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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Mental attitude is very important in the practice of Prāṇāyāma.

seated_pranayama_2

“Mental attitude is very important in the practice of Prāṇāyāma.
In Prāṇāyāma we have no body movement to see; it involves mostly what we feel.
The only thing dynamic in Prāṇāyāma is the breath.
Yet, we must have the same attitude of attention in Prāṇāyāma, as in Āsana.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 125

We normally practice Ujjāyī for a long time before introducing Nāḍī Śodhana Prāṇāyāma.

seated_pranayama_2

“We normally practice Ujjāyī for a long time before introducing Nāḍī Śodhana Prāṇāyāma.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 121

In Prāṇāyāma we accept the posture and forget the body……

seated_pranayama_2

“While we use the breath for the body in Āsana,
in Prāṇāyāma we accept the posture and forget the body.
The only requirement is that we must be comfortable and keep our backs straight.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 117

The Heart of Yoga is Developing a Personal Practice.

TKV_5

“The Heart of Yoga:
Developing a Personal Practice.”
– TKV Desikachar

There is a particular order of teaching Āsana……

nadi_sodana

“There is a particular order of teaching Āsana,
so also an order to follow when teaching Prāṇāyāma.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition,
the Yoga Rahasya Chapter One verse 89

Mind should follow the breath……

Remember the mind should follow
the exhale, inhale and retention.
Exhale, inhale and retention all support the vital force.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition,
the Yoga Rahasya Chapter One verse 34

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Eight Theory

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 Eight Theory:
Yama, Niyama and Āsana – The First Three Aṅga of Yoga
– Pages 107-115

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The quality of the Pūraka or Recaka determines the quality of the Kumbhaka.

sarvangasana

“The quality of the Pūraka (inhale) or Recaka (exhale)
determines the quality of the Kumbhaka (suspension).”
– TKV Desikachar 1987

He also added the idea of Bhāvana in the practice of Prāṇāyāma……

jalandhara_bandha

“Further, he also added long ago,
the idea of Bhāvana in the practice of Prāṇāyāma.
Long, long ago, he said, the breathing,
inhalation, exhalation and retentions
have some sort of relationship with the highest force,
Lord Nārāyaṇa.

Inhalation is like an inspiration from God himself.
Retention is some sort of meditation, because you are with Him.
Exhalation is some sort of movement towards God,
and retention after exhale is like a surrender to God.”

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

One of the most complicated aspects of Yoga practice is the Bandha……

nadi_shodana

“One of the most complicated aspects of Yoga practice is the Bandha. He has been able to link correctly various ideas on the Bandha that appear in different texts, and is able to say that certain Bandha can only be done in certain parts of the Prāṇāyāma.
I may also say, that nobody is clearer about the Mūla Bandha than Krishnamacharya.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Prāṇāyāma as Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā or Laṅghana Kriyā……

Prāṇāyāma

“Because of his knowledge of Āyurveda,
he conceived Prāṇāyāma also as Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā or Laṅghana Kriyā.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

One of the greatest contributions of Krishnamacharya to Prāṇāyāma……

jalandhara_bandha

“And, in the Prāṇāyāma also, the different types, like Vaikharī,
the different Vṛtti, the different Krama, he put them all into practice.
One of the greatest contributions, I would say, of Krishnamacharya to Prāṇāyāma,
is the use of Bāhya Kumbhaka, and the importance of Recaka, or exhalation.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The beginning of Prāṇāyāma is in Āsana……

janu_sirsasana

“Because of the different uses of breathing,
he strongly believes that the beginning of Prāṇāyāma is in Āsana.
Āsana, and Āsana alone,
with proper breathing techniques,
leads you to the idea of Prāṇāyāma.”

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

Ghee formed a very important part of Krishnamacharya’s diet……

Desikachar & Krishnamacharya Chanting 1980

Desikachar & Krishnamacharya Chanting 1980

Question: What were his favourite foods?

Response: You might be surprised that he relished good food. He was from Andhra and so, relished food that was hot and spicy. He was very fond of sweets and would eat them in great quantities. With all this he would always have ghee. Ghee formed a very important part of his diet and whatever the food, it would be accompanied with large quantities of ghee.

Of course, he was also doing Āsana for three to four hours daily in addition to his Prāṇāyāma. His practice was extremely rigorous and that may account for his being able to handle these large quantities of spicy and sweet foods.”

