TKV Desikachar talks on Śraddhā in the light of the Yoga Sūtra……

TKV Desikachar talks on Śraddhā in the light of the Yoga Sūtra
at the KYM and responds to questions.

“Śraddhā is essential for progress,
whether in Yoga or any other endeavour.
It is a feeling that cannot be expressed or intellectually discussed.

It, however, is a feeling that is not always uncovered in every person.
When absent or weak,
it is evident through the lack of stability and focus in a person.

Where present and strong,
it is evident through the commitment, perseverance
and enthusiasm the person exhibits.
For such a person, life is meaningful.”

The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali deals with the mind. It examines the different functions of the mind and provides means to modify these functions so that it serves the person in a very constructive way.

The means by which certain qualitative changes in the mind are brought about is called Sādhanā. There is also the possibility that certain individuals may develop such a mind without effort. That is, the qualities are inherent in that individual and mature on their own to manifest one day in the form of some extraordinary capacities. However, such persons are few. For the rest of us, the same changes are possible but it is a question of time and practice. The end result is the same, it is only the time taken to achieve it that will differ.

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Yoga Sūtra on Stress – An interview with TKV Desikachar

TKV Desikachar teaching at Gaunts House


– An Interview with TKV Desikachar by AV Balasubramanian and Paul Harvey

The Yoga Sūtra presents the potentials of the human mind, the means to its refinement, control and clarity and the obstacles that can come in the way of one’s progress. An understanding of stress in the light of the Yoga Sūtra is presented in the interview below.

In addition to covering the many techniques in Yoga to help persons under stress, TKV Desikachar constantly emphasises the importance of the attitude to our actions. He singles out the cultivation of the twin qualities of Śraddhā and Īśvara Praṇidhānā as the only sure means for being free from stress permanently.

What is the Indian tradition’s view on stress?

In the Indian tradition, stress would be the situation where a person exhibits the Udvega, attitudes or behavior which take over a person and control him. The origin of the Udvega lies in the Ṣad Ūrmi, the six enemies. These six are:

  • Kāma: desire
  • Krodha: anger
  • Lobha: possessiveness, greed
  • Moha: darkness; though not actually dark it is as if darkness exists because the person is so sure of himself and his opinions that he is unable to see.
  • Mada: arrogance, the refusal to accept or give in.
  • Mātsarya: jealousy, to resent the success of others and to be happy at their failures.

These are Āyurveda‘s Mano Roga (diseases of the mind). If any one of these six is dominant in a person, that person is sure to experience Udvega in one form or the other.

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The breadth, depth and potential of Desikachar’s teachings on practice……

Śrī TKV Desikachar 1938-2016

In Memorium August 8th 2019

The teachings that TKV Desikachar received from T Krishnamacharya around Yoga practice and practice theory were far more extensive than is often presumed from the contemporary perception of Krishnamacharya’s Yoga legacy. These perceptions were mostly formed from either, the more well publicised approaches to Āsana by some of Krishnamacharya’s early students, or the popularised generic view of Viniyoga as a stylistic application of Āsana, found primarily within the therapeutic adaptive Yoga field or commingled breath and movement group Yoga classes.

By way of contrast my own experiences studying with Desikachar, developed over some thirty ongoing visits to Madras over more than two decades to study privately with him, may offer a different insight into the practice possibilities that I became increasingly exposed to. However as with many, even these days, being introduced to the teachings of Krishnamacharya still meant that Āsana was the starting point for our exploration into what is Yoga. In other words the ‘on the practice mat’ aspects of Bāhya Aṅga Sādhana.

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Yesterday was the second commemoration of TKV Desikachar’s passing……

Desikachar and Paul Chanting in 1999

This is a post about not posting……

As some of you may have noticed yesterday was the second commemoration of TKV Desikachar’s passing. As a remembrance of this day last year I offered a post with him being asked questions as a student around his father. This year I was proposing to post, as a tribute, around my work with him as his student in the development and refinement of my personal practice.

However as the day emerged I realised that my attention for this time needed to turn more towards an inner reflection rather than an outward expression of my relationship with him. So I chose this day off from media or any outer contact in order to have a personal space to be more fully with my memories and experiences from our time together. 

These memories of studying with him for over twenty years, mostly in Madras sitting in his teaching room around the table, or with me on the practice mat with him observing, or sharing the mat chanting together, remind me of how private our relationship was. Looking back I feel that was a unique situation that would be very difficult to emulate in the environment within which Yoga sits these days, let alone find a teacher who only taught adults one to one and never ran or even wanted to run a teacher training course.

Of course this unique situation was not without its inner and outer demands and my memories and experiences contain both good, challenging and difficult moments. However within all of these moments the quality of our relationship as teacher and student endured and I remain eternally indebted for the transmission that became the fruit of our time being alone together.

As to my post originally planned for yesterday, it will appear over the next few days.

Śrī Gurubhyo Namaḥ

How is the Spirit of Yoga Transmitted?

“This past weekend, sixteen of TKV Desikachar’s long term students from around the world met and spent time together in the South of France.

We reflected on what we each personally received from our teacher through our individual lessons in Chennai over many years.

Within this context certain questions arose that we would like to share as an offering.
– How is the Spirit of Yoga transmitted?
– What are the conditions that make this transmission possible?
– How can all of us support the continuity of this transmission?

We will continue to meet and work together to sustain
the spirit of TKV Desikachar’s teaching as we have understood it.”

– Ste Cécile les Vignes, June 24th 2018
Chase Bossart; Bernard Bouanchaud; Johanna Bouanchaud; Barbara Brian;
Malek Daouk; Paul Harvey; Hoda Khoury; Hellfried Krusche;
Gill Lloyd; François Lorin; Laurence Maman; Marina Margherita;
Frans Moors; Martyn Neal; Simone Tempelhof-Moors; Dolphi Wertenbaker

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What is the Future of our Past within the spirit of Viniyoga…….

Today commemorates TKV Desikachar‘s eightieth birthday, the second to have passed since his death in August 2016. This day, coincidentally, also sees me travelling to the South of France for a 3 day gathering of most of his long term pupils from around the world.

Curiously this meeting comes to pass exactly twenty years after the last such meeting in June 1998 where some 16 students from 8 countries gathered in London with Desikachar to explore, as he put it:
“How to respect this tradition and at the same time, to live and teach in the present situation?”

This time again sees some 16 students gathering from 8 countries, though obviously the occasion of meeting without Desikachar’s physical presence will be strange. Yet I feel it will also offer an unique opportunity to salute that which links us and to reconnect with old friends and reaffirm where we find ourselves within the Yoga world today. Such as what is the future of our past within the spirit of Viniyoga?

Questions on T Krishnamacharya – Answered by TKV Desikachar

This day, August the 8th marks TKV Desikachar’s passing one year ago.
Two posts from this time are shown below.

As I sit within this time of passing and remembrance……

We have lost a fine teacher and a Yoga master……

To honour his memory one year later, this article from the Darśanam Journal is offered.

Questions on T Krishnamacharya – Answered by TKV Desikachar

“Though familiar with some well known details of his early life, the students of the Mandiram were keen to know more about their teacher, T. Krishnamacharya. T.K.V. Desikachar answers a wide range of questions giving us details that were not known before. It covers his views on subjects as diverse as his early orthodoxy, Mahatma Gandhi, the qualities he respected, his diet and entertainment.”

Originally published by the KYM Darśanam November 1993

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Śīrṣāsana as a Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā


Śīrṣāsana as a Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā

This day, for so long TKV Desikachar‘s birthday, is the first since his death last August.
In memorium is the article below:

“In the scheme of Haṭha Yoga where the harnessing and channelising of one’s life energy is the goal, the Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā occupies a special place.
A person’s full potential is realised when this energy moves to the top of the head.
There are various techniques that the ancient seers had formalised to remove the obstacles in the path of this energy and to aid its movement.
All these techniques culminated the Viparīta Karaṇī Mudrā, the principle of inversion,
one form of which is Śīrṣāsana.

TKV Desikachar explains this concept starting with the most basic requirements of the practice and moving step by step through the various techniques, all of which are used in  Śīrṣāsana.”

Originally published by the KYM Darśanam February 1994

Download or view this article as a PDF

Introduction to the Yoga Makaranda by TKV Desikachar


Introduction to the Yoga Makaranda by TKV Desikachar

Extract from the issue of KYM Darśanam published in November 1993,
it was written by TKV Desikachar as an introduction to a serialisation of the Yoga Makaranda
which ran over 10 issues of the magazine until February 1996.

“I would like to bring to the notice some important aspects of this book to help understand the context in which it was written and to avoid misinterpretation.

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We have lost a fine teacher and a Yoga master……


This picture, taken 1979, with fond memories of early days with
TKV Desikachar and the KYM with co-founder AG Mohan and the faculty.

“Many years ago and not knowing my connection, a Yoga student commented around me “Don’t go to Desikachar, he has no charisma”. At the time, though saying nothing, I was reminded that this was for me an important facet around my appreciation of him, in that it was his ordinariness that I found engaging.

Furthermore, this quality was reflected throughout his life in terms of its simplicity in that it didn’t actually change over the decades that I visited and studied within lessons or spent personal time or travelled with him privately.

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As I sit within this time of passing and remembrance……


TKV Desikachar 1938-2016

As I sit within this time of passing and remembrance it occurred to me that August 2016 exactly marks the 40th anniversary from the first time I met and worked with Desikachar in August 1976.

The setting was a small group of students, especially by todays seminar norms, amidst the august settings of Cambridge University at a week organised by a student of Desikachar from that era, Ian Rawlinson.

I remember the first moments of Desikachar coming onto a small platform in the room, a shy somewhat reticent person and asking us to show to him our personal Yoga practice, already not what we were expecting at our first meeting.

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TKV Desikachar has passed away from this life……..

