Friday, 28 January 2011

Krishanamacharya's Vinyasa Krama

from Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu

It made quite an impression seeing these pictures after Studying with Ramaswami on his Vinyasa Krama course. Ramaswami had studied for over thirty years with Krishnamacharya, when anyone brought up a different approach to a pose he would just say that he could only teach how his teacher taught him. He never said a different version was incorrect just that it wasn't how he learned it from his teacher.

Not that we ever doubted that this of course but how marvelous to see these pictures of Krishnamacharya in the different vinyasa, just as Ramaswami had in turn taught us.

Parampara began to resonate a little more the day I saw these.

I looked into fair use on the Internet regarding the thumbnail use of these pictures brought together in this way and came across this ' ( 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) found the purpose of creating the thumbnail images as previews to be sufficiently transformative, noting that they were not meant to be viewed at high resolution like the original artwork was'.

On appeal, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of the defendant. In reaching its decision, the court utilized the above-mentioned four-factor analysis. First, it found the purpose of creating the thumbnail images as previews to be sufficiently transformative, noting that they were not meant to be viewed at high resolution like the original artwork was. Second, the fact that the photographs had already been published diminished the significance of their nature as creative works. Third, although normally making a "full" replication of a copyrighted work may appear to violate copyright, here it was found to be reasonable and necessary in light of the intended use. Lastly, the court found that the market for the original photographs would not be substantially diminished by the creation of the thumbnails. To the contrary, the thumbnail searches could increase exposure of the originals. In looking at all these factors as a whole, the court found that the thumbnails were fair use and remanded the case to the lower court for trial after issuing a revised opinion on July 7, 2003. The remaining issues were resolved with a default judgment after Arriba Soft had experienced significant financial problems and failed to reach a negotiated settlement.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Guest Vinyasa Krama practice : Wyatt, Part 2

I figure you must be pretty sick of my practice by now so here's Wyatt, a friend from last Summer's Vinyasa Krama teacher training course with Ramaswami. As I mentioned in the previous post, once your familiar with the main sequences and subroutines of Vinyasa Krama then you can mix them up a bit in your practice 'though Ramaswami did recommend that you always have some kind of a plan before you begin. Was quite excited about these when Wyatt posted them as I haven't really seen anyone else's home VK practice.

had to divide this post up as all the videos were making my mac and Itouch crash, here's the link to Part one

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Vinyasa Krama practice sheets and posters now available

So my practice sheets and posters for the ten major sequences from Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa yoga are finally up on my Sister blog. Thanks to Wyatt for spotting a bug, that's now fixed and they should all be available to open and print should anyone wish, feel free to use them as you will ( no need to ask first), I expect to be drawing all over mine, crossing out bits here, drawing arrows there....

Obviously these are not a substitute for Ramaswami's excellent book where you'll find guidance on the breath, how long to stay in different postures, how to move from one pose to the next, which poses to focus on bandhas and which bandhas as well as much more beside. He also has a little star system for each posture showing it's level of difficulty ( although you can probably guess which to hold off on for awhile). In fact without his book these sheets are pretty pointless.

These are then, just cheat sheets, reminders of the general direction of the major sequences, to save us flicking back and forth through the book during practice allowing us to focus on the breath and bandhas. That said there are several errors, mainly mixing up the odd variation but not I think anything too serious. This isn't Ashtanga, it's OK to drop postures from the sequence, add others from another and I would imagine, within reason, occasionally switch the order of the variations. And of course it's just me, a home yogi, no rockstar, YJ cover yogi with perfect alignment and beautiful posture, some postures I'm better at than others, some are dreadful, all still work in progress.

In the beginning at least, Ramaswami recommends practicing the sequences as they are in the book as far as you are able. Once your familiar with them and the different families of postures he suggests you still practice the full sequences every once in a while so that you stay familiar with them. Most likely though your practice will be a selection of different postures and subroutines from the different sequences although with perhaps a focus on one family of postures.

You might start with a ten minute shortened version of the "On your feet' sequence ( On Ramaswami's TT course we started each practice this way) a few standing poses from the Triangle or 'On one leg' sequence. After this you might choose to focus on seated or Asymmetric postures or perhaps backbends from the Bow and/or meditative sequences, all the sequences contain a variety of movements, twist, backbends, forward bends and contain counterposes throughout. Ramaswami does recommend a long Pachimattanasana , shoulder and headstand the latter of course might contain some of the vinyasas ( variations) from the Inverted and Supine sequences.

