“Concerning the number of Cakra, we also find different ideas. The most frequent is that which considers there to be seven. However in his book ‘Yoga Makaranda‘ my father talks of ten. There are other ideas as to the number elsewhere, the form in which they are visualised varies according to tradition.
Many Yogins visualise them as circles or wheels. According to other sources, they are described as lotuses or Padma with varying number of petals. Compared to the idea of a wheel, which evokes more the idea of movement and rotation, the lotus evokes more the idea of creation.
If we analyse all this seriously, we see, in the respect of the Cakra, that the sages, during meditation, did not always have the same experiences and visions. There is no need to discuss this, because it depends on the personal experience of each seer. However, it is important to be aware of these differences and the consequences that they can have for the way in which we imagine the experience.”
Be with your breath,
as if with your lover,
both passionate and tender,
present with body and mind,
within the fullness of soul.
An extract from, and link to a post from Anthony Grim Hall’s extensive Blog site.
“The Benefits of employing Kumbhaka (retaining the breath in or out) during Asana.”
– Guest post by Mick Lawton
“For well over a year I’ve wondered why Krishnmachrya’s breath retentions that are mentioned in Yoga Makaranda are not employed by the Ashtanga community.
It seemed odd that Pattahbi Jois did not mention breath retention when he wrote Yoga Mala. (Although, he kind of makes reference to breath retention when writing about Kukkutasana – he tells us to perform Nauli – which can only be effectively performed during rechaka Kumbhaka).
I was troubled by the fact that “this rather significant” part of Krishnamacharya’s method had just fallen by the wayside. How could this be?
It was about this time that I became aware (through Anthony Hall’s extremely informative blog) that Srivatsa Ramaswami also advocated Kumbhaka in certain Asana.
Considering that Srivatsa Ramaswami was a student of Krishnamacharya for over 30 years, I started to think it very odd that these breath retentions were generally being overlooked in other traditions that recognised Krishnamacharya as their primary teacher.
I decided that I would conduct an experiment to see if there were any benefits/disadvantages to employing Kumbhaka during Asana.”
I would add a further personal musing to Mick Lawton’s observations:
“Yoga is big business. Its worth $10bn a year in America alone. Does the growth in yoga’s popularity, particularly in the West, mean that its spiritual content and religious roots are being neglected? Can yoga be practised aside from these roots? Are there even dangers in doing so?”
First broadcast: Monday 10 February 2014, Duration: 30 minutes
Download Broadcast as an MP3 or listen Online below.
Personal Sādhana and Professional Teaching
Chatting recently with a student about starting their first group class teaching the principles of applying Yoga. They were saying how the practice arts they had learnt so far had only been applied in the context of their personal Sādhana. As such what had been experienced felt very precious and they felt as if they didn’t want to share it with others yet.
They were reassured when I said I not only understood and agreed, but felt that too many want to ‘share’ what they have learnt far too quickly.
Students often ask:
“How do I progress?
How do I know when I’ve progressed?
Does it mean staying longer in a posture?
Does it mean practising more often or for a longer time?
What are the next steps?”
and so on
These questions can be explored by looking at Yoga from three different viewpoints. They can help us appreciate what it means to change the unhelpful patterns of behaviour which cause us problems and difficulties time and time again.
The three viewpoints are:
A selection of Āsana from the book Yogāsanagalu by written by T Krishnamacharya in 1941. The third edition, published in 1972, contained Āsana demonstration pictures of Krishnamacharya then aged 84. Featured in this post are further examples of Seated Āsana, click to enlarge image or view as a slide show:
The Yoga Tārāvalī is a source often quoted within Aṣṭāṅga Yoga Communities because of the adoption of its opening verse (along with one of the traditional opening prayers to Patañjali) as their opening prayer dedications.
However it is a full text in itself, has 29 verses in total and is primarily a teaching on Haṭha Yoga. It was one of the Haṭha texts taught by T Krishnamacharya to TKV Desikachar, along with the more popular medieval Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā and other lesser known Haṭha texts such as the Yoga Yājñavalkhya.
Learning Support for Chanting the Yoga Tārāvalī. From my personal library of recordings from my studies with my teacher TKV Desikachar.
A short clip extracted from a video of T Krishnamacharya practising as part of his Yoga Cikitsā or Yoga therapeutics when recovering from a hip fracture from a fall in 1984 when aged 96. Apologies for the quality, the original cassette is a bit flakey.
“The human energetic system is very complex and it is even harder to understand the mind, the structure, the limitations and possibilities, the relationship with the body and vice versa.
On the other hand, we can easily say to someone that there are seven Cakra, that they are like this or that, that there are found here or there in the body etc in all simplicity. But we must be aware if we do that we haven’t really said anything, and the person will not be any the wiser.
The risk of confusion is even greater when we try to show the model of the Cakra scientifically, or to give spiritual characteristics some sort of scientific basis. Some try to do this, by linking Mūladhāra with the kidneys or the sacral plexus, or Viśuddhi with the thyroid, etc.
In 2000 TKV Desikachar presented teachings around the evolution of T Krishnamacharya’s Yoga teaching.
The above summary is available as a Downloadable PDF.
A selection of Āsana from the book Yogāsanagalu by written by T Krishnamacharya in 1941.
The third edition, published in 1972, contained Āsana demonstration pictures of Krishnamacharya then aged 84.
Featured in this post are examples of Seated Āsana, click to enlarge image or view as a slide show:
“The more they (the student) like you,
the more they become attached.”
– TKV Desikachar speaking with his senior Western students London 1998