Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā Chapter 1 verse 17 on Āsana


kuryāttad āsanaṃ sthairyam ārogyaṃ ca aṅga lāghavan |
“Āsana Practice brings steadiness, reduced illness and a lightness of limb.”
Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā of Svāmi Svātmārāma Chapter One verse 17

This verse is commenting on the development of Āsana
as a foundation or accessory for more subtle practices.
Better not to confuse the vehicle with the direction.

I am reminded of a quote from Srivatsa Ramaswami:
“I studied with Śrī Krishnamacharya for a number of years.
I do not remember a single Yogāsana class which did not have
a decent dose of Prāṇāyāma and Ṣanmukhi Mudrā in it
and short prayers to begin and end the session.”

Nāma, Rūpa, Lakṣana – The Name, Form and Characteristics of Āsana

The Aṣṭāṅgāsana or the eight limbs of Āsana Planning and Practice are the formula for constructing a skilful and place, time and lifestyle appropriate Āsana practice. These eight limbs fall into eight categories, that of:

  • The definition, meaning and context of Āsana
    – Core concept – Nāma Rūpa Lakṣana – name, form and characteristics
  • How Āsana are arranged into groups and categories
    – Core concept – Vinyāsa Krama – collecting postures together
  • How counterpostures or Pratikriyāsana are integrated
    – Core concept – Pratikriyāsana– maintaining the balance
  • The value and purpose of the breath in Āsana
    – Core concept – Prāṇāpāna Dhāraṇā – where the focus is
  • How movement or stay are used in Āsana 
    Core concept – Circulation and Purification – dynamic and static
  • The adaptation of Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Variation and Modification – change and necessity
  • Intelligently planning and Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Bṛṃhaṇa and Laṅghana Kriyā – connecting postures together
  • Observation within Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Spine, Breath and Attention – learning to look

In my last post on Aṣṭāṅgāsana I talked about introducing each of these eight topics to help the reader to appreciate more about what is inherent in the depth and breadth of this approach in terms of Āsana planning having a precise and comprehensive formula.

Āsana practice starts with a need to know something about the Āsana we are going to work with as we introduce, persevere and develop and especially personalise our practice. Hence we have to both practice but also have some theoretical background in order to context an Āsana in itself and in relationship to other Āsana.

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Aṣṭāṅgāsana – The eight limbs of Āsana Planning and Practice

With nearly 2000 Posts and Resources on the site I have been reflecting on how to expand the access points and yet simplify the reader experience for visitors. So I started by looking at the Blog Page by reviewing the broad topic categories and considering the need to re-organise the groupings as well as increasing the  range of related topics within the sub-groupings.

The first general topic in the Journal is that of Posts on Yoga Practice and its five main areas for study are:

Going deeper into these five aspects of practice I see that the first topic, that of Āsana & Kriyā Practice, now has some 500 posts in the one thread. Obviously a need for review here! So turning my attention to this I started to consider what would be a useful, yet appropriate way to sub-categorise the topics in this particular section.

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Learning from Life – The Wisdom of the Yoga Sūtra Part 1 of 2

The Wisdom of the Yoga Sūtra in guiding the journey of the psyche.

Buried within the rich traditions of “on the mat” Yoga practice are many teachings with advice and reflections on how to live more creatively whilst off the mat so to speak.

According to the teachings of Yoga, the postural practices of Āsana, the seated breathing practices of Prāṇāyāma, and other seated practices of meditation, or Dhyānam on such as reflecting on subtle aspects of attitudes or natural phenomena, or seated practices such as Chanting, or Japam or repetition of Mantra, all sit within a framework of daily living and its constant dynamic of helpful choices and positive responses or unhelpful choices and negative re-actions.

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The first Viveka is that I lack something……


“The first Viveka is that I lack something.
If that urgency is not there then no technique will work.
There must be a very strong thirst.”
– TKV Desikachar

All (Yoga) techniques are for Viveka, as this is the means for freedom.


