The viniyoga of Planning Principles Series Post 1
Yoga Sūtra Chapter Three verse 6
tasya bhūmiṣu viniyogaḥ
“Its application is in stages.”
“The spirit of viniyoga is starting from where one finds oneself.
As everybody is different and changes from time to time,
there can be no common starting point and ready-made answers are useless.
The present situation must be examined and the habitually established status must be re-examined.”
– TKV Desikachar
- Prāṇāyāma - Where to Start? (August 29, 2015)
Prāṇāyāma - Where to Start? According to how I was taught there two possibilities, that of using ratio and that of using nostril techniques. Desikachar taught me, both for my personal practice and teaching skill base, that the journey towards Prāṇāyāma starts with the former before being enhanced and refined through the latter. According to Krishnamacharya's methodology around developing the breath aspect of the students practice, initially through Āsana and Mudrā and ultimately through Prāṇāyāma, begins with what happens in and to the breath in Āsana. He even devised formula whereby the teacher could observe the length of the breath in Āsana. From there a potential developmental structure could be plotted for the students Prāṇāyāma practice, in terms of projections as to the length of breath they should expect, or work towards realising in this aspect of their practice.
- 20 Minute Prāṇāyāma Practice (August 28, 2015)
20 Minute Prāṇāyāma Practice focused on Pūraka without Kumbhaka Ascent: Anuloma Ujjāyī Technique with 188.8.131.52. Ratio/Length for 8 Breaths Crown: Pratiloma Ujjāyī Technique with 184.108.40.206. Ratio/Length for 16 Breaths Descent: Anuloma Ujjāyī Technique with 220.127.116.11. Ratio/Length for 8 Breaths Closing: Ujjāyī Technique with 18.104.22.168. Ratio/Length for 4 Breaths Completion: Drop the breath and remain with the experience for 5 minutes
- Pratikriyā Bhāvana for Vīrabhadrāsana (August 15, 2015)
Vīrabhadrāsana or warrior pose is an Āsana where the postural focus at the level of Annamaya or the structural aspect, involves the skill of holding opposite points of attention at the same time. For example, if we consider the feet, the front foot focus is on the rooting of toes, whereas the focus on the rear foot is on the rooting of the heel. Thus here we have an example of a Pratikriyā Bhāvana, or opposite action focus, where we need to hold our attention with a contrasting dynamic in two places simultaneously. In this example on both the front or rear foot at the same time, but with different points of attention.
- The teaching of Krishnamacharya around Āsana included an in-depth appreciation of the Lakṣaṇa...... (August 2, 2015)
My extensive study of Āsana with TKV Desikachar was shaped around forming a deep appreciation of specific core principles that underpin the planning and practice of Āsana and their application to the individual student's constitution, psychology and need. Amongst these dozen or so core principles, the first group I studied when looking at any Āsana in depth, were the concepts of Nāma, Rūpa and Lakṣaṇa, or the name, the form and the characteristics of that particular Āsana.
- One of the key concepts in the viniyoga of Āsana...... (July 28, 2015)
One of the key concepts in the viniyoga of Āsana is how to facilitate movement in the spine rather than just movement of the spine.
- If we appreciate the role of breathing in ãsana how can we make it longer? (July 21, 2015)
Question by Desikachar during my 121 lessons 1980: "If we appreciate the role of breathing in Āsana how can we make it longer?" From my notes from his response: 1. By using a valve, such as the throat (Ujjāyī) we can: Influence the length of the inhale and exhale Create a uniformity of breath Observe the quality of the breath Control the movement of the breath Appreciate the limits of personal endurance Deepen the quality of the Āsana Focus the attention, as long as it is a means to an end
- Plan an Āsana practice to include Ardha Uttānāsana…… (July 7, 2015)
Plan an Āsana practice to include: 1. Ardha Uttānāsana – Stay 8 Breaths 2. Śīrṣāsana – Stay 20 Breaths 3. Navāsana – Stay 8 Breaths A question given it me by TKV Desikachar during our 121 lessons in 1980 when learning Āsana practice planning skills.
