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
The nine-night long Navaratri, an important occasion in India, is celebrated as a time to honour the Divine Feminine, especially the Goddess Durgā within the Indian tradition. It will commence today Sunday 29th September 2019, the first day of the month of Aśvin, according to the Hindu calendar. During this time the primary focus is Durgā manifesting through three primary aspects of the Divine Feminine.
Thus for the first three nights the focus is around the Divine Feminine in her power-bestowing aspect known as Durgā. For the second three nights the focus is around the Divine Feminine in her prosperity-bestowing aspect known as Lakṣmī. For the third three nights the focus is around the Divine Feminine in her wisdom-bestowing aspect known as Sarasvatī.
Mostly we are introduced to the teachings of the Yoga Sūtra through a group class situation, or by coming across a book. This is fine as a starting point, however longer term we need to engage a Sādhana that can facilitate its wisdom teachings radiating from the inside out rather than just permeating from the outside in.
A good starting point for initiating this psychic process is to learn how to chant as a practice in itself and then how to chant the Yoga Sūtra specifically. As well as offering a deepening of contact with those special Bhāvana that arise from chanting, this can also be extremely helpful for the memory processes involved.
These two steps in the embracing chant as a Sādhana ideally require a personal teacher, especially one who can listen and identify our individual nuances in how we repeat what we think we hear. From there they can offer a Vinyāsa Krama for cultivating our vocal potential and refining our skills in terms of self-listening and thus facilitating our abilities in terms of self-correction.
However accepting that for some this may not be a possibility at this point in time, three suggestions are offered below as progressive options for starting a self-learning process
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.
This post follows on from yesterday’s post introducing the use of and intention within the practice of closing chants that follow the study of chanting, or the study of associated Yoga texts. Traditionally chant practice or textual study was also preceded with an invocatory passage to help forge a link between the chanters, what is about to be chanted and its purport, as well as setting a context for study.
Thus each area of study that the teacher and student were about to venture into was preceded by an appropriate Dhyānam Ślokam, or set of verses that specifically linked the chanters with that particular area of study or practice. Therefore the opening verses would differ according to whether the focus was Veda Chanting, the Upaniṣat, the Bhagavad Gītā, the Yoga Sūtra, etc.