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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Saturday, 26 September 2015

Krishnamacharya's Chakras as places in the body where the mind gets hung up

I've always been..... resistant to pretty rainbow coloured chakra books



...but here's an interesting presentation of the chakra model in this passage from Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu. Chakras as places in the body where the mind gets hung up (in a knot), limiting it's ability to experience. Loosening these knots (through pranayama) and stabilising the mind ( through dharana, dhyana and samadhi) expands the mind to new ideas.

"Then he (the teacher) should say: "As far as, verily, this great akasa extends, so far extends the akasa within the heart. Both heaven and earth are contained within it, both fire and air, both sun and moon, both lightning and stars; and whatever belongs to him (i.e. the embodied creature) in this world and whatever does not, all that is contained within it (i.e.the akasa in the heart)."
 Adhyaya VIII, Khanda I, Chandogya Upanishad


Krishnamacharya, uddiyana bandha kriya

Here's Krishnamacharya's Chakra passage from Yogasanagalu. When you put it like this.....

"Although it can not be observed by the main sense organs, the jeeva or soul that is hidden within the body and experiences countless suffering and joys according to followers of Visishtadwita and Dwita philosophies, in the mind as per Sankhya followers, reflection of jeevatma according to some yogis and Advita followers.  The mind (its ability to experience) with attributes of wanderings and restraint by way of the heart (called Dahara and Kuhara) is rooted above and below in the following chakras:

Mooladhara chakra - below the navel and above the reproductive organs
Swadishtana - between mooladhara and manipuraka
Manipuraka - exactly on the navel (belly button)
Anahuta - middle of the heart
Vishuddi chakra - below the neck
Agna - between the eye brows
Sahasrara - crown of the head

Encompassing these seven chakras (nadi granthis-knots) are 1. Avrutti, 2. Parivruti and 3. Samvruti.

The movement (activation) of these chakras are caused by the greatness (power) of pranayama and the variety of rechaka, puraka and kumbhaka.

Along with these, ‘antaranga sadhana”  practices of dharana, dhyana and samadhi stabiliizes the wandering, drifting and roving mind, eliminates mental illness and worries, enhances life expectancy, intellectual power and expands the mind to new ideas".
Krishnamacharya: Yogasanagalu (1941)


*



Appendix


More on the chakra model, this time from Krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda. 

"The caitanya sakti (Ed. primal energy for want of a better translation) in every cakra can be only achieved through the strength of the practice of pranayama. Once the caitanya sakti is attained, the movement of the cakra becomes great. At this time, one begins to immediately experience the many benefits mentioned earlier. If pranayama is practised under proper guidance for one or two years following the sastras, cakra sakti will blossom and the many benefits will be attained. But this pranayama must only be practised along with asana and while observing the yama and niyama. If practised in this way, the pranayama sakti will blossom and move in all the important regions of the body and in the ten cakras and give great strength and benefits. One who is not skilled in the yama, niyama and asana will not receive any benefits. By correct practice and effort, the cakra sakti expands and all the mentioned benefits are attainable". Krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda


Here's the chakra section from Yoga Makaranda in full

"Asana practice renders correct blood circulation. The snayus (ligaments) and various parts of the body will function at the perfect, ultimate level. It also causes all types??? of internal circulation to function properly. We all know the connection between good blood circulation, good nadi granthi, healthy body and good health. Hence it is not necessary to further emphasize the benefits of practising asana daily for at least a few minutes. What more does one need after seeing this? Only after acquiring these benefits can one expect to look forward to others.

Because of the power of pranayama practice, one develops strength in the bones, the bone marrow and the heart; one develops the brain, the head, the anna kosam, the fat layer, the mana kosam, the strength of breath and prana, and longevity; it sharpens the senses, strengthens the intellect and the voice and purifies the blood. All these are important factors necessary for the maintenance of health. Those with strong bones, vitality, nerves, and tendons will lead a healthy long life. Lack or weakness of viryam leads to lack of strength which leads to the atrophy of bones. Such a condition leads one to suffer from tuberculosis. Whoever has no impurities in their blood will never develop any disease, and their body will develop a kind of glow. How can darkness reside where there is sunlight? Hence all Ayurveda texts speak specifically on the importance of good blood circulation and bone strength for good health. If the blood is not clean, then the nadi cakras will not function (rotate) properly. We have observed the wheels of trains, electrical gadgets and such machines. If even one wheel malfunctions, all the activities of the machine stop and the gadget breaks down. Similarly when any one of the nadi cakras contained in the machine that is the body malfunctions or is spoiled, we will not derive any of the benefits of good health. Hence good blood circulation is essential for the proper functioning of the nadi cakras.

1.2 Cakras
In the machine that is our body, there are ten cakras — namely
1. muladhara cakra,
2. svadhishtana cakra,
3. manipuraka cakra,
4. surya cakra,
5. manas cakra,
6. anahata cakra,
7. visuddhi cakra,
8. ajn ̃a cakra,
9. sahasrara cakra,
10. brahmaguha (lalata) cakra.

1. Muladhara Cakra
This cakra is next to the rectum. If, due to the strength resulting from practising pranayama with a focus on this cakra, caitanya is attained in this cakra, then this will strengthen the viryam (sexual vitality). When the viryam is kept under control, the body becomes tough. If anybody acquires caitanya in this cakra, they will become virile.