TKV Desikachar answering questions on T Krishnamacharya

Originally published in KYM Darśanam November 1993

Kuṇḍalinī represents that which blocks access to the central energetic channel…..

“The great yogin Yājñavalkhya said that the constant and intensive
practice of Prāṇāyāma brought Prāṇa and Agni together,
and gradually the obstacle at the base of the Suṣumṇā would be totally dissolved.
He gave this block the name ‘Kuṇḍali’ meaning coiled
or ‘Kuṇḍalinī’ meaning ‘rolled up’ in other texts.
Kuṇḍalinī represents that which blocks access to the central energetic channel.
When this obstacle is eliminated, Prāṇa penetrates
and begins to rise in the central channel.
This is the most precise description we have of the process.
This is also the most clear and coherent.”
– ‘Concerning the Cakra’ by TKV Desikachar

Sample Practice by T Krishnamacharya for a student with diabetes……

TK_Diabetes_PracticeA handwritten copy of a sample Practice by T Krishnamacharya for a student with diabetes.
It was shared with me by TKV Desikachar from his father’s teaching files.
Download or view this practice as a PDF

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Four 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 Four Practice: Practice Planning – Pages 45-68

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The greater the Śraddhā, the more meaning there is in the techniques such……

sraddha

“The greater the Śraddhā, the more meaning there is in the techniques such as Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Dhyānam, Bhāvana and all the others. Without Śraddhā, these techniques have little effect on the state of the mind and the progress to Citta Vṛtti Nirodha.

However, sometimes some minor benefits that we get through Āsana or Prāṇāyāma practice, open up the Śraddhā within us. Śraddhā is within each of us but is covered. It could be any experience that uncovers it.”

– TKV Desikachar on Śraddhā in the Yoga Sūtra

A positive approach has a positive effect on the immune system……

desikachar_ph

Question to TKV Desikachar:
So we can consider then that the effect of Yoga is not seen to be directly on the symptom as in modern medicine, it appears from what you are saying it is more to do with the relationship with that problem.

At what level is the human system changing? Because there must be some change in order for that change to reach to the level of the symptom or to my relationship with the symptom. At what level of the human system do you think these changes are occurring at?

Response from TKV Desikachar:
I have asked this question to experts because one of my jobs is also to write about these things. I have asked people how does it happen. Positive attitudes they say produce positive things in your immune system. There are a lot of technical terms for that. Negative attitudes produces negative immune system. Attitudes influence how the immune system functions.

Somebody who is asthmatic who is so miserable who thinks she cannot do anything, when she starts she can do something, she is not so unfit, she can raise the arms, she can breath a little more than she thinks she can. When she gets confidence in herself she becomes more positive about herself, even the medicine she takes has a more positive effect as we have seen sometimes when people do Yoga with this affection, with this love, the need for medicine is reduced.

So I think from the scientific point of view a positive approach has a positive effect on the immune system and the rest is a question of time.

– Extract from Interview with TKV Desikachar by Paul Harvey in 2000
on ‘Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy’.

Prāṇāyāma is possible only after a reasonable mastery of Āsana.

seated_pranayama_2

“It (Prāṇāyāma) is possible only after a reasonable mastery of Āsana Practice.”
– Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 49 by TKV Desikachar 1987

So how can we establish a link between Nāḍī and Cakra?

Unknown

“So how can we establish a link between what has been said about Nāḍī and Cakra
and the practice of Yoga?
What role does Yoga practice have here?”
– ‘Concerning the Cakra’ by TKV Desikachar

Patañjali has proposed 3 approaches to verify the indications……

Patañjali has proposed 3 approaches to verify the indications.
Tapas – Process of action
FoodĀsanaPrāṇāyāma.
You will be doing something that you will not be habitually doing.
For example one day no salt, cigarettes, Prāṇāyāma.
Tapas is from the root to create thirst.
It means to deprive.
It will tell us about ourselves.
It will reveal our Saṃskāra and Pariṇāma or changes in ourselves.
From this Tapas we will start to get an indication of our individual nature.
For example active or lazy.
Tapas indicates the the beginning of the Bheda, through the Bhāva.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

Of the Four Aspects of the Breath which is more important?

kumbhaka

“Of the Four Aspects of the breath which is more important,
(such as) holding after inhalation by will and so on?”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

Haṭha Yoga is Prāṇāyāma.

jalandhara_bandha

Haṭha Yoga is Prāṇāyāma.”
– Śrī T Krishnamacharya