What appears as Yoga to an outsider is mainly the physical aspects……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House“What appears as Yoga to an outsider is mainly the physical aspects of our practice.
They will not be aware of how we breathe, how we feel the breath,
and how we co-ordinate breathing with physical movement.
They tend to be interested only in our flexibility and suppleness.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Two Page 13

read more

Just because one person can bend more than another does not prove……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House“Just because one person can bend more than another
does not prove or disprove that the former is better in the practice of Yoga.
Such comparisons cannot be the basis of happiness based upon superiority,
or the opposite, unhappiness over inferiority.
Often this unhappiness is so severe that it makes us quit our pursuits.”

– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter One Page 7

read more

Āsana offers a purpose more than just physical.

pascimatanasana

Āsana offers a purpose more than just physical.
Āsana offers a link of the mind to the physical.
Āsana introduces the concept of Dhyāna as a practice.
Āsana seeks to minimise the Saṃskāra or habitual patterns which dull the mind.

In doing so it seeks to increase our sensitivity to ourselves,
what is around us and its corresponding influences,
and to what sustains us.

– Extract from my personal notes taken during 121 lessons with TKV Desikachar on the ‘Principles of Practice’ in Madras during April 1980.

It is clear that no examination of the body will reveal Cakra.

2visuddhi

“It is clear that no examination of the body will reveal Cakra. The ancients knew this well and my father often repeated it. The system of Cakra is a subtle vision of the Yogi, in accordance with his own personal experience. For this reason there are different descriptions.

If we want to concern ourselves with the Cakra, we must accept them and recognise them in this way. This is why it is a a waste of time to argue about it, as people tend to do these days. Why does it matter if this or that Cakra is one or two centimetres higher or lower, if it is vertical or horizontal, blue or green.

On the contrary, it is a question of showing that we are concerned with particular inner images and to avoid this ridiculous situation of having useless arguments.”

– ‘Concerning the Cakra’ by TKV Desikachar

Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy

Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy

Interview with TKV Desikachar

By Paul Harvey in 2000 whilst studying with TKV Desikachar in Chennai

Paul thanks Desikachar for agreeing to give time for this interview and Desikachar replies with thanks.

Question from Paul Harvey

It is a very broad area that we want to look at around science and medical conditions, as there is a tremendous interest in Yoga as a therapy in the world today.

I would like to start by maybe getting a historical perspective on Yoga and asking questions on your understanding of it. Where do you feel that this link started between Yoga and Science? Because Yoga originally was something that was not associated with science.

It was something that was done for personal development, spiritual development, or even perhaps physical development and somewhere we seem to have made this link with science, which was predominantly something that was growing up in the West whilst at the same time Yoga was growing or has grown in India, with less connection directly with science.

So I am wondering if you could help develop this question about the link between Yoga and Science.

Response from TKV Desikachar

If we look at the history of India, for centuries and centuries for different reasons India has always fascinated the West. More people have travelled to India from the West than from other parts because the Chinese could not come because of the mountains. There has been silk; there has been a lot of mix about India’s great history; also many conquerors came.

Through these travels people from the West, which is the source of modern science, heard about many things that are happening. Among the things that they came to know about were some of what we call the ‘feats’ of Yogis. In fact long, long ago Yoga was linked only to all these feats, levitation, flying, etc.

In the 18th and 19th Century, in the beginning of the 19th Century, there was an observation made during the time of the great King, Ranjit Singh in the Punjab, which fascinated some of the travellers of the West. There was a Yogi who was kept in a box and buried underground. He was there for a number of days and he did not die.

read more

The spirit of viniyoga is starting from where one finds oneself……

viniyoga

“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

So how can we establish a link between Nāḍī and Cakra?

Unknown

“So how can we establish a link between what has been said about Nāḍī and Cakra
and the practice of Yoga?
What role does Yoga practice have here?”
– ‘Concerning the Cakra’ by TKV Desikachar

Concerning the number of Cakra, we also find different ideas……

ajna

Concerning the number of Cakra, we also find different ideas. The most frequent is that which considers there to be seven. However in his book ‘Yoga Makaranda‘ my father talks of ten. There are other ideas as to the number elsewhere, the form in which they are visualised varies according to tradition.

Many Yogins visualise them as circles or wheels. According to other sources, they are described as lotuses or Padma with varying number of petals. Compared to the idea of a wheel, which evokes more the idea of movement and rotation, the lotus evokes more the idea of creation.

If we analyse all this seriously, we see, in the respect of the Cakra, that the sages, during meditation, did not always have the same experiences and visions. There is no need to discuss this, because it depends on the personal experience of each seer. However, it is important to be aware of these differences and the consequences that they can have for the way in which we imagine the experience.”

– ‘Concerning the Cakra’ by TKV Desikachar

A Mantra is only a Mantra if it is special and secret……

mantra

“A Mantra is only a Mantra if it is special and secret,
and has been personally bestowed by someone
with whom you have a special relationship.
It must be pronounced properly”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

Through Yoga reverse Tamas……

sirsasanamaha_mudra_UB
“Through Yoga reverse Tamas – Śīrṣāsana, Uḍḍīyāna Bandha.
Both practices carry risks.
Breathing can be chosen for the less adept.”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

The problem is in the mind and the key is in the mind.

“The problem is in the mind
and the key is in the mind.”
– TKV Desikachar

We must treat first the condition that bothers the mind.

