Saturday, 3 August 2013

What would Krishnamacharya's Sun Salutation be like?


What would Krishnamacharya's Suryanamaska be like? Krishnamacharya it seems frowned somewhat on sunsalutations especially large numbers of them performed as an 'exercise practice', he seems to have been referring here to 108 or even 1008 as was in vogue at the time,

See my earlier posts below on 'The Original Sun Salutation'

Thursday, 17 May 2012
Balasahib's 'original' 1928 Suya Namaskar , sun salutation

Friday, 18 May 2012
More on the 'original' Sun salutation of 1928

UPDATE
See also my recent video on the Yoga Makaranda approach to the asana that make up the sun salutation with kumbhaka

http://youtu.be/osi-zFfrN9M

Krishnamacharya didn't seem to want to include sun salutations in his Mysore Palace asana class nor did he seem to have taught the separate Mysore palace Surynamaskara class that was running at the time (was this taken by the young Pattabhi Jois perhaps, or did he at least attend and was that why Jois included it in his Ashtanga practice that we are familiar with?).

Krishnamacharya did however teach each stage of the sun salutation as individual asana often with long stays at each stage, we find them in his 1934 book Yoga Makaranda.

The 'full vinyasa' transition too that we're so familiar with in Ashtanga is also found in Yoga makaranda.  From this then it should be possible to construct a sub routine, a sun salutation, that includes Krishnamacharya's principles.

There's also the suggestion that Krishnamacharya would on occasion teach Surynamascara with mantras, the same perhaps as he taught to Ramaswami several years later and who in turn taught us on his TT course 2010

See this post

Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Sun Salutation with mantras



Is attempting to construct a Krishnamacharya  Sun salutation a frivolous exercise? Of course it is and yet the sun salutation isn't going away so why not take note of the instructions gave to us by the teacher's teacher as we pass through each stage.

And of course we don't have to pass through on the breath. We tend to stay five breaths in Adhomukhasvanasana anyway and David Williams supposedly takes five breaths in Urdhvamukhasvanasana as well to counter all those primary series forward bends, why not take the same in Chaturanga and/or uttanasana, five ten breaths at each stage of the Salutation with long slow inhalations and exhalations and perhaps even the appropriate kumbhakas (breath retention).

When I was having trouble with my back a few months back I would spend five long slow breaths in each stage, I found the longer stay in uttanasana (vinyasa 1) most beneficial.

**********

Here then are Krishnamacharya's instructions for each asana found in the surynamaskara, the sun salutation. All quotes are taken from the translation from the Tamil Language by Sri CMV Krishnamacharya with Sri S Ranganathadesikacharya.

See my earlier post which includes links to a free download of the text.

Samasthithi

Tadasana 


"This has 2 vinyasas. Stand as seen in the picture for fifteen minutes daily. Make this a habit. It will create new energy in the body and a vigour in the walk and will increase the digestive power. Not only that, it cleans the rudra nadi and increases the life-span. While doing this asana, follow sama svasam (equal breath).Practise this asana every day at sunrise while worshipping surya bhagavan. If one practises this daily, it will definitely increase the life- span".
Uttanasana

"...exhale the breath (that was being held) out very slowly through the nostril, lower the head and place it on the knees. Do not inhale at this stage. Draw the breath in while raising the head and exhale the breath out while lowering the head — this must be practised according to one’s strength and capability. In this position, while the head is raised and while it is lowered and placed onto the knee, the palms must be firmly pressed against the ground. This sthiti is called uttanasana. Initially, when one remains in this sthiti, there might be an occurence of tremors in the arms and legs. At these times, if one holds the breath firmly and stands, these tremors will not occur".


"...bend the upper part of the body (that is, the part above the hip) little by little and place the palms down by the legs. The knees must not be even slightly bent. Raise the head upwards and fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. While doing this, draw in clean air through the nostril, hold the breath firmly and maintain this position. This is called sahitha kumbhaka. After remaining here for some time, exhale the breath (that was being held) out very slowly through the nostril, lower the head and place it on the knees. Do not inhale at this stage. Draw the breath in while raising the head and exhale the breath out while lowering the head — this must be practised according to one’s strength and capability. In this position, while the head is raised and while it is lowered and placed onto the knee, the palms must be firmly pressed against the ground. This sthiti is called uttanasana. Initially, when one remains in this sthiti, there might be an occurence of tremors in the arms and legs. At these times, if one holds the breath firmly and stands, these tremors will not occur". 
Caturanga Dandasana

"Press both palms down firmly while doing the 4th vinyasa from the 3rd vinyasa of uttanasana. Do only recaka and firmly hold the breath out without doing puraka. Keeping the weight balanced equally on both legs, jump backwards (keeping both legs parallel to each other) and holding the body straight like a rod, lie down facing downwards. At this time, only the palms and toes touch the ground. No other parts of the body touch the ground. That is, there must be 4 angulas of space between the body and the ground. In this position, if you keep a stick or rod on top of the body, the rod must touch the body completely. We need to keep our body this straight. But make sure to check gaps formed by the muscles and mounds of flesh to determine if all the adjustments are correct".
Urdhvamukhasvanasana