Now the hard work of taking screenshots, labeling them and bringing them together into sequences is over it will be quite easy to make up sheets of the different subroutines and then perhaps some possible practice sequence ideas,, some short, medium, long practice suggestions, something I hope to look at producing after I've taken a break

One more point worth mentioning perhaps. Each sequence tends to be collections of subroutines. A subroutine will tend to be built around a key pose, Marichiasana say, within Asymmetric sequence. There might be some preparatory poses (or the previous subroutine might do that job) the main pose, some variations of it and perhaps a difficult extension of the pose. When you get to a difficult posture that you don't yet feel ready for it doesn't mean it's game over for the Sequence. You just move on to the next subroutine within the sequence and practice as far as your comfortable within that subroutine then do the same with the next and the next (looking at any of the posters, like the one above, that accompany the practice sheets should make this clear).

So time to practice...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Ever wish you hadn't started something.........

Started the Vinyasa Krama practice sheet project with such enthusiasm a couple of days ago but now it's starting to grind me down a little. It doesn't help that I don't have the right tools for the job. Sure there must be a way to do it quickly in Photoshop but although I have it on the mac I've never really used it that much. So slow but probably quicker going about it the long way around than trying to work Photoshop out.

My method is this.

Import one of my Vinyasa Krama sequence videos into the VLC player and then go through it taking screenshots of all the postures. Import those into iphoto then edit each one, cutting and enhancing so you can see better what's going on, in binds for example. Add the posture name and any notes to each picture then turn the whole lot into contact sheets and save them as a pdf. Convert the pdf to Photoshop so I can add a title and page numbers ( only just worked out how to do this so the first sheets don't have them yet). Finally convert them back to jpeg so I can post them on the blog.

I'm sure there are graphic designers laughing the mulas off at this approach.

The most irritating thing is my printer isn't working (water from leaking radiator came through the ceiling, don't ask, still have saucepans everywhere and no heating!) so it wasn't until I printed a couple out at work yesterday that I was able to see some of the errors and had to go back and redo them.

Still six down but I had to re film one of the longest, Supine, today. Long long sequence, tadasana is long but only ran to around 50 screenshots, Supine is 115. Finally got the pictures into iphoto, next job is to label them all.

Supine was nice to practice again though, made me want to go back and review all the full sequences again. Such a subtle practice Vinyasa Krama and there are so many 'simple' postures that are so hard and that I do so poorly. Perhaps that's the way to go in winter, work on the seemingly simple subtle postures and leave the intricate 'advanced' poses for the summer.

I enjoyed the pace of VK this morning too. Recently I've been doing a short Vinyasa Krama practice in the evening but it's not the same as a long meditative VK practice where this sense of peace slowly envelops you and stays with you for most of the day. Despite the frustrations of this process I haven't screamed at the mac once, big improvement on a few years ago.

Something someone quoted recently ( wont name names as I've mangled the pithy quote) that came from her Ashtanga teacher has been playing on my mind. This isn't how she put it but how it's lodged and played in my mind since. Something about the difficulty of Ashtanga never really going away but that we seek to keep our mind steady and controlled throughout this challenging practice and then try to retain that focus and control of the mind throughout the day, whatever gets thrown at us. I really liked that idea, the practice kind of training you to cope with a hectic and stressful life, hadn't really thought of that aspect of Ashtanga

Here's the actual quote and it's context HERE.Thank you V

"You see, that is your work. That is the yoga: to get on the mat and be the boss of your mind, be present and mindful all the way throughout practice and then stay present and mindful during the rest of your day. You can do it." far off was I ?

Vinyasa Krama goes about it in a softer way perhaps, putting you in this peaceful, mindful state that stays with you throughout the day, perhaps both approaches are useful.

Rambling, no doubt because I can't face labeling. Glad I'm doing it though, good to see the sequences laid out like this, seeing the postures and their relationships at a glance, makes me want to practice and explore them more. So do really I wish I hadn't started it? No, not really.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Vinyasa Krama Sequences home practice sheets and posters

This week I'm working on turning my Vinyasa Krama videos into practice sheets and posters.

Not much interest to the Ashtangi's amongst your perhaps, although I personally found it interestin,g and helpful, finding a posture in Ashtanga that I was struggling with and then looking at the poses in Vinyasa krama that prepare for it EG. Archer and Heron pose as prep for Leg behind head postures in the Asymmetric sequence.

Perhaps it's because I came to Vinyasa Krama from Ashtanga but I'm used to using these kind of sheets as reminders of the sequence, think Mathew Sweeney orDavid Swenson and and the short and full sequences at the back of his book. I think Ramaswami mentioned that it was something he had hoped to do in future editions of his Complete book of vinyasa Yoga but that it never came about. These are no substitute for his book of course, more like 'cheat' sheets for home practice.

So far I've made up the On your feet/tadasana ( picture is of the shorter 10 minute version), Asymmetric and Seated sequences, I hope to have the rest made up by the end of the weekend. Links are below and I'll add the others to this post when they're ready as well as to the VK page at the top of this blog. If you click on the image it should blow it up and be printable. If you think you'll find them useful then feel free to use them as you wish.

