The traditional model, Śikṣaṇa, for Yoga was to stay in a posture……

The traditional model, Śikṣaṇa, for Yoga was to stay in a posture

“The traditional model, Śikṣaṇa, for Yoga was to stay in a posture,
Krishnamacharya introduced movement in the postures.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Example of a Vinyāsa Krama around Jaṭhara Parivṛtti

An example of a Vinyāsa Krama around Jaṭhara Parivṛtti exploring:

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A sample Parivṛtti and Paścimatāna Themed Group Practice

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Attached as a PDF is a sample group class practice offered to a student as an example of theming two complementary Āsana groupings, that of Parivṛtti and Paścimatāna.

These complementary Lakṣaṇa, or characteristics, can be expanded from either:

  • An Annamaya or structural viewpoint, in terms of the work on such as the spine and the legs.
  • Or from a Prāṇamaya or energetic viewpoint in terms of the effect on Agni, Apāna and Vāta.
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Always raise and lower the arms in the plane of the movement…….

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“Always raise and lower the arms in the plane of the movement.
This helps the forward movement by causing you
to arch the back slightly before you bend forward.
Traditionally arms are straight and placed behind the ears.”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 6 – Making the Breath longer than the Stillness

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Postural Pointer 6 – Staying in Stillness
Making the Breath longer than the Stillness.

Making the Breath longer than the Stillness
means the body needs to be completely still before
the Recaka or Exhale is started and especially before it is stopped.
Equally the the body needs to be completely still before
the Pūraka or inhale is started and especially before it is stopped.
This is harder than it sounds given the propensity to want to tweak or adjust the body
at the beginning and especially when at the end of a movement.
Thus making the breath longer than the Movement
also means making the breath longer than the Stillness.

My understanding on the context and content of Yoga Makaranda

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My understanding from my discussions over the years with TKV Desikachar regarding the context and content of Yoga Makaranda, is that when teaching youngsters the length of the breath was minimised to a relatively short fixed length and use of Kumbhaka was limited to a few seconds Antar Kumbhaka and Bahya Kumbhaka.

However there were no limitations on the range or intensity of Āsana and lots of use of variations to be engaged with within each Āsana.

“The Āsana are presented in Vinyāsa Krama, the way it was taught to children in the Yogasāla.
This should not create the impression that T Krishnamacharya taught in this manner to everyone.”
– TKV Desikachar Introduction to Yoga Makaranda

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An example personal practice from 1980 from TKV Desikachar……

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Following on from yesterdays post on Kumbhaka quoted below:

“According to Krishnamacharya,
one who has not mastered the Bāhya Kumbhaka,
has not mastered the breath.”
– TKV Desikachar 1988

I thought it might be helpful to republish a post from early 2014. Here I wanted to offer a example of a personal practice given to me by TKV Desikachar. It evolved from within our one to one lessons in Chennai, from over 35 years ago, in 1980 and is based around:

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Overview of the viniyoga of Āsana Practice Techniques and Theory Modules

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Follow this link for details of Small Group Learning Art of viniyoga of Āsana Study Workshop options
Follow this link for details of Online Personalised Learning Art of viniyoga of Āsana Study options

The Module One Workshops and Module Two to Seven Courses are in depth studies through:

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Yoga Postures in Practice – A series on Āsana by Paul Part 4 Utkaṭāsana

Part Four – Building our Support with Utkaṭāsana

This is the fourth in a series of articles presenting the core principles for Āsana practice as taught to me through many years of personal lessons in India with my teacher TKV Desikachar.

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108 Postural Practice Pointers – 5 – Utkaṭāsana and sequence of movement

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Postural Pointer 5 – Utkaṭāsana and sequence of movement respecting Prāṇa and Apāna

All these stages of descent are on one long exhalation.
– Lower the backside to the heels whilst keeping the back upright and the arms raised.
– Then stretch the back rounding it towards thighs whilst keeping the arms raised.
– Finally lower the arms to the ground.

All these stages of ascent are on one long inhalation.
– Raise the arms as far as we can keeping hips on the heels.
– Then straighten the back into an upright position.
– Finally lifting the backside off the heels and coming up.

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 4 – Dynamic Movement and the Breath

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Postural Pointer 4 – Dynamic Movement and the Refinement of the Breath

A longer term refinement of working with the breath in Āsana such as Paścimatānāsana,
is to begin the breath before leaving your departure point,
and finish the breath after reaching your arrival point.
In other words keeping the breath longer than the movement at all times.

viniyoga Vignette 4 – Combining Prāṇāyāma within Āsana

Mid Range Movement in Āsana

A short end of study day 25′ evening practice from the second day of three day Practitioner Training Programme Module. Here the primary Bhāvana or theme was to offer a practice to conclude what would have been in itself a long day of study as well as internalising the student away from the accumulative stresses from two long days of training input.

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108 Postural Practice Pointers – 3 – Forward Bending and the Abdomen

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Postural Pointer 3 – Forward Bending and the Role of the Abdomen

When moving into Paścimatāna Āsana such as Uttānāsana.
Better to pull back from the abdomen.
Rather than pushing forward from the lower back.

viniyoga Vignette 3 – Śītalī and Anuloma Ujjāyī Prāṇāyāma within Āsana

Mid Range Movement in Āsana

A short end of study day 25′ evening practice from the first day of three day Practitioner Training Programme Module. Here the primary Bhāvana or theme was to offer a practice to conclude what would have been a long day with both study and travelling to the venue that morning from various parts of the country.

