108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 65 – Yoga Practice needs a Mat and a Map……

Yoga Practice needs a Mat and a Map,
of the two the more important question is,
what Map are you using, rather than,
what Mat are you using.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers – 8 – When using Mṛgi Mudrā to control the nostril flow in Prāṇāyāma……

seated_pranayama

When using Mṛgi Mudrā to control the nostril flow in Prāṇāyāma,
the ring finger and thumb remain as if glued onto the nostrils,
with one nostril being fully closed and one nostril partially closed,
with adjustments to the pressure according to technique and ratio.
Even when using Ujjāyī within techniques such as Anuloma Ujjāyī,
the finger and thumb remain as if sealed on the sides of the nostrils.
Externally it’s as if there is nothing to observe in terms of the body.
Internally there is a vibrant flow within the dynamics of the breath.

Link to Posts Series: 108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 64 – Āsana involves the extending the length of the breath beyond the body……

According to the teachings of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar,
Āsana involves extending the length of the breath beyond the body,
rather than the extending of the body beyond the length of the breath.
The purpose is to facilitate the field of Prāṇa accumulating in its intensity.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

Longer term Vinyāsa Krama within the Viniyoga of the breath in Āsana……

General perceptions in Yoga are that performance progressions in any Āsana are usually around improvement or refinement in the choreography of the entry or exit, or in the extremity of the final form.

For example if we were to compare the performance of students in say Uttānasana, evaluations would tend to be made concerning how far one bends forward, or how near the head is towards the knees, or how straight the legs are, or how close to the ground the hands are, et cetera.

“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

However from the viewpoint of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar, in terms of Āsana practice for adults, the breath has its own developmental path within the performance of any Āsana.

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

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108 Postural Practice Pointers – 25 – In Dvipāda Pīṭham a key Bhāvana is on the arms……

Postural Practice Pointer 25 – In Dvipāda Pīṭham a key Bhāvana is on the arms.

With regard to Dvi Pāda Pīṭham, a key Bhāvana is on how we use the arms.
In the beginning try exploring leaving out raising the arms as you come up,
as shoulder movement means that people can start to move about on the mat.
Here we need to focus on lifting the body upwards as many people slide backwards.
Also many people will push up too much from the buttocks and distend the belly,
which in turn will increase the abdominal pressure and disturb the Apāna Sthāna.
So initially when learning this posture the Bhāvana of lifting from the feet is enough.
Then adding the engagement of a Bhāvana on the arms, by making the arms active.
Thus whilst lifting engage pushing the full length of the arms down firmly on the floor.
Once the legs are active and the arms are active, the neck can lengthen more naturally.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Yoga practice as a process precedes Yoga practice as content……

Where do we start when approaching the determination to open up to practice options beyond the group class mentality with its double edged sword of support and dependancy? For example we could start by exploring what it means to cultivate a personal regular home practice in terms of looking at it as from the initial viewpoint of being a process, before considering what is its content.

At this point it might be helpful to examine what are the differences between the two concepts of process and content, so vital in the work of Desikachar around planning Yoga practices for individual students. Here it might also be useful to remind ourselves that Krishnamacharya and Desikachar considered teaching individuals as the only valid means to explore Yoga as having both a process and content.

“Yoga Sādhana is about what grows out of
practising alone amidst the inside at home, rather
than practising with others amidst the outside in class.”

So what is Yoga practice as a process?

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108 Postural Practice Pointers – 24 – To experience the intention behind the Bandha the body must be prepared……

maha_mudra_UB

To experience the intention behind
the Bandha, the body must be prepared.
For example if the pulse remains increased
after their use, it is an indicator that we are not ready.
If excessive tension is felt in the areas where they are used,
then an indicator that we are not ready for Bandha in Mahāmudrā.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 63 – Yoga practice is an Upāya to support……

Yoga practice is an Upāya to support
the art of living more skilfully.
Living more skilfully is an Upāya
to support the art of Yoga practice.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers – 7 – When using the Antar Kumbhaka to lengthen the breath……

When using the Antar Kumbhaka to lengthen the breath,
always factor in its effect on the length of the exhale.
It should be able to stay the same length and quality.
If it is affected, change the length of the Kumbhaka,
rather than compromising the flow of the breath.

Link to Posts Series: 108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 62 – Constancy of the body reveals the inconstancy of the breath……

Constancy of the body
reveals the inconstancy of the breath.
Constancy of the body and breath
reveals the inconstancy of the mind.
Constancy of the body, breath and mind
reveals the constancy of awareness.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

Making a start in learning to Chant the Yoga Sūtra……

yoga_sutra_cover

Mostly we are introduced to the teachings of the Yoga Sūtra through a group class situation, or by coming across a book. This is fine as a starting point, however longer term we need to engage a Sādhana that can facilitate its wisdom teachings radiating from the inside out rather than just permeating from the outside in.

A good starting point for initiating this psychic process is to learn how to chant as a practice in itself and then how to chant the Yoga Sūtra specifically. As well as offering a deepening of contact with those special Bhāvana that arise from chanting, this can also be extremely helpful for the memory processes involved.

These two steps in the embracing chant as a Sādhana ideally require a personal teacher, especially one who can listen and identify our individual nuances in how we repeat what we think we hear. From there they can offer a Vinyāsa Krama for cultivating our vocal potential and refining our skills in terms of self-listening and thus facilitating our abilities in terms of self-correction.

However accepting that for some this may not be a possibility at this point in time, three suggestions are offered below as progressive options for starting a self-learning process

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Learning to Chant the Four Chapters of the Yoga Sūtra……

yoga_sutra_cover

Unlike other aspects of our personal Sādhana, when it comes to the practice of Jñāna Adhyayanam, or the chanting of the Yoga Sūtra, there is an unusual developmental process in that as we refine this aspect of practice it take less and less time.

