A series of posts exploring the the 'Ashtanga Rishi Series' mentioned at the end of Nancy Gilgoff's Article (see link below) and outlined in a reply by David Willams on his forum below (the headings in block capitals are mine).
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'.
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 beneficiall'.
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'.
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
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, Eight Day Pinchamayurasana to the seven headstands (below)
See my proficient primary post where this project (a page at the top of the blog) is continued into a mudra like approach to certain key asanahttp://grimmly2007.blogspot.jp/p/proficient-primary-project.html
The Ashtanga Rishi approach, Eighth Day (2nd series).
Sury A x 3/ Sury B x3
Pincha mayurasana (25 Breaths) Alignment could be a lot better so found this challenging, I used to be a lot straighter in this posture, will need to work on that if I want to explore longer stays here.
Karandavasana (10 Breaths) An experiment, managed to lower and hold my lotus for 10 breaths before it slipped off, part of the problem was a lack of preparatory postures, lotus wasn't as tight as usual plus I've only just come back to including Karandavasana in my practice after three months on the Subroutine book.
Mayurasana (10 Breaths) Managed 10 breaths, considered going up again as with Navasana but thought a long stay here is too much strain on the wrists.
Vatayansana ( 25 Breaths each side). First side with the foot flat second side on the toes. Flat seemed more stable but found it hard to stretch up into the posture, again lack of preparation. Next time I'll try this and Karandavasana after a couple of janu sirsasana's and half lotus postures. A reminder of the benefit of Vinyasa Krama subroutines.
Parighasana (25 Breaths each side). Comfortable but am used to long stays here from Vinyasa Krama
Gomukhasana A + B (25 breaths in each and each side) Again comfortable, some slight circulation problems in B on the second side, this is a meditation posture so well suited to long stays.
Supta Urdhava pada Vajrasana A + B (25 breaths in each and each side). I was expecting circulation problems from the bind but it was quite comfortable. Again these are Vinyasa Krama postures so longer stays are familiar
Mukta hasta sirsasana A, B, C. (50 breaths in each) Seemed comfortable enough at the time although the arms began to ache afterwards.
Baddha Hasta Sirsasana A, B, C, D (50 breaths in each) D was the only tricky one, just a case of maintaining focus, fifty breaths in all of these would certainly be possible. However, not perhaps recommended, I've been practicing long headstands in regular sirsasana for a number of years so have strong neck muscles (as well as arms and shoulders) yet longer headstands are best kept for the more supported variety.
An interesting experiment that I plan on doing again next year and perhaps look at Advanced A and b postures after getting back into those series when the warmer weather comes on. Struck more than ever of the benefit of the Vinyasa krama subroutines. Being thrown into these postures cold makes them even more challenging, much better to build the subroutine around them, preparatory postures and variations.
To reiterate the plan. The idea is to run through Primary and Second series with the Ashtanga breath, equal inhalation and exhalation, take a note of how long I'm staying in the asana and then revisit the asana with the Vinyasa krama breathing. Here I'll reduce the number of breaths by lengthening the inhalation and especially the exhalation and employing breath retention where appropriate. So the same time in the pose but perhaps half or a quarter the number of breaths. This seems a more interesting approach to me than just staying in the asana for 25-50 breaths, if we're going to be in the posture that long it seems to make sense to explore the breath as fully as possible.
Going to take a break from blogging for a while, perhaps quite a while. I'm tired, been practicing five years this month and blogging for four of them, time to go cave yogi for a while and focus on taking my practice and studies further.