One other study area that I was privileged to be able to experience alongside my many visits to study Yoga Practice Techniques and Associated texts in Chennai with my teacher TKV Desikachar, within the intimacy and vitality of private lessons, was that of Āyurveda and its application within Yoga.
“In Āyurveda, it gives certain behaviour by which we can stay well.
If a person follows the following he will freer of sickness.
Regularly, systematically he eats, rests and exercises adequately.
Both in amount and quality. Food or Ahāra,
along with Vihāra – recreation, rest, exercise, other activities.”
– TKV Desikachar
Thus during my many visits to India, between 1979 and 2002, my work in Yoga was complemented by the study of Āyurveda constitutional diagnosis and prognosis, along with Nādī Parīkṣā or pulse diagnosis and the application skills of Āyurveda, into Yoga practice and lifestyle, according to the teachings of T Krishnmacharya within Yoga Rakṣaṇa (lifestyle support) or Yoga Cikitsā (therapeutic recovery) situations.
A short pre-lunch 25′ practice from the first day of the two day Module One Haṭha Energetics Workshop.
As well as emphasising the use of Jihvā and Jālandhara Bandha, the primary Bhāvana or theme was to explore the application of and response to the introduction and accumulative intensification of Antar Kumbhaka (AK) and Bāhya Kumbhaka (BK) throughout the practice.
I would emphasise that this is an example of a unique situation that existed at that moment and thus reflects an expression of a study point or the students group dynamic as a need at that moment.
Yet within this caveat, this example of a short but intensive practice, whilst not to be taken as a fixed template, also reflects the richness and multifarious possibilities in how the principles in the viniyoga of Yoga can be expressed as learning and experiential tools within a myriad of situations and personalities.
If there is a sketch quality in the PDF copy it is because these practices were not preplanned and were being notated as they unfolded whilst teaching the group. This also meant I could photocopy them as the practice concluded so copies were immediately available for reflection, reference and discussion.
In the Yoga Sūtra, the pre-eminent text on Dhyānam within Yoga.
Book One is about the Process of the practice of Dhyānam;
Book Two is about the Preparation for the practice of Dhyānam;
Book Three is about the Outcome of the practice of Dhyānam;
Book Four is about the Goal of the practice of Dhyānam.
It seems that with ‘Modern Postural Yoga’
the perception of ‘advanced’ practice is based
around physical appearance and artistic performance,
as exemplified by Āsana;
over psychological efforts and cultivation of inner skills,
as exemplified by Prāṇāyāma and Dhyānam.
Some years ago now I changed the process around how students notated various practices I taught for groups within Student Training Courses or Practitioner Training Programmes.
My methodology previously had prioritised students learning the skills of being able to remember and context what they had just practiced by also being able to recall and then record it accurately. This was part of cultivating personal practice skills, as well as helping in establishing the art of keeping a practice journal over a several year period.
Thus I would teach a small group of students, studying within the contexts of either personal study courses or professional training programmes, a practice and then wait, before perhaps writing it on the board, for it to be notated down from the student’s memory and then we would at some point discuss it and its context to the current situation.
The greatest gift in old age is the ability to be in the present.
The greatest forfeit in old age is the tendency to be in the past or the future.
“Fix yourself on something that doesn’t change
and seek something higher than material things.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Two verse 45
The Dasa Indriya or ten senses of experience and action,
whilst seen as belonging to the Bāhya Aṅga or five external limbs
in the eight limb Aṣṭa Aṅga Yoga of Patañjali,
are also the gateway to the Antar Aṅga or three internal limbs.
– Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 54
Postural Practice Pointer 1 – Jaṭhara Parivṛtti and Movement
When coming up focus on on the lower leg lifting up the upper leg,
rather than the upper leg hauling up the lower leg.
The ten senses or Das Indriya are the gateway between the inner and the outer,
in the twin roads of this phenomena we call experience or action.
The co-ordinator of this remarkable interface is known as Manas.
The identifier in this remarkable process is known as Ahaṃkāra.
The discerner in this remarkable trinity is known as Buddhi.
The observer in this remarkable play of experience and action is known as Cit or Puruṣa.
Part Two – Growing from our Roots with Tāḍāsana
This is the second 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.