Thursday, 25 March 2010

Vinyasa Krama simplified Supine Sequence Speeded up x4

I realized that in the Inverted sequence, posted a couple of weeks ago, I pretty much had most of the Supine sequence on video (I'm tending to bring together the Supine sequence, with it's shoulder stands, together with the Inverted sequence, with it's headstands, see this post). I Just needed to shift a couple of subroutines around, with my limited editing skills. Hopefully it's enough to give an idea of the Supine sequence, which is the point of the exercise.


The main sections missing are some half lotus postures while in desk pose at 01:17 which leads into Uttana padasana and Urdhava Danurasana (wheel), I guess as counter poses. At 01:48 there should be a Supine leg behind head subroutine with a couple of prep poses that leads on into Yoga Nidrasana (sleeping yogi). At the end of the sequence at 4:29 there should be Savangasana Mandala (circular ambulation), this is very silly but I quite like it. I used to try it last summer and have a video from my phone which gives the general idea. Sadly, now I'm upstairs, I don't have the room for it.

So I'm calling this a simplified version, if it wasn't speeded up it would run to about twenty minutes and misses out the tricky LBH asanas. Normally in Supine I would go about the Leg to chest, Arm/leg raises and Desk poses much more slowly, longer stays etc. but this, as I said, was originally filmed as part of the Inverted sequence and I tend to use these poses there as prep postures.

As I've mentioned elsewhere (link to come), there would be some Sury's and some standing poses before this sequence and some finishing poses afterwards, similar to Ashtanga but taken from some of the other Vinyasa Krama sequences depending on what seems most appropriate.

NB. Ramaswami recommends practicing the sequences in this way to gain familiarity with the asanas and, I guess, their groupings. Once you have a better idea of the range of asanas your better able to develop an appropriate practice. I'm looking forward to finding out more about this in the summer. I know he has a handful of key asanas that he recommends practicing every day. I assumed that you would practice those and then fit the other asanas around this framework in a similar way to how the Ashtanga series are formed. However, in one of his other books he seems to suggest that Krishnamacharya would have him practice the same kind of asanas within a lesson. I'm guessing one day the key asanas plus some Bow sequence subroutines another day the keys asanas and some inverted subroutines. The point being, these aren't fixed-in-stone sequences, adaption is the name of the game.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Vinyasa Krama Asymmetric seated Sequence, speeded up

This week I'm working on the Asymmetric Seated sequence from Srivatsa Ramaswami's Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga. The plan has been to spend a week on each of the book's sequences to improve familiarity, such that I don't need to keep referring to the book during practice. This is the last week, from Sunday I'll start alternating the sequences throughout the week, interested to see how that works out.





Monday - Visesha Vinyasa Kramas
Tuesday - Asymmetric
Wednesday - Bow/Vajrasana
Thursday - Seated
Friday - Ashtanga
Saturday - Lotus
Sunday - Supine/Inverted




I plan the week like this around the Asymmetric and Supine sequences which, being long sequences, are best saved for my days off (Tuesday and Sunday). I want to do the Seated sequence with all it's deep forward bends the day after the Bow/vajrasana sequences and their backbends. I've always tended to practice Ashtanga on Friday, whatever else I was doing, so decided to keep it up, nice to have a flowing practice once a week at least. That leaves Saturday for Lotus.

The standing sequences , On your feet (built around Tadasana), Triangle and On one leg, get practiced throughout the week as warm up poses. Similar to the Ashtanga standing sequence but mixed about a little depending on the sequence I'll be doing.

Ramaswami recommends practicing the sequences in this way to gain familiarity with the asanas and, I guess, their groupings. Once you have a better idea of the range of asanas your better able to develop an appropriate practice. I'm looking forward to finding out more about this in the summer. I know he has a handful of key asanas that he recommends practicing every day. I assumed that you would practice those and then fit the other asanas around this framework in a similar way to how the Ashtanga series are formed. However, in one of his other books he seems to suggest that Krishnamacharya would have him practice the same kind of asanas within a lesson. I'm guessing one day the key asanas plus some Bow sequence subroutines another day the keys asanas and some inverted subroutines.

As you can see I'm still working all this out so don't take anything here as authoritative.

Which brings me to the video.

I tried to Video my Asymmetric sequence this morning. It's a long and complicated sequence that I've tended to save for my day off. There are around 40 asanas in the sequence but you have to multiply that by two as you have to do both sides. Each side takes thirty to forty-five minutes so that's an hour and a half plus the the Sury's, some Standing postures and finishing. The whole thing takes me a little over two hours.

