Thursday, January 19, 2012


This afternoon I read Anthony's blog. He quoted Nancy Gilgoff who was one of the first students of P. Jois. She described how she learned the first 2 series and how she was taught to practice. With this I've the third version of how to practice.

The different versions of Ashtanga yoga:
1. In classes usually yoginis practice half vinyasa, but vinyasa between sides and between different poses. It's in my view the most boring version as the first series has sooooo many rather similar forward bending asanas.
2. I usually practice full vinyasa, that is I practice full vinyasa during the middle part, when I practice on my own or in Mysore classes. Lately I studied the book by P.Jois and Lino Miele again. I realized that full vinyasa is supposed to be done during the standing sequence and the closing sequence, too. I tried this and it makes sense. It feels so much better. It requires more time. This might have been the reason why one switched to version 1.
3. The third version is now the one that Nancy described in her article. Here it is. I want to have it on my blog, too. I will try it.  It makes it possible to practice primary and second series in a row.

Especially the 5th series is very interesting, see below.

Urdhva dhanurasana came after the second series. Again I'm reminded of all the nonsense in the community to stop people when they are not able to come up from urdhva dhanurasana and this pose is done after all the forward bending asanas of primary.
In my view one has only a balanced practice if one practices primary AND second series. To practice means to exercise.

Finally I'm glad that I found this information. It gives me a lot of ideas how I can vary my practice.

Ashtanga yoga how it was taught in the old days to Nancy Gilgof and David Williams

Three each of Surya Namaskara A and B, 
Standing postures through to Parsvottanasana,
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana etc. and Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (added after learning all primary).
(Utkatasana and Virabhadrasana added in 1980s).

Jump through to Dandasana.
Vinyasa (?)
Ardha baddha padma Paschimottanasana ( No vinyasa between sides).
Vinyasa (?)
Tireng Mukkha Eka pada Paschimottanasana (No vinyasa between sides).
Vinyasa (?)
Janu Sirsasana A, B, and C (Done together, no vinyasa between sides or variations right side, left side of A, right, left of B, right, left of C).
Marichyasana A, B, C, and D (done together no vinyasas between sides or variations).
Navasana x 3
Bhuja pindasana
Vinyasa (?)
Supta kurmasana
vinyasa (?)
garbha pindasana 
Vinyasa (?)
Baddha Konasana, Upavishta Konasana, and Supta Konasana (No vinyasas between sides).
Supta hasta pasdangustasana
Supta parsvasahita
Ubhaya Padangusthasana and Urdhva Mukha
Paschimottanasana (done together, simply change the hand position).
Setu Bandhasana,

(continue on in to..) 
Pashasana. (No vinyasa between sides).

Shalabhasana through Parsva Dhanurasana, (Done together no vinyasa in between sides).
Ushtrasana through Kapotasana (Done together no vinyasa in between)
Suptavajrasana x 5 , (no hold on the last one just the first)
Bharadvajasana, (no vinyasas between sides).
Ardha Matsyendrasana, (no vinyasas  between sides).
Eka Pada Sirsasana to Yoganidrasana, (no vinyasas until Chakrasana after Yoganidrasana).
Tittibhasana A B C
Pincha Mayurasana, Karandavasana, Vrishchikasana (done together).

Parighasana, (no vinyasa between sides).
Krounchasana, (No vinyasa between sides).
Gomukhasana (no Vinyasa between sides). 
Urdhva Dhanurasana

Paschimottanasana, Salamba Sarvangasana, Halasana, Karnapidasana,
Urdhva Padmasana, Pindasana, Matsyasana,
Yoga Mudrasana, Padmasana, Tolasana 

Originally there were five series: Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, Advanced B, and the fifth was the “rishi" series (Choose 10 postures and stay for fifty breaths in each). 


Robyn said...

This sequence does make a lot of sense and actually seems less exhausting than doing just primary with all the half vinyasa between sides, etc..

I did a workshop with David Williams a couple of years ago and was really happy to discover his very open-minded view about modifications and the real purpose of this practice. I love going into a mysore practice that is a room full of people of all shapes, sizes, ages, abilities (as opposed to everyone being super fit and doing advanced gymnastics).

It is so easy to get caught up in perfecting asana, but that is just a weakness of one's practice. I know because I do it too! This sequence that you report from Nancy, while very challenging, seems quite open-ended in many ways. Thanks for sharing it here.

Ursula said...

I very much agree with you Robyn.

I remember hot discussions on blogs how to practice and what is tradition.

What drives me a bit crazy is that it's so difficult to get the information. OK, now I have it. Now I can see what I'll make out of it.