108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 10 – A necessary step in Yoga is to experience a state of disillusionment……

A necessary step in Yoga is to experience
a state of complete and utter disillusionment.
Arising from that is a state of Citta prepared
to give up its conviction of being the Cit.
– Commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 5

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

The Westernisation of Yoga Āsana with its emphasis on structural focus……


The Westernisation/Modernisation of Yoga Āsana with its increasing emphasis on structural postural focus according to the latest postural trends or particular flavour of the teachers style are prominent within the modern diversity which sees Yoga taught as only a Postural Practice and extending into many varied fields of exercise ranging from Aqua Yoga to Zen Yoga.

However there are questions that increasingly need to be asked within these approaches, especially where the boundaries around what is now generically grouped Yoga Āsana, blur into more generalised concepts of Yoga as hot exercise, cool exercise, medicalised exercise, meditative exercise, etc.

Otherwise in this simplification or reductionism of Yoga into Āsana, into modern postural exercise, or the current increasing mis-identification of postural exercise with Yoga, or even more tragic, with Yoga itself; the deeper purposeful principles within the relationship of the physical body, within the energetic body, within the psychic body, disappear in the search for perfect posture, perfect performance, perfect structural integrity, safe postural practice, etc.

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How can we slow down the ‘I’ when pursuing a question?

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

Question to TKV Desikachar:
How can we slow down the ‘I’ when pursuing a question?

“Don’t attempt to do two things at the same time. You should not pursue the question if you are trying to slow down the ‘I’. If you can’t slow down the ‘I’ or pursue a single question, then come back and start again.
One needs also to ask whether the question is important: how can I not pursue it?
And if one still can’t pursue the question, then perhaps one needs to wait and spend some time preparing oneself.
So, if there is a problem in pursuing a question, either the question is not important or the ‘I’ is not ready for it.”
TKV Desikachar Madras December 21st 1988

My role as a trainer is to teach you to teach Āsana not teach you how to practice Āsana…..

imagesCAON78F6-200x183

Some thoughts from my Facebook Page I posted after as comments after reading and sharing a recent blog commenting on the Yoga Teacher situation in the US amidst the debate on supporting or not national Yoga Registration Standards Bodies and Government Regulatory Bodies having the last word.

To which I would add a personal reflection that I feel relieved that my priorities are re-focused on training students to be students rather than have to contend with the ever-increasing number of Yoga teacher Training Courses amidst the increasing trend of ‘fast-tracking’ within them of students towards training to be a Yoga Teacher or the current vogue of becoming a ‘Yoga Therapist’, amidst the ever-increasing number of ‘Yoga Bodies’ seeking to be ‘the’ verifier, approver or regulator of ‘standards’.

It has also long been an issue for me and a cause of conflict to have to contend with a confusion of my priorities as a Yoga teacher in running teacher training courses.

“Training to learn how to teach Yoga is not the same as training to learn how to practice & study Yoga.”

In that my role as a teacher trainer is to train students to teach and the conflict with the realities of encountering students that are not yet adequately trained to practice, or in their understanding of and relationship to personal practice.

As I have said many times, my role as a trainer is to teach you to teach Āsana not teach you how to practice Āsana (amidst many other dimensions of learning Yoga).

This is part of why my future Yoga Teaching/Therapy Practitioner Programmes are just a mere 200 contact hour, 18 month course, but with no Yoga input as they will be completely focused only on the teaching of Yoga techniques, theory and textual study that you will have already learnt.

This means that there is a caveat in that the student needs to undertake a pre-requisite 250 contact hour training in all dimensions of Yoga Study and Practice prior to applying, if still interested, in professional training.

Also I feel it is good to not have to contend with both sides of the issue, of the trainee learning to be a student amidst setting up a teaching practice.

Or even just being able to offer students the alternative of having to undertake a teacher training course because you want to study Yoga merely as a student and the only way it seems to be able to do that is to undertake a teacher training.

Plus there are now many 100’s of,  if not a 1000+, Yoga Teacher Training Courses in the UK these days competing for what must eventually become a shrinking training market as the reality of how saturated the Yoga teacher market place is becoming emerges……..”

Know your breath and its unique characteristics in Āsana and you will……

dhanurasananadi_sodana

Know your breath and its unique characteristics within Āsana and
you will have an initial template for working with your breath in Prāṇāyāma.

