Musings on the Student’s Relationship with the Teacher

Memories from my early days, over 40 years ago now, of going to teachers to teach me Yoga were generally around the notion, replete with conscious and unconscious expectations, that the teacher was there to bring out the best in me.

For example I feel that many of us if group class teachers are used to working with the Lazarus factor (raising folks from the dead each week). Here we can get caught or even need the expectation, both in you and/or in the student, that you will be or are ‘the one’ to revitalise the students tired and/or wired bodies as well as restoring confident dispositions.

However my experiences arising from working with TKV Desikachar stood that notion on its head. This was not through anything he said or did but from my own slowly acquired realisation that my way of looking at the relationship was confused.

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Chatting with TKV Desikachar during a lesson in the early 1990’s…..

Chatting with TKV Desikachar during a lesson in the early 1990’s I commented on an observation formed from discussions with my students within a study group I had brought to Madras (Chennai) for a two week programme at the KYM during my personal study stay that year.

As a part of this particular study group visit to the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram some of the students took up the option of 121 lessons with teachers at the KYM. Sharing the content of the practices with me revealed the introduction of a sequence that I had not come across before within, at that time, my nearly 20 years of studies within the work of T Krishnamacharya.

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In the case of a person whose mind is calm……

“In the case of a person whose mind
is calm and free from disturbances,
there is the integration of the person who meditates,
the mind which is utilised for meditation
and the object that is meditated upon.
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 41

There are essentially three causes for fear….

abhinivesa

“There are essentially three causes for fear….
desire, disease and death.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 9

Śraddhā: What holds, what nourishes……

sraddha

Śraddhā:
What holds, what nourishes.
As a mother with a child.”
– TKV Desikachar commenting on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 20

We have also to ask ourselves the question……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“We have also to ask ourselves the question:
What do we want our (teacher training) students to be equipped to do?
– Personal Practice.
– Training Work.
– Supervision.”
TKV Desikachar speaking with his senior Western students London 1998

We need to find a balance between the demand and the capacity……

“We need to find a balance between the demand and the capacity.
It needs careful reflection if we want this great teaching to continue.
If we don’t want it to become another museum we have to check our work and care for the future.
Many organisations with a vertical structure have collapsed.
Our structure must not be vertical.”
TKV Desikachar speaking with his senior Western students London 1998

I don’t think any system, even though it has all the possibilities……

TKV_France_1999

“I don’t think any system, even though it has all the possibilities,
has all the answers, for all of the people, for all of the time.”
TKV Desikachar speaking with his senior Western students London 1998

Matsara or Jealousy – To find fault in others.

matsara

Matsara or Jealousy –
“To find fault in others.”
– TKV Desikachar on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Four verse 22

Yoga directs the mind to what is happening now.

atha

“Yoga directs the mind to what is happening now.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 4

Yoga presumes for most people that mind is the same……

citta

“Yoga presumes for most people that mind is the same,
always planning ahead or basing itself on what has happened.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 4

108 Chanting Practice Pointers – 8 – Nyāsa – The Art of drawing the Mantra into the Heart through the Body.

nyasa

Nyāsa
The Art of drawing the Mantra into the Heart through the Body.

Link to Series: 108 Chanting Practice Pointers

108 Study Path Pointers – 16 – Defining our relationship with awareness is an inquiry……

na iti na iti

“na iti na iti – not this, not this”
Defining our relationship with awareness,
is an inquiry into re-defining our relationship with matter.
– Bṛhad Āraṇyaka Upaniṣat II.3.6

Link to Series: 108 Study Path Pointers

What is the nature of distraction?

itaratra

“What is the nature of distraction?”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 4

What effects Kleśa have on us?

panca klesa

“What effects Kleśa have on us?
They affect our actions and the results are evident sooner or later.
Further they decide, in spite of us, what we do and don’t.
Our actions will be beyond our control, so are the consequences.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 12

Saṃmoha – We are not clear what we are doing.

sammoha

Saṃmoha
“We are not clear what we are doing.
Because we are not clear, memory wanders.”
– TKV Desikachar on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Two verse 63

However first we should know where we are……

TKV_5

“However first we should know where we are.
We must examine ideas like we must start from where we actually are,
not where we want to be.
We must first recognise our actual state of mind.”
TKV Desikachar France 1983

Links to Teachings from Śrī T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar

tkv_tk_3_1980

A Reference list on teaching resources around Śrī T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar.

Today, my teachers 78th Birthday, is again one of mixed emotions and reflections on his life and although his mental and, I am led to believe, physical health is increasingly fragile these days, it’s hard to talk about honouring his birthday when I/we have no real idea as to how he actually is or even if he is in a condition to know about it, let alone appreciate birthday wishes and greetings from those around the world who care.

However within this poignant question of how or even where Desikachar is in himself, I remain eternally grateful for the intimacy and vitality of the years between 1979 and 2002 we shared together as teacher and pupil working within 121 lessons in his home, during my thirty plus study and practice stays in Madras

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108 Postural Practice Pointers – 5 – Utkaṭāsana and sequence of movement

Postural Pointer 5 – Utkaṭāsana and sequence of movement respecting Prāṇa and Apāna

All these stages of descent are on one long exhalation.
– Lower the backside to the heels whilst keeping the back upright and the arms raised.
– Then stretch the back rounding it towards thighs whilst keeping the arms raised.
– Finally lower the arms to the ground.

All these stages of ascent are on one long inhalation.
– Raise the arms as far as we can keeping hips on the heels.
– Then straighten the back into an upright position.
– Finally lifting the backside off the heels and coming up.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Action with an unclear mind is a circuitous route……

karman

Action with an unclear mind is a circuitous route.
Action with a clear mind is a straight route.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 13