Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Did Sri K. Pattabhi Jois leave out the 'heart' of the practice? Or does it's heart lie elsewhere.

In case you don't make it to the end of the post... 

Happy New Year


What benefit do you see in adding kumbhaka during intense and difficult asana practice?

I was asked this question yesterday and It's a post I've had planned for sometime, parts of this will be cut and pasted from an earlier draft.

Here's the question in full.

 "I'm interested, what is your view on this: most people can't do intermediate series with smooth even breathing, the 'free breathing' Sharath advocates. What benefit do you see, then, in adding kumbhaka? Not just pranayama with kumbhakas, but kumbhakas during intense and difficult asana practice"?

Context: In my previous post this I week I mentioned how having explored Kumbhaka in Ashtanga Primary series over the last year I was now planning on exploring kumbhaka in the Ashtanga 2nd series for this coming year.

Kumbhaka = breath retention, in pranayama they can be long ( mine are average, 20 seconds, long enough to mentally chant the pranayama mantra) but in asana Krishnamacharya seems to be talking of much shorter kumbhaka of between 2-5 seconds, depending on the asana

The question above goes I think to the heart of the matter.

And It's something I've considered.

I used to practice along with Sharath's DVD, the full Ashtanga series in an hour, the inhalation and exhalation are around two seconds for each.

I've practiced with other DVDs, where the practice took a little longer, the time allowed for the inhalation 3-4 seconds, I've been in Led classes with Manju also, where the inhalation and exhalation have been around four seconds each.

Either way, if you want to go through the whole series in less than two hours you have to crack on a bit, the postures keep coming at you, next posture, next posture, bang, bang, bang....

We get used to it of course, practicing on our own we can take it a little more slower, we get fitter, there's more control over the breath, our transitions use up less energy,  we become more flexible such that we can ease into the postures more easily, in short, we learn how to conserve energy.

But what happens if you introduce kumbhaka, (breath retention of a couple of second ) into the mix, if we only have the same amount of time available to practice then aren't we're going to have to speed up the inhalation and exhalation once more.

Intermediate series is even more intense than Primary, my friend is right be concerned, do we really want to feed a kumbhaka element into the mix, won't that be dangerous.

It might give us pause to reflect....

Do we have to include a full series in each practice.

It will depend on how much time we have available. Pattabhi Jois suggested that if we have less time available,  that we do the Sury's and the last three finishing postures, how much goes in the middle will depend on the time available.

Do we have to move so quickly from one posture to the next?

This is governed by the breath, the movements follow the breath not the other way around. Pattabhi Jois in interviews talked about ten second inhalations and ten second exhalations, even, fifteen, twenty seconds,

So we can move more slowly, we can breath more slowly.

Do we only stay for five breaths in a postures?

In Yoga Mala Patabhi Jois writes for most postures

"...do puraka and rechaka as much as possible".

Pattabhi Jois teaching, notice all those beautifully curved backs, the forehead o the knee for Janu Sirsasana

The first western students mention that in the beginning there were 10 breaths in postures, later  8 before finally coming down to the 5 we currently have in most of the seated postures  (this may even be as few as 3 seconds depending on your led class and how much time is made available before moving to the next transition).

So we don't have to rocket through a full series.

We can practice half a series, even a third of a series

We can breath more slowly, long, full, inhalations and exhalations.

We can stay in postures longer.

Practice like this and introducing kumbhaka (breath retention) becomes possible, and remember we're talking short kumbhaka's of generally 2-5 seconds, an extension of the automatic pause between the inhalation and the exhalation and exhalation and inhalation.

Same goes for the Intermediate series, no you wouldn't introduce kumbhaka into your Sharath led intermediate in Mysore but including it in the regular self practice the rest of the week and practicing only half a practice with long slow breathing should be perfectly acceptable.

Except that it's not.

There is no kumbhaka in Current Ashtanga. 

I mentioned yesterday that in tweaking the order of the already laid out groupings of asana (Krishnamacharya had already grouped asana into Primary middle and Proficient in his 1941 Mysore book 'Yogasanagalu', the groups closely resembling the current Ashtanga sequences  ) Pattabhi Jois seems to have left out Krishnamacharya's use of Kumbhaka.

I put it, perhaps a little too provocatively yesterday,

"Pattabhi Jois seems to have 'tweaked' the order of Primary and Intermediate as well as removing the heart (kumbhaka) from the practice".

I say 'seems to', this is assuming that he was actually taught kumbhaka in asana by Krishnamacharya.

I'd always assumed that Pattabhi Jois had held back the kumbhaka from his teaching, I asked Manju but he was adamant that there was no kumbhaka in asana, that his father didn't practice it and that Krishnamacharay was mistaken.

Now I love and respect Manju, I've taken a week long TT with him in Crete and hope to have the opportunity to do so again but I disagree with him on this, I don't believe it was a mistake.

Kumbhaka is everywhere in Krishnamacharya's first book Yoga Makaranda (1934) we find he went even further in his second book Yogasanagalu (1941) and put it in table form.


In both books we find the Vinyasa Count for each asana

We find instruction for long slow full breathing, 'like the pouring of oil'

We find the breath controlled at the back of the throat

We find practicing inhalation and exhalation as much as possible in a posture

We find long stays in postures suggested

We find bandhas indicated

We find the asana grouped into Primary, Middle and Advanced postures, the order strongly resembling the current Ashtanga series (except perhaps for the Advanced group).

We find the appropriate kumbhaka, whether following the inhalation or the exhalation clearly indicated for the majority of postures

We find all of the above elements in Pattabhi Jois' presentation of Ashtanga, current Ashtanga, except the last one, except for Kumbhaka.

Yes, the breath may have speeded up. Yes, the stays in the postures may have become shorter and yes, the inhalations and exhalations may have become quicker since Pattabhi Jois wrote Yoga Mala in the 1950's but kumbhaka never seems to have been included in Pattabhi Jois' teaching.

Quite the opposite in fact

In Pattabhi Jois' Yoga Mala, for Navasana we find

"The vinyasas that follow have been specified earlier. While coming into the state of this asana, never do kumbhaka, that is, never hold your breath".

Shirsasana

"In addition, the entire body should be kept erect and rechaka and puraka performed deeply, without kumbhaka".

And most explicitly in the section on the surynamaskaras

"Aspirants should know this method, which is best learned from a Guru. They should also note that kumbhaka, or breath retention does not occur either in the Surya Namaskara or the asanas.".

What to make of this. If we follow the lineage we should follow Pattabhi Jois' teaching on this but we have Krishnamacharya's texts, we can go directly to the source and  kumbhaka is everywhere in these texts and they were manuals, he wanted us to practice this way, we also know that he continued to include kumbhaka in his later teaching.

Or we can ignore the texts, ignore all mention of kumbhaka and it will be lost.

I don't really know about parampara or lineage, I do know that my teacher Ramaswami studied directly with Krishnamacharya for 33 years and that I was privileged enough to go through Krishnamacharya's works with him line by line in the classroom, vinyasa by vinyasa in the studio.

