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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Letting go of the desire to hold onto a moment of awareness allows……

cit devanagari

Trying to hold onto the fleeting presence of awareness can be likened to a bird choosing to land in the open palm of your hand. We desire to hold onto it because of our attraction towards continuing to enjoy the experience of its delicacy, beauty and gift of presence.

Thus when the bird of awareness alights in your palm the temptation is to close the fingers around the experience, however gently, in order to hold on to it, albeit to protect it or to continue to experience this unique moment of relationship with something that is usually elusive, or out of sight or reach.

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Yoga is the pursuit of the unpursuable.

cit devanagari

“Yoga is the pursuit of the unpursuable.”
– TKV Desikachar

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Eight Theory

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

‘Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and Practice’ by the University Press of America,
a transcript of recordings of a one month Yoga Programme in Colgate University in 1976, published in 1980.

Unlike the later redacted edition, re-published in 1995 as the ‘Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice’, it captures the evolution of the retreat with the days lectures and Q & A dialogues as they alternated between ‘lectures on the principles and purposes of Yoga and discussions related to the practice of Yoga with special reference to the postures and the breathing techniques’.

TKV Desikachar, in his forward to the original version wrote:

“These lectures and discussions, printed words put before persons I might never meet,
are but reflections of that deeper result that grew out of a living face-to-face encounter.
Coming to learn of Yoga only through reading leaves much to be desired.
Yet, something worthwhile about Yoga might be shared through the medium of the printed word.”

A chapter by chapter Study guide is offered below with added verse and word cross-references where possible to support a a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.

Chapter Eight Theory:
Yama, Niyama and Āsana – The First Three Aṅga of Yoga
– Pages 107-115

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Until you can experience without the desire to repeat or reject it you are subject to the impact of Saṃskāra……

patanjali

Until you can experience without the desire to repeat or reject it
you are subject to the impact of Saṃskāra or tendencies from the past.
– Commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Four verse 11

The heart of the breath is our home.

tat_tvam_asi

The heart of the breath is our home.

Yoga as a View, Practice and Tool – Part One

Yoga as a View, Practice and Tool

Part One – Yoga as a View

Rāja Yoga – Yoga and Samādhi

 

Yoga as a Process

– The View, Path and Goal towards Samādhi as in Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra

It is interesting these days that as a Yoga teacher the question I am more likely to be asked is ‘What kind of Yoga do you do?’ rather than ‘What is Yoga?’. It’s either that we think we already know what Yoga is or, more likely, that the view is becoming lost within the myriad of ways in which Yoga is offered.

These days there seems to be little apparent clarity around what Yoga is, or if there is a view, it is not very apparent.

This view may also be coloured by religious influences such as Hinduism, Sikhism or even bodywork paradigms such as physical culture, bodybuilding, gymnastics and even wrestling.

In the Yoga world of today in the West it seems as if many teachers are teaching without a clear ‘view’ of what Yoga is and how we might realize this view.

Look for example at how we appear not to even know or use the Yoga name for meditation. Here the most often used phrase is Āsana, Prāṇāyāma and Meditation.

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Yoga as a View, Practice and Tool – Part Three

 Yoga as a View, Practice and Tool

Part Three – Yoga as a Tool

The viniyoga of Yoga – Yoga and Sādhana

 

Yoga as a Tool

– The Art of viniyoga for developing a Personalized Practice

Yoga as a tool is more likely to be the starting point for most students these days in that we often choose a style or approach to Yoga as a starting point in our Yoga experience.

There are many, many choices these days, although the common denominator now appears to based around Yoga teachers rather than Yoga teachings.

For example we have Anusāra, Aṣṭāṅga, Bikram, Dru, Gītānada, Integral, Iyengar, Jīvamukti, Kripālu, Kuṇḍalinī, Sahaja, Scaravelli, Śivananda, Satyānanda, viniyoga of Yoga, etc.

Which is fine in itself. However the question that arises is how do the various methodologies relate to the principles of practice in order to realize the view of Yoga?

My own field of expertise lies within the teachings often referred to as the viniyoga (application) of Yoga, so I can only speak with experience from this perspective.

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Yoga as a View, Practice and Tool – Part Two

Yoga as a View, Practice and Tool

Part Two – Yoga as a Practice

Haṭha Yoga – Yoga and Prāṇa

Yoga as Alchemy

– The Place and Purpose of Prāṇa Agni Doṣa Nādī & Cakra

A further irony in the emerging role and identity of Yoga in the West today is with regard to the term Haṭha Yoga. The term is mainly used generically these days to identify and group ‘physically’ based Yoga practices.

As a teacher I am often asked in connection with the question what kind of Yoga do you teach, is it Haṭha Yoga?

