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.

Blog Comments are turned off, there are no "members" of this blog .

Friday, 28 February 2014

Vinyasa Krama speeded up / Ashtanga slowed down

Here's my friend Oscar Montero  of Yoga Centro Victoria, Leon, Spain demonstrating his Vinyasa Krama practice. This is where I taught my first Krishnamacharya workshop last year. I miss Oscar, his students and practicing in this room

Mi práctica de ashtanga (ocho partes) vinyasa (creatividad) karma (inteligencia) yoga (aquietar la mente).
My ashtanga (eight parts) vinyasa (creativity) karma (intelligence) yoga (quiet mind).

I asked oscar how long it took in real time.

"I did 1 to 3 breaths in each asana, that took 15-30 seconds
I was a little rush than usually, worse breath so, normally I breath slower, i think because the camera I was less concentrated, and the perfect timing because the battery was finished just after dharana"

To get an idea of the regular pace of Oscar's practice here we are practicing together after the workshop. Unfortunately there were problems with the recording and we only managed to rescue 20 minutes. If the above video is of Vinyasa Krama speeded up, my practice on the right is an extreme slowing down of Ashtanga. This is my interpretation of Krishnamacharya 'original' Ashtanga approach as described in his 1934 book Yoga Makaranada, long slow inhalations and exhalations, Kumbhaka's ( retaining the breath in or out) and longer stays.

Oscar just told me that he shot the first video with the  imotion HD App.

My upcoming workshops

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

One approach to learning the Ashtanga Sanskrit Vinyasa Count..... Sanskrit Numbers and Vinyasa chart with states of asana indicated plus 'meaning of asana'

John Scott recommends that we learn the Ashtanga Vinyasa count, not just Teachers but all of us, for him the count is a mantra, it focuses the mind.

"The Vinyasa Count, how did the Vinyasa Count come to mainstream Ashtanga?"

"So what happened...  In the early days of practice at the Lakshmipuram Shala (the original Mysore Self-Practice), we didn't know what Guruji was saying or meaning when he directed to us "Catvari!". We thought "Catvari" meant 'jump back', because Guruji would say "catvari - jump back". So we took that translation as 'jump back'. We took 'Panca' as upward facing dog. We took 'Sat' as downward facing dog, 'sapta' as jump through - We thought 'Sapta' meant jump through! 

It took us to Wake UP! To begin listening! To realise Guruji was actually counting in Sanskrit -4,5,6,7.
So it took a little student research to start the enquiry into Vinyasa. What did vinyasa actually mean.

Guruji called vinyasa "Counted Method" .

When my good friend Lino Miele was in France and witnessed Guruji counting the whole class through as One, he saw it all come together, and he took this counting on as a research project to document the Vinyasa.  Lucy and I became involved with Lino's project and became very much part of Lino's book. From that point onwards I made it my focus to learn Guruji's Vinyasa Count.

In Guruji's own book 'Yoga Mala' referring to the practice as a mala, a garland of postures, he refers to every posture having a 'State' and every state or 'Asana' has a specific number of counted vinyasa to enter and exit all choreographed to the Breath.
"The Vinyasa are all like beads, Choreographed breath/body movements, all to be counted and meditated on and it is the students requirement to learn this Counted method as a mantra for their own personal practice"
John Scott, Winter, 2013 Stillpointyoga London

So it doesn't matter whether we ever intend to present a Led Ashtanga Vinyasa class in Sanskrit it can be rewarding in and of itself. If nothing else there is no surer way to stop our faffing about than trying to stay on count.

A note about staying on count. The vinyasa count does not mean we have to rush in and out of a posture, wrenching our leg quickly into half padmasana for Marichiyasana D, so as to to keep up with the rest of the class. The count doesn't actually count each and every breath, there are 'official' extra inhalations and/or exhalations built in, found/taken throughout the practice, this means that we can ourselves  choose take extra breaths to get in and out of a posture, paying attention to our breath as we do so, keeping it long and full as long as we pick up the vinyasa count at the right place, at the right vinyasa.

