How does Vedānta differ from Yoga?

vedanta

“How does Vedānta differ from Yoga?
In brief, we can say that the purpose of Yoga is to change the state of mind,
so that it is less muddy.
In this effort, God may help.

The purpose of Vedānta is to become God…..
At an ideological level, Vedānta rejects Yoga’s idea of God as something potentially helpful,
beside that point it likewise rejects whatever is said in Yoga that does not take one toward God.

However, the Vedānta Sūtra does emphasise the importance of sitting properly for meditation
and the Bhagavad Gītā speaks of the need for proper breathing.
All the Śāstra, in fact, accept the physical discipline of Yoga.”
– TKV Desikachar Chennai July 1981

The ultimate goal of Yoga is to always observe things accurately……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“The ultimate goal of Yoga is to always observe things accurately,
and therefore never act in a way that will make us regret our actions later.”
– TKV Desikachar

The first Sūtra also acts as a key for the memory to link all the Yoga……

atha

अथ योगानुशासनम् ॥१॥

atha yoga-anu-śāsanam

“Now follow the teachings of Yoga.”

Atha – Now in the sense of nowness.
By convention let there be something auspicious.
The Sūtra are different in the sense of not having a prayer dedication in the first Sūtra.
Thus Atha fills this role.
Particularly the letter ‘A’ which is a dedication.

“Of sounds I am the first letter A.”
Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Ten verse 33

Now I am going to tell you something about Yoga.
A serious discussion as you, the students, are ready.
This also refers to the student’s previous attempts at learning, which will now be clarified.

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Question to TKV Desikachar on Yama and Niyama:

TKV_France_1999

Question to TKV Desikachar on Yama and Niyama:

“The idea behind Yama and Niyama is the attitude we have to the inside and outside.
If I don’t know what is true there is no question of telling the truth.
However there is the intention, because one day it may become a reality.
Even though some of these things are not there in the beginning,
if the intention is sincere then one day it will become an action
if conditions and our psychological state change.
Yama as telling the truth also means discretion.”
TKV Desikachar France 1983

Introduction to the Yoga Makaranda by TKV Desikachar

tkv_tk_3_1980

Introduction to the Yoga Makaranda by TKV Desikachar

Extract from the issue of KYM Darśanam published in November 1993,
it was written by TKV Desikachar as an introduction to a serialisation of the Yoga Makaranda
which ran over 10 issues of the magazine until February 1996.

“I would like to bring to the notice some important aspects of this book to help understand the context in which it was written and to avoid misinterpretation.

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Each person possesses a body……

isvara

“Each person possesses a body.
Encased in the body, as it were, he goes through pain and pleasure.
The pain and pleasure through the body arises because of contact with the external world.
However such variations of pain and pleasure do not happen to one absorbed in Īśvara.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 50

Prāṇa – Its origin, function and malfunction

PRANA

Prāṇa – Its origin, function and malfunction

The phenomena of body energies and their emanating energy field are found recorded within most Asiatic traditions. Both Chinese and Indian thought have a rich textual history of bio-energy, its function and effects of its malfunction.

In each of these traditions a system of medicine evolved aimed at enhancing and sustaining the flow of Ch’i or Prāṇa within the individual and much interest is now being shown in the West in Traditional Chinese and Indian medicine.

The previous article on the presence and actions of Prāṇa Śakti established links between the mind, breath, and Prāṇa but posed the problem of both Yoga and Āyurveda texts presuming knowledge of what Prāṇa is, how it functions within the individual, and what is the role of Yoga and Āyurveda in relation to sustaining the intensity of Prāṇa within an individual’s health, harmony and mental stability

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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 presence and actions of Prāṇa Śakti……..

The presence and actions of Prāṇa Śakti

Generally the purpose of Yoga is to bring about a change within the prominence of awareness and its subsequent impact on the attitude and function of the individual.

Whether this change is explored as a yoking of two opposites, as in Prāṇa and Apāna, or an unyoking of two seemingly inseparable aspects, as in Puruṣa and Prakṛti, time and a process are involved. Also this notion of change may be initiated within an individual’s physical body, energetic processes, mental attitude and emotional responses.

However, within Indian thought there is a concept that is common to the different philosophies and to the different aspects of the individual. This concept is the presence, power and actions of Prāṇa.

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108 Yoga Planning Pointers – 4 – Then there are those Āsana that you learn solely for practices other than Āsana.

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

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Planning Pointers

In each one of us there is something that experiences.

purusa

“In each one of us there is something that experiences.”
– TKV Desikachar introducing the Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2001

Conscious breathing is one of the greatest tools to influence the effect of the postures…..

Āsana_24b

“Conscious breathing is one of the greatest tools to influence the effect of the postures
without changing the posture.”
– TKV Desikachar

In the Yoga Sūtra the purpose of the different Sādhana is to clear the mind…..

