Āsana alone can be a support for our outer relationship with living……

Āsana alone can be a support for our outer relationship with living.
However can Āsana alone be a support for our inner relationship with dying?
Especially as our conception of death is buried deep within our psyche.
This is why Yoga offers vehicles beyond Āsana for the inner and especially final journey.”

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’
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’
Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 197

One primary prerequisite to initiation into a Tri Bandha Sādhana was a……

nadi_sodana

One primary prerequisite to initiation into a Tri Bandha Sādhana
was an ability in Prāṇāyāma within a Vinyāsa Krama around
Nāḍī Śodhana where the crown was 12 breaths at 12.12.12.12.

Thus before being taught Uḍḍīyāna Bandha,
an essential precursor to Mūla Bandha,
there needed to be competence in sustaining Prāṇāyāma,
within a Vinyāsa Krama leading to a crown ratio of 1.1.1.1.
with the PūrakaAntar KumbhakaRecaka and Bāhya Kumbhaka
each set at 12 seconds in a crown of 12.12.12.12. for 12 breaths.

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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’
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’
Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 200

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

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’.

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

Our Yoga practice needs to evolve….

Our Yoga practice needs to evolve,
amongst other longer term unfoldings,
towards a live-in personalised relationship,
rather than just a go-out group class affair.

Uḍḍīyāna Bandha is a pre-requisite for the other two Bandha…….

Uḍḍīyāna Bandha is a pre-requisite for the other two Bandha, Jālandhara and Mūla.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition,
the Yoga Rahasya Chapter One verse 67

The ancient people introduced holding of the breath to stop…..

“The ancient people introduced holding of the breath
to stop, to quieten the mind,
considered as linked to the movement of Vāta.”
– TKV Desikachar December 1987

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.

Then there are those Āsana that you learn solely for practices other than Āsana.

Āsana_68

Then there are those Āsana that you learn solely for practices other than Āsana.

Guidelines for exploring the Breath in Āsana Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma

Explore how the Breath can:

  • Stimulate Prone Backbend Āsana.

The breath becomes very short using Bandha……

maha_mudra_UB

“The breath becomes very short using Bandha.
It is necessary to have a very long exhale
before it is possible to work with them effectively.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

It dissolves defects like the Mahā Kleśa…….

maha_mudra_UB

mahākleśādayo doṣaḥ kṣīyante maraṇādayaḥ |
mahāmudrāṃ ca tenaiva vadanti vibudhottamāḥ ||

“It dissolves defects like the Mahā Kleśa such as the fear of Death.
For this reason the wise call it the Mahā Mudrā
– Commentary on Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā Chapter 3 verse 14