Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Richard Freeman Five day London intensive Day Two

Previous parts in this series of posts.

Course overview

Day one

I recorded all the morning sessions but for the the first three I had my ipod recording at the back of the room, the last two sessions it was there on the stage so the sound quality is much better.

The first couple of sessions then, I'm straining to catch exactly what Richard is and isn't saying so don't consider any of this direct quotes, it's loosely transcribed, the gist of what he seemed to be saying as far as I understand it.
---------------------------
DAY 2
Postures covered

ekam to trini
Surya namaskara A
Suryanamaskara B
hasta padangusthasana
pada hastasana
utthita tri konasana
parivritta tri konasana
parivrtta tri konasana
utthita parsva konasana
parivrtta parsva konasana
Prasarita Padottanasana ABCD

virabhadrasaba A and B (head behind the arm, noble head stretch eyes down)

paschimottanasana
purvottanasana
Jumpback, two dogs, jump through (between postures not sides)
upavistha konasana
Supta hasta padangusthasana
Supta parsvasahita
ubbaya padangustasana
dwipadapitam
savasana

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Chant (repeating two words a ta time)

Bankers pose



Richard shows the position ( see picture)
-frount of armpit up back and out
-Bankers pose- exaggerates the patters of the yoga postures, prana and apana..
-there's a tendency to shut down the opposite pattern, pinching the shoulder blades together, closing the kidney wings
-to avoid that we keep the exaggeration of the prana pattern,
-we drop the coccyx, and float the shoulder blades apart slightly, allowing the floating ribs to spread, the pattern of apana returning
-we get both patterns simultaneously, strong, each one stronger because of it's opposite

See the first few minutes of video on 'Basics of Pranayama' below for a fuller explanation of this. It's a video on pranayama but much of Richards pranayama practice/teaching ( I've recently taken his online pranayama course) seems to inform his approach to asana, just as his approach to asana, the keen attention to alignment, informs his approach to pranayama.

Hear the first CD of Richards yoga Breathing CD which is all pretty much on how to sit.



Some nice semi quotes

On the form/alignment of asana
'(we're) actually imitating Deity forms, in temples
....the form is really alignment

The checks

Ramaswami has some 'checks' in his book, things to check are in place as you stand in samasthithi. below are what I consider Richard's 'checks',

'-the shoulder blades float down and spread apart
-the twelfth ribs float up and spread apart

-the head of the femur floats back slightly
- the middle of the pelvic floor, immediately in front of the anus
is on the plum line

-even though the coccyx drops, the pubic bone drops at the same time, the sacrum, the coccyx is your tail not your sacrum. The sacrum floats forward, then your on line'


The second day began again with raising and lowering the arms (see day one above), he calls this ekam to dve.

In Sanskrit
ekam =1
dve=2
trini=3

then he adds the forward bend, uttanasana so  ekam to trini and back again to standing

Surynamaskara A and B
finally we're ready for Surynamaskara A and B the first and second sun salutations. I notice that Richard does this on his DVD's too, a few times moving from ekam, to trini before beginning on the Sury's, nice idea.

The second day was pretty much nonstop asana so I'll run through the postures we covered perhaps bringing out a couple of things that stood out.

hasta padangusthasana
-two approaches, one to pulling in the abdomen and try and get your head between your calf muscles as if there's a prize…the other is not to bother with that…but to lengthen and seek to bring your head to the floor…I think both are interesting, so play with both of those patterns.

pada hastasana
-spread your toes further apart than you ever have before
steady eyes, allow you to release the soft palate,

On coming up from a forward bend
-end of last exhale, set the seed point of the mula, push back the hip bones, make sure the coccyx is weighted (later in the course he gets you to imagine the coccyx like it's made of gold and the head like a balloon), inhale, come up slow, strong, stable

utthita tri konasana
-open to the right side (Richard will later encourage us to jump the legs apart)
-line up the heels but turn the left toes inside, so remember the primary spin in left leg is inwards
inhale, lift the quads and lift the kidney wings, turn on the light (of the pose)

-lengthen the right arm way out and over on the inhale, move the right sitting bone back
and then inhaling bring in the tail and that starts the spinning, the spiralling right up the front of your spine (lots on spiralling throughout the course more detail on this later)
-the posture is considered interesting when the navel looks straight up at the ceiling, till that day…….