Example. In Marichiyasana B we jump through on SUPTA inhale and are then supposed to bind in the posture before exhaling ASTAU into the state of the asana, staying for five breaths. There is no reason that I can think of why we can't step through, take two or three extra breaths as we bind into the posture and then, when we are ready, exhale into the state of the asana mentally chanting Astau. It may mean we are behind everyone else in a led room, they may be on their third or fourth breath count, that's OK we take just the one breath in the posture and then come out with everyone else. At home we can take our time to bind and take the full five breaths, or perhaps just three if we like to keep them long.

UPDATE more clarification at the bottom of this post

So here's an approach to learning the count.

One Approach to learning the Ashtanga Vinyasa Count.

The count here is based on John Scott and Lino Mile's books, Lino lists the count nice and clearly but John Scott seems to go into more detail about each vinyasa as well as the extra inhalations and exhalations in a more detail while still  keeping it concise and clear. Full vinyasa is a wonderful practice, I don't find it any more exhausting than half Vinyasa and if time is a concern just do half primary one day the second half the next. Practicing full vinyasa helps make sense of half vinyasa. I have a post to come that goes into more details of how we go from one to the other. this should of course not be considered authoritative there is no final authority on this other than the systems own internal logic, the relationship between that and our own practice. There may well be some discrepancies between this and the version taught by other senior teachers, whether it be  Manju, Sharath or the certified,  authorised (whatever list) and unauthorised teachers. These discrepancies/differences  should be a source of interest rather than conflict. Feel free to point out any discrepancies between this and Sharath in comments, I am myself exploring variations in the count between Krishnamacharya, Pattabhi Jois, Manju Jois Lino Miele/John Scott and Sharath for my upcoming Easter retreat.

1. First learn to count up to thirty in Sanskrit ( see the table below), actually, up to twenty-two will do you for most of the vinyasa. In fact, start with 1-9, that will allow you to work through Surynamaskara A.

1   = ekam
2   = dve
3   = trīṇi
4   = catvāri
5   = pañca
6   = ṣaṭ
7   = sapta
8   = aṣṭau
9   = nava

2. Practice some Sury's, mentally chanting the count (skip the five breaths in down dog so you don't forget where you are).

Then, for a week of practice, mentally count yourself through all of your Sury's A and B.

Notice how we tend to go up on the inhale and down on the exhale, this is obvious perhaps but it will help locate us in our count, it's like GPS Also we generally tend to inhale on odd numbers and exhale on even, more GPS

ekam  - Inhaling, arms go UP
dve  - Exhaling we fold over DOWN
trīṇi -  Inhaling we flatten the back effectively coming UP
catvāri  - Exhaling we jump back to Chatauranga ( kind of DOWN )
pañca  - Inhaling we come through and UP
ṣaṭ   -  Exhaling, backside comes up and we effectively fold in to look at the navel (DOWN)
sapta  - We jump our feet to our hands and Inhaling flatten the back as in DVE so UP
aṣṭau  - Exhaling we fold over so DOWN
nava  - Inhaling the arms come back UP

This is the end of the vinyasa, we drop our arms back down to Samastith, it's not counted.

3. Learn the number of vinyasas for each posture as well as the state of the asana ( see the table below) often these are the same.

EG. Ardha Baddha Padmottānāsana to Marichiyasana C all have 22 * vinyasa, each with the actual state of the asana being 8 and 15 (representing both sides of the asana).

4. We know the Sanskrit count now, we just need to know on which count we have to be for the actually state of the asana.

We know how to count our way through our vinyasa ( from our Surynamaskara practice) and we know the state of the asana we want to be in, any discrepancy means there has to be an extra breath or part of a breath thrown in somewhere.

