It is beyond our conscious effort to move the Prāṇa.

“It is beyond our conscious effort to move the Prāṇa.
What is within our conscious effort is the breath,
so we use the breath to make this movement possible.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Ten Page 142

Nobody can control the Prāṇa…..

“Nobody can control the Prāṇa,
it has its own movement.
We create a condition in which the Prāṇa returns.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Ten Page 141

Prāṇāyāma – Where to Start? Part Two

Prāṇāyāma – Where to Start? Part Two

Continuing on from the previous post introducing the question of where to start in our investigation of our breath in Āsana in preparation for establishing and sustaining a consistent base within a Prāṇāyāma practice.

This also needs to be a base practice that both supports our day to day needs and yet allows it, as in any relationship, to grow and develop in terms of intensity and progress.

In this earlier post on where to start there were some key points that I would summarise around:

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Prāṇāyāma – Where to Start? Part One

Prāṇāyāma – Where to Start?

According to how I was taught there two possibilities, that of using ratio and that of using nostril techniques. Desikachar taught me, both for my personal practice and teaching skill base, that the journey towards Prāṇāyāma starts with the former before being enhanced and refined through the latter.

According to Krishnamacharya’s methodology around developing the breath aspect of the students practice, initially through Āsana and Mudrā and ultimately through Prāṇāyāma, begins with what happens in and to the breath in Āsana.

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20 Minute Prāṇāyāma Practice

seated_pranayama_2

20 Minute Prāṇāyāma Practice focused on Pūraka without Kumbhaka

 

Ascent:
Anuloma Ujjāyī Technique with 8.0.16.0. Ratio/Length for 8 Breaths

Crown:
Pratiloma Ujjāyī Technique with 16.0.16.0. Ratio/Length for 16 Breaths

Descent:
Anuloma Ujjāyī Technique with 8.0.12.0. Ratio/Length for 8 Breaths

Closing:
Ujjāyī Technique with 4.0.4.0. Ratio/Length for 4 Breaths

Completion:
Drop the breath and remain with the experience for 5 minutes

Medicine, Mastery and Mystery within the field of Yoga.

paul3a

Paul Teaching in Zinal, Switzerland in 1999

Medicine, Mastery and Mystery

An Interview with Paul Harvey by Joseph Le Page. Joseph is the founder and director of Integrative Yoga Therapy. This interview took place while Paul was teaching at Zinal for UENFY in 1999.

JL: How do you adapt Yoga to the individual?

PH: I can approach that in two ways, the chronological and the psychological. Chronologically, the starting point is the age at which people begin Yoga studies.

There are three stages of life, or Trikrama. The first is the stage of growth and expansion (Sṛṣṭi).

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It is a mistaken concept that certain Āsana are only postures for meditation.

“It is a mistaken concept that certain Āsana are only postures for meditation.
If we look at the commentary of Vyāsa, we see that the postures
he elucidates are so complicated that we can’t be in Dhyāna.
We can feel these different postures and we can’t stay in them.
Two of these are Uṣṭrāsana and Krauñcāsana,
These are very difficult postures in which to remain.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Ten Page 133

Meditation can’t be taught, but can be learnt.

dhyanam

“Meditation can’t be taught, but can be learnt.”
– TKV Desikachar

The practice of Prāṇāyāma is to confine more and more Prāṇa within our bodies.

jalandhara_bandha

“What we are trying to do in the  practice of Prāṇāyāma
is to confine more and more Prāṇa within our bodies.
When Prāṇa is not able to enter our bodies,
it is because something is there that should not be.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Ten Page 136

Prāṇāyāma reduces Avidyā and clarity arises in the mind

jalandhara_bandha

“The Yoga Sūtra says that as we practice Prāṇāyāma,
more and more of the covering of the mind,
Avidyā, is removed and there is clarity.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Ten Page 137

Chief among preparations for Dhyānam are proper diet and Prāṇāyāma

dhyana

“The ideal Dhyānam, which becomes easier with practice,
requires certain preparations to reduce the tendency of the mind to be distracted,
either by being jumpy and agitated, or dull and inert.
Chief among these preparations are proper diet and Prāṇāyāma.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 2

The effect upon Prāṇa will not be as much as in Prāṇāyāma

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“However, in Āsana attention is divided between the breath and the body movement.
In Āsana we use the breath as the medium of movement to affect the body.
Since our attention is divided between body and breath,
the effect upon Prāṇa will not be as much as in Prāṇāyāma.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Ten Page 138

Prāṇa is simply the expression of Puruṣa……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

Prāṇa is simply the expression of Puruṣa in all parts of the body and beyond.
This Prāṇa has an intimate relationship to the mind
because the Puruṣa sees only through the mind.
Thus Prāṇa, mind and breath are interrelated.
Whatever happens in the mind influences the breath.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Ten Page 135

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Religiousness in Yoga: Study Guide Compilation Chapters One to Nine

Religiousness in Yoga

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

TKV Desikachar

Lectures on Theory and Practice

Chapter by Chapter Study guide

‘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 compilation of the chapter by chapter study guides 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.