2. Svadhishthana Cakra
This svadhishthana cakra lies two angulas above the muladhara cakra. If by doing pranayama abhyasa according to the krama and rules caitanya is attained in this cakra, then this will destroy all diseases. There will be an astounding increase in good health. Any amount of physical work can be done without any fatigue. Even enemies will admire and adore one who has caitanya in this cakra. Violence will run away and hide from him. Even a tiger and cow will live in peaceful coexistence in his presence.

3. Manipuraka Cakra
This is situated exactly in the navel. If, due to the strength of pranayama practice, caitanya is attained in this cakra, then the practitioner will never encounter any physical or mental afflictions. These afflictions will flee his presence. One who has acquired caitanya in this cakra will be able to face any disaster or accident with mental fortitude. Not only that, he will develop divya drishti. He will experience the bliss of identifying atman as a separate entity from the body. This cakra is situated in the middle of all other cakras. The main function of this cakra is to ensure that all organs or parts of the body function at their proper strength. Good health is possible only when all the organs are strong. Any disease in any organ indicates ill health.

4. Surya Cakra
This cakra is situated in the third angula above the navel. Pranayama prac- tised with an equal ratio of exhalation and inhalation (recaka and puraka) with a focus on this cakra gives rise to caitanya in this cakra. Caitanya in this cakra purifies all the nadis of the stomach. One who has acquired caitanya in this cakra will not suffer from any diseases of the stomach, nor from any mahodaram and will acquire eternal good health, amazing vitality or shine, and long life. The pranayama practitioner will attain free move- ment of this cakra which will be visible by rapid increase in the digestive power. Special caitanya or insight will develop on practising bastra kevala kumbhaka pranayama. This is not possible to attain from practising other types of pranayama with a focus on this cakra. These will just lead to the ordinary benefits.

5. Manas Cakra
This is close to the anna kosam. Caitanya in this cakra is attained by a sustained practice of kevala kumbhaka pranayama. The main function of this cakra is to increase the power of intuition and to expand the intel- lect. This is because practising kumbhaka pranayama purifies (cleanses) the brain. There is a special connection between the brain and the manas cakra.

6. Anahata Cakra
This is situated in the hrdaya (heart) sthana. There is a special connection between this and the heart. Pranayama abhyasa with recaka and puraka kumbhaka of different ratios (raising and lowering the ratios) with a focus on this cakra will give rise to a steady state of caitanya in this cakra. This state of caitanya in this cakra removes weakness of the heart and will give extraordinary strength. All the activities associated with the heart are carried out due to the strength of this cakra. We all know that in this world, life is possible only as a result of the strength of the functioning of the heart. Hence if this cakra is kept in a correct state and moves freely, emotions like affection, devotion, gn ̃anam, etc. — such superior states of mind (bhavas) will arise in the heart. If this cakra malfunctions or becomes impure and moves in a constricted fashion, then murder, theft, adultery, unchastity and other such inferior emotions will arise in the heart. By correct pranayama practice, the speed of the cakra increases and this gives rise to an expanded intellect and the person will be inspired to become more involved in good works. Any pranayama practised against sastra will weaken the movement and speed of the cakra and will destroy or weaken the heart.

7. Visuddhi Cakra
This is situated in the throat region. That is, it is situated in the region below the neck, above the sternum, in between the two bones where there is a soft area (gap) the size of the middle finger. If caitanya is achieved and held in this cakra due to the strength of pranayama, the practitioner gets svara vign ̃anam (knowledge of sound). If cittam can be controlled to focus on this cakra, the practitioner will lose all thoughts of this world (lose consciousness) and will be able to see the divine paramatma in all his glory through the light of the self. If one controls the movements of the citta and attains caitanya in this cakra through the strength of kumbhaka, he will attain a steady state of youth and enthusiasm. By achieving this caitanya through krama, these benefits can be experienced to the extent desired.

8. Ajn ̃a Cakra
This cakra is situated between the two eyebrows. If caitanya can be held (focussed) here, one acquires the power to control everybody. Through the movements of recaka and puraka in the nadis of the two nostrils, if one practises pranayama by keeping the breath in the nostrils and circulating and moving the prana vayu, then the nadis below the nostril get purified. One develops a divine lustre, one is able to see the atman and through this blessing will be able to see all the events that are occurring around the world without moving from their position. Caitanya citta vritti in the ajn ̃a cakra is extremely helpful for a long life.

9. Sahasrara Cakra
This is directly above the throat or palate. The greatness of this cakra is beyond description. Every part of the body is associated to (depends on) this important point. If one enhances the caitanya in this sahasrara cakra through the strength of practising puraka in complete pranayama abhyasa, this will result in the rapid movement of this cakra which will in turn give any skill or power that you wish for.

10. Brahmaguha (Lalata) Cakra
This cakra is situated above the forehead. Pranayama practice will cause the prana vayu to move through the susumna nadi and this prana vayu should be held here through the skill of kumbhaka. If such a practice is followed, one acquires the power to change one’s own destiny. One cannot describe the greatness of this procedure. It can only be learned through experience.

