One other study area that I was privileged to be able to experience alongside my many visits to study Yoga Practice Techniques and Associated texts in Chennai with my teacher TKV Desikachar, within the intimacy and vitality of private lessons, was that of Āyurveda and its application within Yoga.
“In Āyurveda, it gives certain behaviour by which we can stay well.
If a person follows the following he will freer of sickness.
Regularly, systematically he eats, rests and exercises adequately.
Both in amount and quality. Food or Ahāra,
along with Vihāra – recreation, rest, exercise, other activities.”
– TKV Desikachar
Thus during my many visits to India, between 1979 and 2002, my work in Yoga was complemented by the study of Āyurveda constitutional diagnosis and prognosis, along with Nādī Parīkṣā or pulse diagnosis and the application skills or the viniyoga of Āyurveda, into Yoga practice and lifestyle, according to the teachings of T Krishnmacharya within Yoga Rakṣaṇa (lifestyle support) or Yoga Cikitsā (therapeutic recovery) situations.
This was with my teacher TKV Desikachar during those personal lessons focused on exploring actual and theoretical case studies, as well as the privilege of many hours of clinical observation, sitting alongside him during his evening private consultations with prospective students or clients with health or personal issues at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.
This study and clinical observation was also supported by personal lessons on Āyurveda philosophy and application with Dr KS Viswanatha Sarma, the Principal at the Venkataramana Āyurveda College during 1980 to 1981 when living and studying full time in Madras. This involved early morning lessons from 6am studying the textual theory before joining him in the public dispensary at 7.30am for the free consultations he offered to the local community.
This study within traditional teaching paradigms in India was complemented by study within Western group contexts attending seminars in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s with some of the leading Āyurveda physicians and teachers visiting England at the time, such as Dr Vasant Lad and Dr Robert Svoboda.
These extra-curricular studies extended the uniqueness of the ability to integrate Āyurveda into the viniyoga of Yoga practice and lifestyle systems paradigm, developed by Krishnamacharya and Desikachar, when looking at the design and application of personalised Yoga practices and lifestyle advice for students. This is one of the particular strengths of the viniyoga of Yoga methodology.
Like everything, Yoga must be presented intelligently.
It should be spoken of carefully and offered according to the aspiration,
requirement and the culture of the individual.
This should be done in stages.
Systematic application of Yoga – be it concerned with physical exercises, deep breathing,
relaxation, meditation, lifestyle, food, studies – is the need of the day.
This I believe – is what the word viniyoga represents.”
– TKV Desikachar
The accumulative outcome of this work is to feel enabled to offer options that will help empower individual students in the arts of Āyurveda Lifestyle skills through learning to self apply the principles that can support sustaining a personalised Yoga practice within Yoga Rakṣaṇa (support) or Yoga Cikitsā (recovery) situations.
These studies and experiential trainings, in the Krishnamacharya methodology of melding the viniyoga of Āyurveda within that of the viniyoga of Yoga, also form the base for small study groups within the Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle Module One 2 day Workshop and the Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle Module Two 4 day Course.
The outcome will be to progressively develop the abilities, through small groups of five students studying within an intimate learning environment, the fundamental principles of Āyurveda and its links with Yoga. Together they can help us to independently and intelligently adapt and refine our personal lifestyle choices by learning and applying the tools of Āyurveda within and alongside our personal Yoga practice.