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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Ramaswami teaching Vinyasa Krama On your feet/Tadasana Standing sequence (inc. pasasana)

More video's from Ramaswami.

'During my recent visit to India I made a DVD of an abridged version of two Vinyasakrama Yogasana sequences, I have uploaded routines on those sequences. The audio quality is terrible, but you may prefer to watch in mute mode. I hope to clean up the audio and reload them in due course'.
Srivatsa Ramaswami.

INTRODUCTION TO VINYASA KRAMA( inc. my favourite of Ramaswami's chants)





5. inc. MALASANA

6.  inc. PASASANA

7. inc. FULL TADASANA ( on toes)

I tend to do a ten minute mini version of the tadasana sequence below every morning as soon as i step on the mat, whether I'm practicing Vinyasa krama or Ashtanga, this is similar to how we would start every asana session on Ramaswami's Teacher training course and gives an idea of how you might approach adapting Vinyasa Krama to your own situation and time available.

See my earlier post for videos of Ramaswami teaching the Meditative sequence inc. vajrasana, virasana, ushtrasana, kapotasana.

If you would like to study with Ramaswami, and I can't recommend it enough,  then I've just checked his upcoming schedule and he is teaching...

13 April- 15 April Yoga in the tradition of Krishnamacharya The Yoga Shala Ridgefield Connecticut.

20 April - 22 April Mantra Yoga, Vinyasakrama Yoga,pranayam and Yoga for Internal Organs Heights School of YogaAddress: 1547 Rutland St, Hoston, TX 77008; USA

27 April 2012- 29 April2012 Vinyas Krama weekendThe Yoga of Sri T Krishnamacharya 

6 May 2012-11 May12 Practicum on Hatha (Vinyasa) and Raja Yoga (26 hours) Esalen Institute. Big Sur, CA

See Ramaswami's teaching schedule HERE

Ramaswami's 200 Teacher training course in Vinyasa Krama runs July to August at Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA

School of Yoga with Srivatsa Ramaswami
200 Hr Teacher Training Program on Vinyasakrama Yoga—Registered with Yoga Alliance.
1. Vinyasakrama Yogasanas (60 hours)
2. Visesha Vinyasas (20 hours)
3. Pranayama (20 hours)
4. Mantras and Meditation (20 hours)
5. Sri Krishnamacharya's Works (20 hours)
6. Yoga Sutras (20 hours).
7. Yoga for Internal Organs (10 hours)
8. Yoga Business and Teaching Methodology (10 hours)
9. Anatomy and Physiology (10 hours)
10. Subtle Anatomy and Chanting (10 hours)
Total: 200 hours

This was the course I took in 2010, feel free to ask me any questions you may have about the course either in comments or by direct email (address in my profile page).


'During my recent visit to India I made a DVD of an abridged version of two Vinyasakrama Yogasana sequences, I have uploaded two routines on those sequences 9now three). The audio quality is terrible, but you may prefer to watch in mute mode. I hope to clean up the audio and reload them in due course'.
Srivatsa Ramaswami.

INTRODUCTION TO VINYASA KRAMA( inc. my favourite of Ramaswami's chants)

Straight Leg jump through, a suggestion. (Plus some cross leg and lotus jump throughs.)

Something for the weekend.

Currently switching from cross leg to straight leg jump through for reasons I forget. While my crossed leg one was relatively nice and smooth my straight leg version has always been a little ...clunky,  my heels coming down at the end before lowering for example.

Tried something new this morning that seems to have made a difference and i wanted to film it while it was fresh and before I'd had much chance to develop it.

My epiphany was to look to an imaginary point six inches above the end of your mat and jump to that point, seems to keep the heels up more, feels nicer, more controlled.

Still need to work on it but it's encouraging, get the feeling that with a little better timing I should be able to jump through and hold for a moment before lowering.

Really wish I could remember why I decided to switch.

Two other things that have helped recently, avoid trying to jump your whole lower body through, your hips don't need to go through the arms and yet I used to be jumping as if they did. The other suggestion is to try not to jump so fast imagine somebody tugging on the back of your pants.

Just some ideas to play with if your working on this too.

One more thing

'No merit in that'

Jumping through, jumping back, it's nice when you get it, practice flows a little more smoothly but it's REALLY not that important, comes eventually .....or not.

Nice to focus on every now and again though, something to keep coming back to.

I feel it's more a case of getting all the elements in place rather than there being one 'secret' or 'key', hand positioning, shifting body weight, bandhas or at least keeping the lower body nice and tight and compact, picking the best point to gaze, getting the timing right for your lift or jump, awareness of where your pelvis in space etc etc etc. Some of them you'll do automatically, others you'll add on and incorporate over time.

Also everybody's  jump back and jump through seems to be a little different and it seems to be a mistake to try and do yours exactly as your current half vinyasa hero ( mine was always Lino), I recommend trying lots of different approaches and more importantly combinations of approaches.

Some earlier Straight leg jump through posts

Born again straight leg jump through Apr 2011

Straight leg jump through finally! June 2009

How to do a Straight leg Jump through blindfolded july 2009

And of course if the straight leg jump through isn't your thing here are some of the other variations worth exploring.

I set up a Facebook page this week for links to these blog posts and other bits and pieces that don't  end up as a full post

Friday, 30 March 2012

Videos of Ramaswami teachng Vajrasana subroutine UPDATE also Virasana Subroutine

Wonderful to hear my teachers voice again this afternoon, giving instruction on the videos below, just as I remember it, big smile on my face.

