I'll be starting each of these posts with this same introduction/reminder of the the context.
'Originally there were five series: Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, Advanced B, and the fifth was the “rishi” series'.
Nancy Gilgoff 'Yoga as it was'
Ashtanga Rishi Approach
'...Doing a practice of 10 postures for up to 50 breaths is a method of preparing for "advanced series" after one has learned 1st and 2nd. It can be done once or twice a week. One does the "salutations" and then starts going thru the series, holding each posture for as long as comfortably possible. Notice which postures could be held for 50 breaths. The next time you practice this way, the postures which you could hold for 50 are omitted and new ones are added at the end. One gradually works thru the series, dropping and adding asanas, still doing 10 asanas per session. I have gone all the way thru 1st and 2nd this way several times over the years and have found it beneficial'.
Ashtanga Rishi Series
'Then, once one has mastered all of the asanas, one can practice "the rishi series", the most advanced practice. One does the 10 postures that one intuits will be the most beneficial and appropriate for that day, holding each posture for up to 50 comfortable breaths'.
The Ashtanga Rishi approach. First Day
I had a look at the idea of the series in an earlier post HERE, in this series of posts I want to explore the approach David outlines above
'Doing a practice of 10 postures for up to 50 breaths is a method of preparing for "advanced series" after one has learned 1st and 2nd...'
The idea is to do your sun salutations and then work through the series, holding them for as long as comfortably possible with 50 breaths in mind. In my Vinyasa krama practice we are encouraged to practice paschimottanasana, Sarvangasana and Sirsasana daily and for at least around ten minutes so I want to include those postures along with padmasana in each practice, that kind of fits in with ...Sri K. pattabhi Jois' Yoga Mala too.
That gives me six postures to play with.
A note about breathing. Vinyasa Krama breathing in some postures Ashtanga breathing in others. I'm aiming for a five second inhalation, ten second exhalation and a five second retention, a twenty second breath then which would mean sixteen and a half minutes in each posture. There are a couple of asana where that isn't realistic for me at the moment (David suggests as much above) so I switch to Ashtanga breathing, five second inhalation, five second exhalation. I didn't watch the clock that much but it seemed most of the postures were taking around fifteen minutes, i included a full vinyasa between each asana to stretch it out.
UPDATE: Nancy has confirmed that the breath was taught in 1973 as now, equal inhalation and exhalation, no retention. From now on I'll practice the Rishi approach with standard Ashtanga breathing and save the Vinyasa Krama breath for when practicing Vinyasa Krama.
This morning then...
Sun salutations 3 A's, 3 B's
Paschimottanasana (50 full breaths)
Purvatasana (ashtanga breathing, 25 breaths).
Ardha badha padma paschimottanasana ( 25 full breaths each side) The challenge here is circulation as the bind starts to turn your arm numb, takes a little shuffling the arm around and a deepening of the fold to give space for the blood to flow freely.
Tirieng Mukha Eka Pada paschimottanasana (25 full breaths each side).
Janu Sirsasana A (25 full breaths each side)
Badha Konasana (25 full breaths each in A and C) badha konasana just because I love the pose and am exploring it, will probably include it each day.
Sarvangasana ,Shoulder stand (50 full breaths)
Salambhasana ( 25 ashtanga breaths each in A and B) Ramaswami encourages a back stretch for the neck after shoulder stands.
Sirsasana, headstand (50 full breaths)
Badha padmasana/Yoga mudra (25 Ashtanga breaths in each). Again the challenge with the bind is the circulation, A little moving around and deepening I'm improved it but I still need to unbind for a couple of breaths in between the two postures.
Pranayama in Sidhasana.
Overall it went went well, very very mellow afterwards and as I sit here writing this up, practice was pretty much two and a half hours of pranayama.
Is it Ashtanga? The postures are the same, the sequence too pretty much and including a vinyasa in between each asana made it felt Ashtanga'ish to me. Surprisingly this time it felt more like ashtanga than Vinyasa Krama but the line between the two variations in the Krishnamachaya tradition seem a little blurred here.
Interesting to explore though. Rather than the whole series perhaps, try holding one of the Primary series asana for fifty breaths one evening just for the hell of it.
Tomorrow is a little scary, the Marichi's and Navasana
Ashtanga Rishi Blog post series
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, first day Paschimottanasana to Janu sirsasana A
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, second day Janu Sirsasana B to Navasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, third day Bhuja pindasana to badha konasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fourth day Upavishta konasana to Supta bandhasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fifth day Pasasana to Kapotasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, sixth day Supta vajrasana to Ardha Matsyendrasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, Seventh Day Eka pada sirsasana to Tittibhasana C