EG. In the Prasarita's we want to be in the state of the asana for TRINI, Jumping the legs apart is EKAM (inhale) but if we fold straight over then we would be in the state of the asana on DVE not TRINI, that means there has to be an extra vinyasa in there. DVE (exhale) would be folding over and putting our hands on the floor. We can't fold in on the exhalation so there must be another extra inhalation, there is and it's not counted, we look up, flatten the back and then TRINI (exhale) our head towards the mat and take our five long full breaths.

HALF VINYASA: Below is the full vinyasa count, half vinyasa is a short-cut version of the practice but the full count is still implied. If we choose to do a half vinyasa practice we might not come all the way back to standing samastithi after the some/all of the seated postures, only going back as far as Adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Despite this we would still begin the next count on SUPTA as we step or jump through for the next seated posture just as if we had gone all the way back to standing and back.... we're kind of pretending. Learning the number for the state of the asana helps us to understand where the short cuts of contemporary half vinyasa Ashtanga are.

5. Work in groups, so just learn the vinyasa and state for the standing sequence for a week, then the next week add on postures up to navasana, the following week work up to the end of primary and finally add on finishing.

6. Explore a couple of tricky vinyasa outside of your regular practice, just running through the count, perhaps in the evening,  so you don't disrupt your practice too much.

A book will help. John Scotts Ashtanga Yoga book is probably the best for outlining the vinyasas and explaining what happens as clearly concisely as possible, but Sharath's book works well too, it'll help you work it out at least. Both have a clear quick to check presentation for those practices when you still working it out and need to check. Pattabhi Jois' own Yoga Mala will make it even clearer away from the mat.

This is also an excellent Vinyasa Count resource ( among other things) by Dr. Ronald Steiner and team

7. Practice along to some led CD's and DVD's. these help but really you have to work it out yourself. John Scott's New app is good for this. Sharath's CD is excellent, just the postures and the count, no explanation, Maju's DVD is of a led where every body repeats manju's count, excellent.

Counting In Sanskrit

1   = ekam
2   = dve
3   = trīṇi
4   = catvāri
5   = pañca
6   = ṣaṭ
7   = sapta
8   = aṣṭau
9   = nava
10  = daśa 
11  = ekādaśa 
12  = dvādaśa 
13  = trayodaśa
14  = caturdaśa 
15  = pañcadaśa 
16  = ṣoḍaśa 
17  = saptadaśa 
18  = aṣṭadaśa 
19  = ekonavimśatiḥ 
20  = vimśatiḥ 
21  = ekāvimśatiḥ
22  = dvāvimśatiḥ 
23  = trayovimśatiḥ 
24  = caturvimśatiḥ 
25  = pañcavimśatiḥ 
26  = ṣoḍavimśatiḥ; 
27  = saptavimśatiḥ 
28  = aṣṭovimśatiḥ

Sanskrit Numbers from here 

Ashtanga Vinyasa Count Primary Series

First  number followed by * is the number of vinyasas
The numbers after the star are the states of the asana

So  Jānuśīrṣāsana A - C   22 *  8 , 15  signifies that all three versions of 
Jānuśīrṣāsanahave have 22 vinyasa each and that the states of the asana for each versions are 8 and 15 ( IE. Both sides)

I've grouped asana that have the same vinyasa/state code to aid in memorising.


