The beauty of Krishnamacharya’s teaching is that it is about…..

asana_52a

The beauty of Krishnamacharya’s teaching is that it is about
learning Yoga for different types of people,
rather than todays increasingly studio driven group class modality of
learning different types of Yoga for people.

It is ironic when a collective term used to describe an approach……

It is ironic when a collective term used to describe
an approach to teaching an individual,
becomes an individual term used to describe
an approach to teaching a collective.

A sign of a maturing in our relationship with a 121 Yoga Teacher is……

In the novice phase of our relationship with a 121 Yoga Teacher,
it’s not so much about what we bring to the Lesson,
it’s more about what we take away from the Lesson.

A sign of a maturing in our relationship with a 121 Yoga Teacher,
is that we accept more responsibility for what we bring to the Lesson,
being a determining factor in what we take away from the Lesson.

In the novice phase of our relationship with a Yoga Class……..

In the novice phase of our relationship with a Yoga Class,
it’s not so much about what we bring to the Class,
it’s more about what we take away from the Class.

A sign of a maturing in our relationship with a Yoga Class,
is that we accept more responsibility for what we bring to the Class,
being a determining factor in what we take away from the Class.

As a Yoga Teacher we need to ensure that our personal Yoga Practice…..

As a Yoga Teacher we need to ensure that our personal Yoga Practice
doesn’t become a repetition of, or rehearsal for, our Yoga Teaching plans.

Our Yoga Teaching needs to be an appurtenance to our Yoga Practice.

Our Yoga Teaching needs to be an appurtenance to our Yoga Practice.
Rather than our Yoga Practice being an appurtenance to our Yoga Teaching.

Five Musings around Śīrṣāsana……

sirsasana

Five questions my teacher taught me that need to be ‘posed’,
for or to any student wishing to practice Śīrṣāsana,
or even for and to any teacher wishing to teach Śīrṣāsana,
whatever the situation.

1. Who is going to practice it?
2. Why do they wish to use it?
3. When are they going to practice it?
4. How are they going to get in and out of it?
5. What do they need to have done to verify their capability?

it is still unclear how much Yoga someone has to do to get the benefits…..

Āsana_16a

“But it is still unclear how much Yoga someone has to do to get the benefits found and
how cost-effective it is relative to undertaking other forms of exercise or taking drugs.”
– Prof Myriam Hunink
Erasmus University medical centre in Rotterdam and Harvard school of public health in Boston

Are we in danger of the teaching of Yoga Āsana (and consequently Yoga ‘Therapy’ Teacher Training Courses) being increasingly shaped towards the health and therapeutic healthcare ‘Yoga For’ needs to meet the demands and standardisations of the medical and/or insurance health authorities in terms of:

1. Choice – Which Yoga posture works for what problem?
2. Duration – How long must I stay in a particular posture in order to have a specific effect/result?
3. Frequency – How often must I practice this posture to effect a result?
4. Timescale – Over what period of time must I practice this posture to effect a result?
5. Comparable Applications – What will be the effect of Yoga postures compared to other forms of physical exercise?
6. Relative Costs – What will be the cost of Yoga compared to other forms of exercise?
7. Treatment Budgets – What will be the cost of Yoga as a form of treatment relative to taking drugs?

Complex implications to evaluate and they leave us with more questions around what is healthy for the heart of Yoga rather than what is healthy for the heart of the person!

“We cannot say that this Āsana or this Prāṇāyāma can be given for this disease.”
– T Krishnamacharya 1984

It appears that Modern Therapeutic Yoga is increasingly angled at……

cikitsa

It appears that Modern Therapeutic Yoga is increasingly angled
at looking at the problems in front of the person
in terms of Yoga for What,
rather than looking at the person behind the problems
in terms of Yoga for Who.

Links To Related Posts:

This approach is known as the Yoga of Rejuvenation and Prevention……

There is an increasing tendency in terms of Modern Therapeutic Yoga application strategies……

When somebody comes to us they are not coming with one problem……

This guiding principle of seeing the person rather than the problem……

Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy

Five Musings around Sarvāṅgāsana……

sarvangasana

Five questions my teacher taught me that need to be ‘posed’,
for or to any student wishing to practice Sarvāṅgāsana,
or even for and to any teacher wishing to teach Sarvāṅgāsana,
whatever the situation.

