lauantai 26. joulukuuta 2020

Reinventing Tantra, Kegan and Pemako Buddhism


Reinventing Tantra, Kegan and Pemako Buddhism

From Pemako Buddhist Sangha Facebook group.

Kim: This is probably the best podcast discussion I've ever heard. So much of it strikes directly at what I've been up to as a buddhist teacher and founder of Pemako sangha.

Ben: This is brilliant. Being a part of a stage 5 group is what I've been looking for, for so long. This encapsulates so much of that struggle.

Akseli: I might have not even began practicing tantra without Chapman's Vividness stuff. Having not had that many visionary experiences, no visits from deities, etc., the experiential gap would have taken a lot of work to bridge had someone not have already done it!

Kegan's model is enormously interesting in terms of our cultural stuck-upness, but also really helpful for navigating different types of interpersonal conflicts in day-to-day life. Glad to see it mentioned here, too

Kim: I haven't read Chapman in few years and have taken a break of writing projects myself but I've meant to finish what he started with his "Reinventing Tantra" series. I think his foundation is brilliant to build on. To my knowledge, no one has made tantra "current" in the modern world. I was exhilarated to learn and read of Chapman's introduction of this updating and reinvention of tantra but for reasons that he himself mentioned, he didn't finish it. I hope to put in writing what we have been doing in Pemako sangha for over a decade now  

Listening to that podcast I came to think of couple of aspects in our style of vajra practice that support getting to Kegan's stage 5, that of embodied and enlightened independence in the world of constant change and relationships. Babaji's advice, "Be yourself. Find your own way", really goes a long way and this very point is too rarely expressed and encouraged by training systems. Or maybe that is not the best way to say it but systems (stage 4) are supposed to be toolboxes that can be thrown away after all the tools have been fully utilized and enlightenment/buddhahood reached. In this very purpose most systems fail, considering that vajrayana buddhism is built on the idea of "buddhahood in this life", not in the next, not in 7 or whatever lives from now but this very life... Attaining buddhahood is an anomaly in buddhism, rather than a rule, which actually means that systems (stage 4) fail to do the very task they exist for. For this reason individuals fail to find a way and become who they truly are, i.e. get fully enlightened. I've been talking about this for a decade and have seen how stuck dharma practitioners get with systems (stage 4) by not being able to see past them. They also get offended for wrong reasons and that's why they remain caught by methods, missing the most crucial point of awakening and enlightenment. Very few seems to take bodhicitta really seriously.

So, becoming strong and independent in existential sense is a big one. It is built on recognition of selflessness. In our prayers we chant, "I am the Guru, I'm in the Pure Land, I am the Buddha..." because that-is-it... BUT, this is a post-emptiness view, not pre-emptiness view.

Without the vision of emptiness of phenomena it is futile to even mention strength and independence because it is not about egotripping on childish mind games. In my understanding independence as it has been demonstrated by the spiritual strength of masters such as Padmasambhava, means not only to realize emptiness but also that one's very life force and actions, personal expression, becomes the embodiment of buddhanature. One will not get there without contemplating what Babaji suggests, "Be yourself. Find your own way". The greatest of all empowerments is recognition of ourselves as buddhas. It is an empowerment that we give ourselves but like Chapman and Kegan point out, it is easy (deathly!) to mistake stage 3 for stage 5. Those who preach about already-perfect-dzogchen and advaita without practice and signs of fruition fall into this category.

So, a lot of it has to do with learning to trust our gut and following our intuition. This is a very crucial point but if you start investigating this, no one in buddhism tells you to develop your intuition... Why? Because traditionalists think they have it all already figured out, so all they say is "keep doing the practice" according to whatever syllabus. Just do another retreat or year of practice without real sign of insight, that's what it is for most out there. I know because I've done it and seen it. Methods are believed in so firmly that very few ever begins to ask questions whether anyone is actually getting there. Small signs of succesful practice might be there but still this is far far... from buddhahood. Very few "graduate" as buddhas, in other words lots of folks get trapped in stage 4, stuck in a method, like a bardo of somekind. As a vajrayana practitioner who takes buddhahood in this life seriously I do not believe in the gradual idea that it comes some time in next life or lives. Screw that. If you ain't done with your karmic purification in a maximum of decade of practice, forget it. If we are really talking about buddhahood in this life, OK, bring it and save us from whatever excuses you might come up with.

