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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Yoga and Superheros: Warrior of Love Rainbowman! Plus an excellent post from the Dispatch ALSO - On siddhis and Siddhars

"What has yoga got to do with capes " I gripped to M. this morning

M. come back with, "well.... there was Rainbowman".


Maya, you and the kids are going to love this...

"Warrior of Love Rainbowman (愛の戦士レインボーマン Ai no Senshi Reinbōman?) is a tokusatsu series created by Kōhan Kawauchi, this was the first superhero TV series produced by Toho Company Ltd. (the Godzilla guys), and was broadcast on NET (now TV Asahi) from October 6, 1972 to September 18, 1973, with a total of 52 episodes. Mitsuru Adachi wrote a manga series based on the show which was serialized in TV Magazine Otomodachi from 1972 to 1973.

The series focuses on pro wrestler Takeshi Yamato, a young man who, after training in India with the yogi sage Devadatta, gains the ability to transform into a superhero called Rainbowman who possesses seven different superhero forms called "Dashes", with the seven Dashes representing yin and yang (the Moon and the Sun) and the five elements (wu xing) of ancient Chinese philosophy. In each Dash form, (with Dash 1 representing the Moon (yellow), Dash 2 representing fire (red), Dash 3 representing water (blue), Dash 4 representing wood (green), Dash 5 representing metal (gold), Dash 6 representing earth (brown) and Dash 7 representing the Sun (white)), Rainbowman is endowed with a color-coded costume and powers related to that element.. Wikipedia

Turns out the guy who wrote it was a bit right wing thus the baddies are made up of foreign nationals wanting to destroy Japan and the Japanese people.


M. told me not to forget to mention that when Rainbowman gets weak his legs automatically fold into lotus (  no hands lotus post - before party tricks got old) and he falls into a yogic sleep, without breathing (kumbhaka : ) for exactly five hours!

Devadatta: the Tibetan yogi who trains Rainbowman

Theme tune

Rainbow 7

I was trained in the mountains of India,
the soul of Devadatta stayed inside me.
Dream of rainbow over the sky,
I can not  go back, so I go forward,

Dash 1, 2, 3
All humans are equal
except in skin colour and language
but we are all together.
Those who try to destroy our bond
I face them,

Dash 4, 5, 6
Whatever happens to me
at the command of love and justice
I cross the seas,
until the end I'll never give up.
I go forward,
Dash 7!

Thank you to M. for putting up with being asked to translate the lyrics while rushing to get ready for work and without her contacts in


Click here for the first three episodes


Anyway, what brought on all this Yoga and Superhero nonsense was the new post and Instagram challenge  from Peg Mulqueen and the Ashtanga Dispatch team.

Am I partly to blame- see my old post
Updated: Superman bound - Sick for a month!

Not into the whole superhero narrative, these days, it's just practice, no biggie but putting the capes to one side, what a great post.

Love the little Intro's, pithy, concise, like the Links to 'READ MORE', Links to videos, more intros, tutorials, all kinds of goodies, even notes on pranayama and meditation, it's a stunning post.

UPDATE: see the end of the post for my kind of superhero.

A LOT of work went into this post, here's a taste.
and a link to the full post

1. Super Hero Pose: OK, lets face it. The hardest part of our day is getting on our mat – because that also entails getting out of bed. Before dawn. While everyone else is sleeping. To do really hard stuff.
“If we’ve already shown up, we’ve already accomplished the most daunting challenge – and more than half the battle is over.” Read more here.

2. Utkatasana: Utkata is a sanskrit word that translates to wild, frightening, above the usual, and intense – while the pose itself looks like a lightening bolt, burning up your thighs with its fierce electric current as you strike the earth with your feet.

From Kino MacGregor: Be careful not to pooch the lower belly out, but keep it drawn in to support the spine. Lift the spine out of the pelvis and press down into the solid foundation of the legs

2. Hanumanasana: Hanuman is the super-strong, super-rad flying monkey who can carry mountains, jump over seas, and tie you in knots. This champion of Rama teaches us devotion and represents prana, or life force. Who in your life embodies devotion? Give this person a little shout out along with your best attempt at this incredibly challenging posture of 3rd series. 
Every super hero also needs courage in the face of fear and Hanuman is there to help! Just call him through his hymn, the Hanuman Challisa, and fear will be kept at bay as the energetic and powerful lord Hanuman helps champion your battle.

22. Pranayama: This is our LIFE FORCE, our own internal lightsaber. Pranayama is the control and directing of the breath – this is one of the 8 limbs of yoga. By practicing pranayama, gradually we learn how to channel the force that lives within us. Try sitting for 5 minutes before each practice and just follow your breath. Forget about controlling or deepening – but as David Keil would say, develop a relationship with it and fall in love. As Mr. Iyengar once said, “A yogi’s life is measured not in the number of days but in the number of his breaths.”  So make each one count.

Listen to one of my sessions with meditation teacher, John Churchillas he teaches me the mindful practice of breathing.

Dear Kino
"pooch the belly" ?

: )

....and while on the subject of the dispatch, here's Peg interviewing David Keil for the Dispatch. Nice John Scott story early on, '..go away for three months and focus on the breath and bandhas, says John, '...rather than trying so hard with the asana'.


Oh and our friend LU has posted another couple of interviews on Ashtanga Parampara that I'm yet to sit down and read carefully, click on the names to go to the posts.

