The Blog title poster above forms part of a series of posters I made up for a book, 'Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga Yoga', based on the public domain translation from the Tamil edition of Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (Mysore 1934) . It's available for free on my Free Downloads page above. There is a print edition on Lulu.com ( Note: It's best to buy it in print from Lulu as I can reduce the price down almost to cost rather than on Amazon where I have less control of pricing.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Sharath's 'New" Ashtanga Book (primer) Astanga Yoga Anusthana

This is from yesterday's post.

Sharath has a book that's trickling out of Mysore, Astanga Yoga Anusthana, hope to have something on that soon, let me know what it's like if you've seen a it, or indeed send me on a copy or some pictures. Is it just a picture book with a collection of short conference notes or more in-depth treatments of some of these topics and other elements surrounding practice.

This from Jois Yoga Greenwich where Sharath is currently running/leading a ...workshop? Series of led Classes? Not sure of the best way of referring to these 'tours'.

Here's JY's promotion.

NB Led intermediate & Pranayama

Jois Yoga Greenwich have this to say about the book on their fb page

"It is a primer on ashtanga yoga philosophy and practice. It offers the correct vinyasa count and drishtis for the primary series, a few therapeutic postures, and some mantras".

A few therapeutic postures? That's interesting no?

I asked my friend Joy about Sharath's book as she's just picked up a copy
She says...

 "It's a lovely book, only $12 (about 6 Quid for you), starts out with a beautiful dedication to Guruji, great description of all 8 limbs, sutras and why we do what we do, there is a focus on Yama and niyamas, notes on practice: Tristhana & Vinyasa, then full Primary (looks like same pics from Yoga Mala and Lino's book), opening mantra, asanas for therapy, magala mantra and shanti mantra".

Thanks Joy.
I'm curious about how much it differs from Yoga Mala in it's presentation of Ashtanga

If you've seen a copy, or indeed have one, let us know in comments how you find it? Why do you think it was released now? Is Yoga Mala a little out of date, I happen to love Yoga Mala just as it is? If your only going to buy or recommend one Ashtanga book, would it be this one or yoga mala?

Update
I've been sent a couple of quotes from Sharath's book, thank you to Oscar for these.

A little piece from Sharth´s book:

"Guruji was committed to passing on the practice exactly as he had learned it from his teacher, Krishnamacharya. He spent years learning all he could from Krishnamacharya and when it came time for him to begin teaching, Guruji did so following his teacher´s instructions. This is parampara, which means an uninterrupted succession; the direct and unbroken transmission of knowledge from a teacher to his or her student." R.Sharath Jois.

"Life is like Lombard Street, not only Lombart Street. It's got different terrains--in life. Sometimes you go off road. Sometimes you're on a nice track...The terrain keeps changing, it's not smooth all the time. So, don't get disturbed by these things. You keep your practice. Keep your steadiness in whatever terrain comes into your life. Keep on practicing yoga. Never leave practicing yoga. That is how we balance ourselves in whatever difficult times or happy times. So I want you to enjoy that, keep that steadiness until I see you again. May God bless you all with lots of happiness--and sorrow, sometimes..." R Sharath Jois

28 comments:

  1. I'm curious if you've checked out Matthew Sweeney's book on Vinyasa Krama and whether it's the same vinyasa you've been interested in for so long.

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  2. hi Boodie. yes, i have both Matthew's book, got the Vinyasa krama one for his section on backbending and the asana library at the back, never tried any of the sequences.

    Simple answer is No, it's very different from Ramaswami's presentation of vinyasa krama. Matthew's sequences strike me as just more fixed sequences (although with different objectives perhaps) just as Ashtanga has fixed sequences.

    Ramaswami's vinyasa krama is a flexible approach, you learn the relationships of all the different asana to each other and then you would construct your daily practice according to your needs. that sounds complicated but in a sense the Ashtanga sequences and all of Matthews too are just made up of Vinyasa krama subroutines.

    My morning sequence is very similar to what we find in the first part of 2nd series up to kapo except that I have some different related asana that I use as extra prep as well as some more advanced postures that i use as extensions, developments.

    Example in Matthews Chandra/moon sequence he has that Virasana sequences before ustrasana and kapo, i do something very similar after some salabhasana and dhanurasana subroutines.

    So again, simple answer No, it's different, more subtle answer is that Yes, they are of course related (through Krishnamacharya, Yoga makaranda is Vinyasa krama )as well as Ashtanga), the main difference being that Matthew's sequences are fixed, Ramaswamis' flexible.

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  3. Has there been a formal, in-depth exploration/study of how K. Pattabhi Jois developed Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga? I'd really be interested in learning specifically how/why he developed the system from Krishnamacharya's teachings in the way that he did (e.g., the thinking behind the inclusion/exclusion of certain postures, the sequencing of each series, the progression of the series, etc.); especially considering that the system is not without its limitations and weaknesses (as has been discussed recently).