Buddhism is a vast collection of methods and the vast majority of them is constructed by men. Men are good at mechanics and engineering. We figure out things, so we come up with systems and methods. While this has the benefit of coming up with systems there is other side that is left entirely without care and attention, and that is intuition. If you look at the wider world of yoga and meditation, folks always come up with and market methods, and most of them have a fixed form. This yoga, that yoga, this reiki, that reiki, this meditation, that meditation and so on. Because self-delusion and suffering is in the mind, that is an abstract, nonphysical thing, fixed forms inevitably miss the mark...

Most buddhist practitioners are completely alien to their intuition, this feminine side in them. This applies to both men and women but again... How do we become independent and mature into true characters without intuition? See, graduating of training methods does not directly translate into becoming buddhas, so something is clearly completely off.

I quoted Chapman's tweet recently where he said that tantric (tsalung practices) cannot have a fixed form. There we have it again. Most systems teach fixed forms of tantric practice. This is men giving tantra, that is inherently flowing and fluid, a fixed, solid, frozen form. A complete miss again. Where are the buddhas to prove that this type of approach works? Nowhere. The masculine approach is so one-sided that excellent results don't come.

If we take a master woodworker, that master creates an excellent work of art from any piece of wood you give him/her. There are no excuses and no whining, no dogma and you get exactly what you ask for. When it should be the norm in vajra buddhism that mahasiddha buddhas come like from assembly line, one after the other, we are left with scraps and need to travel here and there to have a glimpse of someone who was someone in past life. Scholarly study, years spent in retreat, performing this or that exercise, receiving many empowerments from many someones, being recognised as someone etc is simply not good enough. We need to realise emptiness(!). And not only emptiness (nirmanakaya buddha) but bliss and light as well (sambhogakaya buddha). If you seriously say buddhahood in this life, there you go. No excuses, no nonsense, no thukdam/samadhi, no bardo. Mahasiddhas play and dance in the body and out the body. Death as a transition is nothing to real yogis.

And that's Kegan's stage 5 in terms of spiritual accomplishment. You really and truly graduate, grow out, from systems, if they are good and taught proficiently! You master them from inside out. This is completely different from merely having performed some techniques for few years... But again, because practically no one teaches tantric students what tantric practices are for and how they cannot have a fixed form, no one gets to meta level and graduates... Then you have people arguing with each other what is and what isn't correct tummo, because one lama taught this and other that. Oh dear. As you know I teach "masterclasses" of all of our practices for this exact purpose. And that is also why there are extraordinary results.

Some trad vajrayana buddhists have also asked me about our vows because we have a very simple set of vows. Well, again, be yourself, find your own way. If we accept vows as something that we "follow" and "avoid breaking", this is a very superficial view of the whole path and ourselves as buddhas. If we have genuine insight, conduct comes accordingly. That's why I think Bodhisattva Vows and Refuge are really everything that is needed. With this view, I hope my students empower themselves through their own experience rather than fill their head with ideas of pure and impure or being a follower of this or that.

tiistai 15. joulukuuta 2020

The Ashtanga Key - Surya Namaskar by C. Tompkins and A.G. Hall


The Ashtanga Key - Surya Namaskar 

This blog is copied from here and reposted in my own blog because Facebook doesn't allow link from A.G.Hall's blog.

Update (13/10/15) from research by Christopher Tompkins

"The Yogin should recite the mantra, while Dancing through the poses of the Namaskāra. He raises his arms in the air, takes Anjali mudra, descending towards the earth, he forms the shape of a staff; he should (both) come to the earth, and arise again [from it] in the way natural to a DOG. Having made his offering, he arises from the Āsana moving to the next direction around the Axis of the Mandala."

