze) look straight ahead.

HINTS/TIPS/SUGGESTIONS

Engage Mula and uddiyana bandha, imagine there is a pea beneath you belly that you are trying not to squab by daring in your belly throughout.

Rather than lifting for the leg or pulling in there is a stretching through the whole body. Because the hand and foot are bound this stretch arches the back and lifts the chest and leg.

drop the shoulder blades down the back  to allow the chest to lift more easily and to relax the neck.

In the asymmetric version, ground the whole trailing leg pressing into the mat from the hip to the toes

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Day 47 : Bow : Salabhasana (locust) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Bow sequence

VIDEO LINK
HINTS/TIPS/SUGGESTIONS

Regular Salabhasana

As Day 46 (Asymmetric Salabhasana ), There's a tendency to lift the leg from the foot but activate the buttock and begin to lift from the head of the femur itself rotating it up in the hip socket, along with the thigh, the knee the calf and the foot, lift the whole leg.

Stretch through the length of the leg

At the end of the inhalation give the hip a little nudge upwards while pushing the other hip into the mat.

As with the leg, rather than just lifting the arm stretch right through the arm from the shoulder to the hand


Stretch through both the arm and the leg, tho seems to make them lighter as if they want to float up.

In all these postures stretch through the back lifting out of the pelvis to give space for the arch of the back.

Ground the pelvis into the mat.

Viparita Salabhasana VIDEO LINK

In the Vinyasa Krama version of this posture the hands are clapped together under the groin.

We can begin to explore this posture by placing a towel under our shoulders to take some of the pressure of out throat, which can feel strange and uncomfortable in the beginning.

It's possible to take the legs up together, in the video i walk the legs in as far as possible and then push off with one leg while leading with the other.

As you legs go up the back will need to arch to catch the feet at the top of the ark.

Stretch firmly through the whole length of the legs from the pelvis to the toes.

Keep the legs straight and take the feet  beyond the head to find a point of balance where the weight of the feet counteracts the weight of the pelvis

Press the full length of the arm firmly into the mat

There is the fear of flipping over, although this is highly unlikely in Viparita Salabhasana you may wish to practice near a wall as in the video. (This will also allow you the option of walking down the wall when beginning to work on the next posture Gandha Bherundasana.

Here's a link to a video showing the use of the towel http://youtu.be/xwDSQyjBl8chttp://youtu.be/xwDSQyjBl8c



Gandha Bherundasana VIDEO LINK

In this challenging posture a development of Viparita salabhasana we seek to bring the fee to the head. This may take some time to achieve.

The trick is to drop the hips  to bring the feet lower

We also need to create more of an arch in the back. To do this take your feet further beyond your head in Viprita Salabhasana, the increased counterweight will allow you to drop your chest a little lower towards the mat creating a deeper backbend.

The temptation is to bring the feet in towards the head by bending at the knee but try to stretch through the full length of your legs as you bend at the knee.

The tendency is to focus on the lower half of the body but still try to stretch through the full length of the spine as if your still lifting out of the pelvis. Although the upper body won't move it will seem to create space in the spine and sacrum allowing your to arch the back more comfortably.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Day 46 : Bow : Asymmetric Salabhasana (locust) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Bow sequence

VIDEO LINK
HINTS/TIPS/SUGGESTIONS

Ground the leg your are not lifting, push the thigh, shin, foot into the mat

There's a tendency to lift the leg from the foot but activate the buttock and begin to lift from the head of the femur itself rotating it up in the hip socket, along with the thigh, the knee the calf and the foot, lift the whole leg.

Stretch through the length of the leg

At the end of the inhalation give the hip a little nudge upwards while pushing the other hip into the mat.

As with the leg, rather than just lifting the arm stretch right through the arm from the shoulder to the hand.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Day 45 : Bow : Bhujangasana (cobra) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Bow sequence

VIDEO LINK

Bhujangasana is similar to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana ( Upward facing dog ) except that pelvis remains groundedon the mat.

The postures are repeated again and again in each vinyasa (variation) raising and arching the spine on the inhalation returning on the exhalation.

because they are repeated so many times we can gently, gradually, deepen the stretch as the subroutine progresses.

Raja kapotasana is an advanced back bending posture where we aim to stay for three to six breaths with the head on the soles of the feet.