Lynne Pinette

Turns out Lynne was a student of Derek (talking of Superhero's)

"Because my speciality in Nursing is Obstetrics, I was asked to teach a pregnancy yoga class in Central London, at around age 50. I continued to attend yoga classes in London with Godfrey Deveraux. One weekend he took me to an Ashtanga yoga class with Derek Ireland, I have never looked back.

I'm amazed that you began kapotasana in your mid 60s. That is incredibly inspiring. You spoke about emotional fear. Do you find these elements from within the practice that require us to confront uncomfortable periods a mirror of how we can approach difficult times in life?

Yes. For years I had experimented with other styles of yoga, but nothing affected me as internally, or as deeply, as the first Ashtanga practice with Derek Ireland. It is this which gives one the courage in the practice, and outside the practice, to grow and make changes. 

Changes are never easy, they take time, and they can be complicated, as it is not always just about one’s self, that is when faith in something higher than yourself takes over.

New practitioners may not be able to appreciate the name, Derek Ireland. Can you please share with us who Derek was?  

Derek Ireland was from Brighton, England, he was a student of Pattabhi Jois in the early days of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, and he was instrumental in introducing Ashtanga yoga to Europe. He taught many of today’s teachers and practitioners. He also started ‘The Practice place in Crete Greece. He was dynamic, warm and friendly, and an astute teacher and practitioner. He passed away in 1998". 

I also missed this interview with


Back to the superhero, thread...

Even Patanjali lists yogic superpowers, the siddhis but then goes on to remind us that they are a distraction from Yoga and warns us not to be waylaid  by them

3.38 These experiences resulting from samyama are obstacles to samadhi, but appear to be attainments or powers to the outgoing or worldly mind.
(te samadhau upasargah vyutthane siddhayah)

... unlike perhaps the siddhas

"The Incredible Powers of the Ancient Siddhars 
see earlier post HERE

Siddhars are a type of saint in India who are said to have had many powers and achieved a ‘god-like’ state through specific secret practices that were known only to them. These powers spanned from controlling time and space, to transforming the body, manipulating matter at the molecular level and achieving immortality.

The Siddhars were followers of the God Shiva and according to different texts there were 18 of them. Their teachings and findings were written in the form of poems in the Tamil language, a language spoken mainly by people in South India and parts of Sri Lanka. The poems were very difficult to interpret and were written in an encoded way so that only a few could understand them.

There is a debate as to who was the first Siddhar. Some legends talk about Sri Pathanjali, who was considered to be an incarnation of Adiseshan, the celestial five-headed snake associated with God Vishnu. But the prevailing tradition refers to Agasthya (or Agasthyar) as the first Siddhar, one of the seven sages (or Saptarshis) as mentioned in the Vedic texts, and he was the son of the god Brahma of the Hindu creation story. Agathiyar is considered to be the author of a lot of the first Siddhar literature and he was supposed to have lived in the 7th century BC. About 96 books are attributed to him and that includes writings in alchemy, medicine and spirituality. Apart from the legends that exist, the beginnings of the Siddhars’ are lost in time.

The powers that the Siddhars possessed were separated in categories. The main category included 8 powers called ashta siddhis:

1. To become tiny as the atom within the atom (Anima)
2. To become big in unshakeable proportions (Mahima)
3. To become as light as vapour in levitation (Laghima)
4. To become as heavy as the mountain (Garima)
5. To enter into other bodies in transmigration (Prapti)
6. To be in all things, omni-pervasive (Prakamya))
7. To be lord of all creation in omnipotence (Isatvam)
8. To be everywhere in omnipresence (Vasitvam)
Thirumandiram 1780

But if this is not enough, there are ten secondary siddhis as described in Bhagavata Purana that include the following:

1. Being undisturbed by hunger, thirst, and other bodily appetites
2. Hearing things far away
3. Seeing things far away
4. Moving the body wherever thought goes (teleportation/astral projection)
5. Assuming any form desired
6. Entering the bodies of others
7. Dying when one desires
8. Witnessing and participating in the past times of the gods
9. Perfect accomplishment of one's determination
10. Orders or commands being unimpeded

Siddhar StatuesAmazing as they sound, these abilities could allegedly be achieved with the help of simple tools like controlling breath, concentrating the mind and raising the power of the ‘Kundalini’, which is related to the sexual energy.

Furthermore, the system of healing that the Siddhars possessed was allegedly given to them by the god Murugan, son of the Hindu god Shiva.

Another famous Siddhar was Tirumular, who was a Tamil mystic and writer of 6th century AD and was also one of the 18 Siddhars according to the Tamil Siddha tradition. His main work is named “Tirumantiram”, a 3,000 verse text, which is the foundation of the Southern Shaiva Siddharta School of philosophy".