Obviously the first step is to commit to learning to be able to chant the four chapters of the Yoga Sūtra, along with the relevant opening invocations and closing invocations. Once we have this basic accomplishment in place then taking our seat and chanting the whole text, within a Vinyāsa Krama by including the accompanying invocatory chants, will take around 35-40 minutes.

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Learning Support for Chanting the Pavamāna Mantra – Asato Mā Sadgamaya

असतो मा सद्गमय |
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय |
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ‖

asato mā sad gamaya |
tamaso mā jyotir gamaya |
mṛtyor mā amṛtaṃ gamaya ‖

Learning Support for Chanting the Pavamāna Mantra – Asato Mā Sadgamaya
From my personal library of recordings from my studies with TKV Desikachar
To Download or Listen to an MP3
To Download a PDF Chant Sheet with Romanised Saṃskṛta, Chant Notations and Translation

108 Chanting Practice Pointers – 14 – Learning Chanting just from a recording……

 

Learning Chanting just from a recording,
is like learning Āsana just from a video.
In other words you can hear the recording,
but the recording cannot hear you.
Equally you can see the video, but…..

Link to Series: 108 Chanting Practice Pointers

Though there are many different aspects to formal ‘home’ practice……

Though there are many different aspects to Krishnamacharya and Desikachar’s teachings on cultivating a formal ‘home’ practice, they fall into two general groups:

In considering the relationship and intertwining of these multifarious practice elements we can use the analogy of raising a family. In other words how to accommodate the emerging issues we need to contend with, such as the impact on our time and energy, as we look to stream developmental priorities within these additional commitments.

Here I want to consider some of these issues just from the viewpoint of time. For example if we look at the issue of time within one aspect of practice, say Āsana,

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One example of this depth is Krishnamacharya’s lesser known work in the teaching of Mantra……

Even these days, the influence of Krishnamacharya’s teachings around Yoga are primarily known through his exacting teaching of Āsana. This has also been mainly experienced in the West with the developmental work of his early students, such as through the choreographical artistry in the work of Pattabhi Jois or through the geometrical precision in the work of BKS Iyengar.

However this area of Āsana teaching, though itself multifaceted and hugely influential, if disproportionately predominant within Yoga today, only reveals one aspect of the many dimensions of practice expressed within his teaching. This teaching evolved and refined over 70 years, from his return from his long stay around the borders of Nepal and Tibet in 1919, to his death in 1989.

A more all-inclusive insight into the many aspects of these other facets can be ascertained through exploring the multifarious approaches and priorities emphasised within the teaching work of other of Krishnamacharya’s students, such as TKV Desikachar, or S Ramaswami, or AG Mohan.

From exploring the teaching priorities of all these first generation students of Krishnamacharya, a more all-embracing perspective can arise encompassing both the breadth and depth of his mastery of both the teachings of Yoga and their context, place and application within the Indian perspectives on such as soteriology, philosophy and theology.

One example of this depth is Krishnamacharya’s lesser known work in the teaching of Mantra

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108 Postural Practice Pointers – 23 – Bhāvana for the Hips in Parśva Uttānāsana

Postural Practice Pointer 23 – Bhāvana for the Hips in Parśva Uttānāsana

When moving into Parśva Uttānāsana.
Lift the forward leg hip up and
draw the rear leg hip forward.
When coming up from Parśva Uttānāsana.
Keep the forward leg hip lifted and
the rear leg hip drawn forward.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 22 – The slower the breath the longer the movement…..

Postural Practice Pointer 22 – The Slower the Breath

The slower the breath,
the longer the movement.
The longer the movement,
the stronger the effect.
The stronger the breath,
the slower the movement.
The slower the movement,
the longer the effect.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 61 – In its beginning stages it’s about our practice supporting our life……

In its beginning stages it’s about
our practice supporting our life.
In its maturing stages it’s about
our life supporting our practice.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 60 – Yoga practice is much more than just Āsana……

In terms of ageing mainframes and creaking joints,
it is perhaps useful to remind ourselves that
Yoga practice is much more than just Āsana.
In other words, even as the body slows down,
can we continue to slow the Breath down,
can we continue to slow the Mind down,
can we be Still within the distraction of age?

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 59 – The more you are able to practice……

The more you are able to practice,
the more you feel able to practice.
The less you are able to practice,
the less you feel able to practice.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 39 – Krishnamacharya taught that a Samāhita Citta was a prerequisite……

Krishnamacharya taught that a Samāhita Citta
was a prerequisite starting point for Meditation.
If so, how do we relate to the modern phenomenon
that a Vikṣepa Citta can be a starting point for Meditation?
Unless perhaps we discern that here it isn’t actually Meditation?

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 58 – The ABC of the Viniyoga of Yoga……

The ABC of the Viniyoga of Yoga
is the bespoke long term cultivation of
a personalised, pertinent and progressive
Āsana Practice as a foundation for a separate
Breathing Practice with its own identity alongside a
Chanting Practice to honour teachings and transmission.
Dhyānam is the fabric that time weaves from these related threads.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 57 – Yoga Practice is neither about trying……

Yoga Practice is neither about trying
to get rid of something undesirable,
nor attain something desirable.
It is something that can happen
in spite of something undesirable,
or in spite of something desirable.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 56 – Is our Yoga Practice an offering to the Ātma……

Is our Yoga Practice,
an offering to the ĀtmaBuddhi Dynamic or,
a gratification for our ManasIndriya expectations?

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers