This blog is essentially 'sleeping'.

I've deleted or returned to draft 80% of the blog, gone are most, if not all, of the videos I posted of Pattabhi Jois, gone are most of the posts regarding my own practice as well as most of my practice videos in YouTube, other than those linked to my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book).

Mostly I've just retained the 'Research' posts, those relating to Krishnamacharya in particular.

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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Research: Full Vinyasa Primary, 10 long slow full inhalations and exhalations in every asana. How Long?

If you caught the fb updates yesterday you might want to jump straight to the 'So what was it like' section. The Notes at the end are just a little background on Full vinyasa, Long slow inhalations and exhalations and taking ten breaths in an asana, some quotes, nice video of Pattabhi Jois etc.

My Facebook status updates from yesterday

In Manju's training manual he writes dasha diirgha rechaka puuraka, ten long slow inhalations and exhalations in every posture inc. the down dogs in all ten sury's. Elsewhere he talks of full vinyasa as being how his father practiced, but that things changed because 'nobody has the time anymore'. Today is my day off and I have the time, curious to see how long such a practice would actually take. Any off the top of your head bets? I work at 8 second inhalation / 8 second exhalation ( little less in the deep binds). My top of my head guess, 3 hours forty-five minutes 
22 hours ago
Mine was a good guess 3 hours 40 minutes, once is enough, certainly don't fancy six days a week of that. Barry, I seem to remember reading that pranayama should be twice as long as the asana and meditation twice as long as pranayama : ( 
18 hours ago

It did feel long. Post to come but Sury's took 40 min, got to paschimottanasana after 90 minutes, up to Setu was three hours and then finishing another forty minutes. All the way there was the terror of ten slow breaths in utta hasta, padangustasana, 5x10 in navasana, bhujapindasana, 3x10 in Urdhva Dhanurasana, uttana padasana and of course utpluthi right there at the end. Full moon tomorrow??????

Curious thing Mohit was that I didn't sweat much at all, usually after a 90 minute Primary my towel is drenched, was still pretty dry here after almost four hours of practice. It was too long some postures extreme for the long holds but overall it was a very calm, steady and composed practice. Whole body is still tingling somewhat, four hours of deep full breathing, it's an interesting sensation.

eco towels still pretty dry after almost four hours of full vinyasa

drenched after 90 minutes regular primary

So what was it like.
I explored standard full vinyasa for a month or so back in 2009, liked it actually, something about starting each asana with a clean slate, forgetting all about the previous asana or the one to come. But it does take time, anything between two and three hours. An interesting experiment though that I think all Ashatngi's should try at least once (it's part of our 'tradition'). John Scott's DVD and Lino Miele's first one have a led full vinyasa, both can be found on Youtube I believe.

But there are two other aspects of this I've been curious about. The long slow inhalations and exhalations for example that I've been exploring for something like six months now. Pattabhi Jois talked of 10 second inhalation, ten second exhalation (see video in Notes section below), I manage about 8 seconds for each comfortably but that comes down to around five perhaps in tight binds like Mari D.

This is problematic though, breathe that slowly and a full series can take forever (leaving hardly any time for pranayama and meditation). For sometime I would cut the series in two, even into three. Recently though I've been working with Manju's DVD, I go through the vinyasa in and out of the postures at regular breathing, but in the asana itself, where Manju stays silent rather than giving the breath count in English, I do three breaths with long slow full inhalations and exhalations. That kind of works but how long I wondered would a full series take with every inhalation and exhalation long, slow and full.

I've also wondered about the ten breaths in each asana. I remember hearing that that was how it was practiced back in the old days of the old shala, then it became eight and then five. I remember going through the Sweeney book  trying to work out how long ten breaths in every posture would take.

Reading Manju's training manual brought that back to mind

"Dasha diirgha rechaka puuraka"

Ten long slow inhalations and exhalations in every asana, and elsewhere he talks of how it was always full vinyasa. How long would that take? A long time obviously, not realistic for the householder clearly, but how long? How long EXACTLY?

