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

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

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

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

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

Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Fourteen Practice

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 Fourteen Practice: The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha
– Pages 195-205

read more

Another simple posture for Bandha is Adho Mukha Śvanāsana……

“Another simple posture is Adho Mukha Śvan Āsana.
The next step is to try them in some sitting postures such as Mahā Mudrā.
These Bandha can also be done in the headstand.
It is easy to do Bandha in this position because the lifting,
Uḍḍīyana Bandha, and holding up, Mūla Bandha,
of Apāna to the flame is almost automatic
because now the Apāna is above the flame.
If we can do the three Bandha in these postures,
we are ready to introduce them in our Prāṇāyāma.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 197

We must begin to do these Bandha in some simple postures……

“We must begin to do these Bandha in some
simple postures so our bodies can get used to them.
The easiest posture is to lie flat on the back.
We call this Taḍāka Mudrā when we
do Uḍḍīyana Bandha in this position.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 197

We should anticipate a great reduction in our ability to do long breathing……

“We should anticipate a great reduction in our ability to do
long breathing and holding the breath once we introduce the Bandha.
There is quite a lot of effort involved in doing them.
If a person can do 10.10.20.10, I have found
that with Bandha the breath is reduced to 6.6.12.6,”
– TKV Desikachar ‘The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 200

The best Āsana for doing Bandha are inverted, lying flat, or sitting……

“The best Āsana for doing Bandha are inverted, lying flat, or sitting with the back straight.
A classic posture is Mahā Mudrā, which is in fact, Mahā Mudrā only if the Bandha are used.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 200

The more you teach the more you must practice.

“The more you teach,
the more you must practice.”
– TKV Desikachar

Through observation in Āsana practice we can learn a lot about ourselves……

Āsana practice is the beginning that will confirm the importance of observation.
Through observation in Āsana practice we can learn a lot about ourselves
and even probably meet ‘that‘ which is observing inside us.”
– TKV Desikachar 1981

Uḍḍīyāna Bandha is done on holding the breath after exhalation……

“As Uḍḍīyāna Bandha is done on holding the breath after exhalation,
one of the most important requirements
is that we are able to do a long holding of the breath
without sacrificing the quality of the inhalation and exhalation.
If this is not possible we should forget about Bandha for the time being.”
– TKV Desikachar ‘The Concept, Preparation and Techniques of Bandha’
TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Fourteen Page 197

Yoga is a process which makes me understand how my mind……

Response from TKV Desikachar on attempts being made to link Yoga to specific diseases

We have to examine many factors to see what is the origin of what is known as a symptom and according to that we have to propose for this condition some Yoga which is not just Āsana.

Yoga is a process which makes me understand how my mind is functioning and then reduces the turbulence of mind, any technique that helps this helps the person. We are reaching the human being through the mind; we are reaching the sickness through interaction at the mental level, with different tools of course.

This is why it is a challenge for Yoga.”

Extract from Interview with TKV Desikachar by Paul Harvey in 2000
on ‘Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy’.

We should know what NOT to teach……

“One of the important rules is that
we should know what NOT to teach.”
TKV Desikachar on Yoga as a Therapy’.

We can use Āsana to explore the Breath and……

“We can use Āsana to explore the breath and
then use Prāṇāyāma to experience the breath.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

Dynamic postures bring out inherent weaknesses and trends in the breath……

“Dynamic postures bring out inherent weaknesses and trends in the breath.
They can also tell you what ratios should be avoided.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar

To influence Prāṇa, we have to influence the mind……

“To influence Prāṇa,
we have to influence the mind.
This is achieved by the means of the breath.”
– From personal lessons with TKV Desikachar