We have spent some time on this blog talking about how BKS Iyengar and his teachers in the US approach the concept of sequencing yoga poses to create a practice. This is of practical value if you want to design and practice Iyengar style yoga on your own at home. It can also give you insight into the class you took last week as you try to understand the framework that your teacher may have used to put the class together.
But there are so many other yoga traditions and sequencing styles! Today, I'm going to begin exploring how to design a sequence in the tradition of Krishnamacharya. For those unfamiliar with T Krishnamacharya, he is sometimes considered a kind of godfather of modern Hatha Yoga practice. And although he never traveled to the US to teach in his lifetime, many of his students who became advanced teachers have, most notably his son and grandson, TKV and Kaustub Desikachar. Some of us in the US know this style of yoga as viniyoga, but this is a name that Gary Kraftsow, one of Krishnamacharya’s American students, coined. TKV Desikachar prefers to say that they teach yoga in the tradition of Krishnamacharya, and that calling it “yoga” is sufficient without other branding.
|Trunk and Branches by Brad Gibson|
In addition, there are three stages of life that will help to determine the kind of practice you will do, and an analogy to the tree is used. Regardless of which stage you are at, this system uses the Yoga Sutra concepts of sthira and sukha as underlying qualities you will be cultivating in your practice. Sthira can be thought of as firm and steady, and sukha as gentleness. So you will be balancing these two different aspects no matter what yoga tools you employ in your sequence (for example, a practice that incorporates asana, pranayama and mantra).
Using this as the foundation of developing a practice, you put into action via something called vinyasa krama. Desikachar defines the term as follows:
Krama is the step, nyasa means “to place,” and the prefix vi- translates as “in a special way.”
So you have to have a correct direction in order to have success with your practice.
No matter which group or age category you personally fall into, Desikachar suggests that you start out where you are, taking a gradual and intelligent course in your practice, looking towards a certain goal. Then you choose the steps and tools to lead you towards your goal. Next time, we’ll start to get into the practical nuts and bolts of how to make that happen.