My favourite Yoga Superhero


Mahavira ( 'Founder' of Jainism)

The Kalpa Sūtra gives a detailed account of his ascetic life

The Venerable Ascetic Mahavira for a year and a month wore clothes; after that time he walked about naked, and accepted the alms in the hollow of his hand. For more than twelve years the Venerable Ascetic Mahivira neglected his body and abandoned the care of it; he with equanimity bore, underwent, and suffered all pleasant or unpleasant occurrences arising from divine powers, men, or animals.
Henceforth the Venerable Ascetic Mahavira was houseless, circumspect in his walking, circumspect in his speaking, circumspect in his begging, circumspect in his accepting (anything), in the carrying of his outfit and drinking vessel; circumspect in evacuating excrements, urine, saliva, mucus, and uncleanliness of the body; circumspect in his thoughts, circumspect in his words, circumspect in his acts; guarding his thoughts, guarding his words, guarding his acts, guarding his senses, guarding his chastity; without wrath, without pride, without deceit, without greed; calm, tranquil, composed, liberated, free from temptations, without egoism, without property; he had cut off all earthly ties, and was not stained by any worldliness: as water does not adhere to a copper vessel, or collyrium to mother of pearl (so sins found no place in him); his course was unobstructed like that of Life; like the firmament he wanted no support; like the wind he knew no obstacles; his heart was pure like the water (of rivers or tanks) in autumn; nothing could soil him like the leaf of a lotus; his senses were well protected like those of a tortoise; he was single and alone like the horn of a rhinoceros; he was free like a bird; he was always waking like the fabulous bird Bharundal, valorous like an elephant, strong like a bull, difficult to attack like a lion, steady and firm like Mount Mandara, deep like the ocean, mild like the moon, refulgent like the sun, pure like excellent gold'; like the earth he patiently bore everything; like a well-kindled fire he shone in his splendour.
After twelve and a half years of rigorous penance he achieved Kevala Jnana i.e., realization of perfect perception, knowledge, power, and bliss. The Acharanga sutra describes Mahavira as all-seeing. The Sutrakritanga elaborates the concept as all-knowing and provides details of other qualities of Mahavira. Wikipedia 

The posture (Vajrasana?) in which Mahavira attained Kevala Jñāna

According to Tattvarthasutra, 2nd century CE Jain text, yoga is the sum of all the activities of mind, speech and body. Umasvati calls yoga the cause of "asrava" or karmic influx as well as one of the essentials—samyak caritra—in the path to liberation. In his Niyamasara, Acarya Kundakunda, describes yoga bhakti—devotion to the path to liberation—as the highest form of devotion. Acarya Haribhadra and Acarya Hemacandra mention the five major vows of ascetics and 12 minor vows of laity under yoga. This has led certain Indologists like Prof. Robert J. Zydenbos to call Jainism, essentially, a system of yogic thinking that grew into a full-fledged religion. The five yamas or the constraints of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali bear a resemblance to the five major vows of Jainism, indicating a history of strong cross-fertilization between these traditions. Wikipedia

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

On blogging and a quick Kindle Paperwhite review

I had the kindest note regarding this blog a short while ago and it made me think how I haven't added to my 'related blog' LIST that much recently ( it's down on the right after the orange link to Simons course and Michelle's Mysore style painting of Krishna). Occasionally I'll come across a blog shared by a friend on fb and remember to add it to my list, I'm sometimes disappointed to find that it wont show up, it's often Wordpress blogs and occasionally because of a sharing setting I believe.

There used to be that blog list a while back that we used to visit over coffee before getting on the mat, what was that called, new posts from all the 'Ashtanga blogs used to appear on it, most of the visits here came from that site and other 'cybershala' blogs. These days most visits seem to come from fb or on a google search and coming across a post I wrote years ago mentioning Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Yoga and Bruce lee. or winchester cathedral.

A few years back I had trouble with the blog and ended up losing my whole related blog list, I rebuilt it as much as I could but lost some for good and then there are others who haven't posted for a couple of years and I just had to delete to make space or because I know many of you are coming here on your phones and I need to trim it down a little.

So a call for related blogs, if you are a regular reader here and there is another blog that's been around for a good three months or so that you think other readers of this one will enjoy then please let me know about it in the comment box. You don't have to say why you like it, just give me the link. so i can take a look, must be so many excellent blogs out there that I've missed.

Now don't go posting your own blog, I'm after recommendations and not blogs that are full of ads or are mainly there to bring traffic to your teaching page, genuine blogs that you read and like, let me know either on this post or on a future post.

Working on Krishnamacharya's Mahavedha (lotus lifted, spun, dropped)
see this LINK

And my own thoughts on blogging, as of ten minutes ago while doing the laundry....

In my own experience blogging works best went you don't think about your readers at all, sorry : )
Appreciate every one who visits, even the critics ( but not the spammers), especially the critics but write for yourself, what interests you currently, or bothers you or that you're trying to work out in your own head ( and in your edits and updates), catharsis even. Don't worry about whether it will ruin your reputation or drive people away, or if you'll appear an idiot a month down the road because you've completely contradicted yourself or made an about turn, write for yourself and if anyone else likes it or enjoys it then great, really that's great but be prepared to be dismissed or readers to vow never to visit again after your next post. My biggest mistakes in the past have been occasionally thinking about readers too much, trying to interest people ( in Vinyasa Krama say) or getting all teacherly or preachy at times. Put stuff up separately that readers can take or leave perhaps.

The time to think about readers is when you think about deleting your blog. Please pause. My own feeling is this blog doesn't really belong to me, I can choose to stop blogging perhaps and how many times have I thought about that, but don't feel I have the right to delete it.

