As a Yoga therapist, focus on increasing people’s quality of life……

“As a Yoga therapist,
focus on increasing people’s quality of life,
not on curing diseases.”
– TKV Desikachar

My own father, Krishnamacharya, started using Yoga for sickness…….

“My own father, Krishnamacharya,
started using Yoga for sickness,
even before his journey to Tibet.”
– TKV Desikachar

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 20 – Five Musings around Śīrṣāsana……

sirsasana

Five questions my teacher taught me that need to be ‘posed’,
for or to any student wishing to practice Śīrṣāsana,
or even for and to any teacher wishing to teach Śīrṣāsana,
whatever the situation.

1. Who is going to practice it?
2. Why do they wish to use it?
3. When are they going to practice it?
4. How are they going to get in and out of it?
5. What do they need to have done to verify their capability?

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

Questions on T Krishnamacharya – Answered by TKV Desikachar

This day, August the 8th marks TKV Desikachar’s passing one year ago.
Two posts from this time are shown below.

As I sit within this time of passing and remembrance……

We have lost a fine teacher and a Yoga master……

To honour his memory one year later, this article from the Darśanam Journal is offered.

Questions on T Krishnamacharya – Answered by TKV Desikachar

“Though familiar with some well known details of his early life, the students of the Mandiram were keen to know more about their teacher, T. Krishnamacharya. T.K.V. Desikachar answers a wide range of questions giving us details that were not known before. It covers his views on subjects as diverse as his early orthodoxy, Mahatma Gandhi, the qualities he respected, his diet and entertainment.”

Originally published by the KYM Darśanam November 1993

View or Download as a PDF

Yoga serves the individual……..

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“Yoga serves the individual,
and does so through inviting transformation,
rather than by giving information.”
– TKV Desikachar

One should move the spine as you would inhale and exhale.

“One should move the spine as you would inhale and exhale.”
– TKV Desikachar

Traditionally legs remain straight with thighs contracted and knee caps lifted…..

“Traditionally legs remain straight with thighs contracted and knee caps lifted.
Practically the idea is to bend the knees when strain is felt.
This can be observed in several areas.
In the knee caps by movement,
thigh muscles by contraction and resistance in the hamstrings.
When coming up straighten the legs after half way.”
– TKV Desikachar

Its potentially complex these days when something taught……

Its potentially complex these days when something taught to an individual student,
in a personalised, age and situation relevant context;
within a specific environment and epoch;
becomes the ‘gold’ standard for groups of students to follow ‘faithfully’,
through respecting every inch of the formal nuances.

Equally, its potentially complex these days when something taught to a group of students,
in a generalised, open aged and multi-need context;
within a non-specific trans-national environment and epoch;
becomes the ‘gold’ standard for individual students to follow ‘faithfully’,
through respecting every inch of the formal nuances.

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 36 – Once you lose the breath in Āsana……

Once you lose the breath in Āsana,
effort becomes force.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 35 – Because I am too wired to practice I don’t practice……

Because I am too wired to practice I don’t practice.
Because I don’t practice I am too wired to practice.
Because I am too wired to practice I don’t practice.
Because…….

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 34 – Because I am too tired to practice I don’t practice…..

Because I am too tired to practice I don’t practice.
Because I don’t practice I am too tired to practice.
Because I am too tired to practice I don’t practice.
Because…….

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

If I had a student I would give more respect to the exhalation……

Of the Four Aspects of the Breath which is more important

“If I had a student I would give more respect to the exhalation.
The course would be based on the observation of the exhalation in Prāṇāyāma and Āsana.
This would give the type of Prāṇāyāma and for which Āsana.
One should see what is the response of the exhalation in the posture or when sitting.
When fixing Prāṇāyāma, even if you are reducing the length of the exhalation,
if any problem then the cycle should be completely changed.
One must give respect to the exhalation.
One can get an idea by the position of the stomach.
One should keep 2/3″ in hand on inhalation and exhalation.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

Yoga is a simple system that does not require any equipment…..

“Many years ago my father said that Yoga is a simple system that does not require any equipment.
One only requires some floor space!”
– TKV Desikachar

We are welcome to use Kumbhaka…..

“We are welcome to use Kumbhaka,
but if it in any way affects the quality of the inhale or exhale
and our own relation with this flow, then there is no meaning.
The tragedy of Kumbhaka is that we can use force,
as in Āsana, to achieve our aim.
But why and at what price?”
– TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

Patañjali says that it is possible to influence the mind……

Patañjali says that it is possible to influence the mind.
If it is left to itself things may not work out.
Why not?
Because the mind has accumulated certain things.
For instance, this could lead to prejudicing people or situations.
Therefore if we can locate that which acts in this way we will reduce problems.”
– TKV Desikachar

One should inquire onto one’s habits……

“One should inquire onto one’s habits.
Good or bad.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

The process of Cikitsā has two parts…..

cikitsa

“The process of Cikitsā has two parts:
1. Rakṣaṇa Krama
I am healthy and don’t want to be sick.
By not doing anything there will be no Rakṣaṇam.
For example:
Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 16
heyaṃ duḥkham anāgatam
I’m alright now,
but I must be careful so I don’t get sick tomorrow.
This is Rakṣaṇa Krama.”
TKV Desikachar France 1983

When is an Āsana an Āsana?

