Tag Archives: āsana

Ashtanga Yoga News Letter 1

This “News Letter” No. 1, was written in July 2012 to Mahābalipuram – India

Yoga « way to fullness » … 

The "Hindu Trinity", Brahma, Vishnū, Ćiva.

The “Hindu Trinity”, Brahma, Vishnū, Ćiva.

On the way to the intuition of “non-duality”, we try to be coherent yet if we are honest with ourselves we know how hard it is. For example, you are asked to stand up straight, we think and feel that we are vertical, but if we look in a mirror, we will see that this is an illusion, we have a shoulder higher than the other, the head inclined to one side, the pelvis rotated, a knee bent, the belly forward or backward, more support on one foot, etc.. In short, we are twisted. It is the same in postural yoga practice “asana” (Devanāgarī: आसन). We need an outside perspective to straighten, untwist and align ourselves, in order to go vertical.

During his first meeting with Guruji (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois), Anne expressed “it’s strange, but for the first time in my life I experienced a person other than myself you knew better than me what was good for me … and I trusted … “him.

Transmission of Yoga exists in this relational quality. It is a relationship of love, without love there is nothing of value, we cannot achieve the “Kingdom of Heaven” for a Christian, or what we call “Deep Reality” in Yoga.

The practice of Yoga Mala is a precision work (from the Latin praecisus), i.e. “no split” without division of breathing, movement, concentration, rhythm etc.. It is a work of unification. Hindus, like Christians might say  to live a relationship state of “Trinity.”

Three not two, two is not  one… The Trinity is not a duality and non-duality “advaïta” (Devanāgarī: अ त) is not unity. This is articulated One between “I” and “you” of ourselves, a … A relational One 

«Oh yoguin, ne pratique pas le Yoga sans vinyāsa…»
Vāmana Ṛṣi (devanāgarī : वामन ऋषि)
Yoga Korunta

Forth yoga Korunta  śloka express :

« Trī stanam avalokayé

Āsanam prānāyāma dristhihi »

Translation

The three key points of the method are: posture, breathing and concentration of the gaze.

Shri K. Pattabhi Jois’s comment

The method of yoga Korunta consists of three simultaneously performed points, that are:

a. Posture Āsana : to lengthen and stretch the spine back to ensure good blood circulation;

b. Breathing Pranayama : The wide opened rib cage so that breathing is good, long and soft;

c. Dristhihi : The head in alignment and directed towards one of the nine focus points so that the mind is concentrated. In this way, in your practice, you will not be troubled by what is happening around you and within you.


Guruji (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois), Laksmi Puram, Mysore

Om Shanti,

JC Garnier

YOGA, the origins

Yoga for body, heart and soul…

When the rishi of ancient times developed yoga, the postures had a meaning and an aim apart from curing problems related to the back or to existential anxiety.

“Be young, age wall or old, sick or weak, one reaches the realization by practice, by sustained, relentless attention of all aspects of Yoga»
Haṭhayōgapradīpikā, I, 64

The aim of yoga is not a striving for bodily suppleness, it concerns peace of mind, the modification of the mind.

“The realization comes to one who is constantly engaged in practice. How would she come to the inactive? This isn’t simply by reading the treaties on yoga that perfection can be born”
Haṭhayōgapradīpikā, I, 65

The way of the body (Kaya Sādhanā)

The word āsana means position, posture, attitude and foundation. For the Indian sculptor, the position or physical bearing serves as a sign language and an emotional language codified and known by all. Hence, the postures of yoga represent archetypical figures. The practice of these figures in the context of a method permits the practitioner to re-establish links with his profoundest roots.

Shiva, on paper

Shiva, on paper

Finding in oneself the emotions of the body, the heart and the soul, accepting taking a step towards the unknown in order to discover a different balance, a different vision

With his body, man writes his dreams. By transcending himself, he creates a different reality, a new power, a new suppleness, and new sensations. This realisation requires going beyond stiffness and discomfort for many years of effort.

As expressed so well by Satprem in the title of one of his books, “Son of Heaven through the body of the Earth”, it is through this earthly body, this body of flesh, this material body (sthūla-śarīra) that we will, by practicing yoga, awaken the body of light, the body of energy (prāṇāyāma-kośa),

Valmiki, Ramayana

Valmiki, Ramayana

How did the concept of yoga develop?

This concept dominates all the philosophical speculations of India, reincarnation, metempsychosis. Present life shows but one stage in a multitude of successive lives that have as their common goal being painful and of which one absolutely needs to disengage oneself.

Transmigration, pain, deliverance…

For Indian thought, the existence of the soul is a given. This primitive belief was already held in prehistory. Actually, in the most ancient scriptures known, the individual soul presents itself as the pillar of all vital functions of man. The soul, (Ātman) is the “breath”, the “breath of life” (Prāṇa) par excellence, and the foundation of other breaths of life. It resides in the body and penetrates it completely.

