I wonder if Modern Postural Yoga is confusing……

“I wonder if Modern Postural Yoga is confusing,
experiencing a supple body,
with experiencing a subtle body?”

Compare Paścimatānāsana, Januśīrṣāsana, Upaviṣṭa Koṇāsana and Baddha Koṇāsana with regard to the following:

Compare Paścimatānāsana, Januśīrṣāsana, Upaviṣṭa Koṇāsana and Baddha Koṇāsana

With regard to:

1. Differences between them in terms of stress on the knees.

2. Differences between them in terms of stress on the lower back.

3. Differences between them in terms of effect on high blood pressure.

4. Differences between them as a preparation for runners.

5. Differences between them as a counterpose for runners.

6. Differences between them for a person with sciatica.

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When less Āsana time than you would like……

When less Āsana time than you would like,
better to reduce the number of Āsana,
or the number of repetitions,
or the length of the stays,
rather than, reducing the length of the breath.
Or….. even considering lengthening the breath,
thus even fewer Āsana, all with a longer breath than usual.
Here the Bhāvana could be to observe the effect
of a more spacious than usual Āsana breathing
on a more cramped than usual daily mindset.

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 15 – Forward Bending and Prāṇa to Apāna Breathing

Postural Practice Pointer 15 – Forward bending and Prāṇa to Apāna Breathing

When moving away from the lower limbs during forward bend Āsana,
move firstly by as if arching from the arms and upper back,
before ultimately arching from the lower back.
In terms of a Bhāvana during the movement,
the focus is on inhaling from Prāṇa Sthāna towards Apāna Sthāna.
Thus breathing as if from the upper chest towards the lower abdomen.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 14 – Forward Bending and Apāna to Prāṇa Breathing

Postural Practice Pointer 14 – Forward bending and Apāna to Prāṇa Breathing

When bending towards the lower limbs during forward bend Āsana,
move firstly by as if rounding from the lower back,
before ultimately rounding from the upper back.
In terms of a Bhāvana during the movement,
the focus is on exhaling from Apāna Sthāna towards Prāṇa Sthāna.
Thus breathing as if from the lower abdomen towards the upper chest.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

The masters taught us to move from a deeper source……

“Another important aspect is that the masters
taught us to move from a deeper source,
not just from muscles and joints.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1984

Compare Dvipāda Pīṭham and Śalabhāsana in relation to their potential……

Compare Dvipāda Pīṭham and Śalabhāsana in relation to their potential within the following situations:

1. In strengthening the leg muscles.

2. Potential stress on the sacroiliac joint.

3. Influencing the circulation.

4. Potential risk on the knees.

5. As a preparation for Dhanurāsana.

6. In helping with flat feet.

7. In improving the inhalation.

8. In decreasing lower back pain.

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108 Postural Practice Pointers – 13 – The Lakṣana of Parśva Trikoṇāsana

Postural Practice Pointer 13 – The Lakṣana of Parśva Trikoṇāsana

The Lakṣana of Parśva Trikoṇāsana, or side triangle pose,
is as a movement OF the spine to the side over one leg,
rather than as a bending or arcing IN the spine towards the side.
Thus the aim is for the spine to stay straight relative to the leg,
with the intention of extending it from crown to coccyx.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Our Yoga practice needs to evolve….

Our Yoga practice needs to evolve,
amongst other longer term unfoldings,
towards a live-in personalised relationship,
rather than just a go-out group class affair.

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 12 – The Viniyoga of Daṇḍāsana

Postural Practice Pointer 12 – The Viniyoga of Daṇḍāsana

“The starting point determines the journey.”

  • Legs are together unless some anatomical reason why this is not possible
  • The sides of the feet are maintained together, stretch the back of the heels
  • A key point here is having active hips, releasing the knees can activate the hips
  • Someone who is stiff in spine and legs will certainly need to release the knees
  • Release the knees as much as is required to extend the spine towards vertical
  • Someone who is flexible may also need to release the knees so as to activate hips
  • The mortar (hips/pelvis) must be strong for the pestle (spine) to work strongly
  • Shoulder blades are back, feel the channel between the shoulder blades
  • Back of the neck drawn up to help lift chest up
  • Hands or fingers on the ground back by hips but not weight bearing

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

You do your group of Āsana linked like words in a sentence………


“Another important thing that he has understood is
that these Āsana should not be taken one by one,
they have to be taken as a group and as a composition.
This means you don’t do headstand on Monday,
shoulder stand on Tuesday,
you do your group of Āsana linked like words in a sentence.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 11 – Vinyāsa for Jaṭhara Parivṛtti

Postural Practice Pointer 11 – Vinyāsa for Jaṭhara Parivṛtti

This is a suggestion for a Vinyāsa for approaching and leaving Jaṭhara Parivṛtti.
When lowering from the upward raised legs position use one long exhale,
but through two distinct stages of movement.
The first part of the exhale is to lower the knees over the chest.
The second part of the exhale is used to rotate the trunk into the twist.
The exit is the exact counterpart with one inhale and two stages of movement.
The first part of the inhale brings the knees over the chest.
The second part of the inhale extends the legs upwards.
A suggestion for Bhāvana is to gradually increase the stay.
For example stay one breath each side the first time
and then increase the stay next time to two breaths each side
and finally stay three breaths each side.
As to breathing a suggested ratio of 1.0.1.0. during both movement and stay.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

When considering what to practice, it can be helpful to consider our starting point……

When considering what to practice, it can be helpful to consider our starting point. For example are we looking for the role of an Āsana practice to help in recovering from a situation where we are as if personally overdrawn. Also what is the nature of our ‘overdraft’?