The quality isn't that great and some of them don't tally up exactly with the book, I recorded most of the video's before I attended Ramaswami's TT course, hopefully I'll get to improve on them in the future, I just wanted something to be going on for my own practice and that would also serve as a starting point for something better in the future perhaps by somebody more competent and capable than myself.

I welcome suggestions, I'm thinking of making up a set of subroutines as well as Beginner and Intermediate versions of the Sequences, perhaps some sample practice routines as well. If anyone knows how I can set up a downloadable PDF file on this blog with all of them together as a set please let me know.

The Ten major Vinyasa Krama Sequences

Friday, 21 January 2011

Guest vinyasa Krama practice : Wyatt, Part one

I figure you must be pretty sick of my practice by now so here's Wyatt, a friend from last Summer's Vinyasa Krama teacher training course with Ramaswami. As I mentioned in the previous post, once your familiar with the main sequences and subroutines of Vinyasa Krama then you can mix them up a bit in your practice 'though Ramaswami did recommend that you always have some kind of a plan before you begin. Was quite excited about these when Wyatt posted them as I haven't really seen anyone else's home VK practice.

Had to divide this post up as there are so many videos that it's making my Mac and Itouch crash. here's the link to Part Two

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Iswarapranidhana - Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami - January 2011

Quite a complex newsletter this month but I came across a speech Ramaswami gave a few days ago at the awards ceremony he mentions at the beginning of the letter. As the topic of the speech is the same as that of the newsletter I thought it could act as a nice introduction.

January 2011 Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami—Iswarapranidhana

Wish you a very happy and prosperous New year, a New Decade.

December was India month. LMU had arranged a ten day retreat in New
Delhi the modern capital of India and Rishikesh the holy city along
the Ganga, About ten participants from the USA and six from India
attended the program. We had almost six hours instruction everyday,
three hours of asanas and pranayama and about three hours of Yoga
Sutras and Yoga for Health. I thought the programs went well. What was
remarkable was that despite some real difficulties and challenges,
everyone stayed to the end. I am beholden to all participants for
their interest, support and patience. Thank you Dr Chris Chapple and
Alana Bray of LMU for affording the opportunity.

I spent a couple of days in Hyderabad thanks to the invitation of
Saraswati Vasudevan of Yoga Vahini and Salil Ganeriwal of Shwaas,
both of whom have long experience in the Krishnamaharya tradition.
Saraswathy Vasudevan who has more than 17 years teaching experience in
the Krishnamacharya tradition was the director of a 500 hr Yoga
Therapy certification program. 14 very enthusiastic and knowledgeable
yoga teachers completed the program and I had the pleasant opportunity
to distribute the certificates and speak briefly. The teachers
included Amala Akkaneni, one of my first students. She studied yoga
with me for a few years as a student of Kalakshetra in the mid 1970s.
It was nice to meet her too. Salil gave me an opportunity to speak
about Yoga for Healing (Health) at his beautiful studio Shwaas.


Maybe I have written on this topic earlier.

Normally in Sutras, the same term/idea should not be repeated. But in
the yogasutras of Patanjali the term Iswarapranidhana is used three
times. It is acceptable if the term is used with different
connotations in different places/contexts.

According to my Guru, the yogasutra even as it deals with subject of
(Raja)Yoga, caters to the needs of three different groups or levels of
yoga aspirants. The first one the highest or the uttama adhikaris are
the intended group of aspirants in the first chapter called the
samadhi pada. Here Patanjali used the term Iswarapranidhana as an
independent means of achieving the goal of Kaivalya or spiritual
freedom the set goal of yoga. It is the complete quietening of the
mind or chitta vritii nirodha. According to Patanjali it is possible
to achieve this yogic goal by intense devotion to Iswara (pranidhana=
bhakti visesha) as indicated by the term Iswarapranidhana in this
context. By the proper Japa of pranava which would indicate the mystic
syllable or mantra “OM” the highest aspirant (adhikari) who already
has the ability to go into a stage of samadhi (hence dealt with in
Samadhi Pada) will be able to achieve this extraordinary result. An
intense faith and devotion to the eternal unfettered spirit,
Iswara,whose essence is pure consciousness and still endowed with
omniscience would do the trick and nothing else is needed. If however
this devotional fervor is lacking even if the samadhi capacity is
there, the more step by step process of going through stages of
mastering Prakriti (24 aspects ) may be resorted to following the
path of Niriswara Samkhyas who have difficulty in subscribing to a
nimitta karana or an efficient cause for creation..