The caitanya sakti in every cakra can be only achieved through the strength of the practice of pranayama. Once the caitanya sakti is attained, the movement of the cakra becomes great. At this time, one begins to immediately experience the many benefits mentioned earlier. If pranayama is practised under proper guidance for one or two years following the sastras, cakra sakti will blossom and the many benefits will be attained. But this pranayama must only be practised along with asana and while observing the yama and niyama. If practised in this way, the pranayama sakti will blossom and move in all the important regions of the body and in the ten cakras and give great strength and benefits. One who is not skilled in the yama, niyama and asana will not receive any benefits. By correct practice and effort, the cakra sakti expands and all the mentioned benefits are attainable".
Krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Convince me Krishnamacharya are there any serious benefits to Leg behind head postures (Advanced asana)

I stopped bothering with leg behind head postures some time ago, I think the one with the Shakuhachi below from earlier in the year was the last time I tried it (it was kind of a joke), I was surprised my leg still went there.

Update: See this post ‘Was I Born to put my leg behind my head’ 


There was actually a half serious argument for this nonsense at the time, see here
http://grimmly2007.blogspot.jp/2013/04/chanting-or-playing-flute-in-asana.html

These days I tend to practice up to ardha matsyendrasana in Ashtanga 2nd series ( one day slow, half Primary with the odd extra vinyasa, the second day the first half of 2nd, again taken as slow as is comfortable). I tend to throw in mayurasana for luck as Ramaswami/Krishnamacharya stressed it was an important posture and I can see how it might be. 

I just can't see much point anymore in most of the postures from the second half of Ashtanga Intermediate series, why would I possibly want to put my leg behind my head, is there really any benefit, Krishnamacharya? When I think of the time I spent working on those postures and not just those in Intermediate but also those ever crazier variations in Advanced A and B  ( see Appendix), wouldn't my time have been better spent on pranayama, on dharana.

What can possibly be the point other than to sell bums on mats?

I was going to post an oh so clever post on this and thought I would check what strange benefits Krishnamacharya might have included..... actually, the benefits he mentions are quite interesting ( EG support for pranayama and dharana) and makes me want to look again at how Krishnamacharya was employing the chakra model ( I'm adding Krishnamacharya's treatment of chakras from Yoga Makaranda I, II and Yogasanagalu in the appendix also). I've tended to be a bit dismissive of the benefits mentioned for asana in the past, probably after reading that one asana was supposed to be cure for leprosy.

Chakra, too many rainbow coloured books seeping into the philosophy section shelves put me off however, more recently I've tended to feel that those old yogis/meditatiors from ages past spent a lot of time noticing recurring sensations/experiences in the body and that these no doubt formed a worthy of consideration basis to the chakra model. Simon Borg Olivier is interesting here

"In hatha yoga the two spiralling snakes are referred to as the nadis (subtle channels) Ida and Pingala and the spinal cord contains the sushumna nadi. When viewed from above the head the spiralling of these channels looks like the yin yang symbol or even the ancient swastika symbol . The places where the snake-like spiral nadis crossover up the trunk is the supposed location of the main chakras (energy centres) of the body. Each of these main chakras corresponds to and seemingly has relationships with main endocrine glands and also major nerve plexi. The ‘opening’ or ‘unlocking’ of, and the voluntary control of the chakras is a major aim in hatha yoga and can in fact be the tool that allows yoga and yoga therapy to be effective. In order to heal any part of the body especially the internal organs or body systems the only thing we can actually control is our mind, which can control muscles, which can affect posture movement and breathing". See this Yogasynergy.com blog post

Krishnamacharya includes the instructions and vinyasas in his Yoga Makaranda (1934) I've cut those out here ( see Free Downloads for Yoga Makaranda) and gone straight to the benefits along with the picture from the book of one of his students and any old photos of mine from when I was practiced these that I could find buried away on a google search  ( so that you know it's not only ten year old boys who can make some progress in these). 


I'm still not convinced but am prepared to take another look and think some more.


NB. The asana below are ever more advanced variations of more basic postures that may well be sufficient for exploring the breath in ever more subtlety, they may act as preparation towards the more advanced postures or they may be all we ever require. There's no rush, explore the breath in these basic and key postures, once the breath becomes slow and steady, slow it further still and if still steady explore staying twice as long, allow the body to grow into these postures to inhabit them before considering exploring a more challenging version like the leg behind head variations below. Here is a link to how basic key asana may progress into more challenging asana. This is not necessarily a sequence but rather just showing how one asana might allow another to become possible over time http://grimmly2007.blogspot.jp/2010/03/vinyasa-krama-asymmetric-seated.html



*

 Leg behind head postures and their benefits in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda 1934

NB. Krishnamacharya seems not to have practiced asana in fixed sequences but rather in groups of asana, Primary, Middle and proficient. It seems likely that when a Primary asana became steady and comfortable he would add on or replace it with middle and finally proficient asana or variations.

27 Ekapada Sirsasana (Figure 4.71, 4.72)

Benefit: This will arrest bleeding due to piles and give strength to the body. It removes vayu disturbances in the neck region and gives the neck extraordinary strength to carry excess weight. It is extremely helpful for the awakening of kundalini. Pregnant women should not do this posture.




