Doubts always arise. There is no doubt about that!

Doubts always arise.
There is no doubt about that!”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Antarāyāḥ, Obstacles to progress, Techniques to Overcome them’
Chapter Fifteen Page 208

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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108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 47 – Yoga is more about exploring……

Yoga is more about exploring
the movement of the mind, whilst
Āsana is more about exploring
the movement of the body.
The vehicle common to exploring both
is the movement of the breath.
The yoking of all three is towards the goal of
experiencing the source of all movement.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

viniyoga Vignette 5 – Introducing Uḍḍīyana Bandha within an Āsana practice

A short end of morning study 25′ pre-lunch practice from the second day of three day Practitioner Training Programme Module first year group some years ago. Here the primary Bhāvana or theme was to offer a concise practice to experientially explore previous theoretical teachings around Bandha and the form of Taḍāka Mudrā, with added examples for the introductory application of Uḍḍīyana Bandha within Āsana.

Here the practice began with work in Supta Samasthiti in order to lengthen the breath using Ujjāyī as a base to using Supta Tāḍāsana to introduce the Bāhya Kumbhaka as a preliminary for Uḍḍīyana Bandha. Then Taḍāka Mudrā is introduced, firstly in a dynamic form with a return to base Vinyāsa and then intensified with the static form incorporating successive Uḍḍīyana Bandha. Here it might be helpful to emphasise that according to Krishnamacharya, Uḍḍīyana Bandha is applied within the Bāhya Kumbhaka.

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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’
TKV Desikachar 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’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 197

Haṭha Yoga has another role other than mere freedom of movement……

Freedom of or in movement is obviously an asset and of course a useful pursuit in the world of homo-sedens that abounds these days. However movement according to the principles inherent in Haṭha Yoga has a further role other than mere freedom of movement as an end in itself. Thus in Haṭha Yoga the role of freedom in movement, albeit embedded with useful anatomical insights, is not the priority that appears to dominate the forms of Āsana utilised within many popular Yoga classes.

Of course freedom in movement is obviously a support in allowing us to apply the principles of Haṭha Āsana practice, but it is not the end in itself it seems to have become under the guise of calling it all Yoga. For example it can help with facilitating an exploration of the energetic processes that ultimately define, guide and differentiate Haṭha Yoga from movement forms such as exercise, fitness, dance, etc.

Yet these days it increasingly seems to be that, on the journey towards the deeper purpose inherent in Haṭha Yoga and its relationship to Rāja Yoga, we are more and more being sidetracked by the goals within the myriad of movement forms that proliferate or even ‘pose’ as Āsana practice today.

Some disturbances will respond to Āsana……

“Some disturbances will respond to Āsana.
Some of the more resistant, to Prāṇāyāma.”
– T Krishnamacharya

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

Online eStudy Small Group Yoga Forum Sessions for your Questions

Online Live Video Yoga Forum Group eStudy Sessions for your Questions

Another medium I have been exploring options around is the notion of online video based learning groups. As it stands, I am clear that I have no wish to engage in pre-recorded mediums through posting online ‘teaching videos’ or ‘podcasts’, or setting up remote viewing video subscription processes for online webcasts, where there is no live interaction or possibilities for a two way multi-face dialogue.

Personally I feel that pre-recorded remote learning or catch-up Webcasts, or learning at leisure facilities that increasingly abound today are not really comparable to a two-way live learning interaction, even if it is online. I am a Yoga teacher who likes to meet and chat directly with students interested in my Yoga studentship with TKV Desikachar and thus want to offer a resource that can share directly and respond immediately to questions around personal Yoga practice, practice theory, textual study or Yoga teaching.

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Yesterday was the second commemoration of TKV Desikachar’s passing……

Desikachar and Paul Chanting in 1999

This is a post about not posting……

As some of you may have noticed yesterday was the second commemoration of TKV Desikachar’s passing. As a remembrance of this day last year I offered a post with him being asked questions as a student around his father. This year I was proposing to post, as a tribute, around my work with him as his student in the development and refinement of my personal practice.