Don't take the video as gospel, I'm still getting familiar with the sequence and there are a couple of times when I miss something out, add something in (Marichiyasana D for example, old habits die hard) mix up the order and get a couple of poses completely wrong (looking over the wrong shoulder in Bharadwajasana for example). I've tried to edit the video a little, switch a couple of bits around, oh and cut out the bit where forget where I am and I jump back from Chakorasana. When I get around to it, I'll annotate the Youtube video with the asana names. But here is a list of the Subroutines in the order they come up.

Asymmetric Seated Vinyasa Sequence
Lead sequence
Dandasana
Marichyasana
Mahamudra
Ardhapadmasana
Akarnadhanurasana
Ekapadasirsasana
Triyangmukha

Hybrid Asymmetric Vinyasas
Marichyasana(advanced)
Bharadwajasana
Mahabandha
Matyendrasana

Although it might look complicated, the format tends to be pretty much the same in each of the subroutines. A stretch followed by forward bends, perhaps a twisting variation and then a counter pose
Remember, this is speeded up x4. In real time it's 36:41 (should you want to slow it back down).

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Vinyasa Krama Inverted sequence, speeded up x4

I posted on the Inverted sequence at the beginning of the week but realized that it's probably a little confusing. I'm taking recommendations from three of Ramaswami's books rather than sticking to the Inverted sequence in The Complete book of Vinyasa yoga. I made a video of this mornings practice to try and illustrate the basic idea. Because Youtube has a ten minute limit I speeded it up x 4. It was originally around forty minutes, this is a little quicker than usual. I started the camera after standing and cut off most of the Pranayama. All the asanas are pretty straight forward, the main challenge of this Sequence is probably the long headstand and keeping the breath slow steady and even while engaging the bandha's upside down.

Curious thing I've noticed about the Inversions is that all week I've been feeling incredibly mellow. The restless night after intense backbending is often remarked upon, I was wondering if anyone else has had a similar reaction to long headstands.

I've lifted the description of the practice from my earlier post with the Krishnamacharya video.
Looking at the three books together plus the newsletter and bringing it all together the recommendation seems to be the following.

A mudra pose that engages the bandhas. (I'm choosing Tatakumudra, pond gesture. Before this though I tend to start my practice with some Tadasana and a couple of Sury's and perhaps some standing postures)

The Sarvangasana preparatory poses...
Apanasana (pelvic lift)
U- formation (arms and legs raised while supine)
Dwipadpitam (Desk pose)

Savangasana Subroutine (As prep for headstand, I do around fifteen minutes of Shoulder stand variations, I stop before the lotus variations)

Sirsasana Subroutine ( Took me around thirty minutes this morning, around three long slow steady breaths engaging moola and uddiyana bandha during exhale retention while in each of the variations)

Childs pose
Sarvangasana (switching back to Shoulder stands here as counter poses for headstand and supposedly to retain the benefits longer. I do the unsupported Shoulder stand variations from the end of the Subroutine)

Padmasana (It's recommended to finish with a seated pose for ten minutes or so).

The Sirsasana and Sarvangasana Subroutines follow a similar pattern in their variations. While up in the the pose you tend to start by bringing the legs to the chest individually and then together as well as in half lotus. This is followed by bringing the legs to the floor individually then together, some lotus variations, halasana variations etc in the Sarvangasana subroutine as well as some unsupported shoulder stand variations. You finish off with some inverted backbend postures.

Had a quick look through the video and noticed that there are a couple of postures I missed out and even a couple from the Krishnamacharya video that slipped in.

NB. Ramaswami recommends practicing the sequences in this way to gain familiarity with the asanas and, I guess, their groupings. Once you have a better idea of the range of asanas your better able to develop an appropriate practice. I'm looking forward to finding out more about this in the summer. I know he has a handful of key asanas that he recommends practicing every day. I assumed that you would practice those and then fit the other asanas around this framework in a similar way to how the Ashtanga series are formed. However, in one of his other books he seems to suggest that Krishnamacharya would have him practice the same kind of asanas within a lesson. I'm guessing one day the key asanas plus some Bow sequence subroutines another day the keys asanas and some inverted subroutines. The point being, these aren't fixed-in-stone sequences, adaption is the name of the game.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Something has to go. Vinyasa Krama 200 hr TT course

The credit card bill has come through for the course and something has to go. But what? Stupidly I made the mistake of playing one of my saxophones that I'd already listed on ebay. I love this Saxophone.

It's a Buesher Super 400, Johnny Hodges played a Buesher similar to this one. That's him playing over the slide show below, first video I ever posted on Youtube. The pictures are form a trip I made to New York for the purpose of buying a saxophone (that sax was stollen in a burglary and it was in an attempt to deal with it that I took up Ashtanga).




I have my King super 20 Alto listed at the same time but am having second thoughts. This Sax came from a club in New Orleans. They'd painted it pink, drilled a couple of holes through the body and stuck it on the wall. It's one of thegreatest saxophones ever made and they had it on a wall! Took me forever to get all that pink paint off.