I know too that Ramaswami continues to teach  because he believes that aspects of Krishnamacharya's teaching have been neglected and may end up lost (perhaps he's disappointed that I focus on this aspect of Krishnamacharya rather than on those he himself might stress, perhaps he's bemused too that I continue to explore Ashtanga rather than sticking with Vinyasa krama (for me though they are the same thing)).

I think my research has highlighted that there was no early and late Krishnamacharya, he didn't change (not really) but perhaps how we practice his Ashtanga did. And perhaps that's fine, perhaps Pattabhi Jois was right to take the practice in the direction he did, perhaps he was never taught kumbhaka or neglected this aspect in his own practice and decided to do without it.

However his teacher, someone he revered, who's teaching he insisted he was following,  made kumbhaka central to the practice, put it into almost every asana in his first book and then went so far as to put it right there in a table in his second book (written in kanada, Jois' mother tongue).

How clear did he have to make it that this was an essential element of practice. Personally I think the use of bandhas and the control of the breath at the back of the throat, also the drishti makes no real sense without it, it's as if everyone is present at the wedding except the bride.

We know Krishnamacharya continued to teach kumbhaka throughout his life and we have his early books for heavens sake, we have Pattabhi Jois' teacher's books. If Krishnamacharya ever did study and memorise the Yoga Korunta the essence of it is most likely found right there in Yoga Makaranda ( and remember Krishnamacharya supposedly wrote it in the space of a couple of days). We have primary texts, right there, we have what he wanted to communicate about the practice, what he considered most essential, he wanted us to know and practice this stuff.


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OK, why do I think kumbhaka is so important, such that I explore it in my practice every morning as well as going on and on about it here (apart from the fact krishnamacharya laid great stress on it)?

What benefit, as my friend asked, is there in adding kumbhaka..?

Kumbhaka....., it's is where it all happens, that moment of stillness between the inhalation and exhalation, the silence, peace, it's timeless, does feel like that sometimes and I'm really only beginning to explore this. It's in the kumbhaka that we can perhaps more fully explore internal drishti, we bring our attention to different chakras, not pretty rainbow chakras but areas of the body that the Rishis of old found most interesting to focus their attention.... or we can visualise effulgence in our hearts, we can float mantras, chant them mentally on the inhalation on the exhalation and then allow them to just be in the space of the kumbhaka.

If your of a religious frame of mind it's probably in the kumbhaka that you find god.

My current thinking, and something I'm really only just beginning to explore (those pretty rainbow chakra books turned me away from the cakra model until quite recently), is that Krishnamacharya was using kumbhaka in asana to focus the citta (awareness) at different cakra's. Or rather that the focus of attention on the cakra happens during kumbhaka but it's the choice of asana that is the focussing lens and directed at a particular cakra. So certain asana would be better than others for focussing awareness (citta) on a particular cakra. Many of the asana descriptions in Yoga Makaranda mention the benefit gained as relating to a particular cakra associated with that asana.

Here's a nice, concise example

38 Gandabherundasana (Figure 4.86, 4.87)



This has 10 vinyasas. The 6th and 7th vinyasas show the asana sthiti. The first picture shows the 6th vinyasa and the second picture shows the 7th. In the 4th vinyasa, come to caturanga dandasana sthiti and in the 5th vinyasa proceed to viparita salabasana sthiti. In the 6th vinyasa, spread the arms out wide, keeping them straight like a stick (like a wire) as shown in the picture. Take the soles of both feet and place them next to the ears such that the heels touch the arms and keep them there.
Next, do the 7th vinyasa as shown in the second picture. This is called supta ganda bherundasana. In this asana sthiti and in the preliminary positions, do equal recaka puraka kumbhaka. Keep the gaze fixed on the midbrow. This must not be forgotten.
Benefit: Goiter, inflammation of the glands of the neck and diseases due to mahodaram will be destroyed. The visuddhi and brahmaguha cakras will function correctly and this will take the mind to the state of savikalpa samadhi. Pregnant women should not do this.

For me, Krishnamacharya made kumbhaka the heart and soul of the practice.

I'm not really religious, not so spiritual perhaps but I find stillness there, the practice makes more sense for me with kumbhaka in it's place.

But perhaps you have a different view, I'm sure you do, on what constitutes the 'heart' of the practice, I'd be interested to hear what you feel it is.

UPDATE
I liked this comment to this post

Hi Anthony. What I've learned from my teacher in this tradition is that the teaching is not to forcefully hold the breath. No matter the length of time spent at the juncture between what we call inhale vs. exhale, the issue is that it should be like you are still inhaling, or like you are still exhaling. We are "at the top of our breath", still inhaling, yet 'not', exactly. This key being it's 'as if' we are still inhaling (or exhaling, which is a little trickier). This is how the breath remains smooth and steady, like oil pouring, even though it seems the oil is simply a vapour. So perhaps Jois took a strident position, to ensure that no clutching, no forceful holding, is employed as a misunderstanding. Leading to harm in one's system.
Does this make sense as a way to view 'both' stories about breath 'retention'??
UPDATE 2

A friend just sent me these two pages from Simon Borg-Oliver's book. I reviewed Simon's Book on an an earlier post , looking at his 'nine bandhas, yes nine 
The nine bandhas (yes Nine) in the APPLIED ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY OF YOGA of Simon Borg-oliver and Bianca machliss



from The Book is APPLIED ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY OF YOGA by Simon Borg-Olivier
MSc BAppSc (Physiotherapy) & Bianca Machliss BSc BAppSc (Physiotherapy)

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My friend is perhaps concerned that I might corrupt the youth, that someone new to Ashtanga, might listen to some of this and try and introduce kumbhaka into their fledgling Ashtanga practice. She's probably right, as stated above you can't just introduce kumbhaka into a fast paced ashatnga practice, current practice seems to have taken a different trajectory. 

You could slow down certain sections though, try it on one or two postures where your breath and heart rate are nice and calm ( Krishnamacharya instructed Ramaswami to take a mini savasana if ever his breath became short or his heart rate fast).

Truth be told, probably not many get to the end of posts like this, my stats are great for jump back and backbend posts but drop through the floor for posts like this. So really, nothing to fear.

Here's a video of what a Krishnamacharya Ashtanga practice might look like with Kumbhaka in it's rightful place. This is just a short section of the two and a half hour practice that pretty much followed the current Ashtanga series but with the instructions for the asana found in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda. It's slow ( it doesn't necessarily have to be THIS slow) and I imagine very few find it watchable to the end let alone wish to practice like this, but perhaps I'm wrong.... 

Slow might be the new black, remember that 'slow cooking' movement a while back.



