The practice of Prāṇāyāma is to confine more and more Prāṇa within our bodies.

jalandhara_bandha

“What we are trying to do in the  practice of Prāṇāyāma
is to confine more and more Prāṇa within our bodies.
When Prāṇa is not able to enter our bodies,
it is because something is there that should not be.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Ten Page 136

The effect upon Prāṇa will not be as much as in Prāṇāyāma

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“However, in Āsana attention is divided between the breath and the body movement.
In Āsana we use the breath as the medium of movement to affect the body.
Since our attention is divided between body and breath,
the effect upon Prāṇa will not be as much as in Prāṇāyāma.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Ten Page 138

The best time to introduce Mantra is while holding the breath.

seated_pranayama_2

“Holding the breath gives us a moment when there is nothing happening.
A moment when it should be possible to count.
In fact, the best time to introduce Mantra is not during inhalation or exhalation but while holding the breath.
It is said that a moment of holding the breath is a moment of Dhyāna.
Some Mantra are very long.
Since we do not have to concentrate on breathing while holding the breath,
these longer Mantra can be recited correctly.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 128-129

Mental attitude is very important in the practice of Prāṇāyāma.

seated_pranayama_2

“Mental attitude is very important in the practice of Prāṇāyāma.
In Prāṇāyāma we have no body movement to see; it involves mostly what we feel.
The only thing dynamic in Prāṇāyāma is the breath.
Yet, we must have the same attitude of attention in Prāṇāyāma, as in Āsana.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 125

We normally practice Ujjāyī for a long time before introducing Nāḍī Śodhana Prāṇāyāma.

seated_pranayama_2

“We normally practice Ujjāyī for a long time before introducing Nāḍī Śodhana Prāṇāyāma”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 121

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In Prāṇāyāma we accept the posture and forget the body……

seated_pranayama_2

“While we use the breath for the body in Āsana,
in Prāṇāyāma we accept the posture and forget the body.
The only requirement is that we must be comfortable and keep our backs straight.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 117

The strength, depth and potential of Krishnamacharya’s teachings around practice Sādhana……

The teachings of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar around Yoga practice were far more complex than is often presumed from the popular perception, often formed from the more well publicised work of some of Krishnamacharya’s early students.

My own experiences with Desikachar, developed over repeated study visits to Madras over two decades, may offer an insight into the practice possibilities that I became increasingly exposed to. As with many, being introduced to this tradition meant that Āsana was the starting point for our Bahya Aṅga Sādhana.

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Candra is that which directs Prāṇa and Apāna in order to influence……

ajna

Within the energetic processes in Haṭha Yoga the concept of Candra is that
which directs Prāṇa and Apāna in order to influence the activities of Sūrya.
These and other important concepts integral to the purpose of Haṭha Yoga form the
basis of the the Art of Haṭha Energetics Module One Personal Sādhana Study Workshop.

Mudrā practice is important since it assists the 10 Prāṇa to move freely in the Nāḍī.

maha_mudra

Mudrā practice is important since it assists the ten Prāṇa to move freely in the Nāḍī.”
– T Krishnamacharya introducing Chapter Three in the Gheraṇḍa Saṃhitā

There is a particular order of teaching Āsana……

nadi_sodana

“There is a particular order of teaching Āsana,
so also an order to follow when teaching Prāṇāyāma.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya Chapter One verse 89

For the householder the most important practice is Prāṇāyāma.

nadi_sodana

“For the householder, in line with Sthiti Krama,
the most important practice is Prāṇāyāma.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

Prāṇāyāma done, along with a Mantra, has a role to play in Yoga Cikitsā.

jalandhara_bandha

Prāṇāyāma done, along with a Mantra, has a role to play in Yoga Cikitsā.”
From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

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For the mind which is disturbed Prāṇāyāma is the best solution.

“For the mind which is disturbed Prāṇāyāma is the best solution.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

All Āsana are not meant for everybody……

Āsana_12

“Owing to differences in the body structure,
all Āsana are not meant for everybody.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

Mind should follow the breath……

recapūraka kumbheṣu mano’nusaraṇaṃ smṛtam |
recapūraka kumbhākhyāḥ sarve prāṇavidhārakāḥ ||

“Mind should follow the breath.
Exhale, Inhale and Retention support life.
So during Āsana it is desirable that the mind must follow them.”
TKV Desikachar commentary on T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya Chapter One verse 34

When practicing Āsana, it is as if something watches something……

Āsana_10_web

When practicing Āsana,
it is as if something watches something.
What is the something that is watched?
What is the something that watches?

First look at the circumstances around the practice……

Āsana_8

First look at the circumstances around the practice rather than the practice itself.
For example, what is the purpose of the practice?

