Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Two Practice

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 Yoga Sūtra verse and word cross-references to support a a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.

Chapter Two Practice: The Principles of Practice – Pages 13-30

1. What is Yoga – Page 13

  • Practice is experiential
  • Unification
  • Outsiders view
  • Internal experience

2. What is Āsana – Pages 13-14

 3. Self-Inquiry – Pages 14-16

 4. Principles of Practice around Breath in Āsana – Pages 16-22

  • Relationship between breath and movement
  • Expansion and contraction
  • Synchronising breath and movement
  • Breath longer than movement
  • Natural pause
  • Direction of breath
  • Ujjāyī and its advantages
  • Kumbhaka

5. Principles of Practice around Āsana – Pages 22-29

  • Number
  • Difficulty
  • Relevancy i.e. legs
  • Not all needed
  • Aim to discover qualities
  • And prepare for other aspects of Yoga
  • Understanding principles for simple lead to ease of practice for difficult
  • In the beginning stages we need to check variables
  • Choosing Āsana
  • What order to put Āsana in – Vinyāsa Krama
  • Āsana have positive and negative effects
  • We need to recognise positive and neutralise negative
  • Āsana needs negative neutralised – Pratikriyāsana
  • Prepare well, less counterpose needed

6. Question on Direction of Breath – Page 29

  • On this directional breathing compared to others

 7. Question on this approaches view on Breathing – Pages 29-30

  • Asked to comment on the difference

 8. Question on Point of Attention – Page 30

  • Where to place the attention in Āsana

Follow this link for a Downloadable PDF version of the Chapter Two Study Guide.

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