On Gazing
-Whenever your gazing at something gaze with both eyes, if you can't see your thumb with both eyes then the thumb isn't the right gazing point for you
the one eyed gaze is called the evil eye


Work in progress
-keep the palate empty, this is a work in progress.

Richard the quotes Yoga Sutra II-47 “prayatnashithilyanantasamapattibhyam”

Here's Ramaswami on Krishnamacharya's inepretation of this sutra

Yoga Sutra II-47 

प्रायत्नशैथिल्यानन्तसमापत्तिभ्याम्
“prayatnashithilyanantasamapattibhyam”

"prayatna - effort (of life which is breathing)

saithilya - smooth (make it smooth)


ananta-samapattibhyam:


          ananta -breath


          samapattibhyam - focusing on it


By making the breath smooth (and long), and by concentration or focussing the mind on the breath, the perfection of the posture is obtained. Note: Krishnamacharya interprets this sutra differently than other teachers. he gives the correct technical meaning (in this context) fromn prayatna or Jivana prayatna, or effort of life which is breath. he says that it is the breath that should be made smooth and effortless, not the posture. it is not physical; it is the breathing" p55

Here however, Richard translated, or rather, playfully interpreted and employed the sutra like this

'Once effort is released (by releasing the palate) the mind goes to ananta (or endlessness), 

.....so there's no end to the posture'

I like how he uses the releasing of the palate to indicate the release of effort. there was a lot more on the palate on day two


The soft pallet?

-If you go ahhhh, those soft muscles of the soft palate relaxes, gives you a sense of the whole palate, makes the whole palate very sensitive

He seems to link it to ujjayi here in response to a question.

-the sound of ujjayi is like whispering the name of your beloved, an aspirant sound, not for the public but for private consumption, it's a little bit intimate

-your short circuiting the physiology of the prana, taking a stern position, keeping it open, it's like keeping the palate empty

-thoughts still come and go but your observing them

-it's said that the gateway into the central channel is the root of the palate

-the tongue becomes quiet and that's your access to the channel, otherwise your just imagining it from the outside, discursively, that's not very satisfying.

Uddiyanamulabandha

-its a reflex between palate and pelvic floor

-if you ever come across it, uddiyanamulabandha,  by accident, by mistake, because it's never where you were thinking about it (thinking it was), your palate releases, that's considered a symptom of proper mula bandha, is that the root of the palate releases ahhhhhh.

-thats how you tell if someone is doing mula bandha, by their face….otherwise it's a little invasive.

We start to get an idea then why Richard drums on so much about the palate. We tend to go on and on  in Ashtanga about mulabanhda, for Richard it seems you can't have one without the other. It's as if the releasing of the palate allows mula bandha to come about of it's own accord.

And we release the palate at the end of the breath

The breath
-if your using the vinyasa system your breathing mindfully. If your using the ujjayi sound the breath will be deep.

-cycle of the breath, on the inhale your going to be straighter because you can hold more air…on the exhale , like pranayama, you try to maintain the open heart on the exhale and you maintain the tail on the inhale because these are the first things that get dropped

-doing that breathing the posture with steady eyes and released palate you'll start to feel all of this stuff
because the requirements are so different at the end on the inhale of the exhale structurally in the body

-if you breath fully, the pelvic floor automatically gets involved and you keep automatically releasing the palate…you can't breath like Darth Vader, it has to be intimate and compassionate.

