Saravāṅgāsana as a Mudrā – Part One

śīrṣāsana sarvāṅgāsana

There are certain Yoga postures that, depending on how they are approached and utilised, can function as either an Āsana or as a Mudrā.

This distinction in function can be generalised around whether the practitioner focuses on a static form with the focus on the development of the breath or on a dynamic form with the development of the variations of and in the posture.

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Modern Postural Yoga is most certainly one way in…….

bhekasanaustrasanae_p_r_k

Modern Postural Yoga is most certainly one way in.
However have we become trapped within this way in and thus can’t find the way out?

Whatever the specific aims or intended outcomes preserve the spirit of Yoga……

matsyendrasana

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……

tiryang_mukha_eka_pada_pascimatanasana

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……

jathara_parivrtti

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.

Leave more than enough time for Prāṇāyāma……

nadi_sodanaOne of the joyful experiences that can emerge within my morning practice is the feeling that arises on arriving at my Prāṇāyāma seat and taking that first breath within an atmosphere of having more than enough time in hand left to engage with this aspect of my on the mat Sādhana that day.

The sense of Sukha is palpable and offers a spaciousness that facilitates the breath both relaxing and entering into the spirit of, as Krishnamacharya spoke of in terms of Prāṇāyāma, Prayatna Śaithilya and Ananta Samāpatti.

This feeling in itself both automatically lengthens and deepens the flow of the breath without any conscious effort on my part. A precious gift to start my days journey into exploring this vital area of practice.

A constant reminder, if not rejoinder, to not forget to leave more than enough time for Prāṇāyāma, rather than it being the token twiddle at the end of the practice, or that which is oft easily at best compromised or at worst, forgotten within the seduction of the bodily experiences.

Another practice from 1980 from my teacher, TKV Desikachar……

practice_2_1_1980_1practice_2_1_1980_2

Following on from previous posts on practices from my teacher I wanted to offer a another example, this time purely around the Āsana element of my practice, given to me by my teacher, TKV Desikachar.

It evolved from within our one to one lessons in Chennai, from over 35 years ago, in 1980 and is based around working on a stiff, but strong lower back.

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Know your breath and its unique characteristics in Āsana and you will……

dhanurasananadi_sodana

Know your breath and its unique characteristics within Āsana and
you will have an initial template for working with your breath in Prāṇāyāma.

Modern postural Yoga talks a lot about individual patterning from our genetic past, along with upbringing and lifestyle conditioning, determining what body patterns we inherently carry from life to death

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Cale Vāte Calaṃ Cittam – As is the Breath so is the Psyche…….

Cale Vāte Calaṃ Cittam –
As is the breath so is the psyche.

The concept according to my teacher, oft quoted by Krishnamacharya, appears in the second verse of Chapter Two in the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā. It follows the opening verse which introduces Prāṇāyāma albeit with caveats around certain prerequisites.

Firstly establish an Āsana as a firm seat, not as simple as it seems given the predilection for action Āsana contrasting a difficulty in remaining seated, upright and still for half an hour.

Secondly the diet needs to be sorted in terms of being nourishing (not spartan or predominantly raw) and in appropriate quantities.

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Prāṇāyāma within Rāja Yoga and Haṭha Yoga

 

According to the Yoga Kuṇḍalinī Upaniṣad verse 1 – the activity of Citta or psyche has two causes, the movement of Vāsana or latent impressions and the movement of Vāyu or Prāṇa. If one of them is active so is the other, equally if one of them is influenced so is the other.

These are the primary foci within the principles and practices of Rāja Yoga around Citta and Haṭha Yoga around Prāṇa. In terms of primary practices common to both we have Prāṇāyāma.

However as with Āsana within either Rāja Yoga and Haṭha Yoga (a topic for a future post), there are different priorities in the viniyoga (application) of this common primary tool.

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The concept of Bhāva and Abhāva in Yoga Practice……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

Amongst the many concepts taught to me by my teacher, to help with understanding and thus working more skilfully with the student, was the notion of Bhāva and Abhāva.

The teaching within this important concept is that when a student comes wanting to learn Yoga, are they interested in learning Yoga to move towards the deeper teachings of Yoga (Bhāva), or wanting to learn Yoga in order to move away from something they find unhelpful or undesirable in their life (Abhāva).

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The more I chant the more I remember what my teacher taught me.

ansuyadevi_1

Temple Chanting in Ansuyadevi on Pañca Kedar

“The more I chant the more I remember what my teacher taught me.”

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What are the concepts of Sṛṣṭi Krama, Sthiti Krama and Antya Krama?

 urdha_mukha_svanasananadi_sodanadhyanam

What are the concepts of Sṛṣṭi Krama, Sthiti Krama and Antya Krama and what is their significance in relationship to the practice of Āsana, Prāṇāyāma and Dhyānam?

We can approach this question from two directions, chronologically and psychologically. Chronologically, the starting point is the age at which people traditionally begin Yoga practice.

“A person is fit to practice when they can eat by themselves.”
– Śrī Krishnamacharya

According to the Yoga teachings of T Krishnamacharya there are three chronological stages of life, or Tri Krama.

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Āsana alone can be a support for our outer relationship with living……

Āsana_23a

Āsana alone can be a support for our outer relationship with living.
However can Āsana alone be the support for our inner relationship with dying?
Especially as our conception of death is buried deep within our psyche.
This is why Yoga offers vehicles beyond Āsana for the inner and especially final journey.”

To share Chanting is to share an experience of silence through listening……

desikachar_ph

Having just had the pleasure of spending a number of days within a 121 Yoga Immersion Intensive in my home studio, as if in retreat in the country, with a student from the USA, I am reminded of the way that Desikachar and I worked together during my numerous study visits to India.

We would meet at least twice daily morning and afternoon, for a number of hours lessons working with topics that included discussing Philosophy, Psychology, exploring Kriyā, Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Mudrā and Dhyānam practice and studying practice theory in terms of concepts such as Sūrya, Candra, Agni, Prāṇa and Apāna, along with time out together to eat and walk.

However for the last ten plus years of our relationship the practice that was constant, nourishing and mutually connecting was that of chanting. To spend some two hours of our day together working intensively with chanting practice epitomises the essence of the process inherent within a 121 relationship.

As my teacher once said:

“To share Chanting is to share an experience of silence through listening, a process of healing,
and a link with nature, the deeper self and the divine.”
– TKV Desikachar

I thank the teacher, the student, the teachings, the Sādhana and the lifelong 121 priority of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar, that combine to lead us towards an environment where we can work so intensively and extensively together.

Yoga Dhyānam is the art of settling the mind in the heartspace.

3anahataYoga Dhyānam is the art of settling the mind in the heartspace.