Śraddhā will give life to all the means that are in the Yoga Sūtra.

sraddha

Śraddhā will give life to all the means that are in the Yoga Sūtra.”
– TKV Desikachar on Śraddhā in the Yoga Sūtra

Śraddhā is the source of motivation

sraddha

Śraddhā is the source of motivation.”
– TKV Desikachar on Śraddhā in the Yoga Sūtra

When there is Śraddhā, the person is not disappointed on failing to get immediate benefits.

sraddha

“When there is Śraddhā, the person is not disappointed on failing to get immediate benefits.”
– TKV Desikachar commenting on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 20

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Two 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 Yoga Sūtra verse and word cross-references to support a a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.

Chapter Two Practice: The Principles of Practice – Pages 13-30

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Learning Support for Chanting Mantra Puṣpam – Yopāṃ Puṣpaṃ Veda

Learning Support for Chanting the Mantra Puṣpam – Yopāṃ Puṣpaṃ Veda
– From the Taittirīya Āraṇyaka 1.22
From my personal library of recordings from my studies with my teacher TKV Desikachar recorded by one of his senior chant students Sujaya Sridhar.
To Download or Listen
To Download the Chant Sheet with Romanised Saṃskṛta and Chant Notations

The View of Rāja Yoga, Practice of Haṭha Yoga and Tool of viniyoga of Yoga

Rāja Yoga – Yoga and Samādhi

Yoga as a Process – The View, Path and Goal towards Samādhi as in Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra

It is interesting these days that as a Yoga teacher the question I am more likely to be asked is ‘What kind of Yoga do you do?’ rather than ‘What is Yoga?’. It’s either that we think we already know what Yoga is or, more likely, that the view is becoming lost within the myriad of ways in which Yoga is offered.

These days there seems to be little apparent clarity around what Yoga is, or if there is a view, it is not very apparent.

This view may also be coloured by religious influences such as Hinduism, Sikhism or even bodywork paradigms such as physical culture, bodybuilding, gymnastics and even wrestling.

In the Yoga world of today in the West it seems as if many teachers are teaching without a clear ‘view’ of what Yoga is and how we might realize this view.

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The continuity of Dhyānam is compared to a flame which is free from wind.

svastikasana

“The continuity of Dhyānam is compared to a flame which is free from wind.”
– T Krishnamacharya’s commentary to Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 43

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 10 – Don’t get stuck on the sticky……

dhyanamDon’t get stuck on the sticky.
Learn Prāṇāyāma.
Learn Pratyāhāra.
Learn Nādānusandhāna.
Learn Adhyayanam.
Learn Dhyānam.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

If a teacher is unable to follow the unique conditions of each student……

“In a group class, if a teacher is unable to follow the unique conditions of each student, it would be unfortunate, since not only we would not understand Yoga, we might also be discouraged.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Two Page 15

What appears as Yoga to an outsider is mainly the physical aspects……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House“What appears as Yoga to an outsider is mainly the physical aspects of our practice.
They will not be aware of how we breathe, how we feel the breath,
and how we co-ordinate breathing with physical movement.
They tend to be interested only in our flexibility and suppleness.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Two Page 13

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Just because one person can bend more than another does not prove……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House“Just because one person can bend more than another
does not prove or disprove that the former is better in the practice of Yoga.
Such comparisons cannot be the basis of happiness based upon superiority,
or the opposite, unhappiness over inferiority.
Often this unhappiness is so severe that it makes us quit our pursuits.”

– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter One Page 7

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108 Personal Studies Pointers – 1 – Āsana offers a purpose more than just physical.

pascimatanasana

Āsana offers a purpose more than just physical.
Āsana offers a link of the mind to the physical.
Āsana introduces the concept of Dhyāna as a practice.
Āsana seeks to minimise the Saṃskāra or habitual patterns which dull the mind.

In doing so it seeks to increase our sensitivity to ourselves,
what is around us and its corresponding influences,
and to what sustains us.
From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

It is clear that no examination of the body will reveal Cakra.

2visuddhi

“It is clear that no examination of the body will reveal Cakra. The ancients knew this well and my father often repeated it. The system of Cakra is a subtle vision of the Yogi, in accordance with his own personal experience. For this reason there are different descriptions.

