What is the relationship between Yoga training as a Student or as a Teacher?


What is the relationship between training as a Yoga Student and training as a Yoga Teacher?

Firstly –

The Yoga Studies Programme offers a comprehensive range of Personal Workshop and Course Modules for groups of around 4 students, totalling over 600 contact hours. The Modular Programme falls into the two groups, the Yoga Practice Techniques and Practice Theory Modules offer 300 contact hours study and the Associated Yoga and Lifestyle Texts Modules offer a further 300 contact hours study.

The 600 contact hours studying Yoga Practice Techniques and Theory or Associated Yoga and Lifestyle Texts can be undertaken purely as a student, without any obligation or need to simultaneously train as a Yoga teacher.

Each modular series, whether in the field of Study of Yoga Practice Techniques and Theory or Associated Yoga and Lifestyle Texts, is complete in itself and designed for Yoga students from any background or approach interested in exploring Yoga practice and textual study in small groups of around 4 students for personal development now, or if relevant in the future, professional needs.

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

This is unusual these days, as normally to access such a breadth and depth of Yoga training material a student would need to be a participant within a Yoga Teacher Training Course.

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In Veda, Āyurveda and Yoga Sūtra, various techniques are offered to……


“In VedaĀyurveda and Yoga Sūtra, various techniques are offered to aid in healing the sick.
In addition to herbs and medicines, Patañjali suggests that ĀsanaPrāṇāyāma and Vairāgya
are particularly beneficial and, as any medicine, should be used with care and discipline.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 34

An introduction to what is the art of the viniyoga of Yoga Practice


An introduction to what is the art of the viniyoga of Yoga Practice

The concept of viniyoga is the art of applying Yoga to the needs and aspirations of each person as a unique individual rather than fitting a number of individuals into the more generalised Westernised educational or physical fitness modalities of group class instruction.

“The spirit of viniyoga is starting from where one finds oneself.
As everybody is different and changes from time to time,
there can be no common starting point, and ready-made answers are useless.
The present situation must be examined and the habitually established status must be re-examined.”
– TKV Desikachar

Thus, using the term ‘viniyoga’ to describe a Yoga Class as a ‘Viniyoga Group Class’ or using the term to banner a group class teaching ‘style’ would in reality be a contradiction to how the name viniyoga, offered by Desikachar in 1983 as a collective description for the lifetime teachings of T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar, was intended to be used. In this context the term viniyoga relates solely to the transmission of Yoga within a 121 relationship. In this respect one can consider that even the notion of training teachers just in a group class environment to teach according to ‘Viniyoga’ could be seen as an irony.

So to summarise, the main aim behind the introduction and use of the term viniyoga as the application of Yoga, is to collectively describe an approach to personalising a Yoga practice according to the individual and their situation; through respecting our unique differences in age, gender, mental aptitude, physical health, social lifestyle, occupation and interests; together with developmental potentials according to the persons current situation and needs.

The Link between the practice limbs of Āsana, Mudrā, Prāṇāyāma and Dhyānam

The Link between the practice limbs of Āsana, Mudrā, Prāṇāyāma and Dhyānam

One of the essences of Krishnamacaharya’s and Desikachar’s teaching focused on the developmental and progressive integration of the different aspects of ĀsanaMudrā, Prāṇāyāma and Dhyānam into a single constantly evolving organism.

Thus in honouring the Paramparā it is not possible for me to separate these four practice components into four completely disconnected study topics to be learnt in any random order.

The way I was taught was that a knowledge of the practice and planning principles within Āsana are necessary to appreciate the practice and planning principles within Mudrā.

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What are the Primary Areas for Study of Yoga Practice Techniques……

What are the Primary Areas for Study of Yoga Practice Techniques and Yoga Practice Theory?

As a student we need to consider the five fundamental practice areas that need to be prioritised and developed according to the teachings of Krishnamacharya.
These are the practice of:

  • Āsana or general postures
  • Mudrā or special postures
  • Prāṇāyāma or seated breathing
  • Dhyānam or seated meditation
  • Chanting for learning or as a meditational practice.
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A Sūtra Class began with a dedication, it had the effect of orienting……

The original essence of the Yoga Sūtra was passed on by oral tradition. First you learn the rhythm of the  Sūtra. This was in Saṃskṛta, first learning the words or Sūtra, then the meanings. By learning to recite the Sūtra perfectly it was clear that you were earnest in wanting to learn their meanings.

