Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Twelve Practice

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

‘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 verse and word cross-references where possible to support a a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.

Chapter Twelve Practice: Choosing a Ratio and the Proper Technique for Prāṇāyāma
– Pages 163-177

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A feeling of well-being is not just having flexible joints…….

Āsana_20

“A feeling of well-being is not just having flexible joints,
it is much more.’
– TKV Desikachar ‘Choosing a Ratio and the proper technique for Prāṇāyāma’
Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Twelve Page 173

What can be done can be easily established if we observe our breath in Āsana.

asana_15a

What can be done can be easily established if we observe our breath in Āsana.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘Choosing a Ratio and the proper technique for Prāṇāyāma’
Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Twelve Page 163

The choice of a proper ratio involves two things……

seated_pranayama_2

“The choice of a proper ratio involves two things,
what can be done and what should be done.
What can be done involves a given person’s capacity
to inhalehold the breath, exhale and hold the breath.
What should be done involves
our direction of movement, our aim, our need.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘Choosing a Ratio and the proper technique for Prāṇāyāma’
Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Twelve Page 163

The body can be underused, overused and abused……

asana

“The body can be underused, overused and abused,
we need to be aware of what is happening with the body,
but we also need to do something for the mind.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

If we direct the mind onto one part of the breath, then the mind……

prana

“If we direct the mind onto one part of the breath,
then the mind affects the other parts of the breath.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

If we relate to part of the breath we are related to all of the breath.

“If we relate to part of the breath,
we are related to all of the breath.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

The breath makes it possible to find ways to achieve access to……

jathara_parivrtti

“The breath makes it possible to find ways to achieve access to the posture,
it is possible to adapt a posture through the breath.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Any posture far removed from the normal posture is a problem and……

Āsana_12

“Any posture far removed from the normal posture is a problem
and therefore risky if there is any problem with the body.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

The hands should be upwards for counting and breathing….

pranayama hands

“The hands should be upwards for counting and breathing,
with elbows slightly bent to keep the shoulders relaxed.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

It is possible to be aware of the state of the mind by observing……

Āsana_35

“It is possible to be aware of the state of the mind
by observing the body during an Āsana practice.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Breathing should be done to have maximum effect on the spine……

puraka

“Breathing should be done to have maximum effect on the spine;
so start the inhale at the top of the lungs down,
with contracted abdomen to hold spine erect, offering from top to bottom.
Inhale from top to bottom makes sure that the spine is erect.
It was believed that breathing from the bottom to the top
would send the internal organs further down, which wasn’t considered healthy,
whereas breathing from the top to the bottom lifted the organs.
It also helps to work on the upper portion of the spine, which is a very sluggish area,
this type of breathing helps to create movement.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

The breath becomes very short using Bandha……

maha_mudra_UB

“The breath becomes very short using Bandha.
It is necessary to have a very long exhale
before it is possible to work with them effectively.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Actions either take us forwards or backwards.

karma

Actions either take us forwards or backwards.”
– TKV Desikachar

Has the word Yoga lost its meaning?

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“Has the word Yoga lost its meaning?”
Question posed by TKV Desikachar August 1983
(over 33 years ago!)

All models for meditation have a preliminary step, Pūrva Aṅga……

dhyana
“All models for meditation have a preliminary step, Pūrva Aṅga,
in which one does things which lead to a situation where Dhyāna may be possible.
Dhyāna, then, the ability to pursue and fix a question,
also requires Pūrva Aṅga, preparation.”

“Proper preparation can involve eliminating divisive forces and
making certain the person is ready for the work.”

“Not everyone needs Pūrva Aṅga.
Some extraordinary people, because of merits in the past,
do not need this preparation. Quite a few examples exist.
However, if we try to emulate them we are in trouble.”

“We must recognise the necessity of preparation,
the need to work so we can come to a level where we are able to fix the question.”

“Thus, the ability to fix the question is a requisite for Dhyāna.
One who cannot is not ready for meditation.”

“One need not fix the question first.
Instead, one must do the preliminary preparation.
If that is done properly, one does not have to decide: the question will come.
You just rise to the level where questioning is possible.”

“Sometimes, a question may arise when you are not ready.
How to reach the question requires preliminaries,
for there must be a freshness in your approach.
If the approach is habitual, the response will be wrong.”

“When we equip ourselves better,
we will know the right question.
Only then can we say,
‘It is MY question’.”

TKV Desikachar Madras December 19th 1988

We need to hold knowledge back to see something fresh.

samskara

“We need to hold knowledge back to see something fresh.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Any model for Meditation presented in this Tradition will have…..

dhyana

“Any model for Meditation presented in this Tradition will have:
1. Preliminaries.
2. Peak.
3. Descent.”

“The preliminaries are very important,
especially in isolating one object for meditation.”

“How ineffective one’s meditation will be if one thinks he or she can start at the peak.”

“In Meditation, one needs time for the preliminaries;
then the actual meditation may be short because the mind is ready.”

“From Pūrva Aṅga,
one goes into a state of Dhyāna,
and then must come out.
One must have the means to come out of that state.”

“The length of time for each step of the meditation model is variable.
However, the preparation is linked to the exact character and evolution of Dhyāna.”

TKV Desikachar Madras December 19th 1988

In India the Purohita has the authority to say……

purohita

“In India the Purohita (person appointed to be in charge of the teaching)
has the authority to say:
Anuloma – What goes with what the person wants.
Viloma – What goes against what the person wants.
Pratiloma – What is different from what the person wants.
In the West too much Anuloma.
In India more Viloma and Pratiloma.”
– TKV Desikachar Madras 1998

In the student-teacher relationship, is the ball in the teachers court?……

TKV_France_1999

“In the student-teacher relationship, is the ball in the teachers court?
The student must also take responsibility for his or her learning, as an adult.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

One must give food according to the stomach.

viniyoga

“One must give food according to the stomach.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

People come to study Yoga for many reasons……

TKV_France_1999

“People come to study Yoga for many reasons,
however it comes into two groups.
1. They come to learn or study (Śikṣaṇa).
2. They come to us for support rather than to study (Rakṣaṇa).
So the Yoga we offer to the person who is inquiring
is not the Yoga we offer to the person seeking protection.
Therefore one can give the wrong advice (Asat viniyoga) to the right person
and vice versa (Asat viniyoga).
This can do more harm than if the person had not come.
The intention must be right as must be the execution.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

The more one teaches, the less time……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“The more one teaches,
the less time you have for yourself,
the more mistakes you make.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

Āsana practice should take into account……

asana_56

Āsana practice should take into account:
– Where we are – Where am I?
– Where are we going – What is my goal?
– What happens afterwards – How do I continue with my life?
There needs to be steps in the sequence to lead to the goal and counter postures
to prepare for life after the Yoga practice, a Vinyāsa.
The postures need to be visualised prior to being executed, Bhāva.
It is important to prepare for life after a Yoga practice
so that a student is fully prepared for life outside the Yoga room.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar in England 1992

Yoga  is often attributed to Āsana practice alone……

yoga

Yoga  is often attributed to Āsana practice alone,
which is only the part of Yoga focusing on the physical body or servicing the body.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

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