-from the Naradiya Samhita (pre-12th century), one of Krishnamacharya's stated sources for his revival of Tantric Āsana Vinyasa.
pdf version of this that blows up nicely on my google docs page

T. Krishnamacharya taught, among others, Pattabhi Jois, BKS Iyengar, TKV. Desikachar, TK. Sribhashyam, Srivatsa Ramaswami, AG. Mohan. The schools of Ashtanga, Iyeangar, Viniyoga Vinyasa Krama that have come from these teachers have of course been been highly influential and there is a strong likelihood that if you were decide to practice Yoga, the majority of the teachers in your area ( or books in your library, as was my case) will have been influenced to some degree by one or more of these schools and/or the satellite styles and variations that have derived from them.

Personally I was never that convinced by the suggestion that Krishnamacharya was so strongly influenced by the international fitness movement of his day, wrestlers exercises and/or the asana manuals in the Mysore palace libraries. Perhaps because when these suggestions came out I'd recently begun practicing a slower, less dynamic, approach to Ashtanga and found support for that approach in Krishnamacharya own texts from the 1930s and 40s. Krishnamacharya was stressing long slow inhalations and exhalations, kumbhaka (breath retentions), in almost every asana, long stays in certain postures and there was the suggestion of flexibility in the linking of asana, loose groups of asana rather than fixed sequences. The physical practice was closely linked to pranayama and meditation and embedded in a context of traditional yoga practices referenced to old, even ancient texts.

I have the same questions of course. How did the Vinyasa system come about; each movement from standing linked to the breath and counted, working towards a seated posture ( for example) before working back through the same sequence of postures and a return to standing. Why was there a kumbhaka (breath retention) at the end or beginning of each stage of the breath in Krishnamacharya (the breath held in after the inhalation and/or held out after the exhalation) and why was this not carried over into the Ashtanga of his long term student Pattabhi Jois.

I've come to feel that the key to answering these questions, the Ashtanga key may well be Surya namaskar, the sun salutation.

If we begin with the asana, paschimottanasana say, we might ask why Krishnamacharya added the postures either side of it, leading back and forth, to and from standing, why he encompassed the asana in the sequence and then began to link the breath and movements and finally introduce kumbhaka.

This viewpoint may well lead us to look at the exercises like the dand (chaturanga and upward facing dog) that we find practiced by Indian wrestlers

But what if we approach it from a different perspective and ask why Krishnamacharya added paschimottanasana to the Sun salutation?

What if we begin with the sun salutation, but not any sun salutation, the Surya namaskar with mantras.

Surya namaskar can perhaps be traced back to the epic The Ramayana (4th C BC?), where the hero Rama, wearied from shooting fruitless arrows at the demon king Ravena, was approached by the Sage/rishi Agastya who chanted a hymn/mantra/prayer to the sun god Suya which had the effect of removing Ravena's defences, allowing Rama to finally defeat him (see Appendix).

A tradition developed where a prostration and later a salutation would be introduced after each verse of the hymn. I actually practiced this with my teacher Ramaswami one Sunday on his teacher training course, the chant took two hours and we practiced 54 prostrations or sun salutations.

A shorter version/variation came about where 12 mantras would be chanted made up of three elements, each mantra would be followed by a prostration (see Appendix).

At some point the 12 mantras were integrated into each sun salutation, so a mantra would be chanted, then the arms raised and the next mantra chanted. The next mantra would come after folding over, the next after squatting down, the next after jumping back to chatauranga and the next after lowering the body to the floor and stretching the arms out above the head in prostration to Surya. The other mantras would be chanted at each stage, each posture, as one worked their way back to standing.

Surya at new Indra Gandhi Airport New Delhi 
Krishnamacharya seems to have taught this to students in the 1930s, he also taught it to his student of thirty years (1950s-80s), Srivatsa Ramaswami, who in turn taught it to us in his teacher training course 2010.

Indra Devi refers to this practice when recounting her studies with Krishnamacharya in Mysore in 1937, at the time when he was also teaching the young Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar.

"In India, the Surya Namaskars are accompanied by the chanting of mantras, which are supposed to have a powerful effect on the mind, but on the glandular system as well". Indra Devi

from Yoga for health and  Happiness ( the chapter "In the Shala" on being taught by Krishnamacharya in 1937).

What's particularly interesting to me is that the mantra is chanted, whether aloud or mentally on a kumbhaka, while the breath is held in after an inhalation, as for example after the arms are raised at the beginning or after the exhalation when folding over and placing the hands on the floor.

