Question to Krishnamacharya – “Can you explain the concept of Vinyāsa and Pratikriyā Āsana?”


Question to T Krishnamacharya:
“Can you explain the concept of Vinyāsa and Pratikriyā Āsana?”

“The question asked relates to Yoga and not to Vidyā Abhyāsa. There is no Āsana without Vinyāsa. Yoga is an experience, Āsana is the third of the eight limbs of Yoga and it is also important to pay attention to first two limbs, namely Yama and Niyama.

One who wishes to enquire into and understand Vinyāsa should first know what is Āsana. According to Patañjali Yoga Sūtra, Āsana is defined as “Sthira Sukham Āsanam“.

Sthira – Namely firm and without disease and Sukham – pleasant and comfortable. To be in Sukham state, all parts of the body should be in perfect harmony. This is true for all, whether one is a man, woman, deaf, mute, blind or even for animals. Any action that disturbs this state of harmony should be followed by a Pratikriyā to restore the harmony. One cannot but accept this principle.

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108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 64 – Viparyaya is merely an opinion……

Viparyaya is merely an opinion,
convincing in its rightness to exist.
A flight of fancy, posing, as if a truth.
– Reflection on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 8

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

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108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 60 – The place of learning is in the space between the Āsana.

The place of learning is in the space between the Āsana.
In that Āsana practice is a movie, not a series of pictures.
A marker towards Nirodha is not leaking between Āsana.
Thus containing energetic itches on coming back to stillness.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

When reflecting on the intimacy of the relationship between Prāṇāyāma and Āsana experientially……

When reflecting on the intimacy of the relationship between
Prāṇāyāma and Āsana experientially, we could consider
exploring the practice of Prāṇāyāma and its developmental
conjunction with Āsana, via the following reference points.

Within the age-old coalescence of Prāṇāyāma and Āsana,
Prāṇāyāma can have three potential roles in influencing
the physical, energetic, psychological or emotional
effects arising from the prior practice of Āsana.

In this context the application of Prāṇāyāma can be
from one of three directions. It can be used to either
pacify, or to stabilise, or to intensify, the various
experiences arising from the practice of  Āsana.

In the beginning of our journey into the arts of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma……


In the beginning of our journey into the arts of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma, the outcome of our exploration into the breath in Āsana sets a direction and parameters for the beginnings of our exploration into how and where to develop the breath in Prāṇāyāma.

As we establish, progress and refine our practice of Prāṇāyāma, the strengths and issues that arise from our practice of Prāṇāyāma invite a subtler investigation of the breath in Āsana.

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108 Teaching Path Pointers – 39 – Krishnamacharya and Desikachar’s life work focused on the training of students……

All of Krishnamacharya’s and Desikachar’s
life work focused on the training of students,
some of whom then went on to become teachers.
Rather than the reality that pervades Yoga today,
in that the priority is on the training of teachers,
some of whom may go on to became students.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 63 – Avidyā is the illusion of experiencing what feels real……

avidya

Avidyā is the illusion of experiencing
what feels real, as if it is actually true.
However, that we experience a feeling as real,
does not in fact actually mean that it is true.
So how to discern as to whether a feeling
that we experience as real, is really true?
– Reflections on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 5

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

The Viniyoga of Āsana – Summary Post of Parts 1 to 5

The Viniyoga of Āsana – Summary Post of Parts 1 to 5
The Viniyoga of Āsana Part 1 – Āsana according to Haṭha and Rāja
The Viniyoga of Āsana Part 2 – There are Many Approaches to Āsana Practice
The Viniyoga of Āsana Part 3 – The Principles used in Constructing an Āsana
The Viniyoga of Āsana Part 4 – Considerations around the Direction of Āsana Practice
The Viniyoga of Āsana Part 5 – Common Points within the Variables in Āsana Practice
The Viniyoga of Āsana – Summary Post of Parts 1 to 5 – Download as a PDF
– Parts 6-10 will be posted across May and Parts 11-15 across July 2020

1. The Definition of Āsana according to Haṭha and Rāja Yoga

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The Viniyoga of Āsana Part 5 of 15 – Common Points within the Variables in Āsana Practice

5. What are the Common Points within the Variables in Āsana Practice

If we look at all the variables around Āsana practice we can find some similarities between various individuals.

For example:

  • The variable must accept and include a persons previous training
  • We must respect where a person is coming or starting from
  • It is better to consider the immediate situation rather than the long term
  • We must respect the after effect of the Āsana practice
  • We must respect the after action to come
  • We must respect the travel from A to Z or Upāya
  • Z seems to vary much more than A, i.e.
    Practice in the morning – generally less variables
    Practice in the evening – more subject to the days effects and different lifestyles
  • We must respect age, condition, gender, work, lifestyle, etc
  • It is also necessary to consider some technical priorities
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The Viniyoga of Āsana Part 4 of 15 – Considerations around the Direction of Āsana Practice

4. Considerations around the Direction of Āsana Practice

As well as considering what is acceptable to each and everybody as basic principles of Āsana practice, we must consider the direction of one’s Āsana practice.

