Religiousness in Yoga: Study Guide Compilation Chapters One to Nine

Religiousness in Yoga

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

TKV Desikachar

Lectures on Theory and Practice

Chapter by Chapter Study guide

‘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 compilation of the chapter by chapter study guides 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.

This compilation Guide currently contains Chapters One to Nine. Future updates will be posted as the remaining Nine Chapters Study Guides are added.

View or Download the Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide Compilation of Chapters One to Nine

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Pratikriyā Bhāvana for Vīrabhadrāsana


Vīrabhadrāsana or warrior pose is an Āsana where the postural focus at the level of Annamaya or the structural aspect, involves the skill of holding opposite points of attention at the same time.

For example, if we consider the feet, the front foot focus is on the rooting of toes, whereas the focus on the rear foot is on the rooting of the heel.

Thus here we have an example of a Pratikriyā Bhāvana, or opposite action focus, where we need to hold our attention with a contrasting dynamic in two places simultaneously. In this example on both the front or rear foot at the same time, but with different points of attention.

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108 Chanting Practice Pointers – 4 – Thus the meditator moving upward by the Mantra obtains Svatantra

om
As the spider moving upward by the thread obtains free space,
thus assuredly the meditator,
moving upward by the Mantra obtains Svatantra (independence).
– Maitrī Upaniṣad Chapter Six verse 22

Link to Series: 108 Chanting Practice Pointers

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Nine 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 9 Practice: The Practical Aspects of Prāṇāyāma – Pages 117-131

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The best time to introduce Mantra is while holding the breath.

seated_pranayama_2

Holding the breath gives us a moment when there is nothing happening.
A moment when it should be possible to count.
In fact, the best time to introduce Mantra is not during
inhalation or exhalation but while holding the breath.
It is said that a moment of holding the breath is a moment of Dhyāna.
Some Mantra are very long.
Since we do not have to concentrate on breathing while holding the breath,
these longer Mantra can be recited correctly.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 128-129

Mental attitude is very important in the practice of Prāṇāyāma.

seated_pranayama_2

“Mental attitude is very important in the practice of Prāṇāyāma.
In Prāṇāyāma we have no body movement to see; it involves mostly what we feel.
The only thing dynamic in Prāṇāyāma is the breath.
Yet, we must have the same attitude of attention in Prāṇāyāma, as in Āsana.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 125

We normally practice Ujjāyī for a long time before introducing Nāḍī Śodhana Prāṇāyāma.

seated_pranayama_2

“We normally practice Ujjāyī for a long time before introducing Nāḍī Śodhana Prāṇāyāma.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 121

108 Study Path Pointers – 10 – Sāṃkhya – Redefining the Marriage of Wisdom and Action……

samkhya

Sāṃkhya – Redefining the Marriage of Wisdom and Action

Until the Dancer (Citta) deeply realises that
the Observer (Cit) of the Spectacle (Viṣaya)
is not interested in the drives (Avidyā) which animate the dance,
the Dancer continues to Dance.
Sāṃkhya Kārikā of Īśvara Kṛṣṇa Āryā Fifty Nine

Link to Series: 108 Study Path Pointers

In Prāṇāyāma we accept the posture and forget the body……

seated_pranayama_2

“While we use the breath for the body in Āsana,
in Prāṇāyāma we accept the posture and forget the body.
The only requirement is that we must be comfortable and keep our backs straight.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Nine Page 117

Dhyāna is taught as a personalised process unique to each student……

dhyanam

Question:
Would appreciate any clues as to the Dhyāna practice as you were taught.”

Response:
Reflecting on this question reminds me of a video of a lecture by S Sridharan from the KYM recently reposted on August 5th 2015 on the Krishnamacharya Yoga Facebook page. I feel that the extract below sums up well the essence of Krishnamacharya’s teaching, especially when involving the Antar Aṅga:

“But when it came to personal practice we would have to meet our teacher in his room separately…..
What my teacher has imparted to me as my Yoga practice. I cannot share it with any of you.
Not for the reason that I don’t want to share it, it will have no value for any of you…..

When we teach something it should be very personal from the point of view of Yoga practice.
Yoga is a topic that just cannot be taught over a platform.”

He also discussed earlier in the video the notion that the only group activity was the study of texts. When it came to personal practice this was within a private room and was a personal matter between the teacher and the student.

