Krishnamacharya’s understanding of Cikitsa or Yoga therapy…

“Krishnamacharya’s understanding of Cikitsā
or Yoga therapy and the arrangement and
sequencing
of postures, along with modifying
the posture and using different breathing
patterns, plus the use of sound and different
Bhāvana or mental foci was profound.
This allowed for many possibilities to be
offered, for a great number of students
with problems, from a range of relatively
few postures and breathing techniques.”
– TKV Desikachar Madras 1996

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

I think, that all those who want to practise Vedic chanting……

“I think, that all those who want to practise
Vedic Chanting must be able to do so,
provided there is no confusion
with Patañjali’s Yoga.”
Extract from an interview with TKV Desikachar on Vedic Chanting

Prāṇāyāma done along with Mantra yields fruits…..

According to one’s capability and reference,
Prāṇāyāma done along with Mantra yields fruits
in the treatment of all kinds of diseases.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition,
the Yoga Rahasya Chapter One verse 84

The Mantra is not something we find in a book or something we buy……

“The Mantra is not something we find in a book or something we buy.
While it might have some effect in the beginning, it will not last.
To be effective it must be received properly
and repeated over a long period of time.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 240

A teacher who knows us very well might give us a Mantra……

“A teacher who knows us very well might give us a Mantra
which has a particular connotation because of the way it has been arranged.
It that Mantra is repeated in the way it has been instructed,
if we are aware of the meaning and if perhaps we want to use a particular image,
Mantra Yoga brings about the same effect as Jñāna Yoga or Bhakti Yoga.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 240

If you are using something more complex, say Gāyatrī Mantra……

Gāyatrī

“The number of times you say OM on inhalation, holding the breath,
and exhalation is influenced by the length of the breath.
We cannot fix the number of recitations on the basis of the Praṇava itself.
We can only fix it on the basis of a person’s capacity of breath.
If you are simply using OM, it can go with almost any ratio.
If you are using something more complex, say Gāyatrī Mantra,
it is very long and has different structures so there are regulations on
how many times you say it when you inhale, hold the breath, and exhale,
and in what part of the Mantra you can break, etc.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 238-239

Once you know how to recite the Praṇava orally you will be able to do it silently……

“I think once you know how to recite the Praṇava
orally you will be able to do it silently.
And perhaps each time you can add a little meaning
to it as well as find a little more meaning in it.
The best way is to begin orally and
then transfer it to a mental recitation.
Then you can easily use it in your Yoga practice.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 238

This is why we recite Mantra to these two stars…..

mantra

“The moon,
whose rays are auspicious for the gathering of medicinal herbs,
is the god of herbs,
whilst the light of the sun gets to the bottom of all impurities.
This is why we recite Mantra to these two stars,
during the preparation of Āyurveda remedies.”
– T Krishnamacharya

The force called Śakti or Kuṇḍalinī is indeed Prāṇa……

prana

“Then he has certain ideas also about Kuṇḍalinī.
The force is Prāṇa,
the force called Śakti or Kuṇḍalinī is indeed Prāṇa.
The only means that can have any effect is the use of Prāṇāyāma,
with emphasis on exhalation and the Bandha,
aided by devotional chantings.
And the evolution of Kuṇḍalinī is very much linked to the person’s state of mind and Vairāgya.”
TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The Guru must judge how serious is the desire……

mantra

“The Guru must judge how serious is the desire and the faith
and then teach the Mantra that he considers most appropriate.
In any event,
he needs to know that it may be that there will be no positive result,
because a lot depends on the attitude of the student.”
T Krishnamacharya

Principles behind why Krishnamacharya only taught adults 121…

tkv_tk_3_1980

“There is another practical thing, it is like what we call Vinyāsa.

At different times, he (Krishnamacharya) has said that any teaching must have the following conditions:

First, from where is the student coming? What is called Deśa. Is he from America, or is he from North India? Teaching must consider whether the person is from one country or another.

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It is usual to start a lesson be it, Chanting, Sūtra, Āsana with a prayer……

tkv_tk_3_1980

“It is usual to start a lesson be it, ChantingSūtra, Āsana, with a prayer.
A prayer is recited and repeated according to the study or purpose of the lesson,
to show respect for the subject.
When the student is familiar with the prayer they repeat it along with the teacher.
Focusing the study with a prayer helps to recall earlier study, lineage of repetition.
The student is given the meaning later.
After the lesson another prayer is said to offer thanks for the learning and for everybody.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Nine 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 9 Practice: The Practical Aspects of Prāṇāyāma – Pages 117-131

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The best time to introduce Mantra is while holding the breath.

seated_pranayama_2

Holding the breath gives us a moment when there is nothing happening.
A moment when it should be possible to count.
In fact, the best time to introduce Mantra is not during
inhalation or exhalation but while holding the breath.
It is said that a moment of holding the breath is a moment of Dhyāna.
Some Mantra are very long.
Since we do not have to concentrate on breathing while holding the breath,
these longer Mantra can be recited correctly.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 128-129

Who regulates your Yoga Practice?

Desikachar_France_1999

“I would like to put to you a question asked me by my teacher:
Who regulates your Yoga Practice?
Although I was given that question some twenty years ago, I still have no answer for it”
TKV Desikachar Madras December 26th 1988

The word Mantra means something that we will ponder……

mantra

The word Mantra means something
that we will ponder,
that we will reflect upon.
That is, you go to a teacher,
they say something and
I go back home and reflect upon that.

That is the essential feature of Mantra,
to reflect upon again and again.
The purpose of Mantra is to
help us cross a harbour, an obstacle.
That is why the definition of Mantra is:

 मननात् त्रायते इति मन्त्रः॥
mananāt trāyate iti mantraḥ ||
“Who reflects on this,
will cross the obstacle”.

Extract from an interview with TKV Desikachar on Vedic Chanting

There is something mysterious about Vedic chanting……

Desikachar and Paul Chanting in 1999
“There is something mysterious about Vedic Chanting.
It is so simple that even people who don’t know music at all can practice it.
Many people who have never sung in their life are interested in it.”
Extract from an interview with TKV Desikachar on Vedic Chanting

A Mantra is only a Mantra if it is special and secret……

mantra

“A Mantra is only a Mantra if it is special and secret,
and has been personally bestowed by someone
with whom you have a special relationship.
It must be pronounced properly”
– TKV Desikachar 1980