“Svabhāva (innate disposition) – Nature of a person.
For example tendency to put on weight, liver problem,
muscular pains for no reason, changes in temperature.
This is why Āyurveda divides humans into 3 types.
Approximately Pitta–Sattva, Kapha–Tamas, Vāta–Rajas Guṇa.
We not only look at the physical structure,
but also how food affects the individual.
Heavy in the morning, etc.
For example different children in the family affected by the same food differently.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983
“Each time we wish to understand a system whatever it is, we need a structure. What applies to modern science already applied to the ancient yogic sages when they were concerning themselves with the human system.
The method of the ancients was to reflect, to meditate and to attempt to find clear replies to their questions. They tried to give a form to what they wanted to understand, corresponding to what they already understood. In this way of proceeding, they did not differ from the sages of the ancient medical science of Āyurveda who also tried to understand the human organism in a particular way, nor from the doctor philosophers of ancient China.
Vinyāsa Krama is pronounced according to its meaning as Vi-Nyāsa Krama or special placing in a sequence of steps. It is the arranging of the various postures or breathing patterns in an intelligent sequence, respecting the variables in the student and the purpose of the practice.
What might be helpful to consider is one of the ways Desikachar presented this teaching to me within our lessons in that the viniyoga of Vinyāsa Krama is comparable to the notion of climbing steps. Here intelligent application means to climb each step by bringing both feet onto the same step before taking the next one. In other words ensure we are grounded and stable before we take another step.
It also has the benefit of allowing a steady view of what is involved in taking the next step as well as reducing the risk of losing what we already have. However this way of approaching the developmental aspects of our practice may be at variance with our more usual way of climbing steps, such as one step at a time.
How do we know that? Here a teacher who knows you as an individual rather than a member of a group can be very helpful. For example we all have different modes of being, some climb steps slowly, some quickly, some two at a time, all according to our innate tendencies. This is an attitude to life that can reflect in the way we practice, or in the choice of the style of practice, or how we approach ‘progressing’ our practice, or even in the teacher we ‘choose’.
Add to this the notion that in its essential role Yoga was seen as a means to destabilise our perception of self in order to ‘break up’ the notion of what we see as the ‘I’. Perhaps comparing this against the modern approach where folks come to classes seeking stability as a counterpose to the destabilising effects of our worldly involvements, then the notion of Vinyāsa Krama as presented here can have even more relevance.
These days, in certain situations, when asked what I do I sometimes say I write technical manuals and that usually moves the conversation quickly onto something like the British weather.
Why don’t I mention Yoga? Am I embarrassed about my relationship with Yoga? Not at all, its more about people’s reaction when asked and saying I am a Yoga teacher, a response somewhere as if an amalgam of being a fitness trainer, dentist and priest.
Also these feelings are often wrapped up in the response that I must do that or diverted into a projection around how I am seen in terms of say flexibility because I ‘do’ Yoga.
There are even folks I have been meeting occasionally for years and each time we meet I get the ‘I must do that’. Aside from the wry amusement at observing folks slight uncomfortableness as the word Yoga appears to represent something that at some level they feel they must need in their lives as if a commodity, there is for me a more important aspect that touches me.
This is around the difference between having to do something and wanting to do something.
Postural Practice Pointer 8 – The Intelligent Leg
The intelligent leg is the back leg.
“What is Yoga?
Yoga is Nirodha of the different activities and fluctuations of the mind,
the leader of the senses.
Nirodha is to completely cover.
Thus this Sūtra implies the Nirodha of involvement of the mind in objects
that distract from a chosen direction of contemplation.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 2
“Depending on whether the mind is in a state of Samādhi or not,
the person enjoys permanent happiness or successive chains of unhappiness and happiness.
Those who accept nothing short of Samādhi, freedom from the suffering of disease is realised.
After all, the root cause of disease is the disturbed mind,
when we cannot distinguish right from wrong or good from bad.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 34
“Students need to be aware of which parts of the body to bring attention to,
without the teachers hands to remind them;
so by reminding them in another posture,
they will be aware of which part to move.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992