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

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’
Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 197

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

Traditionally legs remain straight with thighs contracted and knee caps lifted…..

“Traditionally legs remain straight with thighs contracted and knee caps lifted.
Practically the idea is to bend the knees when strain is felt.
This can be observed in several areas.
In the knee caps by movement,
thigh muscles by contraction and resistance in the hamstrings.
When coming up straighten the legs after half way.”
– TKV Desikachar

If I had a student I would give more respect to the exhalation……

Of the Four Aspects of the Breath which is more important

“If I had a student I would give more respect to the exhalation.
The course would be based on the observation of the exhalation in Prāṇāyāma and Āsana.
This would give the type of Prāṇāyāma and for which Āsana.
One should see what is the response of the exhalation in the posture or when sitting.
When fixing Prāṇāyāma, even if you are reducing the length of the exhalation,
if any problem then the cycle should be completely changed.
One must give respect to the exhalation.
One can get an idea by the position of the stomach.
One should keep 2/3″ in hand on inhalation and exhalation.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

Always raise and lower the arms in the plane of the movement…….

Āsana_25b

“Always raise and lower the arms in the plane of the movement.
This helps the forward movement by causing you
to arch the back slightly before you bend forward.
Traditionally arms are straight and placed behind the ears.”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

Know the Breath from the feelings in the Āsana……

seated_pranayama_2

1. Know the Breath from the feelings in the Āsana.
2. Choose a ratio close to that used in Āsana.
3. Choose a technique to suit the day.
4. Choose a proper posture for the spine.
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

For standing Āsana it is not necessary to close the eyes…..

Āsana_64

“For standing Āsana it is not necessary to close the eyes.
As standing Āsana are usually at the beginning of a practice,
it can sometimes be distracting to close the eyes,
because of all the visual activity proceeding the practice.
Having the eyes open can also stop you becoming unbalanced as you move.
The eyes can be useful for checking alignment within dynamic movements.
You may not observe this with the eyes closed.
However, the attention with the eyes open should be passive and aware.”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

Where are we starting from?……

asana_56

“We must consider the direction of one’s Āsana Practice.
Where are we starting from?
Where are we going to?
Is this journey of Pariṇāma working with immediate needs in mind?
Is this journey of Pariṇāma working with long term needs in mind?
Is this journey of Pariṇāma trying to integrate both immediate needs and long term needs?”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

These problems in our observation are related to the mixing of…..

tkv_6a

“These problems in our observation are related to the mixing of:

Vikalpa:
Imagination is already there operating when we begin to observe.
All the more that we are better and better informed about what we should see, etc.

Viparyaya:
Because of the past Saṃskāra, there is a sort of perversion in observation.

Smṛti:
Memory is, unfortunately, never factual.

Finally, we should never forget that all conclusions are wrong, because things change.
Hence the importance of private lessons, which allow for more flexibility.”
– TKV Desikachar 1981

Observation must have a direction and be complete….

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“Observation must have a direction and be complete.
We always have a tendency to tell more than what we see, which is a mistake.
If we tell somebody that he has a problem, yet we know that we will not be able to give him a solution because of a lack of time or any other reason, maybe we are going to hurt him.
Therefore, we should first make sure that we have a solution to offer.”
– TKV Desikachar 1981

What can be done can be easily established if we observe our breath in Āsana.

asana_15a

What can be done can be easily established if we observe our breath in Āsana.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘Choosing a Ratio and the proper technique for Prāṇāyāma’
Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Twelve Page 163

To give the right thing to the right person at the right time is Sat viniyoga……

tkv_6a

“To give the right thing to the right person at the right time is Sat viniyoga.
Don’t look at the file, look at the student!”
TKV Desikachar France 1983

By observing how the breath responds in Āsana……

“By observing how the breath responds in Āsana i.e.
Forward Bends.
Backward Bends.
Lying Postures.
Inverted Postures.
Twist Poses.
As to whether there is a better quality in either inhalation or exhalation,
one can decide how to proceed in Prāṇāyāma.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

If a teacher is unable to follow the unique conditions of each student……

“In a group class, if a teacher is unable to follow the unique conditions of each student, it would be unfortunate, since not only we would not understand Yoga, we might also be discouraged.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Two Page 15

How to Observe an Āsana Session – by Margaret Pierce

By Margaret Pierce Co-Founder of the Pierce Yoga Programme in Atlanta, Georgia
Download this article as a PDF

The dancer glides gracefully to her accustomed spot and sighs as she lies down. It is 5.50pm, ten minutes before class. One woman sits knitting intently. Another sits serenely in Ardha Padmāsana. Another, face alit, places a rose on my table, while the tense weight-lifter eagerly describes his latest injury.

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