Āsana practice to ascertain capability for Sarvāṅgāsana……

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Āsana practice for an intermediate level Āsana student to ascertain capability for working with and exploring in depth the potential of Sarvāṅgāsana or shoulderstand as an Āsana.

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Citta Vṛtti Nirodha, the state of mind in which no distractions arise……

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Citta Vṛtti Nirodha, the state of mind in which no distractions arise from undesirable external stimuli and the individual is able to choose an object of focus, ideally Īśvara.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 2

Cikitsā Practice for a Beginning, though not Novice, Level Āsana student

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Cikitsā Practice for a Beginning, though not Novice, level Āsana student

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There is a particular order of teaching Āsana……

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“There is a particular order of teaching Āsana,
so also an order to follow when teaching Prāṇāyāma.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya Chapter One verse 89

For the householder the most important practice is Prāṇāyāma.

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“For the householder, in line with Sthiti Krama,
the most important practice is Prāṇāyāma.”
From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

Prāṇāyāma done, along with a Mantra, has a role to play in Yoga Cikitsā.

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Prāṇāyāma done, along with a Mantra, has a role to play in Yoga Cikitsā.”
From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

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For the mind which is disturbed Prāṇāyāma is the best solution.

“For the mind which is disturbed Prāṇāyāma is the best solution.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

All Āsana are not meant for everybody……

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“Owing to differences in the body structure,
all Āsana are not meant for everybody.”
– From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

Parivṛtti focused practice for an intermediate level Āsana student.

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Parivṛtti focused practice for an intermediate level Āsana student.

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Food, eaten in moderation, at the right time and in the right environment……

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Food, eaten in moderation, at the right time and in the right environment,
is of prime importance to achieving and maintaining a healthy body.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 30

Mind should follow the breath……

recapūraka kumbheṣu mano’nusaraṇaṃ smṛtam |
recapūraka kumbhākhyāḥ sarve prāṇavidhārakāḥ ||

“Mind should follow the breath.
Exhale, Inhale and Retention support life.
So during Āsana it is desirable that the mind must follow them.”
TKV Desikachar commentary on T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya Chapter One verse 34

Begin then verify, again begin then verify……

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araṃbanaṃ saṃśilanaṃ punaḥ punaḥ |
“Begin then verify, again begin then verify, again begin then verify.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary to Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Eight verse 8

Trumperies and Tactics for the Discerning Gardener……

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I agree it is not easy to work on ourselves and we might compare it to being a bit like encountering a garden that has been left to become overgrown and entangled over years of neglect.

Here the first stage is to look at how we might begin:

We might begin by clearing away the old rubbish that lays all around on the surface of our lives and hampers, distracts or confuses our view of what’s really underneath.

Of course this also means that we are able to discern between the nuances around what we perceive as useful to keep, what is rubbish to clear and especially what we see as precious is in reality useful, or is in fact actually dross we need to cling onto under the illusion (Avidyā) of it being essential for our journey.

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When practicing Āsana, it is as if something watches something……

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When practicing Āsana,
it is as if something watches something.
What is the something that is watched?
What is the something that watches?

The implications of Krishnamacharya’s and Desikachar’s teachings on practice……

The implications of Krishnamacharya’s and Desikachar’s teachings on practice are:

Firstly –

we need to develop the twin aspects of learning Yoga practice techniques and Yoga practice theory through engaging in learning how to practice, rather than just learning what to practice.

This means learning to engage with the process of what it means to have a personal Yoga practice alongside engaging learning to study the theory of the component principles that underpin what constitutes creating and sustaining a personalised Yoga practice.

“Yoga must be adapted to an individuals needs, expectations and possibilities,
rather than adapting an individuals needs, expectations and possibilities to Yoga.”

These twin aspects of the arts of Yoga practice techniques and Yoga practice theory support our being able to independently and intelligently choose, adapt and ultimately self-develop and self-refine our personal Yoga Sādhana.

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A great number of postures, notably most standing postures, have……

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A great number of postures, notably most standing postures, have doubtless come to us directly from the Professor, who would have introduced them as appropriate to the needs of modern times.

Amongst the standing postures, uttānāsana, parśva uttānāsana, utthita trikoṇāsana and utthita parśva koṇāsana, are examples which the Professor himself codified.”

– Claude Marachel was a long serving and senior student of TKV Desikachar over 33 years from 1969-2002. This is an extract from Claude talking about what Desikachar told him about his father, Krishnamacharya.

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First look at the circumstances around the practice……

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First look at the circumstances around the practice rather than the practice itself.
For example, what is the purpose of the practice?

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Āsana brings steadiness, health and lightness……

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kuryāttadāsanaṃ sthairyamārogyaṃ cāṅgalāghvam |
‘Āsana brings steadiness, health and lightness.’
– Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā Chapter 1 verse 17

For me, still to this day, one of the finest, simplest, direct and most succinct definitions on the purpose of Āsana within the processes and practices of Haṭha Yoga, is the definition offered in the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā Chapter 1 verse 17.

