Sunday, 30 August 2009

Vinyasa Krama Home practice routine UPDATED

I wasn't sure how to start up blogging again. Should I write about what I've been up to in August, the two weeks of 2nd series or the switch from Ashtanga to Vinyasa Krama. Perhaps a daily diary post from my lesson notes from the Yurt. There are a lot of posts running around my head, key elements of Vinyasa Krama, the breath, bandhas, key asana's/mudra', what i like about this practice so much and why I'm drawn to it. Plus I've discovered that I like chanting (that was a surprise, wasn't expecting ever to go there), think it's something to do with Lee Marvin and 'I was born under a wandering star', used to sing it in the bath in my best gravelly Lee Marvin voice and enjoy the whole bathroom vibrate (not a lot of people know that Lee Marvin spent 7 years in a Tibetan monastery high up in the Himalayas learning Tibetan chant. the end I figured
I'd just jump straight in as if I hadn't been away and write about the practice.

One of the goals of this week of VK lessons was to get help in working out a home practice. All these long sequences in Vinyasa Krama, how do you decide what to practice? Up until now I'd been working through a sequence a day, or perhaps two of the shorter ones. I'd tried sandwiching a sequence between Ashtanga Standing and Finishing and I'd tried building a routine around the LBH and Kapo that I really didn't want to risk losing.
One of the things that S. stressed, that Ramaswami stressed that Krishnamachariya stressed, was the importance of a couple of key poses that should be done everyday and stayed in for a 'considerable' time.
Now if your aiming to spend five to ten minutes in each of those with long slow breathing / breath retention and fully engaged bandhas, plus the Tadasana 'warm up' (10 minutes), lead in sub routines, preparatory poses and counter poses you already have a 40 minute practice. Then of course there's the Pranayama and some meditation to close and you have an hour.
Luckily us lapsed Ashtangi's are used to long practices of 90-120 minutes. What if you use the above format as your skeleton practice and then slot in an additional sequence at an appropriate place. So on Monday following Uttanasana I slot in the 'On one leg' sequence which should take about half an hour. Tuesday, my day off so I have extra time I slot in the LONG 'Asymmetrical seated sequence' after Paschimotasana. Wednesday 'Lotus sequence' in the same place. On Thursday I slot in 'Inverted sequence' before Saravangasana, Friday would be Triangle after Uttrasana. Saturday I include the whole 'On your feet sequence' of which Tadasana and Uttrasana are a part. And finally, Sunday I slot in 'Bow sequence', probably after Sarvangasana.

It should look something like this, Fixed daily practice in black, the additional sequences to be slotted in on the appropriate day are in red.


TADASANA subroutine
PURNA *UTTANASANA (ten long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )


SURYNAMASKARA Sub routine with chant
*PASCHIMOTASANA (ten long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale)


JUMP BACK lead in


APANASANA prep. pose 1
DWIPADAPITAM prep pose 3

*SARVANGASANA (3-6 breaths)
*SIRSASANA ( 10 long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )
*SARVANGASANA ( 10 long slow breaths here at least, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )

*MAHA MUDRA ( 10 long slow breaths each side, bandhas fully engaged on exhale )

*Key poses for extended stay

Prishtanjali ( The back Salute )

In the practice above I would practice a little backbending while in Prishtanjali, it gives the back some support before moving into Purna Uttanasana (Complete forward stretch ).

This is like the Uttanasana we know and love but starting in a backbend

The minimum prep poses for Sarvangasana that you might not be familiar with are below




Now obviously this is a work in progress and I need to try it for a couple of weeks to see how it works out. I tried it this morning though and it was excellent, came out at 90 minutes.

Once I have a deeper understanding of the sequences I can look at it again and possibly adapt it further at the subroutine level rather than the sequence level as required.

It kind of has the familiar Ashtangaish structure that I'm so used to. If I'm pushed for time then I can just stick to the skeleton practice and not add any of the additional sequences but still cover those key asana/mudra. It has flexibility built in such that if I feel like I need some back bends or hip openers I can fit in the appropriate sequence.

The Maha Mudra/Pranayama/Meditation section can act as a stand alone evening meditation routine as well.

As I said, work in progress

PS. OK, so I might be mistaken Lee Marvin Tibetan link


  1. Grimmly, what do you think on this setup two years later? I know this is a personal path and I'm also working on this to develop my very own schedule (esp. following Ramaswami's suggestions from his newsletter),
    still I'm interested how time changed the details.

    PS. Actually I love surya from Ashtanga, but starting with a simplified Tadasana sequence every dawn is much more inspiring and "elegant" (=smooth :-)) way I think at the moment. I'm writing this because I didn't even consider putting surya into the middle of the practice, although I know this is the VK way of surya namaskaras with the mantra.

  2. Grimmly (I lost my comment, so re-writing it),
    just wanted to ask what do you think two years later on this setup?
    I know this is a personal path, I'm also working on it to develop my very own daily schedule, but still interested...

  3. I remember this post, two years ago, wow.

    I guess there are two main approaches, doing a whole sequence or a mixture of subroutines from different sequences. Recently I've liked to start with tadasana and then move on to a few sury's ( I love ashatnaga sury's too and still think nothing beats them as swarm up). I like the usual ashtanga triangle postures too, again perfect prep. After that perhaps a couple of one leg postures then it's down to business.
    I like working on one sequence again at the moment, the asymmetric, bow and meditative, seated or lotus, as much of the sequence as you have time for the. Move on to inversions.

    In this post I was doing a different main sequence each day but I think there's something to be said for spending a week on each sequence, really get to know them that way, then perhaps in a few weeks alternate them daily or explore mixing some of the subroutines.

    You get to work on the standing and inverted sequences daily anyway as prep and finishing, just switch around which postures you do.

    Than one week focus on asymmetric, the next seated, third week, bow and meditative, fourth week lotus, that's a month and you've really got to know most of the book pretty well.

  4. Oh, that's an interesting approach!! I'm alternating on a daily basis at the moment, but you showed me another direction, I decided to set a checkpoint in autumn and try the weekly rotation after that.

    I like the degree of freedom in VK, I think it needs a lot of power and commitment, but seems also calming at the same time.