Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Srivatsa Ramaswami on podcasts


I came across these two podcasts of interviews with Ramaswami a short while ago, thanks to Madhu. I've been meaning to do a post on them for a while. For those of you who don't know my teacher, I took Ramaswami's Vinyasa Krama teacher training course last summer, and are perhaps new to this blog, Ramaswami studied with Krishnamacharya for over thirty years. Here's a link to an article he wrote for Namarupa magazine entitled My studies with Sri Krishnamacharya


Picture by Barry Wadsworth



These two interviews are with Yoga four peace in Houston where Ramaswami was presenting workshops.

Interview 1

In this interview Ramaswami discusses, in order of how they com up in the interview...

Yoga as one of the 64 arts
Pranayama
Why all the Savasana's in Vinyasa Krama?
The meditation element of Vinyasa Krama
Chanting
Yoga for the 3 stages of life
Thoughts on gym yoga

Interview 2
APRIL 08

This is my favourite of the two, he starts by chanting the ganesha and patanjali prayers then discusses....

Hatha yoga's relation to Raja yoga
Why it's important to study the yoga Sutras
Vinyasa krama, an integral practice
The yoga Sutras
What is a sutra
Mantra
Yoga for the internal organs
Constand practice and constant learning.

If you'd like to attend a workshop similar to those Ramaswami discusses in these interviews Although those were from a few years ago) then this coming workshop might be for you

Week of May 8-13, 2011

Hatha and Raja Yoga Practicum

Asana practice has caught the imagination of a number of enthusiasts—especially vinyasakrama, the sequencing art form of yoga practice. However, yoga has other important ingredients, all of which promote a positive transformation of the individual. A holistic approach would require the yogi to practice not only asana and pranayama (the Hatha yoga aspects), but also chanting, meditation, and contemplation of the philosophical and spiritual aspects (the Raja yoga aspects).

In this program, half of each session will be devoted to different asanas, following the Vinyasakrama method. It will involve doing more than about 300 vinyasas, or variations in classical yoga poses, in the course of the program. The other half of the time will be utilized for detailed and varied yogic breathing exercises and the other Raja yoga practices, like chanting, meditation, and philosophical and spiritual contemplation of the yoga sutras. The objective is that by the end of the program participants have a well-rounded understanding and practice of yoga, as opposed to doing only asanas or meditation. Hatha yoga and Raja yoga are aspects of the integrated system of yogic progression.

LINKS

Monday, 21 February 2011

Loving kindness

These was a moment during practice yesterday, just after my 10 minute tadasana, warm up, sequence and half way through the Sury's of Intermediate when I noticed I was becoming irritated with the back injury, symptoms of frustration, a tightness in my chest. I finished the A's started on the B's and still the tightness, a growing despondency, the irritation turning into annoyance.

Perhaps it's just become automatic now but something clicked, 'May you be happy....' the Buddhist Loving kindness mantra popped into my head, 'May you be happy, may you be safe, may you be well, ,may you be peaceful'. I chanted it in my head a couple of times along with the Sury's and then thought, why not. Stopped my practice, stood in tadasana for a moment getting centered and then repeated the mantra five times before carrying on with the practice where I left off.

Turned out to be a nice Vinyasa Krama modified Intermediate practice.

This morning after my opening chant I did the same, repeating the loving kindness mantra five times before practice, once again a nice gentle practice.

Such a simple thing yet somehow makes a world of difference. I recommend it to everyone trying to practice through an injury at the moment.

'May you be happy,
may you be safe,
may you be well,
may you be peaceful'.

Loving kindness or metta meditation.
The idea here seems to be to break old habits and cultivate new. The Buddhists know we're unlikely to start loving or enemies overnight so you begin by directing Loving kindness at your loved ones and move on from there. In your regular meditation you might begin by chanting the loving kindness mantra to yourself a few times slipping in a loved ones name in place of 'you' while holding their image in your mind. Next might be a friend, a teacher and after a while you might move onto someone who annoys you at work and try and direct loving kindness towards them while chanting the mantra.

It becomes automatic, someone does something that would normally annoy you ( thus causing you mild suffering) and you find yourself automatically chanting, 'May this piece of work who just cut in frount of me at the supermarket till be happy, may this piece of work who just cut in frount of me at the supermarket till be safe......

Here's a link to the Insight neditation audiodharma website where you can find podcasts on Loving kindness meditation by Gil Fronsdal along with pdf transcripts, which is where I learned about it. You can also find podcasts on Insight/Vipassana meditation, Dharma talks and even some natty meditation timers.




