Sunday, 6 December 2009

Krama a pose in here and Krama a pose in there

Loved this comment on the last post, it makes a valid point. You start adding an extra asana here, an extra one there and you could end up with a series bursting at the seams.

It's had me thinking the last couple of days of why I want the flexibility to add poses in the first place.

3rd series was part of it. It's a nice series but I'm not sure I want to practice it. Now you know I love arm balances, but for all the wrong reasons. However, for a guy they're perhaps the least challenging kind of asanas; we're designed for them. Besides, after only a month of 3rd I could feel myself starting to bulk up. I tend to put muscle on quite easily and feel it just gets in the way of other postures, the twists for example. Twice a week was bad enough, four days a week and my Mari D would be right out the window and wouldn't have a hope of Purna M.

There are a lot of asanas in Third series I like, some I practiced in Vinyasa Krama earlier in the year and some I just find beautiful as well as challenging. In Vinyasa Krama these poses would just show up towards the end of a Sub routine and it seemed to make sense to have the option of slotting them in at the appropriate place in the Primary or Intermediate.

This morning, being my day off, I had an extended practice, Primary to Baddha Konasana then all of Intermediate. After the 2nd series LBH I just slotted in the LBH asanas from 3rd then carried on to Titthibhasana. This seemed to work OK, only added an extra ten minutes on to the practice and just took the LBH a little further. Perhaps next week i'll do a similar thing with back bends after kapo.

One of the things I missed about Vinyasa Krama was the wide range of asanas and variations. As it happens most asanas are represented in Primary to Advanced A, but obviously with less variation. Sometimes I feel like I want more twisting postures say, and this flexible approach allows me to add some. In Vinyasa Krama there are some twisted versions of Paschimottasana, for example, and occasionally it might be nice to slot them in.

Ramaswami writes about having a clear plan for your practice and this seems to be the key to making this approach work. I know too many extra asana will over burden the Series and it will no longer be what I love about Ashtanga.

The idea then is to have days where I add a small group of asanas I want to work on, Standing poses from 3rd say (perhaps my days off), and days where I add the odd variations because I feel like working on a particular area of my body or indeed of the practice.

And of course there's nothing new about Ashtanga VInyasa Krama, I'm sure people have been practicing this way at home ever since the Ashtanga came west. It's useful to give this approach to practice a name though and look at it as a separate style, kinda fun too. Over the next few months I want to locate each of the Primary and Intermediate asanas in their Vinyasa Krama Sub-routines to improve my familiarity with the variations available.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama

So I know I get peoples backs up sometimes by suggesting that what I practice is Ashtanga, so how about I call it something else, that way nobody gets offended.

But what to call it?

Well that was easy, there it is at the at the top of my blog already. I'd intended the title to Suggest Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama practiced at home, now I take it to mean Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama TM... at home

So what IS Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama TM?

Well I'm glad you asked.

1. Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama TM is a 'new' style of yoga (about a week old)

2. It has it's roots in Krishanamcharya's Mysore palace yoga as presented by his student Sri K Patarbhi Jois in his book Yoga Mala. As well as in the Later yoga of Krishnamacharya as presented by his student of 30+ years, Srivatsa Ramaswami in his book, The complete book of Vinyasa Krama.

3. The practice is based on the framework of the familiar Primary and Intermediate series of 'Ashtanga'. However, it's Vinyasa Krama element is found in the way poses and/or subroutines are occasionally added before or after the traditional asana of the Ashtanga series.

Thus Hanumanasana may be approached after the parasarita series of Standing either on it's own or as part of a Vinyasa Krama Sub-routine. Natarajasana may be added after Utthita Parsvasahita. Akarna Dharnurasana A and B from the Vinyasa Krama Asymmetric routine as well as Ashtanga 4th series may appear before the Leg behind head poses of Intermediate. Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana after Kapotasana, Parsva Bakasana after Bakasana, Viranchyasana B after the Janu's and Urdhva kukkutasna after kukkutasana ETC. All these additions or preparation poses and others beside are deemed acceptable in Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama.

4. However it is suggested that too many variations and additional poses may have a detrimental affect on the integrity of the framework series and thus only a small number of variations should be considered in any one practice.

5. It is suggested that the traditional Primary and Intermediate series be practiced once a week each, without any additional asanas to 'ground' the framework.

6. It is also acceptable to drop subroutines from the framework Ashtanga series to make room for the desired Sub routine from Vinyasa Krama.

7. It is suggested that Asana practice last between 60 and 90 minutes and is followed by 30 minutes of Pranayama, Meditation and even Chanting if you like that kind of thing.

7a. However, Shorter practices are of course acceptable and no doubt just as beneficial, if not more so, than the longer practice. Swenson has 15, 30 and 45 minute variations that can be used as alternative frameworks for a flexible Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama short practice TM

8. The main focus of the practice is the breath, long steady inhaling and exhaling, between 5 and 25 breathes per asana depending on the stability of the asana, and the engagement of the bandhas.

That should be enough to be going on with while I rush out, print T-shirts and try to engage Bikram's business manager the Spaghetti Monster.