Here it is in it's pink state before I restored it.












Or perhaps I should sell my 1936 Conn Ladyface tenor... NEVER!










Surely not the Super 20 tenor, best tenor saxophone
I've ever blown




What about my King Super 20 Baritone, a beast of a horn that was rescued from the New Orleans floods. I spent a week cleaning this, in fact I think the picture of it was taken in the bath. Hardly seems right to sell it.







That leaves the Grafton, the rare white acrylic saxophone that was an absolute nightmare to restore. Still waiting for a replacement guard. I'd always figured on putting it in pride of place if I ever opened my own Repair shop.



But which to sell, it's heartbreaking. If anyone makes a crack about non attachment.......


Sunday, 14 March 2010

Vinyasa Krama Inverted Sequence

This week I'm moving on to the Inverted sequence, the plan being to spend a week on each of the VK sequences to improve familiarity before alternating the sequences daily. I was a little confused about how to approach them. In a newsletter, Ramaswami discusses Sarvangasana and Sirsasana together and in his book, Yoga beneath the surface, he talks about them as being preparatory as well as counter poses to eachother. In Yoga for the three stages of life he puts the two sequences together in the same section. However, in The Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga the Shoulder stand subroutine appears at the end of the Supine sequence, while the headstands dominate the Inverted sequence, which also includes forearm stands and some other arm balance poses.

Looking at the three books together plus the newsletter and bringing it all together the recommendation seems to be the following.

A mudra pose that engages the bandhas. (I'm choosing Maha Mudra as it opens the hips and there are some lotus poses to come. Before this though I tend to start my practice with some Tadasana and a couple of Sury's)

The Sarvangasana preparatory poses...
Apanasana (pelvic lift)
U- formation (arms and legs raised while supine)
Dwipadpitam (Desk pose)

Savangasana Subroutine (As prep for headstand, I do around fifteen minutes of Shoulder stand variations, I stop before the lotus variations)

Sirsasana Subroutine ( Took me around thirty minutes this morning, around three long slow steady breaths engaging moola and uddiyana bandha during exhale retention while in each of the variations)

Childs pose
Sarvangasana (switching back to Shoulder stands here as counter poses for headstand and supposedly to retain the benefits longer. I do the unsupported Shoulder stand variations from the end of the Subroutine)

Padmasana (It's recommended to finish with a seated pose for ten minutes or so).

The Sirsasana and Sarvangasana Subroutines follow a similar pattern in their variations. While up in the the pose you tend to start by bringing the legs to the chest individually and then together as well as in half lotus. This is followed by bringing the legs to the floor individually then together, some lotus variations, halasana variations etc in the Sarvangasana subroutine as well as some unsupported shoulder stand variations. You finish off with some inverted backbend postures.

Latter in the week I'll try to add some pictures and possible a couple of videos to give more of an idea of the Subroutines.

UPDATE
...or I can just embed this 1938 video of Krishnamacharya himself doing some of the inversion variations. This is of course a Demo, In Ramaswami's book you tend to repeat the variations three to six times.
My whole practice this morning took a little under 90 minutes, which included about half hour each in Sisasana and Sarvangasana.

This is from Ramaswami's August 09 newsletter, where he discusses these inversions.

HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE ……
The two important inversion poses, Sirasasana and its better half
Sarvangasana, called the King and Queen of yogasanas are a unique
contribution of Yoga towards physical culture and physical therapy.
Several contemporary yogis have disputed the place of these poses and
have claimed that they perhaps are later day inventions. But in
Hatayoga they are considered as viparita karani mudras.
Hatayogapradipika refers to inversions as follows
“ There is a wonderful karana or procedure which helps to starve the
sun,( here the gastric fire). One may learn it only from a Guru, and
not from the books. If the position of the sun(stomach) is above and
the moon(the head) below (i.e., upside down) it is called
viparitakarani(inversion). Learn it from a Guru “
The pelvic area—kandasthana-, according to some yogis is a breeding
ground for many ailments. It is also the area from where 72.000 nadis
are said to emanate and also Kundalini. This area should be kept
clean. The dross should be burnt and blown away, figuratively
speaking. How does the Yogi do it?
We have an air principle in that area which is Apana Vayu. We have
also the fire principle in us in the abdominal area in the form of
gastric fire or Jataraagni. This flame is flowing upwards and in the
normal upright position the gastric fire is above the pelvic area,
flowing upward, sometimes when overactive, produces a burning
sensation in the esophagus producing the typical ‘heart burn”. The
Yogi by resorting to the inversions, as Headstand and Sarvangasana, is
able to place the pelvic area above the gastric area. Now the gastric
fire or jataragni,-- figuratively speaking—flows towards the pelvic
area and heats and purifies the Nadias and the Kandasthan, arouses the
Kundalini with the heat. The fire is further supposed to be fanned and
intensified by directing the air tatwa or apana by Mula bandh; it
draws the apana closer to the fire principle and thereby the apana air
also becomes hotter and in turn melts away the dross of the
kandasthana and arouses the sleeping kundalini. So headstand and
shoulderstand, the mulabandha and the intense gastric fire help to
cleanse the nadis and the rogasthana or the disease prone area is
cleaned and spruced up.
There is another interesting concept associated with the inversions of
which I may have referred to in one of the earlier letters/articles.
It is said that our head contains a liquid called amrita which may be
translated as nectar. This nectar gives us life and drips drop by drop
through the uvula into the stomach where it is consumed by the gastric
fire to provide the life energy to live. This reservoir of nectar is
slowly used up and with its total depletion comes the end of one’s
life. The Yogi tries to ration the flow of the nectar, by remaining in
inverted position for a length of time every day—say between half an
hour to an hour or so. During the period of time the yogi is in head
stand and shoulder stand, the amrita remains stored in the head
without dripping down.
The Hatayogapradika has this to say
The Hatayogapradipika explains the inversion mudra as follows. “The
cool nectar that flows from the moon (here the head) is swallowed by
the hot sun (the gastric fire). Hence one’s body becomes aged. There
is a wonderful karana or procedure which helps to starve the sun,
(here the gastric fire). One may learn it only from a Guru, and not
from the books. If the position of the sun is above and the moon below
(i.e., upside down) it is called viparitakarani(inversion). Learn it
from a Guru. Do abhyaa of this inverted pose and increase the duration
every day. One who practices this for a yaama (3 hrs) daily will
conquer death”. When I was young I came across a Yogi who was said to
be practising sirsasana for three hours every day. His face had a
unique bluish tinge. He also practised Mouna or silence.
So by this daily practice, the Yogi is able to increase, so to say,
his/her lifespan by 5%, or say between 3 to 5 years. Normally after
Headstand the yogi is supposed to spend equal time in shoulder stand
as well. In shoulder stand, amrita while still confined to the skull/
brain portion, now is allowed to flow to the entire head portion above
the neck and nourish all the sensitive sense organs, the two eyes, the
two ears, the mouth and the nose (shanmukha). This is also considered
necessary to maintain the acuity of the sense organs
as they are way up in the body and may not get the full nourishment .
Sarvangasana therefore is considered good for the sense organs whereas
the headstand is good for the brain.
The normal upright position and the chin up position in which we keep
our head, both result in a wasteful free flow of the limited amrita in
the head down the uvula to the gastric fire, like a free flowing tap.
The Yogis found it necessary to constantly control the flow of this
nectar and even temporarily stop it. They developed a simple technique
called Jalandhara bandha to temporarily stop and control the flow. The
term Jalandhara-bandha itself indicates the effect it is said to
produce. Jala means water and here it refers to the amrita or nectar
which is said to be in the liquid form. Dhara is to hold, here holding
the amrita in the head itself and bandha is the lock, the procedure
which helps to achieve the holding operation. So Jalandharabandha
means the lock that enables holding the nectar in the head. Of course
while we do asanas and pranayama we adjust the bandha in such a way
that we allow only a small and necessary amount of amrita to flow and
also maintain a good ujjayi control over the breath. That is why the
default position of the head in asana practice whether it is tadasana
or the seated Padmasana or Vajrasana is the head down position. One
could see the pictures of my Guru doing asanas and one could see his
head down position in most of them—even in asanas like urdhvamukha
svanasana or the well known upward facing dog pose. In the entire
vinyasakrama one would find the relaxed default head down position is
resorted to control the flow of amrita and the ujjayi breath.
Some contemporary yogis may read these metaphorical narrations with a
wry smile. However these inversions should be considered as unique
contributions of Yoga, for health. Within the first few minutes of
Sirsasana practice, the leg and thigh muscles, the gluteal muscles,
relax. The chest, back, shoulders and neck muscles also relax as all
these are not required to maintain the postural tone as in the upright
position. It has been found that due to the relaxation of the leg
muscles, the blood pressure in the legs drop to about 30mm.There is no
great rush of blood to the head among the adept yogis due to auto
regulation; yet the gravity helps to open up many capillaries in the
brain, head and face which may otherwise remain partially closed.
People with high blood pressure and retinal problems will have to be
careful. However persons with mild hypertension and under control with
diet, life style change and even medication could benefit from this
posture if they had learnt it from early life. It appears to increase
pressure on the shoulders which would result in the brain trying to
reduce the blood pressure. Therefore if one would practice Sirshasana
regularly for a sufficient duration, one’s pulse rate tends to reduce,
thereby reducing the strain on the heart. Gradually there is a
reduction in the blood pressure.
What is equally important is that Sirsasana helps improve circulation
of the cerebro spinal fluid, which is helpful to the brain and also
for the spinal nerve bundles—the chakras. Because of the increased
pressure in the brain due to this fluid, the pituitary secretions
increase helping the better functioning of the sympathetic nervous
system which will help in many ways including the dilatation of the
bronchial tubes giving great relief to asthmatics. There is draining
of the bronchial tubes, giving some welcome relief for those with
chronic chest congestion. Many feel increased memory power and
general better brain capacity. There are cases of even some correction
of the eyesight. The vinyasas like the twists, Akunchanasana, the
backbends like Viparitadandasana in Sirsasana and Uttanamayurasana in
Sarvangasana help the spine considerably, by not only maintaining the
flexibility of this structure but also nourish the nadis and chakras
or nerve fibers and nerve bundles in the spinal chord.
In the inversions, as mentioned in earlier articles, the internal
organs get positional correction. Pregnant yoginis may find the
inversions help relieve pelvic congestion, oedema of the legs,
conditions that are prevalent during pregnancy. Practising the
inverted poses with the variety of vinyasas gives a complete massage
to all the muscles, organs and considerably increases the blood
circulation. Perhaps equally important is the effect of the twin poses
on the major joints-- the ankles, the knees, the hips and the spine.
The intra-articular space within the joints improves and hence the
joint movements when one does the various vinyasas also will improve.
Dorsal and plantar flexions performed in the ankle joints while in
these asanas help the ankles significantly. Asanas like Akunchanasana
in inversions give good relief to the knees, while inversions help
to open the hips by dragging the big pelvic girdle down a bit and
giving more space for the femur to move and rotate nicely within the
hip socket(pl refer to Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga for headstand and
shoulder stand vinyasas). Perhaps the most benefit accrues to the
entire spine. The inter-vertebral space is enhanced and person who
practises these inversions and the vinyasas like akunchanasana and
backbends will find the spine stretching nicely and becoming more
flexible. The narrowing of the inter-vertebral space can be tackled
positively and the low back pain reduces significantly. I would say
that the inversions are the best yoga postures to alleviate low back
pain. Overall these inversions and the vinyasas in them help to keep
the spine supple and strong. It is said one is as old as the condition
of the spine. Further, because of the relaxation of the lower
extremities Sarvangasana is a good pose to help overcome insomnia.
These twin poses are very good for health.
Contemporary Yogis find the other important inversion, viz., the
Handstand or Vipritvrukshasna very popular. This is a great pose, with
a number of variations possible. However since the head is not fixed
in this group of poses, some of the finer aspects of the other two
head- fixed inversions (sarvangasana and sirshasana) may be missing.
One finds it more difficult to maintain balance and also stay for a
sufficiently long time in viparitavrikshasana or inverted tree pose
(Hand Stand) and other similar poses like scorpion pose etc. These two
regal poses stand ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest in conferring
health benefits to the yogabhyasis.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Better Supine Sequence

