Tuesday, 25 September 2012

T. Krishnamacharya's Salutations to the Teacher and the Eternal One

I was passed this document recently called Salutations to the Teacher and the Eternal One purportedly by T. Krishnamacharya. I received it from two sources. one asked me to only share it with somebody who asked directly and I've respected that. I've since received the text from another source with no conditions attached and so have decided to share it.

Peter Sterios mentions the text in a Yoga Journal article, For beginners, Balasana

In "Salutation to the Teacher and the Eternal One," a paper written by T. Krishnamacharya and distributed to students at the Yoga Mandiram in Madras, he says: "One important thing to be constantly kept in mind when doing asanas is the regulation of the breath. It should be slow, thin, long, and steady: breathing through both nostrils with a rubbing sensation at the throat and through the esophagus, inhaling when coming to the straight posture, and exhaling when bending the body." 

and Shandor Remete mentions it in his book Shadow Yoga

“… During this time, I also had the good fortune to receive some of the early writings of Sri T. Krishnamarcharya of Madras. Among these, one short work has influenced me profoundly: Salutation to the Teacher and the Eternal One. It has been this book more than any other that has helped me to decipher and understand the ancient hatha yogic texts in their fullness…”

However, since receiving the text I haven't been able to confirm to what extent, if at all, it was written by Krishnamacharya. At times there seems to be a mixture of styles, was it perhaps a series of notes by Krishnamacharya for a book project that never materialised and ended up being passed around among students of KYM, who in turn added notes to the text. Or perhaps it was lecture notes written by Krishnamacharya for a course at KYM presented by someone else who then responded to questions from students.

Either way it's a fascinating document.


Here are a couple of sample pages, the full 41 page text can be downloaded from my Googledocs page.


The text continues for another forty pages and can be downloaded in full from my google docs page

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Examples of usage of Kumbhaka (Breath retention) in asana in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda

Examples of usage of Kumbhaka (Breath retention) in asana in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda

"When practising asana, the breath that is inhaled into the body and the breath that is exhaled out must be kept equal. Moreover, practise the asana with their vinyasas by breathing only through the nose". p27

"Brahmana kriya means to take in the outside air through the nose, pull it inside, and hold it in firmly. This is called puraka kumbhaka.
Langhana kriya means to exhale the air that is inside the body out through he nose and to hold the breath firmly without allowing any air from outside into the body. This is called recaka kumbhaka".

"In each section for each particular asana, we have included a description and an enumeration of its vinyasas. The vinyasas in which the head is raised are to be done with puraka kumbhaka and the ones in which the head is lowered must be done with recaka kumbhaka. Uthpluthi (raising the body from the floor with only the support of both hands on the floor is called uthpluthi) should be done on recaka kumbhaka for a fat person and on puraka kumbhaka for a thin person...." p28


1 Uttanasana
"Following the rules for tadasana (yogasana samasthiti krama) (Figure 4.1, 4.2), stand erect. Afterwards, while exhaling the breath out slowly, bend the upper part of the body (that is, the part above the hip) little by little and place the palms down by the legs. The knees must not be even slightly bent. Raise the head upwards and fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. While doing this, draw in clean air through the nostril, hold the breath firmly and maintain this position. This is called sahitha kumbhaka...." p51

2 Parsvottanasana
"...Standing in tadasana krama, draw in clean air through the nose and practise kumbhaka...." p59

3 Prasarita Padottanasana
"...Stand in tadasana krama. Jump the legs apart, placing the feet 3 mozhams apart on the ground. Practise jumping and placing the feet at the correct distance all in one jump. While jumping, either puraka kumbhaka or recaka kumbhaka can be done...." p61

4 Ardhabaddha Padmottanasana
"From tadasana, do puraka kumbhaka. After this, choose either leg and place its foot on top of the opposite thigh. Slowly, little by little, move the foot up until the back of the heel is pressed against the lower abdomen. Whichever leg is raised, move the same hand behind the back and clasp the big toe of that foot (from behind the back). Keep the other hand in tadasana sthiti and do puraka kumbhaka. After this, slowly exhale through the nose and bend the upper part of the body forward down to the floor. Place the palm down by the foot and keep it firmly pressed against the floor. Release the breath out completely, and without inhaling, practise kumbhaka and lower the head, placing it on top of the kneecap of the extended leg...."p61