If we want to concern ourselves with the Cakra, we must accept them and recognise them in this way. This is why it is a a waste of time to argue about it, as people tend to do these days. Why does it matter if this or that Cakra is one or two centimetres higher or lower, if it is vertical or horizontal, blue or green.

On the contrary, it is a question of showing that we are concerned with particular inner images and to avoid this ridiculous situation of having useless arguments.”

– ‘Concerning the Cakra’ by TKV Desikachar

TKV Desikachar and Generations circa 1980

TKV_LM_1980_2
Picture I took whilst studying and living in Madras through 1980,
of TKV Desikachar then aged 42 at a concert at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.
To his left is his mother Namagiriamma, T Krishnamacharya’s wife and BKS Iyengar’s sister, aged 68.
To his right is his eldest son Bushan aged 10.
Beyond him is Raghu Ananthanarayanan, a senior teacher at that time at the KYM.

This guiding principle of seeing the person rather than the problem……

Yoga for Every Body (220px)

Yoga Practices for Therapeutic situations

As the basis of this book is Yoga for Every Body I would now like to focus on this aspect of Yoga. To help in understanding how to proceed we will firstly discuss some basic principles for Yoga as a form of therapeutic intervention. From here we will look at different examples of practices for different students each with a unique story accompanied by unhelpful symptoms arising from their particular life story.

It is tempting here to propose a technique and then state that this technique will help this particular situation or problem. However, my teacher taught me that Yoga is to be tailored to the needs and aspirations of each person rather than fitting the person to some ready made technique.

“It appears that modern Yoga Therapy is increasingly angled at looking at a persons problems,
rather than looking at a person with problems.”

Thus with this guiding principle of seeing the person rather than the problem or disease and the acceptance that we are not working just with a preordained technique we can continue.

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Downloadable ‘On Yoga and Health’ in the KYM with TKV Desikachar

Whilst living and studying in Chennai through 1980 Desikachar gave me a  video of an Indian TV programme about the work of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in the field of Yoga and Health. In 2012 I had the video cassette digitalised and offered it as a dropbox downloadable format for students personal collections.

From here it seemed to have made its way to YouTube as a view or embed only film, so am offering it here as a resource for all in both a viewable and embedable format, as well as an easily downloadable video.

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Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter One 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 Yoga Sūtra verse and word cross-references to support a a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.

Chapter One Theory: The Meaning and Purpose of Yoga – Pages 1-12

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But we need to know how to help the person……

we need to know how to help the person

Question from Paul Harvey

So to conclude from what you are saying, because somebody comes in with a particular problem and Yoga helps that person with a problem we cannot turn it around and say therefore that Yoga helps that problem in all situations.

 Response from TKV Desikachar

We help the person, because we help the person certain illnesses are reduced
but we need to know how to help the person.

Extract from Interview with TKV Desikachar by Paul Harvey in 2000
on ‘Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy’.

Clarity and confusion follow each other in cycles……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

“In the Yoga Sūtra it is said that in the beginning of one’s Sādhana,
clarity and confusion follow each other in cycles, like a wave form”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter One Page 9

Religiousness in Yoga with TKV Desikachar – Still the best book on Yoga

41mkLfBG3NL._SY445_

‘Religiousness in Yoga: Lectures on Theory and Practice’ by the University Press of America, a transcript of a one month Yoga Programme in Colgate University in 1976, published in 1980. Currently available through Amazon US or Amazon UK, it still remains for me to this day in all but layout, one of the finest modern expositions on Yoga.

Also, for me, far superior to the later redacted version and re-published in 1995 under the title ‘The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice’ by Inner Traditions, with many family photographs being added within a more ‘visual friendly’ presentation and a simplified less complex ‘reader format’. Personally described to me by Desikachar as ‘old wine in new bottles’.

I still do not know the answer until I meet the person……

I still do not know the answer until I meet the person

Question from Paul Harvey

If I may conclude with an awkward question. For somebody reading this interview they would perhaps understand from it that Yoga is not a straightforward means of for this problem this solution.

Yet there are many, many Yoga books already on the marketplace that offer precisely this, almost as a glossy self-help manual with quite specific links between postures and diseases or breathing techniques and diseases, between techniques and illnesses.

What have you to say to the reader with this respect, because there is this large body of, I cannot say evidence of, there is this large body of information that is there. What is the reader to do? With all this what can help?