Below is my version in the appendix you will find links to more recent version including a nice slideshow version by Ramaswami.

The kumbhaka was then an essential element of the Surya namaskar, the sun salutation. That was the point at which the mantra/prayer was chanted, the moment of contemplation.

The sun salutation had become popular in India at the time, it was an exercise phenomenon, today we might think of it as the latest exercise fad. Hundreds of Sun salutations without mantra, or indeed the actual full protestation, would be practiced daily and at lightening speed a complete salutation on only three breaths although breath retentions were still included as well as the first part of the mantra (see Appendix 12 and 13).

Krishnamacharya appears to have been dismissive of the fad and seems to have refused to teach a 'Suryanamaskara class' although one was held at the Mysore palace and the young Pattabhi Jois would likely have been exposed to it, but according to Devi it does seem that Krishnamacharya taught the more traditional version complete with full mantras on kumbhakas and each stage of the breath ( an inhalation or exhalation) accompanying each movement.


It may appear that the whole point of the Surya namaskar, the salute to the sun, is the prostrated posture with contemplation. The other movements/postures lead one to and from that prostration.

Sounds familiar doesn't it.

All Krishnamacharya seems to have done is substitute different asana for the protestation.

Slot in paschimottansana or janu sirsasana or marichiyasana........

Everything else remains the same, we don't have to bring in any other explanation for the construction of the vinyasa system. I'm sure Krishnamacharya did see the Asana manuals in the mysore palace, he may well have looked to these just as he did to the tantra hatha texts like Hatha Yoga Pradipka for asana descriptions. Perhaps he, or more likely the Rajah of Aundh, was to some extent influenced by traditional India wrestling training in adapting slightly the approach to and from the prostration  But the vinyasa system the linking of postures to the breath seems to have been already there in the surya namaskar with mantras that Krishnamacharya appears to have been practicing at least as far back as the 1930's.

In Krishnamacharya's first book, Yoga Makaranda, he doesn't present the sun salutation as such, as  his student Pattabhi Jois does (stressing its historical tradition in his Surya namaskar pamphlet), but instead presents each movement that make up a sun salutation, as they lead to and from an asana, indicating the linking of the stage of the breath to each movement. He also includes an appropriate kumbhaka ( holding the breath in or out ) after either the inhalation or exhalation. And this is interesting because he doesn't merely stress the asana but every stage to and from the asana, there are kumbhaka's throughout just as if one were still chanting mantras.

In Yoga Makaranda Part II Krishnamcharya indicates that the kumbhaka should be 3-5 seconds (which is also how long it takes to chant each individual surya namaskar mantra).
It's as if Krishnamacharya has retained space for the prayer, the meditative contemplation and Krishnamacharya did say that in the Kumbhaka one sees/experiences God.

Krishnamacharya always keen to stress the independence of ones own religious belief, he may have removed the mantras (which are actually in this case quite secular) but he retained the kumbhaka, the space to introduce one's own contemplation. For those who don't believe in Ishvara, Krishnamacharya mentioned that Love could be Ishvara for them.

Krishnmacharya also stressed the Drishti. In Yoga Makaranda one's gaze throughout would be focussed between the eyebrows a point associated with Siva but later the tip of the nose was suggested especially if the head was down, head up look between the eyebrows, head down look to the tip of the nose. And later still other points some associated with other divinities but also with traditional marma points and health are introduced.

Kumbhaka, Drishti, contemplation all went together at every stage, every breath of every posture to and from an asana as well as while in the asana proper where a longer stay was often indicated.

We also know that Krishnamacharya would often/occasionally (?)  have the boys of the Mysore palace chant mantras while in postures, no doubt to keep their attentions. Manju Jois talks of the pranayama connection of chanting mantras, how mantras tend to be chanted on a kumbhaka, the mantra, kumbhaka, dristi connection is a common one.


If this is indeed the case then who first made the connection between asana and the Suryanamaskara, of placing an asana in the context of the breath/kumbhaka/drishti associated with the postures making up the sun salutation, was it Krishnamacharya himself, his teacher Ramohan Brahmachari or perhaps his teachers teacher?

