1. Where does the idea of this project come from? 2. The assumptions of the project 3. A few words about the student 4. An introduction to the system of AVY 5. Teaching the sequence – props & modifications 6. Observations of the progress 7. Conclusions YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI
1. Where does the idea of this project come from? After having come from the summer part of the TTC500 course in August I talked to my mother, Margaret about the written assignment that I needed to complete in a couple of months. I was thinking how to approach this task and make it a bit unconventional. I didnt want to write about yoga in a standard, ordinary way. Suddenly she suggested: Teach me and write about it. I gave this idea a moment of thought, why not – I said – she would become my very first real student! I decided to prepare a plan: make an analysis of my student to be, consult with her what she aims to achieve and what she expects from astanga as such, and prepare a possible scheme of her progress. First I analysed what she would need from the practice at the beginning. Then I took a close look at her health/body problems and found one: painful feet and bunion (hallux valgus). Then I was ready to set off on a yoga yourney with M. * I will use an abbreviation M. when refering to Margaret, further on. YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI
2. The assumptions of the project Lets find out what we want to achieve through this experiment. My expectations are: to make M. a bit addicted to the practice – make her crave practicing to ease her feet pain let her gain peace of mind and insire spiritual evolution which is inevitable when one practices regularly and devotedly. Ms expectations are mostly physical: to strenghen the body – especially feet, arms, become generally more flexible and acquire deeper breath to get rid of/lessen the painful effect of bonun Summing up, we both have a bit similar and at the same time different expectations from this mutual work. Lets find out how it has been going. YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI
3. A few words about the student M. is 63 years old. She is in a great shape due to her vivid lifestyle and has an open and energetic character. She is also very open to novelties, leads a healthy life and is eager to try new things. She used to exercise in the past, recently has been going for long walks and rides a bicycle whenever there is opportunity for that. A few years ago when I took to yoga (Iyengar), she followed suit and attended a three-month course in Joga!Centrum school. Then she had to move to Gdynia were she didnt continue practicing. Another attempt of her becoming a yogi took place two years ago, when she accompanied me to the astanga retreat with Przemek Nadolny in Bieniasze, Poland. When she returned home she had been practicing for some time by herself. Now, she has approached yoga for the third time, under mu guidance – three times lucky, they say. YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI
4. An introduction to the system of AVY YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI Every begginer in the realm of astanga needs to get to know the basics of yoga filosophy (8 limb path) and also the requirements of healthy and safe practice. During the first session I explained briefly to M. the following terms: Dristhi Bandhas Ujayi breath I also mentioned the necessity to always search for comfort in asanas, to relax some parts of the muscles (especially neck and back muscles) while contracting and keeping in control other parts. We talked about the differences in astanga and e.g. hatha yoga, constant vinyasas in the practice being one of them. At this point it was crucial to introduce M. to vinyasa, we practiced together: caturanga (entering this position by walking for the time being), upward dog, downward dog. Furthermore, we moved to first Surya Namaskar: A and B.
5. Teaching the sequence – props & modifications YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI A few of the first sessions were not longer then minutes. I was very ambitious but I had to respect the student and her possibilities. At the beginning M. required constant attention and whats more important regular accompanyment. It is definitely easier and more fun to do yoga with someone, especially when the sequence is not yet grounded and well remembered. I found out that the best way to guide a session is to: Expalin what we are going to work on Show hw a new introduced pose looks like Practice the pose together with M a couple of times Let M. do the pose by herself Repeat mutual practice whenever needed Make necessary corrections, adjustments or modifications
A movie: presenting caturanga to M. YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI This movie presents me showing M, how to practice caturanga and more precisely how to prepare for doing a proper caturanga in the future: the aim is to strengthen arms
A movie: M. practising preparing for caturanga YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI It became necessary to guide M. through a plank pose in order to make her arms stronger for the proper caturanga. At the moment it is still a hard pose to do for her – it requires more time.
A scheme of a sample session 1 YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI We did three sun salutations A and three B > to warm up. I introduced padangustasana and padahastasana – the first was allright while the second was a bit difficult so needed to be practiced a lot > it served the purpose to make ham strings more flexible. We moved on to the standing poses: uthita trikonasana, parivritta trikonasana, parsvakonasana. Very important poses for the beginners, help in strenghening legs, feet and acquire balance. Not to tire M. too much I ordered a couple of sitting poses, still remembering that want to work on feet and legs. We did paschimattanasana and purvottanasana – feet worked especially hard in this second pose. We repeated it. M. has years of office work in her past so I noticed the importance of opening hips: we do badha konasana and a preparatory pose similar to sukhasana but with an ankle of one foot placed on the knee of other leg We finished with a well deserved savasana at the end.
6. Observations of the progress YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI A few photos presenting M. practicing standing poses
A scheme of a sample session 2 YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI Five sun salutations A and three B. Then padangustasana and padahastasana. Followed by uthita trikonasana, parivritta trikonasana, parsvakonasana, parsvottanasana. Introduction of utkatasana and a few adjustments of the pose. Leading through practicing of vinyasa, several repetitions. Repeating previously practiced hip-openners: badha konasana, sukhasana, and a new one: upavista konasana. Introducing one finishing asana: halasana. To finish off: savasana.
A scheme of a sample session 3 YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI Five sun salutations A and five sun salutations B. Then following the sequence: padangustasana and padahastasana. Continuing with uthita trikonasana, parivritta trikonasana, parsvakonasana, parsvottanasana. Reminding utkatasana. Learning virabhadrasana I and II. Vinyasa is simplified – stepping back instead of jump backs, walking to the front instead of jumps. Showing marichyasana A and C, adjustments and repetitions. Navasana, three repetitions not to overdo it at the beginning. Finishing asanas: halasana, karnapidasana, machyasana. Ending up: savasana.
7. Conclusions YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI The first observation of Ms practice is that the progress is taking place. Asanas are performed much better week after week, the flexibility is improving. Some obstacles took place during the practice but it was inevitable – the challenge was to come round it and find solutions to do the poses at the level that was available. Maybe it will be possible to expand it some time in the future. Ms direct observations are that she feels lighter, has brighter and more clear mind, gets an impression that something pushes her to practice – she cant wait for another session with me. We still have a huge work ahead of us: feet still need to be strenghened, bonun has not yet lessened. Definitely arms tend to manage more weight than before. Forthcoming sessions will be devoted to polishing standing poses, all asanas that work with feet the most and forward bends to lenghen ham strings. Also an introduction of twists will be necessary. After a few weeks when the spine is ready we will concentrate on back bends in their preparatory form and maybe try to approach urdhva danurasana…
THANK YOU! And the project continues… YAMA NIYAMA ASANA PRANAYAMA PRATYAHARA DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI