It is not possible to give examples of illnesses or ailments that can be improved……

I was asked in 2011 to provide ‘expert quotes’ in response to three questions for a media article by a freelance journalist on a Yoga related topic. These were my reflections that I am reposting unedited, especially given the surge in these past 7 years in what has become labelled as ‘Yoga Therapy’:

Q1. What are some examples of illnesses or ailments that can improve or be cured with the use of Yoga?

“It is not possible to give examples of illnesses or ailments that can be improved as it all depends on the matrix of the person who may also have certain combinations of problems. A student with cancer may improve or a student with a history of colds may experience little change.

The viewpoint of Yoga is to look at people as individuals and work from there rather than the more usual view of making lists of problems with flash card like answers to a specific problem. e.g. Sciatica, High Blood Pressure, Insomnia, Osteo-arthrosis, Chrohn’s Disease, etc.

“We cannot say that this Āsana or this Prāṇāyāma
can be given for this disease.”
– T Krishnamacharya 1984

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I am going to explain you something else about the aphorisms…….

“I am going to explain you something else about the aphorisms, about their translation.
Many books or courses have been written about the treatise of Patañjali.
Some of them analyse the words one by one, trying to translate them separately,
dissecting the text. This way of proceeding may be interesting,
but unfortunately it can also confuse instead of helping understanding of the text.

Why?
Because literally translating the aphorisms is nothing but a series of words glued together,
in sentences that very often lack in consistency.

The ancient way of exposing was not translating them into a new language;
it was mainly making the student grasp the sense of the aphorism.
In this case, the Sanskrit text is just a reminder,
a mnemonic that the teacher is not going to translate textually.
They are going to use it to develop the idea or the sense of the aphorism.
They will explain these notions, sometimes even without referring to any word of the aphorism.
What is important is to give a teaching that is adapted to the level of understanding of the student.”

– TKV Desikachar on Learning from the Yoga Sūtra
Extract from Viniyoga Europe No 1

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Fifteen 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 15 Theory: The Antarāyāḥ, Obstacles to Progress, Techniques to Overcome them Pages 207-219

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108 Postural Practice Pointers – 20 – Bhāvana for moving within Forward Bends

Postural Practice Pointer 20 – Bhāvana for moving within Forward Bends

Keep the arms up as you go down
Thus moving from from Apāna Sthāna to Prāṇa Sthāna.
Lift the arms first as you come up.
Thus moving from from Prāṇa Sthāna to Apāna Sthāna.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Propose a Prāṇāyāma practice to influence Prāṇa Sthāna……

Propose a Prāṇāyāma practice to influence Prāṇa Sthāna,
choosing either Samavṛtti or Viṣamavṛtti ratios.

To Download or View this question as a PDF Study Sheet

108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 43 – Fear and Insecurity feed on the leftovers……

abhinivesa

“Fear and Insecurity feed on the leftovers
from the meals of past experiences.”
– Commentary around Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 9

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

2020 Art of Sūtra Psychology Course Module Four – Yoga Sūtra Chapter 3

Exploring Chapter Three of the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali

The Art of Sūtra Psychology Course Module Four
Yoga Sūtra Chapter Three – Vibhūti Pādaḥ
September 12/13th and December 5/6th 2020

This Art of Sūtra Psychology Modular Course is limited to a maximum of five students to allow for a personalised approach and in-depth transmission between teacher and student. It is offered as a 4 day course modulecomprising two 2 day meetings over 3-4 months.

Based in the Cotswolds, it offers an in-depth study of Chapter Three of the Yoga Sūtra. It is presented with the aim of reflecting the fundamentals of Śrī T Krishnamacharya’s teaching, namely, transmission occurs through the direct experience of the teacher with the students personal practice and study Sādhana.

It is an opportunity for a Yoga student from any Yoga background or style to experience an in-depth exploration of Chapter Three of the Yoga Sūtra of Patāñjali over a 4 day module.

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Postscript to yesterdays post around the three Niyama within Kriyā Yoga…… 

A postscript to yesterdays post around the three Niyama
within Kriyā Yoga on the uses of the terms ‘self’ or ‘Self’ within
the legs in the tripod supporting our efforts at nurturing a state of Yoga.

“Activities that nurture a state of Yoga involve
self-discipline, Self-inquiry and Self-awareness.”

The first leg supporting the tripod refers to Citta
as the self in terms of nurturing self-discipline.

Tapas is to discipline our eating habits.”
– T Krishnamacharya

The second leg supporting the tripod refers to Cit
as the Self in terms of nurturing Self-inquiry.

Svādhyāya is an inquiry into one’s true nature.”
– T Krishnamacharya

The final leg supporting the tripod refers to Cit
as the Self in terms of nurturing Self-awareness.

“Yoga is awareness, a type of knowing.”
– T Krishnamacharya

The Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle Module One Workshop November 21st/22nd 2020

ayurveda

Follow this link for details of Online Personalised Learning Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle Study options

The Art of  Āyurveda Lifestyle Workshop Module One
Know your Patterns within The Ebb and Flow of Seasons, Food and Life

The Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle – Module One Personal Sādhana Workshop is limited to a maximum of five students to allow for a personalised approach and in-depth transmission between teacher and student. This weekend workshop introduces the student to the primary principles and essential teachings from Āyurveda and how they were applied by T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar.

Based in the Cotswolds, it is open to all except complete beginners and offers an opportunity for any Yoga Student, teacher or trainee teacher from any Yoga background to develop and deepen their personal Yoga practice and study.

It is presented with the aim of reflecting the fundamentals of Śrī T Krishnamacharya’s teaching, namely, transmission occurs through the direct experience of the teacher with the students personal practice and study Sādhana.

It offers an in-depth approach to Āyurveda texts, through an experiential appreciation of the core teachings that underpin the Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle, either for personal development or, if relevant, to enhance professional skills. It is also a prerequisite to further work in the The Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle – Module Two Course.

Upcoming Dates

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108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 42 – Activities that nurture a state of Yoga…….

Activities that nurture a state of Yoga involve
self-discipline, Self-inquiry and Self-awareness.
– Reflections around Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 1

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 19 – In Dvipāda Pīṭham a key Bhāvana is on the feet……

Postural Practice Pointer 19 – In Dvipāda Pīṭham a key Bhāvana is on the feet.

With regard to Dvi Pāda Pīṭham, a key Bhāvana is on the feet.
A common approach is people not working from their feet.
Instead they are primarily using their buttocks to push up.
Desikachar taught that we both lift and lower from the feet
Thus Two Foot Support is controlled by using both feet.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 41 – Some define their experience of life by seeking Duḥkha……

Some define their experience of life by seeking Duḥkha,
some by seeking Sukha.
The Yoga Practitioner sees both as Avidyā
and defines their experience of life by seeking
what lies beyond duality through unwavering Viveka.
– Reflections around Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 26

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

Whenever we look at an Āsana we must look at two sides……

“Whenever we look at an Āsana
we must look at two sides:
1. What is involved in the Āsana
2. Who is doing the Āsana
– TKV Desikachar 1984

The worst obstacle of all occurs when, somewhere in the back of our minds……

“The worst obstacle of all occurs when,
somewhere in the back of our minds,
we think we have understood something and we haven’t.
That is, we fancy that we have seen the truth.
We think, because of a situation in which we feel
we have some sort of calmness, we have reached our zenith.
We say, ‘That is what I have been looking for; I have progressed.’
But in actual fact we have not progressed.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘Antarāyāḥ, Obstacles to progress, Techniques to Overcome them’
Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fifteen Page 209

108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 40 – Awareness is a quality not a quantity.

cit devanagari

Awareness is a quality not a quantity.
Commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Four verse 34

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 34 – Something spreading more widely may not automatically mean……

Something spreading more widely may not
automatically mean that something is developing.
Should we be reflecting more on that which helps Yoga to develop,
rather than on that which helps Yoga to spread more widely?

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 39 – Prāṇāyāma is a key to the door of Dhāraṇā.

Prāṇāyāma is a key to the door of Dhāraṇā.
Commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 53

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

Different Yoga practices are meant to prepare a person towards Dhyānam.

“Different Yoga practices are meant to prepare a person towards Dhyānam.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 21

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 49 – You must change the mind In order to meditate……

According to the teachings of Krishnamacharya,
you must first change the mind In order to meditate,
rather than trying to meditate in order to change the mind.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 33 – TKV Desikachar did not teach different people different things……

TKV Desikachar did not teach different people different things.
Nor did he just teach the same thing to different people.
He taught different people the same thing in different ways.
The same could be said of T Krishnamacharya’s teaching.
Hence the context of the phrase the viniyoga of Yoga.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 18 – Always weight on the feet not on the hands.

Postural Practice Pointer 18 – Always weight on the feet not on the hands.

With regard to Āsana where the hands are placed on the ground,
the weight should not be on them.
So always weight on the feet not on the hands.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

Another obstacle is when our senses seem to take over……

“Another obstacle is when our senses seem to take over.
They reassert themselves as masters,
sometimes without our knowing it.
This is not surprising since we are trained from birth to
look here, see there, hear this, touch that, etc.
So sometimes, because of their habitual action of always looking for things, etc.,
The senses take over and our direction slowly shifts in the wrong way.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘Antarāyāḥ, Obstacles to progress, Techniques to Overcome them’
Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fifteen Page 209

108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 38 – If you remove the past from the present what is left?

If you remove the past from the present what is left?
– Reflection on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 43

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

Prāṇāyāma was taught according to the principles of Cikitsā, Rakṣaṇa and Śikṣaṇa……

nadi_sodanaPrāṇāyāma, as with Āsana and Dhyānam, was taught according
to the principles of CikitsāRakṣaṇa and Śikṣaṇa Krama.
Thus we have breathing practices ranging from Cikitsā,
using simple ratio to settle an irregular breath, to Rakṣaṇa,
with competence and fluidity with various basic techniques and mild ratios,
to Śikṣaṇa and mastery of all techniques, and ratios and especially,
the Kumbhaka with long holds both after the inhale and the exhale.

The Vinyāsa Krama or steps in the evolution of practice are measured
by our practice abilities and consistency and potential within our life situation.
The longer term measure of our Prāṇāyāma potential is determined by
our skilful efforts with all four components of the breath in Āsana.
For example can we maintain 8.8.8.8. in Parśva Uttānāsana or 12.6.18.12 in Mahāmudrā?

These days though, it seems that there is not much place for or interest in the use of Kumbhaka
within breathing practices, if used at all it appears to be mainly Cikitsā or about recovery,
or at best Rakṣaṇa or constitutional, rather than Śikṣaṇa and developmental.

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108 Study Path Pointers – 21 – There was a time when folks were confused as to what is Yoga……

There was a time when folks were confused as to what is Yoga.
Now I wonder if folks are more confused as to what isn’t Yoga?

Link to Series: 108 Study Path Pointers