Meditation is not a technique, it is a journey.

‎”Meditation is not a technique,
it is a journey.”
– TKV Desikachar 1998

If you are using something more complex, say Gāyatrī Mantra……

Gāyatrī

“The number of times you say OM on inhalation, holding the breath,
and exhalation is influenced by the length of the breath.
We cannot fix the number of recitations on the basis of the Praṇava itself.
We can only fix it on the basis of a person’s capacity of breath.
If you are simply using OM, it can go with almost any ratio.
If you are using something more complex, say Gāyatrī Mantra,
it is very long and has different structures so there are regulations on
how many times you say it when you inhale, hold the breath, and exhale,
and in what part of the Mantra you can break, etc.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 238-239

Once you know how to recite the Praṇava orally you will be able to do it silently……

“I think once you know how to recite the Praṇava
orally you will be able to do it silently.
And perhaps each time you can add a little meaning
to it as well as find a little more meaning in it.
The best way is to begin orally and
then transfer it to a mental recitation.
Then you can easily use it in your Yoga practice.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 238

Don’t go on doing a lot of postures……

“Don’t go on doing a lot of postures; if you do,
I think the meaning in Yoga will be lost.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 238

Many people have this problem of maintaining attention during practice……

“Many people have this problem of maintaining attention during the practice.
You can place your attention on a particular part of the body
but there must be something happening, a movement.
Thats why the best movement is the breath.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 237

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Sixteen Theory

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

‘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 16 Theory: A Session for Questions Pages 221-235

read more

Śraddhā will give life to all the means……

Śraddhā will give life to all
the means that are in the Yoga Sūtra.”
– TKV Desikachar on Śraddhā in the Yoga Sūtra

Is Yoga relevant to the West?

“Is Yoga relevant to the West?
Question which is relevant to India as well.  Because of the changes there.

The word Yoga is integrated into its language, religion rituals etc., so it is accepted in India. But in the West there are certain problems. The word is associated with physical gymnastics or mental gymnastics. This has complicated the job of the Yoga teacher. Even in India, if you know nothing else you can always teach Yoga

One is also asked to show your Yoga.  A Yogi for some people means Svāmī, for others Siddhi, for others exercise teacher. Even the image of the Yogi is seen as important. However nowhere do the texts insist on dress or beard as part of the Yogi.

So let us look at ideas behind Yoga……”
– TKV Desikachar 1987

Regarding Yama and Niyama, these days, he believes, they have no validity except for two of them

“Regarding Yama and Niyama, these days, he believes,
they have no validity except for two of them.

First, what is called Satya Niyama, or
what to speak, what not to speak, to whom to speak,
how to write, what not to write.
These are Satya Niyama.

Another Niyama that should be followed is Āhāra Niyama.
That is, how much to eat and what to eat,
according to age, profession, etc.
You see, the ancient people believed that
a young boy could eat as much as he liked.
But a Saṃnyāsi should only eat eight handfuls of rice,
no more, per day.”

TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

If I don’t know what is true, there is no question of telling the truth.

sat

“If I don’t know what is true,
there is no question of telling the truth.
TKV Desikachar France 1983

Different people explain the cause of disease differently……

“Different people explain the cause of disease differently.
In the Yoga Sūtra disease is Vikṣepā, a mind which is unstable.
Mind loses its presence of mind before an object.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

The more you try to know Īśvara the more you come to know your self.

“The more you try to know Īśvara,
the more you come to know your self.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 29

When the mind is not very clear……

citta

“When the mind is not very clear,
you only get the message from the mind.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 4

When the mind is very clear……

drastr

“When the mind is very clear,
you get the message from deep inside.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 3

Mystery is always present; it need not be limited to symbols or God……

“Mystery is always present;
it need not be limited to symbols or God.
It can be found in anything, provided we seek it.
It is in the hands of the seeker, not in the object.
Mystery is always there, everywhere,
provided the seeker is serious.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘A Session for Questions’
Chapter Sixteen Page 230

The idea is to bridge the gap that is between what exists and what is desired….

“The idea is to bridge the gap that is between what exists and what is desired.
This is what Abhyāsa refers to. This is not exactly practice.
1. We first require an appreciation of what we want to do or learn.
2. We then find out how to travel or go in that direction.
3. We then learn the techniques by which we travel.”
– TKV Desikachar on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 12

Abhyāsa means constant effort and attention in order to continue in one direction……

Abhyāsa means constant effort and attention
in order to continue in one direction.
We must never break this process because we
never really know in advance how things might change”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘A Session for Questions’
Chapter Sixteen Page 223

In terms of Yoga, if we have Duḥkha, something is behind it……

“If we have a problem which persists,
It might be because we don’t know
what is the real basis or cause of the problem.
In terms of Yoga, if we have Duḥkha,
something is behind it.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘A Session for Questions’
Chapter Sixteen Page 221

I am going to explain you something else about the aphorisms…….

“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.

Why?
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 Study Guide: Chapter Fifteen Theory

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House

‘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

read more

Whenever we look at an Āsana we must look at two sides……

“Whenever we look at an Āsana
we must look at two sides:
1. What is involved in the Āsana
2. Who is doing the Āsana
– TKV Desikachar 1984

The worst obstacle of all occurs when, somewhere in the back of our minds……

“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

Another obstacle is when our senses seem to take over……

“Another obstacle is when our senses seem to take over.
They reassert themselves as masters,
sometimes without our knowing it.
This is not surprising since we are trained from birth to
look here, see there, hear this, touch that, etc.
So sometimes, because of their habitual action of always looking for things, etc.,
The senses take over and our direction slowly shifts in the wrong way.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Antarāyāḥ, Obstacles to progress, Techniques to Overcome them’
Chapter Fifteen Page 209

We cannot escape the need for adaptation……

“We cannot escape the need for adaptation.
Adaptation is the application of certain principles,
to achieve certain results.
It implies:
– Knowing where the person is now.
– Knowing where we want them to go.
Adaptation is the means used to bridge this gap.”
– TKV Desikachar 1981

There is also an obstacle that is from the nature of the mind itself……

“There is also an obstacle that is from the nature of the mind itself.
We get moods — sometimes we are all right, we can go on,
but sometimes we feel heavy, we feel dull, we don’t feel like proceeding.
This mental heaviness could be due to food, it could be due to cold weather,
it could be just the nature of the mind.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Antarāyāḥ, Obstacles to progress, Techniques to Overcome them’
Chapter Fifteen Page 208