“All (Yoga) techniques are for Viveka,
as this is the means for freedom.”
– TKV Desikachar


Patanjali Yoga Sutra

– By Srivatsa Ramaswami

Content Headings Guide

In this booklet Ramaswami presents a background to the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali by outlining concepts integral to understanding and appreciating its teaching.
Following this intention, introductions to the first and second chapters of the Yoga Sūtra are also offered emphasising the important elements for practice, study and reflection.
A content guide based on the headings in the booklet is outlined below, though the reader will need to apply page numbers as they are not in the original publication, from which the online PDF has 28 pages.

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Yoga Postures in Practice – A series on Āsana by Paul Part 3 Uttānāsana

Part Three – Moving from our Spine with Uttānāsana

This is the third in a series of articles presenting the core principles for Āsana practice as taught to me through many years of personal lessons in India with my teacher TKV Desikachar.

The emphasis in the previous article was on “Growing from our Roots” and looked at Tāḍāsana, the second Āsana in the series within a general practice.

The first article “Moving into our Bodies” looked at the starting Āsana in the series, Samasthiti, as a pose that offered a means to bring our mind and through it, our deeper awareness to a focussed attention.

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Learning Support for Chanting Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaḥ


सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु ।
मा कश्चित् दुःख भाग्भवेत् ॥

sarve bhavantu sukhinaḥ |
sarve santu nirāmayāḥ |
sarve bhadrāṇi paśyantu |
mā kashchit duḥkha bhāgbhavet ‖

May all be happy
May all be free from illness
May all see what is auspicious
May no one suffer

Learning Support for Chanting Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaḥ
From my personal library of recordings from my studies with my teacher TKV Desikachar
To Download or Listen
To Download the Chant Sheet with Devanāgari, Romanised Saṃskṛta and Translation

Yoga uses an intelligent approach which is applied to all things and during all the day.


‎”Yoga uses an intelligent approach
which is applied to all things
and during all the day.”
TKV Desikachar England 1976

YOGAKSHEMAM – founded by TK Sribhashyam, third son of Krishnamacharya


A School of traditional teaching of Indian Philosophy, Ayurveda and Yoga
founded by TK  Sribhashyam, the youngest son of T Krishnamacharya,
has announced the publication of an e-Newsletter.

Dear Reader,
We are happy to announce the birth of our Newsletter “Yogakshemam e-Newsletter” on the 2016 Epiphany day. It would be free and open to all. To be respectful to the environment, we interrupt the paper edition and launch the digital version. We are sure that you will appreciate this gesture as well as the contents.
To begin with, this version will have some articles of philosophical interest,
including one in memory to my father, Sri T. Krishnamacharya.
We plan to publish the e-version every two months.
– Letter from Sribhashyam

The first edition can be found here.
My thanks to Sriram, student of Desikachar, for the his email letting me know.

Sometimes the length of the exhale can be sacrificed, but not the quality…….


“It is not essential to work in the firm order of exhale, inhale, holds.
However the exhale should come first,
then you can emphasise the inhale or holds, whichever suits the person or situation.
If the exhale is disturbed you must be careful.
Always start the use of the ratio from the exhale.
Based on the reaction you can play with the inhale and holds.
Never sacrifice the quality of the exhale.
Sometimes the length of the exhale can be sacrificed, but not the quality.
One can refer to Yoga Sūtra I 34 to show that the exhalation should come first.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

Any movement can be done on the exhale or stop……

“Any movement can be done on the exhale or stop.
Not every movement can be done on inhale or hold.
Therefore the gradual movement of the breath
or introduction of the breath
should be directed into the exhale.
The exhale must be respected.
When the exhale is secure or firm,
then the attention can be shifted to the inhale or to work on the holds.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

The breath is related to the intellect, chest, respiratory system, digestive system etc


“The breath is related to the intellect, chest, respiratory system, digestive system etc.
So one should consider and understand the relevance of the breath to these areas.
Also how these areas are in students before we start applying specific principles of breathing,
otherwise it could aggravate the area and any inherent problem.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

Commentary on viniyoga Vignette 2 – Combining techniques in Prāṇāyāma


For those who read the viniyoga Vignette post 2 on combining techniques in Prāṇāyāma from two days ago, I would add some observations around rationales on the choice and order of the techniques involved.