28 Dvipada Sirsasana (Figure 4.73)

Benefit: It will remove diseases of the spleen, of the liver, and of the stomach. It will clean the muladhara cakra. It will greatly help with uddiyana bandha. Practise it after first studying the picture very carefully. Women who are pregnant should not do this posture. Those who are prone to miscarriage must practise this asana regularly for some time and then discontinue it before they conceive. If they stop practising this asana during pregnancy, it will enable a strong healthy birth and will help the uterus wall expand and be healthy. People who do not wish for progeny must always practise this asana. If they do, then they will not have any children.



29 Yoga Nidrasana (Figure 4.74)

Benefit: Tuberculosis, bloating of the stomach, dropsy and edema (swelling of tissue due to accumulation of water) — such serious diseases will be cured. It will cause the vayu to be held at the svadhishthana cakra and the brahmara guha cakra and as a result will cause long life. It will help to rapidly bring the apana vayu under one’s control. It is not for women who are pregnant.



30 Buddhasana (Figure 4.75, 4.76)

Benefit: It will cure hunchback and will create proper blood circulation in all the nadis. It will clean the svadhishthanaanahatavisuddhi and brahmara guha cakras and gives complete assistance for kevala kumbhaka.
This asana is very beneficial for curing long-term persistent fever. Pregnant women should not do this.






31 Kapilasana (Figure 4.77)

Benefit: It will maintain the muladhara, svadhishthana, manipuraka, anahata, and visuddhi cakras in the proper sthiti. It is extremely helpful in guiding one along the path of dharana and dhyana.


32 Bhairavasana (Figure 4.78)

Benefit: Keeps vayu sancharam in equal and proper balance in the idapingala and susumna nadis and prevents any vata disease from approaching. Pregnant women should not do this. But those women who do not wish for any children, if they practise this asana regularly following the rules for a period of time, they will definitely never conceive. Of this there is absolutely no doubt. Practising this asana will close the uterine passage and stop the fertilization from taking place.



33 Cakorasana (Figure 4.79)

Benefit: Diseases causing tremors (trembling) in the joints of the arm and in the wrists will be cured. Pregnant women should not do this.





34 Skandasana (Figure 4.80, 4.81)

Benefit: Gives the skill of pratyahara through the knowledge of the light of the self shining in the crevasses of the heart.



35 Durvasasana (Figure 4.82)

Benefit: Elephantiasis, vayu in the scrotum, trembling and tremors of the head — these serious diseases will be destroyed. It is a tremendous support on the path towards samadhi. Pregnant women should not do this.





36 Richikasana (Figure 4.83, 4.84)

Benefit: It corrects the recaka that is essential for the practice of pranayama





Appendix


.....even more crazier variations from Advanced series

If you've has heard of any supposed benefits for any of these other leg behind head postures below feel free to share in comments.


1. Viswamitrasana
2. Vrichikasana A
3. Bhuja dandasana
4. Marichiyasana G
5. Marichiyasana H
6. Pasve bhuja dandasana
7. Eka pada sirsasana utkatasana

*

Krishnamacharya on the Cakras ( Chakras) from Yoga Makaranda



Asana practice renders correct blood circulation. The snayus (ligaments) and various parts of the body will function at the perfect, ultimate level. It also causes all types??? of internal circulation to function properly. We all know the connection between good blood circulation, good nadi granthi, healthy body and good health. Hence it is not necessary to further emphasize the benefits of practising asana daily for at least a few minutes. What more does one need after seeing this? Only after acquiring these benefits can one expect to look forward to others.

Because of the power of pranayama practice, one develops strength in the bones, the bone marrow and the heart; one develops the brain, the head, the anna kosam, the fat layer, the mana kosam, the strength of breath and prana, and longevity; it sharpens the senses, strengthens the intellect and the voice and purifies the blood. All these are important factors necessary for the maintenance of health. Those with strong bones, vitality, nerves, and tendons will lead a healthy long life. Lack or weakness of viryam leads to lack of strength which leads to the atrophy of bones. Such a condition leads one to suffer from tuberculosis. Whoever has no impurities in their blood will never develop any disease, and their body will develop a kind of glow. How can darkness reside where there is sunlight? Hence all Ayurveda texts speak specifically on the importance of good blood circulation and bone strength for good health. If the blood is not clean, then the nadi cakras will not function (rotate) properly. We have observed the wheels of trains, electrical gadgets and such machines. If even one wheel malfunctions, all the activities of the machine stop and the gadget breaks down. Similarly when any one of the nadi cakras contained in the machine that is the body malfunctions or is spoiled, we will not derive any of the benefits of good health. Hence good blood circulation is essential for the proper functioning of the nadi cakras.

1.2 Cakras
In the machine that is our body, there are ten cakras — namely 
1. muladhara cakra, 
2. svadhishtana cakra, 
3. manipuraka cakra, 
4. surya cakra, 
5. manas cakra, 
6. anahata cakra, 
7. visuddhi cakra, 
8. ajn ̃a cakra, 
9. sahasrara cakra, 
10. brahmaguha (lalata) cakra.

1. Muladhara Cakra
This cakra is next to the rectum. If, due to the strength resulting from practising pranayama with a focus on this cakra, caitanya is attained in this cakra, then this will strengthen the viryam (sexual vitality). When the viryam is kept under control, the body becomes tough. If anybody acquires caitanya in this cakra, they will become virile.

