Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Developing a home Practice Pt 27 Sept 09- Sept 10

It's my day off and I'm putting off practice in the hope that the DVD I ordered a fortnight ago might turn up today. It's the one of Jois leading Primary and 2nd series Ashtanga, filmed in 1993.

Something else I've been putting off is updating my 'Developing a home practice' series. I had a look today as somebody had sent me an email asking how I went about teaching myself Ashtanga at home. I noticed that the last post in the series took things up to September 09, so a year out of date already. I've just spent the last twenty minutes looking through last years posts and am amused to find that I'm pretty much in the same place I was a year ago. Take this post that I titled What happened to Vinyasa Krama? from 6th Oct 2009, it begins

I actually do think I'm still practicing Vinyasa Krama. It's just that the asanas and sub-routines that I've chosen to practice every day are the same as in Ashtanga's Primary and Intermediate series. The daily VK practice routine I was honing was becoming more and more like Ashtanga anyway so why not go the whole nut roast.

See what I mean? I could have written that last week.

Actually I was going to post today on my latest practice approach, switching my Evening VK practice with my morning Ashtanga practice. The idea is to free up more time in the morning for pranyama and meditation. So, an hour in the morning of mostly core vinyasa krama asana (plus a couple of short rotating subroutines) followed by an hour of pranayama and meditation. Then in evening (as soon as I get in from work) Straight forward Ashtanga, Primary on Monday and Friday, Intermediate the rest of the week. So as you can see, still trying to balance the two practices, if I'm being kind to myself, or have my cake and eat it if I'm not.

But back to developing my home practice.

Part 26 ended with me in a Yurt having four days Vinyasa Krama Tuition, basically learning the sequences as they are in Ramaswami's book. I came away from that with a better idea of how the sequences went together, some suggestions of how to go about practicing them and the beginning's of a pranayama practice as well as less resistance to the very notion of chanting.

That was August 09, September I predictably became seduced, once again, by Ashtanga and Lino's full Vinyasa. It somehow opened up Ashtanga's 2nd series to me. I'd never really liked it ( I adored Primary series) but with full vinyasa I began to love the practice, everything seemed to make much more sense. By the time I dropped the full Vinyasa on account of time constraints, I was comfortable with Intermediate, my backbends and dropbacks had improved and I'd even started to look at 3rd series (Nov 09). My argument re Vinyasa Krama was that my ashtanga was a Vinyasa Krama approached Ashtanga with some variations, practiced slowly and with long exhalations.

3rd or Advanced A was a wake up call. As a guy, the beginning of 3rd series didn't appear so challenging. I was strong, arm balances weren't a problem for me and they just caused me to bulk up around the shoulders, something I'd been trying to avoid. It felt showy too and just seemed to feed that side of me that enjoyed the sense of play. I could see myself getting wrapped up in that potentiality of the practice rather than bringing out the more meditative side that I'd aimed at through introducing Vinyasa Krama. Recently, as it happens, I've been bringing a lot of the second half of 3rd into my VK practice and even been using the advanced arm balances for my short 'vigorous' pre pranayama/meditation practice, I've started to see too, that those arm balances can be very meditative taking a lot of focus and attention to do them well, but at the time it was a bit of a turn off.

In February I dropped 3rd and began to practice Vinyasa Krama again in the evenings (Ashtanga Primary and 2nd in the mornings). I began practicing pranayama more seriously and even found myself chanting mantras while cycling in to work. I started to think about attending Ramaswami's summer month long Vinyasa Krama TT course. I applied for it in March and spent the three months before it started preparing, working through all the sequences, learning the pranayama chant and worrying which mat to take. At the same time my ashtanga was improving, practicing both styles together seemed to compliment each other, leg behind head work was coming on, I grabbed my heels from the air in Kapo and was dropping back and coming up much more smoothly.

I chose my mat, managed to get through customs in LA and arrived late on the Sunday for course induction. Monday morning I got up at 5am practiced Primary in a stairwell and at at around 8am walked into my first ever led yoga class. Until that morning my 'public' practice had included two Sunday trips to Ashtanga Yoga London for mysore class and four private Vinyasa krama lessons in a Yurt. I was, I admit, a little apprehensive.

Still no post and DVD, time to practice.

Next: PT 28 Ramaswami's Five week Summer Vinyasa Krama Teacher training course in LA

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