Appendix
An extended Loving kindness meditation

May I be free from enmity, may I be free from ill-will, may I be free from affliction, may I be happy, may I be free from suffering, may I not be parted from the good fortune I have attained, as owner of my kamma.

May the community in this monastery... May the guardian deities of this monastery be free from enmity, may they be free from ill-will, may they be free from affliction, may they be happy, may they be free from suffering, may they not be parted from the good fortune they have attained, as owners of their kamma.

May our supporters who provide the four requisites... May our parents, teacher, relatives and friends be free from enmity, may they be free from ill-will, may they be free from affliction, may they be happy, may they be free from suffering, may they not be parted from the good fortune they have attained, as owners of their kamma.

May all living things, all breathing thing, all beings, all persons, all individuals, all women, all men, all noble ones, all worldlings, all deities, all human beings, and all those destined for hell be free from enmity, may they be free from ill-will, may they be free from affliction, may they be happy, may they be free from suffering, may they not be parted from the good fortune they have attained, as owners of their kamma.

In the east, in the south, in the west, in the north, in the northeast, in the southeast, in the southwest, in the north west, below and above; may all living things, all breathing thing, all beings, all persons, all individuals, all women, all men, all noble ones, all worldlings, all

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Metta/loving kindness chant

From Buddha net

Metta is a Pali word meaning loving-kindness. Metta chanting is the radiation of loving-kindness towards all beings: May they all be happy and peaceful. Imee Ooi chants the Pali beautifully. Metta chanting is soothing, uplifting, joyful and a great healing for the world - pervading it with waves of love. Truly, may all beings be happy. May they live always in peace and harmony.

The Chant of Metta Text (Pali)

Aham avero homi
May I be free from enmity and danger
abyapajjho homi
May I be free from mental suffering
anigha homi
May I be free from physical suffering
sukhi - attanam pariharami
May I take care of myself happily

Mama matapitu
May my parents

acariya ca natimitta ca
teacher relatives and friends

sabrahma - carino ca
fellow Dhamma farers

avera hontu
be free from enmity and danger

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi - attanam pariharantu
may they take care of themselves happily

Imasmim arame sabbe yogino
May all meditators in this compound

avera hontu
be free from enmity and danger

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi - attanam pariharantu
May they take care of themselves happily

Imasmim arame sabbe bhikkhu
May all monks in this compound

samanera ca
novice monks

upasaka - upasikaya ca
laymen and laywomen disciples

avera hontu
be free from enmity and danger

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi - attanam pariharantu
May they take care of themselves happily

Amhakam catupaccaya - dayaka
May our donors of the four supports: clothing, food, medicine and lodging

avera hontu
be free from enmity and danger

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi - attanam pariharantu
May they take care of themselves happily

Amhakam arakkha devata
May our guardian devas

Ismasmim vihare
in this monastery

Ismasmim avase
in this dwelling

Ismasmim arame
in this compound

arakkha devata
May the guardian devas

avera hontu
be free from enmity and danger

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi - attanam pariharantu
may they take care of themselves happily

Sabbe satta
May all beings

sabbe pana
all breathing things

sabbe bhutta
all creatures

sabbe puggala
all individuals (all beings)

sabbe attabhava - pariyapanna
all personalities (all beings with mind and body)

sabbe itthoyo
may all females

sabbe purisa
all males

sabbe ariya
all noble ones (saints)

sabbe anariya
all worldlings (those yet to attain sainthood)

sabbe deva
all devas (deities)

sabbe manussa
all humans

sabbe vinipatika
all those in the four woeful planes

avera hontu
be free from enmity and dangers

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering
sukhi - attanam pariharantu
may they take care of themselves happily

Dukkha muccantu
May all being be free from suffering

Yattha-laddha-sampattito mavigacchantu
May whatever they have gained not be lost

Kammassaka
All beings are owners of their own Kamma

Purathimaya disaya
in the eastern direction

pacchimaya disaya
in the western direction

uttara disaya
in the northern direction

dakkhinaya disaya
in the southern direction

purathimaya anudisaya
in the southeast direction

pacchimaya anudisaya
in the northwest direction

uttara anudisaya
in the northeast direction

dakkhinaya anudisaya
in the southwest direction

hetthimaya disaya
in the direction below

uparimaya disaya
in the direction above

Sabbe satta
May all beings

sabbe pana
all breathing things

sabbe bhutta
all creatures

sabbe puggala
all individuals (all beings)

sabbe attabhava - pariyapanna
all personalities (all beings with mind and body)

sabbe itthoyo
may all females

sabbe purisa
all males

sabbe ariya
all noble ones (saints)

sabbe anariya
(those yet to attain sainthood)

