I mentioned after the recent TT with Manju that he taught Pranayama and Chanting at the end of practice, at the end of Primary, at the end of his led 2nd series ( with the Sanskrit count). He referred to this as a traditional practice.
But was that just because we were on a TT course, supposedly experienced practitioners? No, on Sunday I attended Manju's Led primary at Stillpoint yoga, this was open to everybody and there it was again, at the end of practice, in the final padmasana, we practiced nadi shodana pranayama with kumbhaka followed by chanting. A traditional Ashtanga Practice. You don't have to practice that way of course, you can do utpluthi at the end before laying back in savasana. I prefer the pranayama and chanting option.
It's my own preferred approach to practice. Ramaswami put it like this, and I think he was loosly quoting Krishnamacharya here, "Why clean the room (asana/pranayama) and then not live in it ( meditation).
A note about the chanting.
Ramaswsami refers to chanting here as Dharana, it's one of the meditative limbs of Ashtanga, concentration on an object (next, according to Patanjali you would move on to concentration without an object). The object might be an icon, the breath, or here a mantra. Ramaswami would have us practice Japa mantra meditation, repeating a short mantra over and over, Manju happens to have has us chant a number of Shanti (peace mantras). I guess you could replace your own preferred approach to meditation practice here if you not yet comfortable with chanting ( I wasn't for the longest time)
On the TT course in Crete during one of the Mysore self practice sessions I would hear a couple of students (who had attended Manju's course before) quietly chanting to themselves, almost under the breath. I listened carefully, shanti mantra's. Was it disturbing to my own self-practice, not at all, quite the opposite, wonderful actually and later in the course, in my own self practice, I too would finish with pranayama and the few Shanti mantras that I had already memorised.
Try to attend one of Manju's courses the finishing section is the wonderful. This from my post on the Led at Stillpoint yoga sunday.
"Best of all was at the end of the practice, Manju skips utpluthi/tolasana and goes straight into pranayama, some nadi shodana with and without kumbhaka also sitali and then the chanting. I missed Niko from Crete and his nice, big, booming, confident chant that I could hide behind a little or follow along with in those lines I wasn't sure of. It was quieter here and we had no hand-out of the chants to help either, instead we had to listen carefully to Manju as he would break the chants down into phrases. Some parts went better than others of course, Manju is so relaxed that you feel relaxed too, you're going to get some bits wrong, it gets better as you tune in. I need/want to work more on those later chants on his Shanti mantra CD though, first few I'm OK on". And that was that, Savasana.
Manju's finishing routine seems to go something like this.
Shirsasana ( long stay here)
Ardha chandrasana (still in headstand but bringing the legs down to parallel with the floor, an inverted dandasana if you like, lower and raise three times).
Yoga mudra ( and Manju pointed out it should really be the top of the head not the chin on the mat)
Parvatasana (mountain pose still in full lotus - this is the final posture on the Nancy Gilgoff 1974 syllabus and on David Williams poster). It's in two stages, in the first the arms go up with the finger interlaced then you you bend forward, head to the mat, arms outstretched above your head, hands still interlinked. Stay for a number of breaths then raise back up to seated and lower the arms.
Padmasana - Bhairava/Bhairavii Mudra - Palms of hands together (in the lap), Men right palm up, women left palm up. Bruumadhya drishti, dash dirgha recheck puuraka
Padmasana - Chin Mudra - the familiar hands to knees, thumb and first finger joined, nassaagra drishti, dash dirgha recheck puuraka
This is where Manju brings in the pranayama and meditation practice ( chanting)
Chant the invocation to Gayatri ( number 10 on the sheet below )
Take the hand to the nose, thumb on one side, first two fingers curled into the palm, third finger in the other nostril. ( manju has a method here where you can change which hand you use for this so that you always remember which side to exhale out of after the kumbhaka - I've never found remembering a problem.
Pranayama practice ( see video below): this might change depending on time and inclination. You might practice some suryabheda, followed by chandrabheda, nadi shodana, nadi shodana with kumbhaka, and perhaps sitali ( curled toungue) or sitaki ( through teeth). There tends to be three to five deep ujjayi breaths between the different pranayama's. Sitali is a cooling pranayama so you only tend to do it in summer. Some days we practiced most of these other days just a little nadi shodana.
Chant the gayatri mantra - number 11 on the sheet below. So with Manju after the pranayama you chant gayatri. manju has you counting on your finger the length of the kumbhaka, (the breath retention). With the palm loosely open the thumb moves to each joint of the fingers. manju tended to take a count of 12 or 15 i believe. With Ramaswami we would chant the pranayama mantra, basically the longer version of the Gayatri mantra below ( there is a shorted version of gayatri), this is still the way I tend to practice.