Pattabhi Jois mentions in interview that when as a 13 year old boy he first saw Krishnamacharya, he was impressed by his '...jumping from asana to asana'. This would suggest that the linking of the asana to the sequence of postures that make up the suryanamaskara goes back before the Mysore period of Krishnamacharya's teaching .

Why didn't Pattabhi Jois maintain the kumbhaka element in his presentation of asana.

In the 1938 Mysore black and white demonstration by Krishnamacharya and his family we see little evidence of the use of kumbhaka, certainly not by BNS Iyengar who jumps from asana to asana just as krishnamacharya may have done in his early demonstrations of asana. Was it this high energy approach to asana practice that impressed  the young Pattabhi Jois and that he wished to continue. He does however stress again and again in interviews throughout his life that the breath should be long and slow and yet in one video demonstration he Indicates the breath should be around 10-15 seconds for each inhalation and exhalation but then proceeds to lead his demonstrators ( including Lino Miele) through asana at around five seconds or less. Pattabhi Jois stated that long slow breathing was the ideal but that in modern life when people have jobs to go to a shorter breath may be appropriate.

Sribhashyam, Krishnamacharya's third son has written that the inhalation and exhalation indicate motion which signifies time, the kumbhaka however is non-motion, an absence of time as such each kumbhaka is perhaps an experience of the eternal.

Perhaps the practice that Krishnamacharya presents in Yoga Makaranda is an ideal, where the breath is long and slow, the kumbhaka present as a space for contemplation. Krishnamacharya brings not just pranayama into asana but also dharana.

from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali-Illuminations
Through Image, Commentary and Design by Gary Kissiah




1. Sun Salutation with mantras
2. Sun Salutation / Suryanamaskara with mantra 
3. Indra Devi
4. What would Krishnamacharya's Sun Salutation be like?
5. Adityahridayam (Wikipedia)
6. Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation)''
7. Ramaswami on chanting with Krishnamacharya
9. Surya Namaskara History (Wikipedia)
10. Origins of surya namaskar (Wikipedia)
11. Surya Namaskar Origins (Wikipedia)
12 Balasahib's 'original' 1928 Suya Namaskar, sun salutation 
13. More on the 'original' Sun salutation of 1928

1. Sun Salutation with mantras

Srivatsa Ramaswami's 'Complete book of Vinyasa Krama' has a traditional version of the Sun salutation laid out with the corresponding mantras. The idea is that you would move into each pose, retain the inhale or exhale while mentally chanting the mantra.

On the Vinyasa Krama home page you can find a link to Chants and Mantras including the Sury Namaskara chants available for download. To try and learn/practice it, I edited in some pauses to allow me time to enter the postures, and have been playing it on my itouch while performing the Salutation.

It's different, a nice alternative to the usual Sury. I tried to video it this morning but made a bit of a hash of it. First my practice room is too narrow to get a good angle and second, when I played it back, I could hardly hear the audio and had to spend most of the afternoon trying to work out how to switch audio files and synch with the picture. This is as close as I got, not great but perhaps good enough to get an idea of how it works.

You have the option of chanting the full mantra (actually it's three mantras joined together) or just the quick version down below which would mean a shorter breath retention.

The book includes full translations of each of the mantras. and here's a link to an article by Ramaswami on the Sun Salutation with mantra.

*One note on the Video, the squat posture before the first Chatauranga, is like Pasasana without the bind, squatting with the heels down rather than sitting on the mat (difficult to see that from behind).

The Twelve Sury Namaskara mantras

1. Om Hram
udhyannadya mitramaha
Mitraaya Namaha

2. Om Hrim
ārohannuttarāṃ divam
Ravaye Namaha

NB. Fingers are interlaced, palms facing outwards

3. Om Hroom
hṛdroghaṃ mamsūrya
Suryaaya Namaha

4. Om Hraim
harimāṇaṃca nāśaya
Bhaanve Namaha

NB. Squatting on heels

5. Om Hraum
śukeṣume harimāṇaṃ
khagaaya Namaha

NB. I know Susan, elbows in : )