sabbe deva
all devas (deities)

sabbe manussa
all humans

sabbe vinipatika
all those in the 4 woeful planes

avera hontu
be free from enmity and dangers

abyapajjha hontu
be free from mental suffering

anigha hontu
be free from physical suffering

sukhi - attanam pariharantu
may they take care of themselves happily

Dukkha muccantu
May all beings be free from suffering

Yattha-laddha-sampattito mavigacchantu
May whatever they have gained not be lost

Kammassaka
All beings are owners of their own kamma

Uddham yava bhavagga ca
As far as the highest plane of existence

adho yava aviccito
to as far down as the lowest plane

samanta cakkavalesu
in the entire universe

ye satta pathavicara
whatever beings that move on earth

abyapajjha nivera ca
may they are free of mental suffering and enmity

nidukkha ca nupaddava
and from physical suffering and danger

Uddham yava bhavagga ca
As far as the highest plane of existence

adho yava aviccito
to as far down as the lowest plane

samanta cakkavalesu
in the entire universe

ye satta udakecara
whatever beings that move on water

abyapajjha nivera ca
may they are free of mental suffering and enmity

nidukkha ca nupaddava
and from physical suffering and danger

Uddham yava bhavagga ca
As far as the highest plane of existence

adho yava aviccito
to as far down as the lowest plane

samanta cakkavalesu
in the entire universe

ye satta akasecara
whatever beings that move in air

abyapajjha nivera ca
may they are free of mental suffering and enmity

nidukkha ca nupaddava
and from physical suffering and danger.







May I be free from enmity and danger
May I be free from mental suffering
May I be free from physical suffering
May I take care of myself happily

May my parents
teacher relatives and friends
fellow Dhamma farers
be free from enmity and danger
be free from mental suffering
be free from physical suffering
may they take care of themselves happily

May all meditators in this compound
be free from enmity and danger
be free from mental suffering
be free from physical suffering
May they take care of themselves happily

May all monks in this compound
novice monks
laymen and laywomen disciples
be free from enmity and danger
be free from mental suffering
be free from physical suffering
May they take care of themselves happily

May our donors of the four supports: clothing, food, medicine and lodging
be free from enmity and danger
be free from mental suffering
be free from physical suffering
May they take care of themselves happily

May our guardian devas
in this monastery
in this dwelling
in this compound
May the guardian devas
be free from enmity and danger
be free from mental suffering
be free from physical suffering
may they take care of themselves happily

May all beings
all breathing things
all creatures
all individuals (all beings)
all personalities (all beings with mind and body)
may all females
all males
all noble ones (saints)
all worldlings (those yet to attain sainthood)
all devas (deities)
all humans
all those in the four woeful planes
be free from enmity and dangers
be free from mental suffering
be free from physical suffering
may they take care of themselves happily

May all being be free from suffering
May whatever they have gained not be lost
All beings are owners of their own Kamma
in the eastern direction
in the western direction
in the northern direction
in the southern direction
in the southeast direction
in the northwest direction
in the northeast direction
in the southwest direction
in the direction below
in the direction above

May all beings
all breathing things
all creatures
all individuals (all beings)
all personalities (all beings with mind and body)
may all females
all males
all noble ones (saints)
(those yet to attain sainthood)
all devas (deities)
all humans
all those in the 4 woeful planes
be free from enmity and dangers
be free from mental suffering
be free from physical sufferingtu
may they take care of themselves happily

May all beings be free from suffering
May whatever they have gained not be lost
All beings are owners of their own kamma
As far as the highest plane of existence
to as far down as the lowest plane
in the entire universe
whatever beings that move on earth
may they are free of mental suffering and enmity
and from physical suffering and danger
As far as the highest plane of existence
to as far down as the lowest plane
in the entire universe

whatever beings that move on water
may they are free of mental suffering and enmity
and from physical suffering and danger
As far as the highest plane of existence
to as far down as the lowest plane
in the entire universe
whatever beings that move in air
may they are free of mental suffering and enmity
and from physical suffering and danger.


Friday, 18 February 2011

Injury watch : Vinyasa krama modified Friday Primary

So I practiced of course, if only to get some mobility in my back. Bit of a challenge to avoid forward bends in Primary but I came up with something that seemed to work.

Sury's and Standing was the same as for this weeks intermediate.

The Vinyasa Krama Sun salutation has a squat after the forward bend before kicking the legs back onto chaturanga so in my Ashtanga Sury's I went for a very shallow forward bend, all hips, 'till my fingertips touched the mat then squatted and carried on through and then doing the same in reverse for the exit.