    Is the Primary Series enough? Can one simply practice the Primary Series for the rest of their life without needing to practice the additional series or other styles of yoga? Or is each student expected to continuously work toward mastering the next posture/series?

    In thinking of asana as preparation for meditation, I often think of what might be the most effective/efficient practice for people, but I suppose that really has to be based on the unique individual needs of each person; in that respect, yoga certainly can't be a "one size fits all" approach.

    I definitely appreciate the more organic approach of Vinyasa Krama Yoga or something like it (Desikachar for instance), but I can see how it might be more difficult to teach and practice as a system because it requires that much more consideration of individual needs.

    --Nick

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  4. Think everyone just prefers the myths Nick and some illusion of authenticity and authority. My own view is that Pattabhi Jois seems to have simplified Krishnamacharya's approach, dumbed it down if I'm being less kind. Perhaps that's fine and for the best when your first starting out (worked for me) and after a year or two, hopefully anyone interested will find their way to Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda and Yogasanagalu and ultimately their development in Ramaswami's Vinyasa Krama and develop a more sophisticated and subtle approach to their asana practice. But in the end it's just asana and whether you include vinyasa or not it's just one limb.

    Is primary enough? I think a flexible approach to Primary ( a return to krishnamacharya's group idea rather than sequence) is perhaps enough, adding here, taking away there, slowing it down and exploring the breath and drishti options.

    Standard Ashtanga is good for focussing the mind in the beginning, exploring the breath later can develop that even further perhaps, strikes me as good prep for pranayama, still the best prep for meditation.

    I think Ashtanga is a good beginning but the focus seems to have shifted to the next posture the next series rather than deepening the series you have, exploring variations, longer stay, breath and drishti options. Would love to see more workshops on that rather than jump backs and backbends.

    Just my view of course, perhaps I'll feel differently in another five, ten years.....perhaps Sharath will.

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    1. I should add that even though I may feel that Krishnamacharya's Ashtanga was simplified, out of perhaps assumed necessity or convenience, that doesn't mean that depth and richness can't be still, clearly, be found within.

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  5. Thanks for the feedback Anthony. Any idea when the Yogasanagalu translation is going to be completed?

    As far as Sharath's book goes, my first reaction was, "Just what the world needs, another Ashtanga primer..." Although I suppose I'm also interested in the mention of "therapeutic postures."

    I've also been interested in Matthew Sweeney's Vinyasa Krama book, but not enough to justify the cost. I'd rather spend the money on Kausthub's book "The Heart of Asana." As much as I don't want to support him, I'd be interested in comparing that book with Desikachar's "The Heart of Yoga" and Ramaswami's "The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga." Either way, still not ready to drop that kind of money on one book, especially one I can't preview.

    --Nick

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    1. Hi Nick,

      I bought 'The Heart of Asana' when it came out, before I knew of all the mess KD got himself into.
      I am not sure I would recommend you spend money on it to be honest, not just because of Kausthub, but it has a few interesting things.
      There is at least one complete vinyasa sequence for each asana, some easier some tougher so it is a nice support if you want to vary a bit in your routines or just take inspiration. Of course many vinyasas are essentially the same the same so it does get a bit repetitive.
      I also liked that for each asana there is a table which indicates in which yoga texts it appears, if any, and of course many asanas do not appear anywhere as they are just very modern!
      Also the book is in three languages (the asana part is very schematic so there is not too much writing, but the introduction is nice) and I figured it coudl be useful in case you get to teach to people who do not speak English.
      I will scan some pages for Anthony so you can then get them from him. Or I can send them directly to you if you give me your email address.

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    2. Hi Nick. I've been very kindly sent a few pages of Asana of the heart which i can send you to allow a preview. just send me an email at grimmly2007, thats at google or get in touch via FB Anthony Grim Hall

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  6. Hi Nick, Satya mentioned there was one more chapter to go, here's what he had to say in his last email
    "There is one more chapter immediately following the section that I just completed called "Remembrance" (starts on page 84). This is somewhat similar to the special instruction section covering some of the same topics and some more detailed instructions for asanas in the charts. I'm planning to do it next."
    Sounds interesting, let you know when gets the chance to work on it.

    Sharath's book is pretty reasonable at $12, be interesting to see a copy and see his approach.

    Matthew Sweeney's Vinyasa krama book has a nice asana library in the back but I find the big edition too unwieldily, think there's a smaller version now.

    Didn't know KD's book was out, would be uncomfortable ordering it either.

