Where are we starting from?……

asana_56

“We must consider the direction of one’s Āsana Practice.
Where are we starting from?
Where are we going to?
Is this journey of Pariṇāma working with immediate needs in mind?
Is this journey of Pariṇāma working with long term needs in mind?
Is this journey of Pariṇāma trying to integrate both immediate needs and long term needs?”
– TKV Desikachar 1980

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Seventeen 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 deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.

Chapter 17 Theory: Various Approaches to Yoga Pages 237-249

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We must act in life, but we should not be disappointed by the results……

“We must act in life,
but we should not be disappointed
by the results of our actions
for we may often act imperfectly.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 242

The Mantra is not something we find in a book or something we buy……

“The Mantra is not something we find in a book or something we buy.
While it might have some effect in the beginning, it will not last.
To be effective it must be received properly
and repeated over a long period of time.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 240

While it is used as a metaphor that the Kuṇḍalinī is going up, really, it does not make sense……

“While it is used as a metaphor that the Kuṇḍalinī
is going up, really, it does not make sense.
If we say that Kuṇḍalinī is an energy that gives us truth,
then we have to a accept the fact that we have
two energies in life, Prāṇa and Kuṇḍalinī.
Some also say that energy is sleeping.
What is meant by this?

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The problem is in the mind and the key is in the mind.

“The problem is in the mind
and the key is in the mind.”
– TKV Desikachar

People often ask me if I teach Āsana……

“People often ask me if I teach Āsana.
When I say “Yes, I do.” they say,
“Oh you are a Haṭha Yogi.”
If I talk about the Yoga Sūtra
they say, “You are a Rāja Yogi.”
If I say I am chanting the Veda,
they say, “You are a Mantra Yogi.”
If I say I just practice Yoga,
they can’t understand.
They want to put a label on me.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 247-248

As teachers we can only confine ourselves to diseases……

“As teachers we can only confine ourselves
to diseases where we have a role to play.
These are diseases where the mind is involved.
We work with diseases where a relationship
exists between body and mind.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

The terms Ha and Ṭha also represent two extreme sides of a wavering mind……

“The terms Ha and Ṭha also represent
two extreme sides of a wavering mind.
Ha often is meant to represent the sun, Ṭha the moon.
Suṣumṇā in the middle Nāḍī.
Prāṇa in the Ha and Ṭha represents
a confused and wavering mind.
Prāṇa in the  Suṣumṇā represents a clear, steady mind.
Hence, Jñāni is one whose Prāṇa is in Suṣumṇā
and Ajñāni is one whose Prāṇa is still
in the opposite two Nāḍī, Ha and Ṭha.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 246-247

The obstacle is also called Kuṇḍalinī because it looks like an earring……

“The obstacle is also called Kuṇḍalinī because it looks like an earring
worn by women in the olden days and Kuṇḍali means ‘earring’.
It is also called Śakti because its power is so great that
it is able to block the flow of Prāṇa into the Suṣumṇā.
We must note that it is Prāṇa that is eventually
supposed to go into the Suṣumṇā.
Many books describe that which goes up as Kuṇḍalinī.
Kuṇḍalinī does not go up.
Suṣumṇā is like a conductor through which energy flows.
This energy is the same energy that is always present, Prāṇa.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 243-244

A teacher who knows us very well might give us a Mantra……

“A teacher who knows us very well might give us a Mantra
which has a particular connotation because of the way it has been arranged.
It that Mantra is repeated in the way it has been instructed,
if we are aware of the meaning and if perhaps we want to use a particular image,
Mantra Yoga brings about the same effect as Jñāna Yoga or Bhakti Yoga.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 240

Jñāna Yoga is where we hear or read somebody’s words……

Jñāna Yoga is where we
hear or read somebody’s words,
delve into them deeply,
discuss them with people,
engage in reflection,
until finally all doubts are cleared.
We see the truth,
we merge with the truth,
and that is Jñāna.”
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga
‘Various Approaches to Yoga’
Chapter Seventeen Page 239

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

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

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