Side bends are not problem and the prasaritas are all hips anyway. In UHP I just took my leg higher so less of a bend forward. Ardha baddha Padmottanasana is my secret weapon, the arm wrapped around my back allows me to bend all the way forward and comeback up again without putting any strain on my back.

For seated I was reminded of the Vinyasa Krama maha mudra key posture. This is like Janusirsasana A except you don't bend forward. You grab your toe with both hands lift up out of your pelvis, engage full Jalandhara bandha and then breathe fully, long exhales, Full Moola and Uddiyana bandhas. I figured if I could do that for Janu A then I could do it for all the other seated Asymmetric postures in Primary in place of the forward bend, jump backs in between as usual ( I tend to add Viranchyasana B into my Primary after Janu C as an extension of the Janu's - the pics are all out of order btw standard Primary order applies).

Mari's were the same as usual just skipping the forward bends and doing the vinyasa Krama twist variation of Mari A and B.

I missed out Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana but did extra work on baddha konasana including Kandapindasana. In Upavistha I went for the side bend variation in place of the forward bend.

Carried on as usual through to finishing which was the same as for this weeks Modified Intermediate.

So again, slightly modified but had the same shape and feel as a regular Friday Primary.






















































Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Injury Watch: Modified Ashtanga 2nd series

Got away with a Vinyasa Krama modified Intermediate this morning. (Reminder: Back injury/strain above right hip that's hindering forward bends).

The Vinyasa Krama Sun salutation has a squat after the forward bend before kicking the legs back onto chaturanga so in my Ashtanga Sury's I went for a very shallow forward bend, all hips, 'till my fingertips touched the mat then squatted and carried on through and then doing the same in reverse for the exit.

Side bends are not problem and the prasaritas are all hips anyway. In UHP I just took my leg higher so less of a bend forward. Ardha baddha Padmottanasana is my secret weapon, the arm wrapped around my back allows me to bend all the way forward and comeback up again without putting any strain on my back.

Pasasana was OK just but I still a little stiff and approached it with a lot of caution seems OK, same with Krounchasana.

Took a detour through the Vinyasa krama Bow sequence as it's a nice gentle build up to Ustrasana, Laghu and Kapo, 'though it includes Viparita Salabhasana and Gandha B but for some reason backbends feel fine, Kapo was nice and deep.

Carried on through 2nd to Ardha matsyendrasana then cut out all the 'Leg behind head' and tittibhasana poses. Instead I took another Vinyasa Krama detour through some Asymmetric poses, maha mudra and ardha badha padma paschimottanasana vinyasa then added a long baddha konasana and some Kandapindasana work to make up for the missed LBH hip openers.

Karanda was fine, mayurasana fine and one of my best ever Vatyasana's very straight stable and tall in the pose, go figure.

Again side bends are fine so no problem with Parighasana

Missed out on Supta urdhava pada vajrasana, probably would have been OK with the arm bind for support but decided to be cautious, was a bit sweaty and didn't want to risk losing my grip on my toe and lose the supportive bind at the wrong moment.

Seven deadlies (headstands) were no problem, nor were the dropbacks, in fact finishing is OK, inverted forward bends seem fine although halasana and karna pindasana aren't as deep as usual.

Then of course Pranayama and Meditation which I appreciate even more because they're unaffected by injuries although I suppose a simple cold will play havoc with your pranayama.

So a nice practice, no real problems, easy to modify where necessary and just felt like a pretty regular Intermediate think I'll stick with it for now with just a modified Primary on Friday.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

February 2011 Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami—Thus Spake Sri T Krishnamacharya


For most people January is a very busy month. They work hard to put in
place a schedule to implement their New Year Resolutions. Admissions
to Yogic schools, Music schools, gymns show increased activity before
stabilizing at more realistic levels in later months. For me this
January was very sedate. I was forced to cool my heels, awaiting an
elusive appearance in a local court in Chennai, India. But I used this
enforced idleness to rummage through my old small book almirah here in
Chennai, which contains a few notebooks of the notes I had taken
during my studies with Sri Krishnamacharya. Some of them were as old
as the 1960 and as late as 1980s. I also was able to lay my hands on
old copies of the Tamizh version of Yoga Makaranda, the Kannada book
titled Yogasanagalu and two tiny albums of my Guru doing asanas, I
think in his 80s which he had given to me. It was refreshing visiting
those notes again. Some of them were in the form of dictated articles
by him. Some are not very linear but still informative. I thought I
could translate one of them—it deals with tow topics. It is as
follows, which was dictated to me during December 1967.

