"Dasha diirgha rechaka puuraka" - 10 long inhalations and exhalations. Manju Jois
For me the DVD was let down though by the racing between postures, you might have stayed in the asana for a fairly reasonable length of time but then it was straight out, lift up, jump back, jump though and straight back into the next posture, less than 20 seconds between Mari C and the joint intensive Mari D.
In this DVD though, Manju is teaching the Sanskrit count, he calls the posture, the drishti and each stage of the count and the class responds, so you need to keep up.
I've always found the speedy transition a little nuts, some of these postures are very risky for the joints, care needs to be taken. You can do that of course in your self practice but in led it can be a worry. I wonder what the ratio of injuries between self practice and led are (putting the cranks to one side). You don't have to race along with everyone else of course, you can take your time, take an extra breath or two to get into the posture say but before your know it the rest of the class is jumping back to the next asana and you've only just made it in to the previous.
I'm only going by the DVD's and Audio's of led as well as Sharath's live feed from Jois Yoga, where to be fair he waited for most to catch up in some of the trickier postures.
But it's an issue and I'm not the only one to raise it.
The vinyasa count of course, outlined by Krishnamacharya and employed by Jois, is really only tied to the breath, to the inhalations and exhalations. There's no reason for you not to take an extra breath or two where necessary as long as you pick the count up on the correct inhalation or exhalation. This in effect is what happens while in the posture, doesn't matter if you take, there three breaths, five, eight, ten or spend fifteen minutes in the posture as long as you exit the asana at the right count of the vinyasa.
I got rid of all the general faffing about between postures in my practice a couple of years back, but I did have operations on my knees in the past, and tend to go easy, with my left knee especially, in any half lotus postures, need an extra breath to take it in and out of a posture, sometimes two, I don't count that as faffing ( an example of faffing would be digging out your belly button fluff in baddha konasana B).
So what would I wish for in an Ashtanga practice?
which would result in...
More time in asana
More time between postures
But of course that takes the run-time up. It's all about compromise, either we compromise the breath and breathe more quickly or less fully or we sacrifice time in postures, or we race through the Vinyasas risking injury....or we practice less postures, half, perhaps a third of a series which has been my solution thus far.
What do I wish for? A middle ground, something that would allow me to practice the full series without compromising the breath too much or risking injury.
Be careful what you wish for.
On the Manju led DVD post I received a comment from Sereaux
"I've been practicing periodically to David Robson’s mp3 Ashtanga Yoga’s Primary Series to the Steady Beat of a Drum. It goes to a 4 second inhale and a 4 second exhale – so 5 breaths equates out to 40 seconds. Not quite 90, but nearly double the others. It has helped to keep me to recognize when and where I’m rushing – also helped me stay focused on the breath. I always tend to rush the inhale. All Sanskrit counting. Whole practice takes 109 minutes with opening chant, 3 Sury A, 3 Sury B, and only two paschimottanasana variations".
4 seconds inhale, 4 seconds exhale, not my usual eight for each but twice Sharath's two second inhalation, 2 seconds exhalation on his DVD, his audio and JoisYoga web feed).
I say my breath these days is 8 seconds for the inhalation and exhalation but there are also the natural kumbhakas between the breath so an 18 to 20 second breath. That's through most of the standing and finishing sequence and the less challenging postures. In the binds it's substantially less, 8-10 second breaths, closer to David Robson's timing.
Just under two hours too, allowing time for some Pranayama etc. in the morning.
And this is consistent at every stage of the practice, while in the asana, while jumping back and through and even in the lift up before jumping back. Every single inhalation and exhalation four seconds each, regulated by the beating of the drum.
It's still straight into the next posture on the breath but with five full breaths on the count you can afford to take an extra breath to get into and out of the posture and still end up with a half decent stay in the asana
Dreams come true right?
Dreams but also nightmares.
So what was it like practising with David Robson's Learn to Float primary with drums MP3?
I found it hard through much of PrimaryStanding to sync in with the drums, I'd prefer it just a little slower or more of a pause in between for the natural kumbhaka. I could live with five seconds a lot more easily. Still you get used to it and I see why he's produced it as he has for the beat. If you make the exhalation less thin you can still exhale fully and have time to give the bandhas an extra tweak.