'During my recent visit to India I made a DVD of an abridged version of two Vinyasakrama Yogasana sequences, I have uploaded two routines on those sequences 9now three). The audio quality is terrible, but you may prefer to watch in mute mode. I hope to clean up the audio and reload them in due course'.
Srivatsa Ramaswami.

In the first video Ramaswami shows us two ways to enter Vajrasana, the second version being a little more vigorous with a jump to and from chaturanga. If you look at Ramaswami  The Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga, you'll see there are several other vinyasas (variations) of vajrasana, as well as different patterns, more repetitions perhaps or more breaths in a vinyasa. Here Ramaswami chooses a just a couple  of variations which suggests how one might modify a Vinyasa Krama practice depending on time available and the objectives for the practice.

One might begin the practice with a short standing sequence, followed by a Bow postures subroutine which could provide more preparation for the Kapoatasana in the vajrasana routine below. The asana element of your practice might end with some inversions and perhaps a short lotus sequence.

UPDATE: Ramaswami has just posted another video of the Virasana subroutine which follows vajrasana in his book (see 3rd Video below).




I can almost imagine it's Ramaswami there on the mat as a young man while Krishnamacharya gives the instruction pretty much as we hear it here.

This is of course a demonstration with one of Ramaswami's experienced students. If you find the routine challenging, the forward bend with the hands above the head, Kapotasana for example, then don't worry, on his courses Ramaswami will give you lots of preparations, modifications and different options depending on your ability.

If you would like to study with Ramaswami, and I can't recommend it enough,  then I've just checked his upcoming schedule and he is teaching...

13 April- 15 April Yoga in the tradition of Krishnamacharya The Yoga Shala Ridgefield Connecticut.

20 April - 22 April Mantra Yoga, Vinyasakrama Yoga,pranayam and Yoga for Internal Organs Heights School of YogaAddress: 1547 Rutland St, Hoston, TX 77008; USA

27 April 2012- 29 April2012 Vinyas Krama weekendThe Yoga of Sri T Krishnamacharya 

6 May 2012-11 May12 Practicum on Hatha (Vinyasa) and Raja Yoga (26 hours) Esalen Institute. Big Sur, CA

See Ramaswami's teaching schedule HERE

Ramaswami's 200 Teacher training course in Vinyasa Krama runs July to August at Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA

School of Yoga with Srivatsa Ramaswami
200 Hr Teacher Training Program on Vinyasakrama Yoga—Registered with Yoga Alliance.
1. Vinyasakrama Yogasanas (60 hours)
2. Visesha Vinyasas (20 hours)
3. Pranayama (20 hours)
4. Mantras and Meditation (20 hours)
5. Sri Krishnamacharya's Works (20 hours)
6. Yoga Sutras (20 hours).
7. Yoga for Internal Organs (10 hours)
8. Yoga Business and Teaching Methodology (10 hours)
9. Anatomy and Physiology (10 hours)
10. Subtle Anatomy and Chanting (10 hours)
Total: 200 hours

This was the course I took in 2010, feel free to ask me any questions you may have about the course either in comments or by direct email (address in my profile page).

Thursday, 29 March 2012

John Coltrane and Yoga

"Elation. Elegance. Exaltation." from Psalm, A Love Supreme

Actually this is more about the influence of Indian music and thought on his playing but supposedly he practiced yoga of some kind around 1958.

If you haven't listened to him before I'm told he can take a little getting used to , give hymn a listen one evening when it's quiet or go to bed half an hour earlier and take your earphones with you or perish the thought put Love supreme on while you do an evening practice.

from Indian Concepts in the Music of John Coltrane
by Carl Clements

In the course of his search for structure within this loosening of harmonic boundaries, Coltrane began studying Indian and other non-Western scales and modes.  Lewis Porter notes that Coltrane started paying particular attention to the music of the Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar in early 1961.1 “I collect the records he’s made, and his music moves me” Coltrane stated. “I’m certain that if I recorded with him I’d increase my possibilities tenfold, because I’m familiar with what he does and I understand and appreciate his work.”2 Following their  introduction in 1964, Shankar and Coltrane began to converse about Indian music.  Regarding these lessons, Shankar recalled: “I could give just bare beginning and main things about Indian music and he became more and more interested.”3 Coltrane had intended to spend six months studying with Shankar in 1967, but died before this could take place.4 The importance of Shankar to Coltrane is evidenced by the fact that the latter named his son Ravi in 1965.
Coltrane also developed an interest in Indian religion and philosophy.  Though raised in a Methodist household, he did not consider himself to be specifically Hindu, Christian, Muslim, or any other single faith.  However, by the mid-1960s, the religion and philosophy of India took on a special importance for him, as evidenced by the titles of such compositions as “India” (1961, from Live At the Village Vanguard) and “Om” (1965, from the album Om).  Lewis Porter notes that Coltrane “made a special study of India,” including the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda and Mohandas Gandhi.5 Bill Cole states that Coltrane was aware of the works of the South Indian spiritual teacher and philosopher Krishnamurti and practiced yoga.6  
Coltrane integrated Indian music and concepts into his style in a number of ways.  On the one hand, he incorporated various structural elements of Indian music.  These include the use of the drone, ideas of melodic development, and rhythmic and metric considerations.  On the other hand, he drew from Indian religion and philosophy in both literal and abstract ways.  While none of these elements dominated his playing and composing, as a whole they reflect Coltrane’s profound interest in drawing from the music and thought of India as his personal style evolved.
The Indian use of the drone was a significant influence on much of Coltrane’s music after the late 1950s, beginning with his 1959 composition “Naima” from the album Giant Steps.  “India” provides a more overt reference to the Indian drone.  In this piece, which is probably derived from an Indian Vedic chant,7 a G pedal point is used throughout.  Coltrane uses this drone-like pedal point in other tunes as well, such as “Psalm” (1964, from A Love Supreme), “After the Rain” (1963, from Impressions), and “Chim Chim Cheree” (1965, from The John Coltrane Quartet Plays).

