So this is the initial relationship between Science and Yoga……

Question from Paul Harvey

It is a very broad area that we want to look at around science and medical conditions, as there is a tremendous interest in Yoga as a therapy in the world today.

I would like to start by maybe getting a historical perspective on Yoga and asking questions on your understanding of it. Where do you feel that this link started between Yoga and Science? Because Yoga originally was something that was not associated with science.

It was something that was done for personal development, spiritual development, or even perhaps physical development and somewhere we seem to have made this link with science, which was predominantly something that was growing up in the West whilst at the same time Yoga was growing or has grown in India, with less connection directly with science.

So I am wondering if you could help develop this question about the link between Yoga and Science.

Response from TKV Desikachar

If we look at the history of India, for centuries and centuries for different reasons India has always fascinated the West. More people have travelled to India from the West than from other parts because the Chinese could not come because of the mountains. There has been silk; there has been a lot of mix about India’s great history; also many conquerors came.

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One of the important rules is that……

One of the important rules is that we should know what not to teach

“One of the important rules is that we should know what not to teach.”
– Extract from Interview with TKV Desikachar by Paul Harvey in 2000
on ‘Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy’.
n.b. This ‘rule’ was one of the primary foci for my first years 121 lessons
on Pathology and Yoga Cikitsa with Desikachar when living in Madras through 1980.

When somebody comes to us they are not coming with one problem……

they are not coming with one problem

Question by Paul Harvey

So from what you are saying it appears that it is not really possible to evaluate Yoga in the terms that would satisfy Western science, in terms of having several study groups, one group practising Yoga, one group practising some placebo, one group not practising; measuring the different groups and trying to determine the effect over the same period of time.

Response from TKV Desikachar

It is a challenge. Now I am not saying that people have not done this type of study, I always want to call it study, I do not call it a conclusion, study is being done by scientific people interested in Yoga, studies are being done but there is a tendency to make a hasty conclusion. There are many Institutions in India that say we have done these studies

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T Krishnamacharya Cikitsā Practice excerpt aged 96

A short clip extracted from a video of T Krishnamacharya practising as part of his Yoga Cikitsā or Yoga therapeutics when recovering from a hip fracture from a fall in 1984 when aged 96. Apologies for the quality, the original cassette is a bit flakey.

General outline on Cikitsa Krama……


“General outline on Cikitsa Krama.
More sophisticated than Śikṣaṇa Krama.
Already when you know an object it is seen differently by different people.
So when I offer a healing object it is seen as a cause of disease by others.
One mind can influence minds differently,
because different minds receive things differently.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

Śikṣaṇa has different Krama which can be looked into……


Śikṣaṇa has different Krama which can be looked into.
For example Sṛṣṭi Krama to grow, create, develop – physically or mentally.
In some situations Sṛṣṭi Krama is more important.
For example in Āsana, ideas of relaxation not valid.
So more work, more strength, more activity.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

The transmission shows the Siddhi of the Sādhana……

The transmission shows the Siddhi of the Sādhana

“The transmission shows the Siddhi of the Sādhana.
This is viniyoga.
These outlines are valid whether Śikṣaṇa or Rakṣaṇa Krama.
If what is given is mechanical it is not viniyoga.
That is why the viniyoga spirit is very important these days.”
TKV Desikachar France 1983

Grahaṇa Śikṣaṇa – Also able to absorb correctly what you have understood……


Grahaṇa Śikṣaṇa (grasping instruction) –
Also able to absorb correctly what you have understood.
You must test them, confuse them to see if they have.”
– TKV Desikachar France August 1983

Even in the case of Śikṣaṇa Krama the ancient had cautions……


“Even in the case of Śikṣaṇa Krama the ancient had cautions.
The teaching must be appropriate to the intelligence of the individual or Yukta Śikṣaṇa.”
– TKV Desikachar France August 1983

Some views say don’t teach children……


“Some views say don’t teach children.
However Śikṣaṇa Krama is only suitable for children.
Not adults who have become brittle.”
– TKV Desikachar France August 1983