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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Sunday, 12 October 2014

Research: Complete Ashtanga 2nd series Rishi approach (25 or 50 breaths in each asana of 2nd series ).

I've been looking again at my seconds series and wanted to bring all the Rishi series posts and videos from a couple of years back together into one post.

Looking forward to when grabbing my heels let alone my ankles from the air comes back.

This is artificial however, the idea of the Rishi approach, as supposedly outlined by Pattabhi Jois, was to take 10 postures and explore longer stays of fifty breaths. In the links to the original posts at the bottom of the blog I take about eight postures from 2nd and add a couple of prep and finishing postures.
I'm looking at this again because 2nd series seems to be taken pretty quick, the actual series taking half an hour or so in most of the demonstration videos I've seen (plus half hour Standing and another half hour finishing). See the other post I'm putting up today on David Robson and Pattabhi Jois's Led intermediate. That seems a shame there are some wonderful asana here, seems a shame to race through them.

First the intro bit again...
A series of posts exploring the the 'Ashtanga Rishi Series' mentioned at the end of Nancy Gilgoff's Article (see link below) and outlined in a reply by David Willams on his forum below (the headings in block capitals are mine).

I'll be starting each of these posts with this same introduction/reminder of the the context.

'Originally there were five series: Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, Advanced B, and the fifth was the “rishi” series'.

Ashtanga Rishi Approach
'...Doing a practice of 10 postures for up to 50 breaths is a method of preparing for "advanced series" after one has learned 1st and 2nd. It can be done once or twice a week. One does the "salutations" and then starts going thru the series, holding each posture for as long as comfortably possible. Notice which postures could be held for 50 breaths. The next time you practice this way, the postures which you could hold for 50 are omitted and new ones are added at the end. One gradually works thru the series, dropping and adding asanas, still doing 10 asanas per session. I have gone all the way thru 1st and 2nd this way several times over the years and have found it beneficiall'.

Ashtanga Rishi Series
'Then, once one has mastered all of the asanas, one can practice "the rishi series", the most advanced practice. One does the 10 postures that one intuits will be the most beneficial and appropriate for that day, holding each posture for up to 50 comfortable breaths'.

*Below then is my experience of exploring longer stays in these postures for the first time, obviously with practice they would become easier. The breathing however tends to be quick, in Kapotasana for example the stay is about a minute and a half for fifty breaths, that's about four seconds a breath or two each for inhalation and exhalation, a long way from Pattabhi Jois' mention of ten, fifteen seconds for inhalation and the same for exhalation. We should expect shorter breaths on postures that constrict the lungs, Iyengar mentions this but I would like to be able to practice kapo for fifty breaths at four to five seconds each for inhalation and exhalation, that seems reasonable and doable with practice. the great man (Iyengar) would spend five, ten even fifteen minutes in kapotasana.

Pasasana (25 breaths each side) First side was OK, just made 25 but was slipping off one knee after 23. the second leg I placed a towel over my leg for grip. Needed to really lay on the bandhas to anchor myself, can't imagine doing fifty a side.

Krounchasana (25 breaths each side). Nice, gets easier and settle into the posture more as it goes on.

Salabhasana A (50 breaths). Both A and B were OK with the pelvic tilt engaged, really trying to push down and up through the mat. Used the belly button holding a pea technique as well (no not a real one). these techniques have been revolutionary in my approach to these bow sequence postures, much easier, makes the long stay possible and more of a stretch too, quite proud of my Salabhasana's now.

Salabhasana B (25 breaths). See A. above

Bhekasana (25 breaths). As Salabhasana A and B above with the pelvic tilt and pea techniques but I can't say I was pressing my feet down equally throughout, relaxed them a couple of times.

Dhanurasana (25 breaths). Bit lame, the will was weak and I baled after 25 breaths, fifty is possible with the above approach I think, perhaps if I did it first

Parsva Dhanurasana (25 breaths each side). Took both sides easy I have to admit as i knew kapo was coming up and I wanted to relax my quads a little.

Ustrasana (25 breaths). Fifty is doable but I wasn't sure how the kapo would go so wanted to save myself a little for that, nice to spend the time working on the pelvic tilt and pushing hips forward.

Kapotasana (25 breaths). And so Kapo which was hanging over the whole practice as ever, the elephant in the room. I'd done a trial run of this earlier in the week but had only held the side of my feet. Perhaps the good work in Ustrasana on the tilt and getting the hips forward allowed me to catch my heels, not from the air as I used to be able to do but then I haven't worked at kapo much for some time.

The long hold was difficult, no panic and I managed to keep the breath regular but I started to get all tingly and a little numb. Couldn't think of anyway I could be cutting off circulation as in Marichi D say, so figured it was psychological and stuck with it. Was tempted to carry on past 25, to 40 perhaps and then see but wanted to be sure of coming up so settled on 25 and just a couple of breaths in B. 

Supta vajrasana (25 breaths) Dropped back and stayed for 15 breaths but had to come up due to the circulation in my arms being cut off, went back down again managed only five and then again for five more, circulation is a real problem with the bind, might be something to do with dropping back over the bolster.

