TO FOLLOW THE GURU OR NOT TO FOLLOW THE GURU, PART I:
THE GARBHA PINDASANA QUESTION
Garbha Pidasana is the Embryo in the Womb Pose, and is part of the Ashtanga Primary Series.
It's basically rolling around on the back nine times clockwise while in the lotus position. First, one takes lotus. Then the arms are wedged behind the knees. The hands cover the ears for five breaths while you balance on the buttocks. Then the hands are placed over the face, and you rock around nine times in a clockwise circle.
At least, it used to be nine times.
When I studied with ashtanga vinyasa yoga guru Pattabhi Jois, from 2000 to 2008, he would call out the pose. Once we'd assumed it and held it for five breaths, he'd say, "Nine times rounding!" and we would go around nine times while he counted to five (most of the ashtanga poses are held for a count of five).
In 2008, in Mysore, when Guruji was still alive but not teaching anymore, Sharath (Guruji's grandson), told us to go around five times - not nine. Of course I did it his way in his presence.
But later, I asked Manju (Guruji's son, who teaches in America and with whom I've studied for years) how many times we should rock around. "It doesn't matter," he said.
Guruji: "Nine times rounding!"
Sharath: Five times (as of 2008)
Manju: It doesn't matter
As I said on Grimmly's blog, I prefer to go with the guru.
Lino Miele put it best, in a workshop he taught in Chicago last year:
"Once the guru dies, everyone goes like this," he said, spreading out his arms. "I don't want to go like this."
Lino - who wrote the book with Guruji - also addressed why we rock around nine times in the pose:
"Because of gestation. According to Pattabhi Jois, when the baby is breach, by doing this you put the baby at the right position."
Read the rest of my review of Lino's workshop here