The irony is that when we look at what Haṭha Yoga really is we find that the physical elements are relatively limited with very few Āsana discussed.

Furthermore within the few discussed, the most important are concerned with sitting, in preparation for practice elements other than Āsana.

Primarily to facilitate a quality of being able to sit still and as if move beyond the physical body.

Here, the primary concern and field of activity for Haṭha Yoga practitioners is with regard to the energetic ‘Prāṇa’ body or Prāṇamaya and its role in helping to facilitate a quality of energetic ‘clarity’ and energetic ‘stillness’, ultimately as a ladder to support the practitioners exploration of meditational states of being in terms of Rāja Yoga or the Yoga of Samādhi.

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Different suggestions are available in our tradition to help the beginner……

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

“Different suggestions are available in our tradition
to help the beginner arrive at the highest state of Samādhi.
For example, using the image or idol of Īśvara
in the form pleasant to the seeker or even a picture frame.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 42

How we feel during the action is the quality of the action.

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“How we feel during the action is the quality of the action.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 13

How rigorous should we be in the practice of Tapas?

tapas devanagari

Question to TKV Desikachar:
How rigorous should we be in the practice of Tapas?
Tapas is not the rejection of everything around us.
In the Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 1,
Tapas means to be able to discipline oneself.
So if you are too fat eat less.
If you are too thin eat more.
Tapas which harms the mind should be rejected.”
TKV Desikachar Madras December 21st 1988

To experience the spaciousness of Cit……

cit devanagari

To experience the spaciousness of Cit,
Yoga says practice enclosing the Citta.
Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 2-3

Suffering is basically either the result of the……

duhkhaSuffering is basically either the result of the absence of something that we want,
or the presence of something that we don’t want.”
– TKV Desikachar from unedited manuscript for ‘What are We Seeking?’

Cit or awareness is the heart of Yoga.

cit devanagari

Cit or awareness is the heart of Yoga.
Neither full nor empty, nor mine nor yours.
Awareness is as it is and is as it isn’t.

We usually start seeking because we have something which we do not want……

“We usually start seeking because we have something which we do not want: suffering.
Suffering pushes us to seek.”
– TKV Desikachar from unedited manuscript for ‘What are We Seeking?’

Whatever is the source of life is surely the source of freedom……

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

“Whatever is the source of life is surely the source of freedom,
a source which knows us and cares for us.
It is everybody’s right, and is not beyond us, but within us.”
– TKV Desikachar from unedited manuscript for ‘What are We Seeking?’

Is freedom to do what we wish?

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

We are seeking freedom.
We all desire freedom.
But what sort of freedom?
Is freedom to do what we wish?
Are all the people who have the liberty to do what they want really free inside?
– TKV Desikachar from unedited manuscript for ‘What are We Seeking?’

The new is not as strong as the old.

Desikachar_France_1999

“The new is not as strong as the old.”
– TKV Desikachar commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter 4 verse 27

When we act unconsciously we go back into the past.

TKV_5

“When we act unconsciously we go back into the past.”
– TKV Desikachar commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter 4 verse 27

Duḥkha arises because of change, greed and conditioning……

tk5_1980

“This Sūtra describes the origin of Duḥkha.
Duḥkha arises because of change, greed and conditioning.
Besides the Guṇa cause inherent changes unexpectedly.
This disturbs balance and Duḥkha follows.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 15

When something is understood differently from what it truly is, it is called Avidyā.

IWYS_M1

“When something is understood differently from what it truly is, it is called Avidyā.
What is changing is taken to be non-changing. For example the mind.
What is subjected to decay is assumed to be pure. For example the body.
What is leading to suffering is taken to be the source of pleasure.
What is not conscious is assumed to be conscious.
All these errors in perceptions have many possibilities.
But the ultimate stage of Avidyā is to assume that we are the Masters, not Īśvara.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra C2 v5

Dhyāna is not simply to still the mind……

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Dhyāna is not simply to still the mind.
It involves our ability to reflect afresh,
to discover what we had not known before.”
TKV Desikachar Madras December 27th 1988

A collation of articles by Srivatsa Ramaswami around the teachings of T Krishnamacharya

Sri_TK_SR

A collation of articles by Srivatsa Ramaswami around the teachings of
T Krishnamacharya published in the ‘Indian Review’ circa 1979-1981.

View or Download this Series of Articles as a Single PDF Collation

List of Articles and Indications of Content:

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The first step in the practice of Āsana is the linking of the mind to movement and breath.

Āsana_25a

“The first step in the practice of Āsana is the linking of the mind to movement and breath.”
TKV Desikachar Madras December 26th 1988