Notes from a Western Student of T Krishnamacharya’s 1970’s Studies

RICHARD SCHECHNER’S NOTEBOOK 42

 

It was in the spring of 2009. I had just finished teaching a yoga class at a health club in Manhattan, when a man who had been waiting by the door entered and began to do his own practice. I immediately took note of his uncommon form. He was moving and breathing just as I had seen demonstrated by Srivatsa Ramaswami and A.G. Mohan, two notable students of Krishnamacharya’s. I begged the man’s pardon for interrupting, but asked if he wouldn’t mind my asking where he had learned to practice in such a way.

“I learned in Madras, back in the 70s,” he said. “May I ask, from whom?” I inquired, to which he replied, “You probably haven’t heard of him.” I believe I then said, “Try me.” I was soon glad I had persisted; much to my delight, he said he had studied with “a man named Krishnamacharya.”

In the brief conversation that ensued, we introduced ourselves, and I learned that his name was Richard Schechner and he was a professor at NYU. I was completely unaware at the time of what an important figure he is in the theatre world, and he was quite humble and unassuming. I expressed my great interest in learning about his studies with Krishnamacharya, and asked if he might consider giving a presentation to a class that I was attending weekly. I and a group of fellow yoga teachers were studying anatomy and yoga with Leslie Kaminoff— whom, I pointed out, was a student of Krishnamacharya’s son, T.K.V. Desikachar.

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