The Viniyoga of Planning Principles within Āsana Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma

– Vinyāsa Krama –
Intelligent sequence building in Āsana Mudrā & Prāṇāyāma

Quick Links:
1. In terms of Practice Planning the Spirit of Viniyoga is achieved by two broad means:
2. General Guidelines for Practice Planning:
3. General Guidelines for Choosing Āsana:
4. General Guidelines for Setting Practice Aims or Learning Outcomes:
5. Different Types of Postural Activity in Āsana Practice
6. Voluntary and Involuntary Effects in an Āsana Practice
7. A third factor, that of Responses and Respect
8. We must also consider the safety factor
9. The element of compromise in the body
10. The adaptation of the Āsana Practice
11. What is the role of the practice of Āsana
12. Summary of Ideas on how to Practice
13. Guidelines to the Practice of Āsana

“The Spirit of Viniyoga is starting
from where one finds oneself.
As everybody is different and
changes from time to time, there
can be no common starting point,
and ready-made answers are useless.
The present situation must be examined
and the habitually established
status must be re-examined.”
– TKV Desikachar

1. In terms of Practice Planning the Spirit of Viniyoga
is achieved by two broad means:

1. The selection of practice material that is appropriate
to the needs and circumstances of the student.

2. The intelligent use of Vinyāsa Krama.

2. General Guidelines for Practice Planning:

1. Be clear about your purpose.

2. Hold the reflection
that practice is a means, not an end.

3. Remember ‘can’ is not the same as ‘should’.

4. Ask yourself what is most effective.

5. Plan for others as it applies to them,
not as it applies to you.

6. Consider its relationship to both
short-term and long-term goals.

7. Look to cultivate a quality of Sattva by
diminishing Tamas and channelling Rajas.

8. Keep it simple and consider how
to spend more time in fewer Āsana.

9. Make the practice shorter
than the time available.

10. Stick to the conventions of technique
unless there is a reason to change them.

3. General Guidelines for Choosing Āsana:

1. Yoga emphasises that Āsana must not be neglected,
it is a valid tool that needs a precise application, hence
respecting that there need to be guidelines when choosing.

2. Most of the Āsana are not close
to the postures of the body we use
in our daily life and its activities.

3. Āsana practice seems to mean
different things to different people.

4. These days people begin Āsana practice
at different stages of their life.

5. The body undergoes many changes
and then there are many influences on it
through oneʼs work, interests and otherwise.

6. It can be said no human body is perfect.
As such there are definitely certain
vulnerable parts and some strong aspects.

7. When the body gets used to certain things,
less awareness about them seems to happen.

8. There is also a restrictive
fight-flight-freeze response
which, in no time, can change
the physiology of the body.

9. It is not humanly possible to adapt Āsana
practice to respect all the considerations.
Hence, a safe compromise that produces
certain positive effects and limits negative
effects is the only proper alternative.

10. The principles we utilise through
the Viniyoga of Āsana practice are
a fair attempt in this direction.

4. General Guidelines for Setting Practice Aims or Learning Outcomes:

1. Be clear about the difference between
Aims and Intended Learning Outcomes.
Furthermore, distinguish between
short-term and long-term aims
and short-term and long-term
intended learning outcomes.

2. Appreciate how you can factor short
term outcomes within long-term aims,
though avoid having too many aims or
intended outcomes within one practice.
Thus, in order to be clear about the goal
and avoid trying to reach too many goals
in the same practice, it is necessary to
consider some practice technicalities in
order to bridge the gap between the
short-term outcomes and long-term aims.

3. Consequently, it is better to consider
distinguishing starting from the immediate situation,
rather than with what are long-term aims,
in order to respect where a person is coming from,
in terms of age, situation, gender, work, lifestyle, etc.
As well as including the variable of a person’s
previous training and other factors such as
time of day and the season, both inside and out.

4. Furthermore, we must also respect
the after-effect of the Āsana practice,
as well as the after-action yet to come.
Here we must respect the travel from A to Z
and that Z seems to vary much more than A.
For example, there are generally fewer
variables with practice in the morning.
Whereas, with practice in the evening we are more
subject to the day’s effects and thus more variables.

5. Consider, the Physiological, Energetic
and Psychological aspects of practice.
Perhaps exploring intended learning
outcomes across five areas that practice
can enable us to interact with, namely the
Body, Spine, Breath, Mind and Emotions.

6. If being practised regularly, consider
the impact of the accumulative effect
of Āsana and Pratikriyāsana, in any
one practice, and especially over time
on any aims and intended outcomes.
Observations here can be helped by
keeping the practice concise, consistent
and coherent in intention and execution.

7. Allow for any unexpected or
unintended learning outcomes.

8. Thus the relationship between Aims
and Intended Learning Outcomes
needs to consider the ‘What’ as
being very different from the ‘Who’.

9. Finally, whatever the Practice Aims,
or the Intended Learning Outcomes,
try to conserve the Spirit of Viniyoga.

5. Different Types of Postural Activity in Āsana Practice

1. Generally, in terms of Āsana practice,
we can consider two types of physical activity
that of Dynamic or Movement and Stay or Static:
Dynamic is the movement aspect of an Āsana or posture.
Here some Āsana are more suited to Movement or Dynamic Work

2. Relating these two types of activity,
dynamic movement in Āsana is the initial way
of assessing what is what in the body,
in the breath and in the mind.
Furthermore, you can’t just press a button and
get into and out of an Āsana, you have to move.
So there is a starting point in learning the practice of Āsana.