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  7. Just went to a leg of Sharath's tour here in Charlottesville, Va, at the grounds of UVA (http://www.virginia.edu/ims/fitness/gurus-on-grounds.php). It was in conjunction with the opening of the new Contemplative Studies department there (local coverage here: http://www.c-ville.com/yoga-u-is-the-contemplative-sciences-center-the-answer-to-uvas-reputation-gap-or-an-expensive-new-age-sideshow/). Yes, the money for the center was given by Ashtanga upstarts the Jones (http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2012/04/krishna-pattanbhi-trophy-wife-ashtanga-yoga).

    Anyway, the practice was about 400 people in the woman's basketball practice gym. Sharath (and his little son) lead us through the Suryas, and then the standing postures, and on through Navasana. Then three Wheels, then Baddha Padmasana, Yogimudrasana, Padmasana and a long Tolasana (which he called out as Utplutihi) and final rest. There is a strong Ashtanga community here, as well as strong Vinyasa community, who were well represented, but mainly it was college students and other university folk. Much more there than not who were not familiar with the primary series. So there was lots of bumbling around, people leaving, people just watching etc. Sharath sort of gave some more elementary cues than I guess would be normal, and there were a ton of helpers going around.

    After the practice Sharath instructed us on alternate nostil breathing, which he said was good for stress and breathing problems like allergies and asthma. Ten rounds inhaling thru the left and ending with exhaling through the right, then same starting with the right. Then a demo from two of his advanced students, who had beautiful, floaty (but not Kino style, more Freeman style) and precise asana. Sharath emphasized the Sun Salutations heavily, saying how they were prostrations to the Sun God and all that jazz. They also floated in and out of some the more exotic first series poses, and threw in kapotasna for good measure.

    Finally it wrapped up with a rather toothless Q&A between John Tudor Jones and Sharath. "How long has Yoga been around?" "Since the world began!" etc. The only interesting answer was when Jones asked about the authority and lineage of Ashtanga vs other branches, and Sharath said "there is only one Yoga, just many different lineages."

    This is getting long, happy to add more reportage if wanted

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    Replies
    1. This is great James, interesting stuff and long comments are fine. More reportage would be great and if it's OK with you I'll turn it into a post with the poster from the 'gurus on grounds' link. So he gave a pranayama demo too, oops, used the P word, I mean alternate nostril breathing.
      And of course if you have any pictures my address is grimmly2007 and that's at google

      Delete
    2. My friend spent the $100. It's good
      but not worth the $100. DVD's she said are good the book, not so much.

      Delete
    3. Sorry Anon, old post, which book/dvd are you referring to here for $100?

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    4. Ahhh think you must mean David Garrigues pranayama book/dvd I got it and reviewed it here http://grimmly2007.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/preview-review-david-garrigues-vayu.html

      Delete
  8. are you also aware that Garrigues' pranayama dvd's and book are out? will you be buying these? curious on yur take.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for chipping in with that comment Anon. It looks like Grimmly thinks that pranayama is a 'naughty word' (or, once again, he's playing the nay-sayer & shrugging off anything that comes out of KPJAYI) but, I'm glad you mentioned it. Anything David puts out is really inspiring.

      Delete
    2. I'm of the Pranayama for all school, before asana, during asana and after asana and pretty much from the start. Sharath is coming around though, give it another year. And as for KPJAY, i don't lack respect for the place, just reverence. Still hope to make it to Mysore some time though perhaps not necessarily the shala.

      Anon, thanks for the heads up re David's pranayama book and DVD, didn't know they were out though knew he was preparing them. Ive kind of switched off on Kino and David's asana video's recently and don't tend to bother with them anymore but that's mainly because I'm less interested in asana than I was. Think it's great they are both putting so much stuff out thereavailable to the home practitioner, I particularly like David's work.

      I never got around to buying David's primary DVD ( have so many primary series dvd's) but would have liked to have seen it and reviewed/promoted it here. I'd be interested in his pranayama work but I've worked with David Ireland's Ashtanga pranayama CD, Richard Freeman's CD as well as his online course and of course Gregor's book ( also Iyengar's light on pranayama and Van Lysebeth's ) but tend to stick with the approach to pranayama I learned from Ramaswami and that I'm more familiar and comfortable with. So probably wont get around to buying it.

      Ashtanga can't seem to get away from it's 'fixed' nature, fixed sequence of asana fixed approach to pranayama ( and yet the flexibility is there in Yoga Mala, you do what you can just start with some Sury's and finish with the final three postures and then anything else you have time for) You wouldn't wan't to teach the fixed pranayama routine to those just starting with the practice but a little Ujjayi pranayama with very short kumbhaka's followed by a little nadi shodana , again short kumbhakas would be fine. As Ramaswami says, they've been teaching that to young brahmin boys for centuries.
      I imagine David has a nice approach to pranayama, building it up step by step, I should try and get my hands on a copy.