In the video I'm on the right practicing a Yoga makaranda inspired Ashtanga, my friend Oscar on the left practicing Vinyasa krama. I really wish we had one of oscar's Ashtanga students practicing current Ashtanga along side us to contrast the three approaches but also show up much of what they have in common. The Video was shot the day after the recent Krishnamacharya workshop I gave at Oscar's Yoga studio, Yoga Centro Victoria, Leon, Spain. I'm hoping to be presenting a similar workshop at Living Yoga Valencia at the end of January (dates to be confirmed. I'll also be teaching three classes at the Yoga Rainbow festival in Turkey at the beginning of May.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Exploring Kumbhaka ( breath retention) in Krishnamacharya's Intermediate 'series' inc. Practice Sheets primary- 2nd series


For much of last year I found myself exploring Krishnamacharya's asana descriptions in Yoga Makaranda, culminating in a reordering of the asana from that text into Ashtanga Primary series order. That allowed me to follow, in my own practice,  the regular sequence with which I'm so familiar and yet bring in other elements of Krishnamacharya's approach, the longer stays, slower breathing and in particular his employment of kumbhaka (breath retention).

For the coming year the plan is to take a similar approach to Ashtanga 2nd series. So what we have below is a slight reordering of the table from Krishnamacharya's 1941 book Yogasanaglau to bring it into line with current Intermediate series. ( I've also included the reordered table for Standing primary and Finishing sequences).

Looking forward to exploring second series again, have missed it. I've often included in my practice this year the backbend section from 2nd series whether in an Ashtanga context or Vinyasa Krama but pretty much abandoned everything after that. My lotus comes down in Karandavasana still but is reluctant to go back up.

I added most of this post to the previous one as an update but want to make it available as a separate post so anyone else wants to play can.

The beauty of this approach I think is that you can introduce as much or as little of Krishnamacharya's approach into your own practice as you wish. Explore the kumbhaka option perhaps in one or more asana, or better, explore the kumbhaka option in, say, a different group of five postures each practice. Choose perhaps a similar group of five postures and explore slowing the breathing right down, we do something anyway with our standing and finishing postures where the breathing is often slower. And we can choose to explore longer stays in certain postures, choose a different posture or two and stay for ten full breaths rather than the usual five. All options to explore and approaches that Krishnamacharya chose to present in what was essentially a manual


For me, approaching my whole practice this way, it'll be a case of splitting the series into two allowing me to take it slower and include the longer stays and kumbhaka's, perhaps with a longer full 2nd on Tuesdays and full Primary on Sunday.

In the rediscovered Pattabhi Jois Yoga Therapy article Vamana's use of Vinyasa is translated as 'inhalation and exhalation' in keeping with the current presentation of Ashtanga in which no Kumbhaka is employed.

Pattabhi Jois also states in the article

'This method can be learnt only from an experienced yogi well versed in Yoga Shastra'.

Breath in the arms come up, 
breath out the arms go down, 
breathe in - come up, 
breath out - bend forward....

It's actually quite intuitive, how about the breath

'equal but otherwise, free breathing'.

Why do we need an 'experienced guru well versed in the shastras' to teach us something that appears so intuitive?

I have theory (what, another one)....


This year I've been exploring, through practice, Krishnamacharya's approach to asana, in particular, his employment of kumbhaka. I've slightly reordered the Primary Group asana from the table found in Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu (1941) to bring it more in line with the current Ashtanga primary series sequence. I'm presently doing something similar for the middle group also, bringing the Yogasangalu table order in line with current Ashtanga Intermediate series. The plan is to explore this approach to 2nd series in my practice this coming year. 

Krishnamacharya doesn't seem to have followed a fixed series although clearly there are sequences and subroutines that closely follow sections within the current practice of Ashtanga, that's to be expected of course much of it is intuitive, one asana often logically follows another. The Primary group asana table in Yogasanagalu is almost exactly the same as we find in the current Ashtanga Primary series, the Middle group is close, very close, however the Proficient group is more 'lumped together'. 

The story goes that when Pattabhi Jois was invited to teach at the Sanskrit college he came to Krishnamacharya with the asana he had been taught by Krishnamacharya grouped into Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A and Advanced B. Krishnamacharya is said to have given his approval.

I'm familiar with the Ashtanga series having practice Primary to Advanced series for a number of years, it makes sense to me to practice Krishnamacharya's instructions for asana in an order I'm familiar with as well as allowing me to offer it to others as an option to explore in their own practice.

Looking at this section of the 2nd series table that I'm currently working on, with it's employment of different kumbhaka depending on the asana, we can probably agree that this is significantly more complex. 

Actually it's even more complicated than the table suggests. In Yoga Makaranda Krishnamacharya gives instructions for different kumbhaka at different stages of the vinyasa of a single asana. We can see perhaps why the assistance of a guru well versed in the shastras ( here I read those related to pranayama practice) is advised particularly as there is an intimate relationship between kumbhakam and the employment of the different bandhas. I have been fortunate in that my teacher, Srivatsa Ramaswami, Krishnamacharya's student of 30 years still teaches, to some extent, the use of  kumbhaka in certain asana vinyasas, within the Jois Ashtanga lineage however this element of the tradition seems to have been misplaced. Manju Jois went so far as to tell me recently that Krishnamacharya was mistaken in his use of kumbhaka in asana, perhaps he is right. However we are not talking about one reference in passing to kumbhaka. Yoga Makaranda is all about the breath, each individual element of the breath, we find kumbhaka's described in almost every asana. 

Perhaps the employment of kumbhaka is something that Krishnamacharya didn't teach to his student Pattabhi Jois, and yet we find it detailed in Yoga Makaranda (1934) written while Patabhi Jois was Krishnamacharya's student and even in some cases teaching assistant (It is thought Pattabhi Jois, being a senior student, would have led the Mysore boys in their classes while Krishnamacharya would, on occasion, teach a more Vinyasa krama approach on a one-to-one basis in another room). Perhaps kumbhaka was not intended for the young boys of the palace or beginners.

Yet kumbhaka is everywhere in Yoga Makaranda (1934), in almost every asana description detailed instructions are given, likewise in Yogasanagalu (1941) and its presentation within the form of a  table. These were texts Krishnamacharya was instructed to write as pedagogic manuals for schools and elsewhere. Krishnamacharya wanted to share this approach to asana, he wanted us to practice asana this way.


Section of the 2nd series table I'm presently working on 

Krishnamacharya Yogasanagalu (19410 table in Ashtanga 2nd series order

Number in                                                                                        Asana
yogasanaglu        Asana                                      Vinyasas            position                       Breathing notes
table                                           

1.            Pasasana                            14             7-8              Bhaya kumbhaka
2.            Krounchasana                     22        7-8-14-15        Bhaya Kumbhaka
6.            Shalabasana A and B          10            5-6              Antah Kumbhaka
10.          Bhekasana                            9               5                Antah Kumbhaka
3.            Dhanurasana                        9               5               Antah Kumbhaka
4.            Parshva Dhanurasana         12           6-7-8            Antah Kumbhaka
9.            Ushtrasana                          15           7-8-9            Antah Kumbhaka
12.          Lagu Vajrasana                    15           7-8-9           Ubhaya Kumbhaka
15.          Kapotasana A and B            15              8               Antah Kumbhaka

11.          Supta vajrasana                   18            9-11            Ubhya Kumbhaka


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FIRST DRAFT

Note - Length of Kumbhaka's
Extend the natural/automatic mini kumbhaka between the inhalation and exhalation or between the exhalation and inhalation to 2-5 seconds in the postures indicated, certain more 'meditative' postures the kumbhaka might be extended to those employed in regular pranayama.