Much better Supine sequence this morning. I started earlier, closer to my usual time. Also, I decided to do just five, straightforward, dropbacks after the urdhava Danurasana, in the middle of the sequence, without any experimentation. That left me to concentrate on the series without looking ahead. I was more familiar with the sequence and only needed a couple of quick glances over at the book and was much more able to focus on the breath.

Given that it's a long series the only standing I did was a quick Tadasana subroutine and a few Sury's with mantras (Post and video to come on this). This sequence starts easy so it kind of includes it's own all round Supine warm up. You can use the first part of the series in place of Standing and the long shoulderstand section at the end as finishing, thus despite being a long series it can fit into your usual schedule.



I really like these first couple of postures Tatakamudra which means 'pond gesture', it's called that because the intense uddiyana looks like a pond, I'm pond life.

Another surprise was the leg and arm raises. These come after Desk pose. The Desk pose subroutine ends with Urdhava Dnaurasana and it's here I stick in my dropbacks. I thought about skipping the arm and leg raises, they feel a bit like gym rather than yoga (whatever that means, don't want to think about it). As it happens they are perfect counter poses to backbends.

The asanas aren't so dramatic in this series so you can really focus on the breath, those long exhales and engaging of bandhas,. It sets you up nicely for your Pranayama session. I did a comfortable 40 minutes Pranayama, felt relaxed throughout, followed that with twenty minutes chanting, half an hour meditation then moved on to Cake.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Vinyasa Krama Supine Sequence

Supine sequence. I'm yet to love this sequence. It's longer than the others so I need to practice it on a day when I have a little more time, a Sunday or a Tuesday. but those are my favourite days to practice and this is my least favorite sequence.