The framework of yoga is very well defined in the Yoga Sūtra or Yogasūtra. The practitioner needs to learn to observe, to feel without complacence or remonstrance, to search for the state of transparency of self. Being true to oneself.

 

In the chapter Sādhana pāda of the Yoga Sutra, Patañjali describes Ashtanga Yoga. “Here are the eight limbs (aṅga), stages or branches of Royal Yoga (Rāja-Yoga)”.

  1. The prohibitions, yama ( यम ) or yamarāja ( यमराज )
  2. The injunctions, niyama (नियम ), five in number
  3. The physical posture, the āsana ( आसन ) 8 400 000 in number, the most well known: padmāsana
  4. Respiratory discipline, prāṇāyāma ( प्राणायाम ), which strictly prescribes inspiration and expiration in the postural practice and the holding of the breath in the techniques controlling the breath.
  5. The retraction of the senses, pratyāhāra, which leads the wise to
  6. Concentration, dhāraņā ( धारण ) which is pursued through
  7. Meditation, dhyāna ( ध्यान ) which is accomplished through
  8. The achievement and the contemplation of the Spirit, Samādhi.

“The body is like a flesh, the soul (ātman) is its master, intelligence (buddhi) is its driver, the spirit (manas) plays the part of the reins, as to the horses, these are the senses (indriya): the world is their course.”
Kaṭha Upaniṣad or Kaṭhopaniṣad 3.3

What yoga proposes is hence disciplining the human “vehicle” in its various aspects: perceptions and actions with sensuality and corporality, emotions and thoughts with mind and intelligence. Yoga is thus a discipline and a discipline is a space of freedom, it is a framework of freedom.

Only discipline will develop an ever-greater force of endurance, which will permit – once we encounter a difficulty in life (fatigue, illness, doubt, conflict, fear etc) – to continue our path with Peace, Force and Joy.

Sanskrit, its meanings, the writing of the Gods

Getting to know Sanskrit “devanagari” (the script of the Gods), is fundamental for those wishing to study Indian culture and the disciplines belonging to it like Yoga teaching.

For example: Yoga and the Āyurveda use terms in “sanskrit”.

Yoga postures, placing and body positions are all written in sanskrit generally. Prefixes are used for several postures to explain a variation, a direction, a sense.

  • Ardha, means “half”, “lateral”
  • Adho means “downwards”
  • Baddha, means “linked”
  • Madhu, means “down”
  • Parivrtta, means “returned” or “tensed”
  • Supta, means “turned over”
  • Urdhva, means ‘upwards’
  • Utthita, means “stretched”
  • etc.

Knowing the way to pronounce and the meaning of the word helps you to understand the symbolism, and spiritual and philosophical concepts.

Sanskrit is not only a sacred language, it is also a vibrant force.

“Sanskrit is therefore truly the transcendent power, and as such, it is ‘the technical instrument of the rite of fulfilment of the presence and action of God ‘.
P.S. Filliozat 

Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat

Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat

Knowing Sanskrit helps you develop your philosophical and postural practices.

The relationship to the original language enables us to place ourselves in the present time and create links for the future. In the face of the chaotic development of contemporary yoga, it is good to identify safe paths in the jungle of words and images and to make yogic science global in a correct manner. The use of Sanskrit remains the key to that transformation. It is the agenda. This is not an inflexible return to tradition. Rather a firm basis from which to serve wisdom and perpetuate profundity… »

Micheline Flak

Further reading:

  • Le Sanskrit, souffle et lumière : voyage au cœur de la langue sacrée de l’Inde, par Colette POGGI, aux éditions ALMORA
  • Le sanskrit, par P.-S. Filliozat, (Que sais-je ?, 1416), Paris, aux éditions PUF, 1992.
Colette Poggi

Colette Poggi

Individual yoga classes for pregnant women

In Brussels, an Individual prenatal yoga class will allow you to interact with your body and your unborn child, alone or in a small group of friends (reservation required)

Prenatal Ashtanga Yoga: you will have the opportunity to get accurate answers to all the questions you might have.

Yoga is an ancient art coming from India. It promotes self-discovery through simple gestures and postures, breathing awareness, relaxation and mind calming.

Taught by Jean Claude Garnier, the prenatal yoga is a special time to take care of yourself and your unborn child.

These classes are adapted to all women – at any stage of their pregnancy (the sooner, the better of course) – who want, thanks to their practice of Ashtanga yoga, to :

  • Relax and release tension
  • Get a better postural balance in everyday life
  • Learn how to synchronize breathing and body movement, and to learn how to listen to themself.
  • Build a strong relationship with themself and their future child.
  • An individual course is tailored to personal needs, body, breath and coordination abilities. A session designed to meet your specific needs with an individual follow-up.
  • Help and facilitate the delivery
  • A fast recovery

This practice enables you to relax and stay focused while working on your body through a number of specific postures. You’ll fully and smoothly experience your pregnancy and its transformation process. You’ll work to get ready for your delivery thanks to specific breathing exercises and the strengthening of your perineum.

