Learning to Chant the Four Chapters of the Yoga Sūtra……

yoga_sutra_cover

Unlike other aspects of our personal Sādhana, when it comes to the practice of Jñāna Adhyayanam, or the chanting of the Yoga Sūtra, there is an unusual developmental process in that as we refine this aspect of practice it take less and less time.

Obviously the first step is to commit to learning to be able to chant the four chapters of the Yoga Sūtra, along with the relevant opening invocations and closing invocations. Once we have this basic accomplishment in place then taking our seat and chanting the whole text, within a Vinyāsa Krama by including the accompanying invocatory chants, will take around 35-40 minutes.

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108 Chanting Practice Pointers – 14 – Learning Chanting just from a recording……

 

Learning Chanting just from a recording,
is like learning Āsana just from a video.
In other words you can hear the recording,
but the recording cannot hear you.
Equally you can see the video, but…..

Link to Series: 108 Chanting Practice Pointers

Though there are many different aspects to formal ‘home’ practice……

Though there are many different aspects to Krishnamacharya and Desikachar’s teachings on cultivating a formal ‘home’ practice, they fall into two general groups:

In considering the relationship and intertwining of these multifarious practice elements we can use the analogy of raising a family. In other words how to accommodate the emerging issues we need to contend with, such as the impact on our time and energy, as we look to stream developmental priorities within these additional commitments.

Here I want to consider some of these issues just from the viewpoint of time. For example if we look at the issue of time within one aspect of practice, say Āsana,

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One example of this depth is Krishnamacharya’s lesser known work in the teaching of Mantra……

Even these days, the influence of Krishnamacharya’s teachings around Yoga are primarily known through his exacting teaching of Āsana. This has also been mainly experienced in the West with the developmental work of his early students, such as through the choreographical artistry in the work of Pattabhi Jois or through the geometrical precision in the work of BKS Iyengar.

However this area of Āsana teaching, though itself multifaceted and hugely influential, if disproportionately predominant within Yoga today, only reveals one aspect of the many dimensions of practice expressed within his teaching. This teaching evolved and refined over 70 years, from his return from his long stay around the borders of Nepal and Tibet in 1919, to his death in 1989.

A more all-inclusive insight into the many aspects of these other facets can be ascertained through exploring the multifarious approaches and priorities emphasised within the teaching work of other of Krishnamacharya’s students, such as TKV Desikachar, or S Ramaswami, or AG Mohan.

From exploring the teaching priorities of all these first generation students of Krishnamacharya, a more all-embracing perspective can arise encompassing both the breadth and depth of his mastery of both the teachings of Yoga and their context, place and application within the Indian perspectives on such as soteriology, philosophy and theology.

One example of this depth is Krishnamacharya’s lesser known work in the teaching of Mantra

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108 Postural Practice Pointers – 23 – Bhāvana for the Hips in Parśva Uttānāsana

Postural Practice Pointer 23 – Bhāvana for the Hips in Parśva Uttānāsana

When moving into Parśva Uttānāsana.
Lift the forward leg hip up and
draw the rear leg hip forward.
When coming up from Parśva Uttānāsana.
Keep the forward leg hip lifted and
the rear leg hip drawn forward.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 22 – The slower the breath the longer the movement…..

Postural Practice Pointer 22 – The Slower the Breath

The slower the breath,
the longer the movement.
The longer the movement,
the stronger the effect.
The stronger the breath,
the slower the movement.
The slower the movement,
the longer the effect.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 61 – In its beginning stages it’s about our practice supporting our life……

In its beginning stages it’s about
our practice supporting our life.
In its maturing stages it’s about
our life supporting our practice.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 60 – Yoga practice is much more than just Āsana……

In terms of ageing mainframes and creaking joints,
it is perhaps useful to remind ourselves that
Yoga practice is much more than just Āsana.
In other words, even as the body slows down,
can we continue to slow the Breath down,
can we continue to slow the Mind down,
can we be Still within the distraction of age?

