108 Teaching Path Pointers – 43 – The teaching of Krishnamacharya around Āsana included an in-depth appreciation of the Lakṣaṇa……


My Āsana study with Desikachar was shaped around forming
a deep appreciation of specific core principles that underpin
the planning and practice of Āsana and their application to
the individual student’s constitution, psychology and need.

Amongst these dozen or so core principles,
the first group when looking at any Āsana in depth,
were the concepts of Nāma, Rūpa and Lakṣaṇa, or the
nameform and characteristics of that particular Āsana.

Obviously, the Nāma is a useful tag point for identification
and the Rūpa is vital as a reference point for the Sat Viniyoga,
or right application of the Āsana within overall considerations of
initial direction and outcomes through such as the Śikṣaṇa Krama,
Rakṣaṇa Krama or Cikitsā Krama application of the forms used.

However, I do feel these days that our understanding in Āsana
practice is more dominated by the Nāma and the Rūpa with
little emphasis on the Lakṣaṇa or inherent characteristics of the
Āsana and how understanding this aspect can have a profound
effect on the approach, application and outcome of the overall or
accumulative impact of the Āsana within the student’s practice.

The teachings of Krishnamacharya around Āsana included
an in-depth appreciation of the Lakṣaṇa, especially around
the thirty or so primary and secondary support Āsana such as
Uttānāsana, Jaṭhara Parivṛtti, Bhujaṅgāsana or Januśīrṣāsana.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

T Krishnamacharya & TKV Desikachar Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verses 1-4 Study Quotes Collated

T Krishnamacharya & TKV Desikachar Yoga Sūtra
Chapter One verses 1-4 Study Quotes Collated

“I am going to explain to you something else about the aphorisms, about their translation.
Many books or courses have been written about the treatise of Patañjali.
Some of them analyse the words one by one, trying to translate them separately,
dissecting the text. This way of proceeding may be interesting, but unfortunately,
it can also confuse instead of helping understanding of the text.
Why?
Because literally translating the aphorisms is nothing
but a series of words glued together,
in sentences that very often lack in consistency.
The ancient way of exposing was not translating them into a new language;
it was mainly making the student grasp the sense of the aphorism.
In this case, the Sanskrit text is just a reminder,
a mnemonic that the teacher is not going to translate textually.
They are going to use it to develop the idea or the sense of the aphorism.
They will explain these notions,
sometimes even without referring to any word of the aphorism.
What is important is to give a teaching that is adapted
to the level of understanding of the student.”
– TKV Desikachar introducing the Yoga Sūtra

“There is no style to the Yoga Sūtra.
The only style is your style.
We can see this from the number of alternatives Patañjali
proposes to give us strength of mind,
or allow us to do something we cannot do before.”
– TKV Desikachar introducing the Yoga Sūtra

“The Yoga of Patañjali as a complete process of learning
provides the best instrument for helping the individual
know that he is more than a money making machine.”
– TKV Desikachar introducing the Yoga Sūtra

“The original essence of the Yoga Sūtra was passed on by oral tradition.
First, you learn the rhythm of the  Sūtra. This was in Saṃskṛta,
first learning the words or Sūtra, then the meanings.
By learning to recite the Sūtra perfectly it was clear that
you were earnest in wanting to learn their meanings.
The scheme would be to repeat it twice,
in exactly the same tone used by the teacher.
This would take many years.
Thus these days it’s difficult to expect to understand the Sūtra from a book or a course.
A Sūtra Class began with a dedication.
It had the effect of orienting the mind to the class and subject
and could also be a dedication to a god, if accepted,
to remove obstacles, or if none, not to put any i.e. Gaṇeśa.
It is also a dedication to all one’s teachers or all the teachers
and the author of the text himself. Patañjali as in
– Pata that which falls and Añjali a position of offering as in Añjali Mudrā.
Something fell from above and became Patañjali.
The roots are in Indian mythology.
A god reclining on a bed of serpents was beseeched by the sages of old.
They had problems with Saṃskṛta grammar, Knowledge of disease and Peace of mind.
Thus in order to find a balance of body mind and speech they prayed to God.
Ānanta answered them and threw down something which was
half-man up to the shoulders and above a head of many cobras.
This became the man Patañjali.
From this myth, three works are often attributed to him.
One of Grammar for speech, one of medicine for the body, one of Yoga for the mind.
Patañjali was regarded as an incarnation of the great Ānanta
and the prayer salutes him and his work.”
– TKV Desikachar introducing the Yoga Sūtra

“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 introducing the Yoga Sūtra

Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali Chapter One – Samādhi Pādaḥ

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108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 96 – When considering what, why and how to practice…

When considering what, why and how to practice,
it can be helpful to consider our starting point.
For example, are we looking for the role of an Āsana
practice to help in recovering from a situation
where we are as if personally overdrawn.
Also, what is the nature of our ‘overdraft’?