Step 1.
Śītalī Inhale with Ujjāyī Exhale
1.½.1.0 for 8 breaths
Step 2.
Anuloma Ujjāyī
1.½.1½.0 for 8 breaths
Step 3.
Pratiloma Ujjāyī
1½.0.1½.0 for 8 breaths
Step 4.
½.0.½.0 for 8 breaths

For example, starting with Śītalī could be useful for several reasons such as mid-afternoon being a time when there can be an energetic slump and the use of a open mouth inhale with the head raising to encourage volume, coupled with the Antar Kumbhaka, can offer a tonic for the system.

Step 1.
Śītalī Inhale with Ujjāyī Exhale
1.½.1.0 for 8 breaths

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Yoga offers me an intelligent way to come out of my mistakes.


Yoga offers me an intelligent way to come out of my mistakes.

viniyoga Vignette 2 – Combining techniques in Prāṇāyāma


A short mid-afternoon Prāṇāyāma practice from a year one Practitioner Training Programme, to offer an example of how to combine three different Prāṇāyāma techniques within a single Vinyāsa Krama.

Step 1.
Śītalī Inhale with Ujjāyī Exhale
1.½.1.0 for 8 breaths
Step 2.
Anuloma Ujjāyī
1.½.1½.0 for 8 breaths
Step 3.
Pratiloma Ujjāyī
1½.0.1½.0 for 8 breaths
Step 4.
½.0.½.0 for 8 breaths

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The Krishnamacharya methodology of melding the Application of Āyurveda with that of Yoga


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 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.

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Dhāraṇā – a state of effortful attention……


Dhāraṇā – a state of effortful attention.
Dhyānam – a state of effortless attention.

viniyoga Vignette 1 – Antar and Bāhya Kumbhaka in Āsana

Mid Range Movement in Āsana

A short pre-lunch 25′ practice from the first day of the two day Module One Haṭha Energetics Workshop.

As well as emphasising the use of Jihvā and Jālandhara Bandha, the primary Bhāvana or theme was to explore the application of and response to the introduction and accumulative intensification of Antar Kumbhaka (AK) and Bāhya Kumbhaka (BK) throughout the practice.

I would emphasise that this is an example of a unique situation that existed at that moment and thus reflects an expression of a study point or the students group dynamic as a need at that moment.

Yet within this caveat, this example of a short but intensive practice, whilst not to be taken as a fixed template, also reflects the richness and multifarious possibilities in how the principles in the viniyoga of Yoga can be expressed as learning and experiential tools within a myriad of situations and personalities.

If there is a sketch quality in the PDF copy it is because these practices were not preplanned and were being notated as they unfolded whilst teaching the group. This also meant I could photocopy them as the practice concluded so copies were immediately available for reflection, reference and discussion.

Link to view or download this Practice as a PDF

cYs Personal & Professional Yoga Studies Programme Cotswolds Calendar


Full 2018-2020 Cotswolds Based Workshops & Courses
Programme Diary in Date Order

Please note that all Module Two and onward Course Dates are arranged according to demand from groups of interested students completing Module One Workshops for that particular topic.
All Modular Workshops and Courses are limited to a maximum of five students

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In the Yoga Sūtra, the pre-eminent text on Dhyānam within Yoga……


In the Yoga Sūtra, the pre-eminent text on Dhyānam within Yoga.

Book One is about the Process of the practice of Dhyānam;
Book Two is about the Preparation for the practice of Dhyānam;
Book Three is about the Outcome of the practice of Dhyānam;
Book Four is about the Goal of the practice of Dhyānam.

It seems that with Modern Postural Yoga the perception of ‘advanced’ is……


It seems that with Modern Postural Yoga the perception of ‘advanced’
practice is based around physical appearance and artistic performance,
as exemplified by Āsana;
over psychological efforts and cultivation of inner skills,
as exemplified by Prāṇāyāma and Dhyānam.

Prāṇāyāma leads to this…..


Prāṇāyāma leads to this.
Pratyāhāra, to see without the senses distracting or pulling the mind, and
Dhāraṇā, to see without the mind losing itself, because of colouring or expectations.
Dhyānam arises out of this.”
– TKV Desikachar

Dhāraṇā – To see without the mind losing itself


Dhāraṇā –
To see without the mind losing itself,
because of colouring or expectations.”
– TKV Desikachar