In the second chapter, Sadhana Pada, Patanjali takes the case of those
who without the yogic skill of Samadhi, but still wish to start to go
along the path of Yoga, the first step in a 1000 mile long yoga
journey. To them, the absolute beginners, he would include
Iswarapranidhana as one of the steps in Kriya yoga . Here
Iswarapranidhana has a different application. It is not the use of
Pranava Japa as the Samadhi Yogi would do but Iswarapujana or worship
of Iswara as per many yogis. Simple to complicated rituals are
available for the interested to remain focused on Iswara for a period
of time every day. This in practical terms is much easier to resort to
following the well established procedures of puja (worship rituals) of
the Lord. This is possible for anyone with faith in God, but lack the
samadhi capability. One may not be able to achieve Samadhi with this
but it will slowly prepare the mind to go along the path of yogic
samadhi. Concurrently it will also reduce the mental pain caused by
several kleshas like avidya etc.

One may ask if Iswarapranidhana or Iswarapujana as it is said in Kriya
yoga can by itself lead to samadhi bhavana or is it part of a whole
practice called Kriya yoga. Another corollary question would be what
if one has difficulty believing in God, could one still take advantage
of kriyayoga? There are references to practices of kriya yoga used
without the Iswarapranidhana component. The great epic Ramayana
describes a sage as one established in austerity and scriptural
studies. The Ramayana opens with the two traits of Kriaya yoga viz.,
tapas and swadhyaya. (tapas swadhyaya nirataam). So we may see that
there are occasions where the first two traits are mentioned
independent of Iswarapranidhana. Of course it would be best to use all
the three parts of kriya yoga.

When a start up yogi belonging to the iswarapranidhana stream
practices iswara pujana assiduously, the mental klesas come down and
she/he will be well on the path of conditioning the mind for samadhi.
Then we have the next yoga stage called ashtanga yoga a more elaborate
and complete yoga sadhana or yoga practice. Herein also is
Iswarapranidhana mentioned and the result of this practice as part of
niyama would be Samadhi itself, which also is the goal of the entire
ashtanga yoga as samadhi is the last anga. Commentators give a
different interpretation of Iswarapranidhana here in ashtanga yoga
than what is found in first chapter and in kriya yoga.. They would
say that it would refer to doing one's prescribed duties diligently as
God's work and surrendering oneself to the Lord and also the fruits of
all actions. This intermediate stage yogi or madhyama adhikari the
one not having the skill of going into samadhi but is totally
committed to yoga as a life long pursuit. For her/him Patanjali
suggests the classical ashtanga yoga. Here as per my Guru and several
commentators it would mean total surrender to the Lord or Saranagati
or prapatti. One may say that the prescribed duties would also imply
practicing the stipulated duties in ashtanga yoga and doing them as
God's work with a complete sense of surrender to the Lord. This “karma
Yoga” in which the results of the practices do not cloud the yogi's
mind is “karma phala tyaga”. This devotional path will lead to Samadhi
the necessary skill to take the last lap in the yoga journey.

My teacher being a devout Bhakti Yogi stressed the importance of the
Iswarapranidhana stream in the Yoga Sutras. The Yogis who have an
intense devotional fervor could do well to follow the devotional path.
For most yogis a judicious combination of samkhya yoga and bhakti yoga
would be helpful as is the direction of the sutras. But it is also
necessary to point out that Iswarapranidhana even though it is
mentioned just three times in the whole text forms an independent and
complete system of Yoga in the Yoga sutras. For the start up Yogi it
prepares the mind for samadhi and also simultaneously reduces the
mental klesas. At the intermediate level it leads to dawn of Samadhi a
necessary tool for both Siddhis and Kaivalya and a reduction in
impurities of the mind, the Rajas and Tamas.. At the highest level
Isawarapranidhana leads to understanding the true nature of oneself
(pratyak cetana)and also the removal of all spiritual obstacles

Many other acharyas also have taken the efforts to stress the
importance of both the streams. Adi Sankara the advocate of Advaita
or nondualism, wrote great works not only on the intellectually
challenging subjects as advaita like the Brahma Sutra Bhashya,
Vivekachudaani etc., but also wrote such wonderful devotional works as
Bhaja Govindam, Soundarya Lahari and several others. Sri Sankara apart
from being the most revered exponent of Advaita also came to be known
as one who established the six methods of orthodox worship of the
divine in India (shan-mata-sthapana-acahrya), The six methods are
worship of Ganesa (Ganapatya), Kumara (Kaumara), of Mother Sakti
(Saakta), of Siva (Saiva), of Vishnu (Vaishnava) and of the Sun
(Saura). He wrote numerous works of poetry on all these deities.
Patanjali, Adi Sankara, my own Guru Sri Krishnamacharya and several
orthodox teachers of yesteryear were at considerable ease with both
the paths of wisdom and of devotion.

Again, I wish you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

It is two years since I started sending these Newsletters and thank
you all for the kind support.

The earlier newsletters and articles may be accessed by going to my
website and then clicking on the Newsletter tab or click HERE.

For reply or comments please send to

With best wishes

Srivatsa Ramaswami