...of course this post contradicts most of the above

Two new Tengui

Quick Kindle Paperwhite review

Will add to this later but just want to say that I love this, hadn't been sure whether to get one, tolerate books on the ipad. I think the only novels I had managed to read were Maya's but the kindle is excellent, really has the feel of a book, doesn't tire the eyes and you can read it at night ( make sure you get the paperwhite not the original).

And YES, it's esay to send you pdf's here, and you can convert other formats via a free app called calibre and also yes, the battery does last forever.

Oh and also YES, my Vinyasa Krama book is ruddy awful on it, pictures too small and the youtube links don't work. It's fine on the kindle app for ipad but not on the kindle.

Feel free to ask questions in comments.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Two minute (just about) niralumba sirsasana (unsupported headstand) made possible by spinal breathing

Stunning video and blog post from Simon Borg-Olivier  on breathing around the spine in headstand. I wouldn't recommend trying this at home unless you have explored and established the Ashtanga 2nd series headstands which includes less supported headstands and as well as an established pranayama practice... the breathing however can be explored in samastithi (or perhaps in tadasana (

"In this type of the breathing, which is best learnt from a seated or normal standing position... "
Simon Borg-Olivier

It's the headstand that catches the eye of course but this video and blog post is ALL about the breath. follow the link to Simon' and Bianca Machliss' post in full on their blog here...
which includes Simon's progressive Pranayama sheets from his book and online course

from Simon's the YOUTUBE notes 

"In this two minute video, Yoga Synergy Director and physiotherapist, Simon Borg-Olivier demonstrates breathing around the spine in such way the expansion due to inhalation is first seen and felt in the lower back then the upper back, then the chest and finally the abdomen. Then the contraction due to exhalation begins in the lower back, then the upper back, then the chest and finally the abdomen. In this type of the breathing, which is best learnt from a seated or normal standing position, the inhalation up the back from the tailbone up the spine is quite subtle so it appears that the chest is being inflated first and the abdomen second. Similarly on exhalation up the back from the tailbone up the spine is quite subtle so it appears that the chest is being compressed first and the abdomen draws inwards second. In the final part of the video Simon holds his breath out and performs an expansive uddiyana bandha, which is an expansion of the chest and upper back like an attempt at inhaling into the chest with a relaxed abdomen but without actually inhaling. This is followed by an isolation of the rectus abdominis (nauli)". see below for more notes on this approach to breathing.

Breathing around the spine

a. Expansion due to inhalation is first seen and felt in the lower back 
b. then the upper back, 
c. then the chest 
d. and finally the abdomen. 

Then the contraction due to exhalation...

a. begins in the lower back, 
b. then the upper back, 
c. then the chest and 
d. finally the abdomen. 

See my previous post on Simon's 'spinal, diaphragmatic breathing', I've been practicing spinal, diaphragmatic breathing as outlined in the post below in my Slow half primary/half 2nd series Ashtanga (Vinyasa Krama) practice ever since.


and this overview of natural breathing

and my interview with Simon from the yoga Rainbow Festival last year
( follow this link for the program in English for this months Yoga Rainbow festival

Interview with Simon Borg-Olivier: Breath, Kumbhaka, Bandhas in Ashtanga and vinyasa Yoga. Yoga Rainbow Festival 2014

NOTE:  "I have apologise that on the video at 7:30 - 7:45 i made a mistake in what i said - I actually meant to say "The only way to ensure oxygen gets to the cells is by increasing CO2" and by not by decreasing CO2 as in unintentionally spoke - thank you Mick Lawton for pointing this out
thank You to Eva Kincsei for filming this and getting the video to Anthony". Simon

follow the  link below for the full transcription

My earlier post for the Ashtanga 2nd series headstands

more detailed notes from the Youtube post

This type of circular breathing around the spine has many benefits. Inhalation up the back of the body tractions the spine and brings blood to to inter-vertebral joints. Inhalation down the front of the body (i.e. breathing into the chest first) relieves prolapse of the internal organs, which can help to remove pressure of the intestines, reproductive organs and the bladder, as well as improve venous blood to the heart. Exhalation up the back of the can help to remove stale blood from the spinal veina (which have no one-way back flow valves like the veins in the limbs have) and strengthen the multifidus muscles that are so important to healthy spinal function. Exhalation down the front of the body helps to massage the internal organs as well as helps to slow the heart rate and calm the nervous system

Simply breathing into the chest has many benefits including relieving prolapse of the internal organs of the lower trunk, allowing the lungs to become fully inflated and also freeing the joints of the ribs, the upper back and the neck. However, most people tend to only get minimal benefits from breathing into the chest because they do it by first inhibiting the diaphragm by tensing the muscles of forced abdominal exhalation or the the anal constrictor muscles.

Exhaling using first upper transverse abdominis then lower abdominis fibres, as shown in the video, can also be very good for massaging the internal organs, mobilising the lumbar vertebrae to relieve lower back pain, and also assist in the secretion of hormones from the endocrine glands. Most people, however, can not isolate the upper and lower fibres of the transverse abdomens without also activating the oblique muscles of the abdomen that inhibit diaphragmatic function; the correct functioning of the reproductive system, immune system and digestive system; as well as the natural mobility of the lumbar spine.

If you wish to learn more please see our blog at Yoga Synergy also runs regular teaching training course with Simon Borg-Olivier and/or Bianca Machliss in Australia, India and elsewhere around the world (please see We also run comprehensive and award winning online courses that are described below. These courses are great for anyone interested in yoga, exercise or health but they for anyone who wants ongoing yoga teacher training.