"In caturanga dandasana, there are 4 angulas of space between the body and the floor everywhere. In this asana, the palms and toes are as in caturanga dandasana. However even while keeping the lower part of the body from the toes to the thighs just as in caturanga dandasana, raise the upper part of the body. Make sure that the navel rests between the hands and do puraka kumbhaka. Try to push the chest as far forward as possible, lift the face up and keep gazing at the tip of the nose. Make the effort to practise until it becomes possible to remain in this posture for fifteen minutes".
Adhomukhasvanasana

"...from Urdhvamukhasvanasana The entire body should be pushed back into a curve. Study the picture and learn this. In this sthiti, the head should be properly bent inwards and the chin should be pressed firmly against the chest. After pulling the abdomen in and pushing it out, exhale the breath out. Holding the breath out firmly, pull in the abdomen. As a result of the strength of practice, one learns to hold this posture for fifteen minutes".

Jump or step to...  

Uttanasana


"...bend the upper part of the body (that is, the part above the hip) little by little and place the palms down by the legs. The knees must not be even slightly bent. Raise the head upwards and fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. While doing this, draw in clean air through the nostril, hold the breath firmly and maintain this position. This is called sahitha kumbhaka. After remaining here for some time..." 

2nd vinyasa of uttanasana.


"...exhale the breath (that was being held) out very slowly through the nostril, lower the head and place it on the knees. Do not inhale at this stage. Draw the breath in while raising the head and exhale the breath out while lowering the head — this must be practised according to one’s strength and capability. In this position, while the head is raised and while it is lowered and placed onto the knee, the palms must be firmly pressed against the ground. This sthiti is called uttanasana. Initially, when one remains in this sthiti, there might be an occurence of tremors in the arms and legs. At these times, if one holds the breath firmly and stands, these tremors will not occur".

"Afterwards, return to samasthiti".




*************

Krishnamacharya paschimottanasana 
including transitions

"This asana has many kramas. Of these the first form has 16 vinyasas. Just doing the asana sthiti by sitting in the same spot without doing these vinyasas will not yield the complete benefits mentioned in the yoga sastras. This rule applies to all asanas.
The first three vinyasas are exactly as for uttanasana. The 4th vinyasa is caturanga dandasana, the 5th vinyasa is urdhvamukhasvanasana, the 6th vinyasa is adhomukhasvanasana. Practise these following the earlier instructions. In the 6th vinyasa, doing puraka kumbhaka, jump and arrive at the 7th vinyasa. That is, from adhomukhasvanasana sthiti, jump forward and move both legs between the arms without allowing the legs to touch the floor. Extend the legs out forward and sit down. Practise sitting like this with the rear part of the body either between the two hands or 4 angulas in front of the hands. It is better to learn the abhyasa krama from a guru. In this sthiti, push the chest forward, do puraka kumbhaka and gaze steadily at the tip of the nose. After this extend both arms out towards the feet (the legs are already extended in front). Clasp the big toes of the feet tightly with the first three fingers (thumb, index, middle) of the hands such that the left hand holds the left big toe and the right hand holds the right big toe. Do not raise the knees even slightly. Then, pull in the stomach while doing recaka, lower the head and press the face down onto the knee. The knees should not rise from the ground in this sthiti either. This is the 9th vinyasa. This is called pascimottanasana. In the beginning, everybody will find it very dicult. The nerves in the back, the thighs and the backs of the knees will feel as though they are being fiercely pulled and this will be extremely painful. The pain will remain for 8 days. After this, the pulling on the nerves will release and it will be possible to do the asana without any problem. This pascimottanasana has many forms. After first practising this asana with the face pressed onto the knee, practise it with the chin placed on the knee and then eventually with it placed 3 angulas below the knee on the calf. In the 10th vinyasa raise the head. In the 11th vinyasa, keeping the hands firmly pressed on the ground, raise the entire body o the ground and balance it in the air without touching the ground. The 11th vinyasa is called uthpluthi. The 12th vinyasa is caturanga dandasana. The 13th is urdhvamukhasvanasana. The 14th is adhomukhasvanasana. The 15th is the first vinyasa of uttanasana. The 16th vinyasa is the 2nd vinyasa of uttanasana. Afterwards, return to samasthiti. You should learn the intricacies of this vinyasa only from a guru".

------------

UPDATE




Avoid the company of those with low thoughts, long travel, excessive sex, heat, fasting, bathing [in the cold] early in the morning, and regimens that stress the body.

Hatha Yoga Pradipika 1.61

[The yogic aspirant should] avoid regimens that are stressful or damaging to the body (kāya-kleśa) such as too much sun salutations (sūrya namaskāra) or carrying heavy loads.