It's not a particularly difficult sequence, though can be hard work, I always ache after practicing it. It revolves around some pelvic floor poses, legs to chest that kind of thing, then a lot of desk pose variations. This is why I wanted to do it this week. In Dwipadapitam (desk pose) your working a lot on lifting the hips. I thought that would help with what I'm working on with the drop back, getting those hips forward and up.

: ) just checked the Birthday cake I'm making and it's rising nicely.

Anyway the desk poses lead into Urdhva Danurasana and I've added the drop backs after that. This doesn't really work, it's OK for this week but they don't really fit there, especially as I'm doing so much experimentation, it's like stepping off the mat and checking the cricket scores or something and then coming back to the practice, doesn't work, distracting. I wanted to focus on Pranayama this holiday and backbends have somehow taken over. Still doing the pranayama but it's not as focused as it was at the beginning of the week, a lesson there.

Mmmm, can smell CAKE all of a sudden.

After UD its leg and arm raises which is kind of a forward bend, I guess, so works as a counter pose but I'm too used to UD coming at the end of the practice, disorientating. Next is some supine leg behind head and then yoganidrasana. Had forgotten these were in there, haven't done any LBH work for about three weeks, had to chuck in a couple of extra prep poses. This usually leads into a long Shoulder stand subroutine but I'm kind of putting that section with the headstand subroutine, kind of keeping the inversions together in the Inverted sequence, kind of feels the Supine series just trails off, need to think about this.

It might also be that it's because I'm starting a new sequence that I haven't practiced for a while and have to keep stopping to look at the book, might be better towards the end of the week. Better I do this now than when I'm back at work.

One nice thing I did do today was to make a slide show of the Vinyasa Krama Sun salutation with mantra sequence. This is a little different from what were used to in Ashtanga, a couple of extra steps, including laying flat on the mat with the arms outstretched. Plus at the end of each stage you retain the inhale/exhale and recite a short mantra in your head. I've played with it a little but this was the first time I could really focus. I timed everything out on the slide show and added the mantra from the Vinyasa Krama home page chanting section so I could practice along, reciting the mantra in my head with the recording.

hmm this post is kind of trailing off like the Supine sequence.............

Something almost agonizing about the smell of cake emanating from the oven, surely it's ready...

Drop backs were OK, still think I'm on the right track with the forward and up through the hips think but don't want to over do it, it'll come. Besides only a couple of days left of this holiday and i don't want it to take over the rest of the week.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Pranayama, Pranayama, Pranayama

Practice has been going well the last couple of weeks, a lot of progress especially in the back bends department. I seem to have settled back into Vinyasa Karma practice and haven't practiced Ashtanga for over two weeks now. I expected to miss it more, but so far not really, perhaps It's the new approach, a week on each VK sequence rather than switching sequences daily. I don't seem to have put on weight, had thought that I might given that I'd dropped all those jump through's and the generally sweatier practice. Still feel strong, lots of handstands still in the Sury's, but I should do a Primary after a month to see if I can still get through it. But so far so good.

While the asana progress has been exciting what I'm finding most interesting at the moment is my Pranayama practice. Being off work for a couple of weeks I have more time to spend on exploring it. Before (old video here, it's changed a bit since then and I stumble less over the mantra but you get the idea and that's the same mantra at the beginning that I chant in my head during the long retention), I was spending ten minutes after practice and another twenty minutes in the evening, now I'm spending twenty to thirty minutes after practice and another forty in the evening.

I'm starting to notice some of the subtle and not so subtle differences. The difference for example between Pranayama with both nostrils and alternating (nadi sodana). I noticed that I was getting nice and relaxed in 1.4 breathes a minute with a ratio of 1:4:2:1 (around 5 seconds inhale, 20 retention, 10 exhale, 5 inhale) but when I switched to alternating nostrils I became a little agitated. It's strange your still exhaling the same amount of air in the same amount of time but you have to force yourself not to panic a little. Then, of course, you have that five second retention after the exhale while you engage the bandhas and before Inhaling. Using both nostrils is fine, but again, alternating, inhaling through just the one, makes you very uneasy, your almost desperate to inhale and ready to gasp the air in. Need to be very mindful here, trust the body.

Found this practice useful for Kapo and the 'Hang' in dropping back. I always had trouble breathing with my head back, the constricted airway, but it's the same as one nostril, the agitation. You just have to trust yourself and the breath more and stay calm, relaxed and breathe steadily. Pranayama practice trains you for this.

