“Can these four Yoga Aṅga – Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prāṇāyāma
– be practiced by everyone at every stage of life?
How often and how long should one practice?
How can we adapt our practice to changing circumstances?
These questions and others like them must be answered by a competent teacher,
according to each student’s individual circumstances.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 30
“All models for meditation have a preliminary step, Pūrva Aṅga,
in which one does things which lead to a situation where Dhyāna may be possible.
Dhyāna, then, the ability to pursue and fix a question,
also requires Pūrva Aṅga, preparation.”
“Proper preparation can involve eliminating divisive forces and
making certain the person is ready for the work.”
“Not everyone needs Pūrva Aṅga.
Some extraordinary people, because of merits in the past,
do not need this preparation. Quite a few examples exist.
However, if we try to emulate them we are in trouble.”
“We must recognise the necessity of preparation,
the need to work so we can come to a level where we are able to fix the question.”
“Thus, the ability to fix the question is a requisite for Dhyāna.
One who cannot is not ready for meditation.”
“One need not fix the question first.
Instead, one must do the preliminary preparation.
If that is done properly, one does not have to decide: the question will come.
You just rise to the level where questioning is possible.”
“Sometimes, a question may arise when you are not ready.
How to reach the question requires preliminaries,
for there must be a freshness in your approach.
If the approach is habitual, the response will be wrong.”
“When we equip ourselves better,
we will know the right question.
Only then can we say,
‘It is MY question’.”
“The arrangement of Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two involves four components:
1. Duḥkha –
What is it that I want to avoid?
2. Avidyā/Saṃyoga –
Association or from where has this come?
3. Kaivalya/Viveka –
Where should we be in order to be free from this association?
4. Viveka/Aṣṭāṅga –
What is the way?
What is the discipline that will give Viveka,
not just for a moment, but there all the time?
This is the place of Yoga.”
– TKV Desikachar January 9th 1999
“Among the disciplines to be applied are:
– Using appropriate breathing technique when moving the body in Āsana practice.
– Eliminating unnecessary travel.
– Regulating the intake of food.
Without these disciplines, the practice of Āsana, Prāṇāyāma and Vairāgya will not be effective.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 34
“Svādhyāya is an inquiry into one’s true nature.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 1
तपः स्वाध्यायेश्वरप्रणिधानानि क्रियायोगः ॥१॥
tapaḥ svādhyāya-īśvara-praṇidhānāni kriyā-yogaḥ |
“The activities of Yoga are self-discipline, self-study and contemplation on the divine.”
Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 1
“The three Upāya to take control of our inability to see things clearly.
”It is not enough to clean a vessel,
you must put something in.”
– TKV Desikachar 1998 on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 1
“Once I am very clear about what is to be known – Svadharma,
then I can be clear about what is universal Dharma.”
Reflecting on this quote from TKV Desikachar posted on February 15th 2014 on the relationship between Svadharma and Dharma. I feel we first need to understand our personal place within our inner world, only from there can we understand our universal place within our outer world.
This is a concept that can appear to be contrary to the more usual expectations within the Yoga world whereby we are often given a set of universal standardised principles which we are told to constantly aspire to and strive towards realising.
‘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
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.
Another Niyama that should be followed is Āhāra Niyama. That is, how much to eat and what to eat, according to age, profession, etc. You see, the ancient people believed that a young boy could eat as much as he liked. But a Saṃnyāsi should only eat eight handfuls of rice, no more, per day.”
More usually the past dominates the present.
Through Yoga Sādhana we work towards the present dominating the past.