A fundamental facet in the principles of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma practice……


A fundamental facet in the principles of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma practice, in the teachings of Krishnamacharya through Desikachar, is the ordering of Āsana according to the acronym SLIBSS.

It is the practice arrangement or Vinyāsa Krama in the following order:

  • Standing Āsana
  • Supine Lying Āsana
  • Inverted Āsana
  • Prone Backbend Āsana
  • Sitting Āsana
  • Seated Āsana

This is referred to in Religiousness in Yoga page 23-27.

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Yoga is the least systematic of exercises……

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

“Yoga is the least systematic of exercises.
If one practices postures without addressing needs,
no routine is established,
because needs change from day to day.
One should act on the present and the future
and not worry too much about the past.”
– From interviews with T Krishnamacharya by Sarah Dars,
published in Viniyoga Review no 24, December 1989

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You do your group of Āsana linked like words in a sentence………

“Another important thing that he has understood is
that these Āsana should not be taken one by one,
they have to be taken as a group and as a composition.
This means you don’t do headstand on Monday,
shoulder stand on Tuesday,
you do your group of Āsana linked like words in a sentence.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’,
given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.

We start our practice where we are and look toward a certain goal….


“We start our practice where we are and look toward a certain goal.
Then we choose the steps that will lead us toward realising that goal
and will gradually bring us back into our everyday life,
but our daily practice does not return us to the exact place we started.
The practice has changed us.”
– TKV Desikachar

Where are we starting from?……


“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

Āsana practice should take into account……

Āsana practice should take into account:
– Where we are – Where am I?
– Where are we going – What is my goal?
– What happens afterwards – How do I continue with my life?
There needs to be steps in the sequence to lead to the goal and counter postures
to prepare for life after the Yoga practice, a Vinyāsa.
The postures need to be visualised prior to being executed, Bhāva.
It is important to prepare for life after a Yoga practice
so that a student is fully prepared for life outside the Yoga room.”
From study notes with TKV Desikachar in England 1992

Planning should precede practice….


Planning should precede practice,
fix your goal, building step by step
and there should be check points along the way.”
– From study notes with TKV Desikachar England 1992

Principles behind why Krishnamacharya only taught adults 121……


“There is another practical thing, it is like what we call Vinyāsa.

At different times, he (Krishnamacharya) has said that any teaching must have the following conditions:

First, from where is the student coming? What is called Deśa. Is he from America, or is he from North India? Teaching must consider whether the person is from one country or another.

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Whether or not I like it, I should know where I am……

Whether or not I like it, I should know where I am

“Whether or not I like it, I should know where I am.
Otherwise we try to draw the line from where we are not to where we want to be.
Therefore the first point must be understood and then we can go to the next point.”
– TKV Desikachar France August 1983

Progress must be seen as the distance from the starting point……


‎”Progress must be seen as the distance from the starting point,
rather than the more usual reference of the distance from the finishing point.”
TKV Desikachar England 1976

A great number of postures, notably most standing postures, have……


A great number of postures, notably most standing postures, have doubtless come to us directly from the Professor, who would have introduced them as appropriate to the needs of modern times.

Amongst the standing postures, uttānāsana, parśva uttānāsana, utthita trikoṇāsana and utthita parśva koṇāsana, are examples which the Professor himself codified.”

– Claude Marachel was a long serving and senior student of TKV Desikachar over 33 years from 1969-2002. This is an extract from Claude talking about what Desikachar told him about his father, Krishnamacharya.

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Question Krishnamacharya – “Can you explain the concept of vinyāsa and pratikriyāsana?”


Question to T Krishnamacharya:
“Can you explain the concept of vinyāsa and pratikriyāsana?”

“The question asked relates to Yoga and not to vidyābhyasa. There is no āsana without vinyāsa. Yoga is an experience, āsana is the third of the eight limbs of Yoga and it is also important to pay attention to first two limbs, namely yama and niyama.

One who wishes to enquire into and understand vinyāsa should first know what is āsana. According to Patañjali Yoga Sūtra, āsana is defined as “sthira sukham āsanam”.

sthira – Namely firm and without disease and sukha – pleasant and comfortable. To be in sukha state, all parts of the body should be in perfect harmony. This is true for all, whether one is a man, woman, deaf, mute, blind or even for animals. Any action that disturbs this state of harmony should be followed by a pratikriyā to restore the harmony. One cannot but accept this principle.

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The person who taught me how to vary postures……

The person who taught me how to vary postures, to bend the legs, to turn the neck, all the simple and complicated variations, as necessary, is Krishnamacharya. It is important to vary each posture according to the individuals requirements.

Further, he also introduced the use of other aids or supports, so that the person gets the benefit of a posture through other means when he is not able to do the posture itself. This can involve sitting on a chair, using a roll, using supports, etc., the use of other means to help a person achieve certain results.”

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

Āsana based Exercises for the management of Low Back Pain

Low Back Pain is an endemic disorder afflicting a large percentage of people. The aetiological factors are mostly psychosomatic along with postural defects, occupational predispositions and sendentary life styles. Though several rehabilitative techniques are prescribed, no systematic analysis of these are available.

The present study evaluates several simple Āsana on the basis of biomechanical principles. These studies also select a set of Āsana which work on the back with increasing intensity. A series of tests are evolved to assess the physiological debility of a patient. These test results form the basis of selection of Āsana to be prescribed to the patient. A chart is finally provided to enable the therapist to increase the intensity of Āsana so that the muscles of the low back can be strengthened systematically and progressively.

The results of clinical trials on 16 patients using this method of Āsana selection and rehabilitation indicates the usefulness of this method for the management of low back pain, Only regular practitioners of these exercises improve while indifferent or improper practice has no rehabilitative value.

by TV Ananthanarayanan – Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram and
TM Srinivasan – Founder Member, Biomedical EngineeringDivision, I. I. T., Madras

Originally published in The Yoga Review Vol. III, No. 1, 1983

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When we teach the headstand we first teach preparation……


“When we teach the headstand, we first teach preparation, then we teach the counterpose Sarvāṅgāsana which in itself is a major pose that demands its own counterpose Bhujaṅgāsana. It is all very systematic.
Planning means to go gradually, to prepare, and then to compensate.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Four Pages 53-54

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Religiousness in Yoga Study Guide: Chapter Two 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 Yoga Sūtra verse and word cross-references to support a a deeper linking with the teachings within these lectures and Q & A sessions.

Chapter Two Practice: The Principles of Practice – Pages 13-30

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