Is its impact or origin physical, energetic, psychological
or emotional, or even a combination of more than one?
Here the concepts of too little, too much, or wrong
can also be helpful as a reference in that, as well as
considering the nature of the ‘overdraft’, we need to
consider the means we undertake to remedy this
aspect of the situation. In other words our first
priority is to choose to plan practice steps that
will initially reduce the negative aspect at least.

However, sometimes we can try something that is
as if a short term loan and at a high rate of interest
in terms of time, effort, energy and commitment.
Thus whilst finding our situation temporarily
improving a further depletion can possibly arise as
we find ourselves unable to as if ‘keep up with the
extra payments’ given the nature of the original
depletion and its current impact on our potentials.

So having a clear reference point in terms of
identifying the nature of our starting point, and
the short term or longer term potentials of a
choice of an appropriate remedy, is as important
as our personal determination to clear the deficit
that has knowingly or unknowingly emerged within us.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

Studying, Practicing and Learning the Tri Bandha involves Theory, Techniques and Cautions…

In Studying the Tri Bandha we engage with Haṭha teachings:
In that, the inhale takes the Agni towards the Mūlādhāra.
This effect on Agni increases with the Antar Kumbhaka,
as the Antar Kumbhaka helps to intensify the fire.
Following this process in bringing the Agni down,
the exhale takes the Mūlādhāra towards the Agni.
Thus the exhale draws the Apāna towards the Agni,
plus the intensification of Uḍḍīyana Bandha and
the addition of Mūla Bandha to hold the Apāna up.
This is the link with the effect on the Kuṇḍalinī,
though in terms of practice, it is very hard to get.

In Practicing the Tri Bandha we start

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108 Mudrā Practice Pointers – 27 – One primary prerequisite to initiation into a Tri Bandha Sādhana

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 Uḍḍīyana 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 Pūraka, Antar KumbhakaRecaka and Bāhya Kumbhaka
each set at 12 seconds in a crown of 12.12.12.12. for 12 breaths.

Thus, a Vinyāsa Krama peak of almost 10 minutes sustaining the crown
ratio within a Prāṇāyāma practice, with the entire practice itself totalling
over 20 minutes, all performed with one technique, Nāḍī Śodhana.
This technique alone is already in itself demanding to sustain with
an inaudible softness, as if pouring oil slowly and smoothly amidst
an almost undetectable deftness of finger movement on the nostrils.

A further example of how there needs to be an effortless skill in working
with the Kumbhaka and how our fluency with all four components of the
breath sets a practice direction and evolution in that, amongst other goals,
it determines our readiness to incorporate the Tri Bandha into our Sādhana.

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Link to Series: 108 Mudrā Practice Pointers

Āsana & Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

108 Mudrā Practice Pointers – 26 – According to such as the Gheraṇḍa Saṃhitā, Aśvinī Mudrā and Mūla Bandha are……

maha_mudra_UB

According to such as the Gheraṇḍa Saṃhitā,
Aśvinī Mudrā and Mūla Bandha are seen as very
different forms in terms of definition and application.
Regarding application, only Aśvinī Mudrā is focussed around
the repeated contraction of the anal sphincter muscles.
Whereas, Mūla Bandha is a single sustained contraction.

It also appears that there are differing certainties within
the modern use, definition and application of the two terms,
with a single contraction variant of Aśvinī Mudrā often being
passed off in ‘Krishnamacharya’ terminology, as if Mūla Bandha.
For example, Mūla Bandha being described as somethng you
take all the time whether sitting, talking, walking, or eating.
This would not be possible given T Krishnamacharya’s view of
what is Mūla Bandha and its relationship to Uḍḍīyana Bandha.

Comparing Mūla Bandha to Aśvinī Mudrā:
Aśvinī Mudrā can be an outcome of an effective Mūla Bandha.
If Mūla Bandha is good then Aśvinī Mudrā can follow automatically.
But not the other way round, as Aśvinī Mudrā is only
a localised contraction of the anal sphincters.
Also, Mūla Bandha is considered as complete,
whether or not Aśvinī Mudrā is there.