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See previous post for a look back over my posts this year, favourite posts as well as new resource pages on Ashtanga History, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Manju Jois and Srivatsa Ramaswami.

2013 A year in posts - New Ashtanga Vinyasa resource Pages, favourite posts of the year

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Discussion of the rediscovered article Yoga and Therapy by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Also next years practice, Kumbhaka in 2nd series.

This rediscovered article by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois was posted by Eddie Stern this week on his site Ashtanga yoga New york


Here's the intro and first three paragraphs but follow the link to Eddie's page for the full article.

"Yoga and Therapy
This article is a transcript of a lecture that Guruji gave in Bangalore, in 1977. You can also find it on the Sri K Pattabhi Jois page. The article was published in a book called  Yoga and Science, published by the Budha Vacana Trust, 1977. Special thanks to Shaun and Leslie Kaminoff for tracking down and finding this extremely rare publication in India." Eddie Stern

Yoga and Therapy

By Sri K Pattabhi Jois

Mind is very fickle, like mercury. Fickle mind, with no discrimination of purity and impurity, flows arbitrarily, conducts itself with no restraints. Because of its unrestrained conduct, the mind influencing the organs of the body not only causes them to become sick, but endangers itself.  If the mind becomes one-pointed or fixed, it regulates the organs of the body and protects them from disease. Illusion is also a function of the mind, leading to many sicknesses.

The process of control and purification of mind is called yoga. Maharshi Patanjali has expounded this in an aphorism, Yogah cittavrtti nirodhah, which means that yoga is the process of controlling all the waves of the mind and fixing them on a specified object.  This is also called “Astanga Yoga” which has eight fold factors: yama: restraints; niyama: observances; asana: posture;  pranayama: breathing practice; pratyahara: sense control;  dharana: concentration;  dhyana: meditation;  Samadhi: contemplation.

These eight factors are divided into two groups called external devices and internal devices. Restraint, observance, posture and breathing practice belong to the external devices. Sense-control, concentration, meditation, and contemplation belong to the internal ones. It is far from easy to practice the internal devices without practicing the external. Therefore, to start with, one should practice the external devices.

Link to the full article at Eddie Stern's Ashtanga yoga New York

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In the article Pattabhi Jois quotes Sage Vamana, purported to be the author of the Yoga Korunta

"Sri Vamana has therefore made it clear:

Vina vinyasa yogena asanadinnakarayet ||

One should not practice posture without the method of inhaling and exhaling".

The same old line from Vamana Rishi. I've always wondered, if Krishnamacharya was supposed to have studied the Yoga Korunta for seven years in Tibet with his teacher Yogeshwara Ramamohana Brahmachari, and, supposedly learned it by heart, as well as later, reciting it to his eager student Pattabhi Jois.....

Why do we only have the one line?

It's the same line, always the same line.

Before switching to Philosophy I began University as a Classics student, all we have of some of the Ancient Pre Socratic Philosophers are, if we are lucky,  a handful of lines quoted by contemporary or near contemporary authors. One of my favourite Presocratic philosophers Anaxemenes has only the one line surviving

Just as our soul, being air, holds us together, so do breath and air encompass the whole world.

Just as our soul, being air, holds us together, so do breath and air encompass the whole world.

And you thought it was only the yogi's who wrote about the breath

Makes one think doesn't it, perhaps Krishnamacharya in all his reading, and he appears to have read voraciously on Yoga from libraries all over India, perhaps he only came across the one line of Vamana Rishi and that referenced in another text rather than the Yoga Korunta itself.

Or perhaps he did indeed study Vamana Rishi's Yoga Korunta with his teacher. The story goes Krishnamacharya later discovered a copy in a Calcutta library but that the text, written on banana leaves like so many other ancient texts, had mostly been eaten by ants. Perhaps the only legible surviving line was the one quoted above. It's also often claimed that Pattabhi Jois accompanied Krishnamacharya to that library in Calcutta, that might explain why Pattabhi Jois and later Sharath only quote that single line.

I am slight bothered by the translation, now my sanskrit is a little rusty (read virtually non existent)  but there's no reference to inhalation and exhalation only to Vinyasa.

The line is often translated....

'Oh yogi', do not practice posture without vinyasa

"Vinyasa (Sanskrit: विन्यास; IAST:vinyāsa; vi-nyaah-sa[needs IPA]) 
is a Sanskrit term often employed in relation to certain styles of yoga. The term vinyasa may be broken down into its Sanskritic roots to assist in decoding its meaning. Nyasa denotes "to place" and vi denotes "in a special way." Like many Sanskrit words, vinyasa is a term that has many meanings". Wikipedia.

Ramaswami has 'V'i as variations, and 'nyasa' as defined parameters.

Here's Srivatsa Ramaswami on Krishnamacharya's use of Vinyasa in his 1934 book Yoga Makaranda ( written at the time Krishnamacharya was teaching the young Pattabhi Jois

My guru believed that the correct vinyasa method is essential in order to receive the full benefits from yoga practice. The following quote, which I translated from Yoga Makaranda, perfectly captures this sentiment.

"From time immemorial the Vedic syllables…are chanted with the correct (high, low, and level) notes. Likewise, sruti (pitch) and laya (rhythm) govern Indian classical music. Classical Sanskrit poetry follows strict rules of chandas (meter), yati (caesura), and prasa (assemblage). Further, in mantra worship, nyasas (usually the assignment of different parts of the body to various deities, with mantras and gestures)—such as Kala nyasa, Matruka nyasa, Tatwa nyasa—are integral parts. Likewise yogasana (yogic poses), pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), and mudras (seals, locks, gestures) have been practiced with vinyasas from time immemorial.
"However, these days, in many places, many great souls who teach yoga do so without the vinyasas. They merely stretch or contract the limbs and proclaim that they are practicing yoga…"

Vinyasa than can mean variations within defined paramaters, perhaps in this context 'correct method'. So Vamana Rishi's should perhaps be translated more along the lines of

Yogi , don't practice postures without the (correct) method

The correct method or defined parameters, for Ramaswami, are we would find in the yoga sutras.

For Krishnamacharya this 'Vinyasa' method was the linking of the elements of the breath to the elements of the posture. Each movement in and out of a posture, and here we're talking yogic postures, asana, should be accompanied with the correct inhalation or exhalation. This received perhaps it's most formal treatment in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda where each movement received a count. Odd numbers were generally inhalations, even numbers, exhalations while the element of rest within the asana would often be associated with the appropriate kumbhaka ( breath retention). If the head was up in the posture, or stage of the posture, Antah Kumbhaka (at the end of the inhalation) might be employed, if the head was down then bhaya kumbhaka (at the end of the full exhalation) might be employed.

This is a practice that Krishnamacharya continued throughout his long teaching career. The formal count seems to have been discarded, perhaps it was only required for the large group of boys of the Mysore Palace and introduced accordingly, perhaps it was no longer deemed necessary in the one-to-one or small group settings Krishnamacharya taught after leaving Mysore in the 1950's. However, Krishnamacharya still continued to teach that each movement was accompanied by a particular stage of the breath and appropriate kumbhaka's continued to be employed.