In Raja kapotasana Ramaswami instructs us to keep the thighs together, this is particularly challenging.

Picture 3 is a gentler version of Raja kapotasana, a working towards it.

HINTS /TIPS/SUGGESTIONS

To work on develop our flexibility we might take a tip from Urdhva Mukha Svanasana ( Upward facing dog )

To go deeper into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana ( Upward facing dog ) where our pelvis is off the mat we are able to arch the back as much as possible but then work from the pelvis and bring it down and almost through the arms which deepens the backbend.

This is possible in bhjangasana also. Arch the back on the inhalation and at the end of the inhalation lift up off the mat enough to bring the pelvis forward a little and back down on to the mat, deeper into the posture.

In arching the back we stretch and lift out of the pelvis just as we have done in the standing bacbending hand/arm variations in tadasana.

There is also a stretch in the opposite direction, try to stretch your legs from your buttocks to your toes, this is especially important in Raja kapotasana.

The main challenge and 'trick' to Raja kapotasana is to keep the pelvis on the mat as much as possible.

To bring the feet closer to the head the stretch from your thighs rather than just the calves.

Raja kapotasana will work the hamstrings and calf muscles and we must be careful not to overstretch them in reaching for the head.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Day 44 : Bow : Makrasana (crocodile) & Manduka (frog) subroutine from Vinyasa Krama Bow sequence

VIDEO LINK
The above video links you to Makarasana This VIDEO LINK takes you to Manduka asana'

I love this gentle lead into the deeper backbends and tend to include it along with pretty much all the Bow sequence when practicing backbends. Much of Bow is similar to the backbend section of Ashtanga Intermediate series but with more vinyasas, more time spent preparing for the deeper backbends.

I often add and/or mix the Bow Subroutine with/to the Meditative subroutines, which includes the Kapotasanas.

Most if not all of these postures and/or subroutines can be used as counterposes for Shoulderstand and/or any deep forward bend although you would tend to start with the lighter vinyasas

These postures tend to be repeated three to six times entering on the inhalation exiting on the exhalation except for manduka asana where you stay in the posture from 3 to six breaths

HINTS/TIPS/SUGGESTIONS
As with all backbends your aiming to stretch the whole length of your spine

Stretch and lift out of your pelvis just as if you were standing

Stretch and push out the chest on the inhalation, stretch the legs on the exhalation bringing them towards your buttocks.

Caution
Manduka ( pic 4 ) can put a lot of stress on the knees make sure the muscles from the pelvis to the ankles are activated, the muscles that cross the knee will give support.

In the beginning use the feet just as support for the hands to push down upon and lift the chest and head, later, in time , when you become more confident of your knees and have built strength in your legs look to push your feet closer to the mat.

As you push down on your feet stretch out through your thighs which will lift the knee and tilt the feet closer to the mat.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Day 43 : Seated Subroutines breakdown

VIDEO LINK

Day 36 : Paschimottanasana (posterior stretch) subroutine practice notes from Vinyasa Krama On one leg sequence


I find the Vinyasa Krama Seated sequence to be short enough to practice in its entirety, along with some standing postures and inversions, unlike the Asymmetric sequence, say, which is perhaps prohibitively long for a single practice.

If you have a shorter time to practice you can of course do fewer of the vinyasas from the different subroutines, the side twists from upavishta konasana but not from paschimottanasana for example or some of the hand/arm variations in paschinmottanasana, the others in konasana. Not all of the extra seated postures need to be practiced each time.

I like to do a mixture of Asymmetric and Seated subroutines, some of the Asymmetric hip openers, janu sirsasana,  maha mudra as prep along with upavishta konasana for badha konasana and padmasana, I might save the long paschimottanasana for after back bending postures as a counter pose.

Ashtangis might like to look at this Seated sequence subroutine  breakdown along with the one for the Asymmetric subroutines and see how Vinyasa Krama many subroutines they can spot in the Ashtanga Primary series.

In a sense Ashtanga Primary is a collection of subroutines, it gives some hints into how a Vinyasa Krama practice might be built up at the subroutine level. In Vinyasa krama we wouldn't have a jump back and through after every posture but perhaps after every subroutine or group of postures, a lead in and out of the Asymmetric postures within your practice perhaps, as well as of any from Seated or Bow...

