In this booklet Ramaswami presents a background to the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali by outlining concepts integral to understanding and appreciating its teaching.
Following this intention, introductions to the first and second chapters of the Yoga Sūtra are also offered emphasising the important elements for practice, study and reflection.
A content guide based on the headings in the booklet is outlined below, though the reader will need to apply page numbers as they are not in the original publication, from which the online PDF has 28 pages.
Part Three – Moving from our Spine with Uttānāsana
This is the third in a series of articles presenting the core principles for Āsana practice as taught to me through many years of personal lessons in India with my teacher TKV Desikachar.
The emphasis in the previous article was on “Growing from our Roots” and looked at Tāḍāsana, the second Āsana in the series within a general practice.
The first article “Moving into our Bodies” looked at the starting Āsana in the series, Samasthiti, as a pose that offered a means to bring our mind and through it, our deeper awareness to a focussed attention.
We are happy to announce the birth of our Newsletter “Yogakshemam e-Newsletter” on the 2016 Epiphany day. It would be free and open to all. To be respectful to the environment, we interrupt the paper edition and launch the digital version. We are sure that you will appreciate this gesture as well as the contents.
To begin with, this version will have some articles of philosophical interest,
including one in memory to my father, Sri T. Krishnamacharya.
We plan to publish the e-version every two months.
– Letter from Sribhashyam
The first edition can be found here.
My thanks to Sriram, student of Desikachar, for the his email letting me know.
“The breath is related to the intellect, chest, respiratory system, digestive system etc.
So one should consider and understand the relevance of the breath to these areas.
Also how these areas are in students before we start applying specific principles of breathing,
otherwise it could aggravate the area and any inherent problem.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar
Śītalī Inhale with Ujjāyī Exhale
1.½.1.0 for 8 breaths Step 2.
1.½.1½.0 for 8 breaths Step 3.
1½.0.1½.0 for 8 breaths Step 4.
½.0.½.0 for 8 breaths
For example, starting with Śītalī could be useful for several reasons such as mid-afternoon being a time when there can be an energetic slump and the use of a open mouth inhale with the head raising to encourage volume, coupled with the Antar Kumbhaka, can offer a tonic for the system.
Śītalī Inhale with Ujjāyī Exhale
1.½.1.0 for 8 breaths
One other study area that I was privileged to be able to experience alongside my many visits to study Yoga Practice Techniques and Associated texts in Chennai with my teacher TKV Desikachar, within the intimacy and vitality of private lessons, was that of Āyurveda and its application within Yoga.
“In Āyurveda, it gives certain behaviour by which we can stay well. If a person follows the following he will freer of sickness. Regularly, systematically he eats, rests and exercises adequately. Both in amount and quality. Food or Ahāra, along with Vihāra – recreation, rest, exercise, other activities.”
– TKV Desikachar
Thus during my many visits to India, between 1979 and 2002, my work in Yoga was complemented by the study of Āyurveda constitutional diagnosis and prognosis, along with NādīParīkṣā or pulse diagnosis and the application skills of Āyurveda, into Yoga practice and lifestyle, according to the teachings of T Krishnmacharya within Yoga Rakṣaṇa (lifestyle support) or Yoga Cikitsā (therapeutic recovery) situations.
I would emphasise that this is an example of a unique situation that existed at that moment and thus reflects an expression of a study point or the students group dynamic as a need at that moment.
Yet within this caveat, this example of a short but intensive practice, whilst not to be taken as a fixed template, also reflects the richness and multifarious possibilities in how the principles in the viniyoga of Yoga can be expressed as learning and experiential tools within a myriad of situations and personalities.
If there is a sketch quality in the PDF copy it is because these practices were not preplanned and were being notated as they unfolded whilst teaching the group. This also meant I could photocopy them as the practice concluded so copies were immediately available for reflection, reference and discussion.
It seems that with ‘Modern Postural Yoga’
the perception of ‘advanced’ practice is based
around physical appearance and artistic performance,
as exemplified by Āsana;
over psychological efforts and cultivation of inner skills,
as exemplified by Prāṇāyāma and Dhyānam.
“Prāṇāyāma leads to this. Pratyāhāra, to see without the senses distracting or pulling the mind, and Dhāraṇā, to see without the mind losing itself, because of colouring or expectations. Dhyānam arises out of this.”
– TKV Desikachar
Some years ago now I changed the process around how students notated various practices I taught for groups within Student Training Courses or Practitioner Training Programmes.
My methodology previously had prioritised students learning the skills of being able to remember and context what they had just practiced by also being able to recall and then record it accurately. This was part of cultivating personal practice skills, as well as helping in establishing the art of keeping a practice journal over a several year period.
Thus I would teach a small group of students, studying within the contexts of either personal study courses or professional training programmes, a practice and then wait, before perhaps writing it on the board, for it to be notated down from the student’s memory and then we would at some point discuss it and its context to the current situation.
“Dhyānam is not Naimityakam –
something that is done once in a while.
It is a regular practice, almost a ritual.
One must prepare for this ritual every day.
There is nothing better than Prāṇāyāma for this preparation.”
– TKV Desikachar commentary on Dhyānamālikā Śloka 14