-every time you complete an exhale, even a shallow exhale your PC muscles tone

So we reach the end of the full breath, we soften the gaze, we release the palate and if we're lucky uddiyanamulabandha comes about of it's own accord.



Some other gems

- right kidney yearns to meet the left knee

utthita parsva konasana
-Hold the pose with the intelligence of the pelvic floor, you hold flowers by their stem, never by the flowers.

-coccyx and pubic bone talk to each other

twisted form,utthita parsva konasana
-twisting around, try not to lose the arches of the left foot, once you lose them you may not find them again

Triple exhale or is that quadruple exhale  in parivrtta parsva konasana (more on this later especially for pasasana)

-exhaling bring right knee exactly over the ankle
Triple exhale
exhaling more bring the right elbow, way way forward
exhaling more bring the upper left arm across the right thigh
exhaling some more curl the coccyx

never stay more than four hours and forty-eight minutes….you'll grow fond of it

virabhadrasaba A and B  (more later)

 - the wings of the kidneys are the strength of the arms

 - head is behind the arms ( a lot on this day three)

misc.

-you have these habits of motion and the wave pattern will expose certain habits that are inefficient, could be the shoulders, could be how you hold your head

- so what happens is that we are disembodied in the sense we view the body though theory but theory can't quite really embrace the whole body and that makes us robots, we move in segments. What the practice actually does is, it deconstructs the theoretical into the central mind, beyond concepts so the body is no longer theory. These are also theories that govern movement. We have lots of theories about what the body is, the environment the body is in. You have all these theories but because they are theoretical they are overly simple, they're like blocks. the actual body, the totality can not be encompassed. So it's really hard to tell somebody how to do this,


Paschimottanasana

-once you go all the way over it's kind of sad because you can't go any further..perhaps if you dig a hole….

Purvottanasana
-the head is always the last thing to fall into place, head is the last thing to get it.Enlightenment starts in the sitting bones

-lengthen the coccyx all the way to the feet, looking down the nose.

upavishta konasana and more on the palate
-if your stiff, your one of the fortunate ones,

-your first task is to rotate the pelvis around the heads of the femurs till your straight up and down
legs go in and we really push out through the base of the toe
inner thigh stretched like a sheet that flows down
the pubic bone drops down through the floor
open heart pattern

-because your palate is released your not idolising the posture outside the context of it's counter pattern

-your not attached. as soon as you release the palate the counter action drops in, the rotating muscles soften,
mula bandha comes in,
and then is sthira and sukham

-sthira because of the apana and sukham open (prana), it's the most illusive thing.

see Yoga Sutra II-46
2.46 The posture (asana) for Yoga meditation should be steady, stable, and motionless, as well as comfortable, and this is the third of the eight rungs of Yoga.
(sthira sukham asanam)

  • sthira = steady, stable, motionless
  • sukham = comfortable, ease filled


upavishta konasana and more on ahhhhhh

-hold feet to bend over

-once you come to the station, then you have to smile,once you get to where you are then you have to have a sense of humour, a sense of compassion, and your eyes become steady and then the root of the palate releases, that allows mula bandha to be self forming..so you have to come to that point ahhh otherwise it's lost in ambition, abstracted out of the body.


Then we finished with ubbaya padangustasana, dwipada pitam a simple backbend, nice prep for urdhva Dhaurasana and then layed down inot a kind of savasana

-lay down place fingers on the belly four fingers below the navel a little out,  (this gets developed day four in the pranayama section).


OK, so I've transcribed more than I intended but I really wanted to communicate this focus on the gaze/breath/ palate/release/bandha connection with the prana and apana model as it's key to Richards teaching.

It doesn't matter the posture, any asana will do, it doesn't have to be fancy, the first half of primary will give you plenty to be going on with. An advanced practice doesn't begin with pasasana  or kapo or vasisatasana it begins with ekam and dve ...if we attend to the breath.

And it's because a pranayama practice can inform our asana practice that it may be worth considering beginning a simple, formal pranayama practice. I noticed this week that Sharath suggested a pranayama technique at last weekends mysore conference.

'He (Sharath) said he would show us when we are ready but there is one technique we could do on our own. He demonstrated and explained that he was inhaling through his left nostril and exhaling through his right nostril three times before switching to inhale through the right and exhale through the left. This was controlled using his right hand with his thumb on his right nostril and two fingers on his left nostril. Here there is no breath retention'. 2/9/12 Jois Yoga Greenwich FB

13 comments:

  1. Your notes are incredibly detailed. Thank you so much. Your comments here and there are very enjoyable. Again, I think we all appreciate the time and care you put into this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Did he talk about the pelvic diaphragm being the link to the palate because the palate itself mimics the many diaphragms in the body? (Lungs, arches, etc) Not sure if I heard this from Richard or someone else. Your posts are like being there and hearing his voice.

    yogagodess

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is really good stuff Grimmly, thank you for taking the time to put it together. And no, I don't believe there's a workshop report 'etiquette' to follow. You need to share what was real for you, and everyone's story is just going to be different.

    I have heard about how Richard makes the cranio-sacral connection when talking about mulabhanda and your notes have fleshed out that idea in more detail. Again, thank you and keep them coming!

    ReplyDelete
  4. thanks Serene, it reads OK I was getting tired by the time i gave it a last read through. I've been enjoying everyone else's workshop notes for the last five years about time I did my bit : )

    Thank you too D, your right of course everyone will hear different things in Richard's workshops, so much there and we all pick up on different bits. And of course his next workshop will no doubt be the same but also completely different. Notes are great but really no substitute for being there in the posture as it leads into new .....observations.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yoga godess, for some reason your comment went to my spam box, had to fish it out, sorry.

    Hmmm, not in the first two days, seem to remember something about the arches but not sure he linked them will look out for it as i go through the other three days.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank u very much for sharing. It must have taken a good portion of your time to listen, transcribe and make notes. So generous of u. With gratitude.

    ReplyDelete
  7. EPIC POSTS. These are wonderful, esp for those of us who prob will never have a chance to study with this master teacher in person. Thank you so much for the time you are putting in, I am loving reading these.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the detailed quotes, that make sense to the body language and mind conection. This approach is similar to Donna´s Farhi
    http://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Mind-Body-Spirit-Wholeness/dp/0805059709/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347432243&sr=8-1&keywords=donna+farhi
    and the ideokinesis of Erik Franklin http://www.amazon.com/Dynamic-Alignment-Through-Imagery-Franklin/dp/0873224752/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1347432274&sr=8-3&keywords=erik+franklin
    Thank your so much for sharing your notes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you Anon, a bit of work yes but nice work. A pleasure going back through the recordings picking up on things that I missed because I was still working a couple of metaphors behind or bits that's i made a mental note to look more closely at later. Nice thing about blogging is it gives you the impetus to write the notes up rather than put it off.

    Thank you Maya. hope you do manage to find a way to take one of his workshops some time, see you on his TT one day : )

    ReplyDelete
  10. thanks for Oscar I bought Donna's book on your recommendation, liked it a lot, will have a closer look at the Franklin.
    The challenge now is to bring Richard's teaching to Vinyasa krama just as he brought some Iyengar into Ashtanga. An interesting project.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow, so much good things to absorve here!
    "you hold flowers by their stem, never by the flowers." what a beautiful image to remember during asana.... will Tweet!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hmm. His "translation" of sutra 2.47 is ridiculous. Does grammar mean nothing?

    ReplyDelete
  13. My fault anon, I didm't mention at the top of Part one that this was loosely transcribed from a poor recording, also translated wasn't perhaps the best word. I've changed it to

    'Here however, Richard translated, or rather, playfully interpreted and employed the sutra like this'.

    It would be interesting to see perhaps how Richard would more formally translate this sutra.

    ReplyDelete

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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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