The Viniyoga of Yoga Practice and Yoga Study PDF Repository

The role of this post is to flag a centralised resource

where you can download any material from the cYs Yoga Journal or Yoga Freenotes sections of the website that is also available as a PDF. As of May this year the running total of downloadable PDF’s nears 350, and are correlated within 19 primary groupings, quick links to each are shown below.

Topic Headings for this Resource:
1. Material from & around T Krishnamacharya – Yoga, Yoga Sūtra & other references
2. Material from TKV Desikachar – Yoga, Yoga Sūtra & other reference points
3. Religiousness in Yoga with TKV Desikachar – Chapter by Chapter Study Guides
4. Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram – Darśanam Journal Articles
5. Articles by Srivatsa Ramaswami – Around the teachings of T Krishnamacharya 
6. Collected Yoga Articles, Practice Musings  & Interviews – by Paul Harvey

read more

My understanding on the context and content of Yoga Makaranda….

yoga makaranda

My understanding from my discussions over the years with TKV Desikachar regarding the context and content of Yoga Makaranda, is that when teaching youngsters the length of the breath was minimised to a relatively short fixed length and use of Kumbhaka was limited to a few seconds Antar Kumbhaka and Bahya Kumbhaka.

However there were no limitations on the range or intensity of Āsana and lots of use of variations to be engaged with within each Āsana.

“The Āsana are presented in Vinyāsa Krama,
the way it was taught to children in the Yoga Śāla.

This should not create the impression that
T Krishnamacharya taught in this manner to everyone.”

– TKV Desikachar Introduction to Yoga Makaranda

In the adult there were no such limitations for the breath and the work with variations of the Āsana was re-prioritised to working with a fewer Āsana and fewer variations within each Āsana, but with the challenge of a greater range of breathing patterns both in length and combinations.

Certainly, Antar Kumbhaka or Bahya Kumbhaka of 10″ was commonplace in the adult practice and here the ‘perfection’ of the Āsana was measured by mastery of all aspects of the breath rather than for the youngster, where ‘perfection’ of the Āsana was measured by mastery of all aspects of the form. This was consistent with Krishnamacharya’s teaching in his Yoga Rahasya on Yoga Sādhana and Stages of Life.

Furthermore, my understanding is that if we use a particular Āsana with all its permutations of form and thus less focus on the variations of the breath it operates more as an Āsana. If we use a specific primary Āsana with the focus on all its permutations of breath and thus less priority around the variations of the form it operates more as a Mudrā.

Sarvaṅgāsana is such an example, with its 32 variations devised by Krishnamacharya emphasising its role as an Āsana and its static solo form with its focus on extensive breath ratios involving all four aspects of the breath, perhaps augmented by the Tri Bandha, emphasising its role as a Mudrā.

To View or Download this Post as a PDF

For more on an Introduction to Yoga Makaranda read……
Introduction to the Yoga Makaranda by TKV Desikachar

The Viniyoga of Planning Principles within Āsana Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma

– Vinyāsa Krama –
Intelligent sequence building in Āsana Mudrā & Prāṇāyāma

The past two years have seen some 70 individual posts
accumulating on the theory behind Practice Planning,
to appreciate how the skilful use of the art of Viniyoga
can help in investigating the Vinyāsa Krama of Āsana.
They were collated together under 12 groupings below:

1. In terms of Practice Planning the Spirit of Viniyoga is achieved by two broad means
2. General Guidelines for Practice Planning:
3. General Guidelines for Choosing Āsana:
4. General Guidelines for Setting Practice Aims or Learning Outcomes:
5. Different Types of Postural Activity in Āsana Practice
6. Voluntary Efforts and Involuntary Effects in an Āsana Practice
7. A third factor, that of Respect for Responses
8. We must also consider the Safety Factors
9. The Element of Compromise in the Body
10. The Adaptation of the Āsana Practice
11. What is the role of the Practice of Āsana?
12. Summary of Ideas around Practice Planning

These posts were also collated into a single thread within a single static page on the website. However, since this particular thread is now completed I felt it could a helpful addition to offer the collected collations on this topic as a downloadable PDF.
So, offered below are two PDF versions, either in English A4 or as US Letter.

The Viniyoga of Planning Principles within Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma A4 version
The Viniyoga of Planning Principles within Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma US Letter version

Physiological and psychological considerations around the practitioner’s starting point…

How do the teachings from Krishnamacharya and Desikachar apply Yoga to the individual?

Fundamentally, the starting point determines the direction……

In exploring this premise, I would suggest reading a post from 2018 exploring the chronological teaching model outlined in the article ‘What are the concepts of Sṛṣṭi Krama, Sthiti Krama and Anta Krama’. Especially considering that these important principles from Krishnamacharya’s formational teaching, in the later years of his tenure in Mysore and early years of his tenure in Madras, also influenced and set the styles for those of his pupils who went on to influence the teaching of Yoga in the West.

However, if we apply this chronological model within the generic modality inherent within much of group class teaching in the West these past decades, we already have an issue, since most people coming to Yoga are already at some point in their middle years or Sṛṣṭi Krama. This can also mean that despite looking for such as physical fitness or mental challenge, they are not necessarily coming from a Sṛṣṭi or growth stage starting point.

read more

The breath can be a key towards unlocking the mystery of the relationship between……

In looking at how to deepen (rather than broaden) our personal practice, choosing to focus on exploring the breath can be a key towards unlocking the mystery of the relationship between body, breath, mind and that which is both beyond and within.

“Yoga is more about exploring
the movement of the mind, whilst
Āsana is more about exploring
the movement of the body.
The vehicle common to exploring both
is the movement of the breath.
The yoking of all three is towards the goal of
experiencing the source of all movement.”

Here, from the viewpoint of T Krishnamacharya, an avenue for deepening an exploration into the potential of the breath within our practice can be through a systematic and progressive slowing in the cyclic patterning of our breath. To access this deepening we may have to reconsider our practice, not just in terms of what we do with our body, but also what we do with the breath within the various Yoga practices associated with our body.

read more

The Viniyoga of Yoga is the application of the principles that…


The Viniyoga of Yoga is the application of the principles that,

linked together, offer possibilities to enhance our relationship with ourselves through our personal practice.

This approach, with its emphasis on one to one transmission, opens the possibility that a deepening of our practice comes not from adding more difficult Āsana, but from further refining our relationship with what Āsana we already have.

Life is already full of pressures to go for the newest and latest, ever improved model. Plus it’s often easier shopping around to bring more in from the outside rather than putting time aside and concentrating on bringing more out from the inside.

read more

The Viniyoga of Āsana – Planning an Appropriate Āsana Practice

Planning an Appropriate Āsana Practice

How can we consider factors around the planning of an appropriate Āsana practice?

For example, how would we consider the following situation:

  • Rising at 6.30 am
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Stiffness in the legs
  • Nostrils blocked
  • Stomach tight
  • Head feeling heavy
  • Work meeting at 8.30 am (20 minutes walking time needed)

We can find out how much time is available, say 30′. So now we can prepare a practice. Though, whatever principles we use there are certain things that need to happen.

However, we should have respect for:

read more

The Force of the Past within the Face of the Present…

“Working together with and directed by past impressions,
the three Guṇa, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas determine
whether the mind is calm, agitated or dull.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 4

“Past impressions also determine the
mind’s direction and quality of perception.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 4

The less we act from within the field of the present moment,
the more we re-act from within the field of past memories.
– Paul Harvey on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verses 4

“The mind acts in countless ways and all of them
stem from the power of past Karma Vāsanā.
This is why individuals differ from one another.”
– T Krishnamacharya on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 6

read more

Laṅghana Kriyā has two functional dimensions…

Laṅghana Kriyā is a Viniyoga methodology with its reducing, lightening or contractive potentials within the practice of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma. As a practice process it is actualised through an understanding of the primary principles that inform Haṭha Yoga and Āyurveda.

The Viniyoga, or application of Laṅghana Kriyā effects a concentration of Agni from the periphery to the core. This outcome is approached traditionally through effecting systemic changes, primarily in the systemic energies of digestion and elimination. Thus from an Āyurveda perspective, the use of practices which bring about a functional energetic change in the qualities of Vāta, Pitta and Kapha Doṣa.

read more

The Wisdom of the West as a guide to appreciating the Wisdom of the East…

Patanjali Yoga Sutra

The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali

Chapter One Samādhi Pādaḥ

The Wisdom of the West as a guide to appreciating the Wisdom of the East arose
from a project for trainee Yoga practitioners being asked to prepare and present a
‘book’ featuring a chosen translation of each verse from the Yoga Sūtra Chapter One,
supported and complemented by a personally chosen quote from a Western source.