TKV Desikachar

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

It is with profound sadness and a great personal sense of loss,
that I offer the news that TKV Desikachar has died this Sunday evening at 9.15pm London time on Sunday August 7th or 2.45am Monday August 8th Madras time.
With my prayers and deep condolences to his wife Menaka and family for the loss of the light and clarity he offered to all who had the privilege to have contact with him and his teachings.

Reflections by Paul around TKV Desikachar following his passing on August 8th 2016……..
As I sit within this time of passing and remembrance……
We have lost a fine teacher and a Yoga master……

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Links to Teachings from Śrī T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar


A Reference list on teaching resources around Śrī T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar.

Today, my teachers 78th Birthday, is again one of mixed emotions and reflections on his life and although his mental and, I am led to believe, physical health is increasingly fragile these days, it’s hard to talk about honouring his birthday when I/we have no real idea as to how he actually is or even if he is in a condition to know about it, let alone appreciate birthday wishes and greetings from those around the world who care.

However within this poignant question of how or even where Desikachar is in himself, I remain eternally grateful for the intimacy and vitality of the years between 1979 and 2002 we shared together as teacher and pupil working within 121 lessons in his home, during my thirty plus study and practice stays in Madras

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Ghee formed a very important part of Krishnamacharya’s diet……

Desikachar & Krishnamacharya Chanting 1980

Desikachar & Krishnamacharya Chanting 1980

Question: What were his favourite foods?

Response: You might be surprised that he relished good food. He was from Andhra and so, relished food that was hot and spicy. He was very fond of sweets and would eat them in great quantities. With all this he would always have ghee. Ghee formed a very important part of his diet and whatever the food, it would be accompanied with large quantities of ghee.

Of course, he was also doing Āsana for three to four hours daily in addition to his Prāṇāyāma. His practice was extremely rigorous and that may account for his being able to handle these large quantities of spicy and sweet foods.”

– TKV Desikachar answering questions on T Krishnamacharya. Originally published in KYM Darśanam November 1993

TKV Desikachar and Generations circa 1980

Picture I took whilst studying and living in Madras through 1980,
of TKV Desikachar then aged 42 at a concert at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.
To his left is his mother Namagiriamma, T Krishnamacharya’s wife and BKS Iyengar’s sister, aged 68.
To his right is his eldest son Bushan aged 10.
Beyond him is Raghu Ananthanarayanan, a senior teacher at that time at the KYM.

Downloadable ‘On Yoga and Health’ in the KYM with TKV Desikachar

Whilst living and studying in Chennai through 1980 Desikachar gave me a  video of an Indian TV programme about the work of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in the field of Yoga and Health. In 2012 I had the video cassette digitalised and offered it as a dropbox downloadable format for students personal collections.

From here it seemed to have made its way to YouTube as a view or embed only film, so am offering it here as a resource for all in both a viewable and embedable format, as well as an easily downloadable video.


A talk by TKV Desikachar in Nantes, France April 1995

In today’s world, the authority of tradition, religious institutions or elders is questioned and not accepted unless proven to the satisfaction of the individual.

However, when a person turns to someone or something with an attitude of respect and with the conviction that through this some­ thing good will happen, extraordinary results are achieved. This is especially so in moments of crisis.

TKV Desikachar, here presents an understanding of faith that the modern mind can accept and more important, that the modern mind needs.

This talk was given at Nantes, France in April 1995 when he visited Europe for a series of lectures and workshops there.

“I am very pleased that the subject of faith in the modern world has attracted so much interest. I would like to develop this idea in the following way. In the Indian tradition, even today, near the beginning of the 21st century, faith is very alive and is even taken for granted. In India, anywhere in India, people still believe in temples and teachers.

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Faith in the Modern World – A talk by TKV Desikachar

FAITH IN THE MODERN WORLD a talk by TKV Desikachar in Nantes, France April 1995


I am very pleased that the subject of faith in the modern world has attracted so much interest. I would like to develop this idea in the following way. In the Indian tradition, even today, near the beginning of the 21st century, faith is very alive and is even taken for granted. In India, anywhere in India, people still believe in temples and teachers. Further, in our families there is enormous respect for the parents. Even though we are exposed, more than ever, to the West, this faith continues. It is an amazing situation because on the one hand, we have learnt to question many things, and on the other, we continue to live as in the past. Our traditions are alive, our masters respected and revered and our temples, churches and mosques full. It is almost like our country has not changed at all. But this is in India and India is only a small part of this great world.

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Yoga and the 21st Century – Interview with TKV Desikachar May 1999



TKV Desikachar was in Narbonne, in the South of France, for a symposium on “Yoga and the XXIst Century” during May 1999. The purpose of the symposium was to consider the role of yoga for the coming century in the three fields of Health, Psychology and Spirituality.

The following interview is an introductory presentation.

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Yoga and modern medicine – Dr Uma Krishnaswamy talks to TKV Desikachar.

Yoga and modern medicine – A Dialogue:
Dr Uma Krishnaswamy talks to TKV Desikachar.
Special issue with the Sunday Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU Well-being : March 12, 2000