The situation today is that more Indians come to Yoga for clinical conditions than for any enlightenment.

desikachar_ph

Question from Paul Harvey

This link with Science and Yoga appears to have given way to more of a link between Yoga and medical conditions, what we call clinical conditions, pathology, to what was originally as you say the power of mind over body. It has become now much more of an interest in problems of the body and problems of the mind.

Could you talk more about how you saw this link developing, because on the one hand we have these as you say feats, these tremendous feats, you gave examples of these feats and now we have this interest in Yoga for clinical conditions. Do you have some understanding of how this has evolved into looking at Yoga in this way?

Response from TKV Desikachar

When these scientists, also medical scientists, became interested in Yoga they began to read books on it. Some of these books were translated into English at the beginning of the previous century. Some great English scholars translated some of the ancient Yoga books into English. Some of these books i.e. The Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā talk about the effect of Yoga practise on illness. They talk about certain postures, Āsana, curing certain diseases. This is not the only book; quite a few books talk about the curative aspects of Yoga.

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So this is the initial relationship between Science and Yoga……

Question from Paul Harvey

It is a very broad area that we want to look at around science and medical conditions, as there is a tremendous interest in Yoga as a therapy in the world today.

I would like to start by maybe getting a historical perspective on Yoga and asking questions on your understanding of it. Where do you feel that this link started between Yoga and Science? Because Yoga originally was something that was not associated with science.

It was something that was done for personal development, spiritual development, or even perhaps physical development and somewhere we seem to have made this link with science, which was predominantly something that was growing up in the West whilst at the same time Yoga was growing or has grown in India, with less connection directly with science.

So I am wondering if you could help develop this question about the link between Yoga and Science.

Response from TKV Desikachar

If we look at the history of India, for centuries and centuries for different reasons India has always fascinated the West. More people have travelled to India from the West than from other parts because the Chinese could not come because of the mountains. There has been silk; there has been a lot of mix about India’s great history; also many conquerors came.

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One of the important rules is that……

One of the important rules is that we should know what not to teach

“One of the important rules is that we should know what not to teach.”
– Extract from Interview with TKV Desikachar by Paul Harvey in 2000
on ‘Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy’.
n.b. This ‘rule’ was one of the primary foci for my first years 121 lessons
on Pathology and Yoga Cikitsa with Desikachar when living in Madras through 1980.

When somebody comes to us they are not coming with one problem……

they are not coming with one problem

Question by Paul Harvey

So from what you are saying it appears that it is not really possible to evaluate Yoga in the terms that would satisfy Western science, in terms of having several study groups, one group practising Yoga, one group practising some placebo, one group not practising; measuring the different groups and trying to determine the effect over the same period of time.

Response from TKV Desikachar

It is a challenge. Now I am not saying that people have not done this type of study, I always want to call it study, I do not call it a conclusion, study is being done by scientific people interested in Yoga, studies are being done but there is a tendency to make a hasty conclusion. There are many Institutions in India that say we have done these studies

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We do not have a specific solution for a specific problem……

Question by Paul Harvey

“And yet in many places around the world there are attempts being made to link Yoga to specific diseases, can you talk more about this and what is happening in your own Institute in this area.”

Response from TKV Desikachar

“Even if you take a particular illness, which is known as an illness according to medical parlance like asthma or blood pressure, what we offer to these people is not the same thing. We do not have a specific solution for a specific problem.

For example, somebody may have blood pressure because of some family history, somebody else may have blood pressure because of some stress, somebody may have blood pressure because of anxiety, somebody may have blood pressure because of that period in their life, somebody may have blood pressure, high blood pressure suddenly because of a broken relationship.

We need to take into account all these factors to exactly form a programme of Yoga. It could be relaxation for somebody, it could be some breathing exercises for somebody, it could be some Āsana for somebody, it could be some meditation for somebody, and for somebody it could be just talking to the person, just to establish a friendly relationship and console them.

The condition is the same and these are all Yoga. As far as the doctor is concerned it is blood pressure. For somebody else maybe none of these things work but maybe we have to talk to them about their diet or their lifestyle.”

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

The spirit of viniyoga is starting from where one finds oneself……

viniyoga

“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

Collection of private recordings of Veda and Yoga Chanting……

Desikachar and Paul Chanting in 1999

Currently I have been classifying my personal collection of private recordings of Veda and Yoga Chanting made over nearly 20 years with TKV Desikachar or his senior chant student Sujaya Sridhar.

They were previously all archived on some twenty ageing and fragile cassette tapes and, with many thanks to the stalwart and painstaking sound engineer work by Christina, are now digitalised and individually itemised.

Now they have been both digitalised and cut into individual tracks I am astonished to see that there are over 200 recordings from the Veda and associated Indian and Yoga  texts, along with some recordings around the Yoga Sūtra. The Veda and associated Indian textual resources draw from the textual sources listed below:

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Prāṇāyāma is possible only after a reasonable mastery of Āsana.

seated_pranayama_2

“It (Prāṇāyāma) is possible only after a reasonable mastery of Āsana Practice.”
– Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 49 by TKV Desikachar 1987

So how can we establish a link between Nāḍī and Cakra?

Unknown

“So how can we establish a link between what has been said about Nāḍī and Cakra
and the practice of Yoga?
What role does Yoga practice have here?”
– ‘Concerning the Cakra’ by TKV Desikachar

Yoga Practice and Study was seen by T Krishnamacharya as……

Yoga Practice and Study was seen by T Krishnamacharya as three interwoven threads:

– Firstly Śakti Krama or Yoga Practice as a means of Power

Yoga can be used to link the body and the mind. It is the ability to achieve something through intense physical and mental effort or Śakti Krama through either Śikṣaṇa Krama (Practice with No Compromise) or Sṛṣṭi Krama (Practice for Children).

For instance, to cultivate and maintain a state of concentration or to develop the body and the breath through refinement of various postures and breathing techniques. The consequences are power over and within the body and the mind.

As such, Yoga can be seen as an art and offers a fascinating and helpful pursuit for many people looking to develop these qualities.

“What good is the sword of wisdom (jñāna asinā)
to cut away the chains of illusion (avidyā),
if the holder is too weak to bear it.”
– T Krishnamacharya

Traditionally this aspect is only a means towards a more important goal.

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Concerning the number of Cakra, we also find different ideas……

ajna

Concerning the number of Cakra, we also find different ideas. The most frequent is that which considers there to be seven. However in his book ‘Yoga Makaranda‘ my father talks of ten. There are other ideas as to the number elsewhere, the form in which they are visualised varies according to tradition.

Many Yogins visualise them as circles or wheels. According to other sources, they are described as lotuses or Padma with varying number of petals. Compared to the idea of a wheel, which evokes more the idea of movement and rotation, the lotus evokes more the idea of creation.

If we analyse all this seriously, we see, in the respect of the Cakra, that the sages, during meditation, did not always have the same experiences and visions. There is no need to discuss this, because it depends on the personal experience of each seer. However, it is important to be aware of these differences and the consequences that they can have for the way in which we imagine the experience.”

– ‘Concerning the Cakra’ by TKV Desikachar

Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy

Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy

Interview with TKV Desikachar

By Paul Harvey in 2000 whilst studying with TKV Desikachar in Chennai

Paul thanks Desikachar for agreeing to give time for this interview and Desikachar replies with thanks.

Question from Paul Harvey

It is a very broad area that we want to look at around science and medical conditions, as there is a tremendous interest in Yoga as a therapy in the world today.

I would like to start by maybe getting a historical perspective on Yoga and asking questions on your understanding of it. Where do you feel that this link started between Yoga and Science? Because Yoga originally was something that was not associated with science.

It was something that was done for personal development, spiritual development, or even perhaps physical development and somewhere we seem to have made this link with science, which was predominantly something that was growing up in the West whilst at the same time Yoga was growing or has grown in India, with less connection directly with science.

