The Viniyoga of Āsana Part 6 of 15 – Planning an Appropriate Āsana Practice

6. Planning an Appropriate Āsana Practice

In this post we will consider questions around the planning of an appropriate Āsana practice.

For example how would we consider the following situation:

  • Rising at 6.30am
  • Stiff neck
  • Stiff legs
  • Nostrils blocked
  • Stomach pain
  • Head heavy
  • Work meeting at 8.30am (15′ walk)

We can find out how much time is available, say 30′. So now we can prepare a practice. Though, whatever principles you use there are certain things that must happen.

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In the West, whilst they don’t accept authority……

“In the West,
whilst they don’t accept authority,
they would like to be the authority.”
– TKV Desikachar Madras 1998

Āsana offers a purpose more than just physical……

Āsana offers a purpose more than just physical.
Āsana offers a link of the mind to the physical.
Āsana introduces the concept of Dhyāna as a practice.
Āsana seeks to minimise the Saṃskāra
or habitual patterns which dull the mind.
In doing so it seeks to increase our sensitivity to ourselves,
what is around us and its corresponding influences,
and to what sustains us.”
– TKV Desikachar

Sound – A Means Beyond Āsana and Prāṇāyāma……

The following lecture was given by Desikachar
at the Viniyoga America Seminar
at Colgate University in August, 1987.

We have briefly covered Āsana and Prāṇāyāma in these lectures on the different components of Yoga practice.

I would like us to examine the question:
Is there anything more beyond Āsana and Prāṇāyāma?

This morning I was reciting some Saṃskṛta verses in which the great masters say that in this time in the evolution of the world, which is known as Kali Yuga, the strict disciplines that should go with Yoga are not possible. The vigorous practice of Āsana with Bandha and Mudrā, sitting in a very good seated posture, long breath retention after inhalation and after exhalation—not all these are possible at this time. So, they said, we have to find other means.

In this context, what is meant by Yoga? For the ancient people, Yoga was not just physical or respirative gymnastics. Yoga is to do something with the whole person so that the mind changes from the usual unfocused mind to one that can be focused on anything significant. The object of focus could be God, or trying to master oneself, or some other important idea.

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New Resources Page for Veda Mantra Chanting Practice PDF’s & Sound Files

yoga_sutra_cover

The role of this page is to offer a centralised resource where you can access and download all the PDF’s and MP3’s that are currently offered as references and supports for the continuing development of our Personal Veda Mantra Chanting Practice.

These will also offer a further point of reference as the resources are grouped under the categories shown below. The date at the bottom of each topic group will indicate the last update.

Quick Links:
1. Veda Chant – Beginners Exercises
2. Veda Chant – Opening Chants
3. Taittirīya Saṃhitā Chants
4. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa Chants
5. Taittirīya Āraṇyaka Chants
6. Taittirīyra Upaniṣat Chants
7. Other Upaniṣat Chants
8. Other Chants – Ancient
9. Other Chants – Modern
10. Veda Chant – Closing Chants
11. Veda Chant – Resources as Sound Files

Following the Quick Links above will take you to the downloads within that group.

New Resources Page for Yoga Sūtra Chanting Practice PDF’s & Sound Files

yoga_sutra_cover

The role of this page is to offer a centralised resource where you can access and download all the PDF’s and MP3’s that are currently offered as references and supports for the continuing development of our Personal Yoga Sūtra Chanting Practice.

These will also offer a further point of reference as the resources are grouped under the categories shown below. The date at the bottom of each topic group will indicate the last update.

Quick Links:
1. Opening Yoga Chants
2. Opening Yoga Sūtra Chants
3. Beginners Yoga Sūtra Chants
4. Yoga Sūtra Chant in Chapters
5. Closing Yoga Chants
6. Closing Yoga Sūtra Chants
7. Yoga Sūtra Chanting Resources as Sound Files

Following the Quick Links above will take you to the downloads within that group.

The original essence of the Yoga Sūtra was passed on by oral tradition……

yoga_sutra_cover

“The original essence of the Yoga Sūtra
was passed on by oral tradition.
First you learn the rhythm of the Sūtra.
This was in Saṃskṛta,
first learning the words or Sūtra, then the meanings.
By learning to recite the Sūtra perfectly it was clear
that you were earnest in wanting to learn their meanings.
The scheme would be to repeat it twice,
in exactly the same tone used by the teacher.
This would take many years.
Thus these days it’s difficult to expect to
understand the Sūtra from a book or a course.”
– TKV Desikachar 1979

Sometimes we try to transmit what we cherish……

“Sometimes we try to transmit
what we cherish.
This is not Viniyoga.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

We never know when we are going to die……

“We never know when we are going to die.
So we must prepare for death.
Because at the moment of death
you become what you think.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

Know your breath and its unique characteristics in Āsana and you will……

Know your breath and
its unique characteristics within Āsana
and 
you will have an initial template
for working with your breath in Prāṇāyāma.

Modern Postural Yoga talks a lot about individual patterning from our genetic past, along with upbringing and lifestyle conditioning, determining what body patterns we inherently carry from life to death. From this, how we need to consider what body we bring to Āsana practice and how we need to be intelligent in our choice of Āsana for our body and mind and the developmental direction of our body in Āsana practice.

Less talked about is that exactly the same can be said for our breath and the individual patterning from our genetic past, along with upbringing and lifestyle conditioning, determining what breathing patterns we inherently carry from life to death. From this, we also need to consider what breath we bring to Āsana practice and how we need to be intelligent in our choice of breathing patterns in Āsana for our body and mind and the developmental direction of our breath in Āsana practice.