- Plan an Āsana practice to include Jaṭhara Parivṛtti...... (June 27, 2015)
Plan an Āsana practice to include: 1. Jaṭhara Parivṛtti – Stay 8 breaths each side 2. Uttāna Pādāsana – Stay 8 breaths 3. Viparīta Daṇḍāsana – Stay 8 breaths A question given it me by TKV Desikachar during our 121 lessons in 1980 when learning Āsana practice planning skills.
- Plan an Āsana practice to include Śalabhāsana...... (June 25, 2015)
Plan an Āsana practice to include: 1. Śalabhāsana - Repeat 12 times 2. Tiryaṅgmukha Ekapāda Paścimatānāsana - Stay 6 breaths each side 3. Paryaṅkāsana - Stay 12 breaths A question given it me by TKV Desikachar during our 121 lessons in 1980 when learning Āsana practice planning skills.
- Pratikriyāsana or opposite action postures have a transitional or counterpostural role ...... (June 24, 2015)
Pratikriyāsana or opposite action postures have a transitional or counterpostural role and are applied at specific points in the practice in order to maintain a sound physiological and psychological base. This principle has an important role in how we link the different aspects of the Āsana practice, how we close the practice or how we integrate the Āsana element of the practice into other aspects of our Yoga practice. There are specific guidelines around how they can be integrated into the practice, the first of which is that the counter posture needs to be mastered before a particular Āsana is attempted. This principle is especially important when attempting to integrate more complex Āsana such as Bhujaṅgāsana or Sarvāṅgāsana into our practice. On this point you may wish to refer back to a previous post: How do we know that a student is ready to attempt a more progressive posture such as Sarvāṅgāsana?
- Vinyāsa Krama for the Catur Bandha in Mahā Mudrā for an advanced Āsana student...... (June 20, 2015)
This is an example of a Vinyāsa Krama for the Catur or four Bandha when staying in Mahā Mudrā as a Haṭha Yoga technique for working with the important Haṭha trilogy of Prāṇa, Apāṇa and Agni. Here I am choosing not to focus on the Pūrvāṅga, the ascending or preparatory phase, nor on the Uttarāṅga, the descending or compensatory phase of the Āsana used in the Vinyāsa Krama for the whole practice. It also does not include the building in of additional techniques such as Prāṇāyāma, nor exploring the different roles Prāṇāyāma may have in relation to the whole practice, especially one that has incorporated additional techniques such as the Catur Bandha. Instead this extract is an example of the Pradhānāṅga or crown of this particular practice. It is centered around a stay in Mahā Mudrā of around 10 minutes each side progressively incorporating and building in intensity, within the Vinyāsa Krama for Mahā Mudrā, with the additional techniques of the Catur Bandha.
- Āsana practice to ascertain capability for Sarvāṅgāsana...... (June 18, 2015)
Āsana practice for an intermediate level Āsana student to ascertain capability for working with and exploring in depth the potential of Sarvāṅgāsana or shoulderstand as an Āsana. Download a PDF version of this practice
- Cikitsā Practice for a Beginning, though not Novice, Level Āsana student (June 16, 2015)
Cikitsā Practice for a Beginning, though not Novice, level Āsana student Download a PDF version of this practice
- Parivṛtti focused practice for an intermediate level Āsana student. (June 7, 2015)
Parivṛtti focused practice for an intermediate level Āsana student. Download a PDF version of this practice
- Āsana practice as a prerequisite to exploring how to integrate Prāṇāyāma...... (June 1, 2015)
I was taught by Desikachar that we need to at least have some sort of working relationship with an Āsana practice as a prerequisite to exploring how to integrate Prāṇāyāma into our practice Sādhana. Also in the approach of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar to Yoga practice this idea is even more relevant as important information, that guides our initial and subsequent steps into Prāṇāyāma, is gleaned from certain factors only apparent from observation of how our respiratory system performs during Āsana practice.