Meditation practice (Dharana, concentration on an object). As mentioned above, with Ramaswami we would practice japa mantra meditation, chanting a short mantra over and over silently. With Manju we would chant a number of Shanti ( peace mantras - see one of the below, number 9 ). The mantra's can be chanted out loud, quietly to ourselves or I imagine mentally.
Savasana - Manju would then have us lay down in savasana. he doesn't seem to include utpluthi/tolasana here. the idea i think is that we are relaxed after the finsihing sequence of the long stays in shoulder stands and headstand, nice and satvic, so we the perfect state for pranayama and meditation practice. It makes sense to then go straight from meditation into our savasana. I guess you get to practice tolasana after badha konasana, before jumping back in lotus, if you really miss it.
I love this approach to practice. Manju calls it a a very traditional practice, how his father taught him. I imagine it's also how Krishnamacharya taught manju's father and also I imagine very similar to how Krishnamacharya seems to have taught Ramaswmi in his later years, finishing each lesson/practice session with pranaymama and meditation/chanting.
|This page is from Manju's book written with Greg Tebb - I've added my review of manju's DVD, BOOK, CD bundle at the end of the post|
I tried to transcribe the session above but it's difficult to hear, this is what I came up with ( inc. some additional notes in brackets) to assist in your own listening. Let me know if you hear it differently. As I said, Manju approached the pranayama practice a little differently each time, it doesn't seem to be a fixed routine/sequence although there does seem to be an order. If you're going to practice suryabheda that would come before chandra bheda ( sury is sun, warm) and these would come before nadi shodana. you would practice nadhi shodana without kumbhaka before bringing in kumbhaka and there would be a few Ujjayi breaths in between the different pranayamas.
Loose transcription of the video above
(Sit with ) Back straight
Make Chin mudra (right hand here - first and second finger curled in towards the palm)
Press your left nostril (with 3rd and 4th fingers)
(Lean forward on each exhale)
(Nadi Shodana pranayama- alternate nostril breathing)
Inhale ( through the right) (come back up on each inhale) Start of the cycle
Exhale on the left ( switch to press right nostril with thumb)
(3rd cycle )
(Nadi Shodana with Kumbhaka)
Kumbhaka ( hold breath, engage bandhas ) ( can drop hands, , count to 15 on fingers)
Slowly exhale on the right side
(Repeat 8-15 times)
Sit back and end with five Ujjayi breathing.
Here's Manju teaching the chanting of shanti mantras in Encinitas last year. Thank you Amanda Manfredi for posting this
Manju Jois Chanting, Jois Yoga Encinitas 12-9-2012 from Amanda Manfredi on Vimeo.
Sharath too posted a pranayama video recently from Stockholm. which included kumbhaka ( breath retention) and even uddiyana Kriya.
Ramaswami teaching chanting.
If you want to learn to chant then you can get hold of Manju's cd of shanti mantras or hi DVD which has him going through the chants phrase by phrase with a class of students (see the review below)
Or you could have a look at Ramaswami's chanting page. He teaches chanting in the way that Krishnamacharya taught him, breaking down the chants into phrases and then building them back up line by line until you have the full mantra. He chants the first phrase or line then chants it very softly twice more so you can follow with your own repetition, lovely approach.
Have a look at Ramaswami's Chanting page which has a number of downloads including a yoga sutra chanting tutorial
Here's a link to the pranayama chant
This is how I learned to chant, something I never saw myself doing a few years back. I put some of Ramaswamis chants on my iPod and listened to them cycling to work. I would then find myself humming them all day, singing little bits here and there. The first chant I leanrned was the pranayama mantra i.e., the longer gayatri mantra above and then I learned a Ganesha prayer in Tamil and Patanjali prayers. Then I was hooked.
Before the Tamil Ganesha prayer and Patanjali prayer Ramaswami often used to chant something else, I loved it but never got to learn it or find a transcription. Ramaswami has just posted this group of mantras in a Youtube video and I've made a practice sheet to go with it, enjoy.
Manju Jois Bundle, DVD, Training manual and chanting CD - first look
Took Six days from confirmation of order to delivery, USA to UK. Only regular first class post too, not express or anything special.
I've been thinking very seriously about taking Manju's workshop this year, thought I'd take a look at his kit. Only thing is, I'm so into my practice as it is at the moment with it's slow, slow breathing that I don't really have much inclination to do a straight Ashtanga anymore.
At least I didn't......
So very quick first thoughts, another fuller review to come.
BOOK - Ashtanga Yoga Training Manual Manju Jois and Greg Tebb ( this is was designed with Manju's TT's, Intensives and workshops in mind.