2. Svadhishthana Cakra
This svadhishthana cakra lies two angulas above the muladhara cakra. If by doing pranayama abhyasa according to the krama and rules caitanya is attained in this cakra, then this will destroy all diseases. There will be an astounding increase in good health. Any amount of physical work can be done without any fatigue. Even enemies will admire and adore one who has caitanya in this cakra. Violence will run away and hide from him. Even a tiger and cow will live in peaceful coexistence in his presence.

3. Manipuraka Cakra
This is situated exactly in the navel. If, due to the strength of pranayama practice, caitanya is attained in this cakra, then the practitioner will never encounter any physical or mental afflictions. These afflictions will flee his presence. One who has acquired caitanya in this cakra will be able to face any disaster or accident with mental fortitude. Not only that, he will develop divya drishti. He will experience the bliss of identifying atman as a separate entity from the body. This cakra is situated in the middle of all other cakras. The main function of this cakra is to ensure that all organs or parts of the body function at their proper strength. Good health is possible only when all the organs are strong. Any disease in any organ indicates ill health.

4. Surya Cakra
This cakra is situated in the third angula above the navel. Pranayama prac- tised with an equal ratio of exhalation and inhalation (recaka and puraka) with a focus on this cakra gives rise to caitanya in this cakra. Caitanya in this cakra purifies all the nadis of the stomach. One who has acquired caitanya in this cakra will not suffer from any diseases of the stomach, nor from any mahodaram and will acquire eternal good health, amazing vitality or shine, and long life. The pranayama practitioner will attain free move- ment of this cakra which will be visible by rapid increase in the digestive power. Special caitanya or insight will develop on practising bastra kevala kumbhaka pranayama. This is not possible to attain from practising other types of pranayama with a focus on this cakra. These will just lead to the ordinary benefits.

5. Manas Cakra
This is close to the anna kosam. Caitanya in this cakra is attained by a sustained practice of kevala kumbhaka pranayama. The main function of this cakra is to increase the power of intuition and to expand the intel- lect. This is because practising kumbhaka pranayama purifies (cleanses) the brain. There is a special connection between the brain and the manas cakra.

6. Anahata Cakra
This is situated in the hrdaya (heart) sthana. There is a special connection between this and the heart. Pranayama abhyasa with recaka and puraka kumbhaka of different ratios (raising and lowering the ratios) with a focus on this cakra will give rise to a steady state of caitanya in this cakra. This state of caitanya in this cakra removes weakness of the heart and will give extraordinary strength. All the activities associated with the heart are carried out due to the strength of this cakra. We all know that in this world, life is possible only as a result of the strength of the functioning of the heart. Hence if this cakra is kept in a correct state and moves freely, emotions like affection, devotion, gn ̃anam, etc. — such superior states of mind (bhavas) will arise in the heart. If this cakra malfunctions or becomes impure and moves in a constricted fashion, then murder, theft, adultery, unchastity and other such inferior emotions will arise in the heart. By correct pranayama practice, the speed of the cakra increases and this gives rise to an expanded intellect and the person will be inspired to become more involved in good works. Any pranayama practised against sastra will weaken the movement and speed of the cakra and will destroy or weaken the heart.

7. Visuddhi Cakra
This is situated in the throat region. That is, it is situated in the region below the neck, above the sternum, in between the two bones where there is a soft area (gap) the size of the middle finger. If caitanya is achieved and held in this cakra due to the strength of pranayama, the practitioner gets svara vign ̃anam (knowledge of sound). If cittam can be controlled to focus on this cakra, the practitioner will lose all thoughts of this world (lose consciousness) and will be able to see the divine paramatma in all his glory through the light of the self. If one controls the movements of the citta and attains caitanya in this cakra through the strength of kumbhaka, he will attain a steady state of youth and enthusiasm. By achieving this caitanya through krama, these benefits can be experienced to the extent desired.

8. Ajn ̃a Cakra
This cakra is situated between the two eyebrows. If caitanya can be held (focussed) here, one acquires the power to control everybody. Through the movements of recaka and puraka in the nadis of the two nostrils, if one practises pranayama by keeping the breath in the nostrils and circulating and moving the prana vayu, then the nadis below the nostril get purified. One develops a divine lustre, one is able to see the atman and through this blessing will be able to see all the events that are occurring around the world without moving from their position. Caitanya citta vritti in the ajn ̃a cakra is extremely helpful for a long life.

9. Sahasrara Cakra
This is directly above the throat or palate. The greatness of this cakra is beyond description. Every part of the body is associated to (depends on) this important point. If one enhances the caitanya in this sahasrara cakra through the strength of practising puraka in complete pranayama abhyasa, this will result in the rapid movement of this cakra which will in turn give any skill or power that you wish for.

10. Brahmaguha (Lalata) Cakra
This cakra is situated above the forehead. Pranayama practice will cause the prana vayu to move through the susumna nadi and this prana vayu should be held here through the skill of kumbhaka. If such a practice is followed, one acquires the power to change one’s own destiny. One cannot describe the greatness of this procedure. It can only be learned through experience.