This is a 'must do' course for anyone who wants to practice/teach safe and effective yoga. You will learn how to use 9 main joint complexes, 20 muscle group pairs, muscles, 3 main nerve reflexes, 10 circulatory pumps (mudra systems), 18 muscle stabilising coactivations (bandhas), 9 nerve tensioning postures (mudras) and 8 main breath-control exercises (pranayamas).

"It is very important, but not enough, to know where your muscles and bones are ... You have to know what to do with them!"
This course is the public version of the award winning RMIT university course written and presented by physiotherapists and yoga teachers Simon Borg-Olivier and Bianca Machliss. It is the culmination of the 30 years of teaching experience and the practical application of the 'Yoga Anatomy and Physiology' course.
Each course is 120 hours fully online and is CEP points credited.

Yoga Synergy Online Teacher Training and Education

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Handstand in the old text Yogāsana-Jaina

Nice find and share from my friend Oscar, this unpublished Jain asana text, Yogāsana-Jaina 

Satapathy B, Sahay GS. A brief introduction of "Yogāsana - Jaina": An unpublished yoga manuscript. Yoga Mimamsa 2014;46:43-55

See here for the link to the study of the text on the Yoga Mimamsa site

Some friends of mine will be excited to see handstand represented here, not just in any book on asana but a book of asana for the Jain's spiritual study, seems handstand wasn't just for 'fun', although I would boringly argue that it still belongs in your home yoga shala.... with all our other asana (see (Updated) Yoga and Boredom - the 'fun' factor). 

"NOTE 8 These āsanas also give us information about the āsanas popular in Jaina tradition. We have the information of two traditions of āsana identified as "MUNI" and "YOGI" tradition according to Haṭhapradīpikā (Digambar & Kokaje, 1998, Ch. I /18). The āsanas described in the text under study seem to be the āsanas of Jaina tradition, especially the āsanas such as Dīkṣāsana, Vyākhyānāsana, and so on. This also provides a reason to think about the possibility of various traditions of āsanas".

I remember reading some advice regarding setting up meditation space which I carried over into my asana practice space. The idea was that the meditation space, if possible and our domestic situation permits, is made... sacred or at least 'special'. Ideally a separate room used only for meditation, contemplation and or asana/yoga. If ones partner wants to engage in a domestic you leave the room, you don't hold an argument in your meditation/practice space, you come to associate it with peace and reflection. It is not perhaps a place for play, if you want to workshop an/some asana you might prefer to do it elsewhere ( I tended to explore postures I was working on in the evening, it did blur the distinction sometimes). 
I always liked that advice and I've come to think of it recently more and more in relation to asana. We can treat our headstand, or here handstand as a meditative practice, we enter the asana, any asana and look towards samadhi (yes, in asana, why not). 

"In Patanjali's Eight Limbs, concentration and meditation are the sixth and seventh steps of Raja Yoga (see p. 1 6). The eighth is samadhi or superconsciousness, a state beyond time, space and causation where body and mind are transcended and total unity exists. In samadhi, the meditator and the object of concentration become one - for it is the ego that creates a sense of separation or duality. According to the ancient Vedas, concentration or dharana is fixing the mind on one thought for twelve seconds; medita­tion or dhyana is equal to twelve dharanas - about two and a half minutes - and samadhi  to twelve dhyanas - just under half an hour. Companion to Sivananda yoga

However, treating asana as toys, playthings one day, meditative practice the next perhaps blurs that meditative association. 
But then perhaps the distinction is always clear, the opening and closing prayer preserving that 'sacred'/special place for practice, wherever we may find ourselves. 
An argument for not faffing about between opening and closing.

Back to the text

Also interesting to see Chatauranga dandasana (see below) and some standing postures.The suggestion in the past has been that Krishnamacharya invented or introduced to yoga standing postures, which always seemed faintly ridiculous given that standing while watching the sun come up with one leg folded  is as old as the sun itself.... well, almost.

āsana No. 46 - Vṛkṣāsana 
fig 26 āsana No. 46 - Vṛkṣāsana (handstand)

āsana No. 46 - Vṛkṣāsana [vide [Figure 26]: The illustration provided in the current manuscript suggests it to be a hand-stand, i.e. keeping the whole body straight in a topsy-turvy position and balancing the whole body on both the palms with straight hands. This hand-stand variation of Vṛkṣāsana is very different from the popularly known variation available in Gheraṇḍasaṃhitā (Digambar & Gharote, 1978, Ch. II / 36), where it has been described as an āsana of standing on one leg with one heel placed at the thigh joint.

If you can't beat 'em.... and the Jain's say it's ok...
Looking at the picture in the Yogāsana-Jaina ,
perhaps I need to think about bringing my head 
through and straightening more.

āsanas mentioned in the manuscript

There are references of 107 (āsana no. 18 is missing) āsanas, of which only 17 have been described in Sanskrit verses and their translation has also been provided. The rest of the āsanas are available only with their names and illustrations. Following are the list of āsanas recorded in this manuscript and presented through graphical pictures.

