One of the potentials in the Haṭha Yoga teachings of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar is the understanding around the viniyoga or application of Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā and Laṅghana Kriyā in terms of their potential to enhance sensory stimulation or to diminish sensory stimulation.
Both approaches can be used where appropriate to impact on how we are stimulated by the world through the senses and thus be more drawn to interact with it in a more extravert way, or how our sensory stimulation is quietened and thus we are more easily able to withdraw from the activities of the senses.
Both approaches are valid and applied according to our changing age, life situation and life stage. Here the role of a teacher is helpful in learning the skills of self application within our daily practice. We can learn how we can fine tune our practice according to our basic nature and where it needs to be within day to day living and its demands.
This alchemical process would also be difficult to explore other than in some very generalised way within a weekly group class given the mix of the age, gender, interests, needs, potentials and core physiological, energetic and psychological natures of the students.
Let alone where they are in their life circumstances, external demands, work roles and life stage or even the teacher having time and situation to explore each student personally to gain some insight into what is happening at that life moment within the small window offered by time and group size.
Hence throughout Krishnamacharya and Desikachar’s teaching life, apart from group classes for children and young adults, they taught only personal lessons.
Following on from yesterdays post on Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā and Laṅghana Kriyā as expansive and contractive activities I felt it could be helpful to republish a post from last year developing the concept and application of Laṅghana Kriyā. There is little published information available on these important concepts that Krishnamacharya drew from Āyurveda and applied through his Yoga teaching. For more on this teaching relationship of Yoga and Āyurveda view ‘The Krishnamacharya methodology of melding the viniyoga of Āyurveda with that of Yoga‘.
Whilst reposting this piece on Laṅghana Kriyā and its application within the teaching concepts of Śamanam Kriyā and Śodhanam Kriyā, I have also added links so the reader can further reference the Saṃskṛta Words Compendium, with its now 750 Saṃskṛta word database cross linking concepts and texts.
The alchemical process underpinning this understanding is the relationship between the two primary principles of Prāṇa and Agni in order to influence Haṭha Yoga concepts such as Prāṇa, Apāna, Nāḍī, Cakra, Agni and Kuṇḍalinī.
In terms of Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā and Laṅghana Kriyā, the viniyoga of Bṛṃhaṇa affects a dispersion of Agni from the core to the periphery and the viniyoga of Laṅghana affects a withdrawal of Agni from the periphery to the core.
Understanding the application of this particular process facilitates access, through the Vīna Daṇḍa (spine), Prāṇa and Agni, to energising, cleansing and aligning potentials in the practice of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma.
The Aṣṭāṅgāsana or the eight limbs of Āsana Planning and Practice are the formula for constructing a skilful and place, time and lifestyle appropriate Āsana practice. These eight limbs fall into eight categories, that of:
- The definition, meaning and context of Āsana
– Core concept – Nāma Rūpa Lakṣana – name, form and characteristics
- How Āsana are arranged into groups and categories
– Core concept – Vinyāsa Krama – collecting postures together
- How counterpostures or Pratikriyāsana are integrated
– Core concept – Pratikriyāsana– maintaining the balance
- The value and purpose of the breath in Āsana
– Core concept – Prāṇāpāna Dhāraṇā – where the focus is
- How movement or stay are used in Āsana
Core concept – Circulation and Purification – dynamic and static
- The adaptation of Āsana practice
– Core concept – Variation and Modification – change and necessity
- Intelligently planning and Āsana practice
– Core concept – Bṛṃhaṇa and Laṅghana Kriyā – connecting postures together
- Observation within Āsana practice
– Core concept – Spine, Breath and Attention – learning to look
In my last post on Aṣṭāṅgāsana I talked about introducing each of these eight topics to help the reader to appreciate more about what is inherent in the depth and breadth of this approach in terms of Āsana planning having a precise and comprehensive formula.
Āsana practice starts with a need to know something about the Āsana we are going to work with as we introduce, persevere and develop and especially personalise our practice. Hence we have to both practice but also have some theoretical background in order to context an Āsana in itself and in relationship to other Āsana.
With nearly 2000 Posts and Resources on the site I have been reflecting on how to expand the access points and yet simplify the reader experience for visitors. So I started by looking at the Blog Page by reviewing the broad topic categories and considering the need to re-organise the groupings as well as increasing the range of related topics within the sub-groupings.
The first general topic in the Journal is that of Posts on Yoga Practice and its five main areas for study are:
Going deeper into these five aspects of practice I see that the first topic, that of Āsana & Kriyā Practice, now has some 500 posts in the one thread. Obviously a need for review here! So turning my attention to this I started to consider what would be a useful, yet appropriate way to sub-categorise the topics in this particular section.
“In Āyurveda, it gives certain behaviour by which we can stay well.
If a person follows the following he will freer of sickness.
Regularly, systematically he eats, rests and exercises adequately.
Both in amount and quality.
Food or Āhāra, along with Vihāra – recreation, rest, exercise, other activities.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983
TKV Desikachar Response:
“There is a lot of difference. As far as Yoga is concerned, we are concerned with the personality of the person, the mental aspect and the higher aspirations of the student.
He was treating not only the body but the whole person with the help of this great combination.”
As Desikachar actually had very few long term students, many peoples views around such as his Āsana teaching, or views on Yoga in general are formed from experiencing him teaching within a group situation, either at a seminar, lecture or retreat.
Actually he really was not very comfortable teaching mixed public groups in these situations, and in relation to teaching practices, what practices he could present had to be very generalised and therefore contrary to the principles he taught according to what he learnt from his father.
On the other hand as a private student the Āsana practices I was exposed to had a precision and intensity offering a breadth and depth impossible to emulate within a group class environment.
As an example I am offering an extract from the seated section of a practice he taught me. The Āsana in this section are Daṇḍāsana, Ardha Matsyendrāsana, Mahā Mudrā, Baddha Koṇāsana, Paścimatānāsana and as a Pratikriyāsana, Dvipāda Pīṭham.
There were two options for practice, a lighter application or a more intense one. In the lighter version the balance of repeat or stay was as follows:
Āsana and Prāṇāyāma Theory Q5
Discuss the structural and/or systemic functions of Matsyendrāsana,
basing your response on the teaching in the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā.
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Āsana and Prāṇāyāma Theory Question 4.
What are the Haṭha Yoga principles that inform the viniyoga of inverted Āsana?
What are the criteria that determine whether or not a practitioner should,
even if they can, practice these postures?
What are the means of verifying this?
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