For example:

  • Where are we starting from in terms of practice as a process?
  • Where are we going to in terms of practice as a process?
  • Is this process of potential change working with Immediate needs in mind?
  • Is this process of potential change working with long term needs in mind?
  • Is this process of potential change trying to integrate both Immediate needs and long term needs?

So what is Yoga practice as a process? Practice as a process is consideration of all the factors that surround the establishing of a home practice. For example this can be:

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The Viniyoga of Āsana Part 3 of 15 – The Principles used in Constructing an Āsana Practice

3. The Principles used in Constructing an Āsana Practice

So how have the various schools of Yoga come to ideas of using rest, preparation, counterpose, etc as planning principles in the practice of Āsana?

Also if we have certain principles underpinning how we work, how do we apply them to students already set in a particular mode of Āsana practice?

For example:

  • Perhaps if they have a physical problem then you have something to work with. However you need to be tactful about pointing such things out, maybe waiting.
  • Otherwise you can try to meet them halfway i.e. adding a couple of things to their practice they know and a couple they don’t.
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The Viniyoga of Āsana Part 2 of 15 – There are Many Approaches to Āsana Practice

2. There are Many Approaches to Āsana Practice

To consider this aspect we need to look at different approaches to Āsana practice using as examples the viewpoints of different schools of practice to what are seen by many as the two primary ‘classical’ Āsana.

For example:

From these examples we are led to the belief that we must respect that there are various schools of thought around the principles of practice of Āsana.

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The Viniyoga of Āsana Part 1 of 15 – Āsana according to Haṭha and Rāja

1. The Definition of Āsana according to Haṭha and Rāja Yoga

HAṬHA PRADĪPIKĀ Chapter One verse 17

haṭhasya prathama-aṅgatvād-āsanaṁ pūrvam-ucyate |
kuryāt-tad-āsanaṃ sthairyam-ārogyaṃ cāṅga-lāghvam ||

Āsana, being the initial limb of Haṭha, is spoken of first.
Āsana brings about steadiness, improved health and lightness of limb.

For me, still to this day, one of the simplest, direct and most succinct definitions on the purpose of Āsana within the processes and practices of Haṭha Yoga, is the definition offered in the Haṭha Pradīpikā Chapter One verse 17.

It is a definition valid for any situation, discussion or presentation, or as a response to questions from any background, or level of interest around why we practice Āsana.

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108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 59 – Yoga is the performance of a practice……

Yoga is the performance of a practice,
rather than the practice of a performance.
Though these days it appears to be getting
more difficult to distinguish one from the other.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 58 – The purpose of modifying the Form of an Āsana……

The purpose of modifying the Form of an Āsana
is to facilitate access to the Function of an Āsana.
Here the Viniyoga is according to the starting point
and potential within the students approach to practice.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 57 – Initiating movement of the trunk……

Initiating movement of the trunk,
does not automatically guarantee
initiating movement in the spine.
We need to appreciate the difference
and learn how to prioritise the latter.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

Considerations for Vinyāsa Krama around Bakāsana……

bakasana

When studying the many aspects of Āsana, my teacher taught me not just the final form of the Āsana, but also that there was a learning around the context and especially the Vinyāsa Krama of each Āsana and the ‘family’ to which they belonged.

For example when studying Āsana such as Bakāsana, I was taught that there are certain protective and selective criteria that need to be considered as part of both the dynamic of the form and the prerequisite steps. These also help in determining the readiness of the practitioner to engage in the dynamic that Āsana, such as this one, sit within.

These considerations include a specific Vinyāsa Krama or steps into and out of the Āsana. These steps in themselves offer a sort of check list to determine if the student is adequately prepared and thus ready to engage in the process of which the final form is but a still frame within a movie.

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The ideal Dhyānam, which becomes easier with practice……

dhyana

“The ideal Dhyānam,
which becomes easier with practice,
requires certain preparations to reduce
the tendency of the mind to be distracted,
either by being jumpy and agitated, or dull and inert.
Chief among these preparations are proper diet and Prāṇāyāma.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 2

I think, that all those who want to practise Vedic chanting……

“I think, that all those who want to practise
Vedic Chanting must be able to do so,
provided there is no confusion
with Patañjali’s Yoga.”
Extract from an interview with TKV Desikachar on Vedic Chanting

For Yoga Teachers it is important to understand……

“For Yoga Teachers it is
important to understand
the movement of the mind
as well as of the body.”
TKV Desikachar on Sāṃkhya and Yoga