Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ashtanga and misidentification with body (self)

Reading Ashtanga Yoga Practice & Philosophy by Gregor Maehle. A few important ideas:
Postures, like all forms, are impermanent. ... The quest of yoga is for the formless (consciousness) ... for this reason it was necessary to organize the practice in such a way that nothing impermanent is held on to. Vinyasa yoga is a meditation on impermanence.
If asana only is practiced this might lead to excess flexibility ... in the vinyasa method, this possibility is avoided by jumping back between sides, which gives us the strength to support the amount of flexibility that is gained. ... Flexibility that cannot be supported by strength should not be aimed for. ... For this reason one needs to place the same emphasis on vinyasa as asana. (!)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

On kapotasana

Well, I'm working on kapotasana in mysore practice, so this post starts off with a self-practice video from Claudia, showing some first attempts at kapo and Supta Vajrasana. But first, if you're not familiar, the monster pose comes fairly early on in the Intermediate Series. Here's an image of Guruji helping Graeme Northfield into the pose (1982):
So, here's Claudia's attempt. Not a disaster, as she says, but the first step in the journey. You can see, though, how little lift to the chest there is in both these positions. Interestingly, there is quite a bit of ashtanga-blogging on the subject. For instance, Yoga in the Dragon's Den:
Kapotasana teaches us something about navigating the sufferings of daily life as well. Whether we like it or not, life throws unpleasant things at us, things that we can't just wish away or depend on others to take care of. We can choose to play into the drama that these things tend to evoke in our minds, and make the suffering bigger and badder than it needs to be; or we can do what needs to be done, breath, and go through what needs to be gone through with fortitude and hopefully, grace.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Ashtanga 'jump back': Some instructional videos

Loved David Garrigues' Asana Kitchen on jumping back. He points out: the hands are way in front of your hips so there's no issue with hips fitting through; your weight is leaning back; energy galvanizes towards your center, knees get sucked towards you; you're going to create a very decisive move -- all of the sudden you're going to strike!

And here's a promotional clip for a little $4 download with the graceful Maria Villella. The clip shows her four steps to the jump back move although the whole video has lots of training exercises for pulling these moves off. The four steps: 1) pull knees into chest, plant the hands and lift; (2) lift it all the way up into "pendulum pose" (lolasana) -- yeah easy; (3) bend elbow to 90 while keep knees tucked; (4) kick the legs back to chat.

And there's this breakdown from Kino, taking it step by step.

Slowly, slowly ...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Some parents deride Ashtanga yoga in the schools as 'Hindu indoctrination'

Stories like this pop up from time to time, but it's still surprising to hear that some people are so afraid of other cultures, that they have a knee-jerk reaction. The HuffPo reports that some (Christian) parents are objecting to their kids being taught yoga in school because they are nothing more than "indoctrination" into Hinduism. This is probably partly because the program is funded by the Mysore-based Jois Foundation. As The Confluence Countdown points out, this is happening in Encinitas, CA, which is just about ground zero for Ashtanga in America, what with Tim Miller's Ashtanga Yoga Center and the Jois Yoga Shala, and I'm sure plenty of other yoga.

Now on Facebook.

Check out on Facebook at for more rapid updates on classes, Ashtanga videos and some in-depth content. Connect to other ashtangis there. .... See you on Facebook! Trying to generate some quick "likes" so give it a click.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Back on Sundays plus wrist relief

Been away the past few Sundays due to holiday travel and what-not, but I plan to be back at Studio Ganesha on the Sebastopol Plaza, Sundays at 11:00 for the foreseeable future (except the end of January for Tim Miller's Primary Teacher Training in Tulum). So hope to see you then. Johnny Smith is away Sunday, 12/9, hanging with Tim in Encinitas, and Ann Austin will be leading Primary Series at Westside Yoga Studio, at 8:00 a.m. Johnny is back the following week. I've been struggling with wrist problems (tendonitis?) for some months now, so check out this helpful articles from Yoga International -- Wrist Relief
The following asanas will help to develop mobility and strength in the shoulders and upper back to minimize nerve compression and stress on the smaller joints. In all of these poses, the upper trapezius muscles (which attach at the base of the skull and run down the neck to attach at the clavicles) should feel like they are releasing down the back, so that there is no congestion near the base of the neck, and the sides of the neck are free to lengthen. This aids in counteracting the imbalances of the typical slumped forward posture many of us assume in front of the computer, in which the shoulders are pulled forward and down, the tops of the trapezius muscles become hard and creep up toward the skull, and the head projects forward.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yoga Sutra II.35

ahimsa pratisthayam tat sannidhau vaira tyagaha

In the presence of one who is established in nonviolence enmity is abandoned.

Hariharananda says violent thoughts have to be rooted out through dharana, fixing mind, which perfects yamas and niyamas. this shows that the later limbs deepen the earlier limbs, perfecting the yamas and making asana faultless.