6. Om Hrah
ropaṇākāsu dadhmasi
Pooshney Namaha

NB. Arms out stretched hands together

7. Om Hram
atho hāridraveṣume
Hiranayagarbhaaya Namah

8. Om Hrim
harimāṇaṃ ni dadhmasi
Om Mareechibhyoh Namaha

9. Om Hroom
Adityaaya Namaha

10.Om Hraim
viśvena sahasā saha
Savitre Namaha

11. Om Hraum
viṣantaṃ mahyaṃ randhyan
Arkaaya Namaha

12. Om Hrah
mo aham dviṣate radham
Bhaaskaraaya Namah

The Above mantras have three parts,

Part 1. (Quick version) Bijakshara mantras
1. Om Hram
2. Om Hrim
3. Om Hroom
4. Om Hraim
5. Om Hraum
6. Om Hrah
7. Om Hram
8. Om Hrim
9. Om Hroom
10. Om Hraim
11. Om Hraum
12. Om Hrah

Part 2. Mantras from the veda

1. Udhyannadya mitramaha
2. Arohannuttarāṃ divam 

3. Hṛdroghaṃ mamsūrya
4. Harimāṇaṃca nāśaya 

5. Sukeṣume harimāṇaṃ
6. Ropaṇākāsu dadhmasi 

7. Atho hāridraveṣume
8. Harimāṇaṃ ni dadhmasi 

9. Udaghādayamādityo
10. Viśvena sahasā saha 

11. Dviṣantaṃ mahyaṃ randhyan
12. Mo aham dviṣate radham 

Part 3 Laukika Mantra

1. Om Mitraaya Namaha (Salutations to the Friend of All)

2. Om Ravaye Namaha (Salutations to the Shining One)

3. Om Suryaaya Namaha (Salutations to he who induces activity )

4. Om Bhaanve Namaha (Salutations to he who illumines)

5. Om khagaaya Namaha - Salutations to one who moves through the sky

6. Om Pooshney Namaha - Salutations to the giver of strength and nourishment 

7. Om Hiranayagarbhaaya Namah - Salutations to the Golden Cosmic Self 

8. Om Mareechibhyoh Namaha - Salutations to the Rays of the Sun

9. Om Adityaaya Namaha - Salutations to Sun of Aditi (the Cosmic Mother) 

10. Om Savitre Namaha - Salutations to the Stimulating power of the Sun

11. Om Arkaaya Namaha - Salutations to he who is fit to be praised (arka= energy)

12. Om Bhaaskaraaya Namah - Salutations to the one who leads to enlightenment


2. Sun Salutation / Suryanamaskara with mantra 

At the end of Ramaswami's newsletter this month I added on the Sun salutation with mantra video I'd stumbled across, that was filmed on Ramaswami's Teacher training this year. However, Ramaswami is chanting quite quickly through that video, its a little hard to catch.

This week Ramaswami has Uploaded a much slower version of the Sun salutation mantras in his 'slideshow series'. It's a kind of tutorial.

Below is the version filmed on Ramaswami's TT that I added to his newsletter.

A video of Ramaswami's Sun Salutations with mantras (also sun salutations to directions- 'Ding namaskars') posted by Yvette who I think must have been on Ramaswami's TT this year. I'm excited about this as a couple of years ago I spent forever trying to make a version of this, practicing along to the recording of the mantras Ramaswami had made as a tutorial (listen and repeat) and that were originally included with his Complete book of Vinyasa yoga. The tutorial can still be found on Ramaswami's chant page.

Sun Salutation with Mantra (samantraka-suryanamaskara)

Om Hram. Uddannadya mitramahah.
(You, the One rising now and daily, are the great friend, salutations to the great friend.)
Om Hrim. Arohannuttaram divam. Ravaye namah.
(Climbing, the great one, up the sky. Oh the fast mover, salutation to you.
Om Hrum. Hrudrogam mama surya. Suryaya namah.
(My heart ailment, O the divine guide. My salutations to the divine Surya.
Om Hraim. Harimanancha nasaya. Bhanave namah.
(And the green patches (on my skin due to heart ailment) you destroy. Salutations to you, the provider of light into the world.
Om Hraum. Sukeshu mey harimanam. Khagaya namah.
(Salutations to Thee, the mover in space.
Om Hrah. Ropanakasu dadhmasi. pushne namah.
(And give to the herbs used for healing paste. Salutations to thee the great Nourisher.
Om Hram. Atho Haaridraveshu mey. Hiranyagarbhaaya namah.
(To the green trees. My salutations are to the Golden creator (womb))
Om Hrim. Harimanannidaddhmasi. Marchaye namah.
(Deposit the green patches. Salutations to the radiant one.
Om Hrum. Udagadayamadityah. Adityaya namah.
(This Sun rising in the sky. Salutations to Aditya.