The caitanya sakti in every cakra can be only achieved through the strength of the practice of pranayama. Once the caitanya sakti is attained, the movement of the cakra becomes great. At this time, one begins to immediately experience the many benefits mentioned earlier. If pranayama is practised under proper guidance for one or two years following the sastras, cakra sakti will blossom and the many benefits will be attained. But this pranayama must only be practised along with asana and while observing the yama and niyama. If practised in this way, the pranayama sakti will blossom and move in all the important regions of the body and in the ten cakras and give great strength and benefits. One who is not skilled in the yama, niyama and asana will not receive any benefits. By correct practice and effort, the cakra sakti expands and all the mentioned benefits are attainable.
----------------------------

Krishnamacharya on the chakras from Yoga makaranda (part II)

We have mentioned that there are seven CAKRAS supporting the HRIDAYA. They are:

1. MULADHARA CAKRA - between the root of the reproductory organs and anus.

2. SVADHISHTANA CAKRA -at the origin of the reproductory organ - between Muladhara and Manipura.

3. MANIPURA CAKRA - at the navel

4. ANAHATA CAKRA - at the heart

5. VISUDDHICAKRA - at the base of the throat

6. AGNA CAKRA - between the two eyebrows

7. SAHASRARA CAKRA - situated at the crown of the head.

The 7 Chakras are active in three ways.

AAVRITTI,
PARIVRITTI,
SAMVRITTI

AAVRITTi is due to Puraka, Rechaka and Kumbaka.

PARIVRITTI is due to the proper control of the three Bandhas - MULA, JALANDHARA and UDDIYANA.

SAMVRITTI is due to the variation in the length of the Rechaka and Kumbakha in Pranayama.

The 7 Chakras mentioned above and the Manas are not visible to our naked eye. Joy and sorrow are feelings palpable only to the mind and for that reason, we do not deny their existence. So also certain changes inside our body have to be personally felt and they are not capable of physical demonstration. Even the modern advanced appliances like the x-ray can not reveal the existence of the feelings of the mind and the changes in the CAKRAS. But Samyamam mentioned in the Yoganga discovers the feelings and changes in one’s own mind and in others.

------------------------------

From Yogasanagalu

Although it can not be observed by the main sense organs, the jeeva or soul that is hidden within the body and experiences countless suffering and joys according to followers of Visishtadwita and Dwita philosophies, in the mind as per Sankhya followers, reflection of jeevatma according to some yogis and Advita followers.  The mind (its ability to experience) with attributes of wanderings and restraint by way of the heart (called Dahara and Kuhara) is rooted above and below in the following chakras:

Mooladhara chakra - below the navel and above the reproductive organs
Swadishtana - between mooladhara and manipuraka
Manipuraka - exactly on the navel (belly button)
Anahuta - middle of the heart
Vishuddi chakra - below the neck
Agna - between the eye brows
Sahasrara - crown of the head

Encompassing these seven chakras (nadi granthis) are 1. Avrutti, 2. Parivruti and 3. Samvruti.

The movement (activation) of these chakras are caused by the greatness (power) of pranayama and the variety of rechaka, puraka and kumbhaka

---------------------
For more on the Chakras, have a look at Simon Heather's article 'Origin of the Chakras' which fishes out references to them in the Upanishads.

http://www.simonheather.co.uk/pages/articles/origins_of_the_chakras.pdf

Simon quotes extensively from the Yoga Kundalini Upanishad, which is quite marvellous, I was reading it just recently and was quite blown away. The Yoga Kundalini Upanishad is an excellent primary source for information on Prana, Bandhas, Chakras, Pranayama etc. See the link below for a downloadable pdf and a useful introduction

http://fractalenlightenment.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/yoga-kundalini-upanishad.pdf

This next one, an article by BNS Iyengar, Chakras Bandhas And Kriyas is just great, had me laughing out loud and really wishing i could go to Pune (mock-terrified at the same time).

http://yogaroomretreats.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ChakrasBandhasAndKriyas-BKSI9.pdf

Here's a link to a pdf of the old Theosophical Society book on Chakras by C.W. Leadbeater

http://www.anandgholap.net/Chakras-CWL.pdf

And a Chakra meditation from the Swamiji website. Explore them in this way in a separate meditation practice to fix the images and sounds and then look at bringing them into your asana practice.

http://www.swamij.com/chakra-meditation.htm

also..

The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga by Arthur Avalon

International Association of Yoga Therapists list of articles relating to Chakaras

http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4952587430321350992#editor/target=post;postID=8140639069994186373

Friday, 28 August 2015

Did Pattabhi Jois practice some or all of the Series he created and if so for how long?

*Reposted this post at the request of a researcher.

This post develops a question that came up on one of my blog post links on fb.
Pattabhi Jois teaching Pranayama in 1964 published by Andre van Lysebeth in his book Pranayama.
NB. The the person practicing pranayama is thought to be one of Pattabhi Jois Indian students, not Andre himself (Thank you to Juan for the note on this)

We give a lot of weight to the  fixed Ashtanga series (Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A and B - organised later as Primary, 2nd 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th series) that Pattabhi Jois developed from the three flexible groups of asana (primary, middle, proficient) of his teacher Krishnamacharya.

But did Pattabhi Jois practice those series himself and if not, does it matter.

We know Pattabhi Jois didn't practice the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th series that we have now, they were certainly reorganised long after Pattabhi Jois had ceased to practice but what of the original four series, Primary to Advanced B that Pattabhi Jois taught to Norman Allan, David Williams Nancy Gilgoff and other early visitors to Mysore and their students.

