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.

Āsana is Svādhyāya, making you understand something about yourself

svadhyaya_2

“He also presented the idea that Āsana is Svādhyāya,
making you understand something about yourself.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The idea of Vinyāsa, begin from where you are, go to a point, and……

 

Finally he conceived the idea of what is called Vinyāsa. In fact, in the beginning of his teaching, around 1932, he evolved a list of postures leading towards a particular posture, and coming away from it.

This is different Āsana linked to one another in a scheme as though one posture leads to the following one. And this scheme was very important, especially for children, who find it very interesting.

He continues to have the same faith in this, although you cannot always follow these schemes for adults or people who are sick.

Still the idea of Vinyāsa, begin from where you are, go to a point, and come back to where you have to be, remains valid.”

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

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Pratikriyāsana, the idea of compensation and counterpose……

purvatasana

Krishnamacharya in Pūrvatāsana

“He has also given to us the concept of Pratikriyāsana,
the idea of compensation and counterpose.
Since all actions have some reactions,
we have to compensate for the reactions.”
TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

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Breathing is an essential tool in the practice of Āsana……

baddha_konasana

Most importantly, he also has gone to the final limits of the use of the breathing in postures. He found, and he insists, that breathing is an essential tool in the practice of Āsana.

Varying the way to breathe, varying the length of the breath, using different combinations of postures and breath, he has proven that it is possible to modify postures to meet the requirements of individuals.

For him, breathing is like the steering wheel of a car.”

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

The person who taught me how to vary postures……

The person who taught me how to vary postures, to bend the legs, to turn the neck, all the simple and complicated variations, as necessary, is Krishnamacharya. It is important to vary each posture according to the individuals requirements.

Further, he also introduced the use of other aids or supports, so that the person gets the benefit of a posture through other means when he is not able to do the posture itself. This can involve sitting on a chair, using a roll, using supports, etc., the use of other means to help a person achieve certain results.”

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

Children’s Āsana Practice Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram Jan 1981

Whilst living in Madras between 1979 and 1981 studying with Desikachar my daughter Sīta went to the Krishnamurti school and attended kids Āsana classes at the KYM.

Here is one practice from a class at the KYM from January 1981, like other classes in those days they were small groups (in both senses here) and each student got a hand written copy of the days practice, to which they added their name. More examples will be posted.

Sita_Class_Jan-1981_KYM

Krishnamacharya practices Yoga Āsana and Prāṇāyāma every day……

sirsasana

Let us look at his usual day. Whether you believe it or not, this old man gets up at one o’clock in the morning. Anybody is welcome to wait on the verandah and see that he gets up at one o’clock in the morning. And one o’clock in the morning is something for us, I mean it is like a terror to get up at one o’clock, and he is 93. He prepares his own tea and then he practices.

I did not believe that, until I saw, because he is staying with me, that he practices Yoga Āsana and Prāṇāyāma every day. In fact more than once every day, including headstand and Padmāsana, I am mentioning Padmāsana you see, because we are all sitting on chairs.

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Ghee formed a very important part of Krishnamacharya’s diet……

Desikachar & Krishnamacharya Chanting 1980

Desikachar & Krishnamacharya Chanting 1980

Question: What were his favourite foods?

Response: You might be surprised that he relished good food. He was from Andhra and so, relished food that was hot and spicy. He was very fond of sweets and would eat them in great quantities. With all this he would always have ghee. Ghee formed a very important part of his diet and whatever the food, it would be accompanied with large quantities of ghee.

Of course, he was also doing Āsana for three to four hours daily in addition to his Prāṇāyāma. His practice was extremely rigorous and that may account for his being able to handle these large quantities of spicy and sweet foods.”

– TKV Desikachar answering questions on T Krishnamacharya. Originally published in KYM Darśanam November 1993

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It is said that some day, everyone will get a back pain……

d_paris_1999

It is said that some day, everyone will get a back pain. There are so many reasons for it. On conducting a study on back pain, we found that there are three categories of people with back pain.

– There are people with back pain, who, after doing Yoga find that the pain has disappeared.

– The second category are those who are able to avoid back pain as long as they follow a life of discipline. But the moment they stop it starts again.

– And to the third category belong people who are not relieved of pain in spite of discipline. We have to go beyond the spine. There is a very large part for emotions here. One has to go into the emotions of the individual.”

– The Yoga of Healing – TKV Desikachar

Is belief in God a must for the success of Dhyāna?

dhyana

“Is belief in God a must for the success of Dhyāna?”
TKV Desikachar Madras December 19th 1988

The Hindu Veda classify Dhyāna into three major but not water-tight divisions……

garuda

“The Hindu Veda classify Dhyāna into three major but not water-tight divisions:

1. Karma – actions, the details, precise actions and results of rituals, such as the how and where you sit; considered most important for  Dhyāna.

2. Jñāna – inquiry, into anything from the lowest to the highest, such as God, myself, Prāṇa, Brahma, etc; recognising absolutely one object of inquiry, not many.

3. Bhakti – trying to connect myself with the highest force; to accept the absolute power of God – that he is Master and Teacher, the only reality.

Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra, the definitive text on Yoga, classifies Dhyāna in different yet similar terms.”

TKV Desikachar Madras December 20th 1988

Patañjali’s view is close to that of the Veda, but there are significant differences……

patanjali-1

Patañjali’s view is close to that of the Veda,
but there are significant differences such that the highest teaching of the Veda,
which is for this life and beyond this life,
cannot accept the teachings of Yoga which are for this life only.

