Friday, 20 December 2013

HD version of Krishnamacharya Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama practice - Why so slow

I managed to upload the HD version of the video I posted yesterday on my main blog Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga at Home, I'm posting it again because it's been playing on my mind. Oscar mentioned in a comment that in the speeded up x4  version I posted yesterday he's moving quickly but it looks as if I'm practicing at regular speed. I am practicing excruciatingly slowly, if not for Oscar the video would be unwatchable, like watching grass grow or paint dry.....

And yet it doesn't feel that slow when I'm practicing, I mean, I know it's slow but I'm stunned watching this back how slow it actually is. It makes Oscar's Vinyasa Krama look brisk. I thought it would have been nice to have one of Oscar's Ashtangi's practicing along with us in the middle.

Why is it so slow?

Krishnamacharya writes about long slow breathing, like the pouring of oil, he writes about full breathing, my inhalations are around 8-10 seconds, I try to keep my exhalations the same.
Krishnamacharya includes 2-5 second Kumbhaka (breath retention) in his asana descriptions, if the head is up more often than not there's puraka kumbhaka, if the head is down then rechaka kumbhaka. In the second version of dandasana with which the video opens I'm employing puraka kumbhaka, holding the breath in for around five seconds.

Krishnamacharya's asana practice becomes a pranayama practice.

Krishnamacharya describes full vinyasa in the Yoga Makaranda descriptions, so there's a coming back to standing, that makes sense to me in such a slow practice, I want to stretch the posture out with the vinyasa after staying so long.

What to make of this, who would want to practice this slowly, it's limiting. If you only have an hour you won't get through many asana. The full practice took around two and a half hours and I had to cut back on my pranayama but then perhaps there had been enough pranayama in the asana practice, perhaps half an hour of nadi shodana, would round it off nicely. Krishnamacharya includes a chakra focus in asana in Yoga makaranda so perhaps a little Japa meditation to close and I'm good to go. three hours, cut back a few asana to bring it down to two?

Watching this I wonder if anyone else would want to practice this way and yet I feel strongly somebody at least should. I've been exploring it off and on ( more and more on recently) for a year and a half, I'm settling in to it. This is such an intense practice and shouldn't be buried away in an old text, a museum piece, it should be a living tradition.

Below is the Youtube description.

Video Description
Oscar and I practicing alone in his studio Yoga Centro Victoria in Leon, Spain, recorded on my Krishnamacharya workshop last weekend. Oscar is on the left practicing Vinyasa Krama along the lines of that taught to Ramaswami in the 1950's-80's. I'm on the right practicing excruciatingly slowly employing kumbhaka's (breath retention) following the asana instructions found for the Primary group of asana in Krishnamacharya's 1934-38 'Mysore book' Yoga Makaranda, written while Krishnamacharya was teaching the young Pattabhi Jois. The Video is of part of the seated section of our practice.

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