Thus spake Sri T Krishnamacharya

Several acharyas from the South of India have written about Ashtanga
Yoga under difficult circumstances. However, many of the highly
practical works of these acharyas were destroyed by people not
belonging to the orthodox vedic disposition.

Adi Sankara wrote three texts on Yoga. He wrote a text called “Yoga
Bashya Vivarana” as a commentary to the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. When
he was busy writing these outstanding works and teaching/preaching, he
faced many obstacles, like being set fire to his hands, by his
detractors. But just 30 years old, he created a divine work called,
“karavalamba stotra”, a prayer to Lord Lakshmi Narasimha and got his
hands restored and thereafter wrote some works on sushumna nadi. Then
when he was barely 32, he decided that he need not live in this world
any longer and became a complete recluse (vairagya). He also taught
the right path (sanmarga) to 500 of his students.Then due to his
enormous yogic powers, he effortlessly left his mortal body and
attained his true swarupa or form/status. Before that he called five
of his important students and taught his work, called “dasa avatara
stotra (work on ten avataras of the Lord) , on Paravasudeva. Then he
told them that only the worship of the Lord will help them get
released from samsara bandha (bondage of repeated births).

It is found that many successive great heads of Sankara Mutts
established by Sankara have not shown much earnestness in the matter
of Ashtanga yoga. But, due to the grace of God, the Advaita Ashram
that was dear to Adisankara and also quite wellknown viz., the
Sringeri Mutt had Sri Narasimha Bharati as the head. His leadership at
the Mutt was helpful in the propagation of Yoga. His disciple and
successor, the well known Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati was my dear
friend. We practiced Yoga together in Bangalore Sankara Mutt for some
time.

Now let me explain the works and observances of (Vaishnava) Yogis
like Parankucha Muni, Nathamuni and Vyamana Muni.

Parankusamuni, Satakopa, Nammalwar are the different names of the same
Yogi. The work that he did on Yoga was “Yoga Tatwa”. His propagation
of Yoga under the patronage of the Chola king was important. “By this
Yoga, the cool grace of Lord Sriman Narayana will become a protective
shield to your dynasty” said the sage. “ However if you violate the
dharma (apachara), the same power of yoga will prove to be a killer
sword for your dynasty” warned the sage. It is known that subsequently
the Chola dynasty lost a lot of its luster due to certain adharmic
activities of the ruling class.

There are twelve topics covered in “YogaTatwa”. Why did the
compassionate Lord create the world that tends towards sin
(papa).Having created it, why did the Lord create groups that force
people to follow the path of adharma? He is the Lord of everyone, but
why does He create opportunities for some to follow the path of
adhrma? Is it proper? As the text discusses these immensely weighty
issues and also solutions to them, it is called “Yoga Tatwa”. It is
our duty to explain and propagate these great secrets for the benefit
of the world. Sri Satakopa Muni for the benefit of the great souls
along the Tamraparani river wrote the first chapter himself.

The famous three munis wrote nine works. Once, Sri Nathamuni while
resting in a state of Samadhi had the vision of Parankusa Muni in his
dream. In that state he learnt many secrets of Yoga from Parankusa.
The essence of that teaching was the famous Nathamuni'sYoga Rahasya.
In this text, not only the routine Yoga principles are discussed but
also methods treatment of diseases or Yoga chikitsakramas.

The third of the trio was Yamunacharya. He wrote several works, but
four were famous. viz.,
Agamapramanam, Iswarasiddhi, Sampathsiddhi and Yoga chulakam. They
give instructions for easy practice of Yoga. The source books for the
works of these great sages were the Bhagavat Gita, the eleventh skanda
(section) of the Srimad Bhagavata. Uddava-Sri Krishna Dialogues,
several Upanishads, Yoga Yagnyavalkya Samhita, Sri Rahasya, Yogasana
Mahodadhi and many others. For Sri Nathamuni his parents and
grandparents the most important and dear Yoga text appears to be Yoga
Yagnyavalkya Samhita and also the Gita and the 11th section of the
Bhagavata. Discussing about the wonders of God's will, he talks about
issues like should lay people be taught to practice yoga and similar
issues in considerable detail. Many yogis of the present time, with
high ahanta(ego), I should say without any fear, have not had the good
fortune of reading Sri Nathamuni's yoga works and other supporting
texts.

Now let me give a comprehensive treatment of practice krama of yoga

There are several essential factors that should be kept in view by
both the yogabhyasi and the teacher. The student, as instructed by the
teacher should check the quality of recaka and puraka (exhalation and
inhalation). Are there any obstructions in the airways? It is mainly
because asanas unaided or synchronized with breathing is of no use.
For instance, the teacher and the student should check the number of
matras (measure of time) the breath takes while inhaling, exhaling. If
there is considerable difference in these durations, the teacher
should first ask the abhyasi to practice controlled rechaka-puraka
even prior to the practice of asanas.