Nice to see Chatuaranga dandasana in the text here called Maralasana, or more popularly at the time of writing Hansasana

fig 20 āsana No. 31 - Marālāsana or more popularly at the time of writing Hansasana - more recently chatauranga dandasana

āsana No. 31 - Marālāsana [vide [Figure 20]: On the basis of the illustration provided, we can say that this āsana is popularly known as Hansāsana. This is actually a simplified form of Mayϋrāsana. Ladies who have an anatomically weak abdomen are not suggested Mayϋrāsana ; instead Hansāsana is recommended for them. In Hansāsana, we can keep the toes on the ground due to which the vigorous pressure on the abdominal area is reduced, and hence it is suggested for ladies. In the current Ms. also, the toes are shown resting on the ground. Hansāsana is known here by the name "Marālāsana."

And for moon days Relaxasana

āsana No. 13- Dakṣiṇāsana [vide [Figure 12]: This is done in a sleeping position on the right side and by keeping the body and limbs straight. The head is kept elevated by supporting it with the right palm. The left hand is placed on the left thigh. The verse suggests recitation of " śaṃ" seed mantra denoting Parameṣṭhī. The translator has added a point in translation that doing this āsana from the left side can also yield the same result as dong it from the right.

Nanzoin Temple in Sasaguri, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan


Intro to the text

"Considering the need to unearth the knowledge of yoga hidden in various handwritten manuscripts, the Philosophico-Literary Research Department (PLRD) of Kaivalyadhama, Lonavala has undertaken a long-term project on unpublished manuscripts. The manuscript (Ms.) used for the current study is totally devoted to the description of āsanas and describes around 108 āsanas. The title of the Ms. is "Yogāsana-Jaina." There are many manuscripts and published texts which describe the number of āsanas as ranging from 84 to 100 and even more. One of the published books that describe more than 84 āsanas is Jogapradīpyakā (Maheshananda, Sharma, Sahay, & Bodhe, 2006). Some of the unpublished manuscripts are Yogāsanamālā (Sacitra) (Jaitrāma, n.d.), āsanayoga (Kapālakuraṇṭaka, n.d.), and Siddhāntamuktāvalī (n.d.). Out of the unpublished manuscripts named above, i.e. Yogāsanamālā (Sacitra), is devoted to the description of āsanas in a dialect of Hindi and provides illustrations of āsanas. However, the manuscript used for the current study, "Yogāsana-Jaina,0" seems to be different and interesting because it represents one special sect of religion and the āsanas described seem to be especially for the followers of that religion. It also provides the illustration of each āsana. This Ms. was procured from Rajasthan Prachya Vidya Pratishthana, Bikaner, Rajasthan, a copy of which is available at Kaivalyadhama Library (Accession No. R635y8/15294). We find this manuscript referred to in the Encyclopaedia of āsanas (Gharote, Jha, Devnath, & Sakhalkar, 2006). The compiler of the said encyclopaedia has referred to all the āsanas available in "Yogāsana-Jaina," but has not provided composite and analytical information about this Ms. The current study was undertaken in order to attract the āsana practitioners as well as scholars toward this manuscript, 
so that they are benefitted from the not so easily accessible information inside it".

The content

A general estimate about the content of the manuscript
  1. The manuscript has a total of 66 folios. Twenty-four āsanas have been given independent status, i. e. one āsana in one folio (refer Figure 1), whereas 42 folios have been presented with the illustrations of two āsanas in one folio.
    Figure 1: Dīkṣāsana with Note (Folio No - 1)

    Click here to view
  2. The manuscript seems to be a compilation or is at least rewritten by the translator of the verses available on 17 āsanas. āsana no. 18 is missing.
  3. Nothing is known about the author of this text nor do we have any additional information about the Ms. As the beginning statement and colophon are missing, nothing can be said with regard to the author.
  4. Seventeen āsanas have been described in Sanskrit, along with their translation. A total of 35 verses have been devoted for the description of 17 āsanas.
  5. The translation of two verses indicates that the translator is not the original writer of the manuscript "Yogāsana." We find this in the context of the translation of 11 th āsana, i.e. Siddhāsana, and the 13 th āsana, i.e. Dakṣiṇāsana.
  6. While translating the verse on Siddhāsana, the translator writes that this āsana is also known as MuktāsanaGuptāsana, andVajrāsana, as we find in Haṭhapradīpikā (Digambar & Kokaje, 1998, Ch. I / 37). The addition of Muktāsana in this context indicates that he is not the original writer of the manuscript or verses but only a compiler, and also that he was familiar with Haṭhapradīpikā. Similarly, we find that in the context of Dakṣiṇāsana (āsana no. 17), while translating the verse on this āsana, the translator writes, "According to me, the same effect is possible if we do it from the left side." This sentence confirms that the original writer of the verses is different from the translator.
  7. The selection of āsanas, the way they have been described, and their illustrations, all indicate that this manuscript and the āsanas contained therein are related with the followers of Jaina religion. Even in the Jaina religion, these āsanas seem to represent the śvetāmbar Jaina sect of Jaina religion, which insists on wearing white clothes and keeping the mouth covered with a piece of white cloth. The mouth covered with a piece of cloth is visible in the illustration of the last āsana named "Vyākhyānāsana" (see āsana No. 108 of the current Ms.)
  8. These āsanas also give us information about the āsanas popular in Jaina tradition. We have the information of two traditions ofāsana identified as "MUNI" and "YOGI" tradition according to Haṭhapradīpikā (Digambar & Kokaje, 1998, Ch. I /18). The āsanas described in the text under study seem to be the āsanas of Jaina tradition, especially the āsanas such as Dīkṣāsana,Vyākhyānāsana, and so on. This also provides a reason to think about the possibility of various traditions of āsanas.
  9. The sketches provided as illustrations also give a reflection of a Jaina Muni or a Jaina follower.
  10. Out of the 17 āsanas described in metrical forms in the Anuṣtup metre, we find an instruction of meditation upon Arihanta Deva in 9āsanas. These nine āsanas are: DīkṣāsanaPadmāsana, Svastikāsana, Nivṛtyāsana, Paρjāsana, Bhagāsana, Devaguruvandanāsana, Paρcāṅanamaskārāsana, and Kārmukāsana. We also find instructions for the recitation of "OM" inSiddhāsana and " śaṃ" referring to Parameṣṭhī in Dakṣiṇāsana.