So Hinduism rejects Yoga,
especially since Yoga does not insist on faith or belief in God.
But Hindus, so conditioned to being Hindu,
do Yoga as Hindus and therefore act in ways not consistent with Yoga teaching.”
TKV Desikachar Madras December 20th 1988

In the Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two Patañjali introduces the term Kriyā Yoga……

kriyayoga

“In the Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 1 Patañjali introduces the term Kriyā Yoga,
a Yoga that anyone can practice,
as distinct from the Yoga practiced by those who devote themselves totally to Yoga,
those whose only concern in life is to reach the highest.”
TKV Desikachar Madras December 20th 1988

All seekers of truth are therefore advised to focus, instead, only on object……

isvara

“According to my teacher,
trying to calm the agitations of the mind by reflecting on external objects
is like trying to get milk from the wattles hanging from the neck of a goat.
All seekers of truth are therefore advised to focus,
instead, only on objects that are in the realm of the divine.”
– T Krishnamacharya commenting on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 35

The word Mantra means something that we will ponder……

mantra

The word Mantra means something that we will ponder, that we will reflect upon.
That is, you go to a teacher,
they say something and I go back home and reflect upon that.

That is the essential feature of Mantra, to reflect upon again and again.
The purpose of Mantra is to help us cross a harbour, an obstacle.
That is why the definition of Mantra is:

 मननात् त्रायते इति मन्त्रः॥
mananāt trāyate iti mantraḥ ||
“Who reflects on this, will cross the obstacle”.

– Extract from an interview with TKV Desikachar on Vedic Chanting

At what age can one start practicing Yogāsana?

158_158

Childrens Āsana Class with Desikachar Madras 1980

Question to T Krishnamacharya –
Q: At what age can one start practicing Yogāsana?
A: A person is fit to practice when they can eat by themselves.
– Śrī Krishnamacharya – The Pūrnācārya – published by the KYM in 1997

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What must form an essential part of a person’s daily practice?

sam_mukha_mudra

Question to T Krishnamacharya –

Q: What must form an essential part of a person’s daily practice?
A: A minimum of ten minutes in Antaḥ TrāṭakamṢat Mukhī Mudrā
or Mahā Mudrā is essential.
– Śrī Krishnamacharya – The Pūrnācārya – published by the KYM in 1997

What good is the sword of wisdom (Jñāna Asinā)……

bhujangasana

“What good is the sword of wisdom (Jñāna Asinā),
to cut away the chains of doubt (Saṃśaya),
if the holder is too weak to bear it.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on the Bhagavad Gītā Chapter 4 verse 42

The term Atha signifies auspicious beginning, uninterrupted continuity and an appropriate end.

‎”The term Atha signifies auspicious beginning,
uninterrupted continuity and an appropriate end.”
– T Krishnamacharya commenting on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 1

Another aspect of Atha is Saṃkalpa……

‎”Another aspect of Atha is Saṃkalpa,
which in the Vedic Tradition is the decision to initiate something important
and to ensure that it is completed at any cost, without distraction or deviation.”
– T Krishnamacharya commenting on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 1

What is healthy for the Heart of Yoga?

urdha_mukha_svanasanamatsyendrasana dhyanam

There has been a surge of media attention in the UK on the health benefits of Yoga based on the results of a recent study published:

In the Guardian under the title ‘Yoga may provide similar health benefits to ‘cycling or brisk walking’.

In the Telegraph under the title ‘Yoga just as good as aerobics for cutting heart disease risk’.

On the BBC News page under the title ‘Yoga may guard against heart disease, study finds’.

Along with a more recent article in the Guardian under the title ‘Should Yoga be part of NHS care?”

All this is on the one hand seems great and on paper appears to be good publicity, yet it lands in an environment where we have a huge amount of information available on the potential dangers of unhelpful lifestyle on the heart and a huge amount of heart problems. It is almost as if there are parallels between the increasing weight of information and the increasing weight of the population.

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Nowadays, a large number of Yoga teachers offer Vedic chanting classes.

tkv_tk_1980

“Nowadays, a large number of Yoga teachers offer Vedic chanting classes.
Some have been studying and practising seriously and others have simply listened to a cassette.”
– Extract from an interview with TKV Desikachar on Vedic Chanting

There is something mysterious about Vedic chanting……

Desikachar and Paul Chanting in 1999
“There is something mysterious about Vedic chanting.
It is so simple that even people who don’t know music at all can practice it.
Many people who have never sung in their life are interested in it.”
– Extract from an interview with TKV Desikachar on Vedic Chanting

Kuṇḍalinī represents that which blocks access to the central energetic channel…..

Unknown

“The great yogin Yājñavalkhya said that the constant and intensive practice of Prāṇāyāma brought Prāṇa and Agni together,
and gradually the obstacle at the base of the Suṣumnā would be totally dissolved.
He gave this block the name ‘Kuṇḍali’ meaning coiled or ‘Kuṇḍalinī’ meaning ‘rolled up’ in other texts.
Kuṇḍalinī represents that which blocks access to the central energetic channel.
When this obstacle is eliminated, Prāṇa penetrates and begins to rise in the central channel.
This is the most precise description we have of the process.
This is also the most clear and coherent.”
– ‘Concerning the Cakra’ by TKV Desikachar