Another contribution is how he utilises the Yoga Sūtra in the practice……

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“Another contribution, I feel, is how he utilises the Yoga Sūtra in the practice.
I remember in the first Zinal, when I used the word Yoga Sūtra,
people thought I was talking about Greek civilisation or something.

My own reading of the Yoga Sūtra, without him,
would have made me think it just another of those useless books on India.
He linked each of the Sūtra to the practice.”

TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Cale Vāte Calaṃ Cittam – As is the Breath so is the Psyche…….

Cale Vāte Calaṃ Cittam –
As is the breath so is the psyche.

The concept according to my teacher, oft quoted by Krishnamacharya, appears in the second verse of Chapter Two in the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā. It follows the opening verse which introduces Prāṇāyāma albeit with caveats around certain prerequisites.

Firstly establish an Āsana as a firm seat, not as simple as it seems given the predilection for action Āsana contrasting a difficulty in remaining seated, upright and still for half an hour.

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Prāṇāyāma within Rāja Yoga and Haṭha Yoga

 

According to the Yoga Kuṇḍalinī Upaniṣad verse 1 – the activity of Citta or psyche has two causes, the movement of Vāsana or latent impressions and the movement of Vāyu or Prāṇa. If one of them is active so is the other, equally if one of them is influenced so is the other.

These are the primary foci within the principles and practices of Rāja Yoga around Citta and Haṭha Yoga around Prāṇa. In terms of primary practices common to both we have Prāṇāyāma.

However as with Āsana within either Rāja Yoga and Haṭha Yoga (a topic for a future post), there are different priorities in the viniyoga (application) of this common primary tool.

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The practice of Yoga is linked to the Nāḍī, or pulse……

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“The practice of Yoga is linked to the Nāḍī, or pulse, so he always thinks that the pulse rate tells whether you have done a good practice or a bad practice.

He suggests that our life may be measured by the number of beats to the heart, and if somebody wants to live long and well, he has to reduce the rate of the heart beat. This is, of course, a little different from what the aerobic people say, who think you should boost your heart rate to 130/140.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981

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Mahā Mudrā, if practiced every day, prevents ill health……

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“Another thing that he made very simple, and practical, is the use of Mahā Mudrā.
This is a very well known posture now,
but when you start looking at the texts, nothing is clear there.
He has incorporated the Āsana part, the breathing part, and the Mudrā part,
and, he feels, Mahā Mudrā, if practiced every day, prevents ill health.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

He also added the idea of Bhāvana in the practice of Prāṇāyāma……

jalandhara_bandha

“Further, he also added long ago, the idea of Bhāvana in the practice of Prāṇāyāma. Long, long ago, he said, the breathing, inhalation, exhalation and retentions have some sort of relationship with the highest force, Lord Nārāyaṇa.

Inhalation is like an inspiration from God himself.
Retention is some sort of meditation, because you are with Him.
Exhalation is some sort of movement towards God,
and retention after exhale is like a surrender to God.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The concept of Bhāva and Abhāva in Yoga Practice……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

Amongst the many concepts taught to me by my teacher, to help with understanding and thus working more skilfully with the student, was the notion of Bhāva and Abhāva.

The teaching within this important concept is that when a student comes wanting to learn Yoga, are they interested in learning Yoga to move towards the deeper teachings of Yoga (Bhāva), or wanting to learn Yoga in order to move away from something they find unhelpful or undesirable in their life (Abhāva).

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One of the most complicated aspects of Yoga practice is the Bandha……

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“One of the most complicated aspects of Yoga practice is the Bandha. He has been able to link correctly various ideas on the Bandha that appear in different texts, and is able to say that certain Bandha can only be done in certain parts of the Prāṇāyāma.
I may also say, that nobody is clearer about the Mūla Bandha than Krishnamacharya.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Yoga as a Therapy for Different Levels of Being……

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‘Yoga as a Therapy for Different Levels of Being’

As a support for those attending the Two Days in Israel, hosted by the Israeli Yoga Teachers Association I am posting links below to recent articles around the topic of Yoga as a Therapy within Modern Yoga:

December 1st 2014
‘This approach is known as the Yoga of Rejuvenation and Prevention……’

December 3rd 2014 –
‘It is interesting that in this current boom of Yoga Vogueing there are two distinct camps emerging……’

December 7th 2014
‘There is an increasing tendency in terms of modern Yoga therapy application strategies……’

December 17th 2014
‘What is healthy for the Heart of Yoga?’