Also, the use of Aśvinī Mudrā can produce gas and
too much use can affect the peristaltic reflex.
Plus avoid in certain conditions such as haemorrhoids.
Āsana can be used for the same effect on these organs.
A direct Aśvinī Mudrā pushes the stomach forward,
so its contraindicated for Mūla Bandha.

Thus, Krishnamacharya’s view of what is Aśvinī Mudrā and what is
Mūla Bandha differed, both in terms of definition, technique, and
application, as well as regarding the student starting prerequisites,
Vinyāsa Krama and links to other layers of their Yoga Sādhana.

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Link to Series: 108 Mudrā Practice Pointers

Āsana & Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

Correct vibrational intonation was an important emphasis within all aspects of Mantra initiation

Correct vibrational intonation was an important emphasis within all aspects of Mantra initiation and there was a strict process in the transmission of a Mantra lest the vitality of the Mantra becomes increasingly diminished if the vibration is compromised at any level.

As with all aspects of a personal practice, Krishnamacharya and Desikachar taught Mantra within a private and individual initiation with a specific Vinyāsa Krama, which would mean that by the time it came to introduce the Mantra as a form of Japam the student was prepared and capable to both hold and sustain a mental consistency and vibratory resonance.

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108 Postural Practice Pointers – 35 – The Pratikriyāsana needs to be mastered before a particular Āsana is attempted

How do we know that a student is ready to attempt
a more progressive Āsana such as Sarvāṅgāsana?

From following a core principle in the teachings of Vinyāsa Krama.
In that, the Pratikriyāsana for a particular Āsana needs
to be mastered before that particular Āsana is attempted.

For example, if we want to teach Sarvāṅgāsana,
because it will have a specific potential for the particular student,
then we teach the Pratikriyāsana Bhujaṅgāsana first.

So the student first works around Bhujaṅgāsana
within their personal practice and the information that arises
guides the teacher as to their readiness for, in this case, Sarvāṅgāsana.

The information arising from observing how
the student practices Bhujaṅgāsana guides
the teacher as to the appropriateness of Sarvāṅgāsana.
The information that feeds back may be on the level
of Annamaya, Prāṇamaya, Manomaya or beyond.
Obviously, this implies that we are observing the student’s practice directly.

Once the student shows an adequate performance of Bhujaṅgāsana
and it can be integrated into their existing personal practice,
then we can be more secure that the student is ready to approach
integrating Sarvāṅgāsana into their regular practice.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana & Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 34 – Pratikriyāsana have counterpostural, compensational and transitional roles

PKA_2015

Pratikriyāsana have counterpostural, compensational and transitional roles
and are applied at specific points in the practice in order to
maintain a sound physiological and psychological base.

This principle has an important role in how
we link the different aspects of the Āsana practice,
how we close the practice or how we integrate the Āsana
element of the practice into other aspects of our Yoga practice.

There are specific guidelines around how
they can be integrated into the practice,
the first of which is that the counter posture needs to
be mastered before a particular Āsana is attempted.

This principle is especially important when
attempting to integrate more complex Āsana such as
Sarvāṅgāsana and Bhujaṅgāsana into our practice.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana & Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 33 – When considering the Viniyoga of Pratikriyāsana…

pka

When considering the Viniyoga of Pratikriyāsana
within a student’s personal practice,
it may help to look at the integration of
their intended role from three perspectives.

Firstly their intended role as a counterposture,
thus more from a physiological perspective.
Secondly their intended role as a compensation,
thus more from a psychological perspective.
Thirdly their intended role as a transition,
thus more from a sequential perspective.

Appropriate integration of these three
principles constitute an essential component in
the Vinyāsa Krama utilised within practice planning.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 132 – Given the at all other times in this verse, we need to thwart the ploys of the mind…

Given the at all other times in this verse,
we need to thwart the ploys of the mind to
conform to its unhelpful fluctuations by reducing:
1. The tendency of the mind to perceive in too many ways.
2. The tendency of the mind to distort what we see.
3. The tendency of the mind to fantasize.
4. The tendency of the mind to go to sleep at inappropriate moments.
5. The tendency of the mind to get lost in memory or impose memory on reality.
When these old or other tendencies take over you are not there.
So if you are not consistent with your efforts,
you will not change your state of mind.
Plus, the unhelpful aspects of the fluctuations reduce
the tendency of the mind to experience a clarity of being.
– Paul Harvey on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 4

Paul’s Yoga Mālā – A Thread of Pearls from Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra

108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers – 24 – 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.