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Nāma, Rūpa, Lakṣana – The Name, Form and Characteristics of Āsana

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The Aṣṭāṅgāsana or the eight limbs of Āsana Planning and Practice are the formula for constructing a skilful and place, time and lifestyle appropriate Āsana practice. These eight limbs fall into eight categories, that of:

  • The definition, meaning and context of Āsana
    – Core concept – Nāma Rūpa Lakṣana – name, form and characteristics
  • How Āsana are arranged into groups and categories
    – Core concept – Vinyāsa Krama – collecting postures together
  • How counterpostures or Pratikriyāsana are integrated
    – Core concept – Pratikriyāsana– maintaining the balance
  • The value and purpose of the breath in Āsana
    – Core concept – Prāṇāpāna Dhāraṇā – where the focus is
  • How movement or stay are used in Āsana 
    Core concept – Circulation and Purification – dynamic and static
  • The adaptation of Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Variation and Modification – change and necessity
  • Intelligently planning and Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Bṛṃhaṇa and Laṅghana Kriyā – connecting postures together
  • Observation within Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Spine, Breath and Attention – learning to look

In my last post on Aṣṭāṅgāsana I talked about introducing each of these eight topics to help the reader to appreciate more about what is inherent in the depth and breadth of this approach in terms of Āsana planning having a precise and comprehensive formula.

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Aṣṭāṅgāsana – The eight limbs of Āsana Planning and Practice

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With nearly 2000 Posts and Resources on the site I have been reflecting on how to expand the access points and yet simplify the reader experience for visitors. So I started by looking at the Blog Page by reviewing the broad topic categories and considering the need to re-organise the groupings as well as increasing the  range of related topics within the sub-groupings.

The first general topic in the Journal is that of Posts on Yoga Practice and its five main areas for study are:

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Yoga Postures in Practice – A series on Āsana by Paul Part 3 Uttānāsana

Part Three – Moving from our Spine with Uttānāsana

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This is the third in a series of articles presenting the core principles for Āsana practice as taught to me through many years of personal lessons in India with my teacher TKV Desikachar.

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Any movement can be done on the exhale or stop……

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“Any movement can be done on the exhale or stop.
Not every movement can be done on inhale or hold.
Therefore the gradual movement of the breath
or introduction of the breath
should be directed into the exhale.
The exhale must be respected.
When the exhale is secure or firm,
then the attention can be shifted to the inhale or to work on the holds.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

Yoga Postures in Practice – A series on Āsana by Paul Part 2 Tāḍāsana

Part Two – Growing from our Roots with Tāḍāsana

This is the second in a series of articles presenting the core principles for āsana practice as taught to me through many years of personal lessons in India with my teacher TKV Desikachar.

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Yoga Postures in Practice – A series on Āsana by Paul Part 1 Samasthiti

Part One – Moving into our Bodies with Samasthiti.

This is the first in a series of articles presenting the core principles for āsana practice as taught to me over many years of personal lessons in India with my teacher TKV Desikachar.

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Keeping the breath longer than the movement within an Āsana

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I recently wrote a post on:

The Breath having its own developmental process within an Āsana.

Within this post I mapped out some of the preliminary steps in the Vinyāsa Krama of the breath that accompanies the performance of the form. Within this map for those beginning their journey into the mysteries of the breath within the mastery of the form, I offered four steps.

Here I want to review these four steps and especially focus on the last of the four, this time in relation to Nirālamba Bhujaṅgāsana or unsupported Cobra posture:

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Finding your starting point within an Āsana to set a direction and goal

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“In order to know where we are going to,
we must first know where we are coming from.”

Often in the Āsana aspect of Yoga practice, whether within our personal practice or a group class environment, the student is directed towards a goal.

This may be to do with a physical or structural foci such as the:

  • Basic Performance of the Āsana
  • Continuing Improvement of the Āsana
  • Specific Intensification of the Āsana
  • Introducing Stay into the Āsana

However the common factor within all of these options is that they are goal based.

This is fine as a general principle however as in any area of our lives, setting off towards any goal requires that we also have a clear idea of our starting point. For example, if I am wanting to travel to London I need to know whether I am starting from Birmingham or Brighton in order to set a direction and distance to navigate from. So it is with Āsana.

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Yoga has been adapted to life in the modern day.

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  • Yoga has been adapted to life in the modern day.
  • Any posture far removed from the normal posture is a problem and therefore risky if there is any problem with the body.
  • Inverted postures present problems because of the tension that people carry in their necks.
  • Postures that create tension should be avoided.
  • Moving into the posture after the exhale is an adaptation.
  • Krishnamacharya designed aids to help people achieve postures.
  • Slow movement has a different action on the muscles, it is harder work.
  • The role of Āsana, its purpose and goal must be respected.
  • Opposite postures are a handicap but can help us to appreciate something different in a posture.
  • We must feel ourselves and what is happening in a posture.

From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

How long should a person stay in an Āsana?

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Question to T Krishnamacharya –

Q: How long should a person stay in an Āsana every day?
A: A person must stay in any one Āsana for at least fifteen minutes.
From the book ‘Śrī Krishnamacharya – The Pūrnācārya’, published by the KYM in 1997

Examples of Vinyāsa Krama for Sitting Āsana within a Single Practice.

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As Desikachar actually had very few long term students, many peoples views around such as his Āsana teaching, or views on Yoga in general are formed from experiencing him teaching within a group situation, either at a seminar, lecture or retreat.

Actually he really was not very comfortable teaching mixed public groups in these situations, and in relation to teaching practices, what practices he could present had to be very generalised and therefore contrary to the principles he taught according to what he learnt from his father.

On the other hand as a private student the Āsana practices I was exposed to had a precision and intensity offering a breadth and depth impossible to emulate within a group class environment.

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