Yoga has been adapted to life in the modern day.

  • Yoga has been adapted to life in the modern day.
  • Any posture far removed from the normal posture is a problem and therefore risky if there is any problem with the body.
  • Inverted postures present problems because of the tension that people carry in their necks.
  • Postures that create tension should be avoided.
  • Moving into the posture after the exhale is an adaptation.
  • Krishnamacharya designed aids to help people achieve postures.
  • Slow movement has a different action on the muscles, it is harder work.
  • The role of Āsana, its purpose and goal must be respected.
  • Opposite postures are a handicap but can help us to appreciate something different in a posture.
  • We must feel ourselves and what is happening in a posture.

From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Śikṣaṇa Krama – do something perfectly or correctly……

asana_12

Śikṣaṇa Krama – do something perfectly or correctly.
Anything is taught to achieve perfection in the practice of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma.
In other words teaching children and healthy people where you can take risks with no problems.
Not a valid approach for groups.
We need to use intelligence and Viveka,
not follow the idea of no pain, no gain to become painless,
or to get to a point without suffering.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

True liberty is what relationship you have with your habits.

TK6

“True liberty is what relationship you have with your habits.”
– T Krishnamacharya

Prāṇāyāma – Where to Start? Part Four

Prāṇāyāma – Where to Start? Part Four

In the previous three articles in this series we discussed Krishnamacharya’s teachings around his understanding of and approach to the viniyoga or application of Prāṇāyāma.

Firstly in terms of Āsana being the starting point for exploring the breath in order to set a starting point and as a guideline for the direction of our Prāṇāyāma.

Secondly the importance of considerations around Prāṇāyāma as a process in terms of being in it for the long haul, rather than only looking at practices which offer immediate fruits after a single practice or class.

The second post also commented on the need to leave more than enough time during our Yoga practice for Prāṇāyāma, rather than it being the token twiddle at the end of the practice.

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108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 12 – The witness cannot be witnessed.

The witness cannot be witnessed.
– Reflections on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Four verse 18

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

Saṃśaya (Doubt) is the Fire that consumes Wisdom.

srimad_bhagavad_gita

Saṃśaya (Doubt) is the Fire that consumes Wisdom.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Four verse 40

When dominated by Kleśa, Citta is not a friend.

srimad_bhagavad_gita

“When dominated by Kleśa,
Citta is not a friend.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Six verse 6

Fasting is not eating between meals.

tapas_devanagari_2015a

“Fasting is not eating between meals.”
– T Krishnamacharya

Tapas is Proper Diet, Mantra Chanting and Self-Inquiry.

srimad_bhagavad_gita

Tapas is Proper Diet, Mantra Chanting and Self-Inquiry.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Six verse 46

(Refer also to Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 1 with its Kriyā Yoga and additional commentaries from Krishnamacharya and Desikachar)

The practice of Āsana without breathing and without remembering Ananta has no value.

bhujangasana

“The practice of Āsana without breathing and without remembering Ananta has no value.”
– Śrī T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 47

If we recognise a person as they are now……

srimad_bhagavad_gita

“If we recognise a person as they are now,
not as they were yesterday,
we realise that what we see is not eternal.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Thirteen verse 28

How long should a person stay in an Āsana?

maha_mudra

Question to T Krishnamacharya –

Q: How long should a person stay in an Āsana every day?
A: A person must stay in any one Āsana for at least fifteen minutes.
From the book ‘Śrī Krishnamacharya – The Pūrnācārya’, published by the KYM in 1997

Examples of Vinyāsa Krama for Sitting Āsana within a Single Practice.


As Desikachar actually had very few long term students, many peoples views around such as his Āsana teaching, or views on Yoga in general are formed from experiencing him teaching within a group situation, either at a seminar, lecture or retreat.

Actually he really was not very comfortable teaching mixed public groups in these situations, and in relation to teaching practices, what practices he could present had to be very generalised and therefore contrary to the principles he taught according to what he learnt from his father.

On the other hand as a private student the Āsana practices I was exposed to had a precision and intensity offering a breadth and depth impossible to emulate within a group class environment.

As an example I am offering an extract from the seated section of a practice he taught me. The Āsana in this section are Daṇḍāsana, Ardha Matsyendrāsana, Mahā Mudrā, Baddha Koṇāsana, Paścimatānāsana and as a Pratikriyāsana, Dvipāda Pīṭham.

There were two options for practice, a lighter application or a more intense one. In the lighter version the balance of repeat or stay was as follows:

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Impurities in the heart cause mental agitation……

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Impurities in the heart cause mental agitation
– anxiety, lack of direction, anger.
This agitation, in turn, affects the body,
sometimes making it impossible to sit still even for a few minutes.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 31

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Sukha and Duḥkha cannot be there at the same time.

srimad_bhagavad_gita

Sukha and Duḥkha cannot be there at the same time.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter Thirteen verse 21

(Refer also to Yoga Sūtra Chapter Three verse 9 for similar idea regarding the oscillation between being either in a state of being present or one of being distracted.)

Even in the case of Śikṣaṇa Krama the ancient teachers had steps…….

parampara

“Even in the case of Śikṣaṇa Krama the ancient teachers had steps in the teaching:

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Follow Truth with Faith.

srimad_bhagavad_gita

“Follow Truth with Faith.”
– TKV Desikachar commentary on Bhagavad Gītā Chapter 12 verse 20

The relationship between the breath in Āsana with that in Prāṇāyāma.


In the beginning of our journey into the arts of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma, the outcome of our exploration into the breath in Āsana sets a direction and parameters for the beginnings of our exploration into how and where to develop the breath in Prāṇāyāma.

As we establish, progress and refine our practice of Prāṇāyāma, the strengths and issues that arise from our practice of Prāṇāyāma invite a subtler investigation of the breath in Āsana.

This investigation with its reciprocal and yet increasingly subtle direction offers a more precise guidance for where and how we revisit and engage with our work with the breath in Āsana.

Over time we come to both realise and experience the uniqueness of the breath within each of these two arts and the increasingly subtle development of the qualities of the relationship between the breath in Āsana, with that of the breath in Prāṇāyāma.

Āsana and Prāṇāyāma can create a condition where the mind is fit for Dhāraṇā.

Āsana and Prāṇāyāma can, according to the Yoga Sūtra,
create a condition where the mind is fit for Dhāraṇā.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Eleven Page 156

Prāṇāyāma – Where to Start? Part Three

Prāṇāyāma – Where to Start? Part Three

In the previous two articles we discussed Krishnamacharya’s teachings around his understanding of and approach to the viniyoga or application of Prāṇāyāma.

Firstly in terms of Āsana being the starting point for exploring the breath in order to set a starting point and as a guideline for the direction of our Prāṇāyāma.

Secondly the importance of considerations around Prāṇāyāma as a process in terms of being in it for the long haul rather than only looking at practices which offer immediate fruits after a single practice or class.

The second post also commented on the need to leave more than enough time during our Yoga practice for Prāṇāyāma, rather than it being the token twiddle at the end of the practice.

I would like to use this post to consider how we need to add a structure within which we can build content. Without a structure our practice in this area can easily become random in terms of length or haphazard in terms of consistency.

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