6 Urdhvamukhasvanasana
"This has 4 vinyasas. Vinyasas 1, 2, and 3 are exactly as for uttanasana. The 4th vinyasa is to be done following the same method as for caturanga dandasana. But in caturanga dandasana, there are 4 angulas of space between the body and the floor everywhere. In this asana, the palms and toes are as in caturanga dandasana. However even while keeping the lower part of the body from the toes to the thighs just as in caturanga dandasana, raise the upper part of the body. Make sure that the navel rests between the hands and do puraka kumbhaka...." p65

8 Pascimattanasana or Pascimottanasana
"...This asana has many kramas. Of these the first form has 16 vinyasas. Just doing the asana sthiti by sitting in the same spot without doing these vinyasas will not yield the complete benefits mentioned in the yoga sastras. This rule applies to all asanas.
The first three vinyasas are exactly as for uttanasana. The 4th vinyasa is caturanga dandasana, the 5th vinyasa is urdhvamukhasvanasana, the 6th vinyasa is adhomukhasvanasana. Practise these following the earlier instructions. In the 6th vinyasa, doing puraka kumbhaka, jump and arrive at the 7th vinyasa. That is, from adhomukhasvanasana sthiti, jump forward and move both legs between the arms without allowing the legs to touch the floor. Extend the legs out forward and sit down. Practise sitting like this with the rear part of the body either between the two hands or 4 angulas in front of the hands. It is better to learn the abhyasa krama from a guru. In this sthiti, push the chest forward, do puraka kumbhaka and gaze steadily at the tip of the nose...." p69

11 Janusirsasana
"...This form follows the hatha yoga principles. Another form follows the raja yoga method. The practitioner should learn the difference. First, take either leg and extend it straight out in front. Keep the heel pressed firmly on the floor with the toes pointing upward. That is, the leg should not lean to either side. The base (back) of the knee should be pressed against the ground. Fold the other leg and place the heel against the genitals, with the area above the knee (the thigh) placed straight against the hip. That is, arrange the straight leg which has been extended in front and the folded leg so that together they form an “L”. Up to this point, there is no difference between the practice of the hatha yogi and the raja yogi.
For the hatha yoga practitioner, the heel of the bent leg should be pressed firmly between the rectum and the scrotum. Tightly clasp the extended foot with both hands, raise the head and do puraka kumbhaka. Remain in this position for some time and then, doing recaka, lower the head and place the face onto the knee of the outstretched leg. While doing this, do not pull the breath in. It may be exhaled. After this, raise the head and do puraka. Repeat this on the other side following the rules mentioned above.
The raja yogi should place the back of the sole of the folded leg between the scrotum and the genitals. Now practise following the other rules described above for the hatha yogis. There are 22 vinyasas for janusirsasana. Please note carefully that all parts of the outstretched leg and the folded leg should touch the floor. While holding the feet with the hands, pull and clasp the feet tightly. Keep the head or face or nose on top of the kneecap and remain in this sthiti from 5 minutes up to half an hour. If it is not possible to stay in recaka for that long, raise the head in between, do puraka kumbhaka and then, doing recaka, place the head back down on the knee. While keeping the head lowered onto the knee, puraka kumbhaka should not be done..." p79-80

12 Upavistakonasana
"This has 15 vinyasas. Recaka kumbhaka is its primary principle...." p83

13 Baddhakonasana
"This has 15 vinyasas. The 8th vinyasa is the asana sthiti. The 1st to the 6th vinyasas are like the 1st till the 6th vinyasas for pascimottanasana. In the 7th vinyasa, just like the 7th vinyasa for pascimottanasana, keep the hands down and bring the legs forward in uthpluthi. But instead of straightening them, fold the legs and place them down on the ground. Folding them means that the heel of the right foot is pasted against the base of the right thigh and the heel of the left foot is pasted against the base of the left thigh. When the legs are folded in this manner, the soles of the feet will be facing each other. Hold the sole of the left foot firmly with the left hand and hold the right sole firmly with the right hand. Clasping the soles together firmly, do recaka kumbhaka, lower the head and place it on the floor in front of the feet..."