Then one should start practicing asanas as per instructions. There are
many asanas--sitting, standing, supine, prone, lying on the sides—
there are thus many starting positions. Further there are upside down
positions, like Sarvangasana. If the students has good well
proportioned body the teacher can teach the inversions, Sarvangasana
and Sirsasana even in the beginning of study. And such a person
should also possess very long and smooth inhalations and exhalations.
Further he should learn to maintain the inhalations and exhalations of
even duration. If one does 8 to 10 recaka-purakas in sirsasana, then
one should practice sarvangasana for the same number of recaka-puraka
and of the same duration. Sarvangasana and sirsasana are like the two
eyes of yogabhyasa. These help to maintain “bodily
freedom” (sariraswatantriyam)The various vinyasas of these poses also
have similar effects. Only by these two poses the acuity of the senses
and capacity of the lungs increase. Even as Sarvangasana is an
essential pose for persons with heart ailment, it should be done with
the help and involvement of the teacher/trainer. While teaching
Sarvangasana to such persons, the teacher should stand behind the
trainee and at the end of each exhalation should gently nudge the
trainee's back a little forward and hold for a second. After about a
month's such practice, the trainer should check the strength of
recaka, the general health or growth of the body the duration of
recaka-puraka and then if they are good should help the trainee stay
for about a minute or so. Thereafter the abhyasi should be given rest.
If one has some ailment the posture should be repeated two or three
times. For instance to an asthmatic doing even half a dozen breaths in
Sarvangasana will be difficult. So the trainee should make the abhyasi
practice atleast 12 breaths over a number of tries. Trying to do many
breaths in one go could create some chest pain and discomfort. So,
with a relaxed approach in four or six tries one should do the
required number of breaths. One should return to the lying down
position slowly. The same will apply to obese people while learning
sarvangasana, they should be taught the asanas with a lot of care. In
this manner the teacher and taught should learn to remain in an asana
for several minutes without any doubts about the pose. With
sarvangasana and sirsasana other asanas like paschimatanasana,
purvatanasana, chatushpada peetam; Parvatasana, vajrasana,
Bhujangasana etc can also br practiced.

When one starts to learn Yoga, in the beginning the duration of
practice can be as little as 15 to 20 minutes. One can gradually
increase the duration. The teacher should check the breath every day
and then increase the duration of practice. Whatever be the posture,
if one could stay for a long time without the limbs going to sleep (or
numb) or any pain or discomfort then such a practitioner is known as
jitasana (the conqueror/master of an asana.) While staying in an asana
one should not unnecessarily shake the body, bend or contort or move
and if one can stay for hours then such a yogi is a jitasana. We learn
from the works and sayings of yogis that in the olden days the rishis,
every day would remain in any one asana for three hours and do
pranayama and meditation. Then if the yogi is able to remain doing
long inhalation, exhalation and kumbhaka without feeling any kind of
fatigue and for a long period of time such a person would be called
“Jitaprana” or Jitaswasa, or one who has conquered the breath.

Remaining in a posture and gazing at one's favorite (ishta) icon and
experiencing a feeling of bliss is called “trataka”. It is of two
types, anta and bahi. To gaze at an outside object like an icon is
external trataka. Closing one's eyes and 'imaging' the object
internally and continually focusing attention in between the eyebrows
is the antah(r)trataka or internal gazing. One can practice this
between one to ten minutes.

In the yogasana practice it is good to include a Mudra as well
everyday. Mahamudra and Shanmukhi mudra may be done. Further one
should do a kriya called plavana (jumping/stretching). For instance,
remaining in the same place after a particular asana practice, one may
place the palms on the floor, lift the body and then stretch the legs
one by one . Then in recaka one should bend the leg and in puraka
return to the floor If one stays in an asana for a long time, the
muscles could slightly cramp and the plavana would help restore the
muscles attain normal tone. The yogabhyasi should practice asana,
pranayama, mudra and kriya together even from the beginning. Only then
all the benefits mentioned for the varied asanas will accrue. Likewise
if one by Pranayama becomes known as Jitaswasa, and then by meditation
is able to conquer the mind such a yogi is known as jitamanaska. All
the three are necessary. One should practice the same duration for
both asana and pranayama and then twice the duration for dhyana or
meditation. In the olden days the sages did yoga on three occasions
everyday, at dawn, noon and dusk. The time and regulation in Kumbhaka
are essential. With regulated time,one should practice all aspects of
yoga, like asana, kriyas, pranayama and mudra. One should do a few
asanas that one enjoys doing for about 15 mts and then do the
pratikriyas or counter poses. For instancee one may do 15 mts of
sirsasana followed by 15 mts of sarvangasana,. Or perhaps 15 mts of
viparita dandasana followed by 15 mts of uttana mayurasana.

