Vinyāsa Krama Mandiram
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VKM has (currently!) 16 different Asana Sequences:
- There are Four Foundation Sequences –
- Moon, Sunshine, Lion Cub, Lion.
- There are Four Support Sequences –
- New Moon, Shoulder Moon, Ray of Light, Shoulder Lion.
- There are Four Intermediate Sequences –
- Full Moon, Tiger, Sunshine II, Lion II.
- There are Four Advanced Sequences –
- Lion III, Sunshine III, Hanuman, Shiva.
VKM also has 16 different Pranayama Practices:
- Four Foundation Pranayama –
- Ujjayi I, Viloma I, Ujjayi II, Visamavrtti I.
- Four Support Pranayama –
- Uddiyana, Sama Vayu, Bhastrika, Supta.
- Four Intermediate Pranayama –
- SCB I, Anuloma I, V&A II, Antara Kumbhaka I.
- Four Advanced Pranayama –
- Ujjayi III and IV, Nadi Shodhana I and II.
The most central technique to Vinyasa Krama is 123 PAUSE, or Ujjayi I. This is also further developed in Viloma I. The art of breathing and pausing, vs locking / contracting leads to both better (fluid, graceful, subtle) asana practice, almost no injury increase, AND amazing in-depth self-awareness for meditation.
One technique for all practices
hare om tatsat
Generally it takes 2-4 years of fairly committed practice for most students to learn all four Foundation Sequences and all four Foundation Pranayama. It takes time. So, take your time! Generally spend a minimum of 6 months on each foundation practice before starting to learn the next one. Do not try to learn all four at once! You will not learn them properly if you do this.
As both Chandra Krama I and Ujjayi I can be maintained also as support practices, this means you can learn two asana sequences, and two pranayama at the same time, as long as one of them remains Chandra Krama, and the other Ujjayi I (123 Pause) respectively.
Below is a description of each of the 16 Asana Sequences.
Moon Sequence Set
- Standard Moon Sequence – Chandra Krama. Generally, I ask all students to learn this first. This doesn’t mean it will be your only practice for the duration of learning – I expect you to do this sequence as a support – your other practice is normally more dynamic. The Moon Sequence is a gentle flowing form that combines yin yoga with vinyasa. Chandra Krama helps practitioners to balance all aspects of Yoga by applying some key universal principles: here and now awareness, letting go, balancing yin and yang, meditation, and a therapeutic and individual approach. Chandra Krama is sattvic; balanced between active and passive. Do all postures at maximum 70% capacity.
- New Moon – Amavasya Krama. Combines yin and full restorative (passive) postures. No standing postures, longer holds in the sitting postures, intended for meditation also. Similar to Standard Moon above, we try to relinquish Ujjayi breath (sound at the throat), and overly activating in postures in general. No Bandha. Being in a warm environment / climate helps greatly for this sequence – may be best in summer time for some (colder) locations, or practiced in the afternoon vs early morning. Amavasya Krama uses props in most postures, and includes focus on yin, restorative, the hips, meditation / inner awareness.
- Shoulder Moon – Skandha Krama I. This sequence is more active than the the prior two versions of the Moon Sequence. We use Ujjayi throughout, and generally a bit more heat and dynamic. Targets the upper and lower body equally, though you will usually notice the shoulders more. Focusing on shoulder flexion and shoulder extension equally, longer Chandra Namasakara C, and deeper Ustrasana at the end. Good for students with tight shoulders and upper back! Generally students must spend at least 6 months learning Standard Moon and New Moon before learning this one.
- Full Moon – Purnima Krama. Longer salutes, 108 movements in each, (Chandra Namaskara C and Mandala Namaskara I), with many circular and lateral movements. It is an intermediate level practice, and requires prior mastery of all Level I VK sequences prior to attempting. Students need to complete a number of pre-requisites in order for me to teach them this sequence.
- Tiger Sequence – Vyaghra Krama. Although not a part of the Moon Sequence set, I include it here as it has a significant number of linked aspects to the Full Moon Sequence. Tiger includes a long Shiva Namasakara Salute (also called a Mandala Namasakara), focuses on variations in Tiger posture (backbends), opening the thoracic, and variations on Hanumanasana. This sequence is interesting as it fits midway between intermediate level and advanced level and can be easily scaled up or down. One would need to learn Full Moon Sequence before learning Tiger, so all of the prior requirements apply.
Sunshine Sequence Set
- Sunshine Sequence – Atapa Krama. Modeled off the Primary Series from AY. Atapa Krama improves on that sequence, giving it greater balance and generally removing the flaws in the Primary Series. For example: the option of changing the sequence for individual needs, using props (mostly blocks, straps, and wall) as needed, variety in standing postures, focus on the four quadrants of the hips (outer and inner, front and back), balancing between flexion and extension (forward bends and back bends), variations to open of the shoulders and thoracic prior to back bends. This sequence could be the second one you learn from VK, after Chandra Krama.
- Scaled down Sunshine (Marichi Krama) is simple: just eliminate any postures that are inappropriate, and do less or no jumps. Do plank instead of Chaturanga. Alternatively do the Moon Sequence Supta Vinyasa instead of jumps – useful if you have a wrist or shoulder injury. Do this sequence any time you want, particularly if you have less time than usual.
- Sunshine II: Atapa Krama II. Scaled up version of Sunshine – there are more arm balances and more back bends. We do standing postures in a circular pattern, and the initial sitting postures with Marichi and arm-balances are done with two yoga mats in a cross. Great for strengthening. Intermediate level practice: you must know all of Sunshine I first, and be practicing the latter consistently for minimum one year. You should also know all of the Level I VK Sequences first, and have demonstrated each time in self practice classes. The latter applies to learning any of the intermediate and advanced sequences from VK.
