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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Ashtanga/Yoga and Ageing



3. On yoga practice and ageing - BKS Iyengar


















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1.



Note: Also in Italian HERE

If we accept, and this comes from Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois themselves, that the Advanced asana were intended for demonstration purposes....., should we be practicing such advanced asana daily..., or at least four days a week.... and practicing in this way over decades. This isn't intended as a criticism of Ashtanga vinyasa (there are many advanced postures in Vinyasa Krama that we are encouraged to try), I find great value in practicing the same asana daily,, it's a wonderful way to build discipline, but given the rise in the number of practitioners and the number who have moved on to advanced asana and the number of 'superstars' shilling their Advanced practice to put seats on mats in workshops and sell product, is this wise. The occasional demonstration of the more extreme asana of the Advanced series, practiced by an experienced practitioner may do no lasting harm but practicing those 'demonstration intended' asana, day in day out, over decades may be a different matter..........


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2.


Ramaswami with his teacher of thirty plus years, Krishnamacharya

Ageing
Changes take place all the time. Patanjali recognizes three changes or transformations called parinama-s.One is changes in a person due to circumstances called avastha parinama. Then the changes that come about due to efflux of time called lakshana parinama. Then of course transformations brought about by specific individual efforts on oneself. These specific activities which help to brings about fundamental changes of dormant but inherent qualities or dharmas are called dharma parinama-- like with yogic practice one is able to transform a habitually distracted mind to a mind or chitta which can remain in a state of intense focus called ekagrata. This transformation is called ekagrata parinama......



3.




You may have no problems at all up to the age of fifty or sixty. After that, the real problem arises when the tissues of the body do not bear the load. What I practise now is more difficult than what I did when I was young or struggled to learn. Though today, I don’t consider those practices as very hard although I practised ten hours a day then. Today, it is a big fight between the body and the mind. The body says, “I can’t do it.” The mind says, “Do not force me.” BKS Iyengar
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"Most people want to take joy without suffering, I'll take both. 
See how far suffering takes me" BKS Iyengar Light on Life.
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We may not attain samadhi but perhaps the work we do in exploring the limbs of Ashtanga practice may prepare us somewhat for the suffering and hardship that awaits us. Few if any manage to avoid suffering completely. We do not seek pain or suffering but when it can not be avoided, reduced , deflected, we must be prepared perhaps to face it unflinchingly with dignity and forbearance and learn too from this pervasive aspect of life what it can teach us. 

Below is perhaps the most affecting article I've read on yoga, I'm tempted to print it out, frame it, and put it on the wall of the home shala. I've also included some notes on Iyengar's passing and a couple more articles, titled 'Seeing is believing' on BKS Iyengar practicing in his 80s........


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4.





Last week I posted a review of Pushpam Yoga magazine that included an article by Phillipa Asher. on ageing/maturing in the practice.
Philippa's article, the second article in the magazine on ageing or maturing in the practice was an abridgement of a longer article on Phillipa's website, she kindly gave me permission to quote some more from the article, I loved these quotes which is why they are so long. Ideally it would be better to click on the title and follow the link to get the quotes in context.

The photos's are screenshots from Philippa's Advanced B practice that I shared last week, i discuss maha bhandasana and the advanced seated asana in the second half of the post. i also have an evolution of Ashtanga Advanced series in the works.....



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5.



Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Asana (and pranayama) as preparation for the third stage of a yoga life. ALSO Avidya. Solace in the kalama sutra. Antharanga_Sadhana (Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi).




Asana (and pranayama) as preparation for the third stage of a yoga life



Yesterday I posted a page to fb from TKV Desikachar's (Krishnamacharya's eldest son) excellent book Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and practice. In this page from the book, Desikachar looked at two lesser know meanings of the word Yoga.

Yoga as 'reaching a point we have not reached before' 
and 

yoga as 'focused action'.



These may be a comfort next time somebody suggests our two hour focused asana practice isn't yoga. Krishnamacharya wrote of Yoga for the three stages of life (see appendix), in the first and second stage of life a lot of asana and pranayama is expected, in fact Krishnamacharya goes further and suggests we shouldn't perhaps be thinking of Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) until we reach sixty and the third stage of life.