Coltrane was not the only jazz musician in the early- to mid-1960s to look to Indian music for inspiration, as can be seen in the works of Yusef Lateef, Harihar Rao and Don Ellis, and John Mayer.  Coltrane was apparently among the first to do so, however, and his high profile in the jazz world inspired many others to follow suit.  Former bandmates Miles Davis, Pharaoh Sanders, and Alice Coltrane later drew from Indian sources to varying degrees. By the late 1960s, Indian ideas had begun to permeate Western popular and art music, from the Beatles to Philip Glass. Coltrane and Ravi Shankar were likely two of the most prominent catalysts for this movement.

The year 1958 had been a really good one for Trane. he had continued his studies of Eastern thinkers ; he had been involved in yoga; and was trying to get on a non-meat diet, but he really wasn't too successful at the latter.
John Coltrane Bill Cole, 

The picture of Coltrane on the wall beside my repair bench
The last part of A love Supreme, Psalm (album in full above) is a poem and one of the many remarkable things about it is that you can hear Coltrane Playing the words to the poem.

In the final movement, Coltrane performs what he calls a "musical narration" (Lewis Porter describes it as a "wordless 'recitation'")[4]of a devotional poem he included in the liner notes. That is, Coltrane "plays" the words of the poem on saxophone, but does not actually speak them. Some scholars have suggested that this performance is a homage to the sermons of African-Americanpreachers.[5] The poem (and, in his own way, Coltrane's solo) ends with the cry "Elation. Elegance. Exaltation. All from God. Thank you God. Amen."[6] 

A Love Supreme: 4th Movement - Psalm - In John Coltrane's words. from james carey on Vimeo.
John Coltrane's Psalm Recitation
from connie chung on Vimeo.

So you want to listen to some Trane. 

Link to Amazon where you can get a preview

Nice Album suggestion from Susan 

The Gentler Side of John Coltrane (Impulse)

This is a compilation of some of my favourite Coltrane albums on the Impulse label (early 60's), the Ballad albums, the one with Johnny Hartman and the Coltrane/Ellington album, all excellent in their own right.

Bit more out the is the My Favourite Things album

and really really out there is OM

for bebop you have to go with Giant steps

and don't miss out  him playing with Miles Davis on Kind of Blue

The Ken Burns series of CD's is always good, the Coltrane one excellent and a good overview.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Time difference messing with practice?

Clocks went forward here in the UK and my body still hasn't caught up. You settle into a nice routine, get up, have your espresso, da di da di da, get on and practice, it's all good.

Now I'm up ready to practice, raring to go. Body is like, nah gives it another half hour.

You'd think you could just practice an hour later but that doesn't seem to work either, my body is confused, out of sorts.

Tyranny I tell ya, tyranny.

Got to thinking about the US and all your time zones, what 28 of them or something, millions of em and no doubt your all zipping back and forth for business, family visits etc. 

How do you cope with the time difference, any tips and tricks for jump starting your.... body clock?

Most interesting couple of lines on Mysore I've read thus far

Anonymous said...
'I attended the Confluence. It was a profound experience. I was in a haze for a week following. 
The lobby and vendor booths made me uncomfortable and claustrophobic. But stuffing yourself sardine-style into the Mysore room was liberating on a different level - I felt like I was wholly anonymous. Perhaps 2% of the people in that room would recognize me, and only one of the teachers would. So in a sense, it was more pure than practicing alone, where I am focusing very much on my self. A huge crowd let me slip into something a little more detached from myself and that iteration of my practice'.
from my previous post

Kind of a positive deindividuation?

Anyone else experience something similar, fascinated by this idea

'...So in a sense, it was more pure than practicing alone, where I am focusing very much on myself. A huge crowd let me slip into something a little more detached from myself and that iteration of my practice'.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

New Ashtanga Yoga Confluence Video, also Places to practice ?

Just came across this new Confluence video, nicely shot and with a ver cool David Swenson move in the middle (2:30). How does he do that (legs follow the hips, he says)?

Ashtanga Yoga Confluence from Club Sullivan on Vimeo.

I don't know though, cringed a bit at the shots of the resort, just as uncomfortable with that as with the sardine packed shala in Mysore.

It's me I know, I have some warped and twisted hangup that yoga is a private, solitary practice that belongs in forests or on mountainsides, deer parks and yes, caves, ever the romantic. And if you haven't got a cave handy then you make one yourself in some corner of your abode. A householder you may be but for an hour or so (or four) you get to be a cave yogi too.

But then of course perhaps that's the point of drishti, you get to be a cave yogi while practicing in a shala filled with a hundred other cave yogi's.

'3.1 Places to practice Yoga
The following places are superior; a place with plenty of water, a fertile place, a place where there is a bank of a holy river, where there are no crowds, a clean solitary place _ such places are superior. in such a place yoga can be practiced'.
Krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda p33.
12. He who practices Hatha-Yoga should live alone in a small math (monastery) situated in a place free from rocks, water and fire to the extent of a bow's length and in a virtuous and well-ruled kingdom.