14 Supta Padangushtasana
"...The first krama for this has 21 vinyasas. Through the 6th vinyasa, it is exactly as for pascimottanasana. In the 7th vinyasa, lie down facing upwards instead of extending the legs and sitting as in pascimottanasana. While lying down, the entire body must be pressed against the ground. The toes must point upwards and the back of the heels must be stuck to the ground. This is also called savasana by other schools. This is the 7th vinyasa for supta padangushthasana. In the 8th vinyasa, slowly raise the right leg straight up. Hold the big toe of the right foot with the fingers of the right hand, do recaka kumbhaka and remain in this position for as long as possible. .."p86

17 Utthitahasta Padangushtasana
"...First, push the chest forward and stand erect with equal balance. While standing this way, make sure that the head, neck, back, hips, arms and legs are aligned properly and gaze at the tip of the nose. The feet must be kept together. Now, raise one leg up slowly and maintain this position with the extended leg kept straight out in front at the height of the navel. The knee should not bend and the leg must be kept straight for the entire time that it is being raised. After the leg has been raised about 3/4 of the way without any assistance, take the first three fingers of the corresponding hand (the same as whichever leg was raised) and tightly clasp the big toe of the raised foot. Remain in this position for some time. Keep the other hand on the hip. Inhalation and exhalation of the breath must be slow and of equal duration. One says the sthiti is correct if there is the same measure of distance between the standing leg and the raised leg. In this there are many other forms.
After staying in this sthiti for some time, take either the face or the nose towards the knee of the raised leg and place it there. Recaka kumbhaka must be done in this sthiti. That is, expel the breath completely from the body, maintain this position and then without allowing any breath into the body, bend the upper body. Now carefully pull in the stomach as much as one’s strength allows and hold it in. Stay in this sthiti for at least one minute..." p99

18 Baddhapadmasana
"...Place the right foot on top of the left thigh and the left foot on top of the right thigh. Take the hands behind the back and tightly clasp the big toe of the right foot with the first three fingers of the right hand and tightly clasp the big toe of the left foot with the first three fingers of the left hand.
Press the chin firmly against the chest. Keep the gaze fixed on the midbrow. Sit down, keeping the rest of the body straight. This has the name baddhapad- masana. This asana must be repeated on the other side (that is, first place the left foot on top of the right thigh and then the right foot on top of the left thigh) in order to exercise both sides of the body.
This has 16 vinyasas. The 8th and 9th vinyasas are the asana sthiti. The other vinyasas are like pascimottanasana. Study the pictures (Figures 4.52, 4.53) and learn how to keep the gaze. In this asana, one must do puraka kumbhaka..." p103

25 Marichasana
"This has 22 vinyasas. This needs to be done on both the left and the right sides. Study the sannaha sthiti (the preparatory state) of marichasana in the picture. This sthiti is the 7th vinyasa.
The right-side marichasana paristhiti is shown in the second picture. Maricha Maharishi was known for bringing this asana to public knowledge and hence it is named for him.
Stay in the 7th vinyasa for some time doing puraka kumbhaka. After this, do recaka and come to the 8th vinyasa. Stay in this position for as long as possible. In case your head starts reeling (you get dizzy), come back to the 7th vinyasa, do puraka kumbhaka, close the eyes and remain here for some time. The dizziness will stop.
The 9th vinyasa is like the 7th vinyasa. The 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th vinyasas are like the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th vinyasas of janusirsasana.
The 14th vinyasa is marichasana sannaha sthiti on the left side. This is demonstrated in the 3rd picture. The 15th vinyasa is the left-side marichasana paristhiti. This is demonstrated in the 4th picture. In the 14th vinyasa do puraka kumbhaka and in the 15th vinyasa do only recaka..." p115

26 Niralamba Sarvangasana
"This has 14 vinyasas. The 8th vinyasa is the asana sthiti. The form depicted in the picture is the 8th vinyasa. This is niralamba sarvangasana paristhiti. In order to get to this sthiti, slowly raise the arms and legs either together or one-by- one in the 7th vinyasa . Do only recaka at this time. Never do puraka kumbhaka..." p115

