In Krishnamacharya' Yoga Makaranda of 1934 (free download here) Krishnamcaharya employs Ujayii breath, long exhalations are mentioned, there is breath retention after the exhalation, the forehead is down in most postures and there is no mention of drishti.
In Jois' Yoga Mala (1954) , Pattabhi Jois' forehead is down in his pictures also (though not in Sharath's introduced in the later English translation) but there's no mention of Drishti, Ujayii isn't mentioned either nor breath retention.
Why the questions? Well, I'm curious of course, about where and how the Ashtanga method as we know it now came about. Was it a response to teaching Western students, to the increase in numbers as it became a worldwide phenomenon and the impossibility of direct supervision. How much has changed since 1973, was anything lost?
But more importantly, for me personally, is how to bring together the two practices I love, Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama (these days, while the jury is still out, I just get on and practice them separately, Vinyasa Krama in the morning, Ashtanga in the evening). Vinyasa Krama represents Krishnamacharya's late teaching as passed on to his student, of 30 years, Ramaswami. It's very close to what we find in Krishnamacharya's 1934 Yoga Makaranada, Ujayii, some jalandhara bandha (or at least a slight tilt inwards of the chin, the forehead down), longer exhalations, breath retention, no drishti to speak of as the head is almost always down.
Krishnamacharya's teaching then, doesn't seem to have changed that much, so how do we account for Ashtanga. Did Pattabhi Jois modify the teaching, bring the head up and introduce or at least develop, codify the drishti, eliminate Ujayii for breath with sound. These are quite major changes.
Was it a response to trying to pass on the method to western students, a simplification. How was it taught in those first encounters in the early 70's? Or do we go back further to the 50's and 60's when Manju was first taught by his father (aged 7) and also when Yoga Mala was written.
How innovative was Sri K. Patabbhi Jois?
I wrote to Nancy Gilgoff recently asking permission to publish her article Ashtanga As it Was (see this post), I couldn't help but ask about the breath in '73
'Dear Nancy.... can I ask how you were taught the breath in 73, Was it referred to as Ujayii? I'm guessing it was 8 breaths but was it also a longer exhalation or were inhalation and exhalation the same in every posture. I'm also curious about drishti, no mention in Krishnamcharya's Yoga Makaranda, Yoga Mala or Ramaswami's writing but then the chin seems to have been down more so perhaps no call for it'.
'aloha anthony i never NEVER heard guruji say the word ujayii. he said to breath, "free breathing" is how he would say it. "breath with sound" was another of his pet phrases....perhaps this is why some interpreted it as ujaii....which is incorrect as ujayii is a pranayama where the exhale is twice as long as the inhale....we are to bring the inhale/exhale to the same length so ujayii is the wrong word to use when describing the breath in the ashtanga practice. recently sharath made mention of this...kino mcgregor has put up a summary of a talk he gave...i will forward it to you. i am soooo happy he said this as i have been telling folks ujayii is incorrect.
i think folks are making a mistake to look at yoga makaranda and compare it to the ashtanga method of pattabhi jois. true k.. was guruji's teacher but the series is a different practice than what is being talked about in the makaranda. never, never retention in the practice. i was taught 5-8 breaths is correct...equal on both sides.....he told us to breath faster if something was difficult.....movement follows the breath so if one is not able to "float" back and thru the breath has to speed up....also in yoga mak. he says to do jalandhara bandha in the poses which is VERY INCORRECT to quote guruji.....there is no jalandhara in the ashtanga asana practice.
guruji ALWAYS told us where to gaze as he taught us each pose......the drishti's are important to focus and calm the mind.
think that covers it.....looking forward to meeting you and having more discussions....n
be well safe and happy'
That's pretty clear, thank you so much Nancy.
Perhaps the clue is in the 'breath follows movement', with such a flowing practice maybe it would be a mistake to include breath retention plus there's the need to keep the energy up so equal inhalation/exhalation and again the head up to maximise the inhalation, all help to carry you through the practice
Oh well, back to the drawing board...
Dear Manju.....can I ask you how you were taught the breath by your Father in the 1950's and.......
- YOGA GLOSSARY
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- Slow Ashtanga PLUS Yoga Makaranda Part I and II
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- Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu (1941) (translation project)
- Ashtanga : Inappropriate Adjustments/Sexual abuse.
- Ashtanga History: Authorisation 1980 - Present.
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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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