In this second stage of life then, in our asana and pranayama practice, we can perhaps focus on the two meanings of yoga below and begin to prepare ourselves for the third stage of life to come and the practice that stage offers us?


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6.






"For people over fifty, it is enough to practice some of the easier and more useful asanas, as well as some of the pranayamas.  
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois - Yoga Mala.......


I just watched this video from David Garrigue on Flexibility within the Ashtanga Lineage and it reminded me of a post I thought I had put up a few months back. Turns out it was still sitting there in draft unposted. Thought I would just add David's video as well as another post I wrote on this topic a few years ago.


The video below was originally a Live Periscope...... thing (what do you call those, video, Live stream?).


"Many of us make our way through our daily practice, doing the best we can within our given set of circumstances. We each have to contend with our too long list of outer and inner obstacles, as well as physical and psychological limitations. And as if simply facing the challenges of daily practice were not enough, many of us faithfully do our daily version of practice and yet still we feel somehow unworthy, like fakes or a phony's, like somehow our efforts aren't good enough, our practices not deep, committed, strong, fluid enough.......


These were some of thoughts that came up around the periscope talk on flexibility within the ashtanga system that I gave a few days ago. I answered the question of a 61 year old woman with some serious physical limitations who was feeling the way many of us feel as described above. Believing these feelings almost succeeded in causing her to quit practicing. She wrote me after tuning into the broadcast, and told me that she took 'copious notes'! Here's her summary of my message to us all who are part of the ashtanga lineage:


1. I can do Ashtanga with all my limitations. Everyone has something (the too long list! "we are all pregnant") I am not alone.


2. Do the best I can with what I have.


3. It doesn’t have to be exacting if it is sincere and serious.


4. I can be part of the Ashtanga family".


Here's the post that's been sitting in draft.

I was asked if practicing a reduced practice and departing somewhat from the Ashtanga sequence(s) constituted a departure from the Ashtanga tradition/lineage.....

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7.



Coming up to ten years of practice....
To put that in perspective, Richard Freeman has been practising fifty years, Manju Jois, sixty..
I've been asking myself what I think..., actually believe, this practice is all about....



Posted mainly to see how my thinking may change over the next ten years... and the next....


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"As the bodily constitution of each human being is different, it is important to practice the asanas accordingly. The benefit to be had from one asana or pranayama can be derived just as well from another that better suits the structure of a person’s body". 



Those who don't know any better (usually from outside Ashtanga but unfortunately sometimes from within) tend to think of Ashtanga as a rigid, fixed, system, a one size fits all, a fit yourself to the sequence rather than the other way around kind of a deal. It's understandable I suppose, when you present a sequence as a sequence on a cheat sheet it does look kind of fixed and to be fair to the critics some do seem to teach it that way".
It's not been my experience however,  but then I'm a home Ashtangi, I started out with David Swenson's Ashtanga book with several variations sitting alongside the state of an asana, hell there was even the occasional prop. And then at the back of David's book there were the short versions of practice, 10 minutes, 20, 45 minute variations of the sequence, this was my introduction to Ashtanga. I continued to approach my practice this way, adapting, using variations, the occasional prop, to work towards a posture I was struggling with.
Now that Sharath has his own Ashtanga book out I hope people still buy his grandfather's Yoga Mala. If you're only going to buy one please still go with Yoga Mala  it's a beautiful book ( surely Pattabhi Jois had his teacher Krishnamacharya's Yoga Mala on the table next to his typewriter/notebook).

I keep stumbling upon sections I'd either missed or forgotten like these on the flexibility inherent in our practice.

Flexibility within Ashtanga 1.