Day off yesterday and I thought why not, I have the time.

First Sury took three minutes. As well as ten long slow inhalations and exhalations in every asana Manju has the same in each downward dog of each Surya, A and B.

The Sury's alone took 40 minutes. Quite nice actually, but I was keen to move on to standing....I would regret that.

Ten breaths in every standing posture is hard but they do that and more in Iyengar right, how hard can it be? Harder than you think, isn't standing supposed to be the easy bit. I do remember how the second side of all the konasana's felt really good, a counter to the long stay on the previous side. 

Prasarita padangusthasana B and C are particularly challenging, but deep really deep.

By now I'm thinking ahead to the terrors of ten breaths in the Utthita hasta's, managed them but they hurt, by the last couple of Utthita Eka Padasana my leg was only a foot or two off the floor on the second side. Admittedly these postures aren't my strongest, I'm sure there are many who could hold ten breaths here and keep their leg nice and straight but not me, not presently.

Phew I thought, down hill until navasana

Then I almost fainted coming up from both sides of  Ardha Baddha padmotanasana and had to rest for a moment against the wall that was a little weird, no idea why I had that reaction.

I finished standing with 90 minutes on the clock, that's pretty much a regular practice right there and I hadn't even settled into paschimottanasana. Did think about calling it a day but thought Seated would be OK and besides I've explored all those long stays in the Rishi series, (25 breaths in each), ten should be easy.

All the criticisms of Primary series regarding too many forward bends are well founded, at ten breaths an asana that's a lot of forward bending. The full vinyasa helped in that you were getting two upward facing dogs each time,I milked those for all they were worth.

Second side of Janu C is a problem for me with my dodgy knee ( old old ops) but OK, Mrarichi's were fine too, again, I've done a lot of long stays in these recently, navasana was looming ever larger.

Perhaps it's like childbirth or kidney stones, you forget how painful it was, I know navasana was horrible but I've kind of blanked it out.

Perhaps that's because I remember the pain of Bhuja pidasana more clearly. Manju has an A and B although he doesn't call it that. In A there are ten breaths looking up and then B with another  ten breaths with the chin on the mat. Tough

Thought I was safe after that, down hill but more terrors to come, Setu was the only one where I cheated, no way I'm going to try ten breaths in Setu bandhasana, especially after three hours of practice, I did the regular five.

Urdhva Dhanurasana took me by surprise,  three of those in Manju's book and the ten breaths really took their toll on the arms, wasn't expecting it.

Finishing was relatively straight forward, we're used to longer stays in most of these but the chakrasona's we're becoming tiresome on the full vinyasa in these.Uttana padasana was the last kick in the teeth, had forgotten that one would be challenging.

Fell asleep briefly  in Savasana.


I'm glad I stuck with it, good research but I never want to do it again, certainly not six days a week of that, can you imagine. Perhaps you'd get used to it. Did Pattabhi Jois actually practice like that, day in day out? Did Krishnamacharya? It seems that back in Krishnamacharya's time in Mysore they would have classes of an hour, there seems little suggestion that a full primary series was done but rather a changing collection of asana that resembled Primary series  perhaps in that there was probably some standing, some seated and finishing postures and that there was the same common sense progression that we find in Pattabhi Jois' presentation of Primary, just not all the postures.

Ashtanga is a compromise, either you compromise the breath, it's length, it's number and the longer stays or the number of asana.

There are too many forward bends in Primary for those long stays, there just are, I was craving my two upward dogs of full vinyasa and any hint of a backbend.

Long stays in certain postures is just nuts, utta hasta padangustasana,  navasana, bhujapindasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana, uttana padasana, bit much, certainly in this context. Yogi's aren't supposed to strain or over do it. However do the more regular five breath in those and the whole practise would have been a lot more pleasant.

And I liked the full vinyasa and the slower breath and the long stays of ten breaths, It was calm, meditative, chilled....steady. I still can't believe how little I was sweating, even had to spray my legs a little in garbha pindasana.

Manju says of his own current practice

DK: How has your personal practice changed over time and do you do your own thing, or do you adhere to a specific sequence?
Manju: I do beginning, intermediate, a little bit of advanced, and afterwards, I do a half hour of chanting and meditation.

Perhaps that's ultimately the best balance, some Primary some Intermediate backbends and a few more advanced extensions of the earlier postures as they become appropriate. I'm assuming Manju also includes some sury's, standing and finishing postures.

Sounds a little like the 'mythical' Ashtanga Rishi Series perhaps, 10 asana or so with long stays

For me currently I'm happy to pretty much stick with Manju's approach on his DVD and Teaching manual as I lead up to his workshop. I'll go at a regular pace throughout my practice, inhalations and exhalations as long as I dare but take a just little longer in each asana, occasionally I'll stay for the full ten breaths and after each group of asana throw in an extra full vinyasa. Compromise. Perhaps a full vinyasa practice once a week but with three, long slow full breaths instead of ten.

One more thing on compromise
It seems OK to compromise the number of breaths in asana, there are a lot of forward bends for example in primary do we need to take the same long stays in each, the cumulative effect is perhaps enough and besides not all asana require the same length of stay to be effective.

It seems Ok too to compromise on the number of asana we practice. Both pattabhi Jois and Krishnamacharya say the same, we do what we can, some key asana to include always but otherwise as many as we have time for.

Same goes for full vinyasa, perhaps there's a middle ground between asana between each and every side and between groups of asana.

The one I find it difficult to justify compromise on is the breath. Seems to me the breath should always be long and slow and full. Inhale as fully, as deeply as possible and as long and slow as reasonable, same for the exhalation.

The morning after
I decided to take a moon day today, why not I haven't taken them for six years, I'm owed a couple. Seemed to make sense to let the body rest a little.

I expected my back to ache but it's just a little stiff, everything else does though. Actually that's not true, I don't ache so much as kind of tingle, every cell feels alive, is that the asana or the breath or a bit of both.



Here's an interview with Pattabhi Jois in France 1991 on the question of Full Vinyasa

Question: When is it good to do full vinyasa? That is come back to Samasthiti after each asana. Is it correct?

Answer: Yes correct. Take one asana, finish it. After full vinyasa you do, standing position you come. Again next. Your strength how is you use (depending on your strength you should do half or full vinyasa). Without strength chat (sixth vinyasa) stop (If you are not strong stop at the sixth vinyasa eg do half vinyasa). Increasing your strength, you full vinyasa you take. Now there is no time (too many students).

That is why I am telling. One asana, for example paschimottanasana (has) 16 vinyasas, Purvottanasana - 15, Ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana, tiriang mukeka pada paschimottanasana, janu sirsasana A, B, C, marichyasana A, B, all 22 vinyasas. Full vinyasa .

You doing full vinyasa all - that is the best. Secondary you with sixth vinyasa all the asanas is coming. That you changing, this time (when) your strength is more, you changing that time. Sixth, seventh (vinyasa) paschimottanasana you do. After 8 – 9 then jump again. “sat” (six) position you go. I every day I teaching now. Same method you do. Both is no problem

Method is good no problem. Work is there. He is going work. (for a working man half vinyasa method is good) Your yoga practice, you take one hour. One hour or two hours your expanding your time. That time all the asanas taken one day full vinyasa you do at least five hours also you want you can understand (if you take full vinyasa, you need 5 hours to complete practice). One primary asanas doing, 5 hours also you want. That is why. You (are a) working (man). You not spending all the time on the yoga practice.

