The practice of Yoga is like a mirror……

Āsana_31

“The practice of Yoga is like a mirror,
it helps us to know something about ourselves on a particular day,”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

By observing how the breath responds in Āsana……

“By observing how the breath responds in Āsana i.e.
Forward Bends.
Backward Bends.
Lying Postures.
Inverted Postures.
Twist Poses.
As to whether there is a better quality in either inhalation or exhalation,
one can decide how to proceed in Prāṇāyāma.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

There are some forms within the postural resources developed by……


There are some forms within the postural resources developed by Krishnamacharya that can function as either an Āsana or as a Mudrā. The choice of outcome can be realised according to the specific Bhāvana associated with the intention of the practitioner and the style of performance.

For example if we look at the possibilities around inverted postures interpreted as Āsana through forms known as Śīrṣāsana or Sarvāṅgāsana, we can cultivate the external intensity of Āsana or the internal intensity of a Mudrā through choosing either of two practice directions.

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My understanding on the context and content of Yoga Makaranda

yoga makaranda

My understanding from my discussions over the years with TKV Desikachar regarding the context and content of Yoga Makaranda, is that when teaching youngsters the length of the breath was minimised to a relatively short fixed length and use of Kumbhaka was limited to a few seconds Antar Kumbhaka and Bahya Kumbhaka.

However there were no limitations on the range or intensity of Āsana and lots of use of variations to be engaged with within each Āsana.

“The Āsana are presented in Vinyāsa Krama, the way it was taught to children in the Yogasāla.
This should not create the impression that T Krishnamacharya taught in this manner to everyone.”
– TKV Desikachar Introduction to Yoga Makaranda

In the adult there were no such limitations for the breath and the work with variations of the Āsana was re-prioritised to working with a fewer Āsana and fewer variations within each Āsana, but with the challenge of a greater range of breathing patterns both in length and combinations.

Certainly Antar Kumbhaka or Bahya Kumbhaka of 10″ was commonplace in the adult practice and here the ‘perfection’ of the Āsana was measured by mastery of all aspects of the breath rather than for the youngster, where ‘perfection’ of the Āsana was measured by mastery of all aspects of the form. This was consistent with Krishnamacharya’s teaching in his Yoga Rahasya on Yoga Sādhana and Stages of Life.

Furthermore my understanding is that if we use a particular Āsana with all its permutations of form and thus less focus on the variations of the breath it operates more as an Āsana. If we use a specific primary Āsana with the focus on all its permutations of breath and thus less priority around the variations of the form it operates more as a Mudrā.

Sarvaṅgāsana is such an example with its 32 variations devised by Krishnamacharya emphasising its role as an Āsana and its static solo form with its focus on extensive breath ratios involving all four aspects of the breath, perhaps augmented by the Tri Bandha, emphasising its role as a Mudrā.

For more on introduction to Yoga Makaranda read……
Introduction to the Yoga Makaranda by TKV Desikachar

For more on Sarvaṅgāsana as a Mudrā read….
Saravāṅgāsana as a Mudrā – Part One

Associated Yoga Texts Searchable Saṃskṛta Word Index Database

sanskrta

A lesser known facet of the Yoga Texts and Freenotes section of the Yoga Studies Website is the Yoga Texts Saṃskṛta Word Index. It started life as word by word linked index for the online Yoga Sūtra verses offering a meaning for each word and a cross Sūtra reference resource when exploring related contexts.

However as more Yoga Related Texts were added to the online Database it was obvious that the glossary needed to expand beyond the Yoga Sūtra to include Yoga related terms from other textual sources that matched or correlated with those in the Yoga Sūtra. So the glossary has expanded to include terms from Yoga related sources such as the Sāṃkhya Kārikā, the Bhagavad Gītā, the Gītārtha Saṃgraha and Haṭha Yoga Texts, though inevitably these will expand further over time.

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What interests you most in Āsana?……

TKV_5

Three questions given by Desikachar in a retreat in 1978

“1. What interests you most in Āsana?
2. What distinguishes Āsana from Prāṇāyāma?
3. What is hard to teach? Āsana and/or Prāṇāyāma, or something else?”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

We must discover why we practice.

TKV_5

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

Yoga Postures in Practice – A series on Āsana by Paul Part 4 Utkaṭāsana

Part Four – Building our Support with Utkaṭāsana

This is the fourth 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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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

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

The Online Art of Haṭha Energetics Module One

Sat_Cakra

The Online Art of Haṭha Energetics Module One
Vitalize your Energy Understanding Nāḍī Prāṇa Agni Cakra Bhūta

The online Art of Haṭha Energetics Module One consists of 121 live video meetings to facilitate a personalised approach and in-depth transmission between teacher and student. It introduces the student, through an online teaching dialogue, to the primary principles and essential teachings from T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar within the Haṭha texts.