Response from TKV Desikachar

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We make sure of that in our School that there is a strong internship……

desikachar_ph

Question from Paul Harvey

So we as students come to Yoga. How do teachers evaluate, if from what you are saying it could be that the same symptom. If we take stress for example, similar stress could produce five different responses. One person gets blood pressure, one person will get digestive problems, another person will have headaches, and another person will get sleep problems and another person it will effect their relationship.

How do you evaluate? What are the principles on which we can evaluate in order to decide what could be helpful for a problem when there are so many variables based on the same, even on the same symptoms such as in particular stress which can produce some of the results.

Response from TKV Desikachar

First I must have the training, anybody can have good training. I can work on the computer but I must have training. I know nothing I must have training. Training includes certain knowledge of the basics of Yoga, knowledge of the human system, personal pride so that you have some conviction of what you are talking about which means personal experience, internship where we see how the more experienced teacher is doing that work she is doing. We make sure of that in our School that there is a strong internship.

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That is why in Yoga the word for earning confidence is ‘Atha’……

atha

Question from Paul Harvey

Would you say that this response is true for the West, because I know in India the role of relationship, especially with the teacher, is much more pronounced, much more prominent, much more an accepted part of society, whereas in the West we tend to live in a more remote way and therefore using books, using videos is much more acceptable for us in terms of relationships.

Do you feel that your words, which have come out of another culture in our society, can have the same impact for us in the West where we are much more used to going to the bookshop, much more used to being able to do it ourselves.

Also, it is almost for us in the West to be seen as a failure if I have to go to somebody. Sometimes when people go into therapy they regard it as a failure that they have to go to a therapist and talk to someone because I am not able to do it myself.

Response from TKV Desikachar

You know Paul I am not just of India, I am also of South India and there people like you come to see me in India. Once there is some confidence I do not see much difference between East and West, it is a question earning the confidence.

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That is the difference between what we get out of a book and……

desikachar_ph

Question from Paul Harvey

In today’s society we see many books on positive attitude, positive thinking, so what is it about Yoga that is different from say going into a bookshop and picking up a book that says ’think positive’.

What are the qualities in Yoga that makes it unique and different than from say reading a book on positive action, trying to cultivate positive action because in some sense it could be less effort to just pick up a book.

Why Yoga and how does Yoga work in this area of positive attitude?

Response from TKV Desikachar

This eminent neuroscientist who had the by-pass who also was shocked by the by-pass he has said a lot of things, he was written a lot of books, he is a great scholar and what in fact they had was intellectual but when he went to a teacher, in this case me, when I spoke to him it had a stronger impact to the extent that it stayed, it stayed and became a part of his life.

That is the difference between what we get out of a book and when somebody is in front of you, you trust this person, you are ready to listen to this person and that person says something it has a power, it is coming from a human being. I am not rejecting books, books influence, books influence me but in this a person is more profound.

– Extract from Interview with TKV Desikachar by Paul Harvey in 2000
on ‘Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy’.

A positive approach has a positive effect on the immune system……

desikachar_ph

Question to TKV Desikachar:
So we can consider then that the effect of Yoga is not seen to be directly on the symptom as in modern medicine, it appears from what you are saying it is more to do with the relationship with that problem.

At what level is the human system changing? Because there must be some change in order for that change to reach to the level of the symptom or to my relationship with the symptom. At what level of the human system do you think these changes are occurring at?

Response from TKV Desikachar:
I have asked this question to experts because one of my jobs is also to write about these things. I have asked people how does it happen. Positive attitudes they say produce positive things in your immune system. There are a lot of technical terms for that. Negative attitudes produces negative immune system. Attitudes influence how the immune system functions.

Somebody who is asthmatic who is so miserable who thinks she cannot do anything, when she starts she can do something, she is not so unfit, she can raise the arms, she can breath a little more than she thinks she can. When she gets confidence in herself she becomes more positive about herself, even the medicine she takes has a more positive effect as we have seen sometimes when people do Yoga with this affection, with this love, the need for medicine is reduced.

So I think from the scientific point of view a positive approach has a positive effect on the immune system and the rest is a question of time.

– Extract from Interview with TKV Desikachar by Paul Harvey in 2000
on ‘Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy’.