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Bhakti is the mark of a certain unique relationship……

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

“Serious practitioners of Yoga from Vedic times to the present day
emphasise that a clear mind is a prerequisite for Bhakti and
that it is only through Bhakti that the true nature of the Jīva is revealed.
Bhakti, singe minded and abiding, is the mark of a certain unique relationship
characterised by unshakeable faith, absolute trust and boundless devotion.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 30

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The teaching of Krishnamacharya around Āsana included an in-depth appreciation of the Lakṣaṇa……


My extensive study of Āsana with TKV Desikachar was shaped around forming a deep appreciation of specific core principles that underpin the planning and practice of Āsana and their application to the individual student’s constitution, psychology and need.

Amongst these dozen or so core principles, the first group I studied when looking at any Āsana in depth, were the concepts of Nāma, Rūpa and Lakṣaṇa, or the name, the form and the characteristics of that particular Āsana.

Obviously the Nāma is a useful tag point for identification and the Rūpa is vital as a reference point for the Sat Viniyoga or appropriate application of the Āsana within overall considerations around direction and outcome such as the Śikṣaṇa Krama, Rakṣaṇa Krama or Cikitsā Krama application of the forms used.

However I do feel these days that our understanding in Āsana practice is dominated by the Nāma and the Rūpa with little emphasis on the Lakṣaṇa or inherent characteristics of the Āsana and how understanding this aspect can have a profound effect on the approach, application and outcome of the overall or accumulative impact of the Āsana within the student’s practice.

The teaching of Krishnamacharya around Āsana included an in-depth appreciation of the Lakṣaṇa, especially around the thirty or so primary Āsana such as Jaṭhara Parivṛtti, Bhujaṅgāsana or Januśīrṣāsana.

Prārthanā Ślokam – Gurubhyastad Verse for all Teachers with Translation

Śrī Nāthamuni

The notion of Paraṃparā or ongoing transmission from teachers to students is typified by Śrī Nāthamuni, Yogi par excellence from the 9th Century. He was a forebear of Śrī Kṛṣṇamācarya and grandfather of Śrī Yāmunācārya, himself the author of the Stotra Ratnam and the Gītārtha Saṃgraha

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What we are seeking is linked to the discovery of faith within us.

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“What we are seeking is linked to the discovery of faith within us.”
– TKV Desikachar from unedited manuscript for ‘What are We Seeking?’

Śrī Kṛṣṇavāgīśa – A Prayer to Śrī Krishnamacharya with Translation

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

śrī kṛṣṇavāgīśa yatīśvarābhyām saṃprāpta cakrāṅkaṇa bhyāṣyasāram |

śrī nūtnaraṅgendra yatau samarpitsvam śrī kṛṣṇamāryaṃ guruvaryamīḍe |

virodhe kārtike māse śatatārā kṛtodayam yogācāryaṃ kṛṣṇamāryaṃ guruvaryamahaṃ bhaje ||

“I offer praise to one who is disciplined, Guru Śrī Krishnamacharya, whose great teachers were
Śrī Kṛṣṇa who taught him mantra and initiated him into Cakrāṅkaṇam
(the ritual of prostrating and receiving Śaṅkha, right side and Cakra left side, on the shoulders).
Śrī Vāgīśa who taught him the essence of Śrī Bhyāṣyam (Vedānta) and
Śrī Raṅganātha (Raṅgendra) who initiated him into Bharaṇyāsam
(to place at the Lord’s feet or how to surrender to God).
Born in the year Virodha, during the month of Kṛtika, under the star Śatatāra,
this teacher of Yoga, Guru Krishnamacharya I salute.”

The convention is to speak about the guruparamparā and not describe or or speak about the teacher’s contributions.

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The state of Dhyānam is possible in a seated posture……

dhyanam

“The state of Dhyānam is possible in a seated posture.
If a person lies down, it may induce sleep.
If a person walks and moves about, he may be distracted by the objects around him.
This posture must be in a place where the mind will not be distracted.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Dhyānam

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 17 – One of the key concepts in the viniyoga of Āsana……

One of the key concepts in the viniyoga of Āsana
is how to facilitate movement in the spine
rather than just movement of the spine.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

In order to experience Dhyānam, the sixth step, Dhāraṇā……

dhyanam

Dhyānam is the seventh Aṅga of the Aṣṭāṅga Yoga.
In order to experience Dhyānam, the sixth step,
Dhāraṇā, should have been practiced thoroughly.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Dhyānam

A person who is physically fit and who has been cleansed by the Agni of Dhyānam……

dhyanam

“A person who is physically fit and who has been cleansed by the Agni of Dhyānam
has no fear of sickness, disease, age or death.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Dhyānam

Mano Bandha is Dhyānam……

dhyanam

“Just as Mūla BandhaUḍḍīyāna BandhaJālandhara Bandha and Jivha Bandha are very important for Prāṇāyāma, Mano Bandha is very important for Dhyānam.
Mano Bandha is Dhyānam.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Dhyānam