27 Ekapada Sirsasana
"This has two forms: dakshina ekapada sirsasana and vama ekapada sirsasana. Both these forms together have 18 vinyasas. The first picture depicts dakshina ekapada sirsasana and the second picture vama ekapada sirsasana. The 7th and 12th vinyasas are the asana sthitis of these different forms. For this asana, you need to do sama svasauchvasam (same ratio breathing). In the 7th vinyasa, the left leg, and in the 12th vinyasa the right leg, should be extended and kept straight from the thigh to the heel. No part should be bent.
Keep the hands as shown in the picture. In this sthiti one needs to do equal ra- tio breathing. When the hands are joined together in ekapada sirsasana paristhiti, one must do puraka kumbhaka. One must never do recaka..." p120

29 Yoga Nidrasana
"This has 12 vinyasas. The 7th vinyasa is yoga nidrasana sthiti. The first 6 vinyasas for kurmasana are the first 6 vinyasas for this. In the 7th vinyasa, sit like you did in dvipada sirsasana and instead of keeping the two legs on the back of the neck, first lie back facing upwards. Then lift the legs up and place them on the back of the neck.
In dvipada sirsasana, we joined the hands together in prayer and placed them next to the muladhara cakra. In this asana, following the krama, take the shoul- ders (that is, the arms) on both the left and right sides over the top of the two thighs, and hold the right wrist tightly with the fingers of the left hand beneath the spine. Study the picture.
In the 7th vinyasa, after doing only recaka, arrive at the asana sthiti. Then, one should do puraka kumbhaka and lie down...." p123

32 Bhairavasana
"This has 20 vinyasas. The 8th and the 14th vinyasas are the right and left side asana sthitis.
From the 1st until the 7th vinyasa, follow the method for ekapada sirsasana. In the 8th vinyasa, instead of keeping the hands at the muladhara cakra (as in ekapada sirsasana), hug both arms together tightly as seen in the picture and lie down looking upwards. While remaining here, do puraka kumbhaka, raise the neck upwards and gaze at the midbrow...". p129

33 Cakorasana
"This has 20 vinyasas. This is from the Kapila Matham.
After observing that this follows the form of flight of the cakora bird, this came to be called cakorasana. In the Dhyana Bindu Upanishad, Parameshwara advises Parvati that “There are as many asanas as there are living beings in the world”. We readers must always remember this. The 8th and 14th vinyasas are this asana’s sthitis. The 7th and the 13th vinyasas are like the 7th and the 13th vinyasas of ekapada sirsasana. In the 8th and the 14th vinyasas, press the palms of the hand firmly into the ground, do puraka kumbhaka, raise the body 6 angulas off the ground and hold it there. Carefully study the picture where this is demonstrated. Keep the gaze fixed on the midbrow. The other vinyasas are like those of bhairavasana..." p131-132

37 Trivikramasana
"This has 7 vinyasas. From the 1st to the 5th vinyasas and then the 7th vinyasa, practise following those for utthita hasta padangushtasana. Practise the 2nd and 7th vinyasas as shown in the picture (study it carefully) and remain in these positions. The 2nd vinyasa is the right-side trivikramasana sthiti. The 6th vinyasa as shown is the left-side trivikramasana sthiti. The picture shown here only demonstrates the left-side trivikramasana. It is important that equal recaka and puraka kumbhaka must be carefully observed while practising this asana. Keep the gaze fixed on the midbrow. Both legs must be held straight and must not lean or bend to any side...".

38 Gandabherundasana
"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". p142

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda extended stays.

"(caturanga Dandasana) ...Remain in this stithi for at least ten minutes..."

"(Urdhvamukhasvanasana)...make the effort to practice until it becomes possible to stay in this asana for fifteen minutes."

"(Ardhomukhasvanasana)... As a result of the strength of practice, one learns to hold this posture for fifteen minutes."

"(Trikonasana)... This asana must be practiced for a minimum of ten minutes. However slowly and patiently we practice this this, there is that much corresponding benefit."

"(Mayurasana)...This asana stithi should be held from 1 minute to 3 hours according to the practitioner's capability"

Quotes from Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda pages 65-69, 97 and 146. See HERE for free download.