Sūryanamaskāra A = 9 vinyasa  B = 17 vinyasa 

Pādāngusthāsana 3 * 2

Pāda Hastāsana    3 * 2
Uthitta Trikoṇāsana A and B         5 * 2 , 4

Uthitta Pārśvakonāsana A and B   5 * 2 , 4                

Prasārita Pādottānāsana A to D      5 * 3           

Pārśvottānāsana     5 * 2 , 4 

Utthita Hasta Pādāṅguṣṭhāsana    14 * 2 , 4 , 7 & 9, 11 , 14 

Ardha Baddha Padmottānāsana     9 * 2 + 7       

Utkatāsana 13 * 7

Vīrabhdrāsana  16 * 7 , 8 , 9 , 10


Paścimattānāsana  16 * 9  

Purvottānāsana 15 * 8   
Ardha Baddha Padma Paścimattānāsana  22 *  8 , 15

Tiryañgmukha Ekapāda Paścimattānāsana  22 * 8 , 15 

Jānuśīrṣāsana A - C   22 *  8 , 15 

Marīcāsana A and B        22 *  8 , 15

Marīcāsana C and D  18 * 7 , 12  

Nāvāsana  13 * 7 

Bhujapīḍāsana 15 * 7 ,  8 

Kūrmāsana 16 * 7 

Supta Kūrmāsana  16 * 8 

Garbha Piṇḍāsana  15 * 8 

Kukkutasana   15 * 9 

Baddha Konāsana     15 * 8 

Upaviṣṭha Konāsana      15 * 8 , 9 

Supta Konāsana        16 * 8   

Supta Pādāñguṣṭhāsana     28 * 9 , 11 , 17 , 19 

Ubhyaya Pādāñguṣṭhāsana    15 * 9  

ūrdhva Mukha Paścimattānāsana         16  * 10  

Setu Bandhāsana     15 * 9    


ūrdhva Dhanurāsana      15 * 9  
Salaṁbā Sarvāṅgāsana      13 * 8 

Halāsana         13 * 8   

Karṇapīḍāsana          13 * 8 
ūrdhva Padmāsana              13 * 9 

Piṇḍāsana                 13 * 9
Matsyāsana          14 * 8  
Uttāna Pādāsana       13 * 8 

śīrṣāsana          13 * 8 

Baddha Padmāsana        13 * 8   
Yoga mudra          14 * 9  

Padmasana             13 * 8    

Uth Pluthi            14 * 8 

A note on Drishti

Pattabhi Jois doesn't talk about drishti much in yoga mala, nor does Krishnamacharya, mostly nasagra drishti [the gaze on the tip of the nose] or  broomadhya drishti [the gaze between the eyebrows] is implied. however Pattabhi jois does have this to say in relation to the 7th vinyasa of Surynamaskara B that holds for his whole system. Manju Jois says nasagra drishti is a kind of default drishti but that we are also free to close out eyes.

This is the method for the first Surya Namaskara, which is often practiced while chanting mantras. For this, meditation is very important, as are the drishti, or gazing places, which include: nasagra drishti [the gaze on the tip of the nose] for samasthiti; broomadhya drishti [the gaze between the eyebrows] for the 1st vinyasa; nasagra dristri for the 2nd vinyasa; the gaze between the eyebrows for the 3rd vinyasa— in other words, for the odd-numbered vinyasas, the gaze should be focused between the eyebrows and, for the even- numbered ones, the gaze should be on the tip of the nose. In addition, for the even-numbered vinyasas, rechaka should be performed and, for the odd, one should do puraka. On the whole, the method for doing rechaka and puraka is the same for all the vinyasas and asanas ahead. A sadhaka [spiritual aspirant] should learn it with patience". 
Pattabhi Jois Yoga Mala 1999 p46

A note on breathing.

The breath is long and full and slow, " the pouring of oil".  We seek to feel the breath at the back of the throat, the slightest of constrictions to make the soft hissing sound or the sound of waves. Some refer to it as ujjayi breathing others argue ( Sharath in particular) that it's not ujjayi because ujjayi implies kumbhaka (retaining the breath in or out) and thus is a pranayama. It's argued that there is no kumbhaka in Pattabhi Jois' Ashtanga vinyasa therefore it should only be referred to as 'breathing with sound'. Krishnamacharya however, Pattabhi Jois' teacher/guru, employed the appropriate kumbhaka in most asana and it could be argued that there is always the hint of a kumbhaka between the inhalation and exhalation and the exhalation, the slight pause between the stages of the breath, like throwing a tennis ball in the air there's a moment where it seems to hover before dropping back into your hand. Either way the breathing is long and slow and full.

During the count in the state of the asana there is free breathing, Krishnamacharya wrote about inhaling and exhaling ( long full and slow) as much as possible. In most seated postures the teacher leading the count will tend to count to five ( it used to be ten supposedly and then eight, now it's five). You can take five short breaths in this time depending on the speed of the count or, as I like to do, three long, slow, full breaths.

Remembering the names of the asana

Writing a blog helps

So does knowing what the different parts of the name means

Sanskrit Asana

sūrya = sun
namaskāra = salutation

pādāngusth = big toe
āsana = posture

Pāda Hastāsana 
pāda = foot
hasta = hand

Uthitta Trikoṇāsana
uthitta = extended
tri = three
koṇa = angle

Uthitta Pārśvakonāsana 
uthitta = extended
pārśva = to the side
kona = angle

Prasārita Pādottānāsana
prasārita = spread out
pāda = foot
uttānā = intense stretch

pārśva = to the side

Utthita Hasta Pādāṅguṣṭhāsana
utthita = extended
hasta = hand
pādāṅguṣṭha = big toe

Ardha Baddha Padmottānāsana
ardha = half
baddha = bound
padma = lotus

Utkatāsana - Vīrabhdrāsana
utkata = fierce / powerful
vīra = hero

paścima = west

purva = east / front

Ardha Baddha Padma Paścimattānāsana
ardha = half
baddha = bound
padma = lotus
paścima = west
uttāna = intense

Tiryañgmukha Ekapāda Paścimattānāsana 
tiriañg = transverse
mukha = face
ekapāda = one foot/leg
paścima = west
uttāna = intense

jānu = knee
śīrṣa = head

marīchy = sage Marichy
son of Brahma

nāva = boat

bhuja = arm / shoulder
pīḍa = pressure

kūrma = tortoise
Supta = sleeping 

Garbha Piṇḍāsana
garbha = womb
piṇḍa = fetus

kukka + cock

Baddha Konāsana
baddha = bound
kona = angle

Upaviṣṭha Konāsana
upaviṣṭha = seated
kona = angle

Supta Konāsana
supta = sleeping
kona = angle

Supta Pādāñguṣṭhāsana
supta = sleeping
pādāñguṣṭha = big toe

Ubhyaya Pādāñguṣṭhāsana
ubhyaya = sleeping
pādāñguṣṭha = big toe

ūrdhva Mukha Paścimattānāsana
ūrdhva = upward
mukha = face
paścima = west
uttāna = intense

Setu Bandhāsana
setu = bridge
bandha = lock / seal / completion

ūrdhva Dhanurāsana
ūrdhva = upward
dhanurasana = bow

Salaṁbā Sarvāṅgāsana 
salaṁbā = supported
sarvāṅga = all limbs

hala = plough

karṇa = ear
pīḍa = pressure

ūrdhva Padmāsana
ūrdhva = upward
padma = lotus

piṇḍa = womb

matsy = fish

Uttāna Pādāsana
uttāna = intense
pādā = feet

śīrṣa = head

Baddha Padmāsana
baddha = bound
padma = lotus

Uth Pluthi 14 vinyasa
pluthi = jump / lift

I've added a pdf of this post to google docs, pages 6-10 are the count

NOTE: As far as we can tell Krishnamacharya developed the vinyasa count, it may have been a way to manage a large class of young boys or it may be something he inherited from his own teacher or perhaps a lost text, we'll probably never know. He did appear to drop the count in his later years however Ramaswami told me that although Krishnamacharya would link together postures if he was teaching one posture on it's own then it would begin and end from standing or perhaps a seated samastithi, perhaps the count was always implied in his teaching.

Does focusing on the count distract from the breath, not necessarily, after a while the count disappears into the background, it is perhaps the horizon of the breath.


This from comments

Can you explain further: "So Jānuśīrṣāsana A - C 22 * 8 , 15 signifies that all three versions of Jānuśīrṣāsana have have 22 vinyasa each and that the states of the asana for each versions are 8 and 15 ( IE. Both sides)?"
Does this mean Jānuśīrṣāsana A has 11 vinyasa for right and 11 for left side, Jānuśīrṣāsana B has 11 vinayas for right and 11 for left and Jānuśīrṣāsana C has 11 for right and 11 for left side, with the sides done alternately? Does "8" mean right side and "15" mean left side?

