Even these days, the influence of Krishnamacharya’s teachings around Yoga are primarily known through his exacting teaching of Āsana. This has also been mainly experienced in the West with the developmental work of his early students, such as through the choreographical artistry in the work of Pattabhi Jois or through the geometrical precision in the work of BKS Iyengar.
However this area of Āsana teaching, though itself multifaceted and hugely influential, if disproportionately predominant within Yoga today, only reveals one aspect of the many dimensions of practice expressed within his teaching. This teaching evolved and refined over 70 years, from his return from his long stay around the borders of Nepal and Tibet in 1919, to his death in 1989.
A more all-inclusive insight into the many aspects of these other facets can be ascertained through exploring the multifarious approaches and priorities emphasised within the teaching work of other of Krishnamacharya’s students, such as TKV Desikachar, or S Ramaswami, or AG Mohan.
From exploring the teaching priorities of all these first generation students of Krishnamacharya, a more all-embracing perspective can arise encompassing both the breadth and depth of his mastery of both the teachings of Yoga and their context, place and application within the Indian perspectives on such as soteriology, philosophy and theology.
One example of this depth is Krishnamacharya’s lesser known work in the teaching of Mantra
A postscript to yesterdays post around the three Niyama
within Kriyā Yoga on the uses of the terms ‘self’ or ‘Self’ within
the legs in the tripod supporting our efforts at nurturing a state of Yoga.
“Activities that nurture a state of Yoga involve
self-discipline, Self-inquiry and Self-awareness.”
The first leg supporting the tripod refers to Citta
as the self in terms of nurturing self-discipline.
“Tapas is to discipline our eating habits.”
– T Krishnamacharya
The second leg supporting the tripod refers to Cit
as the Self in terms of nurturing Self-inquiry.
“Svādhyāya is an inquiry into one’s true nature.”
– T Krishnamacharya
The final leg supporting the tripod refers to Cit
as the Self in terms of nurturing Self-awareness.
“Yoga is awareness, a type of knowing.”
– T Krishnamacharya
Freedom of or in movement is obviously an asset and of course a useful pursuit in the world of homo-sedens that abounds these days. However movement according to the principles inherent in Haṭha Yoga has a further role other than mere freedom of movement as an end in itself. Thus in Haṭha Yoga the role of freedom in movement, albeit embedded with useful anatomical insights, is not the priority that appears to dominate the forms of Āsana utilised within many popular Yoga classes.
Of course freedom in movement is obviously a support in allowing us to apply the principles of Haṭha Āsana practice, but it is not the end in itself it seems to have become under the guise of calling it all Yoga. For example it can help with facilitating an exploration of the energetic processes that ultimately define, guide and differentiate Haṭha Yoga from movement forms such as exercise, fitness, dance, etc.
Yet these days it increasingly seems to be that, on the journey towards the deeper purpose inherent in Haṭha Yoga and its relationship to Rāja Yoga, we are more and more being sidetracked by the goals within the myriad of movement forms that proliferate or even ‘pose’ as Āsana practice today.
The Sāṃkhya Kārikā of Īśvara Kṛṣṇa
The first of my thirty plus journeys to India to study Yoga with Desikachar was in 1979, to what was then known as Madras. As it was to be a two year stay and my first visit, we talked about how my studies could be shaped during this time and towards the future. In this discussion it became apparent for me that there were a number of threads to be woven together into a rope that became known as the viniyoga of Yoga.
These were broadly grouped into personal practice development, personal practice theory and textual study. Regarding the latter I asked him where do I start within this vast array of textual options. Without hesitation he said textual study must start with Sāṃkhya as it is a foundation for much of what follows in terms of other texts ranging from the Yoga Sūtra, even to root Āyurveda texts.
Although I had spent a week in Switzerland in 1978 studying Sāṃkhya and Prāṇāyāma with Desikachar and his brother, Sribhashyam, I really had little idea what it meant to study a Yoga related text within the intensity and focus a one to one situation offers. Nor did I have any real grasp of even basic Saṃskṛta. Thus my three decade odyssey into textual studies within the school of Krishnamacharya began with a word by word, verse by verse study of the Sāṃkhya Kārikā.