1. Who is going to practice it?
2. Why do they wish to use it?
3. When are they going to practice it?
4. How are they going to get in and out of it?
5. What do they need to have done to verify their capability?

The art of viniyoga presumes that the five application principles of……

viniyoga

The art of viniyoga presumes that
the five application principles of
1. What is being taught,
2. Why it is being taught,
3. When it is being taught
4. Where it is being taught and especially
5. How it is being taught,
are personally applicable and
socially relevant to
Who is being taught.

Musings on the Student’s Relationship with the Teacher

Memories from my early days, over 40 years ago now, of going to teachers to teach me Yoga were generally around the notion, replete with conscious and unconscious expectations, that the teacher was there to bring out the best in me.

For example I feel that many of us if group class teachers are used to working with the Lazarus factor (raising folks from the dead each week). Here we can get caught or even need the expectation, both in you and/or in the student, that you will be or are ‘the one’ to revitalise the students tired and/or wired bodies as well as restoring confident dispositions.

However my experiences arising from working with TKV Desikachar stood that notion on its head. This was not through anything he said or did but from my own slowly acquired realisation that my way of looking at the relationship was confused.

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Even these days the influence of Krishnamacharya’s teachings……

krishnamacharya3

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Even these days, the influence of Krishnamacharya’s teachings around Yoga are primarily known through his exacting teaching of Āsana. This has also been mainly experienced in the West with the developmental work of his early students, such as through the choreographical artistry in the work of Pattabhi Jois or through the geometrical precision in the work of BKS Iyengar.

However this area of Āsana teaching, though itself multifaceted and hugely influential, if disproportionately predominant within Yoga today, only reveals one aspect of the many dimensions of practice expressed within his teaching. This teaching evolved and refined over 70 years, from his return from his long stay around the borders of Nepal and Tibet in 1919, to his death in 1989

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The viniyoga of Yoga is about a system to teach to a student

The viniyoga of Yoga is a name for a system to teach to a student,
rather than about students to teach a system to.

Dhyāna is taught as a personalised process unique to each student……

dhyanam

Question:
Would appreciate any clues as to the Dhyāna practice as you were taught.”

Response:
Reflecting on this question reminds me of a video of a lecture by S Sridharan from the KYM recently reposted on August 5th 2015 on the Krishnamacharya Yoga Facebook page. I feel that the extract below sums up well the essence of Krishnamacharya’s teaching, especially when involving the Antar Aṅga:

“But when it came to personal practice we would have to meet our teacher in his room separately…..
What my teacher has imparted to me as my Yoga practice. I cannot share it with any of you.
Not for the reason that I don’t want to share it, it will have no value for any of you…..

When we teach something it should be very personal from the point of view of Yoga practice.
Yoga is a topic that just cannot be taught over a platform.”

He also discussed earlier in the video the notion that the only group activity was the study of texts. When it came to personal practice this was within a private room and was a personal matter between the teacher and the student.

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One of the key concepts in the viniyoga of Āsana……

One of the key concepts in the viniyoga of Āsana
is how to facilitate movement in the spine
rather than just movement of the spine.

The counter posture needs to be mastered before a particular Āsana is attempted

bhujangasanasarvangasana

How do we know that a student is ready to attempt a more progressive posture such as Sarvāṅgāsana?

From following the core principle in the teachings of Vinyāsa Krama. In that the Pratikriyāsana or counter posture for a particular Āsana needs to be mastered before that particular Āsana is attempted.

For example if we want to teach Sarvāṅgāsana or shoulder stand, because it will have a specific potential for the particular student, then we teach the counterpose Bhujaṅgāsana first.

So the student first works around Bhujaṅgāsana within their personal practice and the information that arises guides the teacher as to their readiness for, in this case, Sarvāṅgāsana.

“Teach what is inside you, not as it applies to you, but as it applies to the student.”
– T Krishnamacharya

The information arising from observing how the student practices Bhujaṅgāsana guides the teacher as to the appropriateness of Sarvāṅgāsana. The information that feeds back may be on the level of Annamaya, Prāṇamaya, Manomaya or beyond. Obviously this implies that we are observing the students practice directly.