Commentary of Brahmananda, Hatha Yoga Pradipika 1.61



  • By "Too much Surynamaskaras (sun salutations)" are we suggesting here the likes of practicing of 4x25 rounds I.E. 100 Surynamaskaras in 30 minutes encouraged by the Rajah of Aundh in the late 1920's (Brahmananda of course died in 1922) when Sury namaskars came into vogue as a form of exercise? Or is the suggestion that the 2x5 (A+B) I.E. 10 surynamaskaras in for example the Ashtanga of Pattabhi Jois to be excessive. Krishnamacharya would of course transition to and from standing in most postures presented in Yoga makaranda and Yogasanagalu, surely ten more would make little difference.

11 comments:

  1. This is very interesting! I was esp. interested in the description of Urdhvamukhasvanasana because, in Ashtanga system, the feet are as pictured in the photo but in the Desikachar tradition, we are taught to present it as it is described in the text - feet stay the same as in caturanga. Also, where is that "throw the head back" thing come in? I think that it is actually quite harmful to do that and prefer, as the photo describes, keep the chin lowered. So far, my Ashtanga teachers have not objected but I see that I am the only person in the room doing it.

    These are minor points of course, an like you say, a bit frivolous but still...it is fun : )

    Thanks, as always, for such a wonderful blog. So, so appreciate all your research and thoughts on this subject!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Robyn. Ramaswami has the chin down in most things, I still have that tendency when I practice my Ashtanga, will ask Manju about it next week.

      Delete
  2. This detail of the feet, plantarflexed on the Yoga Makaranda picture and dorsiflexed in the TKV Desikachar tradition also intrigues me and actually caused some discussion with my teacher, who get a bit upset that I am so 'obsessed' with asanas...

    I have experimented a bit and my explanation is now as follow: if you keep the feet in the same way as they are in chaturanga, I find that not only is urdhva mukha svanasana slightly milder in intensity, but it makes the vinyasa transitions easier.
    If you slide to plantarflexed you move forward with your body and the asana becomes more intense, although arguably it forces you to use the back muscles correctly.
    This is assuming we do not move our relative hand-feet position during the vinyasa of course.
    I think the TKV Desikachar tradition keeps the feet dorsiflexed because it is generally less intense, physically, on the pratictioner.

    Just my two cents!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Never realised how close to Iyengar you Viniyoga kids are : ) me I'm still stunned by his use of breath here

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha Grimmly.

      Some Iyengar kids would be very annoyed by this statement, just look at our trikonasana and frown.

      Yes, the breath... we Viniyoga kids do a lot of that inhale/hold, exhale/hold during vinyasa practice, it is the best part of the practice, to feel how the breath does its job in your torso not just during the 'active' parts.

      I saw an interview with Sriram the other day (need to find it for you) where he was talking about this misunderstanding many people have about asana, that they are about stretching and strengthening where they really are about contraction and expansion and the essential role breath has in that process.

      ;-) ;-) ;-)

      Delete
    2. Here you go, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8AP5xfK83E&sns=em

      Delete
    3. Yes saw that Siram interview on fb Chiara irritated me somewhat, the Yoga is X not Y approach is rather tedious, as if KYM speaks with any authority on the matter. Would have warmed to the interview better if it was more along the lines of "Here at KYM we approach Yoga in this way....."

      Delete
    4. Of course I happen to think that focus on the breath is more interesting than focussing on the stretching aspect too but that's not the point : )

      Delete
    5. Yes, I would agree on that. The man is indeed irritating I must admit, even though I cannot exactly say why.
      I remember the letter he wrote to bring light on Kausthub misdeeds. It was very insensitive towards TKV Desikachar, brutally stressing (that's how I felt anyway) that he is not well and not in the position to rein his son in.

      Delete
    6. Hey, could anyone explain why most of the ashtanga yogis do 3-4 second breaths in vinyasas when it is repeated numerous times that breath should be LONG,smooth,even etc. Ramaswami says that it should be at least 5seconds and preferably 10-12. Anyone who has done these long breaths knows that it is completely different. And what about the volume of breath in asana, it is really strange that no-one talks about it. Whether the volume is 50 or 90% in asana is completely different.Gregor Maehle says 80-90% but that's for pranayama(I wouldn't agree that it should be that way always-yogis talk of "short" breath meaning very low minute ventilation). Also no info on kumbakas in asana. I can agree that breathing is highly underestimated.
      Thanks

      Delete
  4. Regarding suryanamaskAras, how much is too much? Has there been an answer to this?
    When I have about 30 minutes for practice on some week day mornings, 20-25 of them are spent doing suryanamaskaaras (about 12) and the remaining 5-10 minutes for a couple of other aasanas like paschimottanasana, baddha konasana and/ or sarvangasana and mukta pavanaasana; is this all right for a short routine (I guess I could do different ansanas through the week)? I really don't like to rush through the asanas to fit more (in fact, I am trying to go even slower on the suri's), as working on the breath through the poses is a very fulfilling aspect of this routine.

    ReplyDelete

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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