In the Pattabhi Jois Yoga Therapy article Vamana's use of Vinyasa is translated as 'inhalation and exhalation' in keeping with the current presentation of Ashtanga in which no Kumbhaka is employed.

Pattabhi Jois also states in the article

'This method can be learnt only from an experienced yogi well versed in Yoga Shastra'.

Breath in the arms come up, 
breath out the arms go down, 
breathe in - come up, 
breath out - bend forward....

It's actually quite intuitive, how about the breath

'equal but otherwise, free breathing'.

Why do we need an 'experienced guru well versed in the shastras' to teach us something that appears so intuitive?

I have theory (what, another one)....

This year I've been exploring, through practice, Krishnamacharya's approach to asana, in particular, his employment of kumbhaka. I've slightly reordered the Primary Group asana from the table found in Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu (1941) to bring it more in line with the current Ashtanga primary series sequence. I'm presently doing something similar for the middle group also, bringing the Yogasangalu table order in line with current Ashtanga Intermediate series. The plan is to explore this approach to 2nd series in my practice this coming year. 

Krishnamacharya doesn't seem to have followed a fixed series although clearly there are sequences and subroutines that closely follow sections within the current practice of Ashtanga, that's to be expected of course much of it is intuitive, one asana often logically follows another. The Primary group asana table in Yogasanagalu is almost exactly the same as we find in the current Ashtanga Primary series, the Middle group is close, very close, however the Proficient group is more 'lumped together'. 

The story goes that when Pattabhi Jois was invited to teach at the Sanskrit college he came to Krishnamacharya with the asana he had been taught by Krishnamacharya grouped into Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A and Advanced B. Krishnamacharya is said to have given his approval.

I'm familiar with the Ashtanga series having practice Primary to Advanced series for a number of years, it makes sense to me to practice Krishnamacharya's instructions for asana in an order I'm familiar with as well as allowing me to offer it to others as an option to explore in their own practice.

Looking at this section of the 2nd series table that I'm currently working on, with it's employment of different kumbhaka depending on the asana, we can probably agree that this is significantly more complex. 

Actually it's even more complicated than the table suggests. In Yoga Makaranda Krishnamacharya gives instructions for different kumbhaka at different stages of the vinyasa of a single asana. We can see perhaps why the assistance of a guru well versed in the shastras ( here I read those related to pranayama practice) is advised particularly as there is an intimate relationship between kumbhakam and the employment of the different bandhas. I have been fortunate in that my teacher, Srivatsa Ramaswami, Krishnamacharya's student of 30 years still teaches, to some extent, the use of  kumbhaka in certain asana vinyasas, within the Jois Ashtanga lineage however this element of the tradition seems to have been misplaced. Manju Jois went so far as to tell me recently that Krishnamacharya was mistaken in his use of kumbhaka in asana, perhaps he is right. However we are not talking about one reference in passing to kumbhaka. Yoga Makaranda is all about the breath, each individual element of the breath, we find kumbhaka's described in almost every asana. 

Perhaps the employment of kumbhaka is something that Krishnamacharya didn't teach to his student Pattabhi Jois, and yet we find it detailed in Yoga Makaranda (1934) written while Patabhi Jois was Krishnamacharya's student and even in some cases teaching assistant (It is thought Pattabhi Jois, being a senior student, would have led the Mysore boys in their classes while Krishnamacharya would, on occasion, teach a more Vinyasa krama approach on a one-to-one basis in another room). Perhaps kumbhaka was not intended for the young boys of the palace or beginners.

Yet kumbhaka is everywhere in Yoga Makaranda (1934), in almost every asana description detailed instructions are given, likewise in Yogasanagalu (1941) and its presentation within the form of a  table. These were texts Krishnamacharya was instructed to write as pedagogic manuals for schools and elsewhere. Krishnamacharya wanted to share this approach to asana, he wanted us to practice asana this way.

Section of the 2nd series table I'm presently working on 

Krishnamacharya Yogasanagalu (19410 table in Ashtanga 2nd series order

Number in                                                                                        Asana
yogasanaglu        Asana                                      Vinyasas            position                       Breathing notes
table                                           

1.            Pasasana                            14             7-8              Bhaya kumbhaka
2.            Krounchasana                     22        7-8-14-15        Bhaya Kumbhaka
6.            Shalabasana A and B          10            5-6              Antah Kumbhaka
10.          Bhekasana                            9               5                Antah Kumbhaka
3.            Dhanurasana                        9               5               Antah Kumbhaka
4.            Parshva Dhanurasana         12           6-7-8            Antah Kumbhaka
9.            Ushtrasana                          15           7-8-9            Antah Kumbhaka
12.          Lagu Vajrasana                    15           7-8-9           Ubhaya Kumbhaka
15.          Kapotasana A and B            15              8               Antah Kumbhaka

11.          Supta vajrasana                   18            9-11            Ubhya Kumbhaka


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UPDATE - FIRST DRAFT

Note - Length of Kumbhaka's
Extend the natural/automatic mini kumbhaka between the inhalation and exhalation or between the exhalation and inhalation to 2-5 seconds in the postures indicated, certain more 'meditative' postures the kumbhaka might be extended to those employed in regular pranayama.





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See previous post for a look back over my posts this year, favourite posts as well as new resource pages on Ashtanga History, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Manju Jois and Srivatsa Ramaswami.

2013 A year in posts - New Ashtanga Vinyasa resource Pages, favourite posts of the year

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

We're all Yogi's - Yoga for the Three Stages of Life - how to practice Vinyasa Krama from Ramaswami's Sept 2009 Newsletter

Making Timpano toaday, try and find two recipes the same..

In the previous post on the new Vinyasa Krama Practice manual from Harmony Yoga I mentioned that Ramaswami's  Sept 2009 Newsletter was included at the back of the book. Reading it again it's an excellent newsletter, it lays out a clear, modifiable, daily Vinyasa Krama approach to practice as well as introducing the idea of Yoga for the three stages of life.

I've come across a few comments/posts/rants recently where somebody, quite pompously it has to be said, raves about people calling themselves 'Yogi's'. One can perhaps imagine the idea of the yogi these guys have in their head, ash and loincloths come to mind, perhaps a meditative renunciant .

Below Ramaswami mentions how Krishnamacharya would talk about 'Yoga for the three stages of life' (Ramaswami used this for the title of my favourite book of his), the youthful yogi would have a very much asana based practice, the midlife yogi would still have quite a bit of asana but perhaps less acrobatic and more pranayama, also a little meditation. In the final stage of life the yogi would have some simple asana for health but a more meditative, spiritual practice.

So you see, by this reckoning, we're all yogi's if we practice any of the elements of yoga, any of the limbs, sincerely and with commitment.

I probably have the same image of a yogi as those who rant so don't tend to refer to (except occasionally out of convenience, same with 'Ashtangi') or even think of myself as a yogi but I practice, I'm on the path, working on the limbs and so are you, so perhaps we are Yogi's.

