The Breath has its own developmental process within an Āsana.

General perceptions in Yoga are that performance progressions in any Āsana are usually around improvement or refinement in the choreography of the entry or exit, or in the extremity of the final form.

For example if we were to compare the performance of students in say Uttānasana, evaluations would tend to be made concerning how far one bends forward, or how near the head is towards the knees, or how straight the legs are, or how close to the ground the hands are, et cetera.

However from the viewpoint of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar, in terms of Āsana practice for adults, the breath has its own developmental path within the performance of any Āsana.

Furthermore, within an Āsana and alongside the Vinyāsa Krama of getting in and out of the Āsana and what would be the focus whilst at the crown of the sequence around that particular Āsana, there is also a Vinyāsa Krama around the development of the breath.

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Breathing techniques should support the Āsana whichever way……

“Breathing techniques should support the Āsana whichever way it needs to be supported.
Sometimes you can de-emphasise the movement by the use of the breath.
This can be in a positive or a negative role.
In a negative role the breath is being abused and not supporting by overpowering the Āsana.
In a positive role the breath can shift the emphasis or attention away from the body.
This would be useful in the case of bodily tension or a particularly sensitive or painful area.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

Āsana practice as a prerequisite to exploring how to integrate Prāṇāyāma……


I was taught by Desikachar that we need to at least have some sort of working relationship with an Āsana practice as a prerequisite to exploring how to integrate Prāṇāyāma into our practice Sādhana.

Also in the approach of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar to Yoga practice this idea is even more relevant as important information, that guides our initial and subsequent steps into Prāṇāyāma, is gleaned from certain factors only apparent from observation of how our respiratory system performs during Āsana practice.

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Before studying Prāṇāyāma one must understand something about the breath.

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“Before studying Prāṇāyāma one must understand something about the breath.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

Contemplate the Source of the Breath.

“Contemplate the Source of the Breath.”

My understanding of Prāṇāyāma is that the Kumbhaka should be an aid……

kumbhaka

“My understanding of Prāṇāyāma is that the Kumbhaka should be an aid.
The aim is to get a feeling difficult to put into words, but different from normal states.
The question is how much does Kumbhaka play a part in this?
So Investigate the use of Kumbhaka and only use it when it helps you be with the breath.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

During the practice of Āsana one must constantly use Ujjāyī……

“During the practice of Āsana one must constantly engage
in regulating the exhale, inhale and retention.
Ujjāyī is to be smooth and slow,
according to the strength or capability of the student.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition,
The Yoga Rahasya Chapter One verse 33

Without mastering Āsana and regulating the inhale and exhale in Āsana……

“Without mastering Āsana and
regulating the inhale and exhale in Āsana,
the Āsana will not produce the desired fruits.”
From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

The quality of our breath expresses our inner feelings.

“The quality of our breath expresses our inner feelings.”
– TKV Desikachar

Do not make a style or fashion out of Kumbhaka……

kumbhaka

“Do not make a style or fashion out of Kumbhaka.
Only use it if it helps you feel the breath and
what is happening inside the body.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

The ancient people introduced holding of the breath to stop…..

“The ancient people introduced holding of the breath
to stop, to quieten the mind,
considered as linked to the movement of Vāta.”
– TKV Desikachar December 1987

One should move the spine as you would inhale and exhale.

“One should move the spine as you would inhale and exhale.”
– TKV Desikachar

Once you lose the breath in Āsana……

Once you lose the breath in Āsana, effort becomes force.

If I had a student I would give more respect to the exhalation……

Of the Four Aspects of the Breath which is more important

“If I had a student I would give more respect to the exhalation.
The course would be based on the observation of the exhalation in Prāṇāyāma and Āsana.
This would give the type of Prāṇāyāma and for which Āsana.
One should see what is the response of the exhalation in the posture or when sitting.
When fixing Prāṇāyāma, even if you are reducing the length of the exhalation,
if any problem then the cycle should be completely changed.
One must give respect to the exhalation.
One can get an idea by the position of the stomach.
One should keep 2/3″ in hand on inhalation and exhalation.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

We are welcome to use Kumbhaka…..

“We are welcome to use Kumbhaka,
but if it in any way affects the quality of the inhale or exhale
and our own relation with this flow, then there is no meaning.
The tragedy of Kumbhaka is that we can use force,
as in Āsana, to achieve our aim.
But why and at what price?”
– TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

How you bring about the length of the breath affects Āsana…..

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“The difference in chest to stomach and stomach to chest
breathing is minimal in the length of the breath.
How you bring about the length of the breath affects Āsana differently.
Apart from medical restrictions,
to give respect to the chest, the spine and gravity
we need to breathe chest to stomach on the inhale.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

Conscious breathing is one of the greatest tools to influence the effect of the postures…..

Āsana_24b

“Conscious breathing is one of the greatest tools to influence the effect of the postures
without changing the posture.”
– TKV Desikachar

Exhalation is the most important part of the breath……

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Exhalation is the most important part of the breath,
it encourages the inhalation.
By increasing the exhalation we bring attention to the lower abdomen.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

The breath makes Āsana part of Yoga.

Āsana_25b

“The breath makes Āsana part of Yoga.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

The focus during Āsana should be on…….

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“The focus should be on
the contraction of the abdomen or
the expansion of the chest during Āsana.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā and Laṅghana Kriyā as Expansive and Contractive potentials…..


Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā and Laṅghana Kriyā as expansive and contractive activities are two potentials actualised through the Breath and Āsana.

Within the practice of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma they are actualised through an understanding of the primary principles that inform Haṭha Yoga and Āyurveda.

The alchemical process underpinning this understanding is the relationship between the two primary principles of Prāṇa and Agni in order to influence Haṭha Yoga concepts such as PrāṇaApānaNāḍī, CakraAgni and Kuṇḍalinī.

In terms of Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā and Laṅghana Kriyā, the viniyoga of Bṛṃhaṇa affects a dispersion of Agni from the core to the periphery and the viniyoga of Laṅghana affects a withdrawal of Agni from the periphery to the core.

Understanding the application of this particular process facilitates access, through the Vīna Daṇḍa (spine), Prāṇa and Agni, to energising, cleansing and aligning potentials in the practice of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma.

Know the Breath from the feelings in the Āsana……

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1. Know the Breath from the feelings in the Āsana.
2. Choose a ratio close to that used in Āsana.
3. Choose a technique to suit the day.
4. Choose a proper posture for the spine.
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

The power of the breath……

prana

“The power of the breath,
the power of the senses and
physical strength of the body are each distinct properties.
They should not work against each other
but rather contribute to each others well being.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 30

Emphasis on the inhale brings attention to the upper chest….

puraka

“Emphasis on the inhale brings attention to the upper chest,
with the retention of the breath after the inhale the spine will stretch and create heat.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

One of the primary roles for Āsana is to make the spine a fit vehicle for Prāṇāyāma.

seated_pranayama_2

“One of the primary roles for Āsana
is to make the spine a fit vehicle for Prāṇāyāma.”

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

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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

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