Monday, 7 May 2012

How to practice Krishnamacharya's 'Original' Ashtanga Yoga

krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda

One of the challenges we have with practicing Krishnamacharya's Ashtanga is time, here's why

1. Full Vinyasas : Krishnamacharya seems to be advocating full vinyasa between postures, half vinyasa between sides and possible variations of the key posture

2. Breathing : Long slow inhalations and exhalations, from 10- 15 seconds

3. Long stays in postures. 10 breaths seems to be standard more in certain postures

4. Kumbhaka (breath retention) In several postures kumbhaka is included , many of the forward bends for instance

5. Variations. Krishnamacharya doesn't seem to be advocating a fixed series, variations to certain postures might be added, perhaps preparatory postures but also extensions.

If we take Janusirsasana as an example

60 second lead in  and out (say, 5 seconds for each stage of the vinyasa )
10 breaths in the posture at 10 seconds each per inhalation and exhalation,  about six and a half minutes
Ashtanga already has three variations of this postures, so around twenty minutes
Doubt forget the half vinyasas between sides and between variations twenty seconds each so another minute and a half.

So in an ideal practice, around twenty-three minutes just for janusirsasana

If we compare the Primary group of postures in Krishnamacharya's list in Yogasanagalu with the Ashtanga primary we notice there aren't as many postures, this is just a framework of course but still, less postures seems to be the way to go.

Pattabhi Jois comes to the same conclusion, for those of us strapped for time. He outlines the problem in the first quote below and in the second quote offers a possible solution. He suggests that if your busy with work and don't have time for a full practice you might practice up to navasana only and then move to finishing, he even suggests doing your headstand at work. On the next day you begin with Navasana after your Sury's ( he suggests only doing half the amount of those).

And of course if your a beginner you will often stop your practice at marichiyasana C and move on to finishing or in 2nd series you might stop at Kapo or Karandavasana.

Practicing half a series then isn't that new or that radical and doesn't have to be just because your a beginner or have a busy lifestyle.

So should we decide to explore Krishnamacharya's approach we could take the Primary and 2nd series we're familiar with and divide them in half and practice the longer slower breathing, longer stays and breath retention allowing for deeper bandha engagement.

1st Day
Primary to navasana + pranayama

2nd Day
Primary to end of series + pranayama

3rd Day 
2nd series Bakasana + pranayama

4th Day
Bhaadvajrasana to end of series + pranayama

5th Day
Full regular Primary

6th Day
Full regular 2nd series.

It's difficult not to think of an advanced practice just in terms of the shapes of advanced postures and yet we might also think of an advanced or proficient practice as being reflected in the approach we take to the asana rather than the asana itself.

It appears Krishnamacharya's proficient group of postures wasn't intended to be practiced as one of more series but more likely as extensions to the asana found in the Primary and Middle group. One might reflect on whether turning them into fixed series in the 70's and 80's was, in retrospect, beneficial. I'd be interested to hear arguments for and against fixed advanced series.

My own argument for, is that by practising Advanced series we practice the most challenging postures everyday and this leads to increased proficiency rather than attempting an advanced posture once in a while which might lead to strain.

However my argument against the above is that in Vinyasa Krama I've practiced advanced postures as  extensions of similar asana of the same family. In Asymmetric series for example one moves from janu sirsasana and half lotus postures (primary), arcana dhanurasana A and B (advanced B)and on into eka pada sirsasana (2nd series) and then into skandasana and durvasana (Advanced A). I often add omkrasana, parsva dandasana kapilasana, buddhasana and marichyasana H (Advanced B) which while not in Ramaswami's book seem to be appropriate further extensions and because of the preparation any strain is avoided.

And yet do any of the postures above really appear more advanced than Krishnamacharya's janusirsasana at the top of the page. Janusirsasana appears simple, we find it in the current Ashtanga Primary series and Krishnamacharya's Primary group yet it's basically a forward bending version of mahamudra. It's a highly stable, grounded posture that cries out for breath and bandha work. We can stay here a long long time, engage mula, uddiyana and jalandhara bandha fully, it allows for variations, the deep forward bend of janusirsasana and yet also twist to both sides by changing the hold on the foot. It's all in the approach we take to it, five breaths only in such a pose seems a bit of a waste

Here are the quotes mentioned above.

Question: When is it good to do full vinyasa? That is come back to Samasthiti after each asana. Is it correct?

Answer: Yes correct. Take one asana, finish it. After full vinyasa you do, standing position you come. Again next. Your strength how is you use (depending on your strength you should do half or full vinyasa). Without strength chat (sixth vinyasa) stop (If you are not strong stop at the sixth vinyasa eg do half vinyasa). Increasing your strength, you full vinyasa you take. Now there is no time (too many students).