      Delete
    3. Just been over to David's pranayama page, looks interesting, like that the first disc is on Ujjayi in asana, wonder if he explores the kumbhaka's in asana that Krishnamacharya employed in the 1930'sback when he was teaching Jois, somehow I doubt it. Crazy expensive though 2 Disc DVD & book – $110.00 USD.

      Delete
    4. Firstly I'd like to apologize for my earlier outburst ('nay-sayer' etc. is perhaps a bit judgemental of me). Everyone is entitled to an opinion after all, but i can't help rising to defend KPJAYI, when comments are made on a public blog by folk who haven't experienced it first-hand. That's just gossip, which isn't exactly healthy (or supportive of the first limb).

      Sure, the guidelines are fixed but that's exactly what they are; 'guidelines', they're not a law. Really, you would not believe how personalized the teaching is in that, or in any other well run Mysore-Room. Practices are modified, changed, structured as an when necessary, exactly in the manner that Krishnamacharya taught, and it having faith in a method like that is difficult to get near, let alone equal.

      (couldn't agree more on your last note though; $110 is game over for me. That's almost as bad as a breathing tax). I'm sure it's excellent though.

      Delete
    5. for online buy

      http://ayny.org/sharaths-new-book

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    6. Thanks Ercan, saw that it was available yesterday. Nothing on Eddie's site about overseas shipping . I could ask but waiting to see if it'll be sold in the UK. Sure I'll get my hands on a copy sooner or later.
      Did think about going to Sharath's 'workshop' in London in August and picking up a copy there. Trouble is, being so early I'd have to pay commuter fees into London, might just follow along with a copy of his live stream from Encinitas last year (or was that the year before) instead. Still don't find practicing with another 80-100 bodies that appealing, think I'd rather breath my own air.

      Delete
  9. No apology necessary Steve, know I can be intensely irritating...and no doubt frustrating too.

    It's true I haven't been to Mysore myself so have to go by those who have, reported speech of conference talks etc., not ideal I know ( although these days with the help of iPhone recordings). Now of course we have Sharath's book to refer to also.
    I actually say many good things about Sharath and Mysore, nobody seems to pick up or notice those, just the negative stuff or where I raise questions.

    This is probably the last year I'll have any chance of going to Mysore now Nietzsche is no longer with us and before we move back to Japan (be even harder to take a month of then).

    I should probably have gone to Mysore five six years ago when I was first learning Primary, sure I would have got a lot out of it. Don't mind just practicing Primary for a month ( mostly what I do these days anyway, half Primary or half 2nd in fact) but imagine I would have to speed up or change my breathing, just not sure I see the point in that let alone breathing the air of 80 other Ashtangi's.

    Guess I could do it for a month but I'm not sure of my motivation, just for the experience, to say I've been, to see it for myself, to practice in that room, authenticate my practice... I do like the thought of the room being filled with people from all over the world dedicated to their practice enough to travel all that way, like that. The sound of that collective breath, might make up for the quality of the air.

    And to be in Mysore, Go up to the hills and do my real practice where they filmed Krishnamacharya doing his, that would be pretty cool.

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  10. while you are thinking about going to mysore, or not going to mysore, note that both Nancy Gilgoff and Manju will be in London over the next few months. check ashtanga.com, but i think it was Nancy in june and Manju in September. Both have approaches that you might find appealing. Would love to hear an account of the workshops if you go.

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  11. Yes Anon, Manju' at Stillpoint and Nancy at Yoga Mama's have been considering both. Currently looking into the possibility of going to Mysore in July to practice with Saraswati at her place. That would break the bank so wouldn't be able to do anything else this year, a month is a little more expensive than I thought, will have to sell another Sax.

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  12. Up to you but i woukd go with manju and nancy. Thouh a month with a teacher gives you more opportunity. But maybe smaller groups in uk?

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    1. You may be right though Anon, workshops may well suit me better, straight Primary for a few days is fine but I'm not sure I'd want to change my practice for a whole month. It's what Manju and Nancy have to offer around the practice rather than the practice itself that interests me more these days.

      Delete
    2. Just an update on this, not sure if you saw my recent posts. have booked to go on Manju's week long TT in Crete in August.

      Delete
  13. Received my Anusthana Copy today in the mail, been waiting for it since July 1st. Excited ! Brought it to work and browsed through the 87 page, like the size easy to carry everywhere the pages have that shiny feeling that I already stained with some dirty fingertips. Seems very simple and to the point. Like a modern version of Yoga Mala, but not deep or personal, I thought I ll be digging a little bit of Sharath's mind and personal feelings opinions, but is more like a practice guide. Sure think is a must have. Also recently got Kino's and love the "getting to know you" feeling, the experiences, the depth and the Asanas explained one by one. Hate the size of the book.

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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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