Link to Series: 108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers

Glossary of Āsana and Mudrā Practice Techniques
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting Categories

Glossary of Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers – 23 – Leave more than enough time for Prāṇāyāma……

nadi_sodanaOne of the joyful experiences that can emerge within our morning practice
is the feeling that arises on arriving at our Prāṇāyāma seat and taking
that first breath within an atmosphere of having more than enough time
in hand left to engage with this aspect of our on the mat Sādhana that day.

The sense of Sukha is palpable and offers a spaciousness that facilitates
the breath both releasing and entering into the spirit of, as Krishnamacharya
spoke of in terms of Āsana, Prayatna Śaithilya and Ananta Samāpatti.

This feeling in itself can both automatically lengthen and deepen
the flow of the breath without any conscious effort on our part.
A precious gift to start the days journey into exploring this vital area of practice.

A constant reminder, if not rejoinder, to not forget
to leave more than enough time for Prāṇāyāma,
rather than it being the token twiddle at the end of the practice,
or that which is oft easily at best compromised or at worst,
forgotten within the seduction of the bodily experiences.

Link to Series: 108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers

Glossary of Āsana and Mudrā Practice Techniques
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting Categories

Glossary of Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers – 22 – When reflecting on the intimacy of the relationship between Prāṇāyāma and Āsana…

When reflecting on the intimacy of the relationship between
Prāṇāyāma and Āsana experientially, we could consider
exploring the practice of Prāṇāyāma and its developmental
conjunction with Āsana, via the following reference points.

Within the age-old coalescence of Prāṇāyāma and Āsana,
Prāṇāyāma can have three potential roles in influencing
the physical, energetic, psychological or emotional
effects arising from the prior practice of Āsana.

In this context the application of Prāṇāyāma can be
from one of three directions. It can be used to either
pacify, or to stabilise, or to intensify, the various
experiences arising from the practice of Āsana.

Link to Series: 108 Prāṇāyāma Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Glossary of Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

108 Mudrā Practice Pointers – 25 – So Uḍḍīyana Bandha is the technique for…

So Uḍḍīyana Bandha is the technique
for introducing Mūla Bandha.
Uḍḍīyana Bandha elevates Mūla Cakra,
having elevated it, you tie it
and each time it wants to slide
back down, you bring it back up.
Therefore opposite to techniques such as
Bhujaṅgāsana, which is counter to the principle
of Uḍḍīyāna and pushes the Mūla Cakra down.

Link to Series: 108 Mudrā Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Glossary of Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

108 Mudrā Practice Pointers – 24 – With regard to the breath, inhale pushes down…

With regard to the breath, inhale pushes down,
exhale brings up, Bāhya Kumbhaka tightens.
Then total effect should be in the Apāna area,
therefore exhale and Bāhya Kumbhaka important.
With regard to directional breathing,
if no Mūla Bandha then exhale can start from the navel.
If Mūla Bandha held then exhale from the navel is not possible.

Link to Series: 108 Mudrā Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Glossary of Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

108 Mudrā Practice Pointers – 23 – The practice of Jālandhara Bandha requires the practitioner…

The practice of Jālandhara Bandha requires the practitioner
to keep the spine straight, the head will be slightly forward.
So draw the head back as well, as it tends to come forward,
ie the centre of gravity in the head moves forward of the body.
If set right you will feel a little contraction in the abdomen.
So, align the spine up, draw the head and neck back, and tilt
the chin in, though not to the throat, the chest or to the heart.

Link to Series: 108 Mudrā Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Glossary of Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

108 Mudrā Practice Pointers – 22 – Holding Mūla Bandha places a strain on the neck…

Holding Mūla Bandha places a strain on the neck,
so check the neck first by using Jālandhara Bandha.
Also, Uḍḍīyana Bandha and Mūla Bandha are seen
to be not so effective without Jālandhara Bandha.

Link to Series: 108 Mudrā Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Glossary of Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

108 Mudrā Practice Pointers – 21 – Hands shouldn’t be used in Uḍḍīyana Bandha…

Hands shouldn’t be used in Uḍḍīyana Bandha,
the effect should come from the exhale which
starts in the navel, as if pulling up a piece of string.
It must be pulled up and brought closer to the Maṇipūra.
If this is done properly, then very little to be done afterwards.
Exhale is followed by a small jerk as Uḍḍīyāna pulls the Mūla up.

Link to Series: 108 Mudrā Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Glossary of Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

108 Mudrā Practice Pointers – 20 – Lying Āsana such as Taḍāka Mudrā can be initially used…

Lying Āsana such as Taḍāka Mudrā can be
initially used for Uḍḍīyana Bandha as less
strain on the legs and better for observation.

Link to Series: 108 Mudrā Practice Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling,
Lying, Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Glossary of Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques