The teacher decides which of the Tri Krama is the……

“The teacher decides which of the Tri Krama is the best for the student:
Śikṣaṇa Krama requires a perfect knowing to transmit a strict practice,
without any compromise, as it should be in Vedic chanting for example.
Rakṣaṇa Krama is aimed at protection and preservation;
it promotes continuity in any levels like health, abilities, knowledge, etc.
Cikitsā Krama looks for adaptation, healing, recovering…”
TKV Desikachar speaking with his senior Western students London 1998

Breath is indispensable for life and its absence is death……

Breath is indispensable for life
and its absence is death.
Hence the necessity to make it longer
and accumulate the Prāṇa Śakti.
Just as a rich man accumulates money slowly to get wealthy,
so also one should practice every day,
through the proper use of the breath in Āsana,
to maintain good health.”
T Krishnamacharya‘s response to a question on breathing.

If engaging therapeutically, firstly examine the gait of the breath……

“If engaging therapeutically, firstly
examine the gait of the breath
and the power of the body.
Otherwise it will not bestow fruits.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition,
the Yoga Rahasya Chapter One verse 85

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

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’.

Breathing techniques should support the Āsana whichever way……

“Breathing techniques should support the Āsana whichever way it needs to be supported.
Sometimes you can de-emphasise the movement by the use of the breath.
This can be in a positive or a negative role.
In a negative role the breath is being abused and not supporting by overpowering the Āsana.
In a positive role the breath can shift the emphasis or attention away from the body.
This would be useful in the case of bodily tension or a particularly sensitive or painful area.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

The process of Cikitsā has two parts…..

cikitsa

“The process of Cikitsā has two parts:
1. Rakṣaṇa Krama
I am healthy and don’t want to be sick.
By not doing anything there will be no Rakṣaṇam.
For example:
Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 16
heyaṃ duḥkham anāgatam
I’m alright now,
but I must be careful so I don’t get sick tomorrow.
This is Rakṣaṇa Krama.”
TKV Desikachar France 1983

Often people have little distinction between Exercise and Yoga….

siksana

“Continuing the idea of Śikṣaṇa,
it is possible to put further categories into Sādhana.
It is important,
as often people have little distinction between exercise and Yoga.
According to texts and great masters Sādhana is not just at the body level,
but at the Indriya level, the mind level and possibly even further.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

People come to study Yoga for many reasons……

TKV_France_1999

“People come to study Yoga for many reasons,
however it comes into two groups.
1. They come to learn or study (Śikṣaṇa).
2. They come to us for support rather than to study (Rakṣaṇa).
So the Yoga we offer to the person who is inquiring
is not the Yoga we offer to the person seeking protection.
Therefore one can give the wrong advice (Asat viniyoga) to the right person
and vice versa (Asat viniyoga).
This can do more harm than if the person had not come.
The intention must be right as must be the execution.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

Where do Āsana lead us?……

“Where do Āsana lead us?
1. For seated practices. (Adhyātmika – Concerning our essence)
To stay in a stable position with the spine erect for Dhyāna or preparation for Dhyāna.
2.  For health. (Cikitsā – Therapeutics)
They do something for the energy flow of the body.
3. Ability to master the body. (Śakti – Power)
Not necessarily to promote health but to show that we can master the body.
Often these are good for health, though many are only useful as challenges.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

The breath is related to the intellect, chest, respiratory system, digestive system etc

“The breath is related to the intellect, chest, respiratory system, digestive system etc.
So one should consider and understand the relevance of the breath to these areas.
Also how these areas are in students before we start applying specific principles of breathing,
otherwise it could aggravate the area and any inherent problem.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

We cannot say that this Āsana or this Prāṇāyāma can be given……

janu_sirsasana

“We cannot say that this Āsana or this Prāṇāyāma can be given for this disease.”
– T Krishnamacharya 1984

How is Āyurveda linked to Cikitsā or the therapeutic application of Yoga?

Question to TKV Desikachar:
“How is Āyurveda linked to Cikitsā or the therapeutic application of Yoga?”

TKV Desikachar Response:
“There is a lot of difference. As far as Yoga is concerned, we are concerned with the personality of the person, the mental aspect and the higher aspirations of the student.

That is why Yoga has a lot to offer. For the body Āyurveda is the solution. A good combination would be Āyurveda and Yoga.

My father used to do that. He would teach Āsana practice, or Prāṇāyāma or meditation and he would talk about diet and he would also give some Āyurveda medicine.

He was treating not only the body but the whole person with the help of this great combination.”

Extract from an interview in the Journal Viniyoga Italia on Yoga and Well Being.

Śikṣaṇa Krama – do something perfectly or correctly……

asana_12

Śikṣaṇa Krama – do something perfectly or correctly.
Anything is taught to achieve perfection in the practice of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma.
In other words teaching children and healthy people where you can take risks with no problems.
Not a valid approach for groups.
We need to use intelligence and Viveka,
not follow the idea of no pain, no gain to become painless,
or to get to a point without suffering.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

Even in the case of Śikṣaṇa Krama the ancient teachers had steps…….

parampara

“Even in the case of Śikṣaṇa Krama the ancient teachers had steps in the teaching:

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One should consider and understand the relevance of the breath……

“The breath is related to the intellect, chest, respiratory system, digestive system, etc.
So one should consider and understand the relevance of the breath to these areas.
Also how these areas are in students before we start applying specific principles of breathing,
otherwise it could aggravate the area and any inherent problem.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

The person who taught me how to vary postures……

The person who taught me how to vary postures, to bend the legs, to turn the neck, all the simple and complicated variations, as necessary, is Krishnamacharya. It is important to vary each posture according to the individuals requirements.

Further, he also introduced the use of other aids or supports, so that the person gets the benefit of a posture through other means when he is not able to do the posture itself. This can involve sitting on a chair, using a roll, using supports, etc., the use of other means to help a person achieve certain results.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Āsana based Exercises for the management of Low Back Pain


Abstract
Low Back Pain is an endemic disorder afflicting a large percentage of people. The aetiological factors are mostly psychosomatic along with postural defects, occupational predispositions and sendentary life styles. Though several rehabilitative techniques are prescribed, no systematic analysis of these are available.

The present study evaluates several simple Āsana on the basis of biomechanical principles. These studies also select a set of Āsana which work on the back with increasing intensity. A series of tests are evolved to assess the physiological debility of a patient. These test results form the basis of selection of Āsana to be prescribed to the patient. A chart is finally provided to enable the therapist to increase the intensity of Āsana so that the muscles of the low back can be strengthened systematically and progressively.

The results of clinical trials on 16 patients using this method of Āsana selection and rehabilitation indicates the usefulness of this method for the management of low back pain, Only regular practitioners of these exercises improve while indifferent or improper practice has no rehabilitative value.

by TV Ananthanarayanan – Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram and
TM Srinivasan – Founder Member, Biomedical EngineeringDivision, I. I. T., Madras

Originally published in The Yoga Review Vol. III, No. 1, 1983

Download or view as a PDF

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