However as the day emerged I realised that my attention for this time needed to turn more towards an inner reflection rather than an outward expression of my relationship with him. So I chose this day off from media or any outer contact in order to have a personal space to be more fully with my memories and experiences from our time together. 

These memories of studying with him for over twenty years, mostly in Madras sitting in his teaching room around the table, or with me on the practice mat with him observing, or sharing the mat chanting together, remind me of how private our relationship was. Looking back I feel that was a unique situation that would be very difficult to emulate in the environment within which Yoga sits these days, let alone find a teacher who only taught adults one to one and never ran or even wanted to run a teacher training course.

Of course this unique situation was not without its inner and outer demands and my memories and experiences contain both good, challenging and difficult moments. However within all of these moments the quality of our relationship as teacher and student endured and I remain eternally indebted for the transmission that became the fruit of our time being alone together.

As to my post originally planned for yesterday, it will appear over the next few days.

Śrī Gurubhyo Namaḥ

Vinyāsa Krama for the Catur Bandha in Mahā Mudrā for an advanced Āsana student……

This is an example of a Vinyāsa Krama for the Catur or four Bandha when staying in Mahāmudrā as a Haṭha Yoga technique for working with the important Haṭha trilogy of Prāṇa, Apāṇa and Agni.

Here I am choosing not to focus on the Pūrva Aṅga, the ascending or preparatory phase, nor on the Uttara Aṅga, the descending or compensatory phase of the Āsana used in the Vinyāsa Krama for the whole practice.

It also does not include the building in of additional techniques such as Prāṇāyāma, nor exploring the different roles Prāṇāyāma may have in relation to the whole practice, especially one that has incorporated additional techniques such as the Catur Bandha.

Instead this extract is an example of the Pradhāna Aṅga or crown of this particular practice. It is centered around a stay in Mahāmudrā of around 10 minutes each side progressively incorporating and building in intensity, within the Vinyāsa Krama for Mahāmudrā, with the additional techniques of the Catur Bandha.

Each step of the Vinyāsa will intensify with the building in of an additional Bandha and also in one of the steps, the intensifying of the breath length and ratio. This example is as taught to me by Desikachar within my 121 lessons, at this particular juncture around the application or Viniyoga of the Catur Bandha, all from the teachings of Krishnamacharya.

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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’
TKV Desikachar 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’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 200

108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 36 – Viparyaya is seeing what we want to see……

Viparyaya is seeing what we want to see.
or not seeing what we need to see.
Commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 8

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

Three types of Śiṣya……

Three types of Śiṣya:
1. The student doesn’t get started i.e. doesn’t get beyond Saṃkalpa
2. The student starts, but when there is an obstacle, stops.
3. The student starts, but when there is an obstacle, takes it as a challenge
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 22

Prāṇāyāma is common to both Haṭha and Rāja Yoga Sādhana……

nadi_sodanaPrāṇāyāma is common to both Haṭha and Rāja Sādhana,
whether working with the Prāṇa Śodhana of Haṭha Yoga,
where you were taught to practice it at each
of four transitional points through the day,
or with the Citta Śodhana of Patañjali,
where it is the pivotal Bahya Aṅga,
Prāṇāyāma is seen as the primary means to engage
the Élan Vital, the vital force or creative principle.

108 Yoga Planning Pointers – 6 – In the beginning, the breath in Āsana……

In the beginning, the breath in Āsana
sets the direction for our Prāṇāyāma practice.
As we develop this, the breath in Prāṇāyāma
sets the direction for our Āsana practice.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Planning Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 46 – One of the major tools in bringing or refining the level of observation……

nadi_sodana
One of the major tools in bringing or refining
the level of observation to the subtler aspects
of our physical, energetic, mental and emotional
patterns is Prāṇāyāma.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers