Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Twelve 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 Twelve Practice: Choosing a Ratio and the Proper Technique for Prāṇāyāma
– Pages 163-177

1. Do we need to change the ratio? P163

  • New to maintain attention
  • To suit a particular need
  • If too easy will become mechanical
  • If too complicated resistance/conflict
  • Choice involves two things
  • What can be done re capacity
  • What should be done re direction, aim, need

2. Use of Āsana to establish capacity P163-164

  • How breath fluctuates
  • How body responds

3. Question around ratio must change P165

  • We must find out what we can/cannot do
  • Āsana can tell us how the breath behaves

4. Question around need to change ratio/breath length in Āsana P165

  • Example on finding out what we can/cannot do

5. Question around working on breath in Āsana using Prāṇāyāma techniques P165-167

  • Why not?
  • Example of fixing ratio in Āsana
  • Example of investigating ratio in Āsana
  • Example of fixing ratio in Āsana
  • Often supple people have problems with the breath

6. Question around inhale and exhale in bending backwards P167-170

  • No definite rule as it depends on weight, stiffness, particular posture
  • That is why we should not use complicated posture to investigate
  • Establish direction of movement based on information
  • Discussion on investigating exhale using ratio, Āsana, Krama, inhale
  • Example proposal to investigate exhale

7. Question around review of first two suggestions for proposal P170-171

  • First proposal to change type of Prāṇāyāma
  • Second proposal is to change our practice
  • There are certain exceptions

8. Question around inhale shorter than exhale and chest area P171-172

  • Usually exhale longer unless other problems

9. Question around exhale and controlling the diaphragm P172

10. Question around area of focus as chest or diaphragm P172-174

  • To attain a long breath training is necessary

11. Are there guidelines to establish our goals? P172-174

  • Aim to train so we can modify the breath to meet a demand
  • We must have a good posture
  • We must select a certain type of Prāṇāyāma
  • We must have a certain mental attitude
  • A special form of gazing can help attention
  • Sometimes to bring an image to the eyes
  • The effect is to rest the senses

12. Question around gazing while holding the breath P174

  • This is the first step

13. Question around how should we develop gazing P174-175

14. Question around use of hand positions distracting P175-176

  • Why training is step by step
  • Not mentioned for a long time
  • Moving too quickly will divide

15. Question around gazing being muscular or imaginary P176

  • There are effects from different types of gazing
  • Gazing must be done gradually

16. Question around gazing for Pratyāhāra P176

  • Some people think so
  • But we can’t establish Pratyāhāra, it just happens

17. Question around gazing for Pratyāhāra P176-177

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

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