Don’t go on doing a lot of postures……

“Don’t go on doing a lot of postures; if you do,
I think the meaning in Yoga will be lost.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 238

Many people have this problem of maintaining attention during practice……

“Many people have this problem of maintaining attention during the practice.
You can place your attention on a particular part of the body
but there must be something happening, a movement.
Thats why the best movement is the breath.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 237

Making a start in learning to Chant the Yoga Sūtra……

yoga_sutra_cover

Mostly we are introduced to the teachings of the Yoga Sūtra through a group class situation, or by coming across a book. This is fine as a starting point, however longer term we need to engage a Sādhana that can facilitate its wisdom teachings radiating from the inside out rather than just permeating from the outside in.

A good starting point for initiating this psychic process is to learn how to chant as a practice in itself and then how to chant the Yoga Sūtra specifically. As well as offering a deepening of contact with those special Bhāvana that arise from chanting, this can also be extremely helpful for the memory processes involved.

These two steps in the embracing chant as a Sādhana ideally require a personal teacher, especially one who can listen and identify our individual nuances in how we repeat what we think we hear. From there they can offer a Vinyāsa Krama for cultivating our vocal potential and refining our skills in terms of self-listening and thus facilitating our abilities in terms of self-correction.

However accepting that for some this may not be a possibility at this point in time, three suggestions are offered below as progressive options for starting a self-learning process

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Learning Support for Chanting the Pavamāna Mantra – Asato Mā Sadgamaya

असतो मा सद्गमय |
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय |
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ‖

asato mā sad gamaya |
tamaso mā jyotir gamaya |
mṛtyor mā amṛtaṃ gamaya ‖

Learning Support for Chanting the Pavamāna Mantra – Asato Mā Sadgamaya
From my personal library of recordings from my studies with TKV Desikachar
To Download or Listen to an MP3
To Download a PDF Chant Sheet with Romanised Saṃskṛta, Chant Notations and Translation

Before launching on Antar Aṅga Sādhana……

“Before launching on Antar Aṅga Sādhana,
one should be a Niṣṭhāvān in Bāhya Aṅga Sādhana.
If this earlier stage is very well established,
then only a teacher may teach Dhyāna.”
– T Krishnamacharya 1984

Whenever we look at an Āsana we must look at two sides……

“Whenever we look at an Āsana
we must look at two sides:
1. What is involved in the Āsana
2. Who is doing the Āsana
– TKV Desikachar 1984

Different Yoga practices are meant to prepare a person towards Dhyānam.

“Different Yoga practices are meant to prepare a person towards Dhyānam.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 21

We cannot escape the need for adaptation……

“We cannot escape the need for adaptation.
Adaptation is the application of certain principles,
to achieve certain results.
It implies:
– Knowing where the person is now.
– Knowing where we want them to go.
Adaptation is the means used to bridge this gap.”
– TKV Desikachar 1981

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Fourteen 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 Fourteen Practice: The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha
– Pages 195-205

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Another simple posture for Bandha is Adho Mukha Śvanāsana……

“Another simple posture is Adho Mukha Śvan Āsana.
The next step is to try them in some sitting postures such as Mahā Mudrā.
These Bandha can also be done in the headstand.
It is easy to do Bandha in this position because the lifting,
Uḍḍīyana Bandha, and holding up, Mūla Bandha,
of Apāna to the flame is almost automatic
because now the Apāna is above the flame.
If we can do the three Bandha in these postures,
we are ready to introduce them in our Prāṇāyāma.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 197

We must begin to do these Bandha in some simple postures……

“We must begin to do these Bandha in some
simple postures so our bodies can get used to them.
The easiest posture is to lie flat on the back.
We call this Taḍāka Mudrā when we
do Uḍḍīyana Bandha in this position.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 197

Some disturbances will respond to Āsana……

“Some disturbances will respond to Āsana.
Some of the more resistant, to Prāṇāyāma.”
– T Krishnamacharya

One could say that I have taught Yoga to hundreds of people……

“One could say, of course,
that I have taught Yoga to hundreds of people,
of different ages, states, origins,
but by Yoga I mean only postures and breath control,
and do not count meditation or interpretation of the texts.