"For people over fifty, it is enough to practice some of the easier and more useful asanas, as well as some of the pranayamas. Those who have been practicing for many years, however, can do any asana or pranayama without a problem. Older people who want to start yoga, however, will find practicing the following ten asanas sufficient [see Chapter 2 for detailed descriptions of individual asanas]: first, the Surya Namaskara (types 1 and 2); then Paschimattanasana; Sarvangasana; Halasana; Karnapidasana; Urdhva Padmasana; Pindasana; Matsyasana; Uttana Padasana; and Shirshasana. It is preferable to do these in concert with the vinyasas [breathing and movement systems], but if this is not possible, then practicing while focusing on rechaka and puraka will suffice. Shirshasana should be practiced for at least ten minutes, and the rest, for at least ten rechaka and puraka while in the state of the asana [see fn. 39]. By practicing in this way, the body and sense organs will become firm, the mind purified, longevity will be increased, and the body will be filled with fresh energy.
For the middle-aged, it is best to do all the asanas. The more they are practiced, the stronger the body becomes, and obstacles such as disease cease to be a problem. Pranayama is easier, the mind becomes more harmonious as the quality of sattva [purity] comes to predominate, and intellectual power and longevity are augmented.

For the very old, however, who find the practice of Sarvangasana, Halasana, Uttana Padasana, Shirshasana, and Padmasana too difficult, it is enough to practice mahabandha daily, as well as rechaka kumbhaka pranayama, puraka kumbhaka pranayama, samavritti vishamavritti pranayama, and sithali pranayama. These will help them live happier and longer lives, and will insulate them from disease.

The weak and the sick, too, should gradually practice suitable asanas and pranayamas, and over time, as their strength increases, their practices should also increase. In this way, the diseases of the sick and the strength-lessness of the weak will be eliminated, leaving them healthy and vigorous.
The aspirant that goes to a Guru will find that the Guru will tailor his practice to his particular bodily constitution." p28 From Shri K. Pattabhi Jois' Yoga Mala

...the more useful asana?

People over fifty.... focus on the more useful asana. Sometimes I think Krishnamachrya's personal practice (see previous post) is a distillation of of his original Ashtanga, of Vinyasa Krama, what is left if you strip it down to it's essentials......



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9.








Just stumbled  across a stunning bit of footage released by KYM a few weeks back of Krishnamacharya aged 96 going through a  practice he devised to cope with a fractured hip.



Indomitable comes to mind......



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10.





In his excellent first book Ramaswami presents the three different stages of life when different approaches to yoga may be considered appropriate.




Notice that in youth a focus on asana is considered appropriate. Worth bearing in mind perhaps whenever your tempted to claim that practicing asana is NOT yoga. And, if you become criticised for not exploring pranayama or meditation or dipping into yoga philosophy but rather just focusing on your asana practice then you are in fact following the program, so just smile politely......



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11.

Monday 22 January 2012





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

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

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

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

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

Ashtanga Rishi Blog post series
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, first day Paschimottanasana to Janu sirsasana A
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, second day  Janu Sirsasana B to Navasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, third day Bhuja pindasana to badha konasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fourth day Upavishta konasana to Supta bandhasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, fifth day Pasasana to Kapotasana
Ashtanga Rishi Approach, sixth day Supta vajrasana to Ardha Matsyendrasana
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Sunday, 29 July 2012





Down below is Gregor's FB status update from this morning on how the body and practice changes as one gets older.

This isn't just a question of physical capability of course, recently I've been drawn more towards extended pranayama and meditation practice causing me to cut back on the asana. However, there's still this nagging voice that keeps whispering in my ear, telling me that I have a few years of good asana in me yet and that I should be making the most of it.

I've been trying to work a post all week about 'letting go', letting go of the fancy asana, of the high level of strength and fitness that comes with a full on advanced asana practice, letting go of the cool kids club.... and just accepting that a strong asana focus is a preparatory stage as far as traditional ashtanga is concerned, pranayama too, sooner or later your likely to want to cut those limbs back a little ( or a lot) to make time for your meditation practice.....may as well be sooner rather than later.

'...When once a fair proficiency has been attains in asana and pranayama, the aspirant to Dhyana has to regulate the time to be spent on each and choose the particular Asanas and pranayama which will have the most effect in strengthening the higher organs and centres of perception and thus aid him in attaining Dhyana." - Krishnamacharya

Anyway, here's Gregor....

"15 hours ago · 
I completed the 2nd draft of my new meditation book, called Yoga Meditation.
I will now start to here post content.