āsana No. 12- Bhagāsana [vide [Figure 11]: Its technique is similar to the technique of Nādānusandhāna described in Haṭhapradīpikā (Digambar & Kokaje, 1998, Ch. IV/68). However, there is no mention of Nādānusandhāna in the current Ms. This particular practice is grouped under Mudrā, and known as ṣaṇmukhī Mudrā as well as Yonimudrā. It seems that the practice is associated with the name Yoni, therefore, here it has been named Bhagāsana. Bhag and Yoni denote the same part of the female body. The special instruction is to meditate upon Arihant in this position.

Satapathy B, Sahay GS. A brief introduction of "Yogāsana - Jaina": An unpublished yoga manuscript. Yoga Mimamsa 2014;46:43-55

Satapathy B, Sahay GS. A brief introduction of "Yogāsana - Jaina": An unpublished yoga manuscript. Yoga Mimamsa [serial online] 2014 [cited 2015 Apr 20];46:43-55. Available from:

See my previous post on Chatauranga dandasana (LINK)

see also perhaps
my post from last year

Origin's of Modern Yoga Asana: Comparison of Krishnamacharya's teachers drawings and Norman's Sjoman's Sriitattvanidhi (1880's) presentation in his Mysore palace book


Yoga and Jainism

"The practice of Yoga in Jainism is quite simple to follow, as opposed to its inclusion and practice in other religions. Jainism makes several concessions for the practitioners of Yoga. Firstly, the belief of Jainism in Yoga is based on the tenet that the Yoga is a combination of all the activities of mind, body, and speech. Jain leaders have hailed Yoga as the path to the much-sought after liberation of the soul. According to them, Yoga involves both asrava meaning acts of karma as well as samyak caitra, an essential quality. It is a blend of both these factors that helps one attain liberation.

Jain gurus have gone ahead and referred to Yoga as the highest form of devotion. Several leaders of this religion have prescribed five major vows to be taken by ascetics who practice Yoga. There is a separate section of 12 minor vows that have to be observed by the laity. Given the way Yoga has shaped the thinking in Jainism, many experts of this religion today say that Jainism is, in fact, yogic thinking that has branched out as a separate religion. Such is the influence of Yoga on Jainism. 

The heavy influence of Yoga on Jainism is visible in their architecture as well. Jain temples and icons that have survived till date often depict a picture of a Jain tirthankara meditating in a yogic posture. Most often than not, these yogic postures are ‘padmasana’ or ‘kayotsarga’. According to Jain scriptures, the founder of Jainism, Lord Mahavira is said to have attained enlightenment while he was meditating in the yogic position of ‘mulabandhasana’. This posture taken by Lord Mahavira was first revealed in Acaranga Sutra. It also finds mention in yet another Jain scripture called Kalpsutra. 

It is said Patanjali’s eightfold path of Yoga is inspired by five major vows prescribed for the ascetics in Jainism. The interconnection between Yoga and Jainism is admitted by various experts in the field. According to them, this interconnection is even older than or nearly as old as the Indus Valley Civilization. The stone seals found at the excavation site, they say, are indicative of this influence. Yet another evidence of strong links between Jainism and Yoga are the similar postures taken by various Jain tirthankaras. Many experts say that these links do not just signify a deep relationship between Jainism and Yoga, but also reveal the extent of influence of Jainism on Yoga. 

Some of the earliest canonical text belonging to Jainism, such as Acarangasutra, and other religious texts such as Niyamsara and Tattvarthasutra, lay down the rules of practicing Yoga, both for the ascetics as well as the common man. Other scriptures that have references of Yoga in the religion of Jainism are Ishtopadesh by Pujyapada written in 5th century CE. There are texts written by Acharya Haribhadra Suri called Yoga Bindu, Yoga Drishtisamuccya, Yoga sataka, Yoga Vimisika. Yoga refers to traditional physical,mental and spritual disciplines, originating in ancient India,whose goal is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility.The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Within Hindu philosophy, the word yoga is used to refer to one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy;Yoga in this sense is based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and is also known as Raja Yaga to distinguish it from later schools.Patanjali's system is discussed and elaborated upon in many classical Hindu texts, and has also been influential in Buddhism and Jainism.The Bhagavadgita introduces distinctions such as Jnana Yoga("yoga based on knowledge") vs.Karma yoga ("yoga based on action"). Other systems of philosophy introduced in Hinduism during the medieval period are Bhakti Yoga and Hatha yogaThe Sanskrith word yoga has the literal meaning of "yoke", from a root yuj. As a term for a system of abstract meditation or mental abstraction it was introduced by Patanjali in the 2nd century BC. Someone who practices yoga or follows the yoga philosophy with a high level of commitment is called a yogi/yogini.