In Ashtanga paschimottanasana is entered a number of times and there are several vinyasas of janu sirsasana and Marichi and some of the later shoulder stand postures have longer stays than the earlier postures. We might do the same in our Vinyasa Krama practice but where the Ashtanga Series remains fixed each day. In Vinyasa Krama we're free to change in which postures we stay for an extended period and which will will focus on employing extra vinyasas.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Day 42 : SEATED : subroutine practice notes from Vinyasa Krama On one leg sequence

VIDEO LINK
I mentioned in the previous post that credited working on Upavishta konasana (Day 41) with a much improved badha konasana allowing me to bring me feet closer to the perineum and the knees to the mat. As it's a favourite posture I sometimes like to include some of the hand/arm variations we find in the tadasana sequence as well as Day 41's Upavishta konasana.


HINTS/TIPS/SUGGESTIONS
To get deeper into badha konasana prepare with extended stays in paschimottanasana and upavishtas konasana.

Sit up tall lifting up out of the pelvis

sit as far forward as possible on the sit bones

As you bring your feet closer towards the perineum, keep a little space between your feet to allow the turn outwards as if opening a book, turning your soles up to face you.

To allow this to happen there is a rotation in the hip joint, this should not be forced but something that will come over time as you work with hip opening postures like those in the Seated and Asymmetric particularly the janu sirsasanas.

Mula bhandasana
In this version you lift up and sit on the heels holding onto the feet (there is another advanced posture where you roll your feet over so that your heels face forwards and your toes point backwards before sitting on your heels), engage Mula, Uddiyana and Jalandhara bandha

Padmasana will be looked at in more detail in Lotus subroutines

Gomukhasana has too different versions, one where you sit on the heel and the one shown here practiced in Vinyasa krama where you sit between the heels.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Raja Kapotasana : I shall have her....though I may not keep her long.


Graeme Northfield

I mentioned in my previous post that backbends are rusty, still.... they're coming back. With the colder weather I've switched to a light, core, Vinyasa Krama asana practice followed by longer Pranayama and Meditation. In the evening I'm practising Ashtanga but it's late for  a serious a  backbend practice, seems to mess with sleep patterns. Part of me thinks that's nonsense but I suffered for it last night, kept waking up, a restless night.

So backbends are rusty but coming back, touching my heels with my fingertips in Kapo, feel a long way from taking my ankles from the air again but that's OK. Raja Kapotasana though, now that posture bugs me, can't work it out, I can bury my head in my instep in Kapo ( on a good day) but why can't I brush even lightly the hair on my head, think I might grow a tall pink punk Mohican.

Susan mention it's all in the hips rather than the legs, yep, that's what I think too and it helps. I get a nice upward facing dog going and then rather than try to deepen the backbend aim to swing my hips further forward and through my arms, try to bring them back to the mat and then bring my legs towards my head..... it helps but still a way away, I'm missing something.

Never thought of myself as a natural back bender, tend to put what I've achieved in them down to technique so I'm sure there's some 'trick' I'm missing. Last night somebody came int the shop with a buzz on their clarinet, spent ages trying to find it, had to be something, found it eventually just as I'll find the key to Raja kapo but until I do..... slightly frustrating....in a pleasant way, an itch.

Searching for images on the web I came across the above picture of Pattabhi Jois adjusting Graham Northfield. I remember his interview in the Guruji book. Here's a link to his website (click on his name above) where he has several more excellent pictures of being adjusted, wonderful stuff.

Not sure how I feel about adjustments, had a couple when I visited AYL twice a few years back, Marchi D and lifting me higher and further back in Urdhava Dhanurasana, oh and the squish in Paschi of course. They felt good, made me realize Marichi D was possible for me but to be honest I've never missed them. Sure, as in the picture, a teacher could bring my feet to my head in Raja Kapo or the other way around but I tend to feel that if I can't do it myself then I can't do the posture and it's just a case of plugging away at it, thinking it through, until I can. Makes you very self reliant practicing at home but then I've had all the help and suggestions from the web that people have often picked up from the shalas so perhaps I'm not as self reliant as I like to think.

And here's the best of my Raja Kapo's from last night, a bench mark for a two week Raja Kapotasana challenge.