Modern postural Yoga talks a lot about individual patterning from our genetic past, along with upbringing and lifestyle conditioning, determining what body patterns we inherently carry from life to death

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When we look at things, memory always intrudes……

samadhi

“When we look at things, memory always intrudes.
To see clearly,
we need to be in that state described in the Yoga Sutra in Chapter One verse 43.
In such a state, memory dies, imagination vanishes,
then we can see the reality of the object.
This state is Samādhi.”
TKV Desikachar Madras December 21st 1988

Learning Support for Chanting the Nirvāṇaṣaṭkam

Raja_Ravi_Varma_-_Sankaracharya

Six Verses on Nirvāṇa by Ādi Śaṅkara

They are said to have arisen as a spontaneous response to the question “Who Am I”

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

Translation below from Wikipedia:

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There are also fundamental differences between Yoga and Vedānta……

Desikachar and Krishnamacharya in Madras 1980

Desikachar and Krishnamacharya in Madras 1980

There are also fundamental differences between Yoga and Vedānta. And, if at all we can link them, it is as follows: Yoga is a means towards Vedānta for those who are interested.

Vedānta involves a lot of enquiry and reflection, and also demands the development of Bhakti, and, for both the mind and for the individual, Yoga is the means towards Bhakti.

Also, Vedānta is Jñāna Mārga, and a state of mind that is necessary for Jñāna can only come through the practice of Aṣṭāṅga.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

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Thanks to him, it is possible to say that there are certain distinctions between Yoga and Hinduism.

TK_1980_aged_91

T Krishnamacharya @ 91

“Thanks to him, it is possible to say that there are certain distinctions between Yoga and Hinduism.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

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It is only through a deep understanding of family life that one can go beyond it…….

Desikachar and Krishnamacharya Chanting Madras 1980

Desikachar and Krishnamacharya Chanting Madras 1980

“He insists that it is very important for a human being to go through family life. It is only through a deep understanding of family life that one can go beyond it.

He, himself, twice rejected the position of an important Ācārya because, he said, he would like to remain with his family.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

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Ordinary people need certain forms, certain visualisations, for Dhyāna……

svastikasana

“Then, he has also some views on Dhyāna. Since Dhyāna is a characteristic of mind, and since the mind is limited to form, Deśa, or the object of meditation, must be Saguṇa and not Nirguṇa.

Ordinary people need certain forms, certain visualisations, for Dhyāna, so any Dhyāna which is Nirguṇa is only Vikalpa.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Kriyā without a knowledge of the individuals Doṣa is certainly going to do more harm than good

uddiyana_bandha

“In addition, the use of Kriyā,
without a knowledge of the individuals Doṣa
is certainly going to do more harm than good.

Doṣa, briefly, means the constitution of the individual;
some are fat, some tend to get a lot of colds,
some have acid problems, some are nervous.

So different beings show different predominances in the Doṣa,
and Kriyā must be considered in relation to these varying constitutions.”

TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

He has very clear ideas on the Ṣat Kriyā and the Mudrā……

“He has very clear ideas on the Ṣat Kriyā and the Mudrā.
He believes that if a person does Āsana properly, with breathing,
and has certain restraints regarding food, there is no need for these Kriyā.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Rāja Yoga is just words without Sādhana……

IWYS_M1

“Now let us go to some of his views on matters of interest. He believes that the only Yoga text that has any clear presentation of Yoga is the Yoga Sūtra.

But, he says, Rāja Yoga is just words without Sādhana, just like I read the other day, that philosophy itself is more interesting than any result from it.

However, with SādhanaRāja Yoga is the same as Bhakti Yoga.”

TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Another contribution is how he utilises the Yoga Sūtra in the practice……

IWYS_M1

“Another contribution, I feel, is how he utilises the Yoga Sūtra in the practice.
I remember in the first Zinal, when I used the word Yoga Sūtra,
people thought I was talking about Greek civilisation or something.

My own reading of the Yoga Sūtra, without him,
would have made me think it just another of those useless books on India.
He linked each of the Sūtra to the practice.”

TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Cale Vāte Calaṃ Cittam – As is the Breath so is the Psyche…….

