A fundamental facet in the principles of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma practice……


A fundamental facet in the principles of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma practice, in the teachings of Krishnamacharya through Desikachar, is the ordering of Āsana according to the acronym SLIBSS.

It is the practice arrangement or Vinyāsa Krama in the following order:

  • Standing Āsana
  • Supine Lying Āsana
  • Inverted Āsana
  • Prone Backbend Āsana
  • Sitting Āsana
  • Seated Āsana

This is referred to in Religiousness in Yoga page 23-27.

It is the foundational structure on which all the other variants of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma practice arise from or are goals towards.

Vinyāsa Krama is pronounced according to its meaning as Vi-Nyāsa Krama or special placing in sequence. It is the arranging of the various postures or breathing patterns in an intelligent sequence, respecting the variables in the student and the purpose of the practice.

Thus the way I was taught by Desikachar was that if I move away from this schematic as the core of my Āsana practice or teaching, there needs to be a compelling rationale within which it remains a potential goal to move back to or towards, both short term and long term.

Sometimes the Vinyāsa Krama (arrangement of sequence) from is more important than the to. At other times the Vinyāsa Krama to is more important than the from. In our life as well as our practice.

Obviously in terms of Āsana as a starting point not all aspects of SLIBSS may be possible both as a short term for beginner or longer term because of specific situations or conditions. However the reference as a potential remains a valid guideline.

“The teacher decides which of the trikrama (three steps) is the best for the student:
Śikṣaṇa Krama requires a perfect knowing to transmit a strict practice, without any compromise, as it should be in Vedic chanting for example.
Rakṣaṇa Krama is aimed at protection and preservation; it promotes continuity in any levels like health, abilities, knowledge, etc.
Cikitsa Krama looks for adaptation, healing, recovering…”
– TKV Desikachar Speaking at a ten day meeting with his 16 senior Western students from 8 countries in London June 13th 1998

Thus the viniyoga of SLBSS within a Vinyāsa Krama would depend on criteria such as the relationship of the student to the principles of Cikitsā, Rakṣaṇa and Śikṣaṇa Krama.

“Śikṣaṇa Krama – do something perfectly or correctly.
Anything is taught to achieve perfection in the practice of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma.
In other words teaching children and healthy people where you can take risks with no problems.
Not a valid approach for groups.
We need to use intelligence and Viveka (discrimination), not follow the idea of no pain, no gain to become painless or to get to a point without suffering.”
– TKV Desikachar France August 1983

Personally I find that after 40 years of working personally and professionally within this tradition these core principles still remain rock solid guidelines to work from and towards. Hence the meaning of Vinyāsa Krama as intelligent steps.


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