One should practice and inquire into the effects of the practice…….

One should practice and inquire into the effects

“One should practice and
inquire into the effects of the practice
as well as the practice.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

We must discover why we practice.

TKV_5

“We must discover why we practice.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

The test for intelligent effort is the response of the breath.

prana

“The test for intelligent effort is the response of the breath.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

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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Chatting with TKV Desikachar during a lesson in the early 1990’s…..

Chatting with TKV Desikachar during a lesson in the early 1990’s I commented on an observation formed from discussions with my students within a study group I had brought to Madras (Chennai) for a two week programme at the KYM during my personal study stay that year.

As a part of this particular study group visit to the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram some of the students took up the option of 121 lessons with teachers at the KYM. Sharing the content of the practices with me revealed the introduction of a sequence that I had not come across before within, at that time, my nearly 20 years of studies within the work of T Krishnamacharya.

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We have also to ask ourselves the question……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“We have also to ask ourselves the question:
What do we want our (teacher training) students to be equipped to do?
– Personal Practice.
– Training Work.
– Supervision.”
TKV Desikachar speaking with his senior Western students London 1998

We need to find a balance between the demand and the capacity……

“We need to find a balance between the demand and the capacity.
It needs careful reflection if we want this great teaching to continue.
If we don’t want it to become another museum we have to check our work and care for the future.
Many organisations with a vertical structure have collapsed.
Our structure must not be vertical.”
TKV Desikachar speaking with his senior Western students London 1998

I don’t think any system, even though it has all the possibilities……

TKV_France_1999

“I don’t think any system, even though it has all the possibilities,
has all the answers, for all of the people, for all of the time.”
TKV Desikachar speaking with his senior Western students London 1998

Defining our relationship with awareness is an inquiry……

na iti na iti

“na iti na iti – not this, not this”
Defining our relationship with awareness,
is an inquiry into re-defining our relationship with matter.
– Bṛhad Āraṇyaka Upaniṣat II.3.6

However first we should know where we are……

TKV_5

“However first we should know where we are.
We must examine ideas like we must start from where we actually are,
not where we want to be.
We must first recognise our actual state of mind.”
TKV Desikachar France 1983

The evolution of Samādhi is……

samapatti

“The evolution of Samādhi is Sthūla Savitarkā to Sthūla Nirvitarkā.
This is Viniyoga Krama, then Sūkṣma Savicārā to Sūkṣma Nirvicārā.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter Three verse 4
cross referencing to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 42-44.

Yoga practice evolves from an external other cooked restaurant experience to……

svatantra

Yoga practice evolves from an external other cooked restaurant experience
to an internal self cooked home experience via the stages of:
1. Dependence on an outside teacher and external ambient venue.
2. Interdependence where we add the beginnings of a home practice to our outside support.
3. Independence where we have refined the skill to rely on and be primarily nourished by our home practice.
This is Svatantra.

In recommending Yoga practices, teachers should always consider……

Āsana_5_web

“In recommending Yoga practices,
teachers should always consider an individual’s particular circumstances.
Just as other activities and practices must be adapted
to the changes in one’s life, such as ageing,
so too Yoga practices need to be adapted as the practitioner changes”
–  T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 34

Nathamuni’s Yoga Rahasya is quite likely to be a combination of…….

tkv_tk_1980

“My father never acknowledged that he discovered anything
even when I have seen that it was he who discovered.
He has discovered postures but he would say that it was his teacher who taught him.
Rarely has he said that it was his “original” work.
At the same time, I have seen him – because I am his son also –
composing some verses and correcting those verses for the Chandas (Metre) and all that and finally saying –
this is what Nathamuni is saying and this is what my teacher says!
I tend to think that the Nathamuni’s Yoga Rahasya that he taught us is quite likely to be a combination of his own commentary and the lessons he received though he would not accept it.”
– ‘The Study of Yoga Rahasya‘ – Extract from an Interview with TKV Desikachar in KYM Darśanam, a publication from Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram vol 1 no 1 Feb 1991.

You have to practice in such a way that day to day the breath gets longer and longer.

TK_Baddha_Konasana

“You have to practice in such a way that day to day the breath gets longer and longer.”
From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

Yoga uses an intelligent approach which is applied to all things and during all the day.

TKV_5

‎”Yoga uses an intelligent approach
which is applied to all things
and during all the day.”
TKV Desikachar England 1976

Sometimes the length of the exhale can be sacrificed, but not the quality…….

asana_16

“It is not essential to work in the firm order of exhale, inhale, holds.
However the exhale should come first,
then you can emphasise the inhale or holds, whichever suits the person or situation.
If the exhale is disturbed you must be careful.
Always start the use of the ratio from the exhale.
Based on the reaction you can play with the inhale and holds.
Never sacrifice the quality of the exhale.
Sometimes the length of the exhale can be sacrificed, but not the quality.
One can refer to Yoga Sūtra I 34 to show that the exhalation should come first.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

