I was taught a lot about Prāṇāyāma through my 121′s with Desikachar from 1979 to 2002.
These practices, unique to Yoga, were integrated right from my first lesson in Madras.
In its learning infancy as a consistent practice, it was taught as a skilful means, as an essential part of the preparation for Dhyānam, through affecting the Citta Guṇa.
Some decades later in its experiential maturity, I find it a skilful means for a re-union with and extension of Dhyānam.
Category Archives: Pauls Musings on Yoga Today
I was taught a lot about Prāṇāyāma through my 121′s with Desikachar from 1979 to 2002.
Everything is there within Awareness.
tatra niratiśayaṃ sarva-jña-bījam
“There the source of all knowing is unsurpassed.”
Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 25
Firstly we need to ‘as if’ dedicate our actions towards Awareness.
“That purpose of the seen is indeed for our essence.”
Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 21
For that we need to to re-focus Asmitā from Asmitā Kleśa:
“The sense of ‘I’ am-ness is when the powers of the seer and what is seen are as if one essence.”
Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 6
Towards Asmitā Jñāna
“Total insight follows the form of profound reasoning,
profound reflection, joy and the sense of ‘I’ am-ness.”
Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 17
The aim of Yoga and Sāṃkhya is to be yoked to the more discerning aspects of the psyche, rather than just to the more grasping aspects of the psyche.
In the former the tendency of the Buddhi to discern discriminately dominates the tendency of Ahaṃkāra to grasp indiscriminately. In the latter the tendency of the Ahaṃkāra to grasp dominates the tendency of the Buddhi to discern.
The former is a state known as Buddhi Sattva where the clarity of discernment dominates the indiscriminate grasping nature of the Ahaṃkāra. The latter is a state of Buddhi Tamas, where the discerning qualities of the Buddhi are obscured by the grasping nature of the Ahaṃkāra.
Thus our Yoga Sādhana has but one aim, that of the reduction of the obscuration of Tamas (apart from deep sleep) in the Buddhi. This reduction of Tamas facilitates the ascent of the clarity of Sattva, as in the metaphor of the reduction of the cloud facilitates the ascent of the sun discussed within yesterdays post.
Lot of stuff in the News recently around ‘top shelf’ magazine campaigns, amidst my son staying with me with its inevitable associations back to ones own twenties. Musing on this takes me back to the sixties and a previous Janma.
Is there an equivalent of “redemption” in the Yogic system? Getting out of the trouble caused by Avidyā?
A complex question as all the major Religious traditions have different views as to what it is and how it works.
The word redemption is from the root ‘redimere’ to buy back. Being saved from sin, error or evil and protection from damnation or disgrace, eternal or temporary.
I feel reflecting on the recent three posts on īśvara Praṇidhānā from TKV Desikachar in relation to our actions needs to consider the Satviniyoga or appropriate application of the Citta or psyche in terms of:
And the Satviniyoga or appropriate application of Time In terms of its three faces – Past, Present and Future.
These two aspects psyche and time offer a myriad of combinations for reflection such as:
Past – “īśvara Praṇidhānā - How do we take the fruit of our action?”
How skilful is my use of Pramāṇa around being present with possible impacts of previous actions?
Present – “The relationship we have developed with the fruits of our actions is īśvara Praṇidhānā”
How skilful is my use of Smṛti around being present with possible effects of current actions?
Future - “īśvara Praṇidhānā – What is our attitude towards our own action?”
How skilful is my use of Vikalpa around possible outcomes of future actions?
What is Yoga?
- An interview with Paul Harvey on BBC Radio Bristol Feb 1986.
I. Yoga is often portrayed as sitting still perhaps in rather bizarre positions communicating with the depths of human relaxation and comprehension. How accurate a picture is that?
I am delighted to welcome to the Programme this afternoon Paul Harvey who among other things teaches Yoga at the Centre for Yoga Studies in Bath and at the Whiteladies Natural Health Clinic. You also, I think, have a couple of diplomas haven’t you?
PH. Yes I have though I feel that my main training has come not from diploma work but from the closer experience of studying and practising Yoga in India.
I am here deeply immersed these past few weeks with finalising and sorting out printing for 750 pages of Course, Yoga Sūtra and Chanting manuals for the next 3 year Practitioner Programme and 250 pages Course and Yoga Sūtra manuals for the next 2 year Postgraduate Programme, both starting over the next two weeks.
Within this I find myself reflecting back to my first Practitioner Training Programme in 1985.
This was a different story with introducing the use of handouts with typewriters, lots of Snopake (typing correction fluid) and photocopiers.
Now, nearly 3 decades later, I send a file to the printers at the push of a button and they produce a finished manual, good to go in 24 hours.
Yet, whatever the advances in the medium of the manual, I feel as inspired as ever with the message offered to me all those decades ago.
View or Download the Full syllabus for the cYs 3 year Practitioner Training Programme.
Extract from an email sent today that I felt I would like to offer as a post:
‘I also feel that 121 teaching priorities must take precedence over workshops and trainings.
This is part of my Dharma to my teacher and to the essence of viniyoga.