Asanas like sirasasana done while the body trembles or unsteady will
not be beneficial. Done correctly, it helps to maintain prana in
sushuna. Without proper practice one will not get faith in Yoga, nor
will one get the benefits mentioned in the sastras. One should know
the kriyas (like plavana) and there is a relationship bertween asanas
and plavana(jumping/stretching) kriya. As mentioned earlier, one
should bring under control the body by asana, with recaka kumbhaka the
prana and by meditation or dhyana the mind. For dhyana it may be
useful to choose a charming icon

*******

Anthony Hall has been writing periodically about Vinyasa Krama in
depth in his popular blogs
He has several video clips of asana practice including picture
posters of all the Vinyasa Krama sequences. Thank you very much Tony
for your kind efforts and contribution—labour of love or love of
labour (karma Yoga). I am also thankful to Wyatt Denny, Barry
Wadsworth and Christopher Rahlwes, among others for their
contributions in writing/pictures/videos about Vinyasakrama.

Salil Ganeriwal from Hyderabad sent me a video of the talk on Yoga
for Health I gave at his nice studio. I also have a couple of videos
taken at Esalen—a talk on yoga and a lecture on Yogasutras. I do not
know if it is possible to load an hour long video (for free of course)
in any accessible site.

There are now about 1000 members in this group and most have attended
some program or the other conducted by me—a lecture, a weekend
workshop, a weeklong training program, a 200 hour five week long
teacher training program or private lessons.. I would like to renew my
request to all to do a short video of some subroutine they like, say,
Marichyasana, Vrukshasana dingnamaskara,virabhadrasana, (done slowly
and with the correct smooth long breathing) or any other, load it on a
friendly website and let me know and I can share the information in
the next newsletter. Think about it please, or better still do it

******
I hope you may find this teaching of Sri Krishnamacharya useful.
Please send your comments and suggestions to info@vinyasakrama.com.
You may refer to the earlier newsletters and articles by visiting my
website
and opening the newsletter tab.

With best wishes
Sincerely
Srivatsa Ramaswami

from Thus spake Krishnamacharya inc. Jumping back as a Kriya?

Yesterday I posted Ramaswami's February 2011 newsletter in full. In one section he mentions how Krishnamacharya would, at times, dictate some of his articles. The passage below is from one of these these ( 1967) that Ramaswami translates, it concerns Vinyasa Krama practice. I thought it might be useful to present the different points made about the practice in a more easily referable format. I've tried to separate it up into different points, the italics (mine) seem to expand on the numbered point.

Of particular interest to the Ashtangis might be where Krishnamacharya mentions Plavana as a Kriya ( see points 9, 10 and 16 below). Plavana might be translated as flying or floating. Here he mentions lifting up out of an asana and stretching the legs back and forth before bringing the legs back in and lowering but it seems likely that this would also cover the jump back and jump through that is so familiar to Mysore Ashtanga practice.

Jump back as a a kriya, interesting, no?

The full newsletter can be found under yesterdays post or HERE on Ramaswami's Vinyasa Krama site.

'Now let me give a comprehensive treatment of practice krama of yoga...

There are several essential factors that should be kept in view by both the yogabhyasi and the teacher.

1. The student, as instructed by the teacher should check the quality of recaka and puraka (exhalation and inhalation).

Are there any obstructions in the airways? It is mainly because asanas unaided or synchronized with breathing are of no use. For instance, the teacher and the student should check the number of matras (measure of time) the breath takes while inhaling, exhaling. If there is considerable difference in these durations, the teacher should first ask the abhyasi to practice controlled rechaka-puraka even prior to the practice of asanas.

2. Then one should start practicing asanas as per instructions.

There are many asanas--sitting, standing, supine, prone, lying on the sides— there are thus many starting positions. Further there are upside down positions, like Sarvangasana.

3. If the students has a good well proportioned body the teacher can teach the inversions, Sarvangasana and Sirsasana even in the beginning of study.

And such a person should also possess very long and smooth inhalations and exhalations. Further he should learn to maintain the inhalations and exhalations of even duration. If one does 8 to 10 recaka-purakas in sirsasana, then one should practice sarvangasana for the same number of recaka-puraka and of the same duration.