Any movement can be done on the exhale or stop……

“Any movement can be done on the exhale or stop.
Not every movement can be done on inhale or hold.
Therefore the gradual movement of the breath
or introduction of the breath
should be directed into the exhale.
The exhale must be respected.
When the exhale is secure or firm,
then the attention can be shifted to the inhale or to work on the holds.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

The breath is related to the intellect, chest, respiratory system, digestive system etc

Āsana_35

“The breath is related to the intellect, chest, respiratory system, digestive system etc.
So one should consider and understand the relevance of the breath to these areas.
Also how these areas are in students before we start applying specific principles of breathing,
otherwise it could aggravate the area and any inherent problem.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

Commentary on viniyoga Vignette 2 – Combining techniques in Prāṇāyāma

seated_pranayama_2

For those who read the viniyoga Vignette post 2 on combining techniques in Prāṇāyāma from two days ago, I would add some observations around rationales on the choice and order of the techniques involved.

Step 1.
Śītalī Inhale with Ujjāyī Exhale
1.½.1.0 for 8 breaths
Step 2.
Anuloma Ujjāyī
1.½.1½.0 for 8 breaths
Step 3.
Pratiloma Ujjāyī
1½.0.1½.0 for 8 breaths
Step 4.
Ujjāyī
½.0.½.0 for 8 breaths

For example, starting with Śītalī could be useful for several reasons such as mid-afternoon being a time when there can be an energetic slump and the use of a open mouth inhale with the head raising to encourage volume, coupled with the Antar Kumbhaka, can offer a tonic for the system.

Step 1.
Śītalī Inhale with Ujjāyī Exhale
1.½.1.0 for 8 breaths

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viniyoga Vignette 2 – Combining techniques in Prāṇāyāma

seated_pranayama_2

A short mid-afternoon Prāṇāyāma practice from a year one Practitioner Training Programme, to offer an example of how to combine three different Prāṇāyāma techniques within a single Vinyāsa Krama.

Step 1.
Śītalī Inhale with Ujjāyī Exhale
1.½.1.0 for 8 breaths
Step 2.
Anuloma Ujjāyī
1.½.1½.0 for 8 breaths
Step 3.
Pratiloma Ujjāyī
1½.0.1½.0 for 8 breaths
Step 4.
Ujjāyī
½.0.½.0 for 8 breaths

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The Krishnamacharya methodology of melding the viniyoga of Āyurveda with that of Yoga

nadi_pariksa

One other study area that I was privileged to be able to experience alongside my many visits to study Yoga Practice Techniques and Associated texts in Chennai with my teacher TKV Desikachar, within the intimacy and vitality of private lessons, was that of Āyurveda and its application within Yoga.

“In Āyurveda, it gives certain behaviour by which we can stay well.
If a person follows the following he will freer of sickness.
Regularly, systematically he eats, rests and exercises adequately.
Both in amount and quality. Food or Ahāra,
along with Vihāra – recreation, rest, exercise, other activities.”
– TKV Desikachar 

Thus during my many visits to India, between 1979 and 2002, my work in Yoga was complemented by the study of Āyurveda constitutional diagnosis and prognosis, along with Nādī Parīkṣā or pulse diagnosis and the application skills or the viniyoga of Āyurveda, into Yoga practice and lifestyle, according to the teachings of T Krishnmacharya within Yoga Rakṣaṇa (lifestyle support) or Yoga Cikitsā (therapeutic recovery) situations.

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viniyoga Vignette 1 – Antar and Bāhya Kumbhaka in Āsana

Mid Range Movement in Āsana

A short pre-lunch 25′ practice from the first day of the two day Module One Haṭha Energetics Workshop.

As well as emphasising the use of Jihvā and Jālandhara Bandha, the primary Bhāvana or theme was to explore the application of and response to the introduction and accumulative intensification of Antar Kumbhaka (AK) and Bāhya Kumbhaka (BK) throughout the practice.

I would emphasise that this is an example of a unique situation that existed at that moment and thus reflects an expression of a study point or the students group dynamic as a need at that moment.

Yet within this caveat, this example of a short but intensive practice, whilst not to be taken as a fixed template, also reflects the richness and multifarious possibilities in how the principles in the viniyoga of Yoga can be expressed as learning and experiential tools within a myriad of situations and personalities.

If there is a sketch quality in the PDF copy it is because these practices were not preplanned and were being notated as they unfolded whilst teaching the group. This also meant I could photocopy them as the practice concluded so copies were immediately available for reflection, reference and discussion.

Link to view or download this Practice as a PDF

It seems that with Modern Postural Yoga the perception of ‘advanced’ is……

Āsana_12

It seems that with Modern Postural Yoga the perception of ‘advanced’
practice is based around physical appearance and artistic performance,
as exemplified by Āsana;
over psychological efforts and cultivation of inner skills,
as exemplified by Prāṇāyāma and Dhyānam.

Yoga Postures in Practice – A series on Āsana by Paul Part 2 Tāḍāsana

Part Two – Growing from our Roots with Tāḍāsana

This is the second in a series of articles presenting the core principles for āsana practice as taught to me through many years of personal lessons in India with my teacher TKV Desikachar.

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