These I have only taught to a few people and
only to those I deemed worthy after several interviews,
designed to give me an idea of their personality
and the firmness of their intentions.

I discouraged those who appeared to have superficial reasons for learning Yoga,
but never those who came to find me because of health problems and
who had frequently been turned away by the medical profession.”

– From interviews with T Krishnamacharya by Sarah Dars,
published in Viniyoga Review no 24, December 1989

We should anticipate a great reduction in our ability to do long breathing……

“We should anticipate a great reduction in our ability to do
long breathing and holding the breath once we introduce the Bandha.
There is quite a lot of effort involved in doing them.
If a person can do 10.10.20.10, I have found
that with Bandha the breath is reduced to 6.6.12.6,”
– TKV Desikachar ‘The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 200

The best Āsana for doing Bandha are inverted, lying flat, or sitting……

“The best Āsana for doing Bandha are inverted, lying flat, or sitting with the back straight.
A classic posture is Mahā Mudrā, which is in fact, Mahā Mudrā only if the Bandha are used.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 200

In the Sthiti Krama the most important Yoga Sādhana for the householder……

nadi_sodana

“In the Sthiti Krama the most important Yoga Sādhana
for the householder, according to me, is Prāṇāyāma.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition,
the Yoga Rahasya Chapter Two verse 45

The more you teach the more you must practice.

“The more you teach,
the more you must practice.”
– TKV Desikachar

Through observation in Āsana practice we can learn a lot about ourselves……

Āsana practice is the beginning that will confirm the importance of observation.
Through observation in Āsana practice we can learn a lot about ourselves
and even probably meet ‘that‘ which is observing inside us.”
– TKV Desikachar 1981

Uḍḍīyāna Bandha is done on holding the breath after exhalation……

“As Uḍḍīyāna Bandha is done on holding the breath after exhalation,
one of the most important requirements
is that we are able to do a long holding of the breath
without sacrificing the quality of the inhalation and exhalation.
If this is not possible we should forget about Bandha for the time being.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 197

We always have the potential for the state of Samādhi but……

“We always have the potential for the state of Samādhi
but somehow something comes between us and that state.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘The Antaraṅga Sādhana, Saṃyama and Kaivalya’
Chapter Thirteen Page 181

Āsana is basically something linked to Prāṇāyāma……

pranayama_dhyana

“In the Yoga Sūtra,
Āsana is basically something linked to Prāṇāyāma,
since Prāṇāyāma is a very important practice there,
linked to Dhāraṇā.”
– TKV Desikachar commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 46

Yoga is a process which makes me understand how my mind……

Response from TKV Desikachar on attempts being made to link Yoga to specific diseases

We have to examine many factors to see what is the origin of what is known as a symptom and according to that we have to propose for this condition some Yoga which is not just Āsana.

Yoga is a process which makes me understand how my mind is functioning and then reduces the turbulence of mind, any technique that helps this helps the person. We are reaching the human being through the mind; we are reaching the sickness through interaction at the mental level, with different tools of course.

This is why it is a challenge for Yoga.”

Extract from Interview with TKV Desikachar by Paul Harvey in 2000
on ‘Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy’.

We should know what NOT to teach……

“One of the important rules is that
we should know what NOT to teach.”
TKV Desikachar on Yoga as a Therapy’.

The whole process of observing others and observing oneself is entirely different……

“The whole process of observing others
and observing oneself is entirely different.
Often we confuse the two.
Ideally, when we observe others,
we should forget about ourselves.
– TKV Desikachar 1981

Yoga is a mirror of ourselves……

TKV_5

“Yoga is a mirror of ourselves.
It is Darśana Vijñāna,
the science of observation,
not just doing Āsana.
In teaching Yoga this implies:
– that we may not transmit exactly the way we have been taught.
– that we may not teach what we ourselves are doing.”
– TKV Desikachar 1981