Question to TKV Desikachar:
“How is Āyurveda linked to Cikitsā or the therapeutic application of Yoga?”
TKV Desikachar Response:
“There is a lot of difference. As far as Yoga is concerned, we are concerned with the personality of the person, the mental aspect and the higher aspirations of the student.
That is why Yoga has a lot to offer. For the body Āyurveda is the solution. A good combination would be Āyurveda and Yoga.
My father used to do that. He would teach Āsana practice, or Prāṇāyāma or meditation and he would talk about diet and he would also give some Āyurveda medicine.
He was treating not only the body but the whole person with the help of this great combination.”
– Extract from an interview in the Journal Viniyoga Italia on Yoga and Well Being.
“Dhāraṇā is the contact.
Dhyāna is the communication.
Further, when we become so involved in
an object that our mind completely merges with it,
that is called Samādhi.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Eleven Page 155
“In Dhyāna, when we become involved with a particular thing and we begin to investigate it,
there is a link between myself and this thing; that is,
there is a perception and continuous communication between my mind and the object.
If there is this communication it is called Dhyāna”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Eleven Page 155
“Dhāraṇā is when we create a condition so that the mind,
going in a hundred different directions,
is directed to one point.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Eleven Page 154
“Pratyāhāra does not mean we look at an object and say.
‘We are not going to look at that object’.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Eleven Page 153
“In order to know where we are going to,
we must first know where we are coming from.”
Often in the Āsana aspect of Yoga practice, whether within our personal practice or a group class environment, the student is directed towards a goal.
This may be to do with a physical or structural foci such as the:
- Basic Performance of the Āsana
- Continuing Improvement of the Āsana
- Specific Intensification of the Āsana
- Introducing Stay into the Āsana
However the common factor within all of these options is that they are goal based.
This is fine as a general principle however as in any area of our lives, setting off towards any goal requires that we also have a clear idea of our starting point. For example, if I am wanting to travel to London I need to know whether I am starting from Birmingham or Brighton in order to set a direction and distance to navigate from. So it is with Āsana.
“The students in turn, learned and experienced the teachings in their own lives,
and thus became competent to teach.
In this way the lineage of teachers is established.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 1
“Kriyā Yoga emphasises that the Kleśa cannot be reduced instantly.
It is a gradual process.
Further Kleśa can only be reduced to the limit they become ineffective.
They cannot be destroyed.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 2
“These five Kleśa surround the heart of every individual.
They are related to the three Guṇa known as Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
As long as one chooses not to inquire into the true nature of one’s self and acts mechanically,
they will unknowingly contribute to the dominance of the Kleśa.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 3
“Has the original and ancient Yoga gene now become merely a non-genetic Yoga meme
and thus is only capable of being imitated rather than propagated?”
Noted amidst a flurry of competing exercise/mind and body workout adverts in my local village newsletter:
- Booty Barre fuses legendary fitness techniques from Pilates, Dance, Callisthenics and Yoga creating balance, posture and body awareness.
- Pilates Fusion Flow is a mix of Yoga, Pilates and Dance Movements which will strengthen the body and calm the mind.
So on top of Yoga being reduced down to postural exercise with added stress reduction and/or autogenic relaxation techniques, we now encounter a further dissipation of even that element in terms of it being a name or technique that can be bolted on or blended in to other exercise entertainment offerings.
Plus they are all competing for the one stop shop marketplace cakeshare in terms of offering a fitness building and stress reducing marriage.
Who needs just Yoga as just Yoga anymore?
“Once I am very clear about what is to be known – Svadharma,
then I can be clear about what is universal Dharma.”
Reflecting on this quote from TKV Desikachar posted on February 15th 2014 on the relationship between Svadharma and Dharma. I feel we first need to understand our personal place within our inner world, only from there can we understand our universal place within our outer world.
This is a concept that can appear to be contrary to the more usual expectations within the Yoga world whereby we are often given a set of universal standardised principles which we are told to constantly aspire to and strive towards realising.
”Progress must be seen as the distance from the starting point,
rather than the more usual reference of the distance from the finishing point.”
– TKV Desikachar England 1976
Design an Āsana Practice for around 45′ according to the planning principles taught by TKV Desikachar.
The Vinyāsa Krama or planning steps in the practice will be a total of 90 breaths based around:
- Standing Āsana 24 Breaths
- Lying Āsana 12 Breaths
- Inverted Āsana 12 Breaths
- Prone Backbend Āsana 12 Breaths
- Sitting Āsana 24 Breaths
- Closing Counterpose Āsana 6 Breaths
In this instance the practice will not include any sitting Mudrā, or seated Prāṇāyāma or Dhyāna.
In the structure link Āsana such as Samasthiti, Śavāsana, Vajrāsana, do not count in the breath tally.
- State the aim or purpose of the practice in terms of the Āsana goal or goals
- Indicate the primary or crown Āsana you are choosing to build the practice around
- Justify your choice of supporting or compensatory Āsana within the scheme
View or Download this post as a PDF
”Use Samavṛtti in Prāṇāyāma to reduce the power of Rajas and Tamas.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Five verse 27
“The taste in the water cannot be seen.
Only when we put the water in our mouths.
So it is with Bhakti.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Seven verse 8
“No medicine can reduce Duḥkha, only Kriyā Yoga.”
– TKV Desikachar commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 1
Question to T Krishnamacharya:
How necessary is Yoga in these modern times?
For the strengthening of the Aṅga,
Yoga Āsana practiced with long inhalation and exhalation is important.
To reduce the disturbances of the mind,
to gain mental strength and to increase longevity,
Prāṇāyāma is necessary.
“The teacher follows the student and will use many methods
to see the student grasps the teachings.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Eleven verse 1
Learning Support for Chanting the Durgā Gāyatrī
– From the Taittirīya Upaniṣad Chapter 4 verse 1 Sakha Gāyatrī
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 and Notations
”Meditation is the process of moving backwards.”
– TKV Desikachar commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verses 10-11 January 10th 1995