Primary Friday: Experimentation

Sweeney's 2nd book
This week seems to have passed me by without so much as a silent hello. Wednesday came and went without my notice, and thus the Asana of the Week, the return of which I so enthusiastically announced last Wednesday, remains unwritten.

Bear with me, folks. We'll make it through this, I promise you.

Experimentation has been the theme since Sweeney's workshops.   Within the Ashtanga, I've been mixing things up a bit, doing more Primary, more work with dropbacks and handstands, less work with leg-behind-head.  I have also been working with Sweeney's Vinyasa Krama sequences, of which I knew nothing prior to purchasing his second book.  So far, I have done the moon sequence (Chandra Krama) and the lion sequence (Simha Krama).  Both are involved, incremental, backbend-intensive practices.  Both, also, are detailed and effective hip-openers.  Chandra primarily targets the outer hips in a sweet and sticky seated sequence, and Simha burns through resistance in the psoas, inner thighs, and groins with a strong standing sequence.

I practiced Chandra Krama last Friday in leu of Primary and Simha Krama last night.

The hip opening in Chandra Krama took me on a wild ride.   It has been a while since I worked so deeply into my hips and that became more and more obvious as I followed the progression of the asanas.  I wanted to laugh.   I wanted to cry.   I wanted to drag my desiccated self far from my mat and find my mommy.  

I felt that practice in my hips for the next couple of days.  But you know what I did NOT feel?  My knees.  My knees were aligned and free of discomfort for days to follow.  This alone is enough to make me consider plugging Chandra Krama into the weekly routine.  Saturday practice?  Maybe.

Simha Krama was a different sort of challenge, with seemingly endless strings of asana variations, several of which were unfamiliar to me.  There is some really lovely shoulder work and a nice hip opening sequence that culminates in Hanumanasana.  I chose to skip the section that follows consisting of some wild Ustrasana and Kapotasana variations, not only because they were a bit advanced but also because Simha Krama is just extremely long.  But where the different sections of Chandra Krama feel interdependent, Simha Krama is clearly segmented and redundant if practiced straight through.  This was the intention.  Sweeney writes in his description of the Simha sequence that it is not meant to be practiced in its entirety, and that certain sections should be omitted depending on the needs of the practitioner, similarly to the way Ramaswami presents his sequencing, as I understand it.

Chandra Krama was designed to be a counter-practice to Ashtanga, and it serves this purpose well by placing minimal demands on the upper body and providing plentiful psoas, glute, and piriformis stretches.  Simha Krama emphasizes opening the shoulders and lengthening the lower back in preparation for deep backbending. I enjoyed both practices immensely and came away informed.

This week has left me sore-bodied, a bittersweet treat because it doesn't happen often.  This morning as I writhed upon waking and stretched my tender upper back and sides, I was reminded of those first couple of years when the practice left me like this every day.  I think maybe I stuck with it because the relatively superficial soreness was a pleasant contrast to the deeper body pain that years of tension, negligence, and abuse had made an everyday reality.  It is incredible how comfortable we can be with pain if it aids us in avoiding change.


  1. Thanks for the insights, your blog is great and always inspiring :) I really wanted to buy this book at the workshop but forgot, and found out that ordering online meant paying shipping from Australia. Did you buy Vinyasa Krama at Bfree? do you know of any studio/bookstore in Austin that has it?

    1. I wasn't even aware that he had another book until he talked about it in class. Yes, I bought it at Bfree. I don't believe his books are carried in US bookstores, but Amazon seems to have a few listed.

  2. I became pretty ill in March. I caught some upper respiratory disease that wouldn't leave me for about 2 months. Only after antibiotics did it go away. Then, after about two weeks, it came back for another extended stay. The result was that I stopped doing yoga in part because my sinuses filled up with gunk in downward facing dog and I couldn't breath. I am just now returning to what had been a daily practice for almost a year. I've been meditating on my relationship to the practice and how my ending the practice reflects so much other stuff I've done in my life.. or not done I suppose. Your post made me think about my illness and what led up to it. I want to say that it was probably the giant plate of pork lechon that I fed myself approximately three days before I became ill. Yoga has led me to vegetarianism and I've slowly watched as my addiction to caffeine just disappeared (though without yoga I whipped out the Gaggia again!). I think yoga makes my body into a clean machine and then when I dump gunk into it, like too much processed food or meat, well, then it lets me know that I probably shouldn't have done that. I know people who have practiced yoga longer than I have and have a stronger practice who have no problem drinking or eating whatever they want, but it seems that yoga has made me really sensitive to what I put in my body. One benefit is that allergies that used to really be a problem for me have pretty much gone away.

    Sorry for the long post. I hope you feel better soon!

  3. Sense voler veure el teu article, em sento molt similar a l'estil de l'escriptura i puc veure el contingut de l'article i el mateix sentir, realment val la pena feliç de llegir el seu article de com es troben Concert generallyalso l'esperança que vostè tindrà més bones obres , i un agraïment especial.