Bakasana (25 breaths) Kind of a cross between the squeezing the thighs against the outside of the arms and the balancing approach wanted to make the most of both techniques so the squeezing in the beginning to take some of the weight off the arms and then just balancing as my legs became too tired to squeeze. Arms aren't as straight as in the regular version. if I was still doing 3rd then I might be strong enough for fifty breaths but at what cost to the wrists, not sure of the value of long stays in the arm balances. 
Nicer floaty entry HERE, name of the game in this one is conserving energy, Sharath is excellent at that by the way, check out his Primary DVD in my post yesterday morning.

Bharadvajrasana (25 breaths each side) Was looking forward to this one, nice asana for a longer stay, could have stayed for fifty each side if I had more time.

Ardha Matsyendrasana (25 breaths ) As Bharadvajrasana above.

Pincha Mayurasana (15 breaths) Wanted to leave all the leg behind head postures for tomorrow and thought I'd do a trial run of Pincha M., hard, only managed 15 breaths before I dropped out of it.

Eka pada Sirsasana A & B (25 breaths each in A and B and each side). Spent a little extra time trying to get a deeper placement in preparation for the longer stay. Haven't practiced 4th series for awhile so my Buddhasana has left me and I can't get my leg as far down the shoulder as I used to. Eka pada A was comfortable enough (especially on the second side) but B is tough as your having your face squished between your knee and the foot behind your head, more irritating than anything else. on the second side I included a quick Purvottanasana between A and b to stretch out the neck. Fity breaths in A would be OK with improved leg placement but I'm not sure about B.

Dwi pada sirsasana (25 breaths) Still haven't worked out how sharath manages to keep his legs so far apart on off the neck, i think it's something to do with the placement of the second foot as if he gets it furth down the first leg, I have a go at it here but still haven't managed it. the 25 breaths felt OK but I'm hunched not looking up and seem to get a little more hunched as time goes on.

Yoga Nidrasana (50 breaths). I was looking forward to this, it's sleeping yogi, yu should be able to stay for a considerable time. It felt comfortable. I was expecting circulation problems but it was fine and I could probably have stayed for twice as long. dristi was the back of my eyelids.

Tittibhasana A (25 breaths). I normally point my legs up higher for this but went for a more horizontal position thinking it would be better for the wrists. As Arm balances go it's quite secure perhaps because you have the counterweight of your feet and backside, could probably stayed longer but 25 seems plenty for an arm balance. the Titthibhasana series has always been a weak area for me, haven't worked out out to jump my arms as far round my arm as I'd like.

Tittibhasana B (50 breaths). Fifty, but short ones. Don't think I've ever posted a video of this one, bit  embarressed or at least self conscious about it, have never seemed to be able to straighten my legs enough and get my body through. So I was surprised to notice half way through that I was pretty deep and had a very clear view of my ...mula bandha, perhaps the long stays in the previous postures have paid off. Again, had expected circulation problems because of the bind but either I've worked it out now or it's not such an issue in this particular bind.

Tittibhasana B walk (50 steps). Was feeling playful, how can you not with this charming but ridicullous  asana so went for fifty steps, ten up ten down etc.

Tittibhasana C (50 breaths). My least favourite asana in any series, give me 50 breaths in Kapo any day.

Pincha mayurasana (25 Breaths) Alignment could be a lot better so found this challenging, I used to be a lot straighter in this posture, will need to work on that if I want to explore longer stays here.

Karandavasana (10 Breaths) An experiment, managed to lower and hold my lotus for 10 breaths before it slipped off, part of the problem was a lack of preparatory postures, lotus wasn't as tight as usual plus I've only just come back to including Karandavasana in my practice after three months on the Subroutine book.

Mayurasana (10 Breaths)  Managed 10 breaths, considered going up again as with Navasana but thought a long stay here is too much strain on the wrists.

Vatayansana ( 25 Breaths each side). First side with the foot flat second side on the toes. Flat seemed more stable but found it hard to stretch up into the posture, again lack of preparation. Next time I'll try this and Karandavasana after a couple of janu sirsasana's and half lotus postures. A reminder of the benefit of Vinyasa Krama subroutines.

Parighasana (25 Breaths each side). Comfortable but am used to long stays here from Vinyasa Krama

Gomukhasana A + B (25 breaths in each and each side) Again comfortable, some slight circulation problems in B on the second side, this is a meditation posture so well suited to long stays.

Supta Urdhava pada Vajrasana A + B (25 breaths in each and each side). I was expecting circulation problems from the bind but it was quite comfortable. Again these are Vinyasa Krama postures so  longer stays are familiar

Mukta hasta sirsasana A, B, C. (50 breaths in each) Seemed comfortable enough at the time although the arms began to ache afterwards.

Baddha Hasta Sirsasana A, B, C, D (50 breaths in each) D was the only tricky one, just a case of maintaining focus, fifty breaths in all of these would certainly be possible.

Ashtanga Rishi Blog post series
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, first day Paschimottanasana to Janu sirsasana A
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, second day  Janu Sirsasana B to Navasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, third day Bhuja pindasana to badha konasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fourth day Upavishta konasana to Supta bandhasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fifth day Pasasana to Kapotasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, sixth day Supta vajrasana to Ardha Matsyendrasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, Seventh Day  Eka pada sirsasana to Tittibhasana C (below)
Ashtanga Rishi Approach. Eighth Day Pincha Mayurasana to Headstands

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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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