Big difference too when you practice Kapalabhati ( the kind of panting bellows breathing) I've practiced this for quite a while at the end of Ashtanga, 36 breathes in Padmasana, 36 in utpluthi and then another 36 after coming back down with my arms raised and hands crossed on my shoulders, but for some reason I've only been practicing it at the end of my asana practice as a lead in to Pranayama, I haven't been practicing it in the evening session. Tried it last night and it makes a big difference, immediately nadi shodana Pranayama becomes more relaxed and steady.

Next week I want to try and reintroduce Viloma Ujayai. I gave up on this a while ago because it was too complicated and I was getting confused. Now I have the Pranayama iphone App I don't have to worry about the counting anymore and can focus on the switching.

Viloma Ujayai

INHALE : Throat
EXHALE : left nostril
INHALE : left nostril
EXHALE : throat
INHALE : throat
EXHALE : right nostril
INHALE : right nostril
EXHALE : throat

repeat

I'm still using the Pranayama iphone App, totally reliant on it now. Had planned on using it to get the timing fixed in my head and then turn it off but now I just set it for thirty or forty minutes on low volume and let it run in the background. In the 20 second retention after the inhale I'm still using the Pranayama mantra, have come to rely on this too.

Here's a video of me using the App to give more of an idea what I'm going on about. Given that it's akin to watching grass grow, paint dry etc. I've edited it down to a couple of rounds each. It's still a rough practice and something I'm looking forward to tidying up and developing on the course this summer.

After my Pranayama practice I spend half an hour or so on chanting. I have Ramaswami's Yoga sutra lessons on my itouch and tend to chant along to them plus a couple of the other mantras. then settle down to half an hour to forty minutes meditation. I used to practice Vipassana but after the Pranayama and chanting not a lot is coming up so I pretty much just focus on the breath at the nostrils to start and then settle in on the inhale and exhale, but not focused at any particular point, really nice practice.....but how did those old yogis get by without an itouch.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

VK Bow sequence, Viparita Salabhasana and towards Ganda Bherundasana

As I mentioned, this week I'm working on my back bends through the Vinyasa Krama back bend sequences, Bow and Vajrasana (Vajrasana is actually a sub routine in the meditative sequence).





Vajrasana includes Kapotasana via an Ushtrasana subroutine and Laghu Vajrasana. The big asanas of the Bow sequence are Viparita Salabhasana and Gandha Bherundasana.








These two asanas come at the end of the sequence. You lead up to them via Bhujangasana (cobra) and Salabhasana (locust) subroutines. This is similar to the gradual build up towards Kapo in 2nd series Ashtanga. Typical of Vinyasa krama, though, there are several hand/arm variations. In the Salabhasana subroutine the right arm/left leg are lifted and then switched, followed by both legs raised and the arm variations, stretched out in frount of you, fingers clasped behind the neck, reverse prayer and outstretched to the side.


In Vinyasa Krama the hands are clasped as opposed to Ashtanga where they lay parallel to each other along the mat. Gandha B is still way beyond me but I couldn't help a little nod in it's direction with the wall to fall back on. Long way to go but I can clasp my heels in kapo so surely it should be doable.

Ganda B is one of those asanas that should probably come with a 'don't try this at home' health warning. There's the fear of shifting too much weight forward as you take your legs over and flipping over while your head stays where it is, this would be bad. But that's what the wall is for, also one of Boodie's tips is to use the wall to push your hips back. As with the drop back work it's probably a case of working on the point of balance, shift the hips back so you can take your legs a little further over, back a bit here forward a bit there.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Srivatsa Ramaswami's 200 hour VinyasaKrama TT Program June/July 2010

Just received conformation that I'm on the course.


Teacher Training Program in Vinyasakrama Yoga

There are scores of Yoga Teacher Training Programs and almost every
promoter(me included) claim that his/her program is unique. The 200 hr
program I offer (registered with Yoga Alliance) is designed to give
a broad exposure and some in depth coverage of my understanding of
Yoga as I have learnt from my Guru. I must admit that my guru had the
uncanny knack of teaching what he considered to be important and
relevant to the particular student. Hence all his student –teachers,
though they have studied with the same preceptor, show different yogic
characteristics in their teachings that are obvious to even casual
observers. A three decade study under him helped me to assimilate a
lot of what he taught me, practice and reflect. What he taught
appealed to me profoundly. And I thought it might to a few others
with requirements and tendencies similar to mine who would be
interested in and may benefit from the Yoga I imbibed from my Guru.
Hence this 200 hr Vinyasa krama Teacher Training Program. Here are the
details.