The original four series are certainly based on Krishnamacharya's table of asana that appeared in his Yogasanagalu (Mysore 1941) and on which pattabhi Jois's own studies with his teacher were no doubt based. Pattabhi Jois' first two series follow quite closely the order of asana in Krishnamacharya's table, Advanced A and B series seems to be a departure.

Supposedly Pattabhi Jois was required to develop a four year Syllabus when asked to teach at the Sanskrit college, Krishnamacharya's table had three groups so Pattabhi Jois turned the final proficient group into two series ,Advanced A and B, no doubt including other asana and their vinyasa count Krishnamacharya had taught to him and the other boys of the Mysore palace (NB: Pattabhi Jois didn't only teach the young boys, he also taught other members of the palace and it's environ, perhaps Vinyasa Krama on a one to one basis).

Pattabhi Jois is said to have taken his list of asana ordered into fours series to Krishnamacharya and received his teachers approval, the approval is not surprising as Pattabhi Jois' list was based on his teachers own table of asana, with the same vinyasa count. Pattabhi jois continued to take students and members of his family to Krishnamacharya for examination in the vinyasa count of individual asana up until the 1970s

There is little doubt that Pattabhi Jois studied and practiced most, if not all, of the asana with the same Vinyasa with his teacher krishnamacharya and  for many years, Pattabhi Jois was one of Krishnamachaeya's senior and longest serving student and would accompany his teacher around the country giving advanced asana demonstrations.

There is some confusion regarding when Pattabhi Jois developed his series of asana for the Sanskrit college yoga course, 1939 is the most common date but this date may have been when Pattabhi Jois entered the Sanskrit college as a senior student. Pattabhi Jois' life long friend T. S. Krishnamurthy responds in an interview in the book Guruji that Pattabhi Jois began teaching his yoga course in 1947. Krihshnamaurthy was one of his students and studied Yoga with hm for four years, the four year syllabus perhaps.  In 1948, he established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute at their new home in Lakshmipuram  "...with a view to experimenting with the curative aspects of Yoga".





The above from 



If this indeed the case then we have a date for the formation of the Ashtanga series, 1947. 

***

Update June 2018

Reflection on Guruji - A portrait of Pattabhi Jois through the eyes of his students.



I just came across Guy and Eddie’s ‘Guruji’ still buried away on my Kindle, I deleted it. With every new first hand account of Jois’ sexual abuse, or report of the general awareness of his behaviour in the community at the time from a senior practitioner, I find myself ever more... disgusted with the book, that it was ever written, that many who contributed were happy to do so without referencing his behaviour, ignoring his abuse, promoting, ultimately enabling. Many it seems, if not all of the contributors, were at least vaguely aware, if not having first hand experience, of Jois’ behaviour. They didn’t just look the other way, but promoted the man, continued to call him Guruji, put up his photo in pride of place in their shalas and sent those in their care to him, surely aware that he might abuse them too. Those who did so knew too that some, not all, but some of those who came to them to learn yoga, came for healing and yet sent them anyway, half way across the world into the hands of a sexual abuser. Like many abusers, and mine as a child was a GP, Jois no doubt instinctively targeted those confused enough at the time, vulnerable at the time, not weak but for a time, in that particular time, vulnerable to abuse. He no doubt groomed and presented himself in such a way that it barely seem conceivable or was at least deniable, no doubt he touched a few of the men too in the same way, a smoke screen. This was learned behaviour, a developed skill, in targeting, in smoke-screening. Some, a few, spoke out, left, more clearly should have.



UPDATE to the above post (AUG 2018)  From a blog post by Guy Donahaye - co editor (along with Eddie Stern) of GurujiReflection on Guruji - A portrait of Pattabhi Jois through the eyes of his students.

"Since his death, Guruji has been elevated to a position of sainthood. Part of this promotion has been due to the book of interviews I collected and published with Eddie Stern as "Guruji: A Portrait of Sri K Pattabhi Jois" which paints a positive picture of his life and avoids exploring the issues of injury and sexual assault. In emphasizing only positive stories it has done more to cement the idea that he was a perfect yogi, which he clearly was not. 


By burnishing his image, we make it unassailable - it makes us doubt the testimony of those he abused. This causes further harm to those whose testimony we deny and to ourselves.


I would like to offer my sincere apologies to all victims who were harmed by Guruji or by his teachings as passed through his students for my part in cultivating this image of perfection that denies the suffering and healing of many. I would also like to apologize for taking so long to write this - it was not easy to do". 

Full blog post here - https://yogamindmedicine.blogspot.com/2018/08/guruji-metoo.ht


and see too this post 

http://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2017/12/inappropriate-adjustments.html



***

Would Pattabhi Jois have practiced the series in the manner in which he taught them,? Not necessarily, he already had an established practice, a more flexible approach to the asana taught to him by Krishnamacharya, would he have forced himself into the confines of a fixed series created for a particular pedagogic situation, he may have stuck with the practice he already had, perhaps some exploratory practices to experience the series for himself.

Pattabhi Jois teaching 
Pattabhi Jois demonstrating sarvangasana


`Pattabhi Jois teaching garbhapindasana

But lets, for arguments sake,  say Pattabhi Jois did change his practice and work through the different series each morning, how long did he practice them for? Ashtanga is characterised by years practicing the different series, David Willams and Nancy Gilgoff have been practicing them six days a week for over forty years. Pattabhi Jois may only have practiced them for ten.