- Sunshine III – Surya Krama – Sun Sequence. Similar to Intermediate Series from Ashtanga Yoga. Variations in backbends to scale upper back and shoulder flexion. Scaled Kapotasana, extra arm balance variations, and side body postures. I have taught this sequence to zero students so far 🙂
- Hanuman Sequence – also called Baddha Krama. Advanced level sequence involving Suryanamaskara C (deadlifts and drop backs), interesting ‘bound’ standing postures, focus on Hanuman variations with back bends, and some flowing, advanced arm balances that are linked together. Not for the faint of heart 🙂
Lion Sequence Set
- Lion Cub – Marjara Krama. Of all the VK sequences I consider this one the most therapeutic and balancing. It will highlight your imbalances! Whether you are teaching or practicing, I now consider this sequence one of the most important, central practices, for all of Vinyasa Krama. (Similar to Visamavrtti within the Pranayama Sequences.) All students should learn it, and spend at least two courses practicing it! Please take heed. Most students leave this sequence aside in favor of more dynamic practices. This is fine, for a time, but do not keep ignoring it 🙂 For those of you who have attended to this sequence in at least two online courses (for all SP classes), I commend you! This sequence stabilizes the hips and shoulders, strengthens the side body, and allows for great variation with asymmetrical alignment: doing repetitions on your difficult, hard, or restricted areas. This sequence uses props as a foundation, you will need to learn how to position two mats, one block, and a strap and wall accurately and precisely, every time 🙂 In many ways this should be the second sequence that all students learn after learning Chandra Krama.
- Lion Sequence – Simha Krama I. Focuses on leg strength, open the hips prior to back bending, and supporting back bends with prior thoracic opening. We do a lot of side body alignment and support in standing postures – figuring this out may take years, but is essential for best-practice of any asana sequences! A long and satisfying sequence if done well, with focus. This could be the second sequence you learn, after Chandra Krama, particularly if you have an Ashtanga Yoga background. There are three optional sets of hip postures that can be practiced in Lion, mostly instead of the Shoulder Postures, just prior to the second back-bend section.
- Shoulder Lion – Skandha Krama II. Expands upon concepts in both Lion Cub, Lion I, and Shoulder Moon. This sequence is somewhat more dynamic than all of those; a level 1.5 sequence. For this reason, prior practice of both Lion Cub, Lion I, and Shoulder Moon is required, and minimum one year on each is preferred. The sequence focuses on strengthening and stabilizing around the whole shoulder joint, and using the wall for shoulder support and chest opening. It is a great expansion in upper body therapy from Lion Cub. Shoulder Lion can also be taught with the salutes and standing postures from Sunshine I instead – and thus would be called “Carrying the Sun on your Shoulders” or “Sunlight for your Shoulders”; depending on your perspective.
- Lion II – Lion Prince – Simba Krama II. Expands upon what you learned in Lion I. Variations in standing postures and arm balances – in both handstand and forearm balance (Pincha Mayurasana x4.) There are more hip postures, hanumansana etc, and more kneeling drop backs and headstand drop-overs.
- Lion III – King of the Jungle – Simha Krama III. Advanced practice – involving challenging yet fun arm balances, advanced variations of Lion II hip-openers, deeper aspects of back bends, including headstand tic-tacs.
- Shiva Krama – a truly advanced sequence, modeled of fifth series from Ashtanga Yoga. I have only ever taught this to one student (briefly), 20+ years ago. It seems unlikely I will teach it to anyone else.
Some other points:
- I don’t give out cheat sheets (or publish a book copy) of the Intermediate and Advanced VK sequences. I have a master copy of all the Intermediate and Advanced sequences. But I no longer share these with anyone.
Here is why:
- You must learn the more difficult sequences from me, not from a book. It’s personal.
- Learning an intermediate level sequence requires an intermediate attitude: you must learn them through instruction and experience, not intellectually. Therefore your mental capacity needs to be at an intermediate level also, not just your asana or physiological capacity. Psychological capacity also includes a higher level of ethics.
- I don’t want students and teachers taking certain high level practices and ideas out of context – without some conditions on how, why, and when: responsibility, respect, and ethics.
- I change these sequences, update and modify them regularly through practice and research – also influenced by the students I teach these sequences to. Thus, I do not have to provide new cheat sheets every time I amend something. The sequences change, the system changes, just like life. Any teacher (or system) that indicates to you something different is trying to sell you something that’s not to your benefit.
I make this promise: the sequences and system will change. One of your jobs is to remain open, as best you can, to these changes as they occur. I will adjust these changes for you individually – so the learning process is structurally appropriate. This also means I will teach based on your actual capacity – including commitment, breathing, alignment, and ethics; not purely on what you think you want. That is, what your body is actually saying, vs what your mind (read: ego) may be demanding.
- With each sequence there are multiple variations: For scaling postures down, or sideways; for helping correct asymmetry, injuries, temporary conditions, and imbalances etc etc. For scaling down, this can happen straight away. For example, in the case of an injury, I will scale a posture down, or eliminate it entirely for you. However, you need to do a specific sequence on more than one course, multiple times, for the more complex variations – scaling up – to be accessible and appropriate. The more consistent you are, the more likely this will get. This applies particularly when scaling a sequence or posture upwards towards a higher level – eg progressing from Sunshine I to Sunshine II, or from Lion I to Lion II.