That is why I am telling. One asana, for example paschimottanasana (has) 16 vinyasas, Purvottanasana - 15, Ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana, tiriang mukeka pada paschimottanasana, janu sirsasana A, B, C, marichyasana A, B, all 22 vinyasas. Full vinyasa .

You doing full vinyasa all - that is the best. Secondary you with sixth vinyasa all the asanas is coming. That you changing, this time (when) your strength is more, you changing that time. Sixth, seventh (vinyasa) paschimottanasana you do. After 8 – 9 then jump again. “sat” (six) position you go. I every day I teaching now. Same method you do. Both is no problem

Method is good no problem. Work is there. He is going work. (for a working man half vinyasa method is good) Your yoga practice, you take one hour. One hour or two hours your expanding your time. That time all the asanas taken one day full vinyasa you do at least five hours also you want you can understand (if you take full vinyasa, you need 5 hours to complete practice). One primary asanas doing, 5 hours also you want. That is why. You (are a) working (man). You not spending all the time on the yoga practice.

You can understand. Full time you take, full vinyasa you doing. Only for (completing) primary asanas takes 5 hours. 5 hours primary postures (with) full vinyasa. 50 asanas is there completely primary postures. That 50 asanas you doing taken 5 hours, with full vinyasa. You working. Another place is working. Yes you take money, you eating food, all you want. That only for your spending (free) time only for yoga, very rare (little time), very difficult also yourself. That is why you short cut you take. That is one or two hours. Two hours spent your yoga practice. That is good. That is also is good. Yes OK. That I tell you.

Sri K Pattabhi Jois Public Talks on Ashtanga Yoga - France 1991

Question: If one has only half an hour for practice, what should he do?

Answer: Now, no time. Many work is there. That time, no time. But you including half an hour time (if you have half an hour) you spend this way: You take practice.Anyone (always) start (with) Suryanamaskar half posture (half of the postures) you do, no problem. Halfposture means: primary half to Marichyasana D. (next day) Navasana you do aftertake Suryanamaskar (after you have finished surya namaskar you go on straight to navasana and the rest of the postures). Sirsasana and you do your work. No problem (do head stand at work?). 
Sri K Pattabhi Jois Public Talks on Ashtanga Yoga - France 1991


How to practice Krishnamacharya's early, 'original' Ashtanga Part 1

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Yogasanagalu's (1941) 'Original' Ashtanga Primary Group/Series in Yoga Makaranda (1934)

It was more difficult than expected for me to see the origins of modern Ashtanga in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (1934), many of the postures were there but in no familiar order and then of course there was the breath retention, the occasional longer stay in a posture, the deep engagement of bandhas.

The table in Yogasanagalu however may well be the key to opening it up.

Turning the table in Yogasanagalu into a picture sequence for practice allowed us to see how close the Primary group was to the Ashtanga Primary series we have now. Perhaps though it was the little differences that made the Yoga Makaranda startle me this morning, there it was the primary sequence, like one of those holographic pictures where you have to make your eyes go half cross eyed to see the image.

Here are the pictures of Krishnamacharya demonstrating asana in Yoga Makaranda ( the second half of the pictures, mostly of a young lad performing Advanced postures from the proficient group we'll put to one side for now).

Krishnamacharya in Yoga Makaranda (1934)
As Rolf Harris ( who I bump into all the time in my local supermarket )used to say, "can you see what it is yet?"

How about if I trim out some of vinyasa krama variations,  shift the paschimattanasana to the curious position in the middle of standing, move the Marichiyasana's up a bit as well as the standing konasana postures ( didn't Nancy say recently that they used to be taught at the end of Primary to beginners and then shifted back to their rightful place as the beginner became more proficient?).

What we end up with is....

Primary group/series in yoga makaranda (1934)

Which is pretty much....

Bit of a stretch, am I forcing it a little? perhaps, but either way it's good to know that almost all of the postures in the Yogasangalu Primary group and the approach to practicing them are described in the Yoga Makranda, as well as many of the several of the middle and proficient group. 

Something to be going on with while we look forward to more from the Yogasanagalu.

And a question. 