Manju Jois 1950s

Manju Jois mentions that he was there in the room while his father was working on Yoga Mala in 1954. Manju's father would call him in from playing street cricket again and again to perform asana while his father wrote out the description. Manju must have been around seven, he clearly remembers this but the memories of his father practicing are not of full series but rather long stays in different asana. Krishnamacharya stressed long stays with slow breathing in Yoga Makaranda and Yogasanagalu , was Pattabhi Jois still practicing just as his teacher had taught him?



We should also note that the pictures Pattabhi Jois included in Yoga Mala were taken in the late 1930s or early 1940s, they are not a full set of the primary series asana, no more were taken the missing asana being performed by Sharath for the books publication in the 1990s. There are no videos of Pattabhi Jois performing any of the series,

Tim Miller is quoted as saying that Pattabhi Jois stopped practicing asana aged 42 (1957) for personal family reasons, it seems likely that the quote was a typo and that it should read "...aged 62" (1978). However, note the change in Pattabhi Jois' physique between the 1964 photo with  André Van Lysebeth  and the one below with the western Ashtangi's from 1975), there is no suggestion from any of the early visitors to Pattabhi Jois (1973/74) who lived in his house while studying with him that their teacher was practicing the different Ashtanga series. I seem to remember David Williams writing that one of his great regrets was never having seen Pattabhi Jois practice himself. Manju mentioned however that his father continued to practice some asana 'tll quite late in life.


from David Willams interview in Guruji: A Portrait of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Through the Eyes of His Students 
It may well be then that Pattabhi Jois explored and practiced asana in different series in line with the four year syllabus he developed from 1947 based on Krishnamacharya's asana table but ceased to practice this way from the mid 1950s preferring to explore longer stays in selected asana just as his son Manju remembers.

It may also be that Pattabhi Jois continued to practice Ashtanga series from 1947 until 1978 but that nobody has reported seeing him practice that way, not his family or the ever curious students who shared his house while studying with him in the mid 1970s.

See also the following post

What does Pattabhi Jois' Advanced A/Third series Visvamitrasana photo tell us about the development of his Ashtanga Vinyasa syllabus.


David Williams also mentions that on asking Pattabhi Jois what one should practice after learning the advanced series his teacher mentioned the 'Rishi series', choosing 10 asana and staying for 50 breaths or so in each. Pattabhi Jois was no doubt joking about the name but not perhaps of the practice as it seemed to refelect his own practice as mentioned by Manju ( see my Rishi series of posts- LINK).

I posted the picture at the top of this post of Pattabhi Jois teaching André Van Lysebeth in 1964 when he taught him Primary and Second series as well as Pranayama. Pattabhi Jois' face looks very lean suggestive to me perhaps perhaps of an intense practice, whether that is of a Rishi approach or Ashtanga series is unclear.


Pattabhi Jois (left) teaching André Van Lysebeth Pranayama in 1964


Does it matter whether Pattabhi Jois himself practiced the Ashtanga series he developed or for how long? Manju Jois has practiced the series since the 1950s ( he mentioned that these days he practices some Primary, some 2nd series and some advanced asana, "...to keep his hand in"). Sharath has been practicing the series seriously,according to his mother Saraswati, since 1989 including the latter reorganised Advanced  series into 5th and 6th series, many of the early visitors to Mysore have been practicing as well as teaching the series daily since the mid 1970s.


Saraswati in Gandhaberundasana, circa1950s


Saraswati demonstration
The Ashtanga series are clearly one effective approach to developing discipline, encountering the practice of asana and hopefully yoga, one that many find beneficial but perhaps reflecting on Pattabhi Jois' own practice, how it was formed and how he himself chose to practice puts the series into perspective. The Ashtanga series appears to have been an accident of circumstance, developed in response to a particular pedagogic need ( the four year sanskrit syllabus) a more flexible approach exploring and giving emphasis to other elements of the practice that Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois explored may also be beneficial.


*

My own practice tends to be based on a flexible approach to the Ashtanga vinyasa framework, half Primary or half 2nd series with slow breathing, kumbhaka, some long stays and just the original two drishti followed by pranayama, pratyahara and a sit.


Bottom centre, a copy of the 1973 Ashtanga syllabus given to Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams.
The four year Sanskrit college syllabus?

Appendix

The 'Yoga Mala' picture shoot 


The photo of Pattabhi Jois in Samasthiti along with the photos that ended up in Yoga Mala (as well as other advanced asana) were, according to Eddie Stern, taken in Tiruchinapalli and Kanchipuram. On one of several visits Pattabhi Jois and his wife Amma made to the temple and Mutt there, "... on ther last visit they came with the whole family". This was probably between 1940 and 1946. See this link http://ayny.org/sri-k-pattabhi-jois/

It should perhaps be noted that although photos from this photo shoot ended up in Pattabhi Jois' book Yoga Mala, outlining his Ashtanga Vinyasa Primary series, they were in fact most likely taken before he had outlined the four series for the Sanskrit college syllabus. These pictures then reflect Pattabhi Jois' ongoing practice with Krishnamacharya. Pattabhi jois would have been practicing these asana with Krishnamacharya with full vinyasa but most likely not in a fixed series.





 These more advanced asana photos were perhaps taken on or around the same time












*

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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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