From the original text Victor Boyko "Yoga - Arte de Comunicação". DEKOM, 2008.
There are bad people, there is no bad field.
The Chinese proverb
Asanas offered below for mastering are focused on an average level of physical development; any rather healthy person can perform them. Everyone who starts to master classical yoga must read the given chapter, but only those whose level of flexibility allows freely to reproduce the form shown in illustrations should be guided by the description of performance of the poses. Ways of their performance for those who do not possess such flexibility are depictured below.
Photos are placed in this chapter by amiable authority of the asanas performer, Alexander Sergeev, the instructor of our School.
So, the first day:
1. Pashimottanasana - three approaches;
3. Utthita Trikonasana;
4. Parivritta Trikonasana;
5. Utthita Parsvakonasana;
6. Parivritta Parsvakonasana;
7. Virabhadrasana I;
8. Virabhadrasana II;
10. Ardha Chandrasana;
15. Jathara Parivartanasna;
9. Shavasana - 15 minutes.
One should not try to perform each complex as "a nine-to-five job"; on the contrary, the beginner should choose from the list what is accessible to him on forces, to age and state of health. It is expediently (and safely) to introduce the turned poses only in the second year of practice for those who never went in for sports, and that only in the event that there are no problems with backbone, blood pressure, or overweight.
In order to stay in a convenient pose, one may lean in the beginning against his own body, furniture, the wall, use any supports, etc. Or apply special devices called props in system of B.K.S. Iyengar. Ideologists, instructors, and adherents of this school are not capable to explain distinctly what this yoga gives, how to do asanas, in order not to be injured, and why the pain is harmful. Therefore it had developed a wild quantity of various supports, special chairs, pillows, mats, curved surfaces, etc. The purpose of this circus is to surround so beginners with props and limiters that they have managed even some time to keep a not injuring form and to relax somehow in it. The handling of props is a whole science, "fastened" skillfully to school of Iyengar Yoga. Clearly, that for success in practice, pupils are recommended buying all these devices - business spreads. Today it is the whole industry - a large amount of rugs for yoga, devices and belts, yogic clothes with a tambour, special yogic feed and so on. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to understand where to search for yoga itself among all this abundance.
Following the lead of yogins of antiquity, who did not have anything except for own body, we advise beginners to apply only two artefacts - "bricks" and belts, and that, in case of an exclusive stiffness of backbone and joints.
So, it is reasonable to master the poses, which are performed standing ("standing" asanas), at a vertical plane and with a support on it; ideally at standing and inverted poses (with twisting the top belt on hundred eighty degrees) both shoulder-blades (as result of mastering asana) should keep contact with this plane. Legs are moderately strained; however, the kneecaps are always pulled up. It keeps legs (or one when another is in attack) straight as a string. There is a thin moment: if to overdo this effort, the tension catches up all the "rest" of the body. If not to strain muscles of legs up to the necessary standard, asana turns out unstable. If it turns out well to get in the optimum sector of size of muscular effort, legs will be firm and straight, but not overstrained; at the same time the trunk turns in the loin flaccidly and freely. «Standing» poses are especially recommended for those who have asthenia, hypotonia, and muscular weakness. What concerns simplicity, the person who had mastered "standing" asanas knows that it seems.
Being at physical rest, we, if especially not to listen, "do not see" and "do not hear" our breathing. To relax completely in asana means also removing of an involuntary violation of naturalness of respiratory pattern arisen during entry into it. Such certain pattern corresponds to each pose; respiration rate and respiration depth in different asanas are completely various. But, despite of it, it always should be kept the same natural and free, as though you conveniently sat on a sofa, reading the book! When keeping of the respiratory rest is achieved (by relaxation of muscles of the trunk and the stomach), and the breathing is in the pose, first - it disappears from perception (ceases to be appreciable), second - after going out, its initial pattern is at once restored. There are neither failures nor any dyspnea, for "standing" (and in general power) poses it is the moment of paramount importance!
Always and everywhere, in any asana except for these where exactly abdominal muscles are loaded, they, these muscles, should be weakened! Not without reason instructors of the Bihar school of yoga (Ashram "Ganges Darshan") during morning practice go between rows of pupils with a monotonous saying: «Weaken the stomach … Weaken the stomach … »
"Standing" poses are characteristic of that soles of both feet in them cling close, without warp to the floor; in the beginning it is difficult, however the regular practice puts all on its places.