 “A short saying often contains much wisdom.”
– Sophocles

It was met with an enthusiastic response to the point where I said I would also
contribute a ‘version’. It is offered here, as a PDF in both A4 and US Letter formats,
in the spirit of Paramparā with an appreciation for my years of learning in India.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart……”
– William Wordsworth

It is not © in the spirit of open source community commons,
though acknowledgement of the source could be appropriate.

View or Download as an A4 PDF
View or Download as a US Letter PDF

Links to Related Material:

T Krishnamacharya Yoga Sūtra Study Quotes Collected and Collated
TKV Desikachar Yoga Sūtra Study Quotes Collected and Collated
Paul’s Yoga Mālā – A Thread of Pearls from Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra
Paul’s Yoga Sūtra Study Keywords – Collected & Collated into Chapters
Paul’s Yoga Sūtra Study Questions – Collected & Collated into Chapters

Studying, Practicing and Learning the Tri Bandha involves Theory, Techniques and Cautions…

In Studying the Tri Bandha we engage with Haṭha teachings:
In that, the inhale takes the Agni towards the Mūlādhāra.
This effect on Agni increases with the Antar Kumbhaka,
as the Antar Kumbhaka helps to intensify the fire.
Following this process in bringing the Agni down,
the exhale takes the Mūlādhāra towards the Agni.
Thus the exhale draws the Apāna towards the Agni,
plus the intensification of Uḍḍīyana Bandha and
the addition of Mūla Bandha to hold the Apāna up.
This is the link with the effect on the Kuṇḍalinī,
though in terms of practice, it is very hard to get.

In Practicing the Tri Bandha we start

read more

Can we find some similar characteristics between various individuals around Āsana practice…

Can we find some similar characteristics between various individuals within Āsana…

If we look at all the variables, can we find some similarities between various individuals within Āsana and Āsana practice?

Here a pragmatic choice that arises, especially relevant for Western bodies today, is the question of establishing what are the priority areas within any given Āsana. This question can be examined through the lens of consideration of setting postural priorities around what constitutes a primary characteristic and what constitutes a secondary characteristic. In other words the importance of where, within the form, to choose or allow an adaptation in the Āsana and where, within the form, to endeavour not to compromise the Āsana.

I do feel these days that our understanding in Āsana practice is dominated by the Nāma, or name and the Rūpa or final form, with little emphasis on the Lakṣaṇa or inherent characteristics of the Āsana. Furthermore, how understanding this aspect can have a profound effect on the approach, application and outcome of the overall or accumulative impact of the Āsana within the student’s personal practice.

read more

We need to consider the process that surrounds one’s Āsana practice…

We need to consider the process that surrounds one’s Āsana practice…

As well as considering what is acceptable to each and everybody as content of an Āsana practice, we need to consider the process that surrounds one’s Āsana practice.

Examples of Practice as a Process include inquiry into:

  • Where are we starting from in terms of practice as a process?
  • Where are we going to in terms of practice as a process?
  • Is this process of potential change working with immediate needs in mind?
  • Is this process of potential change working with long term needs in mind?
  • Is this process of potential change trying to integrate both immediate needs and long term needs?

So what is Yoga practice as a process? Practice as a process is a consideration of all the factors that surround the establishing of a home practice.

These include:

read more

How do we apply Viniyoga to students already set in a particular mode of Āsana practice?

How do we apply Viniyoga to students already set in a particular mode of Āsana practice?

If we have certain principles underpinning how we teach, how do we apply Viniyoga to students already set in a particular mode of Āsana practice?

For example, if they have a physical problem then you have something to work with. However, you need to be tactful about pointing such things out, maybe waiting. Otherwise, you can try to meet them halfway i.e. adding a couple of things to their practice they know and a couple they don’t.

If they have been practising in this way for several years what does it matter if it takes several months to influence their Āsana practice.

read more

There are Many Approaches to Āsana Practice…

There are Many Approaches to Āsana Practice

To consider this statement we need to look at different approaches to Āsana practice. Here, we can use viewpoints of different ‘styles’ of practice as to what are seen by many as the two primary ‘classical’ Āsana.