A little disappointed in the quality, bit cheaply produced it has to be said, although I like the layout (mostly, at times things get a little bunched up). Good to have a ring binder although it's not as strong as the one on David Swenson's book, get the feeling it would be falling apart towards the end of a workshop.
I was hoping for something a little special, a little different ( not sure what I was hoping for exactly) but it's just the pose and the instructions/count etc. which seems pretty standard. I mentioned I like the layout, pretty much a posture a page with a space for notes. I'm going to scan mine and then paste in Krishnamacharya's instructions for the same postures for comparison, should be interesting.
The nice touch is the quotes from Hathayogapradipka, Geranda Samhita, Yoga Rahasya etc.
One interesting thing to pick out, in the majority of postures we find, as in the page above for Janu Sirsasana
"Dasha diirgha rechaka puuraka" - 10 long inhalations and exhalations.
DVD - Ashtanga Yoga Workshop (*90 minutes)
*2 min for opening chant and 15 minutes in padmasana chanting rather than Savasana at the end of the practice so about 75 minutes for the actual primary series
This was a nice surprise. It has Manju Leading a class with the chant but get this, everybody repeats every word of the count including the names of all the postures, great way to learn and practice the count.
I'd heard Manju did this on his workshops, really looking forward to practicing along with it.
I mentioned that in the book we find...
"Dasha diirgha rechaka puuraka" - 10 long inhalations and exhalations.
I checked the video to see how long we get for those ten, long, inhalations and exhalations, about 25-30 seconds, give or take a second or two. Interestingly, Manju doesn't count the breaths ( leaving that up to you) I liked that, it means I can get three longish, half decent breaths in but somebody else might choose, five shorter ones...or ten pants.
Here are some comparisons to put it in perspective, all for when in Janu Sirsasana at dwe ( this is hardly fair though as the time varies slightly in the different postures, especially in the led classes of Manju and his father ( it's guess work in Led), for example Manju left them in the preceding posture for 30 seconds), the demo's are a different case. gives an idea though of the general pace of the practice.
David Robson - 40 seconds!
Richard Freeman - 29 seconds
Manju Jois - 25 seconds
Lino - 24 seconds
John Scott - 20 seconds
Kino - 20 seconds
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois - 20 seconds
David Swenson - 19 seconds
Sharath - 13 seconds
Grimmly - 90 seconds, but that's really only because of the 10 long inhalations and exhalations.
So the stay in the actual posture is generous but overall it's taken pretty fast and you have to go some to keep up, 75 minutes isn't long, the last fifteen minutes of the DVD's 90 Minute run time is taken up with chanting.
UPDATE: A comment came in from Sereaux on Dave Robson's Drum Beat Primary
"I've been practicing periodically to David Robson’s mp3 Ashtanga Yoga’s Primary Series to the Steady Beat of a Drum. It goes to a 4 second inhale and a 4 second exhale – so 5 breaths equates out to 40 seconds. Not quite 90, but nearly double the others. It has helped to keep me to recognize when and where I’m rushing – also helped me stay focused on the breath. I always tend to rush the inhale. All Sanskrit counting. Whole practice takes 109 minutes with opening chant, 3 Sury A, 3 Sury B, and only two paschimottanasana variations.
Chant CD - Shanti mantras
Consists of the opening and closing chant and then the Shanti mantras, at slow and regular speed. Nice and clear, I could practice with these although I prefer Ramaswami's traditional way of teaching chants.
There's also a pdf with the chants and translations.
Was a little underwhelmed when I first opened the box but am getting quite excited now to getting stuck in and even more tempted by the thought of a his workshop.
Coming back to this post three months later.
I mentioned in the post that I was quite wrapped up with my 'slow Ashtanga' practice based on Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda at the time the Manju bundle arrived. Recently I've shifted back to a pretty standard Ashtanga practice in the mornings ( VK and pranayama practice in the evening slot) and that has a lot to with Manju's DVD. I like that Manju doesn't count through the actual asana on the DVD, this means I can get in three long slow breaths while in the posture, this works quite well. I can get through the whole series without sacrificing (my approach to) the breath too much. I've been practicing along with the DVD on my days off, Sanskrit count getting inside my head, enjoying it. Rest of the week I take it a little slower still but not by much, add in a few extra VK postures, alonger stay or two ( kind of weaving the Vinyasa krama and Yoga Makaranda influences into my ashtanga practice) but not too many to upset the balance. Wish Manju did a led 2nd Cd or DVD as I've moved back to 2nd series in the mornings.
I like it so much now, as well as the TT videos in the post above, (and I've always felt drawn to Manju's approach to the practice in general, as suggested by interviews and workshop reports) that I'm finalising the logistics for attending Manju's week long TT in Crete, in August this year (finally a workshop in our quiet time at work). Excited.