Āsana is not just another form of exercise……

Āsana_5_web

In exploring the principles that underpin the practice of Āsana the first idea to consider is that our practice is not just another form of exercise. Yoga Āsana are more than just physical postures or exercises to stretch and tone the body, or enhance our sense of personalised well-being. From within its Haṭha roots the concern of Yoga is our relationship with the force which is behind our movements and its source that initiates our every action.

Further the different practice elements that constitute a mature Yoga practice are not separate compartments. They are linked through the principles underpinning them. For example a respiratory competence learnt through the practice of Āsana facilitates progress within the seated practice of Prāṇāyāma. An enduring stable posture learnt through the practice of Prāṇāyāma supports the cultivation the meditative attitude inherent in progress towards Dhyāna or meditation.

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The practice which is Śodhana for the Antar Aṅga is Antaraṅga Sādhana.

“The practice which is Śodhana for the Antar Aṅga
is Antaraṅga Sādhana.”
– T Krishnamacharya introduction to Yoga Sūtra Chapter Three

Dhyāna is an activity of a mind dominated by Sattva linked to Ātma…….

dhyana

Dhyānam is an activity of a mind
dominated by Sattva linked to Ātma.
So Ātma and Sattva required for Dhyānam to occur.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Three verse 2

If you are not in a hurry you will enjoy the process.

“If you are not in a hurry
you will enjoy the process.”
– TKV Desikachar

Yoga is a simple system that does not require any equipment…..

“Many years ago my father said that Yoga is a simple system that does not require any equipment.
One only requires some floor space!”
– TKV Desikachar

The purpose of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma are twofold….

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“The purpose of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma are twofold,
to reduce symptoms of ill-health or,
to prepare the mind towards fulfilling the main emphasis of Patañjali,
which is Meditation.
However according to the teaching I have received,
both of these roles can be fulfilled with
relatively few Āsana postures and Prāṇāyāma techniques.”
– TKV Desikachar Madras 1996

Some people say they practice Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Meditation….

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“Some people say they practice Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Meditation.
Among these things which is close to Sādhana and which is not close to Sādhana?”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

There are certain things we do in Yoga which seem to aid Dhyāna

dhyana

“There are certain things we do in Yoga which seem to aid Dhyāna
because they remove something which is blocking it.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘The Antaraṅga Sādhana, Saṃyama and Kaivalya’
Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Thirteen Page 186

It is not the number of hours in Meditation…..

dhyanam

“It is not the number of hours in Meditation,
the type of Ratio in Prāṇāyāma,
the number of times you turn the Mālā,
it is the intensity of the attempt.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 22

Then there are those Āsana that you learn solely for practices other than Āsana.

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Then there are those Āsana that you learn solely for practices other than Āsana.

We start our practice where we are and look toward a certain goal….

Desikachar_France_1999

“We start our practice where we are and look toward a certain goal.
Then we choose the steps that will lead us toward realising that goal
and will gradually bring us back into our everyday life,
but our daily practice does not return us to the exact place we started.
The practice has changed us.”
– TKV Desikachar

Bhakti Dhyānam uses Japa to build a bridge….

japa

Bhakti Dhyānam uses Japa to build a bridge,
over the fear bringing streams of the mind.”
– Personal Commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 28

Are we confusing the maturation of our Āsana practice with the maturation of our Yoga practice?

Āsana_5_web

Are we confusing the maturation of our Āsana practice
with the maturation of our Yoga practice?

In Jñāna Dhyānam the most difficult exercise for the mind

dhyanam

In Jñāna Dhyānam the most difficult exercise for the mind
is the one of not exercising the mind.
– Commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 13

There are different grades of inclination and possibility…..

samadhi

“There are different grades of inclination and possibility
among those who are interested to experience the state of Samādhi.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 21

Meditation must elevate the mind.

dhyana

Meditation must elevate the mind.
That is its basic purpose, to be where I was not.
This involves an ascent of the individual’s mind.”
TKV Desikachar Madras 1988

According to Patañjali even when you have something in front of you……

uparaga

“According to Patañjali,
even when you have something in front of you,
you may not see it.
Even when you don’t have something in front of you,
but you want to see it,
you will see it.
Everything depends on YOU.”
TKV Desikachar Madras 1988

It is the pleasure of practising Yoga because you want to practice……

Āsana_4

These days, in certain situations, when asked what I do I sometimes say I write technical manuals and that usually moves the conversation quickly onto something like the British weather.

Why don’t I mention Yoga? Am I embarrassed about my relationship with Yoga? Not at all, its more about people’s reaction when asked and saying I am a Yoga teacher, a response somewhere as if an amalgam of being a fitness trainer, dentist and priest.

Also these feelings are often wrapped up in the response that I must do that or diverted into a projection around how I am seen in terms of say flexibility because I ‘do’ Yoga.

There are even folks I have been meeting occasionally for years and each time we meet I get the ‘I must do that’. Aside from the wry amusement at observing folks slight uncomfortableness as the word Yoga appears to represent something that at some level they feel they must need in their lives as if a commodity, there is for me a more important aspect that touches me.

This is around the difference between having to do something and wanting to do something.

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It appears that Modern Therapeutic Yoga is increasingly angled at……

cikitsa

It appears that Modern Therapeutic Yoga is increasingly angled
at looking at the problems in front of the person
in terms of Yoga for What,
rather than looking at the person behind the problems
in terms of Yoga for Who.

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The beauty of Krishnamacharya’s teaching is that it is about…..

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The beauty of Krishnamacharya’s teaching is that it is about
learning Yoga for different types of people,
rather than todays increasingly studio driven group class modality of
learning different types of Yoga for people.

Some are satisfied with what Āsana brings them.

Āsana_5_web

Some are satisfied with what Āsana brings them.
Others are curious as to where Āsana can take them.

Unless there is a shift from Manas to Citta it is not possible to do Dhāraṇā……

dharana

“Unless there is a shift from Manas to Citta,
it is not possible to do Dhāraṇā.”
– TKV Desikachar 1998

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

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

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