Salutation To Directions

Om! namh prachyai diseyascha devata yetasyam prativasanti yetabhyasch namah!
(Om. I bow to the east and the guardian angels that permeate it.)
Om! namh dakshinayai diseyascha devata yetasyam prativasanti yetabhyasch namah!
(Om. I bow to the south and the guardian angels that permeate it.)
Om! namh prateechyai diseyascha devata yetasyam prativasanti yetabhyasch namah!
(Om. I bow to the west and the guardian angels that permeate it.)
Om! nama udeechyai diseyascha devata yetasyam prativasanti yetabhyasch namah!
(Om. I bow to the north and the guardian angels that permeate it.)
Om! namh urdwayai diseyascha devata yetasyam prativasanti yetabhyasch namah!
(Om. I bow to the upward diection and the guardian angels that permeate it.)
Om! Namo adharayai diseyascha devata yetasyam prativasanti yetabhyasch namah!
(Om. I bow to the downward diection and the guardian angels that permeate it.)
Om! namo avantharayai diseyascha devata yetasyam prativasanti yetabhyasch namah!
(Om. I bow to the intermediate direction and the guardian angels that permeate it.)

And a link to my own post on Ramaswami presentation of the Sun salutation mantras, which includes the practice along video as well as screenshots accompanying each mantra


3. Indra Devi

"In India, the Surya Namaskars are accompanied by the chanting of mantras, which are supposed to have a powerful effect on the mind, but on the glandular system as well". Indra Devi 
from In the Shala : Yoga for health and  Happiness ( the chapter on being taught by Krishnamacharya in 1937).


4. What would Krishnamacharya's Sun Salutation be like?

What would Krishnamacharya's Suryanamaska be like? Krishnamacharya it seems frowned somewhat on sunsalutations especially large numbers of them performed as an 'exercise practice', he seems to have been referring here to 108 or even 1008 as was in vogue at the time,

See my earlier posts below on 'The Original Sun Salutation'

Krishnamacharya didn't seem to want to include sun salutations in his Mysore Palace asana class nor did he seem to have taught the separate Mysore palace Surynamaskara class that was running at the time (was this taken by the young Pattabhi Jois perhaps, or did he at least attend and was that why Jois included it in his Ashtanga practice that we are familiar with?).

Krishnamacharya did however teach each stage of the sun salutation as individual asana often with long stays at each stage, we find them in his 1934 book Yoga Makaranda.

The 'full vinyasa' transition too that we're so familiar with in Ashtanga is also found in Yoga makaranda.  From this then it should be possible to construct a sub routine, a sun salutation, that includes Krishnamacharya's principles.

There's also the suggestion that Krishnamacharya would on occasion teach Surynamascara with mantras, the same perhaps as he taught to Ramaswami several years later and who in turn taught us on his TT course 2010

See this post

Is attempting to construct a Krishnamacharya  Sun salutation a frivolous exercise? Of course it is and yet the sun salutation isn't going away so why not take note of the instructions gave to us by the teacher's teacher as we pass through each stage.

And of course we don't have to pass through on the breath. We tend to stay five breaths in Adhomukhasvanasana anyway and David Williams supposedly takes five breaths in Urdhvamukhasvanasana as well to counter all those primary series forward bends, why not take the same in Chaturanga and/or uttanasana, five ten breaths at each stage of the Salutation with long slow inhalations and exhalations and perhaps even the appropriate kumbhakas (breath retention).

When I was having trouble with my back a few months back I would spend five long slow breaths in each stage, I found the longer stay in uttanasana (vinyasa 1) most beneficial.


Here then are Krishnamacharya's instructions for each asana found in the surynamaskara, the sun salutation. All quotes are taken from the translation from the Tamil Language by Sri CMV Krishnamacharya with Sri S Ranganathadesikacharya.

See my earlier post which includes links to a free download of the text.