It is a definition valid for any presentation or as a response to questions from any level around why we practice Āsana.

It can be a springboard to discussing physiological qualities such as the relationship of Agni to the energetic qualities of health and lightness.

Or it can be a springboard to discussing psychological qualities such as the relationship of the Guṇa, such as Rajas, to mental qualities such as steadiness.

Personal picture showing T Krishnamacharya and BKS Iyengar sitting together……

Whilst living in Madras from 1979-1981 I was at an event in Chennai in June 1980 where BKS Iyengar was invited to give a Yoga lecture and Āsana demonstration in a tribute to his Guru T Krishnamacharya.

Krishnamacharya consented to attend as the guest of honour and I was able to take a number of personal photos during this event, including Mr Iyengar demonstrating Āsana.

This particular picture shows T Krishnamacharya and BKS Iyengar sitting together during the salutary addresses.

Yoga is stopping the mind……

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“Yoga is stopping the mind,
from becoming involved,
in activities that distract,
one from a chosen direction.”
– TKV Desikachar commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 2

Question Krishnamacharya – “Can you explain the concept of vinyāsa and pratikriyāsana?”

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Question to T Krishnamacharya:
“Can you explain the concept of vinyāsa and pratikriyāsana?”

“The question asked relates to Yoga and not to vidyābhyasa. There is no āsana without vinyāsa. Yoga is an experience, āsana is the third of the eight limbs of Yoga and it is also important to pay attention to first two limbs, namely yama and niyama.

One who wishes to enquire into and understand vinyāsa should first know what is āsana. According to Patañjali Yoga Sūtra, āsana is defined as “sthira sukham āsanam”.

sthira – Namely firm and without disease and sukha – pleasant and comfortable. To be in sukha state, all parts of the body should be in perfect harmony. This is true for all, whether one is a man, woman, deaf, mute, blind or even for animals. Any action that disturbs this state of harmony should be followed by a pratikriyā to restore the harmony. One cannot but accept this principle.

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The Art of Advanced Application of Āsana – Empower your Body Customising Āsana


Just putting the finishing touches to the Application of Āsana Module Two manual as I prepare to teach its contents for the four day Course for a small group starting this weekend. Currently running to 90 pages it complements the 60 page Application of Āsana Module One two day workshop manual.

These 150 pages of student training manuals sit within the Āsana section of the Arts of Yoga and Chant Practice Modular Programmes. The Āsana module sits within the five linked aspects of practice which, taken as a whole aim to reflect the Yoga practice and theory teachings of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar.

These five aspects of practice are the arts of Āsana, MudrāPrāṇāyāmaDhyāna, and Adhyayanam or Chanting. This approach to transmitting the teachings of Desikachar as individual threads arose from the choice to make a complete restructuring of all my training programmes, the first major overhaul in 25 years of teaching courses to students and especially training teachers within group class situations.

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Practice as a Process and Practice as Content…..

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Where do we start when approaching the determination to open up to practice options beyond the group class mentality with its double edged sword of support and dependancy?

We can start by exploring what it means to cultivate a personal regular home practice in terms of looking at it as from the viewpoint of being a process as well as having content.

Here it might be helpful to examine what are the differences between these two concepts so vital in the work of Desikachar around planning Yoga practices for individual students.

So what is Yoga practice as a process? Practice as a process is everything that surrounds the establishing of a home practice.

This can be the time of the day, energy levels at the time of practice, what the student would be stepping away from in order to engage in practice, differences in gender and impact on body rhythms, what follows the practice in terms of activity or life demands, to name but a few aspects of process.

Practice as content is what we put into the practice in terms of choices around Yoga tools such as how we utilise and develop both short term and longer term, Yoga postures, breathing, chanting, rituals, meditation, etc.

Follow-on posts will examine these different aspects of Yoga as a process with examples of how we engage the important and unique differences between students personal lives, rather than the more standardised time and place processes within external group class setups.

The maturation of the fruits of Prāṇāyāma takes many years……


One aspect of Yoga Sādhana is that it is ultimately about a maturing of our relationship with all aspects of on the mat Yoga practice, rather than just that of our Āsana practice. This is especially important as these various aspects sit within a hierarchical spiral with one level being the foundation, technical reference point, verification and ladder for the next.

We only have to study and reflect on the Yoga Sūtra to appreciate this relationship dynamic. Yet it increasingly appears that for many today the word ‘advancing’ in terms of on the mat practice means tackling increasingly complex Āsana or Āsana choreographies to the neglect or even detriment of what are seen as the levels that Āsana aims to prepare us to engage in.

Krishnamacharya understood this relationship dynamic and offered many teachings, tools and practices to help link the student to and in their upward ascent of the practice spiral. It will be a misunderstanding and misrepresentation if he is remembered only as the ‘father’ of modern Āsana.

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It increasingly appears that Yoga has been acculturated into the fitness mindset……

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It increasingly appears that Yoga has been acculturated into the fitness mindset
rather than fitness being acculturated into the Yoga mindset.

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