But then of course that means that if we have yogi's we have non yogi's and we end up with a them and us situation. But I have no idea what the guy on the other side of the train is practicing, no doubt he's working at whatever moral (yama/niyama) code he has, perhaps he has a devotional practice, trying to come to terms with, understand, make sense of, the world and his place within it. Perhaps he has a physical practice of some kind which he is committed to or an art he practices, perhaps before falling asleep he reflects for a moment on his day..... perhaps we are all yogi's, all on the path, stepping back on and off, Descartes thought we are defined by the fact that we think, I'd narrow it down and suggest that we are that which questions.... sooner or later. Questioning is Yoga, questioning everything, one tatva at a time....., employing the mind to overcome the mind.

The path of Yoga is one of radical enquiry

There's a point in the newsletter where Ramaswami is critical of a fixed practice...

"Hence, to suggest a practice of a set of asanas or a routine for everyone
irrespective of the age, condition, temperament and goal is incorrect"

I can imagine my Ashtangi readers prickling at that somewhat, "Is he talking about us"?

But of course there is no fixed Ashtanga, we all  practice it differently, our teachers if we have them are aware of where we each struggle in our practice and give us assistance, at home we make allowances for old injuries or areas of difficulties, either we do the best we can and move on or stop there move to finishing and try again tomorrow. Our breath is different one mat to the next, a little slower a little fuller all working towards consistency. We all focus a little more a little less on different asana in the series, we know what our bodies need that morning. Sometimes we might add an extra asana, cut one or more out (if the reason is good enough) or spend a little longer, breath a little slower in one we neglected the day before or that we have a particular asanacrush on and we have a LOT of asana to play with.

Ashtanga has a count but so does Jazz, we can make as much or as little space for our runs as we need, we all improvise, to some extent (if you can listen to Mingus and how he now slows, now speeds up the beat).

Notice too how our Ashtanga practice, including  the Krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda Primary series I'm currently practicing/exploring fits within the model of the Modified Vinyasa Krama practice in the sheets below, surprised, we shouldn't be, it's all Krishnamacharya.

*

Here then is part of Ramaswami's Sept 2009 Newsletter, I've cut it about a bit and reformatted the paragraphs to focus on certain elements, the full untangled newsletter can be found here, as well as in Harmony Yoga's practice manual.

And if Christmas is your thing, have a wonderful day today, a very Merry Christmas, if it's not your thing, then have a great practice (which is just what I'm off to do, Ramaswami's Modifiable VK practice below).

VINYASA KRAMA PRACTICE from Ramaswami Sept 2009 Newsletter
(my reformatting and titles)

Adapting yoga to individual requirements is an art by itself. We must
understand that there is no one standard practice that is suitable to
everyone. In medicine you have to give different treatment to
different patients; what is suitable to one suffering from digestive
problem would be different from the one that is suitable for one who
is suffering from some low back pain. According to an important motto
of Krishnamacharya, yoga for children and the adolescents (growth
stage) is different from yoga practice in their midlife which again is
different from the practice in old age. The body, mind and goals
change during different stages of life. Sri Krishnamacharya’s teaching
is based on this principle as we could discern from his works, Yoga
Makaranda and Yoga Rahasya.

Yoga For the three stages of life

Yoga for the young
Basically yoga for kids and young adults will have a considerable
amount of asana vinyasa practice -- many vinyasas, difficult poses,
etc. It will help them to work out the considerable rajas in their
system and proper growth (vriddhi). Of course they should also
practice some pranayama and meditation or chanting.

Yoga for the midlife Yogi
For the midlife yogi, the practice will still include some asana, but specifically
some of the health giving  and restorative postures like the
Inversions, Paschimatanasana, Mahamudra, etc., in which poses one may
be required to stay for a longer period of time. There will be more
emphasis on Pranayama and then more meditation, chanting, worship etc.
When I started studying with my Guru I was 15 years old. During the
beginning years of my study it was mostly difficult asanas and
vinyasas. Swing throughs, jump arounds, utplutis etc and other fun
filled unique sequences were the order of the day. As I grew up, my
teacher slowly but surely changed the mix, focus and direction of my
yoga practice. On the last day I was with him (I was close to 50 then)
it was just chanting of Surya Namaskara (Aruna) mantras for the entire
duration with him.

Yoga for the third stage of life
During the third stage of life, the old age, the
emphasis is usually spiritual and/or devotional even as one is
required to do some simple movements and pranayama.

And within the group, the daily practice can be varying depending upon
the requirements and goals set forth by the yogi for herself/himself.

For instance, for the midlife yogi, the main goal will be to maintain
good physical and mental health, rather than being able to stand, say,
on one leg or even on one hand (Of course the child in me wants to do
that). He/She would like to avoid risky movements so that the practice
would be safe and does not cause injuries—immediate or cumulative. Too
much exertion (kayaklesa), like several rounds of continuous,
breathless Suryanamaskaras again should be avoided, says Brahmananda
in his commentary on Hatayogapadipika. A few may be more inclined to
have some spirituality thrown in. Many would like to develop the
ability to and the habit of visiting the peace zone of the mind daily.
There are some who are more rajasic or tamasic in which case the mix
of asana and pranayama should be properly adjusted, sometimes taking
care of even the day to day variations of the gunas. It requires some
careful attention in deciding a particular day’s practice.

Hence, to suggest a practice of a set of asanas or a routine for everyone
irrespective of the age, condition, temperament and goal is incorrect.

Such an approach does not take into consideration not only the
versatility and richness of orthodox, traditional vinyasakrama yoga
practice but also does not take the varying factors of individual
requirements. Sri Krishnamacharya’s yoga can appropriately be termed
as ‘Appropriate Yoga’.

However, as a general rule, for the serious mid-life yogi, a daily
practice of about 90 mts to 2 hrs will be necessary and sufficient.


A Modifiable VINYASA KRAMA PRACTICE .

Everyday before the start of the practice the yogi should take a
minute and decide on a definite agenda and as far as possible try to
stick to the agenda. What asanas and vinyasas, which pranayama and how
many rounds and other details should be determined before hand and one
should adhere to it. It brings some discipline and coherence to one’s
practice.

short prayer

Tadasana 
doing the main vinyasas two or preferably three
times each. It should take about ten minutes.

Triangle subroutine
One may do a subsequence of Triangle pose like warrior pose and /or one sequence in one legged
pose.
Asymmetric
Then one subsequence in the asymmetric could be taken up, say Marichyasana or Triyangmukha or
the half lotus. The choice may be varied on a daily basis.

Paschimottanasana
Five minute stay in Paschimottanasana and the counter poses may be practiced.

Sarvangasana Preparation
Sarvangasana
Sirsasana
Sarvangasana
Then one may do preparation of Sarvangasana and a brief stay in it,
followed by headstand stay for about 5 to 10 minutes or more and then
staying in Sarvangasana for 5 to 10 more minutes, if one can do
inversions.

Paschimatanasana, Sarvangaana and Headstand are to be
practiced preferably daily for their health benefits.