Cale Vāte Calaṃ Cittam –
As is the breath so is the psyche.

The concept according to my teacher, oft quoted by Krishnamacharya, appears in the second verse of Chapter Two in the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā. It follows the opening verse which introduces Prāṇāyāma albeit with caveats around certain prerequisites.

Firstly establish an Āsana as a firm seat, not as simple as it seems given the predilection for action Āsana contrasting a difficulty in remaining seated, upright and still for half an hour.

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Prāṇāyāma within Rāja Yoga and Haṭha Yoga

 

According to the Yoga Kuṇḍalinī Upaniṣad verse 1 – the activity of Citta or psyche has two causes, the movement of Vāsana or latent impressions and the movement of Vāyu or Prāṇa. If one of them is active so is the other, equally if one of them is influenced so is the other.

These are the primary foci within the principles and practices of Rāja Yoga around Citta and Haṭha Yoga around Prāṇa. In terms of primary practices common to both we have Prāṇāyāma.

However as with Āsana within either Rāja Yoga and Haṭha Yoga (a topic for a future post), there are different priorities in the viniyoga (application) of this common primary tool.

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The practice of Yoga is linked to the Nāḍī, or pulse……

jathara_parivrtti

“The practice of Yoga is linked to the Nāḍī, or pulse, so he always thinks that the pulse rate tells whether you have done a good practice or a bad practice.

He suggests that our life may be measured by the number of beats to the heart, and if somebody wants to live long and well, he has to reduce the rate of the heart beat.

This is, of course, a little different from what the aerobic people say, who think you should boost your heart rate to 130/140.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Mahā Mudrā, if practiced every day, prevents ill health……

maha_mudra

“Another thing that he made very simple, and practical, is the use of Mahāmudrā.
This is a very well known posture now,
but when you start looking at the texts, nothing is clear there.
He has incorporated the Āsana part, the breathing part, and the Mudrā part,
and, he feels, Mahāmudrā, if practiced every day, prevents ill health.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

He also added the idea of Bhāvana in the practice of Prāṇāyāma……

jalandhara_bandha

“Further, he also added long ago, the idea of Bhāvana in the practice of Prāṇāyāma. Long, long ago, he said, the breathing, inhalation, exhalation and retentions have some sort of relationship with the highest force, Lord Nārāyaṇa.

Inhalation is like an inspiration from God himself.
Retention is some sort of meditation, because you are with Him.
Exhalation is some sort of movement towards God,
and retention after exhale is like a surrender to God.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The concept of Bhāva and Abhāva in Yoga Practice……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

Amongst the many concepts taught to me by my teacher, to help with understanding and thus working more skilfully with the student, was the notion of Bhāva and Abhāva.

The teaching within this important concept is that when a student comes wanting to learn Yoga, are they interested in learning Yoga to move towards the deeper teachings of Yoga (Bhāva), or wanting to learn Yoga in order to move away from something they find unhelpful or undesirable in their life (Abhāva).

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One of the most complicated aspects of Yoga practice is the Bandha……

nadi_shodana

“One of the most complicated aspects of Yoga practice is the Bandha. He has been able to link correctly various ideas on the Bandha that appear in different texts, and is able to say that certain Bandha can only be done in certain parts of the Prāṇāyāma.
I may also say, that nobody is clearer about the Mūla Bandha than Krishnamacharya.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Prāṇāyāma as Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā or Laṅghana Kriyā……

Prāṇāyāma

“Because of his knowledge of Āyurveda,
he conceived Prāṇāyāma also as Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā or Laṅghana Kriyā.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

One of the greatest contributions of Krishnamacharya to Prāṇāyāma……

jalandhara_bandha

“And, in the Prāṇāyāma also, the different types, like Vaikharī,
the different Vṛtti, the different Krama, he put them all into practice.
One of the greatest contributions, I would say, of Krishnamacharya to Prāṇāyāma,
is the use of Bāhya Kumbhaka, and the importance of Recaka, or exhalation.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The beginning of Prāṇāyāma is in Āsana……

janu_sirsasana

“Because of the different uses of breathing,
he strongly believes that the beginning of Prāṇāyāma is in Āsana.
Āsana, and Āsana alone,
with proper breathing techniques,
leads you to the idea of Prāṇāyāma.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.