If the Primary group (series?) and more importantly the approach to the asana's and practice in general that we find in Yogasanagalu in 1941 can be seen in a core group of postures and approach in Yoga Makaranda (1934) (although we hear that in practice Krishnamacharya would adapt and improvise, creating new options to assist his students) perhaps this core practice hadn't changed that much in the seven years previous either which is when Krishnamacharya arrived in Mysore. Is this what he brought with him from that cave in the Himalayas, an approach to practice and a framework to hang it on?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Uddiyana kriya and asana in Krishnamacharya's 'Original' Ashtanga

Adhomukhasvanasana : ''After pulling the abdomen in and pushing it out, exhale the breath out. Holding the breath out firmly, pull in the abdomen. ' Yoga Makarandap69
This post from my new Krishnamacharya's 'Original' Ashtanga Project blog exploring, through practice, Krishnamacharya's 'original' Ashtanga as found in Yagasangalu and Yoga Makaranda.

Kino has raised the topic of Uddiyana bandha/kriya. Thanks to Yogagodess for posting on this in relation to Richard Freeman's Pranayama course see her post here

Seeing as a deep, full uddiyana  bandha comes up often as an option in Krishnamacharya's 'original' Ashtanga, I thought it would be good to highlight the practice. Later I'll add more quotes from Yoga Makaranda and any we might find in Yogasanagalu as more translation comes in.

Important to note that in Yoga Makaranda, Krishnamacharya refers to Nauli Kriya where,

'...the nerves of lower abdomen are pulled up into the stomach and then rapidly turned around this way and that'. Yoga Makaranda p42

Drawing the lower abdomen up into the stomach without the churning Krishnamacharya tends to refer to as a deeper extension of uddiyana mudra

'Uddyanabandha Mudra: Draw in the navel in such a way as to press the bones of the back (spine) with the abdomen firmly pulled in'. Yoga Makaranda p46

Thank to Kino for highlighting the important distinction and raising the topic.

In recent Modern Ashtanga of course there's no longer retention after the exhalation and so no possibility to engage uddiyana kriya or the full uddiyana bandha, however in Krishanamacharya's 'original' Ashtanga there was the option of including breath retention in certain asana and this is often recommended to achieve the full benefit of the posture. Including the option of breath retention in certain asana and mudras then, allows the option of engaging uddiyana bandha more deeply and even the kriya.

Check out Lino performing Nauli in Kukkutasana :49 seconds in...

And a quote from his Ashtanga Yoga book written under the guidance of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Kuukutasana. When practicing this asana mulabndha and Uddiyanabandha should be released. The rctum (gaud a Nala) must be relaxed and the practice of Nauli performed. Nauli is the movement of the rectus abdomens muscles, firstly in a circular clockwise and then anti clockwise direction, while the lung are empty.' p62 Ashtanga Yoga. Lino Miele 1996 (2005 edition)

And from Pattabhi Jois himself in Yoga Mala
'(Kukkutasana) ...lift up the padmasana, and stand on the strength of the palms; this is the 8th vinyasa. Then in this position, revolve the stomach (nauli), lift the back and chest fully, and do rechka and puraka.' p93 Yoga Mala

Here's Sharath in badha konasana in Yoga Mala full Uddiyana bandha?

Lets look at the text.

'Benefits. While in the states of this asana, one should do rechaka and tighten the anus fully. By pulling the stomach in completely, holding the lower abdomen and anus tightly, and practicing rechaka and puraka terrible afflictions... will be destroyed' Yoga Mala p94

Here's Krishnamacharya on Janu sirsasana.

 ‘While doing janusirsasana pull in the stomach to the extent possible. The benefits obtained will be greater. While drawing the stomach inward exhale and then hold the breath. ...though it is very difficult to do this draw the stomach inside starting with the navel, keeping the focus on the nadi’s near the rectal and genitle ares carefully pulling them upwards…
Krishnamacharya Yoga Makaranda

Uddiyana kriya  or the full uddiyana bandha isn't something those just coming to the practice would most likely be concerned with (there's enough to worry about it) but once settled into a regular practice a more sophisticated approach to asana is something to be considered such that these techniques and approaches to practice are't lost altogether.

As Kino often says in her video's in relation to certain options "While not traditional (in the sense of the recent tradition) it may be something you might like to explore".