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108 Yoga Study Path Pointers – 29 – Āsana and Prāṇāyāma  are more than just Muscular and Skeletal……

Āsana and Prāṇāyāma  are more than
just Muscular and Skeletal. They deal
with the force behind the movement.
The intelligence which can be as if
blinded by Duḥkha and Avidyā.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Study Path Pointers

108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 65 – The use of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma is an investigation……

The use of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma is
an investigation of all the 9 obstacles
in Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 30.
Those things that come between how
we are and how we would like to be.
– Reflection on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 30

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

What is the role of Dharma in the face of survival?

“What is the role of Dharma
in the face of survival?”
– TKV Desikachar speaking with his
senior Western students London 1998

Abhiniveśā is the extra-ordinairy instinctive urge to survive at any cost……

abhinivesa

Abhiniveśā is the extra-ordinairy
instinctive urge to survive at any cost.
No one is spared. In a way,
it is a dislike about one’s death.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to
Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 9

Yoga Sūtra on Stress – An interview with TKV Desikachar

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

YOGA SŪTRA ON STRESS

– An Interview with TKV Desikachar by AV Balasubramanian and Paul Harvey

The Yoga Sūtra presents the potentials of the human mind, the means to its refinement, control and clarity and the obstacles that can come in the way of one’s progress. An understanding of stress in the light of the Yoga Sūtra is presented in the interview below.

In addition to covering the many techniques in Yoga to help persons under stress, TKV Desikachar constantly emphasises the importance of the attitude to our actions. He singles out the cultivation of the twin qualities of Śraddhā and Īśvara Praṇidhānā as the only sure means for being free from stress permanently.

Question:
What is the Indian tradition’s view on stress?

Response:
In the Indian tradition, stress would be the situation where a person exhibits the Udvega, attitudes or behavior which take over a person and control him. The origin of the Udvega lies in the Ṣad Ūrmi, the six enemies. These six are:

  • Kāma: desire
  • Krodha: anger
  • Lobha: possessiveness, greed
  • Moha: darkness; though not actually dark it is as if darkness exists because the person is so sure of himself and his opinions that he is unable to see.
  • Mada: arrogance, the refusal to accept or give in.
  • Mātsarya: jealousy, to resent the success of others and to be happy at their failures.

These are Āyurveda‘s Mano Roga (diseases of the mind). If any one of these six is dominant in a person, that person is sure to experience Udvega in one form or the other.

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In Veda, Āyurveda and Yoga Sūtra, various techniques are offered……

“In VedaĀyurveda and Yoga Sūtra,
various techniques are offered to aid in healing the sick.
In addition to herbs and medicines,
Patañjali suggests that ĀsanaPrāṇāyāma and Vairāgya
are particularly beneficial and, as any medicine,
should be used with care and discipline.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 34

PDF Repository for the Viniyoga of Yoga Practice & Study Posts and Resources

The role of this post is to let readers know that there is now a single resource page where you can centrally access any individual post from the Yoga Studies Journal that is also offered as a PDF. Links to existing PDF’s are correlated on this page from within two primary fields, that of Yoga Practice and of Yoga Study.

“Yoga Practice is an essential part of Yoga Study.
Rather than Yoga Study being an essential part of Yoga Practice.”

This will offer those interested a single point of reference to PDF versions of posts grouped around the topics below. As I continue to add to these resources the date at the bottom of each topic will indicate the last update. Meanwhile thank you for your interest.

The 200+ Yoga Practice and Yoga Study PDF Resources are grouped as follows:

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Yoga can be a mystery to be resolved or a question to be solved……

Yoga can be a question to be solved, or a mystery to be resolved.

The process for one is Jñana Dhyānam and for the other Bhakti Dhyānam.
From the perspective of the Yoga Sūtra, common to both
is the relationship with and yoking of, Citta, as if to Cit.

Patañjali in his seminal text on meditation
discusses two primary paths for Dhyānam:
Jñana Yoga, the power of Ātma Vicāra
and Bhakti Yoga, the power of Japam.
Both lead towards the same goal.
It is merely the means that are different,
rather than the goal.

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Strange to find my bananas enveloped by Yoga teachings on Vinyāsa Krama……

fruit_stall_madras

One day I was shopping at my favourite fruit stall in Adyar, Chennai in 1980.
This was in the days prior to such things as plastic bags, plastic bottles, etc.

So my fruit was put into paper bags and as the vendor handed them to me I noticed that they had been handmade from someone’s old A4 notes written in a distinctive green ink.

S’funny I thought, as the writing and sketches look familiar and sure enough
it was my own notes from my personal lessons with Desikachar.

Somehow my original notes had worked their way from being written up by me,
to the waste paper basket in my apartment, and via my cook,
to a paper bag maker, to be resold to the street vendors.

A curious juxtaposition to find my bananas
enveloped by Yoga teachings on Vinyāsa Krama.

Question to Krishnamacharya – “Can you explain the concept of Vinyāsa and Pratikriyā Āsana?”


Question to T Krishnamacharya:
“Can you explain the concept of Vinyāsa and Pratikriyā Āsana?”

“The question asked relates to Yoga and not to Vidyā Abhyāsa. There is no Āsana without Vinyāsa. Yoga is an experience, Āsana is the third of the eight limbs of Yoga and it is also important to pay attention to first two limbs, namely Yama and Niyama.

One who wishes to enquire into and understand Vinyāsa should first know what is Āsana. According to Patañjali Yoga Sūtra, Āsana is defined as “Sthira Sukham Āsanam“.

Sthira – Namely firm and without disease and Sukham – pleasant and comfortable. To be in Sukham state, all parts of the body should be in perfect harmony. This is true for all, whether one is a man, woman, deaf, mute, blind or even for animals. Any action that disturbs this state of harmony should be followed by a Pratikriyā to restore the harmony. One cannot but accept this principle.

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