Whining voice in my ear " ...but it's not about the postures" we're all panopticon's now it seems. Well yes it is about the posture, the asana aspect of our practice anyway...obviously, whether it's Paschimottanasana or Kandapindasana. Whether it's first nailing a posture or becoming steady and comfortable in it, that bit, that small aspect of yoga practice is certainly about the posture so we shouldn't feel...bashful about having fun with it.

Sometimes it's the sheer joy of being with a posture

Is it Yoga? Yeah it's a part of it, part of the discipline, a small part. Is it all of it? Of course not.

....and so to practice.

Day 41 : SEATED : Upavishta konasana ( seated angle stretch) subroutine practice notes from Vinyasa Krama On one leg sequence

VIDEO LINK
Upavishta konasana is one of those seemingly straight forward postures that we take for granted. I must have practiced it everyday for a couple of years before I gave it a second thought.

Vinyasa Krama often helps you to see some of the seemingly straight forward postures as if for the first time. It's the Vinyasas entering and exiting the posture on the breath, going in a little deeper each time. It's the long stays, elongating the exhalations and engaging the bandhas and it's the subtle variations on the key pose, the different hand variations, the twists, lifts and counters.

Try building a practice around this one routine, give yourself a lot of time, a LOT of time.

I credit this subroutine with improving my lotus, making it more comfortable and allowing me to stay longer, I credit it with helping me to get my knees to the mat in badha konasana and for getting my leg down below my neck and onto my shoulders in kapilasana  a deep leg behind head posture.

TIPS/HINTS/SUGGESTIONS
The usual tips apply for this as for all the forward bends. Lift up high out of the pelvis, shift your backside back, remember to fold from the hip rather than form the back and work your way into the pose, you have time here, nine variations, there's no rush.

On the side bend, leaning over to the right for example, I like to take my right hand and hold on to my left hip and twist in a little. Now reach over your head with your left arm and fold inside your hip. laying along the thigh to grab your right foot with your left arm. NOW bring the right arm around parallel to the mat and take the inside of the right foot and finally twist in and up between your arms.

Use one of the hip raises like table pose as a counterpose.

NB: These are practice notes that will be tidied up and put into the new edition of my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book along with the current sequences and subroutines. The book can be freely downloaded HERE. There is a page on Facebook HERE with all the latest sheets and updates. This book is in no way a substitute for Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga.

Friday, 11 November 2011

The grip in Padangustha Dhanurasana, Natajarasana and Eka pada raja kapotasana

Backbending is a bit rusty at the moment. With the colder mornings I'm leaning towards a light VK asana practice, including the subroutine I'm writing on for the Practice book, followed longer pranayama and meditation sessions. I'm never quite sure if back bending affects my sleep pattern so tend to avoid them and mostly stick to primary with a couple of light drop backs. That leaves Saturday ( finish work early) and my day off. So kapo for now seems to be just my toes and there's not much of a backbend in these but I still seem to have the grip and the shoulder rotation and that's what I wanted to feature

The padangustasana Dhanurasana is from last night, the rest from earlier in the year (as it happens I slept wonderfully and felt a lot less stiff than most mornings this winter).

Sweaty hands and feet by this stage of the practice are the biggest problem.



The same tricky grip as from Eka pada raja kapotasana and Natajarasana
1. Lift your leg up behind you bending the knee and bringing your heel towards your buttock but turn the foot outwards. Rest the back of your hand against the outside of your ankle.

2. Turn your hand palm outwards and take hold of the top of your foot.

3. Rotate your elbow outwards and your bring the foot up. At this point you'll need to begin the backbend to make the space for the elbow to come out and the shoulder rotate. 

4. Stretch up out of your hips, tilt the pelvis down and begin to arch the back as if you were preparing to drop back into urdhva danhurasana, continue to bring the elbow out and over to end up above your shoulder.







5. Natajarasana


Eka pada raja kapotasana
Here's the grip in slowmo in Natarajasana and Eka pada raja kapotasana


In the Vinyasa Krama context I tend to do these as part of a backbend focused practice. I'll emphasise the backbend hand variations in Tadasana, do most if not all of the Bow sequence which includes all the salabhasanas. Then I'll switch over to the Meditative sequence for for vajrasana to loosen the quads and do the kapo's before coming back to the dhanurasanas from Bow, including padangustasana dhanurasana above. I'll finish off with Natajarasana, drop backs and then a long long paschimotanasana and inversions.

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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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