Yoga  is often attributed to Āsana practice alone……

yoga

Yoga  is often attributed to Āsana practice alone,
which is only the part of Yoga focusing on the physical body or servicing the body.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Planning should precede practice….

Āsana_4

Planning should precede practice,
fix your goal, building step by step
and there should be check points along the way.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

What are the points to be considered while planning an Āsana practice?


Question asked from the recent post on moving into the posture after the exhale:
What are the points to be considered while planning an Āsana practice?

Response:
An important question within which there are many aspects that come into three primary areas.
Firstly the general considerations or directional overview around planning a Yoga practice.

For Example:

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Principles behind why Krishnamacharya only taught adults 121……

tkv_tk_3_1980

“There is another practical thing, it is like what we call Vinyāsa.

At different times, he (Krishnamacharya) has said that any teaching must have the following conditions:

First, from where is the student coming? What is called Deśa. Is he from America, or is he from North India? Teaching must consider whether the person is from one country or another.

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Inhale from top to bottom makes sure that the spine is erect.

puraka

“Inhale (Pūraka) from top to bottom makes sure that the spine is erect.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Moving into the posture after the exhale is an adaptation.

asana_55

“Moving into the posture after the exhale (Bāhya Kumbhaka) is an adaptation.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

The Doṣa and the Guṇa are related, we need to be able to……

dosa

“The Doṣa and the Guṇa are related,
we need to be able to understand the Guṇa
to be able to understand the Doṣa.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

We can recognise which of our Guṇa is dominant by observation in Āsana practice.

guna

“We can recognise which of our Guṇa is dominant by observation in Āsana practice.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Primary Prāṇāyāma Techniques as taught by Krishnamacharya and Desikachar

nadi_sodana

1. Primary Prāṇāyāma Techniques

Anuloma Ujjāyī
– Inhale or Pūraka both Nostrils with Ujjāyī Throat Control
– Alternate Nostril Exhale (Starting with Left)

Viloma Ujjāyī
– Alternate Nostril Inhale (Starting with Left)
– Exhale or Recaka both Nostrils with Ujjāyī Throat Control

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108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 23 – Ujjāyī is a breathing technique that can facilitate the ability to remain in the doorway……

ujjayi

Amongst other roles Ujjāyī is a breathing technique that
can facilitate the ability to remain in the doorway of awareness,
neither going in and introverting, when tempted by the manoeuvring of the mind,
nor going out and extraverting, when tempted by the shimmering of the senses.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 22 – Ultimately our experience of the Āsana is refined through……

Ultimately our experience of the Āsana is refined
through the mystery of the breath,
rather than the mastery of the form.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

What we observe today might not be the same tomorrow.

parinama

“What we observe today might not be the same tomorrow.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Devotion is the basis for seeing the truth……

srimad_bhagavad_gita

Devotion is the basis for seeing the truth.
This truth is, the Lord.
But devotion must grow from following ones duty
in a spirit of selflessness and search.”
– TKV Desikachar Commentary on Gītārtha Saṃgraha of Śrī Yāmunācārya Śloka Three

The position of a particular posture in an Āsana practice will change……

“The position of a particular posture in an Āsana practice will change its effect
and will influence a particular part of the body.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

According to the Gheraṇḍa Saṃhitā, Aśvinī Mudrā and Mūla Bandha are……

maha_mudra_UB

According to such as the Gheraṇḍa Saṃhitā, Aśvinī Mudrā and Mūla Bandha
are seen as very different forms in terms of definition and application.
Regarding application, only Aśvinī Mudrā is focussed around
the repeated contraction of the anal sphincter muscles.

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

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.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 13 – Tri Bandha Sādhana starts from the top down rather than the bottom up.

maha_mudra_UB

Tri Bandha Sādhana – Jālandhara, Uḍḍīyāna and Mūla,
starts from the top down rather than the bottom up,
in both senses.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 12 – Mūla Bandha is that part of Uḍḍīyāna Bandha that you do not release.

maha_mudra_UB

Mūla Bandha is that part of Uḍḍīyāna Bandha that you do not release.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

The practice of Yoga is like a mirror……

Āsana_31

“The practice of Yoga is like a mirror,
it helps us to know something about ourselves on a particular day,”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

By observing how the breath responds in Āsana……

“By observing how the breath responds in Āsana i.e.
Forward Bends.
Backward Bends.
Lying Postures.
Inverted Postures.
Twist Poses.
As to whether there is a better quality in either inhalation or exhalation,
one can decide how to proceed in Prāṇāyāma.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

In Āsana practice there is an expression of the state of the mind……

“In Āsana practice there is an expression of the state of the mind,
the practice can be a handle to hold the mind.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

There are simple postures for Prāṇāyāma and Dhyāna…….

“There are simple postures for Prāṇāyāma and Dhyāna,
so that we can relax in the body and not be distracted by it.
There are challenging postures, to enable us to master our bodies and
for young people who will be engaged by the performance aspect of the posture.
There are also corrective postures.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

There are some forms within the postural resources developed by……


There are some forms within the postural resources developed by Krishnamacharya that can function as either an Āsana or as a Mudrā. The choice of outcome can be realised according to the specific Bhāvana associated with the intention of the practitioner and the style of performance.

For example if we look at the possibilities around inverted postures interpreted as Āsana through forms known as Śīrṣāsana or Sarvāṅgāsana, we can cultivate the external intensity of Āsana or the internal intensity of a Mudrā through choosing either of two practice directions.

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108 Yoga Planning Pointers – 2 – It seems that there is not much place for or interest in the use of Kumbhaka….

The longer term measure of our Prāṇāyāma potential is determined by
our skilful efforts with all four components of the breath in Āsana.
For example can we maintain 8.8.8.8. in Parśva Uttānāsana or 12.6.18.12 in Mahāmudrā?
These days though, it seems that there is not much place for or interest in the use of Kumbhaka
and breathing practices, if used at all it appears to be mainly Cikitsā or about recovery,
or at best Rakṣaṇa or constitutional, rather than Śikṣaṇa and developmental.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Planning Pointers

My understanding on the context and content of Yoga Makaranda

yoga makaranda

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

In the adult there were no such limitations for the breath and the work with variations of the Āsana was re-prioritised to working with a fewer Āsana and fewer variations within each Āsana, but with the challenge of a greater range of breathing patterns both in length and combinations.

Certainly Antar Kumbhaka or Bahya Kumbhaka of 10″ was commonplace in the adult practice and here the ‘perfection’ of the Āsana was measured by mastery of all aspects of the breath rather than for the youngster, where ‘perfection’ of the Āsana was measured by mastery of all aspects of the form. This was consistent with Krishnamacharya’s teaching in his Yoga Rahasya on Yoga Sādhana and Stages of Life.

Furthermore my understanding is that if we use a particular Āsana with all its permutations of form and thus less focus on the variations of the breath it operates more as an Āsana. If we use a specific primary Āsana with the focus on all its permutations of breath and thus less priority around the variations of the form it operates more as a Mudrā.

Sarvaṅgāsana is such an example with its 32 variations devised by Krishnamacharya emphasising its role as an Āsana and its static solo form with its focus on extensive breath ratios involving all four aspects of the breath, perhaps augmented by the Tri Bandha, emphasising its role as a Mudrā.

For more on introduction to Yoga Makaranda read……
Introduction to the Yoga Makaranda by TKV Desikachar

For more on Sarvaṅgāsana as a Mudrā read….
Saravāṅgāsana as a Mudrā – Part One