“When is an Āsana an Āsana?
When does it become one?”
– TKV Desikachar

The convention of Paraṃparā or ongoing transmission from teacher to student…

Guru Pūrṇimā

The convention of Paraṃparā or ongoing transmission from teacher to student
is especially honoured annually on this particular full moon day called Guru Pūrṇimā.

The chant below is from traditional prayers chanted at the beginning of any textual studies.
It honours ones teacher and their teacher and their teacher and so on in time memorial.

The recording below by TKV Desikachar I made within lessons over 30 years ago
and is offered as a downloadable MP3 along with a notated chant sheet.

gurubhyastad gurubhyaśca
To my teacher and all their teachers

namo vākamadhīmahe |
I salute through my words

vṛṇīmahe ca tad rādyau
Lauding and that first

dampatī jagatāṃ pati ‖
couple world Lord of

To my teacher and all their teachers
I salute through my words.
Lauding not only them, but the first
couple, Lord of the world.

– Śrī Gurubhyo Namaḥ –

View or Download Gurubhyastad Gurubhyaśca Opening Prayer PDF with notations

Listen or Download Gurubhyastad Gurubhyaśca Opening Prayer MP3 Sound File

So in many Yoga schools the beginning of change is suffering…..

duhkha_5

“So in many Yoga schools the beginning of change is suffering.
We find ourselves in a situation that we don’t like.
Even if we can do 500 Āsana or recite the Yoga Sūtra this suffering can be there.
It is the absence of suffering that is the measure of Yoga.”
– TKV Desikachar

To define the word Yoga is very difficult…..

tkv_6a

“To define the word Yoga is very difficult, as the word is so adaptable.
A starting point would be Patañjali.
Patañjali removed all the complicated definitions and simplified it to:

‘Making the best out of the most difficult object, the mind.’

His idea was to create a situation,
where the mind becomes more faithful than it is.”
– TKV Desikachar

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 33 – Life is often divided into agendas, two of which are headed “chore” and “reward”……

Life is often divided into agendas,
two of which are headed “chore” and “reward”.
Try to keep some room on the latter list for your practice
in the same way that you would greet an old friend.
Take time in their company and return to your everyday life rejuvenated
and better able to embrace your surroundings.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

The act of establishing contact with the external world is called Yoga…

TKV_France_1999

“The act of establishing contact with the external world is called Yoga.
It is continuous, inevitable, swiftly changing.
Yoga is a basic fact of life.
However it is the quality of the relationship that leads to a healthy life and well being or otherwise.
The clarity and strength of the force involved in the contact and awareness of the contact
is reflected in the flow of what is called Prāṇa Śakti.
What is it that disturbs this flow?”
– TKV Desikachar

A sample Parivṛtti and Paścimatāna Themed Group Practice


Attached as a PDF is a sample group class practice offered to a student as an example of theming two complementary Āsana groupings, that of Parivṛtti and Paścimatāna.

These complementary Lakṣaṇa, or characteristics, can be expanded from either:

  • An Annamaya or structural viewpoint, in terms of the work on such as the spine and the legs.
  • Or from a Prāṇamaya or energetic viewpoint in terms of the effect on Agni, Apāna and Vāta.

This particular Vinyāsa Krama starts with lying, progressing to kneeling en route to a more usual construct of standing, lying and seated. After appropriate Pratikriyā Āsana the practice is concluded with a simple Laṅghana Cikitsā seated breathing practice with a Bhāvana of first gradually extending and then gradually reducing the exhalation.

In terms of the layers that can be added to the basic framework, given the nature of the context it has been limited to Āsana sequencing in terms of lying, kneeling, standing, lying and seated. Built into this is the combining of dynamic and static possibilities through the employment of long range movement within the preparatory stages and mid range movement and stay at key points.

Other layers such as the application of specific breathing patterns or other specific Bhāvana will be illustrated through other sample group practices in future posts.

To View or Download the Practice as a PDF

Śīrṣāsana as a Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā

sirsasana

Śīrṣāsana as a Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā

This day, for so long TKV Desikachar‘s birthday, is the first since his death last August.
In memorium is the article below:

“In the scheme of Haṭha Yoga where the harnessing and channelising of one’s life energy is the goal, the Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā occupies a special place.
A person’s full potential is realised when this energy moves to the top of the head.
There are various techniques that the ancient seers had formalised to remove the obstacles in the path of this energy and to aid its movement.
All these techniques culminated the Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā, the principle of inversion,
one form of which is Śīrṣāsana.

TKV Desikachar explains this concept starting with the most basic requirements of the practice and moving step by step through the various techniques, all of which are used in  Śīrṣāsana.”

Originally published by the KYM Darśanam February 1994

Download or view this article as a PDF