Here's the suryanamaskara video from yesterday it was the second sury of the morning and perhaps you can tell I'm struggling a little to sync but it's getting there. This isn't from the Led Primary with David's sanskrit count but from just the drum version, but you get the idea.
It's OK and notice that David takes the full five count in downward dog, he actually takes the full five count in every posture except finishing, where you get the 8, 10, 15 count variations depending on the posture.
Why should you be careful what you wish for?
Utthita hasta padangusthasana sequence! The full five count at every stage and on both sides.
Now Sharath, kind, gentle Sharath spends almost exactly three minutes on this sequence (includes both sides), 24 seconds with the head down in Utthita hasta padangusthasana and 19 seconds in Utthita eka padasana, I know it feels longer right.
David Robson is almost twice that. Forty seconds in Utthita hasta padangusthasana and the same in Utthita eka padasana, by the last count my leg had dropped to about a foot from the floor.
Same thing, Sharath a breezy 2 minutes
David Robson's ruddy drums a gluteus maximus clenching four minutes.
After Supta Kurmasana he keeps you at each point of the transition for the full four seconds too, could have done without that.
And so it goes on Supta bandhasana, urdhava dhanurasana, Uttana padasana thankfully he only does a ten count in utpluthi rather than twenty-five but it's still two and a half minutes.
Admittedly I was just getting over flu and haven't done a full primary for awhile but it was challenging...and some.
Which was good because I was exploring this to sweat out the last of the flu and get some strength back.
That it did.
And I loved it. Most fun I've had in Primary in a long, while. Loved the drums, loved the consistency and rhythm of the practice, my love affair with Ashtanga isn't over yet it seems.
Here's a taste of the Led primary with drums audio, I dubbed it over the video from yesterday to give you an idea. had to tweak it ever so slightly.
I like Davids presentation of the count here too, it's a nice package and I hope he brings out a DVD of this, it should be the standard.
Haven't checked out his floating dvd's, with the osteoarthritus it takes me 'till the last couple of Sury B's for the back to loosen up enough for those but I imagine it's worth a punt.
The plain drum mp3 is even better you can adapt that to your own needs. The video below is the Krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda'ish approach to suryanamaskara from yesterday, focussing rather on the stages, each asana. ( I have mild Osteoarthritis, this helps me get started in the morning) One inhalation to two rounds of the drums (8 seconds), and two rounds of the drums for exhalation (8 seconds), the appropriate kumbhaka will have one round of the drums (4 seconds). I stay in most of the asana stages of the sury for two breaths along with their kumbakhas.
Not expecting anyone to watch all of these videos but a couple of seconds of each will give enough of an idea of the approach.
With just the drums I can explore the breath a little more in certain key postures and still keep pretty much on track for a full series.
Here's the link again to David's shop
Here's an example of trying to get into Marichi D in that 4 second window, I end up taking two breaths and that's still a rush with my knees.
See also David's article on Elephant 'Correct vinyasa is jolly hard' where he mentions the problem with getting in to Mari D on the breath
Learn to Float Primary Series MP3 $9.99
David Robson leads you through Ashtanga Yoga's Primary Series to the steady beat of a drum. The class is led according to the traditional Sanskrit count, as taught by R Sharath Jois in Mysore, India. The vinyasa count is set to the hypnotic beat of a drum, which supports and deepens the focus on breathing through the practice. The recording is organized into chapters, allowing you to practice just the standing poses, half or full Primary Series. The teaching in this recording is intended for those who have some experience and familiarity with Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
Note that this is audio only, no video included.
Learn to Float Drums MP3 $4.99
Follow Matthew Stephens hypnotic, subtle drumming to sharpen your focus and time your breath as you practice. At a steady one beat per second, this 80 minute track is a wonderful tool for self-practice and for teaching.
Note that this is audio only, no video included.
And seeing as this is turning out to be more about David than me practicing with just some drums in the background here's a little Video on David Robson and his Ashtanga program in Toronto