Anthony Grim Hall28 February 2014 19:00
Hi Anon, I'm actually writing a post on How Full Vinyasa becomes half Vinyasa, looking at every posture in detail, showing were all the extra inhalations and exhalations come in to make the system 'fit' the count. I'm doing it because I'm not there in Japan with my wife to answer her questions about the count when they come up. This is should be stressed is my own explanation as I seek to make sense of the development of the vinyasa count historically, trying to expelling how it's been made to work, with it's extra uncounted inhalations and exhalations snuck in here and there.
No it doesn't mean each side has 11 vinyasa, doesn't work that way. If you were to separate the sides up and come back to standing after each side then they would both have 13 vinyasas. Confusing. Here's what I've written for janu Sirsasana, all three are the same even though C is more difficult to set up, it's all done on one inhalation whether A, B or C.

Anthony Grim Hall
Jānuśīrṣāsana A - C   22 *  8 , 15

CODE 22* = 22 vinyasa
8 = state of the asana on the first side
15= the state of the asana on the second side.

The count and the process is the same for all three Janu sirsasanas.

As with Ardha baddha pachimottanasana and Triyangmukha ekapada paschimottanasana the first six postures of the surynamaskara are implied ( as if we really had worked our way down from standing samastithi). We are in Downward facing dog exhaling (from the previous posture) which now becomes SAT we then jump through inhaling on SUPTA and immediately, still on the inhalation, bring the right foot into our groin, heel to perineum, and take hold of the toe of the other foot and look up, that’s all done on SUPTA. We exhale ASTAU (8) down into the state of the asana, traditionally head to knee (it’s in the name) but these days chin to knee or head to knee and then slide on to the chin. After our five breaths we sit up inhaling NAVA then take an extra uncounted exhalation allowing us to lift up on the next inhalation DASA while crossing our legs. We Jump back EKADASA and exhale into Chatuaranga. Up dog inhaling DVADASA, down dog exhaling TRAYODASA and then we are ready to Jump through again for the other side inhaling CATURDASA setting up to lower into the state of the asana, again all on on PANCHADASA (15). Now we repeat the exit, sitting up inhaling  SODASA, the extra uncounted exhalation again so we can lift up inhaling and crossing our legs SAPTADASA and jump back exhaling into caturanga on ASTAUDASA. UP DOG inhaling EKONAVIMSATAHI (19) Down dog exhaling VIMSATAHI
BUT VIMSATAHI now switches back to become SAT ready for the next posture.

If we were doing full vinyasa after VIMSATAHI we would jump the feet to the hands inhaling while looking up and flattening the back EKAVIMSATAHI then fold over exhaling DVAVIMSATAHI (22) which completes the 22 vinyasa, we just stand back up into samastithi (uncounted).

As with all these postures we notice extra uncounted inhalations and exhalations as we make the vinyasa ‘fit’ into the sequence of breath and movement, remember we want to inhale up, exhale down.

Janu Sirsasana is quite straight forward but Janu C can be tricky, I have a dodgy knee and like to take a couple of breaths while setting in preparation for the state of the asana. That’s OK, jump through on SUPTA and take a couple of calm, steady, unrushed inhalations and exhalations while setting up all but  the while saying to yourself SUPTA SUPTA SUPTA. When you ready to lower, take a final inhalation saying SUPTA to yourself one more time and then lower ASTAU into the state of the postures.

Coming out is the same come up inhaling NAVA and then take as many inhalations and exhalations as you need to allow your knee to come comfortably out of the posture, all the while saying NAVA NAVA NAVA mentally to yourself. When your ready take your exhalation, then back on count, lift up inhaling DASA crossing the legs and jumping back.

Your Jump back might not be fully developed, that’s OK go through the motions preparing to step back while inhaling on DASA then step back while exhaling EKADASA.

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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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