Tag Archives: app

Prashantji’s random problem generator

While we were all sleeping, Prashant Iyengar has emerged into cyberspace. He now has his own Facebook page and on it there are plenty of his teaching gems. As his students know, he takes words and turns them into a literal “sri yantra” of multiple meanings, mind-blowing statements, and just pure poetry regarding practice. He has teamed up with his nephew Shrineet to create “Prashnayantra: a Yogasana Problem Statement Generator.

Prashant says that in this simple app, “teachers may use these problem statements for their own study from a teaching point of view, or even just to help come up with a topic to cover in their next class; classes could use this to put up on a ‘ Thought for the Week ‘ type notice board; It’d be great to have a community of students that work on these problem statements, share their notes, and learn together. Maybe an online community too.”

For me, clicking on the “Get me a problem statement” tab is like opening a fortune cookie with penetrative statements and queries to take into my personal practice, or when designing a class theme. Here are a few of the “problem statements”:

Pay attention to Breath with a Consonant Soundform and an associated vowel (a, aa, i, ee, u, oo, ae, ai, o, au) Inhalation first in Back Bends, and then again in Sarvangasana. Study the key differences between the two cases 

Closely study the impact and tuning of weight/gravity distribution, in Prasarita Padottanasana

Study turning the Eye-sense inward, when doing Trikonasana

One can do a whole month of practice around these concepts, and these are just a small sampling.

I have been using some of these statements in my personal practice. When practicing and meditating on these concepts much like contemplating a Buddhist Koan, many subtle answers are revealed.

My mentoring teacher was generous to lend me his audio courses from Prashantji, and I have to say my practice has never been the same. The interesting thing about Prashant’s teaching is that he does not really correct poses or give any major instructions. His teaching comes when the student is in the pose. Then he gives a whole discourse on body-mind-breath, subtle body phenomena, and esoteric physiology. In essence, his teaching is beyond the annamayakosa, and more into the prana/mano/vijnana/anandamayakosa layers of instruction. That doesn’t mean he tolerates sloppy asana-s. He expects them to be near perfection when taking his classes, so he can move on to the higher teachings.

I have often touted Prashantji’s classic “Alpha and Omega of Trikonasana” as a deeper way to approach “simple” poses. He takes trikonasana and moves through all the different layers, chakras, physical points of emphasis and beyond. In the end, no asana is simple.

All above “problem statements” courtesy of Prashnayantra http://prashnayantra.appspot.com

Using modern technology to learn ancient teachings: an app review

Image

I called “uncle!” The kind you call when your older brother has you in a wrestling hold when you are a kid. After my cassette tape player broke, I was forced to try learning the yoga sutras via Youtube. Although there are beautiful selections of chants on Youtube, most are so fast that you cannot learn them step by step. I was forced to seek other methods. Since you cannot summon a Sanskrit scholar to sit and teach you like in olden times (at least not without having to travel to India), the next best recourse is an app.

One fellow blogger guided me to Patanjali’s Yogasutra by TKV Desikachar. This sells for about six bucks on iTunes. What sold me on this app is that Desikachar himself said that while this is a good start, this should only be considered a very basic introduction to the sutras. In other words, he is not promising you the moon like other apps.

Desikachar is the son of  T. Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya taught both Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar. Desikachar’s daughter Mekhala leads you through the chants. The novel part of learning via the app is the simplicity of just pressing one button to have the chant repeat. I find that it is helpful to listen to the chant 20 times without any other intentions except to listening to the beauty of the line. Then I try to repeat parts.

This app has two speeds: classical and simplified. The simplified is slower and breaks each sutra into easily digestible parts. The app also lays out the Padas (chapters) in an easy to access format.

The few downsides to this app are that Mekhala’s voice can be a bit adolescent sounding and that starts to be an issue after repeating a line many times. It would have been nice if TKV Desikachar would have chanted them himself. Also, the verses are written in one straight unbroken line, so it is difficult to read along when you chant.

Three weeks into my sutra study, I am on line 8. I am continuing to enjoy this learning process. Thank you Swtspontaneous for the tip!!