Continuing with Krishnamacharya Week while looking forward to the English version of the Krishnamacharya documentary, Breath of the Gods, showing this week in the UK.
I'm going tomorrow afternoon, but in the evening showing however there will be Q&A with the Director
22.2.2013: Theatrical release in the UK: ICA, London -
|Notice the bhrumadhya-drishti above, one of the' vital' marma points, an internal drishti employed here during kumbhaka....another Rabbit hole|
Now this could mean that after perfecting ALL the asana, all 84,000 of them...
But it could also mean that after you have perfected, mastered or to use Krishnamacharya's term, become proficient in an asana you can begin to explore the suspension of the breath in the asana.
It can of course also mean both and more besides.
Is this what Krishnamacharya was up to in Yoga Makaranda (1934) with his stress on the kumbhaka's within the asana?
"Following the rules for tadasana (yogasana samasthiti krama) (Figure 4.1, 4.2), stand erect. Afterwards, while exhaling the breath out slowly, bend the upper part of the body (that is, the part above the hip) little by little and place the palms down by the legs. The knees must not be even slightly bent. Raise the head upwards and fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. While doing this, draw in clean air through the nostril, hold the breath firmly and maintain this position. This is called sahitha kumbhaka...." p51 Yoga Makaranda
One of the things Krishnamacharya does a lot in Yoga Makaranda is to explore the pose before the pose, the posture before the posture.
In uttanasana above, before folding all the way down into the full expression of the posture he will raise the head up, fix the gaze and at the end of the full inhalation , suspend the breath, kumbhaka.
The asana before the asana.
And this happens a lot, in purvottanasana too, before the fold, there's the full inhalation and kumbhaka.
Paschimottanasana, the janu sirsasana's in fact any forward bend there could be another asana before the asana, no wonder there were 84,000+.
We know this of course in Ashtanga, we transition into each asana through upward and downward dog, at each stage the breath is full. In the David Robson Primary with drums I explored recently there was no escaping it, each movement, each breath for the same regular cycle of the beating of the drum.
Ashtanga Vinyasa may have misplaced Krishnamacharya's kumbhakas but we shouldn't be in such a rush to get into the next posture. Savour that preceding inhalation, milk it for all it's worth, let it lead the body whether it's helping us to stretch up off the heads of our femurs and out of our pelvis in preparation for a forward bend or perhaps in a twist, lifting and twisting with the breath opening up ever further on the chariot of Vayu.
Hint: Those tricky postures that we struggle with, 9 times out of 10 the secret is in the preceding breath, the preparation.
In exploring Yoga Makaranda I've been paying more and more attention to those preceding inhalations and their kumbhakas, staying three five, ten breaths sometimes in that posture before the posture....
the asana before the asana.
And why not, the Sanskrit vinyasa count is intended to focus attention on the inhalations and exhalations, the matching stages of the vinyasa, The count is put on hold as we move into the full expression of the asana, that's why Pattabhi Jois, Sharath, your teacher etc. switch to English to count the number of breaths you stay in the posture before picking up the Sanskrit count as you exit the asana.
There is NO reason why you shouldn't put the count on hold at any stage of the vinyasa, because each of those stages is an asana in and of itself. That's perhaps why, in Yoga Makaranda Krishnamacharya breaks down each stage of the lead in and out of an asana and treats them as stand alone asana.
You might not feel happy about exploring kumbhaka in asana but there's no reason why you can't explore a couple of extra breaths at different stages of the vinyasa. Done absentmindedly, or while distracted or in hesitation it's just faffing about...but done mindfully it's the hidden asana.