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Krishnamacharya’s Yoga – Weekend With Ramaswami

This was a yoga week for me, that is certain, a full workweek of led classes with Sharath/Sarawati and Saturday with Ramaswami. What a blessing. If you have an opportunity to take a workshop with him (and he is travelling all over the world) I would highly recommend it.  It is not so easy to get two degrees of separation to Krishnamacharya in the West, and He is IT.

Ramaswami –  Direct student of Master
Krishnamacharya for 35+ years

The workshop held at the CT Yoga Shala, lovely space, was four hours long both on Saturday and Sunday (with an intro on Friday night). James and I attended only the Saturday portion and were reminded of what a great teacher Ramaswami is.

Great to see Maria of the blog: Serene Flavor there too, as well as many familiar faces from the Sharath week.

Asana:

I had taken Ramaswami’s 20 hour Yoga Sutra workshop but had never been instructed in asana or pranayama by him.  My fear was that the sequences of Vinyasa Krama were to be too slow for me compared to the vigorous practice of Ashtanga yoga I do every day.  I was mistaken.

The sequences are not fast, but the effect over the nervous system is delightful for sending one in, for the preparatoin for meditation. And there are plenty of very challegning sequences.

A funny moment came when he asked a group packed with ashtangis if anyone could demonstrate the jumping through with straight legs. Nobody could. How long till I can do this? I wondered.

We run through a portion of the Tadasana sequence (on your feet), and many variations of just inhaling and bringing the palms interlocked up to towards the ceiling and really stretching while lifting the hips.

The hips are very important, said Ramaswami, we need to work them every day, as well as the knees.  The variations on this very basic pose had me in a sort of trance.  The slow breathing deepened the focus and I found myself going in under his soft yet firm voice.

Nothing substitutes hearing the teachings
but the book comes pretty close

We must have done Asana for one and a half hours or so, I lost track of time.  Especially enjoyed the very long Paschimotanasana (forward bend).  5 minutes and you emerge in another mental plane.

paschimotanasana

Importance of Inversions:


Although we did not get to inversions on Saturday (he was to do those on Sunday), he explained why Krishanmacharya said they were so important.

Krishnamacharya, says Ramaswami, would measure the lenght between your internal organs and see if, whether because of age, or wear and tear, they were being displaced and away from their original position (sagging).  This is a natural occurrence that comes with time: “Look at my face” he said, [laughter]


“The only poses which are unique to yoga and that restore the organs to their original place are the inversions.  They need to be done with very long deep breaths and for long periods of time (5 minutes min)  to give maximum benefit to the heart and all other internal organs.”

Pranayama:

The portion on pranayama came fast. If taking his workshop it might be a good idea to read his book first.  We did kapalabhati sitted with the arms down and then with the arms up (fingers interlocked)! That was new, and intense.  (here is how to practice kapalabhati)

Kapalabhati turned out to be much easier
with arms to the side – Ramaswami made it more challenging

I was comfortable exhaling forcefully from the lower pelvis for 36 counts when the arms were down, but could only get to about 15 or 16  with the arms raised. An eye opener and something both James and I are including now into the pranayama practice.

We then went into nadi shodana (nerve cleansing breathing exercise, see here for the exercise although this post does not include retention or the use of bandhas (locks)) with retention of breath AFTER exhalation and including all three bandhas. I had never done that and was surprised at the calming effect in the mind, as well as quite frankly, my ability to do it.

You can make pranayama very safe”  – Ramaswami

His encouragement was welcome, and the counts at which we did the practice were comfortable, he even lowered it from 5 counts for inhale and retentions and 10 for exhalations to a 4-8 ratio to accomodate slower practitioners like me.  I prefer to take pranayama very slow and let it take its course.

Another interesting thing about Ramaswami’s nadi shodana was that he included one full inhale and exhale with ujjaji breath in between sides.

Pratyahara and Meditation

We did the pratyahara mudra holding it for 2 minutes and then went into a short meditation with mantra.

Prayahara (sense withdrawal) mudra

Four hours was really not enough, he has so much knowledge and wants to offer it so freely, it is both a pleasure and a race against time to absorve it all.

Gratitude:

I am very grateful for Ramaswami for coming to the area, only found out on the last day of Sharath’s week that he was so close and it was wonderful to be able to see him and be in his presence and learn from him.

Click to look inside

As per Vinyasa Krama, I think Grimmly (author of the book above)  may be onto something here, if anything I am left wandering and wanting Ramaswami’s 200 hour training so as to see all the routines and hear more stories from “his teacher“.

Related:


7 Things I Learned From Ramaswami (at the Yoga Sutras Workshop in 2011)
Where Exactly Does Patanjali Mention Vinayasa in the Yoga Sutras?
7 Signs That You Are A Realized Yogi – Turns Out I Am Not
RAMASWAMI’s UPCOMING EVENTS
Grimmly’s Blog
Serene Flavor’s Blog Impressions From the Workshop

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11 Responses to Krishnamacharya’s Yoga – Weekend With Ramaswami

  1. sereneflavor April 16, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I knew this post would be awesome! A reader was asking questions about Pratyahara, and I sent him/her over to Grimmly's but I am going to reply again and suggest this post as well.

    • Claudia April 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

      Thank you S/F. Lovely to see you there, how lucky were we this weekend? ha? I find it nothing short of a miracle!

  2. Yyogini April 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    You know what? After reading your blog and SF's blog, I decided to google Ramaswami's schedule to see if he is teaching in my area any time soon. Turns out he will be in my area, yay! So I got really excited, and then I found out that Sri O.P. Tiwari is giving a workshop that same weekend! Can you say dilemma??!?!

    • Claudia April 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

      That is a pretty big dilema, yes! <br /><br />I would be conflicted too, been wanting to meet Tiwariji in person for years.

  3. Paul @ Herniated Disc Treatment April 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    the kapalabhati looks really intense! I love reading you experience it really makes me wish Ramaswami would someday visit UK

  4. Paul @ Herniated Disc Treatment April 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Wow im excited now i see he has some dates later in the year for a UK visit!!!

    • Claudia April 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Yes, exactly, he WILL be in the UK this year! I would not miss it. 🙂

    • Paul @ Herniated Disc Treatment April 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      im going to contact the centre that will be hosting his workshop see if i can get more information 🙂

  5. Linda-Sama April 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    blessed to have met him so early on my teaching path…he inspired me to study at KYM….he is my root guru in vinyasa krama!

  6. Claudia April 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Yes Linda, so I hear, quite a blessing indeed. I am fascinated at the effect on the nervous system of the sequences and subsequences, the calming, centering effect. quite something.

  7. Claudia April 30, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    So grateful to Ramaswami for this video interview on Krishnamacharya! http://goo.gl/QicLWA