It is useful to practice before a mirror - mistakes are better visible. It is desirable to do "standing" poses barefoot (better - on a wooden surface), but that legs did not get cold and did not freeze. If it occurs, it is necessary to warm them periodically under hot water, wiping then dry and putting on socks. It is permissible to do the "standing" in soft footwear with rubber sole, as legs should not slip and slide apart. The optimum temperature for asanas practicing is 22-24°C; otherwise it is necessary to be made warmer. Drafts are excluded; the body should not perceptibly get cold.
For the period of monthlies, it is forbidden for women to perform power and "standing" poses, intensive twisting and arching back. As everyone is well aware, the bearableness of this process is rather subjective, from «Nothing like that, I can afford myself any load» to «It is the end of the world, I cannot get up».
As breaks in practice are undesirable, each lady can choose for herself asanas from the list, given below for performance during critical days. If, certainly, it is a good thing in general to speak about practicing, while feeling of obviously bad-being, one should confine oneself to Virasana, Siddhasana, and Padmasana (if they are accessible) or not practice at all. One should choose such poses and perform them so that it did not influence in any way the usual character of the cycle, its intensity, and duration. Let a minimum of asanas remain, but, having repeated each of them two-three times, you keep positive adjustment and a good physical state.
So, choose from:
Virasana, number 14 after complex of the second day (photo № 89 in «Enlightenment on Yoga»).
Siddhasanа № 16 (photo № 84 - ibid);
Jathara Parivartanasana, № 15 (photo № 274 - ibid);
Ardha Bhudjangasana, №17 (in «Enlightenment … » it is not submitted, see below, in the description of asanas technics);
Baddha Konasana (photo № 101 - ibid);
Upavishtha Konasana (№ 148, 149);
Variant of Virasana (№ 92).
21. Ardha Matsiyendrasana (№ 21 - after complex of the second day);
Padmasana (№ 104 «Enlightenment … »)
1. Pashimottanasana (№ 1 after complexes of the first and second days).
Time should be kept by sensations, but not more than one minute. For those to whom these asanas are easy, one can increase time of exposition up to 2-3 minutes and add Jan Sirshasana (№ 126 - 127 «Enlightenment … »). I shall repeat myself once again: I recommend to use not the book of B. K. S. Iyengar itself as the guide to action (it is unreasonably and dangerously), but only its illustrative (and that is selectively) part, as since 1993 this book is most duplicated in Russia.
Let's return to the basic list of poses, and we present the second day:
14. Virasana - twice;
15. Jathara Parivartanasana;
17. Ardha Bhudjangasana - three approaches;
18. Bhudjangasana, initial phase - stand with feet shoulder width apart;
19. The same, the leg on the leg, the basic phase;
20. Trianga Mukha Ekapada Pashimottanasana;
21. Ardha Matsiyendrasana, sitting on the leg;
22. The same - sitting on the floor;
24. Paripurna Navasana - 3 approaches;
25. Ardha Navasana - 3 times;
27. Urdhva Prasarita Padasana;
28. Sirshasana - whenever possible, but not more than 10 minutes.
29. Sarvangasana - up to 3-5 minutes.
30. Halasana- up to 5 minutes.
15. Jathara Parivartanasana;
9. Shavasana - 15 minutes.
It is necessary to perform both these complexes, alternating them daily. If within a day there is slackness, it is necessary to increase pauses between asanas, to reduce time of exposition, or to perform complexes not up to the end, and not to practice on Sundays with sense of the fulfilled duty at all. Vanity and diligence in yoga do not result in anything good, it is useful for those who wish to practice more than once a day to remember the Japanese proverb: «Who never was on Fuji is a fool, but who had twice climbed up there is twice a fool». I'd like in general to recommend beginners in the first year of practice to arrange themselves by all means a rest from practice, that is to practice not more than six times a week. It is permissible also five. Four are a minimum.
So, yoga is a silence of mind. The way to the last begins with diversion of attention from the external world and its binding to the body in the physical practice. By definition asana is a motionless and convenient pose. Convenience means, first of all, a comfort. Therefore the stay in asanas should be comfortable. Under what conditions can a form of the body unknown to the life experience be reproduced and kept with comfort? Only if I do a pose how it turns out without any physical sensations, including and first of all – the unpleasant ones. Thus the principle of nonviolence – ahimsa - is observed in practice.
