I was asked in 2011 to provide ‘expert quotes’ in response to three questions for a media article by a freelance journalist on a Yoga related topic. These were my reflections that I am reposting unedited, especially given the surge in these past 7 years in what has become labelled as ‘Yoga Therapy’:
Q1. What are some examples of illnesses or ailments that can improve or be cured with the use of Yoga?
“It is not possible to give examples of illnesses or ailments that can be improved as it all depends on the matrix of the person who may also have certain combinations of problems. A student with cancer may improve or a student with a history of colds may experience little change.
The viewpoint of Yoga is to look at people as individuals and work from there rather than the more usual view of making lists of problems with flash card like answers to a specific problem. e.g. Sciatica, High Blood Pressure, Insomnia, Osteo-arthrosis, Chrohn’s Disease, etc.
“I am going to explain you something else about the aphorisms, about their translation.
Many books or courses have been written about the treatise of Patañjali.
Some of them analyse the words one by one, trying to translate them separately,
dissecting the text. This way of proceeding may be interesting,
but unfortunately it can also confuse instead of helping understanding of the text.
Because literally translating the aphorisms is nothing but a series of words glued together,
in sentences that very often lack in consistency.
The ancient way of exposing was not translating them into a new language;
it was mainly making the student grasp the sense of the aphorism.
In this case, the Sanskrit text is just a reminder,
a mnemonic that the teacher is not going to translate textually.
They are going to use it to develop the idea or the sense of the aphorism.
They will explain these notions, sometimes even without referring to any word of the aphorism.
What is important is to give a teaching that is adapted to the level of understanding of the student.”
– TKV Desikachar on Learning from the Yoga Sūtra
– Extract from Viniyoga Europe No 1
‘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 15 Theory: The Antarāyāḥ, Obstacles to Progress, Techniques to Overcome them Pages 207-219
Exploring Chapter Three of the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali
The Art of Sūtra Psychology Course Module Four
Yoga Sūtra Chapter Three – Vibhūti Pādaḥ
September 12/13th and December 5/6th 2020
This Art of Sūtra Psychology Modular Course is limited to a maximum of five students to allow for a personalised approach and in-depth transmission between teacher and student. It is offered as a 4 day course module, comprising two 2 day meetings over 3-4 months.
Based in the Cotswolds, it offers an in-depth study of Chapter Three of the Yoga Sūtra. It is presented with the aim of reflecting the fundamentals of Śrī T Krishnamacharya’s teaching, namely, transmission occurs through the direct experience of the teacher with the students personal practice and study Sādhana.
It is an opportunity for a Yoga student from any Yoga background or style to experience an in-depth exploration of Chapter Three of the Yoga Sūtra of Patāñjali over a 4 day module.
“Activities that nurture a state of Yoga involve
self-discipline, Self-inquiry and Self-awareness.”
The first leg supporting the tripod refers to Citta
as the self in terms of nurturing self-discipline.
The second leg supporting the tripod refers to Cit
as the Self in terms of nurturing Self-inquiry.
“Svādhyāya is an inquiry into one’s true nature.”
– T Krishnamacharya
The final leg supporting the tripod refers to Cit
as the Self in terms of nurturing Self-awareness.
Clear your Flow Exploring Awareness
within Mind and Emotions
The Art of Sūtra Psychology – Module One Personal Sādhana Workshop is limited to a maximum of five students to allow for a personalised approach and in-depth transmission between teacher and student. It introduces the student to a weekend workshop on the primary principles and teachings from T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar on the Art of Yoga as a Psychology.
“Patañjali was very prophetic, because he spoke not only of yesterday’s mind,
but also of tomorrow’s. His message concerns clarity,
and it will become more and more pertinent as time goes by,
because people are now questioning much more than before.”
– TKV Desikachar
Based in the Cotswolds, it is open to all except complete beginners. It offers an opportunity for a student to have an in-depth introduction to Yoga Sūtra study.
- The Art of Sūtra Psychology – Module One Personal Sādhana Workshop 13September 26, 2020
An in-depth overview of the Yoga Sūtra – Module One
Two Day Workshop September 26/27th 2020 – One Place Available
- The Art of Sūtra Psychology – Module One Personal Sādhana Workshop 14November 6, 2021
An in-depth overview of the Yoga Sūtra – Module One
Two Day Workshop November 6/7th 2021 – Five Places Available
The Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle Workshop Module One
Know your Patterns within The Ebb and Flow of Seasons, Food and Life
The Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle – Module One Personal Sādhana Workshop is limited to a maximum of five students to allow for a personalised approach and in-depth transmission between teacher and student. This weekend workshop introduces the student to the primary principles and essential teachings from Āyurveda and how they were applied by T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar.
Based in the Cotswolds, it is open to all except complete beginners and offers an opportunity for any Yoga Student, teacher or trainee teacher from any Yoga background to develop and deepen their personal Yoga practice and study.
It is presented with the aim of reflecting the fundamentals of Śrī T Krishnamacharya’s teaching, namely, transmission occurs through the direct experience of the teacher with the students personal practice and study Sādhana.
It offers an in-depth approach to Āyurveda texts, through an experiential appreciation of the core teachings that underpin the Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle, either for personal development or, if relevant, to enhance professional skills. It is also a prerequisite to further work in the The Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle – Module Two Course.
- The Art of Āyurveda Lifestyle – Module One Personal Sādhana Workshop 7November 29, 2022
An in-depth overview of Āyurveda – Module One
Two Day Workshop Nov 19/20th 2022 – Five Places Available
Postural Practice Pointer 19 – In Dvipāda Pīṭham a key Bhāvana is on the feet.
With regard to Dvi Pāda Pīṭham, a key Bhāvana is on the feet.
A common approach is people not working from their feet.
Instead they are primarily using their buttocks to push up.
Desikachar taught that we both lift and lower from the feet
Thus Two Foot Support is controlled by using both feet.
Some define their experience of life by seeking Duḥkha,
some by seeking Sukha.
The Yoga Practitioner sees both as Avidyā
and defines their experience of life by seeking
what lies beyond duality through unwavering Viveka.
– Reflections around Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 26
“The worst obstacle of all occurs when,
somewhere in the back of our minds,
we think we have understood something and we haven’t.
That is, we fancy that we have seen the truth.
We think, because of a situation in which we feel
we have some sort of calmness, we have reached our zenith.
We say, ‘That is what I have been looking for; I have progressed.’
But in actual fact we have not progressed.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Antarāyāḥ, Obstacles to progress, Techniques to Overcome them’
Chapter Fifteen Page 209
Something spreading more widely may not
automatically mean that something is developing.
Should we be reflecting more on that which helps Yoga to develop,
rather than on that which helps Yoga to spread more widely?