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.
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.
“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
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.
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 188.8.131.52. in Parśva Uttānāsana or 184.108.40.206 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.
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.
“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
Following on from the post two days ago and yesterdays post I wanted to offer a further sample practice given to me by my teacher, TKV Desikachar. It evolved from within our one to one lessons in Chennai, from 12 years ago, in 2002 and is based around:
Kapālabhāti Kriyā 48 breaths
Sūrya Bhedana Prāṇāyāma 12 breaths 220.127.116.11. with 10″ Antar Kumbhaka and 10″ Bahya Kumbhaka
Kapālabhāti Kriyā 48 breaths
Sūrya Bhedana Prāṇāyāma 12 breaths 18.104.22.168. with 20″ Antar Kumbhaka
Bhāradvājāsana – Stay 12 breaths each side with 10″ Bahya Kumbhaka
Apānāsana and Ūrdhva Prasṛta Pādāsana
– Aṅga Laghava Dynamic combination 12 times with 10″ Antar Kumbhaka and 10″ Bahya Kumbhaka
Candra Bhedana Prāṇāyāma 24 breaths 22.214.171.124
Though obviously relevant to my personal situation as a mid fifties bloke, at that time and place, it is a further illustration of how Antar Kumbhaka (AK) and Bahya Kumbhaka (BK) can be employed whatever the Āsana or techniques chosen.
“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:
“Kumbhaka is the continuation of a specific movement that preceded it.”
– TKV Desikachar December 1987
“Your mind is a product of your food, memory is linked to food.
My stability, my confidence is linked to food.
All these facts are mentioned in the texts.
For these reasons I said that food is very important and becomes me.
Not just the muscles, but the whole me, the whole personality.”
– TKV Desikachar from an interview in the Journal Viniyoga Italia on Yoga and Well Being.