Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Four 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 verse and word cross-references where possible to support a a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.

Chapter Four Practice: Practice Planning – Pages 45-68

1. Summary of Chapter Two on the Principles of Practice P45

  • Meaning of Āsana
  • Breathing in Āsana
  • Co-ordination of Breath and Movement
  • Directional breathing

2. Question on Breath in Āsana P45-48

  • Is Āsana without breathing or attention wortless?
  • Suppleness possible but with risks
  • No difference between gymnastics and Āsana
  • Yoga and self attention
  • Āsana Practice needs to be planned in a sensible organised way
  • Ascent, Crown and Descent
  • Following activity to be considered

3. Question on Starting Point being Different each day P48-60

  • Injury
  • Stiffness
  • Specific Āsana
  • Intelligently conceived steps called Vinyāsa Krama
  • Examples of Vinyāsa Krama
  • Preparation for Śīrṣāsana also needs to consider compensation
  • Examples of compensation
  • Dynamic or Static Āsana
  • Role of rest after Āsana and before Prāṇāyāma

4. Question on role of Rest before Prāṇāyāma P60-61

5. Question on Transition and Counterpose P61

6. Question on Preparation and Counterpose P61-62

  • Counterpose amidst groups of Āsana

7. Breath retention in Āsana P62-64

  • Four parts to the breath
  • Holding/stopping should never reduce the length of the breath
  • Effects of holding/stopping the breath
  • Holding to increase length of the breath breath
  • Laṅghana/Bṛmhaṇa effects from using breath in Āsana
  • Exhale and Asthma

8. Question on holding the Breath P65

  • Relationship of holding the breath and steadiness

9. Question on Time of Day to do Āsana P65-66

  • Not after eating nor after fasting

10. Question on How Many Āsana to do a day P66

  • Choice based around a crown Āsana
  • Choice based around a crown Prāṇāyāma
  • Choice based around sustaining interest

11. Question on Āsana as preparation for Prāṇāyāma P66-68

  • Choice based around sitting and breathing
  • Holding to test breath for Prāṇāyāma

12. Practice Programs are not fixed – Page 68

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

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