13. The math should have a small door, and should be without any windows; it should be level and without any holes; it should be neither too high, too low nor too long. It should be very clean, being well smeared with cow dung (a natural antiseptic) and free from all insects. Outside it should be attractive with a small hall and a raised seat and a well and surrounded by a wall. These are the characteristics of a yoga-matha as laid down by the Siddha-s who have practiced hatha-yoga.

14 living in such a monastery (the Yogin), being free in mind of all cares, should practice only yoga all the time, in the way taught by his Guru.'
The Hathayoagpradipka commentary by Jyotsna of Brahmananda

AVKY at Home Facebook page for my blog and yoga related 'stuff'

I've decided to set up a Facebook page related to this blog so that I can post everything yoga related somewhere other than on my regular Facebook profile and give my non yoga friends a break from me  jumping around half naked in pictures or talking in tongues.

I'll no doubt feel more comfortable posting the odd video there too and perhaps the odds and ends of practice that don't make it into a blog post, perhaps raise things that through comments and discussion that might turn into a post.

Here's the link

Besides, I feel like posting less these days and I'm lousy at tweeting.

And yet I'm committed to the idea of sharing a home practice, aware that it can be encouraging as well as occasionally inspiring (so I'm told) or a perhaps a cautionary tale (told that too).

Not everyone practices in a shala, not everyone wants to, not everyone is interested in going to Mysore either (although my own views on both may of course change, you'd hear it first).

I also see it as somewhere I can store stuff, links, shares, notes etc. that I'll then have in one place and can come back to later.

Anyone is welcome to 'Like' it, whether home practitioner or shala, Ashtangi or Vinyasa Kramite or any other style for that matter especially if you have a home practice, very interested in other styles of home practice.
It may take a while to get going as I have no idea what I'm doing (advice and suggestions encouraged).

Monday, 26 March 2012

Live lightly..... Metta Sutta

Owl and Karen alluded to this in a post over at Insideowl, I have softspot for Gil's translation. Highly recommend Gil's Talks on Loving Kindness and Mindfulness on the Zencast podcast (links to come later as I'm currently on my blogger unfriendly iPad).

See also my earlier post Loving Kindness

To reach the state of peace
Those skilled in the Good
Should be
Capable and upright, Straightforward and easy to speak to, Gentle and not proud,
Contented and easily supported,
Living lightly and with few duties,
Wise and with senses calmed,
Not arrogant and without greed for supporters,
And they should not do the least thing that the wise would criticize. [They should reflect:]
"May all be happy and secure;
May all beings be happy at heart.
All living beings, whether weak or strong, Tall, large, medium, or short,
Tiny or big,
Seen or unseen,
Near or distant,
Born or to be born,
May they all be happy."
Let no one deceive another
Or despise anyone anywhere;
Let no one through anger or aversion Wish for others to suffer.
As a mother would risk her own life To protect her child, her only child, So toward all beings should one Cultivate a boundless heart.
With loving-kindness for the whole world
Should one cultivate a boundless heart,
Above, below, and all around
Without obstruction, without hate and without ill-will. Standing or walking, sitting or lying down,
As long as one is alert,
May one stay with this recollection.
This is called a sublime abiding, here and now. Whoever is virtuous, endowed with vision,
Not taken by views,
And having overcome all greed for sensual pleasure Will not be reborn again.
Translated by Gil Fronsdal

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Modifying the Sury Namaskara's for a stiff back in the mornings.

Haven't had the nerve to post this video but Claudia just came out with her back problem (mine seems to be in the same place as hers)and perhaps seeing the back loosen up a little through the modified Sury's might be helpful to others.

I've mentioned off and on that  I've had a little trouble with my back this year, old old work injury plays up in the colder weather, it started last winter but this time stuck around all year.

It got so bad in the mornings this winter  that I had to wait until around 11am before I could practice forcing me to switch my Ashtanga practice to the evenings (when it's fine see the video's I've posted this month of the deep Kapo's Dwi pada etc. go figure) and do a heavily adapted Vinyasa Krama and Pranayama practice in the morning.

Last week I bought a new mattress (M. said the last one had become like a hammock) and just like that my back seems to be clearing up such that Ive been able to practice full Primary or 2nd series at 6am again

Invest in a decent mattress, worth EVERY penny, was love at first recline.

I went for Silentnight Miracoil3 with memory foam

Anyway, here's the video from the other week, five Sury A's and B's The first couple you can see I can't bend past my knees and I'm in a lot of pain, I step back and forward until the 3rd one when I can begin to jump tentitvely and use Utkatasana to come up to standing even in Sury A. By the end the last Sury B I'm beginning to be able to float a little again and usually by the end of Standing I would feel, what 90%. Watching it now it's like seeing the years drop away with each Sury.

Since getting the new mattress the only modification I tend to need now is to step back for the first couple but then I'd probably recommend that anyway.

It's a long video, you might want to just skip forward after the first few modifications and see how they get easier as I go along.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Rilke: Breath, you invisible poem!

Thank you to M. for reminding me of this from the best of Poets

Sonnets To Orpheus II, 1
by R. M. Rilke
translated by H. Landman

Breath, you invisible poem! Pure
continual exchange of our existence
for the world's extent. Counterbalance,
wherein I rhythmically recur.
Solitary wave,
whose ocean I become by degrees;
you sparsest of all possible seas -
what space you save!

How many of these spots of spaces
were inside me already! Many
a wind is like a son to me.