Once the student shows an adequate performance of Bhujaṅgāsana and it can be integrated into their existing personal practice, then we can be more secure that the student is ready to approach integrating Sarvāṅgāsana into their regular practice.

Teaching 121 lessons remained at the heart of Krishnamacharya’s and Desikachar’s priorities

TKV Desikachar and Paul Harvey

My experience of the application (though not known as Viniyoga till some years after I began my studies in India) of Yoga as a 121 personalised practice methodology transmitted from teacher to student has been formed by a 23 year apprenticeship through intensive immersions in personal lessons, from numerous visits to Madras in South India, learning Yoga practice techniques and theory and associated Yoga and lifestyle texts study under my root teacher TKV Desikachar.

My journey to this relationship with 121 lessons as an authentic and traditional medium for adults learning Yoga as a practice tool and study reference for our personal support and development started in 1972, as for most of us with joining a group Yoga Class. In my case from an interest in meditation coupled with an inability to even sit on my heels.

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An introduction to what is the art of the viniyoga of Yoga Practice

TKV_5

An introduction to what is the art of the viniyoga of Yoga Practice

The concept of viniyoga is the art of applying Yoga to the needs and aspirations of each person as a unique individual rather than fitting a number of individuals into the more generalised Westernised educational or physical fitness modalities of group class instruction.

“The spirit of viniyoga is starting from where one finds oneself.
As everybody is different and changes from time to time,
there can be no common starting point, and ready-made answers are useless.
The present situation must be examined and the habitually established status must be re-examined.”
– TKV Desikachar

Thus, using the term ‘viniyoga’ to describe a Yoga Class as a ‘Viniyoga Group Class’ or using the term to banner a group class teaching ‘style’ would in reality be a contradiction to how the name viniyoga, offered by Desikachar in 1983 as a collective description for the lifetime teachings of T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar, was intended to be used. In this context the term viniyoga relates solely to the transmission of Yoga within a 121 relationship. In this respect one can consider that even the notion of training teachers just in a group class environment to teach according to ‘Viniyoga’ could be seen as an irony.

So to summarise, the main aim behind the introduction and use of the term viniyoga as the application of Yoga, is to collectively describe an approach to personalising a Yoga practice according to the individual and their situation; through respecting our unique differences in age, gender, mental aptitude, physical health, social lifestyle, occupation and interests; together with developmental potentials according to the persons current situation and needs.

Personal Sādhana and Professional Teaching Today……

Personal Sādhana and Professional Teaching

Chatting recently with a student about starting their first group class teaching the principles of applying Yoga. They were saying how the practice arts they had learnt so far had only been applied in the context of their personal Sādhana. As such what had been experienced felt very precious and they felt as if they didn’t want to share it with others yet.

They were reassured when I said I not only understood and agreed, but felt that too many want to ‘share’ what they have learnt far too quickly.

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Dhyāna Sādhana was taught according to the principles of Cikitsa, Rakṣaṇa and Śikṣaṇa……

dhyanasana

Dhyāna Sādhana was taught
according to the principles of CikitsāRakṣaṇa and Śikṣaṇa Krama,
with meditational practices ranging
from pacification to protection to empowerment.

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Increasingly I observe Yoga teachers, even if not trained specifically in……

desikachar_ph
Increasingly I observe Yoga teachers, even if not trained specifically in this area, offering private tuition or 121’s as an adjunct to their other teaching activities.

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.

I have increasing questions around the personal developmental aspects of these options within the context of them being acquisitional skill based professional add-ons to ones teaching repertoire.

For example how does offering 121’s, as if a group class for one, or as I have observed, even advertising 121’s for up to two people; or offering short term therapy (i.e. palliative) based Yoga lessons, compare with the ancient models, such as the one I experienced over two decades of personal lessons with my teacher arising out of T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar’s traditional transmission of ‘apprenticeship’ over a long period?

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It is the student in us that must realize ‘Avasthānam’…..

“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’.

From there the inner student will flower perpetually, sustained by the rooting of the transmission from the external teacher to the external student.

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viniyoga or application of Yoga according to……

viniyoga

“TKV Desikachar. taught the viniyoga of Yoga or application of Yoga according to state of life, place, time and circumstance to optimise the student’s potential within that situation as seen from his own, forever evolving, innovating and maturing, developmental teaching thread.”

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