KAYOTSARGA : Total relaxation with self-awareness 

Kayotsarga may be practised either standing or sitting or lying down. For beginners, it is advisable to adopt lying down posture.In standing posture, you have to stand straight with the spine and neck in the straight line but without stiffness. Keep your feet parallel to each other with a distance of about 10 cms between them. Let your arms hang down loosely from the shoulder-joints, close to your body with the palms open facing inwards and fingers straight and pointing down".

Parsvanatha with seven-hooded cobra canopy, standing in kayotsarga pose, Chakravarti Paloja, Gulbarga, Southern India, 12th century. Black shale sculpture. f V and A London.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Chatauranga long stay and Vinyasa. Plus Can you sweat toxins out of your body?

"..there must be 4 angulas* of space between the body and the ground. In this position, if you keep a stick or rod on top of the body, the rod must touch the body completely. We need to keep our body this straight.." ~ Yoga Makaranda

(*4 = 1 angulas dhanu graha (bow before) = 62 mm to 83 mm)

picture from Ashtanga Yoga Center Of Bangkok. - AYBKK
Thank you to Tonia of Yoga with Tonia for sharing this one, great fb page, nice content shared.
Pattabhi Jois 

Note: For Krishnamacharya, Chatauranga was an asana, with a vinyasa to and from it, he recommends staying for 10 minutes ( I do just five long, slow breaths and call it quits). For Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Chatauranga is treated more as a vinyasa, in the sense of transition to and from an asana which might explain the different set up.

Also in Krishnamacharya's instructions he mentions that Rod should be able to lie flat along the back and was no doubt aiming for that in the picture. 

In several places Krishnamacharys will direct us to look at the picture, or study the picture carefully suggesting he was very much involved in the direction of all the photos taken for Yoga Makaranda.what we see in Krishnamacharya's pictures is what he wanted us to see and be informed by.


Krishnamacharya in his 80s from Yogasangalu 4th edition


Can you sweat toxins out of your body?
"Don't bother going out of your way to sweat (unless you really enjoy it and have perfect kidneys)"

Bought some scales today, put on three kilo since leaving UK and coming to Japan ( with summer coming it'll drop back off). Something else I noticed, I used to sweat between 1 and 2 kilo into my yoga towel, 

...this afternoons practice ( after work) only 0.2 kilo, barely a drop of sweat..... 

All this abdominal breathing perhaps see THIS post.

I remember reading once before that sweating was the least effective of the five or six ways the body has of removing toxins from the body. This article goes even further....

Can you sweat toxins out of your body?
Did you know your body has its own air conditioning system when it becomes too hot? It’s called sweating. Your body releases water on your skin, which then evaporates in order to cool down to the normal temperature of 98.6 degrees.

Sweat is 99% water combined with a small amount of salt, proteins, carbohydrates and urea, says UAMS family medicine physician Dr. Charles Smith. Therefore, sweat is not made up of toxins from your body, and the belief that sweat can cleanse the body is a myth.

“You cannot sweat toxins out of the body,” Dr. Smith says. “Toxins such as mercury, alcohol and most drugs are eliminated by your liver, intestines or kidneys.”

Some people have even participated in something called a “sweat lodge.” Some Native American cultures still use the lodge as a very important purification ceremony. However, Dr. Smith warns that these can become dangerous and sometimes result in injury or, in severe cases, death.

“By forcing your body to perspire through heat exposure or heavy exercise, you can cause your kidneys to save water and actually hang on to any toxins that may be circulating in your system,” he says.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Because I'm a Kidney Stones suffer I believe that excessive sweating is bad for me. What I need is for the extra liquid I take on board to flush through the kidneys not be sweated from the body before it reaches the them. Simon Borg-Oliver's abdominal breathing, which results in us sweating less may be a godsend for the coming 90% humidity Osaka summer.

Also this from the LA Times

You sweat, but toxins likely stay

Infrared saunas are a popular detox option. But experts say chemicals aren't washed out that way.

from the article
"But, Glaser (Dr. Dee Anna Glaser, a professor of dermatology at St. Louis University and founding member of the International Hyperhidrosis Society), adds, in the big picture, sweat has only one function: Cooling you down when you overheat. "Sweating for the sake of sweating has no benefits," she says. "Sweating heavily is not going to release a lot of toxins."

In fact, Glaser says, heavy sweating can impair your body's natural detoxification system. As she explains, the liver and kidneys -- not the sweat glands -- are the organs we count on to filter toxins from our blood. If you don't drink enough water to compensate for a good sweat, dehydration could stress the kidneys and keep them from doing their job. "If you're not careful, heavy sweating can be a bad thing," she says.

Sweating definitely won't help clear the body of mercury or other metals, says Donald Smith, a professor of environmental toxicology at UC Santa Cruz, who studies treatments for metal poisoning. Almost all toxic metals in the body are excreted through urine or feces, he says. And less than 1% are lost through sweat. In other words, you'll do far more detoxifying in the bathroom than you ever could in a sauna".

But see also this article

Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review

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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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