108 Study Path Pointers – 15 – Initially our Yoga Journey is towards our relationship with living…..


Initially our Yoga Journey is towards our relationship with living.
Ultimately our Yoga Journey is towards our relationship with dying.

Link to Series: 108 Study Path Pointers

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Eleven Theory

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 Eleven Theory: Antaraṅga Sādhana – An Introduction to the Last Four Aṅga
– Pages 145-162

read more

This is what I mean by having Prāṇa inside the body……


“This is what I mean by having Prāṇa inside the body.
When this is the case,
a person is not affected by the whims and opinions of others.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Eleven Page 148

Nathamuni’s Yoga Rahasya is quite likely to be a combination of…….


“My father never acknowledged that he discovered anything
even when I have seen that it was he who discovered.
He has discovered postures but he would say that it was his teacher who taught him.
Rarely has he said that it was his “original” work.
At the same time, I have seen him – because I am his son also –
composing some verses and correcting those verses for the Chandas (Metre) and all that and finally saying –
this is what Nathamuni is saying and this is what my teacher says!
I tend to think that the Nathamuni’s Yoga Rahasya that he taught us is quite likely to be a combination of his own commentary and the lessons he received though he would not accept it.”
– ‘The Study of Yoga Rahasya‘ – Extract from an Interview with TKV Desikachar in KYM Darśanam, a publication from Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram vol 1 no 1 Feb 1991.

In observation, try to go from Annamaya to the deeper levels.


“In observation, try to go from Annamaya to the deeper levels.”
– TKV Desikachar Madras 1987

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 3 – Forward Bending and the Abdomen

Postural Pointer 3 – Forward Bending and the Role of the Abdomen

When moving into Paścimatāna Āsana such as Uttānāsana.
Better to pull back from the abdomen.
Rather than pushing forward from the lower back.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

108 Study Path Pointers – 14 – What’s important is not to find the solution itself……


“What’s important is not to find the solution itself,
but to identify the mystery,
and to continuously touch it and draw strength from it.”
– Paul Harvey Interview Israel 2006

Link to Series: 108 Study Path Pointers

Chanting Offering for Mahā Śiva Ratri


Six Verses on Nirvāṇa

They are said to have arisen as a spontaneous response to the question “Who Am I”
With the climax of each of the six verses:
Cit Ānanda Rūpaḥ Śiva Ahaṃ Śiva Ahaṃ
That Form of Pure Awareness and Bliss, I am Śiva, I am Śiva

From my personal library of recordings from my studies with my teacher TKV Desikachar.
To Download or Listen
To Download the Chant Sheet with Romanised Saṃskṛta and Translation

You have to practice in such a way that day to day the breath gets longer and longer.


“You have to practice in such a way that day to day the breath gets longer and longer.”
From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 20 – The heart of Yoga is the way in which a profound change is effected…..

The heart of Yoga is the way in which a profound change is effected on the way we view our environment.
In other words arising out of the various complementary practices of Yoga,
the way we see the world and its processes,
is enriched by a sensitivity to change and understanding of impermanence.
Further, the different practices are not separate compartments,
they are linked through the principles underpinning them.
For example, a meditative attitude in the practice of postures,
complements a stable posture in the practice of seated meditation.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

viniyoga Vignette 3 – Śītalī and Anuloma Ujjāyī Prāṇāyāma within Āsana

A short end of study day 25′ evening practice from the first day of three day Practitioner Training Programme Module. Here the primary Bhāvana or theme was to offer a practice to conclude what would have been a long day with both study and travelling to the venue that morning from various parts of the country.

read more

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 2 – Jumping and the Bahya Kumbhaka

Postural Practice Pointer 2 – Jumping and the Bahya Kumbhaka

Jumping should be soundless and always on the Bāhya Kumbhaka or pause after the exhale.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā Chapter 1 verse 17 on Āsana


kuryāttad āsanaṃ sthairyam ārogyaṃ ca aṅga lāghavan |
“Āsana Practice brings steadiness, reduced illness and a lightness of limb.”
Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā of Svāmi Svātmārāma Chapter One verse 17

This verse is commenting on the development of Āsana
as a foundation or accessory for more subtle practices.
Better not to confuse the vehicle with the direction.

