108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – 56 – Are we perhaps walking backwards to Yoga…

In todays multi-faceted, multi-styled Yoga
stage, is there a question that needs raising?
Are we perhaps walking backwards to Yoga?

In that, these days, we are coming to Yoga
looking more at what it is that we want
Yoga to take us away from. As in, reducing
the symptomatic effects of stressful living?
Rather than being focussed on what it is
that Yoga can actually take us towards.

I understand that symptomatic reduction
can be a relevant step for many from Cikitsā
Krama, to Rakṣaṇa Krama to Śikṣaṇa Krama.

However, I also observe the repetitive cycle
around stress reduction that circulates under
the guise of restoration, rejuvenation, reset,
recharge, recover, relax, reboot, reground, to
name but a few of the ‘handles’ promoting a
Yoga offering for mind and body, or even soul?

Furthermore, does the very nature of ‘teaching
handles’ such as all levels are welcome or,
offering multi-styled approaches, further
fog a deeper consideration of this question?

Finally, in order to consider the question what it
is that Yoga can take us towards, I feel we need to
re-examine the question what is Yoga, rather than the
more usual response of what type of Yoga do you do?
Which indicates that we already have a sense of what
Yoga is and that also implies that we have a grasp of
what are the common practice processes and related
designs that can be woven from its many threads.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers

Āsana & Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated and Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary
and Ancillary Techniques

108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – Collated between 2011 and 2024

The role of this post is to offer the Yoga Studies blog quotes accumulated so far within the 108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers series as single resource.

Started in 2011, these are a collation of short posts collected over 13 years, on teaching Yoga in the West within the 21st Century. They range from Yoga Teaching tips and tactics, through to quips and quotes as observations, advice and social commentary.

They can be explored as individual posts, or as a collation, both within which the linked words can also be cross referenced in terms of meaning and related occurrence within the Saṃskṛta Glossary. Or the current collected collation can be downloaded as a PDF:

The accumulated Yoga Teaching Path Pointers can be viewed as Individual Posts
The accumulated Yoga Teaching Path Pointers can be viewed Collected and Collated
The accumulated Yoga Teaching Path Pointers can be viewed or downloaded as a PDF

108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – 55 – One approach in the Viniyoga of teaching…

One approach in the Viniyoga of
teaching the art of breath work
within group situations is that of,
within working Āsana the Bhāvana is
on cultivating the length of the breath.

Whereas, within seated Āsana the Bhāvana
is on cultivating the subtlety of the breath.

The technique of Ujjāyī can be used within
both situations as in, placing the focus on
length within working Āsana, and placing
the focus on subtlety within seated Āsana.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers

Āsana & Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated and Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary
and Ancillary Techniques

108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – 54 – We don’t need to worry about people using Ujjāyī…

Initially, if teaching breath work in group situations,
we don’t need to worry about people using Ujjāyī
or not. Because, even if you are not using Ujjāyī
and you want the student to learn to make the
exhale longer, they must learn how to initiate the
exhalation by contracting the abdominal muscles.

So, making the exhalation longer is something
you can learn and refine independently of Ujjāyī.
Sometimes, even within the very act of making the
exhalation longer people will naturally shift to Ujjāyī.

If teaching individually, we can start with introducing
the student to the process of activating the exhalation.
However, given the uniqueness of the personal dynamic,
initiation into the art of Ujjāyī can usually be presented
within the first lesson, along with accommodating the
structural and the performance differences between the
characteristics of the exhalation and of the inhalation.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers

Āsana & Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated and Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary
and Ancillary Techniques

108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – 53 – In terms of the breath, the exhale is naturally passive…

In terms of the breath, the
exhale is naturally passive,
the inhale is naturally active.

So, one of the initial primary
principles in the Viniyoga of
teaching the art of breath work,
is how to make the exhale active.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers

Āsana & Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated and Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary
and Ancillary Techniques

108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – 52 – Although the inhale is the exploratory means to learn…

Although the inhale is the
exploratory means to learn
more about the Prāṇa Sthāna,
it is initially the exhale that will
teach us about the Apāna Sthāna,
and here is a primary means in the
application of Āsana as a therapy.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers

Āsana & Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated and Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary
and Ancillary Techniques

108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – 51 – If we can accept that Yoga is more than just Āsana…

If we can accept that Yoga is more than just Āsana,
what would you see as the difference between
Āsana as a practice and Yoga as a Sādhana?

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers

108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – 50 – When talking about Yoga as if a practice…

When talking about Yoga as if a practice,
I feel it could be helpful to distinguish
between which aspects of Yoga practice
we are actually referring to as they tend to
have differing, and at times even seemingly
contrasting, facets, paradigms and purposes.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers

108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – 48 – In terms of Prāṇāyāma from a one-to-one viewpoint, we need to consider…

In terms of Prāṇāyāma from
a one-to-one perspective,
we need to consider whether
the practice starting point for
the practitioner is from a Rakṣaṇa,
Cikitsā, or Śikṣaṇa Krama viewpoint.

From  a Rakṣaṇa Krama viewpoint,
the situation we are focusing on initially
is on developing the length of the breath.

From a Cikitsā Krama viewpoint,
the practitioner’s energy and
respiratory capacity may be low,
so the scope for working on the length
of the breath may well be limited.
Therefore a suggested strategy initially,
is to focus on the subtlety of the breath.

Whereas, from a Śikṣaṇa Krama viewpoint,
the potential is there to work and develop
both the length and the subtlety of the breath.
So both options can be explored from the onset.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers

Āsana & Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated and Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary
and Ancillary Techniques

108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – 47 – A suggested strategy is to focus primarily on the length of the breath…

A suggested strategy is to
focus primarily on the length
of the breath when working in
group class situations with Āsana.

Whereas, a suggested strategy is to
focus primarily on the subtlety of
the breath when working in group
class situations with Prāṇāyāma.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers

Āsana & Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated and Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary
and Ancillary Techniques

108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – 46 – The First and Second Chapters of the Yoga Sūtra can be linked…

The First and Second Chapters of the Yoga Sūtra
can be linked to the teaching concepts of
Śikṣaṇa, Rakṣaṇa and Cikitsā Krama.

In that the Samādhi Yoga in Chapter One
can be seen as apt for a Śikṣaṇa situation,
whereby the primary aim is discernment, as in
exploring what lies within the sense of I-Am.

Whereas, in Chapter Two, the Kriya Yoga section
can be seen as being apt for a Cikitsā situation,
whereby the primary aim is recovering, as in
reducing agitation through lifestyle changes.

Whereas, in the Bāhya Aṅga section of Aṣṭāṅga Yoga
can be seen as being apt for a Rakṣaṇa situation,
whereby the primary aim is establishing stability,
through a formal practice within a Yoga Sādhana.

Link to Series: 108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers

108 Yoga Teaching Path Pointers – 45 – Krishnamacharya’s approach to teaching children Āsana….

Krishnamacharya’s approach
to teaching children Āsana,
was more about cultivating
strength in Prāṇa Sthāna and
movement in Apāna Sthāna.
Whereas for teaching adults
Āsana, the approach was
now more about cultivating
movement in Prāṇa Sthāna
and strength in Apāna Sthāna.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 44 – eight steps in the journey towards learning the teachings…

Desikachar taught me that there were eight steps
in the journey towards learning the teachings.

1. Upadeśa
– To come near to the teachings and remain
2. Śravaṇa
– To listen to the teachings with an open ear
3. Grahaṇa
– To seize hold of or grasp onto the teachings
4. Dhāraṇā
– To concentrate on memorising the teachings
5. Manana
– To carefully reflect on the teachings
6. Anuṣṭhāna
– To live with and put the teachings into practice
7. Anubhāvana
– To have some experiences from following the teachings
8. Pracāra
– To share and apply the teachings with others

In the other words the journey towards
coming near to, listening to, grasping, memorizing,
reflecting, applying, experiencing and sharing the teachings.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 43 – The teaching of Krishnamacharya around Āsana included an in-depth appreciation of the Lakṣaṇa……


My Āsana study with Desikachar was shaped around forming
a deep appreciation of specific core principles that underpin
the planning and practice of Āsana and their application to
the individual student’s constitution, psychology and need.

Amongst these dozen or so core principles,
the first group when looking at any Āsana in depth,
were the concepts of Nāma, Rūpa and Lakṣaṇa, or the
nameform and characteristics of that particular Āsana.

Obviously, the Nāma is a useful tag point for identification
and the Rūpa is vital as a reference point for the Sat Viniyoga,
or right application of the Āsana within overall considerations of
initial direction and outcomes through such as the Śikṣaṇa Krama,
Rakṣaṇa Krama or Cikitsā Krama application of the forms used.

However, I do feel these days that our understanding in Āsana
practice is more dominated by the Nāma and the Rūpa with
little emphasis on the Lakṣaṇa or inherent characteristics of the
Āsana and 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 practice.

The teachings of Krishnamacharya around Āsana included
an in-depth appreciation of the Lakṣaṇa, especially around
the thirty or so primary and secondary support Āsana such as
Uttānāsana, Jaṭhara Parivṛtti, Bhujaṅgāsana or Januśīrṣāsana.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

Āsana and Mudrā Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Standing, Kneeling, Lying,
Inverted, Backbend, Seated & Sitting

Prāṇāyāma & Bandha Practice Techniques Glossary
– Grouped into Primary, Secondary & Ancillary Techniques

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 42 – The principles of Cikitsā, Rakṣaṇa and Śikṣaṇa Krama…

The principles of CikitsāRakṣaṇa and Śikṣaṇa Krama
are more applicable to the ‘mindset’ of a person,
rather than looking through the ‘fitness’ of their body.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 40 – Yoga offerings include Yoga for Asthma……

Yoga offerings include
– Yoga for Asthma
– Yoga for Bunions
– Yoga for Colds
– Yoga for Digestion
– Yoga for Eyesight
– Yoga for Flexibility
and so on through to

read more

108 Teaching Path Pointers – 39 – Krishnamacharya and Desikachar’s life work focused on the training of students……

All of Krishnamacharya’s and Desikachar’s
life work focused on the training of students,
some of whom then went on to become teachers.
Rather than the reality that pervades Yoga today,
in that the priority is on the training of teachers,
some of whom may go on to became students.

Link to Series: 108 Teaching Path Pointers