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

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 38 – Krishnamacharya and Desikachar’s teaching……

Krishnamacharya and Desikachar’s transmission
sought to preserve specific personal priorities
when transmitting Yoga teachings to others.
For example when teaching youngsters,
the focus was on doing less with more.
However when teaching adults personally,
the focus was on doing more with less.
This would be with regards to Āsana practice,
as well as with regard to the number of Students.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

Even with my students they teach a posture because it has been……

“Even with my students they teach a posture
because it has been taught to them.
Like a rubber stamp.
This is not Viniyoga.
People have rigid ideas.
For example, why Cakravākāsana for this lady
after Śīrṣāsana, whereas something else,
say Mahāmudrā for somebody else.
So it does not follow what is good for me
is good for everybody.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

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.”
– TKV Desikachar England 1992

The state of Dhyānam is possible in a seated posture……

“The state of Dhyānam is possible in a seated posture.
If a person lies down, it may induce sleep.
If a person walks and moves about,
he may be distracted by the objects around him.
This posture must be in a place
where the mind will not be distracted.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Dhyānam

The teacher decides which of the Tri Krama is the……

“The teacher decides which of the Tri Krama 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.
Cikitsā Krama looks for adaptation, healing, recovering…”
TKV Desikachar speaking with his senior Western students London 1998

In order to experience Dhyānam, the sixth step, Dhāraṇā……

Dhyānam is the seventh Aṅga of the Aṣṭāṅga Yoga.
In order to experience Dhyānam, the sixth step,
Dhāraṇā, should have been practiced thoroughly.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Dhyānam

A person who is physically fit and who has been cleansed by the Agni of Dhyānam……

“A person who is physically fit and
who has been cleansed by the Agni of Dhyānam
has no fear of sickness, disease, age or death.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Dhyānam

Q: How necessary is Yoga in these modern times?

Question to T Krishnamacharya:
How necessary is Yoga in these modern times?
Krishnamacharya’s Response:
“For the strengthening of the Aṅga,
Yoga Āsana practiced with long
inhalation and exhalation is important.
To reduce the disturbances of the mind,
to gain mental strength and to increase longevity,
Prāṇāyāma is necessary.”