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 121 eStudy Module One

Sat_Cakra

The Online Art of Haṭha Energetics 121 eStudy 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.

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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).”

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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Yoga Postures in Practice – A series on Āsana by Paul Part 1 Samasthiti

Part One – Moving into our Bodies with Samasthiti.

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

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Begin your practice from where you are……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“Begin your practice from where you are,
finish your practice where you are going.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

Whether or not I like it, I should know where I am……

Whether or not I like it, I should know where I am

“Whether or not I like it, I should know where I am.
Otherwise we try to draw the line from where we are not to where we want to be.
Therefore the first point must be understood and then we can go to the next point.”
– TKV Desikachar France August 1983

Sometimes we try to transmit what we cherish……

Āsana_5_web

“Sometimes we try to transmit what we cherish.
This is not viniyoga.”
– TKV Desikachar France August 1983

We never know when we are going to die……

We never know when we are going to die.

“We never know when we are going to die.
So we must prepare for death.
Because at the moment of death you become what you think.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

Manasika Sādhana – Mind has a part to play……

Manasika Sādhana – Mind has a part to play.

Manasika Sādhana
Mind has a part to play.
We can either direct or restrain.
Mind mentioned a lot in Yoga texts.
i.e. Attitude of Saṃtoṣa – mental contentment also a Sādhana.

Also Bhāvana.
Also Yama and Niyama.
When Yama and Niyama accomplished they become Siddhi.

Svādhyāya example of Sādhana – Study to know something about oneself or others.
Adhyayayana – To repeat exactly what is said by your teacher.
Based on three steps:

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Śarīrika Sādhana – Keeping the body fit and well……

Śarīrika Sādhana – Keeping the body fit and well.
In the language of Patañjali Āsana is mostly Śarīrika Sādhana.”
TKV Desikachar France 1983

Yoga is trying to do something for oneself.

Yoga is trying to do something for oneself

‎”Yoga is trying to do something for oneself.”
TKV Desikachar England 1976