Picture I took whilst studying and living in Madras through 1980,
of TKV Desikachar then aged 42 at a concert at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.
To his left is his mother Namagiriamma, T Krishnamacharya’s wife and BKS Iyengar’s sister, aged 68.
To his right is his eldest son Bushan aged 10.
Beyond him is Raghu Ananthanarayanan, a senior teacher at that time at the KYM.
Whilst living and studying in Chennai through 1980 Desikachar gave me a video of an Indian TV programme about the work of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in the field of Yoga and Health. In 2012 I had the video cassette digitalised and offered it as a dropbox downloadable format for students personal collections.
From here it seemed to have made its way to YouTube as a view or embed only film, so am offering it here as a resource for all in both a viewable and embedable format, as well as an easily downloadable video.
‘Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and Practice’ by the University Press of America,
a transcript of recordings of a one month Yoga Programme in Colgate University in 1976, published in 1980.
Unlike the later redacted edition, re-published in 1995 as the ‘Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice’, it captures the evolution of the retreat with the days lectures and Q & A dialogues as they alternated between ‘lectures on the principles and purposes of Yoga and discussions related to the practice of Yoga with special reference to the postures and the breathing techniques’.
TKV Desikachar, in his forward to the original version wrote:
“These lectures and discussions, printed words put before persons I might never meet,
are but reflections of that deeper result that grew out of a living face-to-face encounter.
Coming to learn of Yoga only through reading leaves much to be desired.
Yet, something worthwhile about Yoga might be shared through the medium of the printed word.”
A chapter by chapter Study guide is offered below with added Yoga Sūtra verse and word cross-references to support a a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.
Chapter One Theory: The Meaning and Purpose of Yoga – Pages 1-12
‘Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and Practice’ by the University Press of America, a transcript of a one month Yoga Programme in Colgate University in 1976, published in 1980. Currently available through Amazon US or Amazon UK, it still remains for me to this day in all but layout, one of the finest modern expositions on Yoga.
Also, for me, far superior to the later redacted version and re-published in 1995 under the title ‘The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice’ by Inner Traditions, with many family photographs being added within a more ‘visual friendly’ presentation and a simplified less complex ‘reader format’. Personally described to me by Desikachar as ‘old wine in new bottles’.
Question from Paul Harvey
So we as students come to Yoga. How do teachers evaluate, if from what you are saying it could be that the same symptom. If we take stress for example, similar stress could produce five different responses. One person gets blood pressure, one person will get digestive problems, another person will have headaches, and another person will get sleep problems and another person it will effect their relationship.
How do you evaluate? What are the principles on which we can evaluate in order to decide what could be helpful for a problem when there are so many variables based on the same, even on the same symptoms such as in particular stress which can produce some of the results.
Response from TKV Desikachar
First I must have the training, anybody can have good training. I can work on the computer but I must have training. I know nothing I must have training. Training includes certain knowledge of the basics of Yoga, knowledge of the human system, personal pride so that you have some conviction of what you are talking about which means personal experience, internship where we see how the more experienced teacher is doing that work she is doing. We make sure of that in our School that there is a strong internship.
Did Krishnamacharya teach Ashtanga Primary Series?
Good presentation and one that I concur with generally and especially in two respects.
Firstly the original arrangement of the Āsana into groups rather than sequences.
I was taught the same concept of Āsana arranged into 3 specific groups around the idea of Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced.
Secondly, also supported from my conversations with TKV Desikachar, the Yoga Korunta still appears to be more a legend rather than a reality, past or present.
Thank you Anthony for hosting this post on your fine blog.
A talk by TKV Desikachar in Nantes, France April 1995
In today’s world, the authority of tradition, religious institutions or elders is questioned and not accepted unless proven to the satisfaction of the individual.
However, when a person turns to someone or something with an attitude of respect and with the conviction that through this some thing good will happen, extraordinary results are achieved. This is especially so in moments of crisis.
TKV Desikachar, here presents an understanding of faith that the modern mind can accept and more important, that the modern mind needs.
This talk was given at Nantes, France in April 1995 when he visited Europe for a series of lectures and workshops there.
An extract from, and link to a post from Anthony Grim Hall’s extensive Blog site.
“The Benefits of employing Kumbhaka (retaining the breath in or out) during Asana.”
– Guest post by Mick Lawton
“For well over a year I’ve wondered why Krishnmachrya’s breath retentions that are mentioned in Yoga Makaranda are not employed by the Ashtanga community.
It seemed odd that Pattahbi Jois did not mention breath retention when he wrote Yoga Mala. (Although, he kind of makes reference to breath retention when writing about Kukkutasana – he tells us to perform Nauli – which can only be effectively performed during rechaka Kumbhaka).