- Consider the accumulative effect of Āsana and Pratikriyāsana...... (April 23, 2015)
The viniyoga of Planning Principles Series Post 5 Vinyāsa Krama - Intelligent sequence building within Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma Specific Areas within Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma practice to consider when planning: 1. Consider the overall purpose of practice (short/long term as appropriate) Be clear about the goal and don’t try to reach too many goals in same practice Keep the practice short and simple in intention and execution Consider time of day and season both inside and out Consider the accumulative effect of Āsana and Pratikriyāsana, in any one practice, and over time if being practiced regularly Consider psychological, physiological and energetic aspects of practice. Energetically we seek to expand, open upper part of the body, above diaphragm and close, reduce lower part of the body below the diaphragm
- Whatever the specific aims or intended outcomes preserve the spirit of Yoga...... (March 23, 2015)
The viniyoga of Planning Principles Series Post 4 General Aims and Intended Outcomes around Practice Planning: Be clear about the difference between aim(s) and intended outcome(s) Distinguish between short-term and long-term aim(s) and intended outcome(s) Appreciate how you can factor short term outcomes within long term aims Avoid having too many aims or intended outcomes within one practice – keep it focused Consider the five areas that practice can interact with – body, spine, breath, mind and emotions Whatever the specific aims or intended outcomes preserve the spirit of Yoga
- Make the practice shorter than the time available...... (March 22, 2015)
The viniyoga of Planning Principles Series Post 3 Some General Guidelines: Be clear about your purpose Hold the reflection that practice is a means not an end Remember ‘can’ is not the same as ‘should’ Ask yourself what is most effective Plan for others as it applies to them, not as it applies to you Consider its relationship to both short term and long term goals Aim to cultivate a state of Sattva by reducing Tamas and stabilising Rajas Keep it simple and consider how to spend more time in fewer Āsana Make the practice shorter than the time available Stick to the conventions of technique unless there is a reason to change them
- In terms of practice planning the spirit of viniyoga is achieved...... (March 21, 2015)
The viniyoga of Planning Principles Series Post 2 In terms of practice planning the spirit of viniyoga is achieved by two broad means: 1. The selection of practice material that is appropriate to the needs and circumstances of the student. 2. The intelligent use of Vinyāsa Krama.
- The breath can be a key to unlocking the mystery of the relationship...... (November 11, 2014)
In looking at how to deepen (rather than broaden) our personal practice choosing to focus on exploring the breath can be a key to unlocking the mystery of the relationship between body, breath, mind and beyond. Here we can think of the deepening into our practice arising through progressively slowing the patterning of our breathing. To do this we have to reconsider our practice, not in terms of what we do with our body but what we do with the breath within our body. This means firstly knowing what is our basic practice breath rate per minute and then progressively slowing that rate as we progress from Āsana, through to Mudrā and then to Prāṇāyāma. For example when working with Āsana we can start with four breaths per minute, then with Mudrā slow it to three breaths per minute and finally with Prāṇāyāma, slow it again to two breaths per minute. An accomplished practitioner may be working with three breaths a minute in Āsana, two breaths a minute in Mudrā and one breath a minute with Prāṇāyāma. Whereas a less experienced practitioner may be working on five breaths a minute in Āsana, four breaths a minute in Mudrā and three breaths a minute in Prāṇāyāma. The starting point does not matter and is something that is appropriate to the history, health and training of the student. What is more important is that no matter where we start from, the journey into the mystery of the breath and its relationship to the slowing of psychic activity, is through the progressive slowing of our breathing patterns. This is realised within the long term developmental refinement of the practice limbs of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma within our journey into the evolution of Haṭha Sādhana towards Rāja Sādhana.
- Principles of Practice Planning according to the viniyoga of Yoga (May 15, 2013)
The viniyoga of Planning Principles Series Post 1 Yoga Sūtra Chapter Three verse 6 tasya bhūmiṣu viniyogaḥ “Its application is in stages.” “The spirit of viniyoga is starting from where one finds oneself. As everybody is different and changes from time to time, there can be no common starting point and ready-made answers are useless. The present situation must be examined and the habitually established status must be re-examined.” - TKV Desikachar