Do you recognize me, air, you so full of my former places?
You, smooth bark that girds,
roundness and leaf of my words.

(In the German)
Atmen, du unsichtbares Gedicht!
Immerfort um das eigne
Sein rein eingetauschter Weltraum. Gegenwicht,
in dem ich mich rhythmisch ereigne.
Einzige Welle, deren
allmähliches Meer ich bin;
sparsamstes du von allen möglichen Meeren, -
Wie viele von diesen Stellen der Räume waren schon
innen in mir. Manche Winde
sind wie mein sohn.
Erkennst du mich, Luft, du, voll noch einst meiniger Orte?
Du, einmal glatte Rinde,
Rundung und Blatt meiner Worte.

*See here for the whole book in Pdf 
And while we're on Rilke, some  favourite lines

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' hierarchies?
and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart:
I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying.
from the first Elegy (Duino Elegies). 


Oh, this is the animal that never was. 
They did not know it and, for all that, 
they loved his transformations, his bearing, and his gait 
that into the tranquil gaze of light, he lived. 

Really it was not. Of their love they made it, 
this pure creature. And they always saved a space 
And in this place, clear and hollow, 
lightly he raised his head and scarcely needed 

to be. They did not feed him any corn, 
only the possibility that he might 
exist, which gave the beast such strength, he bore 

a horn upon his forehead. Just one horn. 
Unto a virgin he appeared, all white, 
and was in the silver mirror and in her.
(Sonnets To Orpheus)

The Departure of the Prodigal Son (New poems)

To go forth now
from all the entanglement
that is ours and yet not ours,
that, like the water in an old well,
reflects us in fragments, distorts what we are.

From all that clings like burrs and brambles—
to go forth
and see for once, close up, afresh,
what we had ceased to see—
so familiar it had become.
To glimpse how vast and how impersonal
is the suffering that filled your childhood.

Yes, to go forth, hand pulling away from hand.
Go forth to what? To uncertainty,
to a country with no connections to us
and indifferent to the dramas of our life.

What drives you to go forth? Impatience, instinct,
a dark need, the incapacity to understand.

To bow to all this.
To let go—
even if you have to die alone.

Is this the start of a new life?

...the simplest thing is the hardest.

I started with solo practice, perhaps if I’d started with a group class or even one on one (viniyoga) with a teacher I’d have a different view, it seems to have worked out.

Meditation is …simpler (and harder) seems so much easier to approach it with less baggage, just sit and notice without bringing all the baggage of a worldview to bare.

You can do it of course, read lots of books on Zen or Vipassana mould your ideas of mindfulness with our western dualistic tradition and all it’s kin just as with yoga or you can just sit.

Why does it seem so much harder to do that with the Yoga, just practice read those early texts for yourself without imposing your horizon on them (easier said than done though there is a skill to that), just let them, the texts, and the practice do their work, the simplest thing is the hardest.

Blogging less helps (says me turning my earlier comment into a blog post).

Friday, 23 March 2012

Interview with Krishnamacharyas Daughter and Ramaswami's Mid-March 'Special' Newsletter.

Mid March 2012 Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami—Message from Sri Krishnamacharya's Daughter
Last week when I was in Mexico, I received a message on my Facebook
account from Ms Srishubha, daughter of Sri Krishnamacharya, my Guru
and his last child. When I first met her she was about 5 or 6 years
old and the last time I met her was more than 30 years back at my
Guru's residence, she had just then got married. Since there is a
general interest in Sri Krishnamacharya's life and his family I
requested SriShubha for permission to circulate her letter among
friends and she kindly agreed. Here is the correspondence. I did not
want to delay it and club it in with the regular Newsletter due by April 1st
and hence this out of turn letter. Thank you and with best wishes
Srivatsa Ramaswami
On 3/11/12, Srishubha Mohankumar wrote: 

Respected Ramaswami,

Sorry for the delay in responding, we had a couple of families with
us over the last few days and we were extremely busy.

I am delighted to see your mail and to see that everything is going
well with you. If you decide to publish my letter, I sincerely request you to
publish this slightly modified version below. Since, it is going to be for
public consumption, I just wanted to highlight the impact that my parents
teachings has had on me and my special needs child. Feel free to publish my
email address as well, I am more than happy to answer any questions about
by father that people may have. I would really appreciate it if you would
also send me a copy of the newsletter.

Also, it looks like I might not be in town when you are in Dallas. However, my son would be more than happy to briefly visit you, if you have the time.

Thank you once again for your response. Hopefully, we can meet on my next visit to my son.
Best wishes,
March 2, 2012

Respected Ramaswami,

I am Srishubha, daughter of T.Krishnamacharya (Appa for me). I happened to read one of your articles and was deeply touched by it. Your article took me back to good old days in the Gopalapuram house and to the time when Appa used to take me along with him to teach a few of his students. Those were some of the very precious moments with father. We used to refer to your house as Chitra Subramaniyam Mama's house. I very fondly remember your mother, Mami, as we called her, who was always smiling like my own mother did. Every day, when I practice or teach, I imagine Appa sitting in his
chair and teaching me. The way you described Appa's inhalation and exhalation technique in your article brought a smile to my face because that's the way he used to teach me. I told my son that this is the exact
way Appa used to take my class; keeping an eye out for any mistakes that I might make.

I am also touched by your mention of the names of my siblings in your article. It was a very nice gesture on your part. This shows the respect you have for Appa.