If time permits one may do few vinyasas in these inversions.

Maha Mudra
Mahamudra for about 5 minutes each on both sides can then be
practiced.

Kapalabhati, 
say for about 108 times

Pranayama,
Ujjayi, Nadisodhana or Viloma with
or without mantras for about 15 minutes

Shanmukhmudra
to be followed by five minutes
Shanmukhimudra

Meditative practice
chanting or meditation of about 15 minutes.

Peace Chant
It is customary to end the practice with peace chant.




If interested, one may allocate an additional 30 minutes (or practice
at another time in the day, say, in the evening) during which time one
may practice a few subroutines from the other scores of sequences that
have not been included in this core yoga practice.

*

Handy print out version





Tuesday, 24 December 2013

New Vinyasa Krama Practice Manual with calear Matthew Sweeney style layout LOOK INSIDE


Steve Brandon of Harmony Yoga has collaborated with Charles Cox to produce a new Vinyasa Krama Practice Manual, basically it's a layout of the sequences taken from Ramaswami book, The Complete book of Vinyasa yoga, its very very handy.


If you have Ramaswami's book you'll know it can be a bit tricky (but worthwhile) to follow, with the pictures spread amongst the text. I think all of us who have used it regularly have come up with own pictorial representation of the sequence, Steve Brandon says he started doing the same with stick figures. Why oh Why didn't the publishers include something like this at the back of Ramaswami's book, but then perhaps the short cut would have been too easy, we've had to actually learn the sequence description by description and Vinyasa Krama is all about the breath, the linking of the breath with each movement, that is lost somewhat here.

I mentioned in the title that this is Matthew Sweeney style, if your coming from Ashtanga you'll probably know Matthew's book, he lays the Ashtanga sequences out nice and clearly asana by asana but he also has sheets at the back indicating the vinyasa, each and every breath, excellent resource.

Oscar showed me his copy of Steve's book on the workshop ( it only came out this year), and I bought mine as soon as I came back.  I was very excited when I saw it, exactly what Vinyasa Krama needs, it will make the practice more accessible to those who aren't prepared to put the effort to work through Ramaswami's book at least in the beginning.

Except it won't. the book is priced at 18 GBP ( Ramaswami's own Book is around 10 GBP) which will put off anyone curious about Vinyasa Krama, your going to be a teacher already or a committed student to part with that kind of money.

But printing costs are expensive, it's nice quality paper and ring bound, I looked into doing a paper version of my own book but because it's over 300 pages it was going to run to over 30 GBP (Thank you to Anna for printing out a copy for me anyway). Hopefully in the future Steve will make a cheaper kindle/ipad version available for a couple of quid, to spread the good word.

I think what I'd really like is to see a version of this for under ten pounds and on Amazon so it would be more readily available, findable, we want to encourage people to try this approach to practice. That said this is a beautiful presentation and I am excited about it.

It's also important to point out that these sequences, as presented here, are merely pedagogical, a learning tool. Ramaswami's intention, and presumably Lrishnamacharya's, is not that we should practice these sequences as they are presented here each day but that, informed by these sequences, we construct an appropriate practice each day. Ramaswami recommends that occasionally we practice these sequences to maintain our awareness of the different asana relate to each other, how one develops into another, preparations as well as extensions of individual asana. 

The danger of a book like this , as with my own, is that we become fixated on the sequence at the expense of our practice. Ramaswami gives clear indicating that Krishnamacharya expected us to practice paschimottanasana, maha mudra, sarvangasana with it's preparation and sirsasana each day, each for around ten minutes. That's forty minutes already. Skilful practice is choosing appropriate asana and subroutines to complement those daily asana, these supplementary asana would most likely change daily so that over a week to ten days we would have practiced, exercised a good range of asana relating to the body as a whole. If we end up falling into the habit of practicing full sequences then we will find ourselves in the same situation as Ashtanga vinyasa where the focus on the asana often leaves little time for pranayama and meditation.

So what do you get for your 18 quid.

Apologies for the pictures, lighting isn't good in here this morning and there's been a lot of interest on fb since I posted the top picture, wanted to get something out right away.

The book is around 50 pages, 30 pages of that is made up of the sequences laid out nice and clearly using line drawings, that's basically the book and why you'll probably buy it.

There are a few pages of essentials regarding Vinyasa Krama practice, which is basically a nicely laid out summery of what we find at the beginning of Ramaswami's book. There are a few nice quotes from Krishnamacharya and at the back one of Ramaswami's newsletters ( Sept 2009) in which he goes over the principles of Vinyasa Krama practice as he was taught it by Krishnamacharya for thirty years.

Here's the contents page



I can do better than that, HERE's the Contents


and a note from Ramaswami







Nice layout of the sun salutation with mantras over two pages


Ramaswami's Sept 2009 newsletter.



You can buy the book direct from Steve Brandon's Harmony yoga website.
http://www.harmonyyoga.co.uk/product-category/books/

Thank you to Steve and Chris for making it available, it will be very useful.

I should add a note here though, we don't have to practice Vinyasa krama as one of these full sequence, it's not set, they aren't fixed Ashtanga sequences. Learn the sequence, get to see the relationship between the postures within a family, see the tools you know have in your Vinyasa krama tool box Asymmetric but then construct your own practice which will most likely be made up of shorter Subroutines from the different sequences. That's basically what the Ashtanga sequence is anyway. We have a sun salutation followed by a very short tadasana sequence followed by a triangle subroutine, then an on one leg subroutine, another triangle subroutine. Next up are seated and asymmetric subroutines before we move on to Supine, inversion and then finally a lotus subroutine.

*

If anyone has made up there own versions of practice sheets that they want to freely share with the Vinyasa Krama community, to encourage more people to explore Ramaswami's approach to practice,  get in touch whether through the blog or fb, and I'll post them here, be nice to have a resource of different versions available.


Notes

Ramaswami's September 2009 Newsletter outlining Vinyasa Krama practice found at the back of the book can be found on my Vinyasa Krama blog

http://vinyasayogaathome.blogspot.co.uk/p/how-to-practice-vinyasa-krama-yoga.html

and of course on Ramaswami's newsletters page

https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!topic/vinyasa-krama-announce/szyblI8Aji8

My own Vinyasa Krama book, basically photo practice sheets followed by hints/tips cautions for every posture, can be found as a free download at the link below

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7JXC_g3qGlWMDQ5ZTNlYzYtMTdiNy00N2I0LWE2OWYtMjc4YzExODBjMjA5/edit

There's also a kindle/ipad version for a couple of quid.

See also my Ramaswami Resource page
http://grimmly2007.blogspot.co.uk/p/srivatsa-ramaswami-vinyasa-krama.html

But more importantly try and get hold of Ramaswami's own books, this from my resource page above.