I got requests from a few students to write about how body and practice changes as one gets older as people seem to struggle to keep up practice. Important here is to realize that asana practice was designed to support practice of meditation and pranayama. As you get older you need to shift emphasis from asana practice to the higher limbs. Try to limit your asana practice to 90 minutes and spend the rest on higher yogic practices....."

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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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Sribhashyam (2) Table of asana (1) TAN postures (1) tatakamudra (2) tattvas samkhya (1) ten breaths in each asana (1) The 'Original' Ashtanga yoga Syllabus given to Nancy Gilgoff and David Williams by Sri K Pattabhi Jois in 1974 Mysore (1) the asana before the asana (1) the breath (1) The breathing God (4) The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga : Subroutines page numbers (1) The Four Immeasurables (1) The Indian Review (1) THE KALAMA SUTRA (1) the Original gita (2) the Original Yoga Sutras (2) The Purnacarya (1) The Viniyoga letter (1) This is yoga 1941 (1) This is yoga life magazine (1) tibet (1) Tirieng Mukha Eka Pada Paschimattanasana (1) Tirumular Thirumandiram (1) tittibhasana (1) TK Shribhsyam (1) TKV Desikachar (1) tradition (1) Trataka (1) Trikonasana (1) TRS Sharma (2) uddiyana bandha (2) uddiyana kriya (1) uddiyana mudra Kino (1) ujjayi (1) unsupported headstands (2) urdhva dhanurasana (1) Urdhvamukhasvanasana (1) ushtrasana (1) utthita parsvakonasana (1) vajrasana (1) Veena (1) Vinay Kumar (1) Vinyasa (1) Vinyasa count (2) Vinyasa Krama (11) Vinyasa Krama 200HR TT program (1) Vinyasa Krama practice routine (1) Vinyasa Krama practice sheets (1) Vinyasa Krama Sister blog (1) Vinyasa Krama speeded up Ashtanga slowed down (1) Vinyasa Krama triangle subroutines (7) Vinyasa Yoga (1) Viparita Salabhasana (1) vipassana (1) vipraita salambhasana (1) Virasana (1) Vital points (1) VK Asymmetric seated sequence (8) VK Bow sequence (1) VK Inverted sequence (1) VK Lotus sequence (1) VK On one leg sequence (7) VK On your feet sequence (2) VK Seated Sequence (7) VK supine sequence (1) When I'm laid in the Earth. (1) Why meditation (1) why practice mudras. (1) Why practice yoga (1) Why Yoga (1) Wildyogi (1) Yamini Murthanna (1) Yoga (4) yoga and ageing (1) Yoga and pregnancy (3) Yoga and weight (1) Yoga Body (1) Yoga for Diabetes (1) Yoga for the three stages of life (4) Yoga for women (1) Yoga Gurandam (1) Yoga Korunta (3) yoga korunti (1) Yoga Makaranda (10) Yoga makaranda ( part II) (1) Yoga makaranda asana list (1) Yoga Makaranda part 2 (1) Yoga Makaranda Part II (2) Yoga makaranda translation. (1) yoga makaranda. (1) Yoga Meditation (1) yoga mudras (1) Yoga Nidrasana (1) yoga of action (1) yoga of motion (1) Yoga Philosophy (5) Yoga raading list (1) Yoga Rainbow festival (1) Yoga Science (1) Yoga sutra 1:33 (1) Yoga Sutras (3) Yoga Sutras II-49 (1) Yoga Sutras transliteration (1) Yoga therapy articles (1) Yoga Therapy for Children with Special Needs (1) Yoga tradition of the Mysore palace (1) Yoga Vinyasa yoga (1) Yoga yajnavalkya (1) Yogacarya Krishnamacharya - The Purnacarya (2) Yogacarya Krishnamacharya - The Purnacarya. Edited by Mala (1) Yogakriyas (1) Yogasanagalu (32) Yogasanagalu asana list (1) yogasanagalu translation (4) Yogasanagalua (1) Yogayajnavalkya (1) Yogeshwara Ramamohana Brahmachari (1) Yvonne Millerand (2) Yyvonne milerand (1)