I am reminded of a quote from Srivatsa Ramaswami:
“I studied with Śrī Krishnamacharya for a number of years.
I do not remember a single Yogāsana class which did not have
a decent dose of Prāṇāyāma and Ṣanmukhi Mudrā in it
and short prayers to begin and end the session.”

Nāma, Rūpa, Lakṣana – The Name, Form and Characteristics of Āsana

The Aṣṭāṅga Āsana or the eight limbs of Āsana Planning and Practice are the formula for constructing a skilful and place, time and lifestyle appropriate Āsana practice. These eight limbs fall into eight categories, that of:

  • The definition, meaning and context of Āsana
    – Core concept – Nāma Rūpa Lakṣana – name, form and characteristics
  • How Āsana are arranged into groups and categories
    – Core concept – Vinyāsa Krama – collecting postures together
  • How counterpostures or Pratikriyāsana are integrated
    – Core concept – Pratikriyāsana– maintaining the balance
  • The value and purpose of the breath in Āsana
    – Core concept – PrāṇaApāna Dhāraṇā – where the focus is
  • How movement or stay are used in Āsana 
    Core concept – Circulation and Purification – dynamic and static
  • The adaptation of Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Variation and Modification – change and necessity
  • Intelligently planning and Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Bṛṃhaṇa and Laṅghana Kriyā – connecting postures together
  • Observation within Āsana practice
    – Core concept – Spine, Breath and Attention – learning to look

In my last post on Aṣṭāṅgāsana I talked about introducing each of these eight topics to help the reader to appreciate more about what is inherent in the depth and breadth of this approach in terms of Āsana planning having a precise and comprehensive formula.

Āsana practice starts with a need to know something about the Āsana we are going to work with as we introduce, persevere and develop and especially personalise our practice. Hence we have to both practice but also have some theoretical background in order to context an Āsana in itself and in relationship to other Āsana.

read more

Learning from Life – The Wisdom of the Yoga Sūtra Part 1 of 2

The Wisdom of the Yoga Sūtra in guiding the journey of the psyche.

Buried within the rich traditions of “on the mat” Yoga practice are many teachings with advice and reflections on how to live more creatively whilst off the mat so to speak.

According to the teachings of Yoga, the postural practices of Āsana, the seated breathing practices of Prāṇāyāma, and other seated practices of meditation, or Dhyānam on such as reflecting on subtle aspects of attitudes or natural phenomena, or seated practices such as Chanting, or Japam or repetition of Mantra, all sit within a framework of daily living and its constant dynamic of helpful choices and positive responses or unhelpful choices and negative re-actions.

read more

The first Viveka is that I lack something……


“The first Viveka is that I lack something.
If that urgency is not there then no technique will work.
There must be a very strong thirst.”
– TKV Desikachar

All (Yoga) techniques are for Viveka, as this is the means for freedom.


“All (Yoga) techniques are for Viveka,
as this is the means for freedom.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 26


Patanjali Yoga Sutra

– By Srivatsa Ramaswami

Content Headings Guide

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.

read more

Yoga Postures in Practice – A series on Āsana by Paul Part 3 Uttānāsana

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.

read more

Learning Support for Chanting Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaḥ


सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु ।
मा कश्चित् दुःख भाग्भवेत् ॥

sarve bhavantu sukhinaḥ |
sarve santu nirāmayāḥ |
sarve bhadrāṇi paśyantu |
mā kashchit duḥkha bhāgbhavet ‖

May all be happy
May all be free from illness
May all see what is auspicious
May no one suffer

Learning Support for Chanting Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaḥ
From my personal library of recordings from my studies with my teacher TKV Desikachar
To Download or Listen
To Download the Chant Sheet with Devanāgari, Romanised Saṃskṛta and Translation