4. Sarvangasana and sirsasana are like the two eyes of yogabhyasa.

These help to maintain “bodily freedom” (sariraswatantriyam) The various vinyasas of these poses also have similar effects. Only by these two poses the acuity of the senses and capacity of the lungs increase. Even as Sarvangasana is an essential pose for persons with heart ailment, it should be done with the help and involvement of the teacher/trainer. While teaching Sarvangasana to such persons, the teacher should stand behind the trainee and at the end of each exhalation should gently nudge the trainee's back a little forward and hold for a second. After about a month's such practice, the trainer should check the strength of recaka, the general health or growth of the body the duration of recaka-puraka and then if they are good should help the trainee stay for about a minute or so. Thereafter the abhyasi should be given rest. If one has some ailment the posture should be repeated two or three times. For instance to an asthmatic doing even half a dozen breaths in Sarvangasana will be difficult. So the trainee should make the abhyasi practice at least 12 breaths over a number of tries. Trying to do many breaths in one go could create some chest pain and discomfort. So, with a relaxed approach in four or six tries one should do the required number of breaths. One should return to the lying down position slowly. The same will apply to obese people while learning sarvangasana, they should be taught the asanas with a lot of care. In this manner the teacher and taught should learn to remain in an asana for several minutes without any doubts about the pose. With sarvangasana and sirsasana other asanas like paschimatanasana, purvatanasana, chatushpada peetam; Parvatasana, vajrasana, Bhujangasana etc can also be practiced.

5. When one starts to learn Yoga, in the beginning the duration of practice can be as little as 15 to 20 minutes.

One can gradually increase the duration. The teacher should check the breath every day and then increase the duration of practice.

6. Whatever be the posture, if one could stay for a long time without the limbs going to sleep (or numb) or any pain or discomfort then such a practitioner is known as jitasana (the conqueror/master of an asana).

While staying in an asana one should not unnecessarily shake the body, bend or contort or move and if one can stay for hours then such a yogi is a jitasana. We learn from the works and sayings of yogis that in the olden days the rishis, every day would remain in any one asana for three hours and do pranayama and meditation. Then if the yogi is able to remain doing long inhalation, exhalation and kumbhaka without feeling any kind of fatigue and for a long period of time such a person would be called “Jitaprana” or Jitaswasa, or one who has conquered the breath.

7. Remaining in a posture and gazing at one's favorite (ishta) icon and experiencing a feeling of bliss is called “trataka”.

It is of two types, anta and bahi. To gaze at an outside object like an icon is external trataka. Closing one's eyes and 'imaging' the object internally and continually focusing attention in between the eyebrows is the antah(r)trataka or internal gazing. One can practice this between one to ten minutes.

8. In the yogasana practice it is good to include a Mudra as well everyday.

Mahamudra and Shanmukhi mudra may be done.

9. Further one should do a kriya called plavana (jumping/stretching).

For instance, remaining in the same place after a particular asana practice, one may place the palms on the floor, lift the body and then stretch the legs one by one. Then in recaka one should bend the leg and in puraka return to the floor If one stays in an asana for a long time, the muscles could slightly cramp and the plavana would help restore the muscles attain normal tone.

10. The yogabhyasi should practice asana, pranayama, mudra and kriya together even from the beginning.

Only then all the benefits mentioned for the varied asanas will accrue. Likewise if one by Pranayama becomes known as Jitaswasa, and then by meditation is able to conquer the mind such a yogi is known as jitamanaska. All the three are necessary.

11. One should practice the same duration for both asana and pranayama and then twice the duration for dhyana or meditation.

12. In the olden days the sages did yoga on three occasions everyday, at dawn, noon and dusk.

13. The time and regulation in Kumbhaka are essential.

14. With regulated time,one should practice all aspects of yoga, like asana, kriyas, pranayama and mudra.

One should do a few asanas that one enjoys doing for about 15 mts and then do the pratikriyas or counter poses. For instancee one may do 15 mts of sirsasana followed by 15 mts of sarvangasana,. Or perhaps 15 mts of viparita dandasana followed by 15 mts of uttana mayurasana.

15. Asanas like sirasasana done while the body trembles or unsteady will not be beneficial.

Done correctly, it helps to maintain prana in sushuna. Without proper practice one will not get faith in Yoga, nor will one get the benefits mentioned in the sastras.

16. One should know the kriyas (like plavana) and there is a relationship bertween asanas and plavana (jumping/stretching) kriya.

17. As mentioned earlier, one should bring under control the body by asana, with recaka kumbhaka the prana and by meditation or dhyana the mind.

For dhyana it may beuseful to choose a charming icon'

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