You can understand. Full time you take, full vinyasa you doing. Only for (completing) primary asanas takes 5 hours. 5 hours primary postures (with) full vinyasa. 50 asanas is there completely primary postures. That 50 asanas you doing taken 5 hours, with full vinyasa. You working. Another place is working. Yes you take money, you eating food, all you want. That only for your spending (free) time only for yoga, very rare (little time), very difficult also yourself. That is why you short cut you take. That is one or two hours. Two hours spent your yoga practice. That is good. That is also is good. Yes OK. That I tell you.

Sri K Pattabhi Jois Public Talks on Ashtanga Yoga - France 1991

In Yoga Makaranda Krishnamacharya presents each asana in it's full vinyasa form, starting and ending each asana from  standing samasthithi.

Pattabhi Jois does the same in his book Yoga Mala.

Full vinyasa seems then to have been the original form of the practice (whatever that means).

And his from Manju Jois in an interview.

"... and slowly it changed because of lack of time". It's true, Full Vinyasa takes a while. If we have to get off to work in the morning a 90 minute practice is one thing a two and a half to three hour practice something else altogether. But WHAT DOES FULL VINYASA FEEL LIKE?

I found an old post of mine from back in Oct 2009, I mention there that Full Vinyasa primary was taking me a little over two hours, Full Vinyasa Intermediate series, 100 Minutes.


In Manju Jois' Ashtanga training manual, on every posture he writes

"Dasha diirgha rechaka puuraka".

In his led video with his students repeating the sanksrit count and names of the postures, he also has them chant the drishit and the above, "Dasha diirgha rechaka puuraka".

dasha = ten ( we'll get to this in a moment )
rechaka = exhalation
puuraka = inhalation

but what about diirgha

here's Manju talking about it in an interview with Richard Clark for Ashtanga Yoga Life

"RICHARD:You say that each asana should become a meditation, that the breathing should be long, slow...well, that places this next comment amongst the absurd and ridiculous, but I’d like to ask you what you make of it. Lately, I’ve heard statements to the effect that Ashtanga yoga seems to favour and even emphasise hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is something I’ve never instructed a student to perform whilst practising asana, nor have I heard such an instruction come from reliable Ashtanga teachers here or in India. Can we lay this one to rest?

MANJU: The breathing we use is called ‘dirgha rechaka puraka’, meaning it is long, deep, slow exhales and inhales. It should be dirgha...long, and like music. The sound is very important. You have to do the ujjayi pranayama. You have to take the breath all the way in and let it go all the way out. It’s like blowing into clogged up pipes to remove obstructions. In this way, even diseases can be brought out. That’s why dirgha rechaka puraka is so important".


diirga = long, deep, slow exhales and inhales

The breath should be long, thin, slow, like the pouring of oil according to Krishnamacharya in Yoga Makaranda (1934)

Throughout Yoga Mala, Pattabhi Jois is writing, 'do Puuraka slowly', 'do Recheka slowly'.

In another interview in France he talks of long inhalations and exhalations of 10, even 15 seconds each as the ideal.

16.18 - do all the a sans but DEEP breathing ( arm gesture - hands up above head and down quickly , that is no good)
16.30 - you start with breathing , 10 second inhale, 10 second exhale, 
16.40 - ten seconds....or fifteen seconds
16.50 - breath length the same, 10 sec inhale, 10 sec exhale OR 15 second inhale 15 second exhale, that is called vinyasa


As mentioned above throughout Manju Jois' Ashtanga training manual he mentions

"Dasha diirgha rechaka puuraka".

dasha = ten

So ten breaths in every asana. We've heard of this before how in the old days in the old shala they would stay for ten breaths, later eight, now five.

Manju still presents it as ten but only gives time on his video for five or for me, three long slow ones.

Interestingly Manju has dasha, ten breaths, throughout, even in the shoulderstands and headstands which are usually, what fifteen , twenty five breaths. Manju keeps it the same through standing, the primary series prpper and finishing.

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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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