If you have a poor initial flexibility (and it is such by the overwhelming majority of people older than twenty five years), you will not even approximately perform the pose how it is represented on a photo, or is shown by the instructor. One couldn't do it, much as he would try to bend more than it is possible today, the body will not allow this. Besides, what diligence one can have if in any pose of yoga the muscles keeping its power pattern, should be loaded minimally and other be completely relaxed? Skill of asanas performance is characterized by the minimization of work in it, and the muscular relaxation is not compatible with any strong-willed displays. Consequently, the pose in a competent performance will be correct - regardless of the form – then and only then when obvious efforts and unpleasant sensations will not appear at entry in it, going out, and preservation in the body! And it is better and more reliable - if it will arise none at all.
Certainly, while the organism has not got used to this new work, any minimal signals nevertheless remain: somewhere something slightly tugs and aches. It is normal, the main thing is that these sensations accompanying the entry into asana and leaving it, were not expressed and disappeared, when you motionlessly stiffen in the form. While the comfort lasts, and there is nothing in the body, the pose is kept in the relative immovability.
So, what you see in a picture or a photo is not an example for imitation, a correct pose is such one at which preservation the body does not remind of itself. As soon as somewhere a sensation or a tension starts to appear (to make its appearance), the pose is completed, one should leave it. If you keep it further, at increasing sensations (a tension, effort), it ceases to be asana and becomes a means of causing damage to the organism. One should not try to improve the form; you bent up to the border of appearance of sensations and enough. It will be more accurately to stop, not reaching up to this border, touching it hardly.
In general one should practice yoga indifferently, as if not you do it. It is necessary to remember that all these poses are only a means; one masters them in order to remove in this process the habitual vanity of mind. Improvement of the body is at the same time a side, invaluable effect!
Diligence, conscientiousness, and desire to make better, more correctly, to speed up business - all this only impedes. Is the rain anxious about a better raining? It is simply raining so how it is raining. And it is necessary to do poses of yoga simply how they turn out today. But without sensations. And to spit on the form three times!
Beginners are surprised: «But if not to try to make asanas correctly if there are no sensations, efforts, and sweat where the useful influence is then?»
The answer is simple: it is realized not personally by you, but by the form and time of its exposition. In daily life we carry out a great number of many different things, not feeling at the same time our body. Why should it be in yoga differently? Safety procedures (not damages) since the early childhood are built into our daily actions; one should not ignore them. If everything is all right - the body is healthy and the work of the articular ligamentous apparatus is carried out without any overload - we feel nothing. When the motor of an automobile is in good order, it is not heard in operating conditions.
What is mechanism of influence upon poses of yoga? You never do even the most simple of them in your life; especially do not stay long in them. The more comfortable is asana, the longer it is kept. The more intensive stream of unusual stimuli goes from joints, ligaments, and muscles into locomotor brain structures located in subcortex where a new excitatory field is gradually formed. At the same time the tone of dominant zones (excitatory fields) of cortex goes according to the conservation law down - the person calms down. In other words, a competent work in asanas, on the one hand, improves the body, on the other, carries out the initial calming the mind which goes deeper in process of adaptation to practice of yoga.
Concrete time of endurance of each pose in the two-day complex had been removed by me; experience of last years of School functioning had shown: whatever duration of asana not to appoint - it will be always insufficient to someone, and to someone too large. Therefore it is more reliably to apply the universal and safe principle of endurance of a pose up to the first sign of comfort loss, even if it will be only some seconds. As soon as sensations in muscles, sinews, and ligaments start to appear, it shows the increase of effort, jolting, blushing, hurried breathing and palpitation, one should leave the pose immediately. Time of asanas endurance (without sensations) will gradually increase both as the result of accustoming of the body to them and mastering silence of mind – the mental relaxation.
If an overwhelming majority of beginners cannot perform poses as it is shown in illustrations of the two-day complex, what sense is there then in their detailed description?
Let's say so: it is useful, first, for those who possess initially a high level of the flexibility, allowing to perform all these asanas straight off and without sensations. Second, flexibility grows in the course of practice, and when the body "will flow into" the form, shown in the illustration, then the description of technics performance becomes actual for the most part. And during approach to the canonical form of asanas, some technical details will be rather useful.
So, in mastering yoga asanas the person in the beginning looks into physical sensations, his consciousness (mind) is busy exclusively with it, the body simply adapts to a new regular load.
Let's address now to postures between poses. The question, actually, consists in the following: what should one fill mind during performance of asanas with that it was not littered by a gradually filtering mental stream of the ordinary?