"This has 2 vinyasas. Stand as seen in the picture for fifteen minutes daily. Make this a habit. It will create new energy in the body and a vigour in the walk and will increase the digestive power. Not only that, it cleans the rudra nadi and increases the life-span. While doing this asana, follow sama svasam (equal breath).Practise this asana every day at sunrise while worshipping surya bhagavan. If one practises this daily, it will definitely increase the life- span".

"...exhale the breath (that was being held) out very slowly through the nostril, lower the head and place it on the knees. Do not inhale at this stage. Draw the breath in while raising the head and exhale the breath out while lowering the head — this must be practised according to one’s strength and capability. In this position, while the head is raised and while it is lowered and placed onto the knee, the palms must be firmly pressed against the ground. This sthiti is called uttanasana. Initially, when one remains in this sthiti, there might be an occurence of tremors in the arms and legs. At these times, if one holds the breath firmly and stands, these tremors will not occur".

"...bend the upper part of the body (that is, the part above the hip) little by little and place the palms down by the legs. The knees must not be even slightly bent. Raise the head upwards and fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. While doing this, draw in clean air through the nostril, hold the breath firmly and maintain this position. This is called sahitha kumbhaka. After remaining here for some time, exhale the breath (that was being held) out very slowly through the nostril, lower the head and place it on the knees. Do not inhale at this stage. Draw the breath in while raising the head and exhale the breath out while lowering the head — this must be practised according to one’s strength and capability. In this position, while the head is raised and while it is lowered and placed onto the knee, the palms must be firmly pressed against the ground. This sthiti is called uttanasana. Initially, when one remains in this sthiti, there might be an occurence of tremors in the arms and legs. At these times, if one holds the breath firmly and stands, these tremors will not occur". 
Caturanga Dandasana

"Press both palms down firmly while doing the 4th vinyasa from the 3rd vinyasa of uttanasana. Do only recaka and firmly hold the breath out without doing puraka. Keeping the weight balanced equally on both legs, jump backwards (keeping both legs parallel to each other) and holding the body straight like a rod, lie down facing downwards. At this time, only the palms and toes touch the ground. No other parts of the body touch the ground. That is, there must be 4 angulas of space between the body and the ground. In this position, if you keep a stick or rod on top of the body, the rod must touch the body completely. We need to keep our body this straight. But make sure to check gaps formed by the muscles and mounds of flesh to determine if all the adjustments are correct".

"In caturanga dandasana, there are 4 angulas of space between the body and the floor everywhere. In this asana, the palms and toes are as in caturanga dandasana. However even while keeping the lower part of the body from the toes to the thighs just as in caturanga dandasana, raise the upper part of the body. Make sure that the navel rests between the hands and do puraka kumbhaka. Try to push the chest as far forward as possible, lift the face up and keep gazing at the tip of the nose. Make the effort to practise until it becomes possible to remain in this posture for fifteen minutes".

"...from Urdhvamukhasvanasana The entire body should be pushed back into a curve. Study the picture and learn this. In this sthiti, the head should be properly bent inwards and the chin should be pressed firmly against the chest. After pulling the abdomen in and pushing it out, exhale the breath out. Holding the breath out firmly, pull in the abdomen. As a result of the strength of practice, one learns to hold this posture for fifteen minutes".

Jump or step to...  


"...bend the upper part of the body (that is, the part above the hip) little by little and place the palms down by the legs. The knees must not be even slightly bent. Raise the head upwards and fix the gaze on the tip of the nose. While doing this, draw in clean air through the nostril, hold the breath firmly and maintain this position. This is called sahitha kumbhaka. After remaining here for some time..." 

2nd vinyasa of uttanasana.

"...exhale the breath (that was being held) out very slowly through the nostril, lower the head and place it on the knees. Do not inhale at this stage. Draw the breath in while raising the head and exhale the breath out while lowering the head — this must be practised according to one’s strength and capability. In this position, while the head is raised and while it is lowered and placed onto the knee, the palms must be firmly pressed against the ground. This sthiti is called uttanasana. Initially, when one remains in this sthiti, there might be an occurence of tremors in the arms and legs. At these times, if one holds the breath firmly and stands, these tremors will not occur".

"Afterwards, return to samasthiti".