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Prāṇāyāma as Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā or Laṅghana Kriyā……

Prāṇāyāma

“Because of his knowledge of Āyurveda,
he conceived Prāṇāyāma also as Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā or Laṅghana Kriyā.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

One of the greatest contributions of Krishnamacharya to Prāṇāyāma……

jalandhara_bandha

“And, in the Prāṇāyāma also, the different types, like Vaikharī,
the different Vṛtti, the different Krama, he put them all into practice.
One of the greatest contributions, I would say, of Krishnamacharya to Prāṇāyāma,
is the use of Bāhya Kumbhaka, and the importance of Recaka, or exhalation.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The beginning of Prāṇāyāma is in Āsana……

janu_sirsasana

“Because of the different uses of breathing,
he strongly believes that the beginning of Prāṇāyāma is in Āsana.
Āsana, and Āsana alone,
with proper breathing techniques,
leads you to the idea of Prāṇāyāma.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The idea of Vinyāsa, begin from where you are, go to a point, and……

 

Finally he conceived the idea of what is called Vinyāsa. In fact, in the beginning of his teaching, around 1932, he evolved a list of postures leading towards a particular posture, and coming away from it.

This is different Āsana linked to one another in a scheme as though one posture leads to the following one. And this scheme was very important, especially for children, who find it very interesting.

He continues to have the same faith in this, although you cannot always follow these schemes for adults or people who are sick.

Still the idea of Vinyāsa, begin from where you are, go to a point, and come back to where you have to be, remains valid.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Pratikriyāsana, the idea of compensation and counterpose……

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Krishnamacharya in Pūrvatāsana

“He has also given to us the concept of Pratikriyāsana,
the idea of compensation and counterpose.
Since all actions have some reactions,
we have to compensate for the reactions.”
TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

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Breathing is an essential tool in the practice of Āsana……

baddha_konasana

Most importantly, he also has gone to the final limits of the use of the breathing in postures. He found, and he insists, that breathing is an essential tool in the practice of Āsana.

Varying the way to breathe, varying the length of the breath, using different combinations of postures and breath, he has proven that it is possible to modify postures to meet the requirements of individuals.

For him, breathing is like the steering wheel of a car.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The person who taught me how to vary postures……

Āsana_18a

The person who taught me how to vary postures, to bend the legs, to turn the neck, all the simple and complicated variations, as necessary, is Krishnamacharya. It is important to vary each posture according to the individuals requirements.

Further, he also introduced the use of other aids or supports, so that the person gets the benefit of a posture through other means when he is not able to do the posture itself. This can involve sitting on a chair, using a roll, using supports, etc., the use of other means to help a person achieve certain results.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

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What are the concepts of Sṛṣṭi Krama, Sthiti Krama and Antya Krama?

 urdha_mukha_svanasananadi_sodanadhyanam

What are the concepts of Sṛṣṭi Krama, Sthiti Krama and Antya Krama and what is their significance in relationship to the practice of Āsana, Prāṇāyāma and Dhyānam?

We can approach this question from two directions, chronologically and psychologically. Chronologically, the starting point is the age at which people traditionally begin Yoga practice.

“A person is fit to practice when they can eat by themselves.”
– Śrī Krishnamacharya

According to the Yoga teachings of T Krishnamacharya there are three chronological stages of life, or Tri Krama.

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Whenever we look at an Āsana we must look at two sides……

halasana

“Whenever we look at an Āsana we must look at two sides:
1. What is involved in the Āsana
2. Who is doing the Āsana”
– TKV Desikachar France 1984

What is healthy for the Heart of Yoga?

urdha_mukha_svanasanamatsyendrasana dhyanam

There has been a surge of media attention in the UK on the health benefits of Yoga based on the results of a recent study published:

In the Guardian under the title ‘Yoga may provide similar health benefits to ‘cycling or brisk walking’.