BOOKS

The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga: The Authoritative Presentation-Based on 30 Years of Direct Study Under the Legendary Yoga Teacher Krishnamacha [Paperback] Srivatsa Ramaswami  (Author)

Sri T. Krishnamacharya (1888–1989) was the most influential figure in the last 100 years in the field of yoga. Many of today's best-known yoga teachers—including his brother-in-law B. K. S. Iyengar, his son T. K. V. Desikachar, and Pattabhi Jois, founder of Ashtanga yoga—studied with him and modeled their own yoga styles after his practice and teaching. Yet, despite his renowned status, Krishnamacharya's wisdom has never before been made completely available, just as he taught it. Now, in The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga, Srivatsa Ramaswami—Krishnamacharya's longest-standing student outside his own family—presents his master's teachings of yogasanas in unprecedented detail. Drawing upon his 33 years of direct study, beginning in 1955 and continuing nearly until his teacher's death, Ramaswami presents more than nine hundred poses and variations in logically structured sequences, precisely describing Krishnamacharya's complete Vinyasakrama system. Along with every movement of each yoga posture, he covers the proper breathing techniques for each pose—something no other book also derived from Krishnamacharya's teaching does. Nearly 1,000 full-color photographs are featured in this authoritative landmark presentation of the study practiced by the "grandfather of modern yoga."

  Yoga for the Three Stages of Life: Developing Your Practice As an Art Form, a Physical Therapy, and a Guiding Philosophy [Paperback]
Srivatsa Ramaswami (Author)

Essential reading for those looking to customize their practice to life's changing needs.
• Includes sections on vedic chanting, throat breathing, and exercises for women.
• Presents a unique portrait of  T. Krishnamacharya and his teachings.


For 33 years Ramaswami studied with the legendary T. Krishnamacharya, teacher of B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and T.K.V. Desikachar and perhaps the most influential figure in the field of yoga in the last 100 years. Since that time he has developed Krishnamacharya's teaching into what may be the most highly evolved program available for making yoga a way of life, rather than simply a routine. In seventeen chapters Ramaswami lays out the whole philosophy of yoga, including principles for right living, postures, breathing practices, meditation practices, and mental disciplines.

Key to Ramaswami's teaching is the focus on adapting yoga to individual needs and to different stages of life. During the early part of life, learning yoga as a physical art form is most beneficial for the self-confidence and discipline it instills. In middle age, yoga should focus on physical therapy and maintaining optimum health as far into life as possible. In the last stages of life, the practitioner will be ready to focus on the ultimate goal of yoga--true understanding of the philosophy behind it and the realization of truth.


Yoga Beneath the Surface: An American Student and His Indian Teacher Discuss Yoga Philosophy and Practice [Paperback]
Srivatsa Ramaswami (Author), David Hurwitz (Author)
In The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga Srivatsa Ramaswami presented the full breadth of yogasana teachings as taught by Sri. T. Krishnamacharya (1888–1989) — the father of modern yoga. Now, for the first time, Ramaswami imparts his vast yoga experience and knowledge of Krishnamachara's distinct vinyasa krama system in an accessible question-and-answer format with experienced California yogi David Hurwitz. In a beautifully clear and conversational style, Ramaswami and Hurwitz delve deeply into various general and specific topics relating to yoga philosophy and practice, shedding light on even the most confusing concepts. The nearly 240 questions are drawn directly from Hurwitz's private study with Ramaswami, and include: Does yoga lead to happiness? How do we achieve the famous ahimsa (non-violence)? How does the yogi "see" his soul? What is the role of breath in Asana? Where does willpower come in? and Was Krishnamacharya happy? Yoga Beneath the Surface is the next best thing to studying directly with one of yoga's true gurus — and a must-read for every serious yoga student.

The Basic Tenets of Patanjala Yoga by Srivastsa Ramaswami (Cambridge Yoga publications).
Ramaswami has been a student of Prof. Krishnamacharya for over two decades in the theory and practice of Yoga. Apart from Yogasanas and Pranayama, he has studied yoga texts such as Patanjala Yogasutras, Samkhya Karika, Hathayoga- pradipika. UpanishadsasChandogya,Taithiriya, Svetasvatara,Isavasya,the Gita etc., adhyayana(chanting) of the whole of Taithiriya Aranyaka of Yajur Veda and Upanishads, Mantraprasanam etc., all from the Acharya. He has also had yoga lessonsfrom Sri T. K. V. Desikachar, and has written a seriesof articles on Yoga, and also contributed to a few journals. S. Ramaswami holds a masters degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Oklahoma State University, and has had teaching experiencein Indian universities. He has been teaching yoga practice and also the texts for over fiveyears.


A Brief Introduction to Yoga Philosophy: Based on the Lectures of Srivatsa Ramaswami [Paperback]
David Hurwitz (Author), Srivatsa Ramaswami (Contributor)

This is a brief guide to the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali. It is brief by way of being practical. After stating the goal of Yoga, it is basically an exposition of the eight limbs of Yoga Patañjali gives in Chapter two and the beginning of Chapter three of his Yoga Sutras.




Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: Based on the Teaching of Srivatsa Ramaswami by Pam Hoxsey
Book and CD by Pam Hoxsey
Local author and yogi, Pam Hoxsey, learned to chant the Yoga Sutras from Srivatsa Ramaswami, who learned them from his teacher. T. Krishnamacharya. They met one-on-one for two hours each morning in two-week intervals, repeated over three years. They chanted the sutras, and then Ramaswami would discuss their meanings. This book--and the CD--is the result of their meetings together.
This version of the Yoga Sutras is comprehensive. Each sutra is written as a phrase, followed by a word-by-word translation, and then a summary of its meaning. In addition, a “tacit question” is often proposed to suggest what topic is being explained. Sometimes there are additional short “notes” to further aid in understanding.
At the end of the book is Ramaswami’s handwritten Sanskrit, followed by the chant phrases written in English with red and blue markings to indicate where the pitch goes up and down. And then there’s the CD by Pam, who has a beautiful voice, chanting the sutras. So you can both read the Yoga Sutras and learn to chant them as they were originally chanted and passed on through the centuries before Patanjali wrote them down.
You can order the book directly from Pam by calling 847.328.4246.

VINYASA YOGA HOME PRACTICE BOOK [Kindle Edition]Anthony Hall (Author)

UPDATE- Print edition available in the next few days

A Home Practice Book and stand-alone companion to Srivatsa Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga (Ramaswami was a student of Krishnamacharya for over 30 years ).

This edition, over 350 page, includes Guidelines, Practice Notes and practice Sheets for 10 categories of postures; On your feet, Triangle, On one leg, Asymmetric, Seated, Bow, Meditative, Supine, Inverted and lotus as well as Practice notes and sheets for 83 subroutines within those categories.

Includes practice sheets on Pranayama, Pratyahara and meditation with video links to tutorials.

Also Includes video links for all the subroutines and an accompanying video and practice sheet page online.

It is of course NO substitute for Ramaswami's own books, 'The Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga' and 'Yoga for the Three Stages of Life' both of which I've gained renewed respect for in the process of preparing these notes. The Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga lays out the breath for every single movement in and out of every posture, in every subroutine, quite remarkable. The Three Stages of Life goes into such depth that I consider it the best book on yoga I've come across thus far.

This book is dedicated to my teacher, Srivatsa Ramaswami

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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