There has been some interesting discussion in the Cybershala about the 'Rishi Series'. This was a series that advanced practitioners used to do either following sixth series or after finishing Intermediate (as a preparation for Advanced).
(Note: This was practised in the past, but isn't part of the Astanga method as now taught in Mysore. Thanks, Susan, for making this clarification in your comment on this post.)
You can read more about this on Grimmly's blog:
Ashtanga Rishi Series(explanatory post)
Ashtanga Rishi Approach: First Day
Ashtanga Rishi Approach: Second Day
Ursula has been experimenting with it too:
Dandasana and My Rishi Series Variation
I'm keen to try this myself, though it will need to happen as a second practice, probably falling on a Sunday when I have time to experiment. I'm feeling very good about the direction and intensity of my shala practice right now and I don't want to break any momentum there.
Still, sometimes I will 'Rishi up' some of the poses in my regular practice. Sirsasana is one, but I suspect everyone goes through that phase eventually. I was up to 10 minute holds when I finally got bored - literally bored, which was probably a good reason to stay with it, come to think of it! ;-)
There are definitely a few poses in my current practice that would benefit from longer holds. I've already been holding Ustrasana for longer durations. Right now, I typically hold it for a minute, but two or three minutes would be an interesting experiment.
I've noticed during these longer holds that the barrier to staying in the pose isn't physical, it's purely psychological. Napper has blogged about taking long holds with Kapotasana B. I use this pose as a warm-up to A and I struggle just to get through five breaths! But I'm pretty sure a longer hold would be good for me. I've also found that repeating Kapo A doesn't seem to help me much. I'm wondering if holding it longer would?
Just an aside, I've been impressed and deeply touched by these amazing senior teachers who have so readily responded to Grim's queries regarding the Rishi Series and the Astanga series 'as it was' (in the 70s - a topic for another time). It makes my heart swell to see this generosity of spirit and community. It's a lovely antidote to some of nastiness and infighting that occasionally pops up amonst yogis.
They're certainly leading by example! As I read Nancy G's letter, the Astanga community suddenly felt smaller, warm and intimiate, very supportive. It made me proud of this lineage and the people who practice it. When the Cybershala is awesome, it's *really* awesome!
What do you think of the 'Rishi Series'? Do you hold any poses in your practice for longer durations? Have you experienced any benefits from doing so? Anyone out there experimenting with a Yin-style practice?
This was from the fall - I have no idea what my backbend looks like these days. Maybe I'll do a photo shoot soon. But not on the balcony! ;-)
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