So I am wondering if you could help develop this question about the link between Yoga and Science.

Response from TKV Desikachar

If we look at the history of India, for centuries and centuries for different reasons India has always fascinated the West. More people have travelled to India from the West than from other parts because the Chinese could not come because of the mountains. There has been silk; there has been a lot of mix about India’s great history; also many conquerors came.

Through these travels people from the West, which is the source of modern science, heard about many things that are happening. Among the things that they came to know about were some of what we call the ‘feats’ of Yogis. In fact long, long ago Yoga was linked only to all these feats, levitation, flying, etc.

In the 18th and 19th Century, in the beginning of the 19th Century, there was an observation made during the time of the great King, Ranjit Singh in the Punjab, which fascinated some of the travellers of the West. There was a Yogi who was kept in a box and buried underground. He was there for a number of days and he did not die.

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Other causes (of disease), according to Krishnamacharya……

sraddha

“Other causes (of disease), according to Krishnamacharya.
You either have no faith in God or don’t control your Rāga.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

A Mantra is only a Mantra if it is special and secret……

mantra

“A Mantra is only a Mantra if it is special and secret,
and has been personally bestowed by someone
with whom you have a special relationship.
It must be pronounced properly”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

Through Yoga reverse Tamas……

sirsasanamaha_mudra_UB
“Through Yoga reverse Tamas – Śīrṣāsana, Uḍḍīyāna Bandha.
Both practices carry risks.
Breathing can be chosen for the less adept.”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

Viveka is to be able to understand and appreciate opposites.

viveka

Viveka is to be able to understand and appreciate opposites.”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

Sthira Sukha should both be present in Āsana……

sthirasukha

Sthira Sukha (Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 46) should both be present in Āsana.
It also implies one should be able to choose the breath ratio.”
– TKV Desikachar England 1980

Learning Support for Chanting Āyātu Varadā

mantra

Learning Support for Chanting Āyātu Varadā
– Taittirīya Upaniṣad Chapter 4 verse 41 – Āyātu Varadā
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 Notations

Sāṃkhya and its aspects, what are the characteristics?

samkhya

Sāṃkhya and its aspects, what are the characteristics?
1. What is seen – The effect
2. What is not seen – The cause
3. What sees – Something other than cause and effect
The relationship between these three is discussed in Sāṃkhya philosophy.”
– TKV Desikachar India 1979 on Sāṃkhya and Yoga

108 Sūtra Study Pointers – 8 – Meditation is about the quality of the effort rather than……

abhyasa

Meditation is about the quality of the effort,
rather than the fruit of the time.
– Observation on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 13

Link to Series: 108 Sutra Study Pointers

Until a person has reached a state of Nirvicārā Samādhi life……

samadhi

“Until a person has reached a state of Nirvicārā Samādhi life continues to be a mystery.
Whatever he may achieve or know of the world or even of the cosmos, we are ignorant of our own self.
How little we can predict about ourselves, our future, our moods.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 47

There are two types of Yogis…….

sraddha

“There are two types of Yogis.
The first, Bubhukṣu, are Yogis who seek material benefits through Samādhi.
This Sūtra speaks about the second type, the Mumukṣu,
who do not seek material benefits.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 20

This Sūtra presents the quality of persons who accept nothing less…..

sraddha

“This Sūtra presents the quality of persons who accept nothing less than complete freedom from all sorts of bondage.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 20

Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra looks at the world as real……

sat

“Another aspect of Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra
is that he looks at the world as real.
It is Sat. It is not Asat.
It is not a mirage.
Even the mirage is real.”
– T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 42

They will, at the proper time of day and in an appropriate place….

garuda

“They will, at the proper time of day and in an appropriate place,
sit and watch the idol until they can completely recall the image without having to look at it.
This ability will help the person overcome the distractions from different sources
when they sit for contemplation on Īśvara.”
T Krishnamacharya commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 42