Now here I am nearly four decades later, within memories of handwriting many, many textual verses, offering workbooks as a support for students interested in textual studies. I have already offered Yoga Sūtra PDF Workbooks and Gītā Chapters PDF Workbooks and now offer a support for those students interested in a study in the foundational philosophy known as Sāṃkhya. Here a Romanised Saṃskṛta Āryā by Āryā personal study support workbook for the Sāṃkhya Kārikā of Īśvara Kṛṣṇa is offered via the links below.
I find myself reflecting on the notion of ‘authentic lineage’, often taught within the statement of Paramparā or ‘from one to another’ as in a succession from teacher to student et al. Both from questions asked of me and questions I have around what I see, generally within the world of ‘Modern’ Yoga and more specifically emerging around the claims on facets in the evolution of TKV Desikachar’s teaching over four decades.
Currently I see various representational phrases being used in modern organisational setups around pupils or students of TKV Desikachar such as ‘Influenced by the Teaching of…..’ or ‘The Living Tradition of…..’ or ‘The Lineage of……’ as if a provenance of authority alluding to authenticity, studentship and tradition.
When working with the Breath in Āsana its perhaps less appealing initially,
but ultimately more attractive, satisfactory and effective,
to integrate a focus of Samāpatti (Unity) of
Śaithilya (Relaxation) in Ananta (the Infinite),
through a developmental Sādhana (Means to Accomplish)
on the Siddhi (accomplishment) of Dīrgha or Length,
supported by Sūkṣma or Subtlety.
From Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 47 T Krishnamacharya taught that:
– the common denominator for successfully uniting (Samāpatti)
both (Bhyām) aspects of relaxation (Śaithilya) and the infinite (Ananta)
within the practice of Āsana is the Breath.
He saw it as Prayatna (continued effort)
and synonymous with Jīvana (giving life).
The continued effort of the Breath is that which gives life.
Yoga Sūtra Study Question:
Identify and list one key word that reflects the essence of each
of the first eleven Sūtra in Chapter One of the Yoga Sūtra.
To Download or View this Question as a PDF Study Sheet
Prāṇa – Its origin, function and malfunction
The phenomena of body energies and their emanating energy field are found recorded within most Asiatic traditions. Both Chinese and Indian thought have a rich textual history of bio-energy, its function and effects of its malfunction.
In each of these traditions a system of medicine evolved aimed at enhancing and sustaining the flow of Ch’i or Prāṇa within the individual and much interest is now being shown in the West in Traditional Chinese and Indian medicine.
The previous article on the presence and actions of Prāṇa Śakti established links between the mind, breath, and Prāṇa but posed the problem of both Yoga and Āyurveda texts presuming knowledge of what Prāṇa is, how it functions within the individual, and what is the role of Yoga and Āyurveda in relation to sustaining the intensity of Prāṇa within an individual’s health, harmony and mental stability
The presence and actions of Prāṇa Śakti
Generally the purpose of Yoga is to bring about a change within the prominence of awareness and its subsequent impact on the attitude and function of the individual.
Whether this change is explored as a yoking of two opposites, as in Prāṇa and Apāna, or an unyoking of two seemingly inseparable aspects, as in Puruṣa and Prakṛti, time and a process are involved. Also this notion of change may be initiated within an individual’s physical body, energetic processes, mental attitude and emotional responses.
However, within Indian thought there is a concept that is common to the different philosophies and to the different aspects of the individual. This concept is the presence, power and actions of Prāṇa.
Yoga Sūtra Study Question:
List five of the key concepts for Chapter One of the Yoga Sūtra in order of appearance.
To Download or View this Question as a PDF Study Sheet
In introducing the Yoga Sūtra Chapter One Upāya section within verses 20–39,
Krishnamacharya talks about Das Upāya or ten approaches,
of which two are Śodhanam (Purifying) Sādhana
and eight are Śamanam (Palliating) Sādhana.