In the Telegraph under the title ‘Yoga just as good as aerobics for cutting heart disease risk’.

On the BBC News page under the title ‘Yoga may guard against heart disease, study finds’.

Along with a more recent article in the Guardian under the title ‘Should Yoga be part of NHS care?”

All this is on the one hand seems great and on paper appears to be good publicity, yet it lands in an environment where we have a huge amount of information available on the potential dangers of unhelpful lifestyle on the heart and a huge amount of heart problems. It is almost as if there are parallels between the increasing weight of information and the increasing weight of the population.

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

There is an increasing tendency in terms of Modern Therapeutic Yoga application strategies, especially when marketing Yoga therapy through group class situations, to create brand banding to identify ‘sufferers’.

Personally I feel it is not appropriate when considering Yoga practices for others to ‘lump’ people together as say back pain sufferers, or migraine sufferers, or insomnia sufferers, etc.

It is tempting, or even convenient, to propose a technique and then state that this technique will help this particular situation or problem.

However, my teacher taught me that Yoga is to be tailored to the needs and aspirations of each person rather than fitting the person to some ready made group standard technique.

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It is interesting that in this current boom of Yoga Vogueing there are two distinct camps emerging……


It is interesting that in this current boom of Yoga Vogueing there are two distinct camps emerging.

That of Yoga within the field of extreme fitness and at the other end of the spectrum that of Yoga within the field of therapy or Yoga Tx.

The former is evident through the agenda and primary foci within the modern phenomena of Yoga Studios and Yoga Teachers competing to fill their many Warrior Athlete style Āsana classes with Exotic Sport names such as Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, Hot Power Yoga, Boot Camp Yoga, Extreme Yoga, Fitness Yoga, Fitness Fusion Yoga, Crossfit Yoga, Pilates Yoga, Booty Ballet Yoga, Yoga Burn, Yoga Bums and Tums, et al.

These multifarious Exotic Sport Yoga options are often promoted by studios offering ‘as many as you can eat in a month’ style discounts and modern Yoga mat style cut ’em thin so you can pack ’em in facilities. Though these marketing strategies can also mean thats its increasingly difficult to develop a continuity of student profiling or a systematic developmental pedagogy, but what the heck its all Yoga.

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

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3.Yoga as Therapeutic Healthcare

Now Yoga, as both a restorative and preventative, is applied as therapeutic healthcare to help people with problems or poor health. Here the approach needs to be very different for each person. One person’s potential to change their situation will be affected by their problem. Another person’s problem will be affected by their potential to change their situation.

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The concern of Yoga as Meditation is the mystery of life rather than the mastery of life…….

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2.Yoga as Meditation

Now the concern is more with the mystery of life than the mastery of life.

Here Yoga is a means for meditation with self-inquiry as the primary focus.

“Who am I?” is the question that acts as a map for an inner journey into our psyche. It is a quest to touch and be touched by the “soulfull” quality of being that resides within.

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Yet ask any number of people what Yoga is and you are likely to get……

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The word Yoga is by now well known outside India. In fact over the last four decades we have seen it quietly and steadily taking root within our Western culture and language. Yet ask any number of people what Yoga is and you are likely to get many different responses.

These responses are often diverse, and sometimes contradictory. However, Yoga can generally be summarised into three possibilities or approaches:-

1. Yoga as Power

Firstly Yoga can be explained as a means to attain a degree of power or control over our body and mind.

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The principle is we must bring action to the area of the body we wish to improve……

ardha_utkatasanavirabharasana

“Some standing postures develop the legs, such as Ardha Utkaṭāsana (half squat).
This posture is like weight lifting.
Other postures like Vīrabhadrāsana (standing,
bending backward with one knee bent) will also help.
The principle is we must bring action to the area of the body we wish to improve.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Seven Page 106-7