So we might consider uddiyana in three ways

1. Uddiyana lite
As Kino describes it in the video, a natural continuation of moola bandha, a slight lifting and drawing back of the lower abdomen to which we will give attention and focus and may intensify a little depending on the posture

2. Uddiyana max
Full Uddiyana, the stomach drawn all the way back and up, the ribcage expanded to allow this to happen. Available in certain postures and mudras and in pranayama. Uddiyan max is only engaged during the retention of the exhale.

3. Uddiyana Kriya (for ex nauli)
A kriya, cleansing process ,in which full uddiyana is engaged on the retention following exhalation and the stomach churned. Se the Lino example in the video above.

To close, part of a nice comment from Satya whose translating the Yogasanagalu

'It is even more striking when you read it in Kannada. It is almost like this was a hand written copy, a first draft, if you will. Some of the words he could be taking straight from the chastening he had given to his students at the shala to get serious. You can almost feel his concern that if these guys don’t take this seriously, this art could be lost again'.

Uttanasana in the Yoga Makaranda

The first posture in the table of Primary group in Yogasanagalu is Uttanasana. Here's some of what what Krishnamacharya has to say about it in Yoga makaranda from a few years before.

1. Uttanasana Notes from Yoga Makaranda

'Stand erect. Afterwards, while exhaling the breath, slowly bend the upper part of the body (that is the part above the hips) little by little and place the palms down by the legs.

The knees must not be even slightly bent.

Raise the head upwards and fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. While doing this draw in clean air through the nostril, hold the breath firmly and maintain this position.

This is called sahitha kumbhaka.

After remaining here for some time, exhale the breath (that was being held) out very slowly through the nostril, lower the head and place it on the knees.

Do not inhale at this stage.

Draw the breath in while raising the head and exhale the breath out while lowering the head - this must be practiced according to one's strength and capability.

This sthiti is called uttanasana

After remaining in this stithi for some time return to asana stithi.

There are eight forms of uttanasana

This is the first form.

There are 3 Vinyasa for this'.
from Krishnamacharya and Ranganathadesikachar translation of Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda

Later I'll add notes for Uttanasana from Yogasanagalu to compare, assuming it's discussed in the later text.

New blog mission statement.

In 2010 I attended Srivatsa Ramaswami's Vinyasa Krama Teacher Training course at LMU. Ramaswami had been a student of Krishnamacharya for over thirty years. One of the major elements of the course was a close study of Krishnamachrya's Yoga Makaranda and Yogarahasya which we explored in the classroom, reading each text aloud line by line with discussion and in the practice room exploring the asana in practice. this blog is an attempt to continue that process by including Krishnamacharya's Yogasanagalu in the discourse.

I've just practiced Krishnamacharyas Primary group/series, from the table in his 1941 book Yogasanagalu, for the first time (see the page in the tab at the top of the blog for preliminary practice sheets). This appears to be an original form of the Ashtanga Primary series taught by Pattabhi Jois.

Currently Satya Murthy is working on a translation on the Yogasanagalu that is appearing on my other blog Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama at Home as each page is passed on to me ( see the Page on the tab at the top of this blog).

This blog then is an attempt to recreate and practice, as far as possible, the 'original Ashtanga series developed by Krishnamacharya through his works, in particular Yoga Makaranda and Yogasanagalu as well as the 1938 Black and White film footage that can be found in the Youtube video bar at the side of this blog.

In Krishnamachary's approach all asanas are not the same. Some asana allow for longer stays and this may be required to achieve the full benefits of the posture. Other postures allow for deeply engaged bandhas and still others retention on the exhalation or even inhalation. In one posture we might seek to increase the length of the inhalation in another the exhalation. Krishnamacharya states clearly that for the full benefit of certain asana it's vinyasa/variations should be included. This appears is in keeping with Krishnamacharya's philosophy of teaching the appropriate practice to a particular student in a particular situation and environment.

In attempting to practice Krishnamacharya's Primary just now, the sophistication of this approach became even more apparent as did the need to study closely each asana as described in the texts.

The rough plan is to include the recent posts on the translation of the Yogasanagalu as well as each new page that comns in. Side by side with that I hope to look at each asana in the syllabus along with the pictures and descriptions in both Yoga Makaranda and Yogasanagalu.