“Would appreciate any clues as to the Dhyāna practice as you were taught.”
Reflecting on this question reminds me of a video of a lecture by S Sridharan from the KYM recently reposted on August 5th 2015 on the Krishnamacharya Yoga Facebook page. I feel that the extract below sums up well the essence of Krishnamacharya’s teaching, especially when involving the Antar Aṅga:
“But when it came to personal practice we would have to meet our teacher in his room separately…..
What my teacher has imparted to me as my Yoga practice. I cannot share it with any of you.
Not for the reason that I don’t want to share it, it will have no value for any of you…..
When we teach something it should be very personal from the point of view of Yoga practice.
Yoga is a topic that just cannot be taught over a platform.”
He also discussed earlier in the video the notion that the only group activity was the study of texts. When it came to personal practice this was within a private room and was a personal matter between the teacher and the student.
It was also interesting that amongst the eight or ten long term students of TKV Desikachar, we were all good friends and knew a lot about each others personal lives, yet none of us knew what the other did within their private lessons and thus within their personal practice.
Nor did we want to know this, as we were taught that our Yoga practice was a personal matter to be respected, rather than discussed or compared.
This focus from Krishnamacharya, on the privacy of teaching and practice for adult students, also has the advantage in that I am not looking at or comparing others practice against my own. I have enough issues to contend with in my own practice without adding Yoga envying or Yoga copying regarding others practices. One just gets on with what your teacher taught you.
This is quite different from those methodologies based around group practice and group teaching of set practices, or the sharing of common practices amongst incomparable practitioners.
This is the viniyoga of Yoga perspective where we were taught that there is a difference between the process around a practice and the actual content of a practice. This means that there are no standardised content formula or formulaic processes.
Thus what you are taught with regards to your own practice may not be necessarily what you teach for others to practice. Or what you teach may not necessarily be what you practice.
Of course this all presumes that you are extensively trained in the nuances and differences between practice processes and practice content, as both a student and a teacher, so that you are able to make and exercise these choices according to the student in front of you.
There is also the question of the level of the practice that is being taught given the enormous range of options that fall under the term Yoga practices.
As with other aspects of Yoga practice, the content in any Dhyāna Sādhana is unique to each individual student’s process in terms of personal story, intentions and potentials. However, for me, developing personalised meditational practices demands more of my psyche than less subtle practices such as with Āsana.
For example I can create and teach many Āsana practices for different students in different situations in a day. However when it comes to Dhyāna Sādhana it takes a deeper knowledge of the inner workings of the student, often preceded by an unlearning of what they understand as meditation, and is the evolution of a process rather than a content of collected techniques.
As I mentioned in my online response to the original Facebook question:
“Here the next arrival in this process of interiorisation was the exploration,
within the privacy of our one to one lessons,
of a formal commitment and initiation into the practice of Dhyāna or seated meditation.
Again the introduction and development of a personalised practice took place over several years.”
These days I feel that Dhyāna, as with Āsana, has become increasingly formulaic over the past four decades, especially in the Western World, through such as originally with TM or currently with Mindfulness.
However teaching lessons within a personal context remained at the heart of Krishnamacharya’s and Desikachar’s priorities throughout their lives and it still remains the vital element in appreciating what the term viniyoga means in terms of a systematic development of the students experience of Yoga.
Of course this systematic development is according to and must incorporate the everchanging factors around the students life in terms of such as age, vocation, health, family commitments, energy and whether the level of commitment is appropriate to the level of practice under consideration.
This is the caveat set by Krishnamacharya and Desikachar over their many decades of teaching.
I guess the outcome of this brings me back to the question of how a student is trained, in terms of spending a lot of hours learning through the unique process engendered within 121 personalised lessons, rather than what range of content they have learnt, especially as for many it all happens within a group class or group teacher training situations.
Thus the only clue I can offer across these remote mediums, is to work with a teacher whose personal practice and public teaching is deeply rooted in this understanding of the content being applied within the 121 process, especially when it comes to the deeply personal practices such as with Dhyāna Sādhana.
Meanwhile for me, the Dhyāna Sādhana I received from my teacher remains as the heart of my personal practice.