 Getting to know your baby

From the beginning of your practice, you’ll feel your baby moving more and more in your belly. Both you and your baby will benefit from these moments of well-being. During these individual classes for pregnant women, you will learn the basics of haptonomy that will help you to bond with your baby. In utero, the baby is already whole person. This class will enable you to dialogue with your future child.

After delivery, Yoga enables you to stay connected with yourself

Birth is a very rich but often a very intense experience. You may want to relax and focus on yourself. Depending on your experience and your personal needs, Yoga classes can resume quickly after delivery. Through private lessons you’ll be able to progressively regain energy and strength in your body. Particular attention will be paid to toning your muscles (the control of the pelvic floor is a significant aspect of Ashtanga Yoga)

For further info concerning pregnancy:

Individual yoga classes for beginners or for advanced practitioners (wishing to get specific coaching)

An individual class is accessible to everyone, especially beginners.

Taught by Jean Claude Garnier, private classes offer an ideal opportunity to better understand the subtle mechanisms of yoga and enjoy its numerous benefits.

These courses are particularly suitable for people who have stopped their sport and physical activity, and who wish to regain it through the practice of Ashtanga yoga :

  • Tonus, relaxation, tension relief
  • Better postural balance
  • Synchronization of breath and body movement that will help you listen to yourself and build a healthy relationship with yourself, and with others
  • An individual class completely tailored to your personal/body capacities, breathing and coordination. A session designed to meet your needs with an individual follow-up.

This individual practice will allow you to gain :

Harmonization:

The basic practice will facilitate a harmonious relationship body/breath.

 

Restructuration :

  • It allows beginners and experienced practitioners, through a proper use of breath, to improve postural and breathing practices.
  • A personalized therapeutic support to relieve discomfort and injury

Individual classes for advanced practitioners

You will improve/deepen your Ashtanga Yoga practice. This class will enable you to receive a personal “training” focused on a better adjustment in the advanced series (second, third and fourth series …), both in the postures and in the Vinyasa.

You will be able to get precise answers to all the questions you may have

Addressing and coming out of a posture in Ashtanga Yoga practice (Vinyāsa Krama)

In Ashtanga Yoga practice (Yoga Korunta), there is a precise progression, established with a lot of wisdom, in order to address a posture add also to come out of it. This is called Vinyāsa Krama.

The postures are connected one with another by mini-sequences or complete sequences from the sun salutation (Surya Namaskara).

Ashtanga Yoga_Adho Mukha Svannasana _suryanamaskara_A

 

 

In Ashtanga Yoga, the postural work and the Viniyasa have equal importance. At first, we see the postural learning with a simple chain/sequence. Once the postures are known comes the sequences/chaining teaching (the complete Viniyasa).

Srivatsa Ramaswami, old student of Shri T. Krishnamacharya

Srivatsa Ramaswami, old student of Shri T. Krishnamacharya

«Integrating the spirit, body and breathing functions . . . A yogi will know the true joy of the yoga practice . . .Vinyāsa Krama yoga strictly follows the most complete
definition of classical yoga ».

Srivatsa Ramaswami

There are two important factors.

  1. All the postures (āsana) are in an unchangeable order.
  2. As beautifully taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, there are a precise number of synchronised breathing and movement transitions that connect each position (āsana).

The process of Vinyāsa Krama produces an intense internal heat (tapas) that allows purification, and elimination of toxins in the muscles, the organs and the mind. The result is a light body that breaths profound peace, strength and joy.

Practice of Yoga mālā is a true precision work (from latin prae-cisus), in other words «without scission», without division of breathing, movement, concentration, rhythm etc. It is a work of reunification, of unification.

The three points in the Ashtanga Yoga practice

The key point of the « garland of postures » (Yoga Mālā), taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois is called « Vinyasa ». It is described in the fourth śloka of the Yoga Korunta :

In Sankrit devanagrari :

« ट्री स्तनम् अवलोकय्é आसनम् प्राņआयाम द्रिस्थिहि »

In occidental characters :

« Trī stanam avalokayé āsanam prāņāyāma dristhihi »

That we can translate as:

The vinyāsa, the connecting movements between the postures, is composed of 3 fundamentals (Tristana) which are:

  1. The breathing (Ujjãyi Prãnãyãma – the victorious breath)
  2. The control of the pelvic floor and the abdominal ball (Mūla bandha),
  3. The focused gaze (drishti) in the postures (āsana).

Each of these spaces (positioning -Bandha) is one of components of the breathing technique called « ujjāyī prāņāmāya ».

The 3 points ashtanga yoga EN

When the three components (Tristana) are in harmony, synchronised with the movement, the sequence of Yoga postures and its rhythm, the yogi has reached the tristana. Once the tristana is reached, the yogi (le sādhaka) enters into the seventh part of the Aṣṭāṅgayoga, the meditation (dhyāna).

The ujjāyī breathing is the basis of the « Vinyasa ». The correct body positioning in the ãsana(s), comes from the Bandha(s). Drishti completes this trinity.