3. Generally, in terms of Āsana practice,
we can consider two types of physical activity,
that of Dynamic or Movement and Stay or Static.
Stay is the Static aspect of an Āsana or posture.
Though some Āsana are more suited to Stay or Static Work.

4. Linking Dynamic and Static Āsana within a Vinyāsa Krama.
In this respect the application of the principles of
both dynamic and static work, when planning for
Āsana practice, allows for a more efficient use of
the body and respect for the variables such as
time of day, time of year, time of life, preceding
or following activities, the length of practice,
the role of practice, our practice needs, etc.

5. Amongst the technical learnings of the different
possibilities for Āsana are topics such as,
the developmental application of Āsana
within the refinement of the practice from
more movement towards more stasis.
This involves an exploration of the immediate
or longer-term potentials for different Āsana:
– When used with long-range movement
– When used with mid-range movement
– When used with short-range movement
– When used with micro movement.

6. This would also involve a theoretical study of
the Lakṣaṇa of individual or groups of Āsana.
This is supported by exploring the advantages and
disadvantages of movement or stay in specific Āsana.
All of which to help in appreciating which Āsana
are best used dynamically, or which Āsana are
best used statically and which Āsana can serve the
practice in both a dynamic and a static application.

7. Consequently in looking at the principles
of working with dynamic and static,
we must consider the following:
– The Lakṣaṇa of the chosen Āsana
– The Lakṣaṇa of the practitioner’s body
– The Lakṣaṇa of the practitioner’s breath
– The Lakṣaṇa of the practitioner’s mind
– The Vinyāsa Krama to link the Āsana
with the practitioner’s individual
body, breath and mind.

8. Furthermore, the consideration of the roles of
movement and stasis can be further developed through
Krishnamacharya’s teachings on application of Āsana.
For example, whether for circulation or for purification,
within both structural and/or systemic roles for Āsana.
Regarding circulation, or what he called Rakta Calana.
When you want to activate the circulation you move.
Regarding cleansing, or what he called Śarīra Śodhana.
When you want to activate a purificatory process you stay.
Both presume there is competent access to the breath,
working access to the concepts of Prāna, Apāna and Agni,
and experience of how to direct the breath in the spine.

9. Furthermore, the consideration of movement
or stasis sits within a relationship to the
deeper purpose of Āsana within our journey
through the body and the breath, to the mind
and beyond, through considerations such as:
In relation to the dual concepts of Sthira and Sukham.
Dynamic can be too much effort, as in overly Sthira,
and Static can be too relaxing, as in overly Sukham.
Thus, the use of movement and stasis in Āsana needs
to consider how to correlate these two qualities, namely
that of steady attentiveness with that of spacious clarity.

10. Furthermore, the consideration of movement
or stasis sits within a relationship to the
deeper purpose of Āsana within our journey
through the body and the breath, to the mind
and beyond, through considerations such as:
In relation to the fluctuations of the Guṇa.
Ideally, dynamic work is a state of still movement,
rather than a state of active movement, as in Rajas.
Equally, static work is a state of bright stasis,
rather than a state of dull stasis, as in Tamas.
Thus, in relation to the Guṇa, the application
of both movement and stasis in Āsana need to be
appropriately supported by a quality of Sattva.
As in a quality of stillness within dynamic work
and a quality of brightness within static work.

11. Furthermore, the consideration of movement
or stasis sits within a relationship to the
deeper purpose of Āsana within our journey
through the body and the breath, to the mind
and beyond, through considerations such as:
In relation to the concepts of Dhāraṇā and Dhyānam.
Dynamic is the effort to move the activities of the mind,
as well as of the body, in one direction as in Dhāraṇā.
The observations from dynamic work also allow us to see
the role or appropriateness or subtlety of static work.
Here static can be considered as the holding of the mind,
as well as of the body, in one direction as in Dhyānam.
As Dhāraṇā precedes Dhyānam in terms of directing the
activities of the mind, so dynamic work precedes static
work in terms of directing the activities of the body.
So, the quality of the attention within the mind, as well
as the body, is important in helping us to experience the
progressive interrelationship between movement and stasis.

12. Finally, the consideration of movement
or stasis sits within a relationship to the
deeper purpose of Āsana within our journey
through the body and the breath, to the mind
and beyond, through considerations such as:
In relation to the psychological ideal of remaining there.
According to the definition in  Chapter Three verse 2 of
the Yoga Sūtra, a continuity of psychic activity is the ideal.
This is seen as the ability to stay, as if in the same moment, as
one moment melds into the next moment and the next moment.
In other words, the ability to internally maintain a continuity of
experience as if maintaining an apparent stillness of movement.
Access to such subtle states requires a containment of movement
that ultimately extends from the body to the breath to the mind.

6. Voluntary and Involuntary Effects in an Āsana Practice

View this Page as Individual Posts in the 108 Yoga Planning Pointers Series

Āsana Mudrā & Prāṇāyāma
– Collected Practice Planning and Practice Theory Questions

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

– Last updated 27th January 2023