Let us suppose, it is today according to schedule the "standing" complex. Having performed Utthita Trikonasana to the left, you left the pose and rose square, what is further? And further it is necessary to close eyes and to relax them that eyeballs did not shiver - if it is possible! If some people try somehow to release eyes (that they themselves have found a convenient position and have ceased to be felt), it causes an even greater tension, and in that case it is unprofitable to get involved in this. It is necessary to look for such place in the body where the attention clings freely and "sticks". It can be, say, the bridge of the nose. If to touch it with the finger, and then to take it away, on the skin there is a spot of sensation. If to transfer attention (it is better to do with closed eyes) there, so some processes begin in this spot, there is pricking, pressure, some indefinite activity. Then there is weight, hot formication, heat which can remain on the place or move on the tip of the nose, extend to cheeks... Usually patients speak about it so: «The bridge of the nose "kindled", then palms, and thoughts do not get into any more … ». Palms are also a convenient place of sensitization, the attention easily holds them, and they are heated.
It is possible to hold by attention the whole body at once, allocating nothing in it and not trying to find anything. In this case the attention/ consciousness is diffusely dissolved in the body and becomes motionless.
There is a process to which the attention clings rather easily – it is breathing. Being in a pause between asanas, after sensations from the previous pose "fade away", it is possible to direct attention to the following aspects of this process:
- Motion of air in the nose (sensation of contact of a stream of air with skin of nostrils during inspiration or expiration);
- Motion of the belly wall at inspiration and expiration;
- Similar motion of the thorax.
At the same time there is only the linkage of attention, but by no means the control of the respiratory process. Yoga is a total (though also temporary) deliverance from any conscious control. The linkage of attention to breathing should not affect its naturalness, rhythm, depth, etc. in any way. It partly reminds Vipassana on the breathing, performed in a small time interval.
If between the mirror poses (and the rest should be not less than duration of the pose, or half more) it is not possible to strengthen reliably attention in the body, you are overflown and carried away by mental plots, it is necessary again and again, with ice persistence, steadily, over and over again to return attention to the body. And, not trying to keep it there up to gnashing of teeth as it will not weaken, but strain the mind even more strongly. In due course attention (and, consequently, consciousness) becomes controlled; the most convenient points for its fastening, places and areas of the organism, where it will stay in rest and silence, will be defined.
By the way, in pauses between performance of symmetric (to the right and to the left) asanas it is not so necessary to stand, one can sit down, for example, in a chair, having leant with the straight back to its back. Or to settle on the floor, with his back to the wall, with the legs, folded in Sukhasana, Siddhasana or straightened freely forward.
So, it is clear with short pauses, let us turn to purpose of long pauses. Those people who came in yoga with problems of psychoemotional spheres must accentuate such pauses. For such patients the main thing is not asanas at all, but the condition achievable in intervals between them.
Having performed the same «straight triangle» in both sides, it is necessary to lie down in Shavasana. And here the main work begins, not having any idea about which the ignorant people are surprised: «How is that? What is it such for yoga, however you will look at them, they remained on lying and lying, do they sleep?» Actually just in long pauses the approaches to silence of mind - «chitta vritti nirodho» (CHVN) - or a mental relaxation are groped about.
Having settled in the long (from three to seven minutes) Shavasana, you direct now your attention inside, on the mental space itself. In process of accustoming to introspection and depending on type of the leading representation it turned out a video series, monologue, dialogue, a mix of the video series with chatter there or as it happens with kinesthetic learners: darkness, the flickering star sky; static, mobile geometry, or something not clear what, not giving in for verbalization.
In what does consciousness consist in general? It is possible to allocate conditionally in its structure such components:
- Intellectual - the one who thinks;
- Conceivable - what this someone thinks about;
- Emotions - "built automatically in the "stream of consciousness";
- What "is thought itself"- an independent, involuntary mental activity;
- Dynamics of consciousness – process itself of movement of thoughts;
- And finally, the observer who is discovered last of all. This subject who realizes himself in result of competently performed mental inhibition (elimination of context) is actually an absolute ego (the absolute subject), deprived of habitual activity. The status change of the given ego, his temporary transformation from the integral participant of the existence into a static observer - this act of a mental unloading or a limited wakefulness, realized regularly is already the most powerful psychotherapy!
Strictly speaking, when the question is silence of mind, then to a certain extent it is a metaphor. After emotions and voluntary thinking fell away, the mentioned absolute observer separates from the independent activity of consciousness, and his sensibleness becomes static. Those who thinks in images continue to see plots, as in Andrey Makarevich's song «but somehow not in truth and from very far away». When a person comes to the senses, he says that he had dreamt about something what is not to recollect. Audials tell about intellectual chatter whose essence cannot be caught. Kinesthetics note that during any moment of time you simply drop out of the stream of thinking which is carried out not clear how, finding yourself somewhere at a distance. Let us recollect a Vedantic formula: «Om shak shin aham» - «I am a witness», and at the same time such one who from time to time does not remember even oneself.