1. The 60 hr Vinyasakrama asana course runs for 20days, three hours
per day. It consists of 10 major sequences broken into more than 120
or so subsequences built around well known asanas. There is a flow of
asanas/vinyasas with each slow movement synchronized with the
appropriate (brahmana and langhana) aspect of breathing. There are
about 700 Vinyasas. It is a systematic way to learn asanas. Even
though one may not be practicing all these asanas and movements in a
daily workout, it is necessary for a yoga teacher and serious students
of yoga to learn all asanas and vinyasas in a systematic manner. A
teacher or a yoga therapist has to have in her/his arsenal all the
yoga movements and asanas so that one can design an appropriate
program for one’s own practice and for varying individual requirements
of others. The word Vinyasa is widely used in several arts like music,
etc. In fact one meaning of Vinyasa is art itself and so vinyasakrama
would mean doing asanas as an art. Vinyasa is an artful expansion of
the physical culture called asana within certain specified parameters.
There is a certain nicety about Vinyasakrama approach. The sequencing
is a logical progression of Vinyasas. It is a yogasana gift from my
Guru and in it there is something, nay, everything (almost, that is)
for everyone (almost, that is) from a toddler yogi to the consummate
yogi.

2. The 20 hr Pranayama program is spread over 10 days of 2 hr
sessions. My Guru, as the old Hata yogis did, gave considerable
importance to Pranayama, which is another name of Hata Yoga. Orthodox
Indians as they do their rituals to the Sun, do a minimum of 40 mantra
pranayamas every day. It is considered a prerequisite of meditation,
dhyana. In this course the theory and practice of different types of
pranayamas will be taught and the various parameters. Practice is an
important aspect of this course. Many participants end up making
pranayama an integral part of their daily yoga routine.

3. The third subject will be Mantras and Meditation another aspect of
daily yoga practice. Mantras are a convenient and powerful vehicle for
taking the mind along the path of one pointedness. Sanskrit alphabets
also known as matrukas, or mother mantras, along with some of the
important mantras like Gayatri will be taught. Using mantra, a step by
step approach to meditation will be taught and participants will be
given the opportunity to practice meditation on these lines. It is a
20 hr program--10 sessions of 2 hrs each. Participants will also be
introduced to Sanskrit recitation, another form of meditative
practice, an important aspect of Sri Krishnamacharya’s teachings

4. There is a 25 hour segment of Yoga for Health. It consists of 10
hours of Anatomy and Physiology, a requirement of Yoga Alliance with
which this program is registered. 5 hrs of subtle anatomy will
explore the conceptual basis of the human system from the yogic point
of view and will be discussed in some detail, based on old texts like
Yoga Yogyavalkya, etc. and attempts will be made to relate these
concepts with modern ideas. My Guru was a great exponent of Cikitsa
krama or the therapeutic approach of yoga. In the 10 hr session of
Yoga for Internal Organs, the six main kosas** or organs and the
systems they support will be gone into in details and the yogic
practices that are beneficial to these systems will be discussed.
(**hrudaya kosa or heart and the circulatory system, svasa kosa or the
lungs and the respiratory system, anna kosa or stomach and the
digestive system, garbha kosa or uterus and the reproductive system
etc.)

5. A 25 hour segment is reserved to study Yoga as a darsana or a
philosophy. In this 5 hrs are allotted to learn to chant some of the
yoga sutras. In the remaining 20 hrs, the entire YS (Yoga Sutras) will
be gone through word by word and sutra by sutra, so that during this
first reading the participants will learn to stay close to the text
and get a good understanding of the sutras and the thought process
contained in this ancient text.

6. Sri Krishnamacharya’s works is the title of this 20 hr program.
Even though my Guru is well known, his works remain somewhat hidden.
In this course reading of his works, “Yoga Makaranda” and “Nathamuni’s
Yoga Rahasya” will be taken up. It will hopefully help the
participants to have a first hand view of some of the concepts of
Krishnamacharya’s Yoga.

7. In this short segment, 5 hours will be allotted for Yoga Business
and 5 hours for Teaching Methodology

8. A twenty hour program titled “Visesha Vinyasas” made up of 5
sessions of 4 hrs each completes the 200 hours of instructions. In
this special sequences like Sun Salutation, Salutation to Directions,
etc. will be taught. It will also cover all the parameters required
to be considered to design individualized programs based on these
courses. Sri Krsihnamacharya’s ingenuity lay in his ability to offer
what the students or patients needed . Yoga takes care of the needs of
everyone, all through the life--to everyone according one’s changing
needs. A teacher has to equip herself/himself with as much information
as possible in a logical way. Yoga is a comprehensive subject and has
enough breadth and depth to meet the evolving requirements of everyone
all through the life.

Well, the program is scheduled to start on June 15, 2010 and runs for
five weeks at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. You or one
of your friends may resonate with this program. Registration is open
and for details please contact:

Alana Bray
Yoga Coordinator,
Loyola Marymount University
1,LMU Drive, Suite 1840,
Los Angeles, CA
Yoga@lmu.edu
(310)338-2358

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