Āsana brings steadiness, health and lightness……

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kuryāttadāsanaṃ sthairyamārogyaṃ cāṅgalāghvam |
‘Āsana brings steadiness, health and lightness.’
– Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā Chapter 1 verse 17

For me, still to this day, one of the finest, simplest, direct and most succinct definitions on the purpose of Āsana within the processes and practices of Haṭha Yoga, is the definition offered in the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā Chapter 1 verse 17.

It is a definition valid for any presentation or as a response to questions from any level around why we practice Āsana.

It can be a springboard to discussing physiological qualities such as the relationship of Agni to the energetic qualities of health and lightness.

Or it can be a springboard to discussing psychological qualities such as the relationship of the Guṇa, such as Rajas, to mental qualities such as steadiness.

Āsana is basically something linked to Prāṇāyāma……

pranayama_dhyana

“In the Yoga SūtraĀsana is basically something linked to Prāṇāyāma,
since Prāṇāyāma is a very important practice there, linked to Dhyāna.”
– TKV Desikachar

Question Krishnamacharya – “Can you explain the concept of vinyāsa and pratikriyāsana?”

TK_1980_aged_91

Question to T Krishnamacharya:
“Can you explain the concept of vinyāsa and pratikriyāsana?”

“The question asked relates to Yoga and not to vidyābhyasa. There is no āsana without vinyāsa. Yoga is an experience, āsana is the third of the eight limbs of Yoga and it is also important to pay attention to first two limbs, namely yama and niyama.

One who wishes to enquire into and understand vinyāsa should first know what is āsana. According to Patañjali Yoga Sūtra, āsana is defined as “sthira sukham āsanam”.

sthira – Namely firm and without disease and sukha – pleasant and comfortable. To be in sukha state, all parts of the body should be in perfect harmony. This is true for all, whether one is a man, woman, deaf, mute, blind or even for animals. Any action that disturbs this state of harmony should be followed by a pratikriyā to restore the harmony. One cannot but accept this principle.

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Practice as a Process and Practice as Content…..

IWCP2P27

Where do we start when approaching the determination to open up to practice options beyond the group class mentality with its double edged sword of support and dependancy?

We can start by exploring what it means to cultivate a personal regular home practice in terms of looking at it as from the viewpoint of being a process as well as having content.

Here it might be helpful to examine what are the differences between these two concepts so vital in the work of Desikachar around planning Yoga practices for individual students.

So what is Yoga practice as a process? Practice as a process is everything that surrounds the establishing of a home practice.

This can be the time of the day, energy levels at the time of practice, what the student would be stepping away from in order to engage in practice, differences in gender and impact on body rhythms, what follows the practice in terms of activity or life demands, to name but a few aspects of process.

Practice as content is what we put into the practice in terms of choices around Yoga tools such as how we utilise and develop both short term and longer term, Yoga postures, breathing, chanting, rituals, meditation, etc.

Follow-on posts will examine these different aspects of Yoga as a process with examples of how we engage the important and unique differences between students personal lives, rather than the more standardised time and place processes within external group class setups.

It increasingly appears that Yoga has been acculturated into the fitness mindset……

Yoga_Web

It increasingly appears that Yoga has been acculturated into the fitness mindset
rather than fitness being acculturated into the Yoga mindset.

The counter posture needs to be mastered before a particular Āsana is attempted

bhujangasanasarvangasana

How do we know that a student is ready to attempt a more progressive posture such as Sarvāṅgāsana?

From following the core principle in the teachings of Vinyāsa Krama. In that the Pratikriyāsana or counter posture for a particular Āsana needs to be mastered before that particular Āsana is attempted.

For example if we want to teach Sarvāṅgāsana or shoulder stand, because it will have a specific potential for the particular student, then we teach the counterpose Bhujaṅgāsana first.

So the student first works around Bhujaṅgāsana within their personal practice and the information that arises guides the teacher as to their readiness for, in this case, Sarvāṅgāsana.

“Teach what is inside you, not as it applies to you, but as it applies to the student.”
– T Krishnamacharya

The information arising from observing how the student practices Bhujaṅgāsana guides the teacher as to the appropriateness of Sarvāṅgāsana. The information that feeds back may be on the level of Annamaya, Prāṇamaya, Manomaya or beyond. Obviously this implies that we are observing the students practice directly.

Once the student shows an adequate performance of Bhujaṅgāsana and it can be integrated into their existing personal practice, then we can be more secure that the student is ready to approach integrating Sarvāṅgāsana into their regular practice.

The heart of the breath is our home.

tat_tvam_asi

The heart of the breath is our home.

A fundamental facet in the principles of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma practice……

slibss_web

A fundamental facet in the principles of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma practice, in the teachings of Krishnamacharya through Desikachar, is the ordering of Āsana according to the acronym SLIBSS.

It is the practice arrangement or Vinyāsa Krama in the following order:

  • Standing Āsana
  • Supine Lying Āsana
  • Inverted Āsana
  • Prone Backbend Āsana
  • Sitting Āsana
  • Seated Āsana

This is referred to in Religiousness in Yoga page 23-27.

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