The Magic and Importance of the Vinyasa Count

Transitions are important. Paying attention to how we get into and out of situations...

The Magic and Importance of the Vinyasa Count

The vinyasa count is originally an integral part of our practice and is a great tool to harness awareness to the present moment experience. Oftentimes practitioners find it daunting to learn it. I’d say, give it a go really (see my recommendations for starting below) applying the count changes your practice experience and presence with each in-and-exhale, provides a more spacious and fully embodied awareness of and absorption with the “now” and a visceral understanding of the cyclical nature of all things, and that the process of in and out is just as important as being “there”.

A little interlude:

In this fast-paced high tech world where we find ourselves oftentimes cognitively overloaded with the top 5 things on this or that (on our news feeds) – next to the newest superfood to eat to prevent signs of ageing like wrinkles (what’s wrong with ageing and wrinkles, I think it’s great to be able to get older! Thumbs up for every birthday we can experience and every wrinkle of experience lived!!) and how we should look and be to be accepted by others. Most of us are easily sold on obtaining certain external (beauty) standards as collectively most of us don’t feel worthy  of connectivity, and feel we are only worthy of connection conditionally, when we attained something, e.g. a certain beauty standard, or job, or even relationship –  rather than granting ourselves the greatest freedom there is, to be ourselves and feel worthy from within – short side note: Yoga will help you much with your feelings of self-worth! 🙂
Uhm – where was I ??? Vinyasa count!  The vinyasa count symbolized that there is nothing to obtain. Everything is cyclical in nature, and how we enter and exit, how we get into and out of situations  / interactions / poses…. bringing awareness to the process of transitions (entry – there – exit) can really be something magic and unraveling.

The mat is a true playground for us to explore how we enter and exit situations, joyful ones (your favourite pose), scary ones (bhujapidasana anyone in their first couple months?), ambivalent ones. In our practice, we can choose to being present in those transitions, and explore what qualities are brought out in us when we try to be really there with every in-and exhale.

The ashtanga vinyasa system invites us to use its inherent vinyasa count, thereby focusing the mind on each part of getting in and out of the state of the asana (when we hold the asana for about 5 breaths) instead of letting our mind entertain us with thoughts about the last asana, or what happened last night  (past) or may be what is still to come in the practice (or what to make for breakfast) (projecting in the future) – or whatever stories our mind wants to tell us.

Learning the asana count really opened a new dimension for practice for me, it is great tool to harness my mind in the present moment, while also helping me understand viscerally that everything is interconnected and cyclical, coming and going; something is created – expressed and then ceases again, then something new is created… On the practice gournd itself, every asana starts and finishes in samasthitih (while we move around our center, expand and retract, in-and exhale).  

The vinyasa count also is a means of pitch and rhythm in practice which parallels a manta, while linking breath, movement and mudra. A moving mala.

Gregor Maehle described vinyasa as this:
“Sequential movement that interlinks postures to form a continuous flow. It creates a movement meditation that reveals all forms as being impermanent and for this reason are not held on to.” 

In a nutshell the vinyasa count:

 

  • Increases focus and present-moment awareness
  • Facilitates meditative state
  • Deeper understanding of asana
  • Clear structure provides creativity and space within the structure

About two years ago we had our last vinyasa count workshop, I’d really like us to study it more and pick it up and make it part of practice. Hereby I wanted to come back to the vinyasa count as I find it a most wonderful tool for harnessing concentration on the present moment in practice (which trains the mind and makes it easier for the mind to find present moment focus outside of practice). To study it, like in the Mysore style, don’t overwhelm yourself, take baby steps. 

 

Starting with the Vinyasa Count – Vinyasa Count 101:

Familiarize yourself with the count to 9:

This will get your through Suryanamaskara A (see video) – practice this for one week whenever you practice your surya namaskara A – after one day you most likely have it!

 

Familiarzie yourself with the count to 17:

 This will get you through Suryanamaskara B.

 

Numbers (in Sanskrit):

1 = ekam (= one)
2 = dve
3 = trini
4= catvari
5 = panca
6= sat
7 = sapta
8 = astau
 9 = nava
10 = dasa
11 = ekadasa
12 = dvedasa
13 = trayodasa
14 = caturdasa
15 = pancadasa
16 = sodasa;
17 = saptadasa
18 = astadasa
19 = ekonavimsatih; 20 = vimsatih
21 = ekamvimsatih;  22 = dvavimsatih

In our school at practice, whenever I teach you a new asana I convey it in the count during class but I feel that oftentimes this integral aspect of the practice still gets lost in transmission.  So hereby I’d like to stimulate you to bring your awareness to this gem of mind harnessing.

There will also be a vinyasa count workshop coming up again in 2021 when Maxi is back from maternity leave.

Any comments / feedback are appreciated here or in class.

 

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