This compilation Guide currently contains Chapters One to Nine. Future updates will be posted as the remaining Nine Chapters Study Guides are added.

View or Download the Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide Compilation of Chapters One to Nine

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Pratikriyā Bhāvana for Vīrabhadrāsana


Vīrabhadrāsana or warrior pose is an Āsana where the postural focus at the level of Annamaya or the structural aspect, involves the skill of holding opposite points of attention at the same time.

For example, if we consider the feet, the front foot focus is on the rooting of toes, whereas the focus on the rear foot is on the rooting of the heel.

Thus here we have an example of a Pratikriyā Bhāvana, or opposite action focus, where we need to hold our attention with a contrasting dynamic in two places simultaneously. In this example on both the front or rear foot at the same time, but with different points of attention.

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108 Chanting Practice Pointers – 4 – Thus the meditator moving upward by the Mantra obtains Svatantra

om
As the spider moving upward by the thread obtains free space,
thus assuredly the meditator,
moving upward by the Mantra obtains Svatantra (independence).
– Maitrī Upaniṣad Chapter Six verse 22

Link to Series: 108 Chanting Practice Pointers

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Nine Practice

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

‘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.

Chapter 9 Practice: The Practical Aspects of Prāṇāyāma – Pages 117-131

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The best time to introduce Mantra is while holding the breath.

seated_pranayama_2

“Holding the breath gives us a moment when there is nothing happening.
A moment when it should be possible to count.
In fact, the best time to introduce Mantra is not during inhalation or exhalation but while holding the breath.
It is said that a moment of holding the breath is a moment of Dhyāna.
Some Mantra are very long.
Since we do not have to concentrate on breathing while holding the breath,
these longer Mantra can be recited correctly.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 128-129

Mental attitude is very important in the practice of Prāṇāyāma.

seated_pranayama_2

“Mental attitude is very important in the practice of Prāṇāyāma.
In Prāṇāyāma we have no body movement to see; it involves mostly what we feel.
The only thing dynamic in Prāṇāyāma is the breath.
Yet, we must have the same attitude of attention in Prāṇāyāma, as in Āsana.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 125

We normally practice Ujjāyī for a long time before introducing Nāḍī Śodhana Prāṇāyāma.

seated_pranayama_2

“We normally practice Ujjāyī for a long time before introducing Nāḍī Śodhana Prāṇāyāma.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 121

108 Study Path Pointers – 10 – Sāṃkhya – Redefining the Marriage of Wisdom and Action……

samkhya

Sāṃkhya – Redefining the Marriage of Wisdom and Action

Until the Dancer (Citta) deeply realises that
the Observer (Cit) of the Spectacle (Viṣaya)
is not interested in the drives (Avidyā) which animate the dance,
the Dancer continues to Dance.
Sāṃkhya Kārikā of Īśvara Kṛṣṇa Āryā Fifty Nine

Link to Series: 108 Study Path Pointers

In Prāṇāyāma we accept the posture and forget the body……

seated_pranayama_2

“While we use the breath for the body in Āsana,
in Prāṇāyāma we accept the posture and forget the body.
The only requirement is that we must be comfortable and keep our backs straight.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 117

Dhyāna is taught as a personalised process unique to each student……

dhyanam

Question:
Would appreciate any clues as to the Dhyāna practice as you were taught.”

Response:
Reflecting on this question reminds me of a video of a lecture by S Sridharan from the KYM recently reposted on August 5th 2015 on the Krishnamacharya Yoga Facebook page. I feel that the extract below sums up well the essence of Krishnamacharya’s teaching, especially when involving the Antar Aṅga:

“But when it came to personal practice we would have to meet our teacher in his room separately…..
What my teacher has imparted to me as my Yoga practice. I cannot share it with any of you.
Not for the reason that I don’t want to share it, it will have no value for any of you…..

When we teach something it should be very personal from the point of view of Yoga practice.
Yoga is a topic that just cannot be taught over a platform.”

He also discussed earlier in the video the notion that the only group activity was the study of texts. When it came to personal practice this was within a private room and was a personal matter between the teacher and the student.

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Bhakti is the mark of a certain unique relationship……

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

“Serious practitioners of Yoga from Vedic times to the present day
emphasise that a clear mind is a prerequisite for Bhakti and
that it is only through Bhakti that the true nature of the Jīva is revealed.
Bhakti, singe minded and abiding, is the mark of a certain unique relationship
characterised by unshakeable faith, absolute trust and boundless devotion.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 30

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The teaching of Krishnamacharya around Āsana included an in-depth appreciation of the Lakṣaṇa……


My extensive study of Āsana with TKV 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 I studied when looking at any Āsana in depth, were the concepts of Nāma, Rūpa and Lakṣaṇa, or the name, the form and the 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 appropriate application of the Āsana within overall considerations around direction and outcome 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 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 teaching of Krishnamacharya around Āsana included an in-depth appreciation of the Lakṣaṇa, especially around the thirty or so primary Āsana such as Jaṭhara Parivṛtti, Bhujaṅgāsana or Januśīrṣāsana.