So, in long pauses between asanas the transformation of consciousness will develop as a whole on the described above way. But, certainly, it is far from being at once and so smooth. Skills of introspection are gained extremely slowly, similarly to formation of subject vision of blinds from birth whose cataract had been removed at adult age. They should study to see anew; approximately, the same occurs during introspection mastering.
The initial problem of a yoga beginner is to stop the purposeful thinking; it is achieved by a repeated returning of attention into the body. At one moment, attention/consciousness is tired of circulating between content of mind and the body; it is fixed on the body and becomes unidirectional, at the same time its tone sharply falls. Subjectively it is experienced as a loss of "sharpness"; consciousness (sensibleness) starts perceptibly to become fuzzy, to lose focusing. Immediately there is a reciprocal movement of the form - the body starts to sink in it, "flowing down" (without sensations!) to its limit absolute for today, to reach up to which it is impossible even by extraordinary personal efforts and diligence.
Just that very progressing then loss of clearness of self-perception is the initial stage of CHVN. It is not static; having entered into it, you start to move in the direction to sleep, it is an immersion. Since some moment of it, absolute ego is separated and begins to realize myself - your subjective basis, yourself. It is necessary to stay in this condition, hardly understanding, that you do not sleep, but are also not awake, feeling your breathing, twitching of extremities and different parts of the body, flicker of vague ideas. As soon as the observer starts to go finally out, it is necessary not to get away in sleep, to come to consciousness and to start the following series of asanas, the long pause is over.
In the process of adaptation and strengthening of skill, the time from the beginning of this pause up to "spreading" of consciousnesses is reduced; the mental relaxation comes much faster. Due to reduction of the total time of the big and small pauses the quantity of asanas, performed in a single practice, increases. Moreover, you get the most valuable ability "to drive off" standing, sitting, and in any convenient position even outside of yoga practicing. Some of my patients come to such mode: they fall in Shavasana or sit down not after a block of asanas, but after each pose and drive off almost instantly, coming automatically to the senses in a few minutes.
At the following stage of moving events, consciousness goes out directly in asanas; simultaneously time of their endurance in the full comfort considerably grows. Then, as a rule, not occurrence of sensations, but clarification of consciousness serves as a push to end of the pose.
Then sadhaka shrinks into itself already at the very beginning of yoga practicing and "comes up" only after the final Shavasana, such practice will be meditative. If you start, being disconnected, to waste time (the phase of the unconscious concentration), and therefore the practice is dragged greatly on, it is necessary to limit duration of pauses.
We summarize everything told above as an algorithm:
- The pose is kept in full comfort; there are no sensations in the body;
- As soon as somewhere in it the first sensation, tension, jolting, hot flash, cardiac and/or breathing acceleration began to arise, asana is finished, it is necessary to leave it immediately;
- In the meditative practice, the spontaneous clearing of consciousness will be a signal to fulfillment of the pose;
- A small pause between asanas is operative, necessary for dissolution of physical "echo" from the previous pose. When nothing from it remained in the body, it is necessary to stay for about a minute in this sensory "zero", and to move to the next asana;
- Time of the small pause should be not less than time of asana endurance and not less than one and a half minutes;
- Large, strategic pauses are intended for transformation of consciousness. If a person has come to yoga with psychoemotional problems, one should pay special attention to long pauses. They can be applied after a series of asanas, for instance - after every four or two ones. The maximum time of stay in such intermediate Shavasana is five-seven minutes. In order not to fall asleep or "be switched off" too strongly (what is not a rarity at nervous overstrain and breakdowns of adaptation), it is necessary to get a timer that will help after end of necessary time to regain consciousness. During a two hours' long practicing it is permissible about four such long pauses, not including the finishing relaxation.
- In the process of adaptation to yoga and the general improvement of the state, long pauses begin spontaneously to decrease. Then the need for them can spontaneously fall away and - consciousness will learn "to drive qualitatively off" both in short pauses and in poses themselves about what it was already spoken above.
- Further, in the process of psychosomatics regeneration, single training in yoga will intuitively start "to be mounted", after achievement of a certain level of flexibility; technics of asanas performance described below will be called-for....