“Fasting is not eating between meals.”
– T Krishnamacharya
Even these days, the influence of Krishnamacharya’s teachings around Yoga are primarily known through his exacting teaching of Āsana. This has also been mainly experienced in the West with the developmental work of his early students, such as through the choreographical artistry in the work of Pattabhi Jois or through the geometrical precision in the work of BKS Iyengar.
However this area of Āsana teaching, though itself multifaceted and hugely influential, if disproportionately predominant within Yoga today, only reveals one aspect of the many dimensions of practice expressed within his teaching. This teaching evolved and refined over 70 years, from his return from his long stay around the borders of Nepal and Tibet in 1919, to his death in 1989
“If we recognise a person as they are now,
not as they were yesterday,
we realise that what we see is not eternal.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Thirteen verse 28
As Desikachar actually had very few long term students, many peoples views around such as his Āsana teaching, or views on Yoga in general are formed from experiencing him teaching within a group situation, either at a seminar, lecture or retreat.
Actually he really was not very comfortable teaching mixed public groups in these situations, and in relation to teaching practices, what practices he could present had to be very generalised and therefore contrary to the principles he taught according to what he learnt from his father.
On the other hand as a private student the Āsana practices I was exposed to had a precision and intensity offering a breadth and depth impossible to emulate within a group class environment.
As an example I am offering an extract from the seated section of a practice he taught me. The Āsana in this section are Daṇḍāsana, Ardha Matsyendrāsana, Mahā Mudrā, Baddha Koṇāsana, Paścimatānāsana and as a Pratikriyāsana, Dvipāda Pīṭham.
There were two options for practice, a lighter application or a more intense one. In the lighter version the balance of repeat or stay was as follows:
“Impurities in the heart cause mental agitation
– anxiety, lack of direction, anger.
This agitation, in turn, affects the body,
sometimes making it impossible to sit still even for a few minutes.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 31
“Follow Truth with Faith.”
– TKV Desikachar commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter 12 verse 20
In the beginning of our journey into the arts of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma, the outcome of our exploration into the breath in Āsana sets a direction and parameters for the beginnings of our exploration into how and where to develop the breath in Prāṇāyāma.
This investigation with its reciprocal and yet increasingly subtle direction offers a more precise guidance for where and how we revisit and engage with our work with the breath in Āsana.
Over time we come to both realise and experience the uniqueness of the breath within each of these two arts and the increasingly subtle development of the qualities of the relationship between the breath in Āsana, with that of the breath in Prāṇāyāma.
Prāṇāyāma – Where to Start? Part Three
In the previous two articles we discussed Krishnamacharya’s teachings around his understanding of and approach to the viniyoga or application of Prāṇāyāma.
Firstly in terms of Āsana being the starting point for exploring the breath in order to set a starting point and as a guideline for the direction of our Prāṇāyāma.
Secondly the importance of considerations around Prāṇāyāma as a process in terms of being in it for the long haul rather than only looking at practices which offer immediate fruits after a single practice or class.
The second post also commented on the need to leave more than enough time during our Yoga practice for Prāṇāyāma, rather than it being the token twiddle at the end of the practice.
I would like to use this post to consider how we need to add a structure within which we can build content. Without a structure our practice in this area can easily become random in terms of length or haphazard in terms of consistency.
Paul’s cYs Blog Journal 2015 Revision
Five Years have now passed since the cYs website was re-launched with a bringing together of a number of existing projects, along with the creation and incorporation of new projects, all under one umbrella.
This re-launch incorporated existing and new projects into five different sections with:
- A Centre for Yoga Studies Yoga or Chant Programme section focused on Individual Lessons and Small Group Projects for Personal or Professional Learning
- A Personal Journal section for Yoga News, Views and Blog with Posts, Quotes and Articles primarily around the work of T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar
- A Yoga Freenotes section with Online Word by Word Yoga Sūtra, a searchable Glossary and Freenotes, with further texts and commentaries around Associated Yoga Texts
- A Dharma Downloads section with Freely Downloadable Yoga Practice, Textual Study and Research Resources for the Yoga Community
- A Centre for Yoga Studies Practitioners section with a Qualified and Accredited Yoga Teaching and Yoga Therapeutic Healthcare Practitioner Register Directory
Since 2010 these past five years have seen the website accumulate:
Learning Support for Chanting the Taittirīya Saṃhitā 2.3.14
– Gaṇapati Prārthanā Saṃhitā Pāṭhaḥ.
From my personal library of recordings from my studies
with my teacher TKV Desikachar.
To Download or Listen
To Download the Chant Sheet in Romanised Saṃskṛta with Notations
A Mantra is that which shapes space through vibration of sacred syllables.
In the art of Mantra Saṃskṛta is a sacred tool for shaping sacred form out of space.
Sounding the Saṃskṛta according to the precisions of pronunciation and vibration
manifests the sacred form inherent in each Mantra out of universal space.
The ancient seers understood this process and left us sacred phonemes
to guide our journey into and beyond the self.
‘Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and Practice’ by the University Press of America,
a transcript of recordings of a one month Yoga Programme in Colgate University in 1976, published in 1980.
Unlike the later redacted edition, re-published in 1995 as the ‘Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice’, it captures the evolution of the retreat with the days lectures and Q & A dialogues as they alternated between ‘lectures on the principles and purposes of Yoga and discussions related to the practice of Yoga with special reference to the postures and the breathing techniques’.
TKV Desikachar, in his forward to the original version wrote:
“These lectures and discussions, printed words put before persons I might never meet,
are but reflections of that deeper result that grew out of a living face-to-face encounter.
Coming to learn of Yoga only through reading leaves much to be desired.
Yet, something worthwhile about Yoga might be shared through the medium of the printed word.”
A chapter by chapter Study guide is offered below with added verse and word cross-references where possible to support a a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.