After coming back from Indonesia, due to my husband's job we traveled a lot. I have lived in Shimla district, Kullu district, and now shuttling between Bangalore and Karnataka's Hassan district. We have a small coffee plantation there. I feel a special connection with Appa when I think of how he too lived in the Himalayas and also managed a coffee estate in Chikmagalur district in his youth. I feel that his blessings made all this possible for me.

I am now in Dallas, Texas with my son Deepak. I will be here till 6th April and then head back to India. I came to Dallas to be with my newly born granddaughter, born on 26th of January this year. I don't know if you remember, I also have a daughter, Harsha, who needs special attention. Her physical and cognitive skills have significantly improved over the years, thanks to teachings of my father and also my mother (her own depth of knowledge in yoga and philosophy is vastly unknown to the world).

*If you happen to be in Dallas during this time we can surely meet. Me, my son and his family would like it very much. Thanks once again for taking me back to those very precious days. I never realised how great Appa was, I am also learning more and more about him from articles such as yours. I am amazed by the impact he has even after so many years of his death.*

Like Appa would recite his very favourite prayer-

Om Namo Narayanaya Namaha
Sri Gurbhyo Namaha.

Kind regards to you and your family,

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Kapotasana Progress videos Dec 08 to present

Noticed I hadn't updated this post since 2009, related posts for each approach can be found either by the link in the youtube description or looking a couple of days either side of the date below the video. I started yoga/Ashtanga March 2007

The first twelve video's are from a camera phone take a moment to load up and don't seem to show up on an iPad or mobile device.

The last video is from this morning.

08 Dec 08 Drop back to wall

03 Jan 09 First Drop back---------

04 Jan 09 Reaching toes

13 Jan 08 walking hands back

5th Jan 09 Working on Kapotasana B

1st Feb 09 deeper bend

6th Mar 09 Up from Lagu + deeper Kapo

13th Mar 09 First come up

13th Apr 09 Side grab

15th Jun 09 after few weeks off backbends

19th July 09

6th Oct 09

 First ankle bind 4th march 2010

First feet from the air 11th March 2010

First heels from the air + hands behind head approach Apr 29, 2010

First time catching ankles Jan 18, 2011

25 breath kapo (rishi approach) Jan 29, 2012

Tucking the tailbone approach Jan 4, 2012

Heels from the air, ankle bind, richard freeman influence 22 Mar 2012

'...the Yoga Korunta, which was written on palm leaves'

'The method of Yoga taught at KPJAYI is that which has been told by the ancient Sage Vamana in his text called “Yoga Korunta.” Although many books on Yoga have been written, Vamana is the only one who has delineated a complete practical method. In the 1920’s, the Yogi and Sanskrit Scholar, T. Krishnamacharya traveled to Calcutta where he transcribed and recorded the Yoga Korunta, which was written on palm leaves and was in a bad state of decay, having been partially eaten by ants. Later, Krishnamacharya passed on these teachings to the late Pattabhi Jois, whose school continues to teach this method today'.

I've often wondered what a palm leaf manuscript looked like, well here they are

The last three images above are from a documentary a friend on FB linked to, the scene above comes up about a minute in.

I'm as sceptical as the next guy about the Yoga Korunta and had pretty much decided it was a myth, a real myth not a well presented argument (whether you agree with it or not) dismissed as a myth.

However, though there is no mention of it in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makarnada,  I noticed this in the book credits in the first Introduction of Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu


I did not attempt a detailed review of all ancient yoga treatises since it will make this book very long and perhaps cause boredom to the readers.  Please forgive.  This writing is mainly based on the following texts:

Upanishads related to yoga
Learning’s from my Guru and self-experience


Certainly not looking to revisit the old Yoga Korunta discussion, not too bothered these days whether it did or did not exist, mainly wanted to show some pictures of palm leave manuscripts.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Having a ball + UPDATE; back bending tips

Did think about keeping this to myself, I mean if your struggling then the last thing you want to hear perhaps is that somebody else is have a whale of a time....or perhaps you do

But then I thought, this winter has been tough, haven't really mentioned it much, been practicing at home long enough to know that the Winter is the down time and practice picks up in the Spring but this year it's been a particularly hard work. Old injuries flaring up, aches in the joints and the back such that I had to push Ashtanga up to the evening slot and do a gentler Vinyasa Krama practice in the morning, focus more on the Pranayama etc.

So it hasn't been easy, it's a cold Shala, basically bookshelves blocking off half of a large room so it doesn't really keep the heat in but the warmer weather is coming, first day of Spring today I hear and along with the crocuses, practice is blossoming.

Buying a new decent mattress (silentnight miracoil3 with memory foam, if your interested, wow) probably helped the back ache but that's another post.

Practice is a blast again.

Perhaps the timing just happened to be right but I'm soaking up Richard Freeman's instruction, just loving all that subtle internal stuff, giggling away to myself at some of the metaphors while practicing along.  Although off the wall sometimes, they do seem to work, they direct the gaze, they make some crazy kind of sense.

To think I had all this stuff years ago but never really noticed it, I found Richard's practice Video's too wordy, intrusive, I wanted the least amount of instruction at the time so as to leave me the space to work out the basics of a posture myself.

I wanted 'How to get in the posture' manuals which obviously, being a guy I'd just glance at, get the gist and put the shelf up, crookedly, myself but up right.....kinda.

With Richard, of course, you get a two for one deal, Ashtanga and Iyengar bundled together, three for one actually because after so many years the lines between the two seem to have blurred in Richard's practice and teaching, it's Ashtanga but it's Iyengar but it's Richard. Whatever it is it strikes me as skillful practice.