I was troubled by the fact that “this rather significant” part of Krishnamacharya’s method had just fallen by the wayside. How could this be?
It was about this time that I became aware (through Anthony Hall’s extremely informative blog) that Srivatsa Ramaswami also advocated Kumbhaka in certain Asana.
Considering that Srivatsa Ramaswami was a student of Krishnamacharya for over 30 years, I started to think it very odd that these breath retentions were generally being overlooked in other traditions that recognised Krishnamacharya as their primary teacher.
I decided that I would conduct an experiment to see if there were any benefits/disadvantages to employing Kumbhaka during Asana.”
I would add a further personal musing to Mick Lawton’s observations:
FAITH IN THE MODERN WORLD a talk by TKV Desikachar in Nantes, France April 1995
I am very pleased that the subject of faith in the modern world has attracted so much interest. I would like to develop this idea in the following way. In the Indian tradition, even today, near the beginning of the 21st century, faith is very alive and is even taken for granted. In India, anywhere in India, people still believe in temples and teachers. Further, in our families there is enormous respect for the parents. Even though we are exposed, more than ever, to the West, this faith continues. It is an amazing situation because on the one hand, we have learnt to question many things, and on the other, we continue to live as in the past. Our traditions are alive, our masters respected and revered and our temples, churches and mosques full. It is almost like our country has not changed at all. But this is in India and India is only a small part of this great world.
A short clip extracted from a video of T Krishnamacharya practising as part of his Yoga Cikitsā or Yoga therapeutics when recovering from a hip fracture from a fall in 1984 when aged 96. Apologies for the quality, the original cassette is a bit flakey.
In 2000 TKV Desikachar presented teachings around the evolution of T Krishnamacharya’s Yoga teaching.
The above summary is available as a Downloadable PDF.
Excerpts from an essay by T Krishnamacharya Downloadable as a PDF.
Summarised and translated from the Saṃskṛta essay of T Krishnamacharya composed in January 1981, by TKV Desikachar and Sujaya Sridhar.
Originally published in KYM Darśanam February 1991.
“The current world of Yoga seems to be made up of many small parts,
each one competing with and often confusing the other.
This is not consistent with the spirit of Yoga,
whose very meaning is ‘to unite’.”
– TKV Desikachar May 2002
Released on the occasion of the Pāduka Pratiṣṭhā of Sri T Krishnamacharya on 15th March 1991 by the KYM.
A Prāṇāyāma Practice passed onto me many decades ago as a Pakkā (Pukka) teaching from Pattabhi Jois:
YOGA AND THE 21st CENTURY
TKV Desikachar was in Narbonne, in the South of France, for a symposium on “Yoga and the XXIst Century” during May 1999. The purpose of the symposium was to consider the role of yoga for the coming century in the three fields of Health, Psychology and Spirituality.
The following interview is an introductory presentation.
This means that a teacher has to be very careful,
because the moment a student likes a teacher,
there is a risk that the teacher will be considered as
their husband, or wife, or father, or guru, or whatever. ”
– TKV Desikachar France May 1999
Yoga and modern medicine – A Dialogue:
Dr Uma Krishnaswamy talks to TKV Desikachar.
Special issue with the Sunday Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU Well-being : March 12, 2000
Yogavallī, T Krishnamacharya’s commentary on the Yoga Sūtra, looking at the text from his personal Vaiṣṇavite viewpoint of Viśiṣṭādvaita or qualified non-dualism (One of the three primary schools of Vedānta).
Whilst living in Chennai through 1980 I recorded a video of an Indian TV programme about the work of the KYM in the field of Yoga and Health. Recently I had the video cassette digitalised and shared it as an online downloadable with students.
From here it has made its way onto YouTube and open source viewing.
AG Mohan on Krishnamacharya’s approach to Śīrṣāsana.
Said by AG Mohan to be from Yoga Makaranda Part 2
Also downloadable as a PDF
Also a downloadable PDF based on the Yoga Makaranda on Āsana practice,
especially variations around Śīrṣāsana (described here as Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā)
Srivatsa Ramaswami (born 1939 in Madras, Tamil Nadu, India) was a student of Shri T Krishnamacharya and studied under him for 33 years, from 1955 until 1988 shortly before Krishnamacharya’s passing.
He is Krishnamacharya’s longest-standing student outside of Krishnamacharya’s immediate family.
Нe currently lives and teaches in the U.S.
This picture shows BKS Iyengar demonstrating Āsana at an event in Chennai in June 1980 where he was invited to give a Yoga lecture and Āsana demonstration in a tribute to his Guru T Krishnamacharya. I remember he introduced his presentation with the words “I am an artist and I am going to show you my art”.