“We must treat first the condition that bothers the mind.”
– TKV Desikachar

The model of the Nāḍī and Cakra can never help to explain……

anahata

The human energetic system is very complex and it is even harder to understand the mind, the structure, the limitations and possibilities, the relationship with the body and vice versa.

On the other hand, we can easily say to someone that there are seven Cakra, that they are like this or that, that there are found here or there in the body etc in all simplicity. But we must be aware if we do that we haven’t really said anything, and the person will not be any the wiser.

The risk of confusion is even greater when we try to show the model of the Cakra scientifically, or to give spiritual characteristics some sort of scientific basis. Some try to do this, by linking Mūladhāra with the kidneys or the sacral plexus, or Viśuddhi with the thyroid, etc.

read more

The Cakra are points of concentration for the mind.

anahata

“The Cakra are points of concentration for the mind.”
– ‘Concerning the Cakra’ by TKV Desikachar

Sāṃkhya postulates what appears and what causes it to appear……

samkhya

Sāṃkhya postulates what appears and what causes it to appear.”
– TKV Desikachar Madras November 24th 1979 on Sāṃkhya and Yoga

In the West whilst they don’t accept authority, they would like to be……

TKV_France_1999

“In the West whilst they don’t accept authority,
they would like to be the authority.”
– TKV Desikachar Madras 1998

The more you teach the more you must practice.

“The more you teach the more you must practice.”
– TKV Desikachar

Amongst the powerful definitions of Yoga in the Bhagavad Gītā……

srimad_bhagavad_gita

Amongst the powerful definitions of Yoga in the Bhagavad Gītā,
Chapter Two verse 48 defines Yoga as Samatvam or equanimity.
My teacher described it as:
“When acting responsibly within our Dharma,
there is no attachment to the fruits.”

Yoga is when different actions are done……

Desikachar_France_1999

“Yoga is when different actions are done.
You think and act with proper investigation.
How do you feel at the end of the action?
Do you feel quite good?
Is this Sādhana or Siddhi?”
TKV Desikachar France 1983

Of the Four Aspects of the Breath which is more important?

kumbhaka

“Of the Four Aspects of the breath which is more important,
(such as) holding after inhalation by will and so on?”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

Talking about the alternative healing system……

Claude Paris 1999
Claude Marachel:
Talking about the alternative healing system, I think we have to be very careful. Sometimes in Western countries, we see that everything is mixed. In the field of alternative systems, a lot of Viveka or discernment is needed.

TKV Desikachar:
What has happened to some of these alternative systems of therapy, including Yoga, is that things have become a bit shallow.

read more

My concern now is how I can behave with people……

Matsendrasana2

“My concern now is how I can behave with people.
It took such little time to twist the body into Pūrna Matsyendrāsana.
But what of it? I was so lean, and I was working hard.
But now it is so painful if I make a mistake with somebody.
This is the hard part, this is the Yoga part.”
– TKV Desikachar from an interview in the Journal Viniyoga Italia on Yoga and Well Being.

I am very impressed by what you said about your father giving some……

Desikachar_France_1999

Viniyoga in Italia:
I am very impressed by what you said about your father giving some students an oil bath. Do you think that sometimes a Yoga teacher needs to give a massage or has to touch the student?
TKV Desikachar:
Well, if a person comes with a backache, you have to examine him or her. You have to touch the person and feel the person. As a part of observation, we need to do that. Sometimes as a part of encouragement we can do that. At times, I take the pulse, so they feel that I care. But I have not and I don’t like to massage our students. I always ask the family to do that.
Viniyoga in Italia:
It could also create a dependence.
TKV Desikachar:
Not only that, but if you do it for one, you will have to do it for others. I want the students to be on their own. It is an education in Svastha.
– TKV Desikachar from an interview in the Journal Viniyoga Italia on Yoga and Well Being.

Do you think it is important for Yoga teachers to mention diet and……

TKV_5

Question to TKV Desikachar:
Do you think it is important for Yoga teachers to mention diet and lifestyle to students?

TKV Desikachar Response: 
As you know, here in Madras, when people come to the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram or to me personally, they come because they have some problem. Every day they come, every day with some problem. If we have a problem, especially if it is a chronic problem, it is both in the body and in the mind, whether it manifests as asthma, diabetes, headache, or blood pressure. Thus we cannot help but talk about everything. That is why we, here in Madras, need to know something about Āyurveda, Yoga and western medical science. For these reasons our teachers are taught physiology, anatomy, Āyurveda and Yoga.

read more

Do you think that a Yoga teacher in the West should go through some……

Desikachar_France_1999

Question : Do you think that a Yoga teacher in the West should go through some therapy or analysis in order to be aware of the developments in this field and to meet the growing demand for psychological help?

Desikachar : The term “Yoga teacher in the West” seems to suggest that everyone has the same way of teaching. This is not so.

There are those who only give instructions about techniques, like explaining how to use a computer to someone. There is not a lot happening in this teaching situation and the awareness of psychological questions would seem relatively unimportant.

But there is another situation where techniques are not the only element involved. These Yoga teachers are personally concerned by the evolution of their students. They cannot be ignorant, otherwise it would be like the blind leading the blind.

In this second case, and I know many teachers in the West who do this, they look to have as comprehensive a knowledge as possible in many fields, including psychology. The way they go about it is up to them.

Interview with TKV Desikachar May 1999 during seminar on Yoga and the 21st Century.

Pages: 123456789