Is its impact or origin physical, energetic, psychological or emotional, or even a combination of more than one. Here the concepts of too little, too much or wrong can also be helpful as a reference in that, as well as considering the nature of the ‘overdraft’ we need to consider the means we undertake to remedy this aspect of the situation. In other words our first priority is to reduce the negative aspect at least.

However sometimes we can try something that is as if a short term loan and at a high rate of interest in terms of time, effort, energy and committment. Thus whilst finding our situation temporarily improving a further depletion can possibly arise as we find ourselves unable to as if ‘keep up with the extra payments’ given the nature of the original depletion and its current impact on our potentials.

So having a clear reference point in terms of identifying the nature of the starting point and the short term or longer term potentials of our choice of an appropriate remedy is as important as the personal determination to clear the deficit we have created within us. Here a personal teacher can be helpful.

Without mastering Āsana and regulating the inhale and exhale in Āsana……

“Without mastering Āsana and
regulating the inhale and exhale in Āsana,
the Āsana will not produce the desired fruits.”
From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

If you are not in a hurry you will enjoy the process.

“If you are not in a hurry
you will enjoy the process.”
– TKV Desikachar

The Āsana in which you sit can alter the characteristics of the breath.

“The Āsana in which you sit can alter the characteristics of the breath.”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 10 – Forward Bends are Back Stretches

Postural Practice Pointer 10 – Forward bends are Paścimatāna Āsana or Back Stretches

Forward Bends are back stretching Āsana in terms of Bhāvana.
Thus in Paścimatāna Āsana one of the foci is on avoiding pushing
from the lower back as you bend forward.
Thus move forward from the abdominal area by drawing it back,
to encourage the lower back to respond by lengthening.
If we push from the lower back in forward bends,
such as Paścimatānāsana, it can tighten this area,
thus inhibiting the focus on the quality of the Apāna Lakṣaṇa,
as well as transferring stress to the sacrum, hips and hamstrings.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Five Musings around Śīrṣāsana……

sirsasana

Five questions my teacher taught me that need to be ‘posed’,
for or to any student wishing to practice Śīrṣāsana,
or even for and to any teacher wishing to teach Śīrṣāsana,
whatever the situation.

1. Who is going to practice it?
2. Why do they wish to use it?
3. When are they going to practice it?
4. How are they going to get in and out of it?
5. What do they need to have done to verify their capability?

With regard to Āsana where the hands are placed on the ground……

“With regard to Āsana where the hands are placed on the ground,
the weight should not be on them.
So always weight on the feet not on the hands.”
– TKV Desikachar

One should move the spine as you would inhale and exhale.

“One should move the spine as you would inhale and exhale.”
– TKV Desikachar

Traditionally legs remain straight with thighs contracted and knee caps lifted…..

“Traditionally legs remain straight with thighs contracted and knee caps lifted.
Practically the idea is to bend the knees when strain is felt.
This can be observed in several areas.
In the knee caps by movement,
thigh muscles by contraction and resistance in the hamstrings.
When coming up straighten the legs after half way.”
– TKV Desikachar

Its potentially complex these days when something taught……

Its potentially complex these days when something taught to an individual student,
in a personalised, age and situation relevant context;
within a specific environment and epoch;
becomes the ‘gold’ standard for groups of students to follow ‘faithfully’,
through respecting every inch of the formal nuances.

Equally, its potentially complex these days when something taught to a group of students,
in a generalised, open aged and multi-need context;
within a non-specific trans-national environment and epoch;
becomes the ‘gold’ standard for individual students to follow ‘faithfully’,
through respecting every inch of the formal nuances.

Once you lose the breath in Āsana……

Once you lose the breath in Āsana,
effort becomes force.

When is an Āsana an Āsana?

“When is an Āsana an Āsana?
When does it become one?”
– TKV Desikachar

Śīrṣāsana as a Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā

sirsasana

Śīrṣāsana as a Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā

This day, for so long TKV Desikachar‘s birthday, is the first since his death last August.
In memorium is the article below:

“In the scheme of Haṭha Yoga where the harnessing and channelising of one’s life energy is the goal, the Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā occupies a special place.
A person’s full potential is realised when this energy moves to the top of the head.
There are various techniques that the ancient seers had formalised to remove the obstacles in the path of this energy and to aid its movement.
All these techniques culminated the Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā, the principle of inversion,
one form of which is Śīrṣāsana.

TKV Desikachar explains this concept starting with the most basic requirements of the practice and moving step by step through the various techniques, all of which are used in  Śīrṣāsana.”

Originally published by the KYM Darśanam February 1994

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