The scheme would be to repeat it twice, in exactly the same tone used by the teacher. This would take many years. Thus these days its difficult to expect to understand the Sūtra from a book or a course.

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As for pulse taking, this is considered by Āyurveda to be a method of confirming a diagnosis……


“As for pulse taking,
this is considered by Āyurveda to be a method of confirming a diagnosis,
which has been formed from listening to the voice,
watching the posture, the eyes, the colour of the skin,
the quality of the energy, and interviewing the patient.”
– T Krishnamacharya

Children’s Āsana Practice Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram Sept 1980

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 September 1980, 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.


Downloadable ‘100 Years of Beatitude’ around Śrī T Krishnamacharya

Downloadable film ‘100 Years of Beatitude’ digitalised from a video of a 1989 documentary honouring  Śrī T Krishnamacharya at the time of his centennial celebrations.

The research and commentary for the film was by Sarah Dars, who also contributed several articles to the special December 1989 edition of the Viniyoga Journal on Krishnamacharya’s life.

The introduction to one of her articles, entitled ‘At the Foot of the Mountain’ read:

“Yogin, Āyurveda physician, teacher of the Mahārājah , master of Mīmāmsā, Nyāya, Sāṃkhya,…..
It is impossible to come to the end of the long list of areas in which Krishnamacharya excelled, as he was also an astrologer, multi lingual , Saṃskṛta scholar, poet, musician………
A totally exceptional person, wreathed in legend, to whom one listens as if seated at the foot of the mountain…”

Amongst my various meetings with Krishnamacharya I remember attending public lectures and the phrase ‘to whom one listens as if seated at the foot of the mountain’ captures the spirit of his understanding of Yoga.

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There are now several hundred Yoga Sūtra quotes so far……


There are now several hundred quotes so far on the Yoga Sūtra from TKV Desikachar and T Krishnamacharya accumulating as posts over the past 4 years of the websites blog life.

Alongside this is the completion of the building of the online verse by verse Yoga Sūtra reference bank with its searchable word by word index database and cross-reference live links.

The next phase has now commenced with the integration of the array of quotes from T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar as commentarial links extending the translation of each Sūtra.

For example Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 20 now has commentarial quotes added, along with live links to other reference points. Obviously this takes time to link the existing material plus continuing to add the many hundreds of quotes still within my notes, but happy that this next stage is finally under way.

More stages cross-linking the Yoga Sūtra with other important texts around Yoga yet to be announced.

Compare Ardha Utkāṭāsana and Bhujaṅgāsana in relation to the following situations……

Compare Ardha Utkāṭāsana and Bhujaṅgāsana in relation to the following situations:

1. In strengthening neck and arm muscles.

2. Potential stress on the sacroiliac joint.

3. Influencing the digestion.

4. Potential risk on the knees.

5. As a preparation for Dhanurāsana.

6. In helping with flat feet.

7. In improving elimination.

8. In decreasing lower back pain.

Download or view this post as a PDF Study Sheet

Programs are planned taking into consideration our free time, capabilities and……

“Please don’t have the idea that programs are fixed, that is, on Monday we do the headstand, on Tuesday we do the shoulderstand, etc. Programs are planned taking into consideration our free time, capabilities, and desires. We must always plan our practice as a unit, whether it is small or large. This means we start and finish in one session, at one particular time.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Four Page 68

When we teach the headstand we first teach preparation……


“When we teach the headstand, we first teach preparation, then we teach the counterpose Sarvāṅgāsana which in itself is a major pose that demands its own counterpose Bhujaṅgāsana. It is all very systematic.
Planning means to go gradually, to prepare, and then to compensate.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Four Pages 53-54

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How can we distinguish the actual state of Dhyāna from infatuation……


Question by TKV:
“How can we distinguish the actual state of Dhyāna
from infatuation with an object that pleases and fills the mind?”
TKV Desikachar Madras December 24th 1988

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Four Practice

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 Four Practice: Practice Planning – Pages 45-68

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