Āsana_6

“In the Yoga Sūtra,
the purpose of the different Sādhana is to clear the mind,
so the light can come out.”
– TKV Desikachar 1984

We start our practice where we are and look toward a certain goal….

Desikachar_France_1999

“We start our practice where we are and look toward a certain goal.
Then we choose the steps that will lead us toward realising that goal
and will gradually bring us back into our everyday life,
but our daily practice does not return us to the exact place we started.
The practice has changed us.”
– TKV Desikachar

Exhalation is the most important part of the breath……


Exhalation is the most important part of the breath,
it encourages the inhalation.
By increasing the exhalation we bring attention to the lower abdomen.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Variations of Āsana to make Navāsana more accessible……

navasana

Practice Study Question around Āsana Planning Theory:
Identify a minimum of two variations of preparatory Āsana
which can be used to make Navāsana more accessible.

To Download or View this Question as a PDF Study Sheet

The breath makes Āsana part of Yoga.

“The breath makes Āsana part of Yoga.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

The focus during Āsana should be on…….

“The focus should be on
the contraction of the abdomen or
the expansion of the chest during Āsana.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 28 – Svādhyāya – to look at that which helps me understand.

svadhyaya_2

Svādhyāya – to look at that which helps me understand.
– Commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 1

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

We can learn how we can fine tune our practice according to our basic nature…


One of the potentials in the Haṭha Yoga teachings of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar is the understanding around the viniyoga or application of Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā and Laṅghana Kriyā in terms of their potential to enhance sensory stimulation or to diminish sensory stimulation.

Both approaches can be used where appropriate to impact on how we are stimulated by the world through the senses and thus be more drawn to interact with it in a more extravert way, or how our sensory stimulation is quietened and thus we are more easily able to withdraw from the activities of the senses.

Both approaches are valid and applied according to our changing age, life situation and life stage. Here the role of a teacher is helpful in learning the skills of self application within our daily practice. We can learn how we can fine tune our practice according to our basic nature and where it needs to be within day to day living and its demands.

This alchemical process would also be difficult to explore other than in some very generalised way within a weekly group class given the mix of the age, gender, interests, needs, potentials and core physiological, energetic and psychological natures of the students.

Let alone where they are in their life circumstances, external demands, work roles and life stage or even the teacher having time and situation to explore each student personally to gain some insight into what is happening at that life moment within the small window offered by time and group size.

Hence throughout Krishnamacharya and Desikachar’s teaching life, apart from group classes for children and young adults, they taught only personal lessons.

Often people have little distinction between Exercise and Yoga….

siksana

“Continuing the idea of Śikṣaṇa,
it is possible to put further categories into Sādhana.
It is important,
as often people have little distinction between exercise and Yoga.
According to texts and great masters Sādhana is not just at the body level,
but at the Indriya level, the mind level and possibly even further.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā and Laṅghana Kriyā as Expansive and Contractive potentials…..


Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā and Laṅghana Kriyā as expansive and contractive activities are two potentials actualised through the Breath and Āsana.

Within the practice of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma they are actualised through an understanding of the primary principles that inform Haṭha Yoga and Āyurveda.

The alchemical process underpinning this understanding is the relationship between the two primary principles of Prāṇa and Agni in order to influence Haṭha Yoga concepts such as PrāṇaApānaNāḍī, CakraAgni and Kuṇḍalinī.

In terms of Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā and Laṅghana Kriyā, the viniyoga of Bṛṃhaṇa affects a dispersion of Agni from the core to the periphery and the viniyoga of Laṅghana affects a withdrawal of Agni from the periphery to the core.

Understanding the application of this particular process facilitates access, through the Merudaṇḍa (spine), Prāṇa and Agni, to energising, cleansing and aligning potentials in the practice of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma.

All Āsana cannot be mastered by any one individual.

Āsana_61a

“All Āsana cannot be mastered by any one individual.”
– T Krishnamacharya 1984

The mind is agitated because of certain things inherent…..

klesa

“The mind is agitated,
because of certain things inherent,
not from the outside,
these are already inside.”
– TKV Desikachar 1997

108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers – 4 – Four Quadrant Tool for the Mind

seated_pranayama_2

Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointer 4 – Four Quadrant Tool for the Mind

Prāṇāyāma as a Tool in the Morning,
– Can be a Means to Hone the Mind.

Prāṇāyāma as a Tool in the Afternoon,
– Can be a Means to Refresh the Mind.

Prāṇāyāma as a Tool in the Evening,
– Can be a Means to Clear the Mind.

Prāṇāyāma as a Tool in the Night,
– Can be a Means to Settle the Mind.

Link to Posts Series: 108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers