He has very clear ideas on the Ṣat Kriyā and the Mudrā……

“He has very clear ideas on the Ṣat Kriyā and the Mudrā.
He believes that if a person does Āsana properly, with breathing,
and has certain restraints regarding food, there is no need for these Kriyā.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Rāja Yoga is just words without Sādhana……

IWYS_M1

“Now let us go to some of his views on matters of interest. He believes that the only Yoga text that has any clear presentation of Yoga is the Yoga Sūtra.

But, he says, Rāja Yoga is just words without Sādhana, just like I read the other day, that philosophy itself is more interesting than any result from it.

However, with SādhanaRāja Yoga is the same as Bhakti Yoga.”

TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Another contribution is how he utilises the Yoga Sūtra in the practice……

IWYS_M1

“Another contribution, I feel, is how he utilises the Yoga Sūtra in the practice.
I remember in the first Zinal, when I used the word Yoga Sūtra,
people thought I was talking about Greek civilisation or something.

My own reading of the Yoga Sūtra, without him,
would have made me think it just another of those useless books on India.
He linked each of the Sūtra to the practice.”

TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Cale Vāte Calaṃ Cittam – As is the Breath so is the Psyche…….

Cale Vāte Calaṃ Cittam –
As is the breath so is the psyche.

The concept according to my teacher, oft quoted by Krishnamacharya, appears in the second verse of Chapter Two in the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā. It follows the opening verse which introduces Prāṇāyāma albeit with caveats around certain prerequisites.

Firstly establish an Āsana as a firm seat, not as simple as it seems given the predilection for action Āsana contrasting a difficulty in remaining seated, upright and still for half an hour.

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Prāṇāyāma within Rāja Yoga and Haṭha Yoga

 

According to the Yoga Kuṇḍalinī Upaniṣad verse 1 – the activity of Citta or psyche has two causes, the movement of Vāsana or latent impressions and the movement of Vāyu or Prāṇa. If one of them is active so is the other, equally if one of them is influenced so is the other.

These are the primary foci within the principles and practices of Rāja Yoga around Citta and Haṭha Yoga around Prāṇa. In terms of primary practices common to both we have Prāṇāyāma.

However as with Āsana within either Rāja Yoga and Haṭha Yoga (a topic for a future post), there are different priorities in the viniyoga (application) of this common primary tool.

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The practice of Yoga is linked to the Nāḍī, or pulse……

jathara_parivrtti

“The practice of Yoga is linked to the Nāḍī, or pulse, so he always thinks that the pulse rate tells whether you have done a good practice or a bad practice.

He suggests that our life may be measured by the number of beats to the heart, and if somebody wants to live long and well, he has to reduce the rate of the heart beat.

This is, of course, a little different from what the aerobic people say, who think you should boost your heart rate to 130/140.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Mahā Mudrā, if practiced every day, prevents ill health……

maha_mudra

“Another thing that he made very simple, and practical, is the use of Mahāmudrā.
This is a very well known posture now,
but when you start looking at the texts, nothing is clear there.
He has incorporated the Āsana part, the breathing part, and the Mudrā part,
and, he feels, Mahāmudrā, if practiced every day, prevents ill health.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

He also added the idea of Bhāvana in the practice of Prāṇāyāma……

jalandhara_bandha

“Further, he also added long ago,
the idea of Bhāvana in the practice of Prāṇāyāma.
Long, long ago, he said, the breathing,
inhalation, exhalation and retentions
have some sort of relationship with the highest force,
Lord Nārāyaṇa.

Inhalation is like an inspiration from God himself.
Retention is some sort of meditation, because you are with Him.
Exhalation is some sort of movement towards God,
and retention after exhale is like a surrender to God.”

TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The concept of Bhāva and Abhāva in Yoga Practice……

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

Amongst the many concepts taught to me by my teacher, to help with understanding and thus working more skilfully with the student, was the notion of Bhāva and Abhāva.

The teaching within this important concept is that when a student comes wanting to learn Yoga, are they interested in learning Yoga to move towards the deeper teachings of Yoga (Bhāva), or wanting to learn Yoga in order to move away from something they find unhelpful or undesirable in their life (Abhāva).

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One of the most complicated aspects of Yoga practice is the Bandha……

nadi_shodana

“One of the most complicated aspects of Yoga practice is the Bandha. He has been able to link correctly various ideas on the Bandha that appear in different texts, and is able to say that certain Bandha can only be done in certain parts of the Prāṇāyāma.
I may also say, that nobody is clearer about the Mūla Bandha than Krishnamacharya.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Prāṇāyāma as Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā or Laṅghana Kriyā……

Prāṇāyāma

“Because of his knowledge of Āyurveda,
he conceived Prāṇāyāma also as Bṛṃhaṇa Kriyā or Laṅghana Kriyā.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

One of the greatest contributions of Krishnamacharya to Prāṇāyāma……

jalandhara_bandha

“And, in the Prāṇāyāma also, the different types, like Vaikharī,
the different Vṛtti, the different Krama, he put them all into practice.
One of the greatest contributions, I would say, of Krishnamacharya to Prāṇāyāma,
is the use of Bāhya Kumbhaka, and the importance of Recaka, or exhalation.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The beginning of Prāṇāyāma is in Āsana……

janu_sirsasana

“Because of the different uses of breathing,
he strongly believes that the beginning of Prāṇāyāma is in Āsana.
Āsana, and Āsana alone,
with proper breathing techniques,
leads you to the idea of Prāṇāyāma.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Āsana is Svādhyāya, making you understand something about yourself

svadhyaya_2

“He also presented the idea that Āsana is Svādhyāya,
making you understand something about yourself.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The idea of Vinyāsa, begin from where you are, go to a point, and……

 

Finally he conceived the idea of what is called Vinyāsa. In fact, in the beginning of his teaching, around 1932, he evolved a list of postures leading towards a particular posture, and coming away from it.

This is different Āsana linked to one another in a scheme as though one posture leads to the following one. And this scheme was very important, especially for children, who find it very interesting.

He continues to have the same faith in this, although you cannot always follow these schemes for adults or people who are sick.

Still the idea of Vinyāsa, begin from where you are, go to a point, and come back to where you have to be, remains valid.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

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Pratikriyāsana, the idea of compensation and counterpose……

purvatasana

Krishnamacharya in Pūrvatāsana

“He has also given to us the concept of Pratikriyāsana,
the idea of compensation and counterpose.
Since all actions have some reactions,
we have to compensate for the reactions.”
TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

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Breathing is an essential tool in the practice of Āsana……

baddha_konasana

Most importantly, he also has gone to the final limits of the use of the breathing in postures. He found, and he insists, that breathing is an essential tool in the practice of Āsana.

Varying the way to breathe, varying the length of the breath, using different combinations of postures and breath, he has proven that it is possible to modify postures to meet the requirements of individuals.

For him, breathing is like the steering wheel of a car.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

The person who taught me how to vary postures……

The person who taught me how to vary postures, to bend the legs, to turn the neck, all the simple and complicated variations, as necessary, is Krishnamacharya. It is important to vary each posture according to the individuals requirements.

Further, he also introduced the use of other aids or supports, so that the person gets the benefit of a posture through other means when he is not able to do the posture itself. This can involve sitting on a chair, using a roll, using supports, etc., the use of other means to help a person achieve certain results.”

– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

Children’s Āsana Practice Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram Jan 1981

Whilst living in Madras between 1979 and 1981 studying with Desikachar my daughter Sīta went to the Krishnamurti school and attended kids Āsana classes at the KYM.

Here is one practice from a class at the KYM from January 1981, like other classes in those days they were small groups (in both senses here) and each student got a hand written copy of the days practice, to which they added their name. More examples will be posted.

Sita_Class_Jan-1981_KYM

Krishnamacharya practices Yoga Āsana and Prāṇāyāma every day……

sirsasana

Let us look at his usual day. Whether you believe it or not, this old man gets up at one o’clock in the morning. Anybody is welcome to wait on the verandah and see that he gets up at one o’clock in the morning. And one o’clock in the morning is something for us, I mean it is like a terror to get up at one o’clock, and he is 93. He prepares his own tea and then he practices.

I did not believe that, until I saw, because he is staying with me, that he practices Yoga Āsana and Prāṇāyāma every day. In fact more than once every day, including headstand and Padmāsana, I am mentioning Padmāsana you see, because we are all sitting on chairs.

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