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 59 – The more you are able to practice……

The more you are able to practice,
the more you feel able to practice.
The less you are able to practice,
the less you feel able to practice.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 39 – Krishnamacharya taught that a Samāhita Citta was a prerequisite……

Krishnamacharya taught that a Samāhita Citta
was a prerequisite starting point for Meditation.
If so, how do we relate to the modern phenomenon
that a Vikṣepa Citta can be a starting point for Meditation?
Unless perhaps we discern that here it isn’t actually Meditation?

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 58 – The ABC of the Viniyoga of Yoga……

The ABC of the Viniyoga of Yoga
is the bespoke long term cultivation of
a personalised, pertinent and progressive
Āsana Practice as a foundation for a separate
Breathing Practice with its own identity alongside a
Chanting Practice to honour teachings and transmission.
Dhyānam is the fabric that time weaves from these related threads.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 57 – Yoga Practice is neither about trying……

Yoga Practice is neither about trying
to get rid of something undesirable,
nor attain something desirable.
It is something that can happen
in spite of something undesirable,
or in spite of something desirable.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 56 – Is our Yoga Practice an offering to the Ātma……

Is our Yoga Practice,
an offering to the ĀtmaBuddhi Dynamic or,
a gratification for our ManasIndriya expectations?

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 55 – It is possible to have left the practice……

It is possible to have left the practice,
even before we have got onto the mat.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 38 – looking at inventive ways of accessing a particular Āsana

I wonder whether too much time is being spent around
looking at inventive ways of performing a particular Āsana,
rather than looking at questions around its role and purpose in Yoga.
A rationale to consider as to why or even whether we need to do it?

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Postural Practice Pointers – 21 – Backbends disturb the length and quality of the exhale……

Postural Practice Pointer 21 – Backbends disturb the exhale

Backbends disturb the length and quality of the exhale,
in that they impact the Apāna and push the Mūla downwards.
Thus we need to consider an appropriate Pratikriyā Āsana
to compensate for this disturbance to the Apāna Sthāna.
Hence Pratikriyā such as Apānāsana to restore the Apāna.

Link to Series: 108 Postural Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 54 – I find my personal practice mat a place to face myself……

I find my personal practice mat a place to face myself.
Thus when I feel resistance to getting onto my mat,
I find it helpful to ask myself a question around,
what is it in myself that I don’t want to face today.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 53 – It is possible to achieve the form of an Āsana without accessing the function……

It is possible to achieve the form of an Āsana
without accessing the function of an Āsana.
In other words accessing the form of an Āsana
does not guarantee accessing its function.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 37 – Consider Āsana as vehicles to transmit the fundamental principles of practice……

As a teacher it can be helpful to consider Āsana as
vehicles to transmit the fundamental principles of practice.
For example a cardinal principle of practice is that Āsana
have a primary and a secondary aspect within their Lakṣana.
Thus we must inquire into what is the primary aspect in this Āsana,
and what is the secondary aspect in this particular Āsana?
The idea is to maintain the integrity of the primary characteristics.
Thus we may need to compromise the secondary characteristics.
For example in Uttānāsana to sustain the primary work in the spine
we can consider a secondary compromise by releasing the knees.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 52 – Āsana is the primary choice to work the breath.

Āsana is the primary choice to work the breath.
Prāṇāyāma is the primary choice to refine the breath.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 51 – Is it a misdirection within Āsana from talking about effects on the body…..

maha_mudraIs it a misdirection within Āsana from talking
about effects on the body as if on the spine?
Thus too much focus on talking about effects on the body
and not enough on looking at the actual effects on the spine?

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 36 – I feel we need to ensure that we use our practice……

I feel we need to ensure that
we use our practice to support our teaching,
rather than using our teaching to support our practice.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 35 – There are those Yoga teachers who speak to your fantasies…….

There are those Yoga teachers who speak to your fantasies
and those Yoga teachers who speak to your realities.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Yoga Practice Pointers – 50 – Candra is that which can direct Prāṇa and Apāna in order to influence……

ajna

Within the energetic processes in Haṭha Yoga
the concept of Candra is that which can direct
Prāṇa and Apāna in order to influence the activities of Sūrya.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Practice Pointers

It is not possible to give examples of illnesses or ailments that can be improved……

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.

“We cannot say that this Āsana or this Prāṇāyāma
can be given for this disease.”
– T Krishnamacharya 1984

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