Just starting to bring some of Richard into My Vinyasa Krama practice too, now that's interesting.

Reminds me of watching John Scott's Primary or Lino and thinking and wondering why anyone would feel the need to practice anything else, I mean if they can make primary look like THAT. Feel that way with Richard's Primary and 2nd, vast vistas to skip towards...sorry I mean stride manfully towards obviously.

Practiced with his Intro to 2nd series this morning that can be found HERE, great if you struggled with the sound of the AYC backbend workshop, most of that stuff comes up in this video, certainly worth the $15. It takes you up as far as Ustrasana and then on to finishing. Thanks to Yogagodess' blog for the heads up.

This evening I practiced with RIchard's regular 2nd series DVD and had one of my most enjoyable Intermediates ever. It's a little slower but not as slow as you think going by the pace of Richard's voice. I remember falling in love with a waitress once just for how she moved around a room, she was on her own in a busy restaurant at the busiest time of day and she was everywhere, everyone seeming to get all the attention they required, as they required it but without seeming to hurry, to rush, skillful practice indeed.

I'm curious how different aspects of the practice appeal to us at different times, open up in us, I mean I've had those Richard Freeman dvd's for years. Dear old Hegel, still taught in many institutions so we're stuck with paradigms of progress and development for a little while longer yet, I prefer clearings, fresh worlds of practice opening up when the light and the play of the shadows just right.

So never say never, Mysore is the last thing on my mind at the moment but some fine shadow play supposedly and the light I hear is good. A way to avoid the cold winter of home practice too.

Talking of openings (mixing my metaphors.... or am I) here's my kapo from yesterday, something seemed to shift just as I settled in such that the feeling came  that there was more space to be found, I'll never be a Kino or Susan but there's the feeling that those legs can be a little straighter, still kind of leans off to one side (the left), more work can be done in the shoulders. More importantly though this is probably as deep as my kapo ever was but it feels miles more comfortable, steadier and on the first day of Spring too, was expecting to have to wait another month or two for those salad days.

Coffee is drunk, no stiffness to speak of (thank you Silentnight), may give a morning Primary a try and see how much spiralling this way and that has been internalised.

Just finished primary and it went well, my first full primary at 6:30am for a few months, few creaky Sury's in the beginning but a nice practice, it's the new mattress I tell ya, invest.

UPDATE: FB backbending tips,

I posted the picture above to my FB asana in progress album and was asked why it's feeling more comfortable. thought I'd share my answer below, not sure it makes much sense as i find it hard to type into the little FB comment box and i can never remember how many characters they allow.

The things that have been working me recently are stronger legs (some of the one leg VK poses have helped but really milk the one in Ashtanga) Venkatesh/Heather Morton's really tilting the hips up helped a lot but Richard Freeman takes that further for me, rather than just tilting there's this whole bringing the sit bones together, coccyx forward, dropping pubic bone back to the coccyx, so you have a whole compact, engaged unit then pushing the whole lot forward as far as possible then scooping the sacrum down under and through which has the same effect as the Morton tilt but seems even more effective, more space, more comfort. plus Ramaswami's engaging the bandhas so that whole unit feels held firmly like a fishing rod. Plus all the usual lifting the hips off the femurs and then stretching up out of the pelvis...oh and some of Richard's shoulder work, rolling back but widening, the kidney wings...

Plus of course with everything feeling much more secure and stable it takes away a lot of the stress allowing you to breath better and just enjoy them more, that i think makes a huge difference. No doubt none of this is that new of course but we forget certain elements as we focus on others, starting to think of them as mille-feuille's layering all these different elements one on top of the other.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Richard Freeman's 'The Yoga Workshop' Boulder Col.

Practising and then listening more closely (while transcribing) Richard Freeman's back bending workshop at the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence last week has turned me on to Richard's teaching in a big way (see my comment at Claudia's yesterday). I fished out his Primary and 2nd series DVD's and practiced with them at the end of the week. I also found the Yoga Matrix Cd's hidden away on my back-up HD and downloaded his Panayama cd as well as his Book, Mirror of Yoga for my iPad, also made a link to his Studio talks. Sadly I can't make it to Boulder for a month intensive (although I did check out hostels in Boulder last night) but can kind of make my own month long, Richard Freeman intensive here in the home Shala.

UPDATED: Yogagodess has just posted on a downloadable Richard Freeman Into to Intermediate class on her blog .

Why such an interest all of a sudden, I mean I've had his DVD's and CD's for years but never really got on with them until now. Maybe it's just the right time, perhaps we're ready for different teachers at different times or different things they have to say at different periods of our practice, the gap between teaching and learning or rather appropriating, embodying. There's a lot of Richard's teaching I'm still not sure about but then that's part of the fun of it, exploring and trying it on anyway. My feeling is that Richard's is an approach to Ashtanga that seems somehow less far from my Vinyasa Krama practice and as I'm not prepared to give up one for the other the idea is to find way to balance and complement them both ever more effectively.

Besides I've spent the last few years just focussed on practice now I'm becoming more interested in the idea of skilful practice.

Also I loved the write up about his place on his website below, especially the highlighted section.

The Yoga Workshop

An integral part of all classical schools of yoga is their lineage, or a tracing of their roots from teacher to teacher to teacher. The importance of a lineage to any tradition is that due to the interplay of different perspectives brought together by generations of teachers, the teachings automatically encompass subtle breadth and depth—a merging of awakening minds. The presence of lineage guarantees a transmission of the most essential and subtle experience of yoga which otherwise can be missed in the shadow of the ego.

The Ashtanga Vinyasa Lineage
Like all lineages, that at the Yoga Workshop is a hybrid of yoga methodologies and philosophies which converge clearly in the teachings of the early Upanisads and blossom later in the practices of Hatha Yoga and Tantra. The teaching at the Yoga Workshop is in the lineage of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.

The internal forms of Ashtanga yoga using bandhas, mudra and dristi with ujjai breathing are the pinnacle of Tantric technique brought to light in the broad clarifying context of Patanjali’s yoga philosophy and the non-dualism of the Upanisads. This traditional approach is recognizable in Hindu and Buddhist contemplative traditions as well as in the direct experience the practice uncovers.

These living lineages come to us directly through T.K.V. Krishnamacarya and K. Pattabhi Jois drawing the potent thread of yoga into the present from thousands of years since its formulation in Ancient India.

The current series in the Ashtanga Vinyasa system were developed by T. K. V. Krishnamacarya around the internal principles of vinyasa found in the ancient Indian text, the “Yoga Kurunta”. He instructed his student K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, South India to master and to use these series in teaching the Ashtanga Vinyasa system.

Richard Freeman, the Yoga Workshop’s founder, was one of the first Western teachers to be certified to teach by K. Pattabhi Jois. All teachers at the Yoga Workshop have studied extensively with Richard. This form of yoga has been practiced and taught at the Yoga Workshop for over 20 years.

At the Yoga Workshop
A fundamental aim of the teaching at the Yoga Workshop is to keep an open mind as we continually refresh the linage of Ashtanga Vinyasa system by making it applicable to the immediate condition of our bodies, minds and cultures.

We encourage students to read and ask questions about original ancient texts that have been influential in this lineage. Students are also encouraged to contemplate and question the ever changing context and landscape of yoga, both within their own practice (self reflection) and within the broader context of yoga as it evolves in the 21st century. We encourage the juxtaposing of our tradition with other traditions and lineages to challenge, to critique and to refine both ourselves and others.

As part of this we offer classes not only on asana, but also on meditation, pranayama and philosophy.

In Boulder we have the luxury of having many visiting Buddhist teachers and Rinpoches as part of Naropa University and the Shambhala community with whom we can interface. In addition we frequently have senior Iyengar teachers visiting the area. B.K.S. Iyengar is a contemporary of K. Pattabhi Jois and both were students of T.K.V Krishnamacarya, so Iyengar yoga is closely related within the lineage. We encourage teachers and students to broaden their perspectives by studying with senior teachers in these traditions as they deepen their yoga practice.

The practice allows us to see through the workings of our own minds, to ground our experience in the present moment and to have a compassionate and clear understanding of the ideas, beliefs and rituals which surround our yoga practice and daily lives. Ethical conduct, honesty and compassion are at the heart of the practice.

Heart of the Practice
As part of the asana practice, core strength and alignment are accessed by integrating movement with the structural patterns along the central axis of the body. This is accomplished by meditation on the structural tones in the pelvic floor which balance the body and open its midline into deep direct experience of the life process. In this way one can establish a genuine ground for the further practices of pranayama, opening of internal energy channels, awakening of kundalini, and meditation.

Within the Ashtanga Vinyasa system postures are linked together through flowing movement (vinyasa), and the joining of that movement with the gaze, the breath and the currents of internal sensations. There are seven formal series of postures which are each practiced in sequential flow. All series begin with the Sun Salutations and contain the same standing postures. All end with the same finishing sequence. The postures sandwiched between vary from series to series, and are designed to address specific issues, such as structural integration, cleaning the nadis, or strengthening the internal mudras. Most students practice the Primary or Intermediate series, and a few advanced students work into the Advanced series.

Ongoing Classes
All classes at the Yoga Workshop incorporate the internal, meditative approach integral to the Ashtanga Vinyasa system. Led classes are based on the sequencing and flow of the traditional series.

To help students deepen their practice, refine alignment or avoid injury, teachers may focus on particular facets of movement in the context of a series. Mysore classes are modeled after the self-practice asana classes traditionally taught by K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. A Mysore practice allows students to work on the appropriate series or therapeutic loop, with input and assistance from the teacher. Students chant together to begin the Mysore class and at the conclusion of class students practice the finishing postures together, ending with the corpse pose. We also offer special classes and workshops, detailing various aspects of the practice.'

Saturday, 17 March 2012

...on practice (after watching Being in the World).

Link to post and trailers

world of the practice

involvement in a/the world

Skilful coping

tools (mat, asana, body?)

inhabit the world differently

our bodies, a way of being attuned to the world 

risk takers

disclose new ways to be (human/in the world)



creating meaning, a meaningful existence


this practice

If you want to know what a hammer is you don't think about it, don't describe it but pick it up and use it

a tool is a way the craftsman has of engaging with the world

don't get in the way of the practice

what's included in the world of the practice, of the room


a meaningful practice

'...just as skills allow things to show themselves, they also allow people to show up and be the people they are'.


confronting, attuning to


owning it

' practice anything authentically is to appropriate the traditions and customs'.

express something within the confines of the rules

innovation leads to a new style


we have the unique capacity to be able to disclose whole new worlds

opening up


there is something there independent of me

' is made most meaningful when you respond to meanings that are independent of you'.

'...there are things that have never been seen but when we articulate them together we can see that they are really there'.

focal practices

drawing people together around something that matters


a sense of the sacred

skilful practice 

something impossible, magical


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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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