For example:

From these examples we are led to the belief that we must respect that there are various viewpoints on the principles of practice for these two primary Āsana.

read more

When encountering a student wanting to explore how to engage with Yoga practice…

When encountering a student wanting to explore how to engage with Yoga practice, what could be the starting points for examining what might work for them in terms of determining appropriate short term and longer term steps towards establishing stages in how to proceed?

Here it could be helpful to look at what sits behind their intentions to practice, as well as what appears in front of us in terms of the person and their overt requests around the role of Yoga in their life.

This means we need to investigate what is the process that sits behind and stimulates, or even exacerbates their urge towards a Yoga practice, before considering what is the actual content that we will offer for the first steps into the arena of cultivating and maintaining a personalised practice.

So, what do we mean by investigating what is the process that sits behind their wish to practice?

read more

Trying to hold onto the fleeting presence of awareness can be likened to a bird…

cit devanagari

Trying to hold onto the fleeting presence of awareness can be likened to a bird choosing to land in the open palm of your hand. We desire to hold onto it because of our attraction towards continuing to enjoy the experience of its delicacy, beauty and gift of presence.

Thus when the bird of awareness alights in your palm the temptation is to close the fingers around the experience, however gently, in order to hold on to it, albeit to protect it or to continue to experience this unique moment of relationship with something that is usually elusive, or out of sight or reach.

However I feel, as with a bird you need to keep your hand open, so with awareness, you need to keep your hand open, as in resisting the desire to cling onto the experience. The bird of awareness might be happy to rest awhile, that is fine and then it flies off, that is also fine.

read more

Reflections on TKV Desikachar’s Teaching and Svatantra……

As a student, my teacher worked at guiding me towards becoming increasingly independent in developing and refining more and more my personal practice skills so I became less and less dependent on him being the vehicle for if, when, where, what and how well I practice.

I have always respected this aspect of his 121 teaching, in that, like a parent with a child, he progressively facilitated my learning. This enabled me to evolve an intelligently consistent, situation adaptive and yet long term developmental self-practice, initially through and then much more than, just Āsana.

“TKV Desikachar did not teach different people different things.
Nor did he just teach the same thing to different people.
He taught different people the same thing in different ways.
The same could be said of T Krishnamacharya’s teaching.
Hence the context of the phrase the Viniyoga of Yoga.”

Especially as, like any art that we wish to become accomplished in, this self-skill was cultivated primarily within my home environment with all its hues and moods that inevitably influence, or are driven by deeper motivations within our current intentions and situation realities.

read more

There is an increasing tendency in terms of Modern Therapeutic Yoga application strategies……

There is an increasing tendency in terms of Modern Therapeutic Yoga application strategies, especially when marketing Yoga as a Therapy through group class situations, to create brand banding to identify ‘sufferers’.

Personally, I feel it is not appropriate when considering Yoga practices for others to ‘lump’ people together as say back pain sufferers, or migraine sufferers, or insomnia sufferers, etc.

It is tempting, or even convenient also, to propose a technique and then state that this technique will help this particular situation or problem.

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

However, my teacher taught me that Yoga is to be tailored to the needs and aspirations of each person rather than fitting the person to some ready-made group standard technique.

It is true to say there are some common characteristics within various health problems or conditions, but then so there are in all areas of people’s lives. We live together in groups determined by commonalities and yet each of us is unique in our view and relationship with our surroundings.

read more

Pañca Maya – The five aspects of Being Human…

One way it may be helpful to reflect on the relationship between our lives and our practice is through the model of the Pañca Maya or the five aspects of being human. In this instance through reflecting on the notion that influencing the subtler aspects of the Pañca Maya can impact more powerfully on the gross aspect, whereas influencing the gross aspects of the Pañca Maya may well impact less powerfully on the subtler aspects.

“What does reflecting on our relationship with Annamaya reveal?”

For example what happens at the level of the physical body may not impact that strongly on the increasingly subtler aspects of the Pañca Maya such as our energy processes, social conditionings, latent impressions and emotional drives.

“Freedom of movement within the Annamaya does not
 freedom of movement within the Prāṇamaya.”

Whereas what happens at the subtler levels of being, such as the conscious and unconscious stimuli of our external surroundings and internal processes on the latent impressions and emotional drives, can impact very strongly on how our body functions and responds.

read more