I feel that once we cease to be chronologically or financially available as a 121 teacher,
in favour of being a group class, workshop or trainer teacher,
in terms of such as group size or financial benefits,
we lose our heart contact with the Parampara,
as we have received it,
or as it was intended to be transmitted by T Krishnamacharya.’
This post arose from a comment in a thread yesterday on my facebook page:
“I feel that by know you are surely off YS 2.1?”
Its not something I think about often from that perspective so my thanks to Ivan for the following reflection:
My teacher taught me that as a Yoga teacher you need four things around you:
1. In front of you, you need Yoga students.
2. Behind you, you need a Yoga teacher.
3. Beneath you, you need a Yoga practice.
4. Above you, you need Yoga teachings.
“Yoga is a process to train a student,
not a training to process a teacher.”
This is an extract from a letter written to participants in the next cYs Four Year Practitioner Training Programme, my 14th such course since 1985. I offer it as a reference for some of what I feel is important as a shared brief between the student-teacher and the teacher-trainer:
The witness cannot be witnessed.
- Yoga Sūtra C4 v21
Thus Yukti Anumāna or skilful inference through the process of ne’iti, ne’iti or not this, not that, is seen as a means to understand all except that, which cannot be identified, yet still expresses the essence of existence.
Yoga can be a mystery to be resolved or a question to be solved. The process for one is Bhakti Dhyānam and for the other Jñana Dhyānam. From the perspective of the Yoga Sūtra the common inquiry is the relationship of Citta with Cit.
The Press tells us that over 20 million Americans ‘practice’ Yoga (and in the process spend 10.3 billion $ annually!). I wonder what that statistic, oft promoted as a success statement for Yoga, really means?
I also observe a proliferation of Yoga trainings for becoming a teacher within 121 situations, especially Yoga Therapy, often as an adjunct or ‘bolt on’ to group teacher trainings, accepting students even if from other approaches, styles or traditions.
This post continues from the quote below posted in January 2013:
“These days there is lots of talk on what is involved in training to be a Yoga Teacher,
however little talk on what is involved in training to be a Yoga Student.”
Developing this further I feel it is the student in us that must, through an appropriate Sādhana received within an auspicious context with a teacher, realize ‘Avasthānam’ in that the ‘Svarūpa’ or the ‘own character’ of the inner student ‘takes up its place’.
One focus in my apprenticeship with my teacher was that the main priority both ways was on how to transmit……
One focus in my apprenticeship with my teacher was that the main priority both ways was on how to transmit.
It was from here that the what to transmit flowed naturally.
My impressions over this past decade is that for later generations of both teacher and students this has been supplanted, partly through the dilution of mass instruction, with the main priority both ways transmuted from how to what to transmit.
If so, this infers that the how to transmit remains with the teacher and the what to transmit with the student.
If so, this means the learning process moves from one of transmission to one of information and the art of the how to transmit becomes in danger of obscurity.
One focus in my apprenticeship with my teacher was that the main priority both ways was on how to practice……
One focus in my apprenticeship with my teacher was that the main priority both ways was on how to practice.
It was from here that the what to practice flowed naturally.
My impressions over this past decade is that for later generations of both teacher and students this has been supplanted, partly through the dilution of mass instruction, with the main priority both ways transmuted from how to what to practice.
If so, this infers that the how to practice remains with the teacher and the what to practice with the student.
If so, this means the learning process moves from one of transmission to one of information and the art of the how to practice becomes in danger of obscurity.
Teaching at a retreat in France 1983 TKV Desikachar said:
“Often people have little distinction between exercise and Yoga.”
Thirty years later what do we find?
On the need to meet with the student -
Having recently seen a website for a company promoting teaching web classes via Skype to a remote audience I commented on my FaceBook page that “it takes working from home to a whole new level of dilation!”.
I guess for me it was the sense of being a Yoga teacher teaching students at home, something I did in my teachers home as a student for 23 years and have done so at mine as a teacher for 35 years, yet not actually having any living contact at all with the student. It takes me back to something that was at the heart of the concept of viniyoga, rather than the converse above.
The role of ritual is the engaging of the psyche,
within the personal unconscious/subconscious,
by the conscious ego,
through the use of techniques such as gestures, symbols, visualisations and sound.
They are ‘chosen’ because of their potent links with archetypes,
in order to raise up archetypes,
especially the ‘Self’ archetype,
from the collective unconscious.
This process engages the power of an archetype from which the conscious ego pales by comparison.
From this arises the experience of a shifting centre of gravity from the ego to the ‘Self’
and the numinous becomes increasingly immanent.
Yoga no better than stretching for bad backs
Yoga is no more effective at relieving back pain than doing stretches, a study has found.
“I obviously appreciate that the Yoga methodology used in the study is the viniyoga of Yoga.
However I feel what it is being missed is that the very nature of the word viniyoga is the personalised application of Yoga according to each person’s story and their current health and life situation.
For this to work the meeting has to be just one teacher and one student, which, from all the evidence, was Krishnamacharya’s priority aside from specific group situations such as teaching children Āsana or studying Yoga philosophy.”