Pratyāhāra is not feeding the tendency of the Citta to automatically form a positive, negative, or neutral identification with whatever stimuli the senses present to it. From that we can begin to understand how their external gathering activities stimulate our conscious and especially, unconscious choices.
The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali Chapters One to Four
Samādhi Sādhana Vibhūti Kaivalya Pādaḥ
A Romanised Saṃskṛta verse by verse word by word personal study support workbook for all four chapters of the Yoga Sūtra. Further workbooks are available for each individual chapter as well as this combined version.
For those wishing to use this workbook as a personal study guide then exploring the online Yoga Sūtra verse by verse translation with its added individual word by word translation and cross verse reference index links may be helpful. These translations are also accumulating online verse by verse commentaries from T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar.
The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali Chapter Four Kaivalya Pādaḥ
A Romanised Saṃskṛta verse by verse word by word personal study support workbook for chapter four of the Yoga Sūtra. Further workbooks will be available for the remaining chapter as well as a combined version.
For those wishing to use this workbook as a self study guide exploring the online chapter four verse by verse translation with its added individual word by word translation and cross verse reference index links may be helpful. These translations are also accumulating online verse by verse commentaries from T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar.
The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali Chapter Three Vibhūti Pādaḥ
A Romanised Saṃskṛta verse by verse word by word personal study support workbook for chapter three of the Yoga Sūtra. Further workbooks will be available for the remaining chapter as well as a combined version.
For those wishing to use this workbook as a self study guide exploring the online chapter three verse by verse translation with its added individual word by word translation and cross verse reference index links may be helpful. These translations are also accumulating online verse by verse commentaries from T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar.
This post introduces a verse by verse interpretation of Chapter One of the Yoga Sūtra.
I see this presentation as a Yoga Mālā or a thread of pearls on Yoga from Patañjali’s Sūtra eventually arranged over four chapters. I am endeavouring to stay close to my studies, but allow a little more freedom of expression in terms of choice of rendering to facilitate a more cohesive teachings thread for the reader.
For a fuller word by word Saṃskṛta study of the Yoga Sūtra readers are advised to follow the full online edition of the Yoga Sūtra wherein every word is translated and cross-linked along with a verse translation. This online Yoga Sūtra resource is also gradually accumulating commentaries from Krishnamacharya, Desikachar, Ramaswami from my own study notes along with personal reflections.
mahākleśādayo doṣaḥ kṣīyante maraṇādayaḥ |
mahāmudrāṃ ca tenaiva vadanti vibudhottamāḥ ||
“It dissolves defects like the Mahā Kleśa such as the fear of Death.
For this reason the wise call it the Mahā Mudrā”
– Commentary on Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā Chapter 3 verse 14
The Sāṃkhya Kārikā is now going online and linking to the Yoga Sūtra and the Bhagavad Gītā
Sāṃkhya is said to be a relative of Yoga. In fact they are often linked together when presenting models around the six major schools of inquiry within the Indian tradition.
“Sāṃkhya has been fundamental in its influence on the philosophical
foundations underpinning such as Yoga, Buddhism and Āyurveda.”
The first text that I was privileged to be able to study word by word, Śloka by Śloka along with the commentaries of Krishnamacharya and then Desikachar, within the intimacy and vitality of private lessons, was the Sāṃkhya Kārikā of Īśvara Kṛṣṇa.
The Bhagavad Gītā is now going online and linking to the Yoga Sūtra
Another important text allied to my inquiry into and around Yoga that I was privileged to be able to study word by word, Śloka by Śloka along with the commentaries of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar, within the intimacy and vitality of private lessons over 4 years of visits to Chennai, was the Bhagavad Gītā.
The first stage of the Bhagavad Gītā online resource project is complete with the entire text transcribed into a document with ‘proper’ Saṃskṛta notations. Now the second stage is under way with the setting up of the text as a live online and searchable chapter by chapter, word by word online resource in the same way as with the online Yoga Sūtra project with commentaries around each verse from study with my teacher on and around this particular text.