These Primary principles will be drawn from early formative texts such as the:

  • Gorakṣa Śataka composed around the 13/14th Century
  • Yoga Yājñavalkhya composed around the 14th Century
  • Śiva Saṃhitā composed around the 15th Century
  • Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā composed around the 15th Century
  • Yoga Tārāvali composed around the 15/16th Century
  • Yoga Upaniṣat composed around the 16/17th Century
  • Gheraṇḍa Saṃhitā composed around the 17/18th Century

We will explore how they inspire and guide our personal Yoga Sādhana, as well as our Yoga teaching. The module is complete in itself and offers a sound overview of the core principles of Haṭha Yoga as a Sādhana.

“Whilst Prāṇa circulates in us, we live, and when it goes, we die.
Prāṇa is responsible for different functions in the body.
Prāṇa expresses itself in everything that concerns life.
there is an important question to be answered.
How does Prāṇa penetrate the different areas of the body?”
– Quote from ‘Concering the Cakra’ by TKV Desikachar

It is open to all except complete beginners and offers an opportunity for any Yoga Student, teacher or trainee teacher from any Yoga background to develop and deepen their personal Yoga practice and study.

It offers an in-depth approach to the Haṭha texts, through an experiential appreciation of the core teachings that underpin the Art of Haṭha Energetics, either for personal development or, if relevant, to enhance professional skills.

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

These fundamental aspects can also be further developed through the Haṭha Energetics Modules Two to Three Personal Sādhana Courses. Here the focus will be primarily on four ancient or contemporary texts on Haṭha Yoga. Each module will focus on an in-depth exploration of two Haṭha Yoga texts.

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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

Who is competent to teach Yoga and what are the responsibilities?

Picture courtesy of TKV Desikachar

Question to T Krishnamacharya:
Who is competent to teach Yoga and what are the responsibilities involved?

“Competence requires a deep study of the texts (Śāstra) and
also taking all of one’s duties and responsibilities seriously (Svadharma).”

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.

Slow and regulated breathing are also helpful techniques to quieten……

seated_pranayama_2

“Slow and regulated breathing using special techniques
to lengthen the the inhale and exhale processes
are also helpful techniques to quieten the disturbed mind
and reduce the unpleasant consequences of this state.
Along with these breathing techniques examination of food habits
and changing them to suit is also a must.”
– T Krishnamacharya 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

Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā Chapter 1 verse 17 on Āsana

TK_Seated_Practices

kuryāttad āsanaṃ sthairyam ārogyaṃ ca aṅga lāghavan |
“Āsana Practice brings steadiness, reduced illness and a lightness of limb.”
Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā of Svāmi Svātmārāma Chapter One verse 17

This verse is commenting on the development of Āsana
as a foundation or accessory for more subtle practices.
Better not to confuse the vehicle with the direction.

I am reminded of a quote from Srivatsa Ramaswami:
“I studied with Śrī Krishnamacharya for a number of years.
I do not remember a single Yogāsana class which did not have
a decent dose of Prāṇāyāma and Ṣanmukhi Mudrā in it
and short prayers to begin and end the session.”

Yoga Postures in Practice – A series on Āsana by Paul Part 3 Uttānāsana

Part Three – Moving from our Spine with Uttānāsana

This is the third 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.

The emphasis in the previous article was on “Growing from our Roots” and looked at Tāḍāsana, the second Āsana in the series within a general practice.

The first article “Moving into our Bodies” looked at the starting Āsana in the series, Samasthiti, as a pose that offered a means to bring our mind and through it, our deeper awareness to a focussed attention.

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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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Yoga is not an escape from life but an approach to living.

Yoga is not an escape from life but an approach to living.

‎”Yoga is not an escape from life but an approach to living.”
TKV Desikachar England 1976

We cannot say that this Āsana or this Prāṇāyāma can be given……

janu_sirsasana

“We cannot say that this Āsana or this Prāṇāyāma can be given for this disease.”
– T Krishnamacharya 1984

If a person can’t exhale from the lower abdomen then you can be sure……

baddha_konasana

‎”If a person can’t exhale from the lower abdomen
then you can be sure their Mūla is gone.”
– T Krishnamacharya

Reflections on TKV Desikachar’s Teaching and Svatantra……

As his pupil my teacher worked at guiding me towards becoming increasingly independent in developing and refining more and more my personal practice skills so I became less and less dependent on him being the vehicle for if, when, where, what and how well I practice.

I have always respected this aspect of his 121 teaching in that, like a parent with a child, he progressively facilitated my learning to enable me to grow into an intelligently consistent, situation adaptive and yet long term developmental self-practice, initially through, then much more than just Āsana.

Especially as, like any art that we wish to become accomplished in, this self-skill was cultivated primarily within my home environment with all its hues and moods that inevitably influence, or are driven by deeper motivations within our current intentions and situation realities.

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