Vishamanyasa: The Opposite of Vinyasa

As I’ve been referring to the concept of “vishamanyasa” so much recently, I thought I’d give you a quotation from “Astadala Yogamala” Volume 2 by B. K. S. Iyengar, where he expounds on the concept:

“The opposite of vinyasa is called vishamanyasa. Vishamanyasa means placing in an odd or irregular manner. Certainly it is not done in a disorderly way. Rather it is a method of challenge. In this method, asana from different categories are linked together without breaking the flow of the movements. For instance, Eka Pada Shirshasana and the variations in an asana are Grathana Sthiti (body knotting). This category works as follows: Eka Pada Shirshasana from sitting (Upavishtha Sthiti), Skandasana (forward extension or Pashchima Pratana Sthiti), Bhairavasana (supine or Supta Sthiti), Kala Bhairavasana or Chakorasana (arm-balance or Bhujatolasana Sthiti), Durvasana (Standing--Uttishtha Sthiti), Richikasana (Uttishtha Pashchima Pratana Sthiti) and so on.

“A mixed group of asana is also known as vishamanyasa. For instance, Tadasana, Uttanasana, Adho Mukha Shvanasana, Paripurna Navasana, Utkatasana, Ushtrasana, Kapotasana, Adho Mukha Virasana and so on. Because of a flexible body, children enjoy practising [sic] this way since the changes are challenging ones. My guru used to ask me to do any asana in this way. He would ask me to do Salamba Shirshasana and suddenly jump over to Natarajasana.

“Vinyasa and vishamanyasa is [sic] again classified as viloma, anuloma and pratiloma. Viloma vinyasa means linking with regular interruption. In viloma vinyasa, asana belonging to the same classification are linked each time with one single chosen asana such as Janu Shirshasana-Pashchimottanasana, Triang Mukhaikapda Pashchimottanasana-Pashchimottanasana, Ardha Baddha Padma Pashchimottanasana-Pashchimottanasana, Upavishtha Konasana-Pashchimottanasana, and so forth.”

“In viloma vishamanyasa, the asana forming separate or opposite classifications are linked with one single chosen asana. That means practicing one froward extension and one backward extension (Pashchima Pratana Sthiti and Purva Pratana Sthiti) such as Pashchimottanasana-Urdhva Dhanurasana, Pashchimottanasana-Ushtrasana, Pashchimottanasana-Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana.”

The Ashtadala Yogamala series is a collection of miscellaneous talks and articles by Mr. Iyengar that have been compiled and organized into several volumes and organized by subject matter. They are published in India, but can be found at specialist bookstores, such as the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco.

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