Tuesday, 16 February 2010

How to Approach S. Ramaswami's Complete book of Vinyasa Krama?

This is the problem I've had from the start with Vinyasa Krama, how to actually practice it. Coming from Ashtanga made it even more difficult as I was used to the same routine everyday. The layout of The complete book of Vinyasa Krama doesn't really help self practice either, Text/Picture/Text/Picture/Text/Picture. It's difficult looking over and checking where you are and what comes next. But then how else would you lay it out.

I actually really like the book's approach, love reading through the sequences and how the breath is adapted to the posture, little stories of background information about the name or history of a pose. Love all that, just hard to practice with. Perhaps, at the end of each sequence, all the asanas could be laid out on a double page spread, that would help.

Plus there's the problem of how to use the sequences and sub routines. Do you just practice one sequence a day or do you mix them up. Ashtanga is a mixture of all these little sub routines and that seems to work well. And yet I like how the asanas are placed within the context of a sequence and build upon each other. That's something that's stressed within the book.

One of Ramaswami's other book's Yoga beneath the surface helps clear thing up a little. It's format is questions and answers between Ramaswami and one of his students David Hurwitz. As well as dealing with the practice they discuss Patanjali's Sutras, Meditation, Pranayama ETC. In that book it's suggested that a few key asanas should be practiced everyday. The Sun Salutaion of course but also the forward bend Uttanasana and Paschimatanasana, Maha Mudra (kind of like Janu A without bending forward, Sirsasana and Sarvangasana. One is advised to spend a considerable time in each of these postures. And of course after the asnana practice (60-90 minutes) comes the PCM, Pranayama, Chanting and Meditation (30 minutes)

That gives you a framework and is not a million miles away from Ashtanga. A standing sequence Paschi A, B and C the Janu's and finishing with all the Shoulder stand variations and the 25 breath headstand.

Broadly speaking, my approach is to stick one of the sequences in between Paschimatanasana and Maha Mudra. I also tend to add in some of the shorter sub-routines from the Standing sequences after the Sury's. Again this is similar to Ashtanga, The Trikonasanas, Parsvakonasana's and Prasarita's are sub-routines found in the the Triangle sequence and then you have the 'On one leg' Sub-routines.

There are a lot of variations of these in Vinyasa Krama, I plan to link some of the Standing Sub-routines to the 'central Sequence' so whenever I practice the seated sequence I'll have set standing routines to go with it. With the Supine Sequence I'll have another set, that way I get to cover all the different Standing Vinyasa's and work on address areas of my body. This seems a sensible approach too, I can link standing sub-routines that prepare me well for Lotus say or a different set for the Backbends of the Bow sequence.

My problem before was that I went straight into trying to do a different sequence every day. I didn't learn Ashtanga that way, rather I built up a familiarity with the sequence such that I didn't have to think about it anymore and could just get on with the practice. This time I propose to spend a week or two on practicing the Seated sequence every day and then spend a couple of weeks on the Inverted sequence and so on. Like I said, I already know the asanas it's just the sequence and it's subtleties I need to nail down.

The Asymmetric and Supine sequences are quite long however. I could split them up but think I'll go with practicing them on my day's off. So this week and perhaps next I'll practice the Seated sequence all week except for Tuesday and Sunday when I'll practice Asymmetric. The following week will be the Meditative Sequence all week say, except for my day's off when I'll practice Supine. That kind of thing. I'll just tweak the key everyday poses to work as counter poses although there are these within the sequences. It makes sense though to practice a long Paschi' after the Bow sequence rather than before.

This week then is the Seated Posterior Stretch Sequence

28.Suptasana/paschimatanasana 29. Paschimatanasana 30.
Purvatanasana 31. Chatushpadapeetam 32. Upavishtakonasana 33.
Pratikriya 34. Samakonasana. 35. Baddhakonasana 36 Siddhasana
37.Gomukkhasana 38.Yoganrisimhasana.

except for today (day off) and Sunday when it'll be the Asymmetric Seated Vinyasa Sequence

15 Lead sequence 16. Dandasana 17. Marichyasana 18.Mahamudra
19. Ardhapadmasana 20. Akarnadhanurasana/Cakorasana 21.
Ekapadasirsasana 22. Triyangmukha 23. Marichyasana(advanced) 24.
Bharadwajasana 26. Mahabandha 26. Matyendrasana 27.Return sequence

* A list of all the sequences in the book can be found here

These are two of my favourite sequences so should be a nice week.

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