Thursday, 18 June 2009

Vinyasa Krama

I'm becoming more and more attracted to Vinyasa Krama. By Vinyasa Krama I mean Krishnamachariya's style/method of yoga as presented by Ramaswami in his book The Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga. I had planned on doing one of his sequences every Sunday until I'd worked through the whole book. However, being sick this week (bad cold/man flu/ stomach bug, not sure which) and not feeling up to a full Primary or Intermediate, I've been doing one of his sequences every day.

Saturday: On your feet sequence
Sunday: Asymmetrical Sequence
Monday: On one leg Sequence
Tuesday: Supine Sequence. (was feeling lousy so only managed half the sequence)
Wednesday: Rest of Supine and Meditative Sequences (if I can drag myself out of the sickbed).
Thursday: Bow Sequence
Friday (Today) I just did primary as usual.

I'm enjoying this, feel I'm getting a broader understanding of Yoga, not just of Asana but also the breath and Bandhas. Interesting too gaining some insight into how Ashtanga was sequenced, the why and the wherefore.

As I said I decided to keep doing it this week because I was sick and wanted something a little lighter but these sequences are actually quite intense, bloody hard too in places. I can feel muscles along the whole length of my legs, following Tuesdays Supine Sequence, that I hadn't felt before

There's a different pace to the Vinyasa Krama sequences. I was going to say slower but in Ashtanga you tend to hold an Asana for five breaths, in Vinyasa Krama it tends to be three. But those three are performed more slowly and with the option of holding the breath for a count of three or five at the end of the inhale and exhale. Plus you often tend to repeat an Asana three to six times. There are Jump backs and Jump throughs in Vinyasa Krama, though slightly different in style and nowhere near as many as as in Ashtanga. They tend to come at the beginning and end of a sequence, although it's possible to add them at the end of each sub routine.

I feel I'm getting a much better understanding of the breath and engaging with it more fully. As a result my practice is calmer more peaceful. Bandhas are making more sense too, Ramaswami tells you too engage Mula bandha and then Uddiyana at the end of the exhale especially while holding the breath for a couple of seconds. There's more focus too on Jalandhara bandha (chin lock) which finally made sense in the rolling back Chakrosana (post to come), engage Jalandhara fully and back and over you go, very smooth.

And yet there's that concern that while your body is becoming better prepared within a routine for the the more challenging Asana, not doing the same Asana everyday makes you perhaps less prepared overall. That said within each routine there seems to be Asanas that would count as good preparation for the big poses. I'm talking here about Backbends, Leg behind head Karandavasana, Marichiyasana D. Backbends are OK because you can always add them on in the finishing sequence plus Dropbacks and a Karandavasana can be done anytime, anyplace anywhere but what about Kapo? It popped up (kinda) in yesterdays Supine Sequence and I did my best since coming back to Backbends a couple of weeks ago, after a six week lay off, came back up for the first time since then too. Bow sequence is great prep for Kapo too, I added one on at the end.

So I want to explore this further, perhaps spend a month or two working through the sequences and then see where I am but don't want to totally give up my primary and Intermediate. so here's the plan from this coming Sunday.

Saturday : On your feet and Seated
Sunday : Intermediate Ashtanga series
Monday : Bow and lotus Sequence
Tuesday : Triangle and Inverted Sequences
Wednesday : Asymmetrical sequence
Thursday : On one leg and Supine Sequences Meditative Sequences
Friday : Primary Ashtanga Series

Before the Vinyasa Krama sequences I'll be doing Sun salutation (Ramaswami has the mantra version in his book too) and end with the usual Ashtanga finishing sequence and Dropbacks plus Ramaswami's Winding down procedure, basically Pranayama.

What's interesting me about Ramaswami's book is the, if you like, pre sequencing. You just have all the one legged asanas one after another in order of difficulty, each sub routine preparing you for the next. then you have all the Supine poses say, or the lotus poses, half and full.

I'm considering the pros and con's of looking at my practice daily or weekly. In a daily Ashtanga practice you have a sequence of different kinds of asana and if you look at Vinyasa Krama that way then it suffers from being only one group/kind. But if you look at it weekly then Vinyasa Krama is covering all types of asana more fully. And each asana/variation, it's argued, treats the body in subtly different way. Over a week you might do the same Ashtanga practice, the same asanas every day, day in day out. Unless of course you are very advanced in which case you might do a different Ashtanga series each day, thus covering a similar range of asanas to Vinyasa Krama. In the long run perhaps they come to the same point.

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