The teacher decides which of the Tri Krama is the……

“The teacher decides which of the Tri Krama (three steps) is the best for the student:
Śikṣaṇa Krama requires a perfect knowing to transmit a strict practice,
without any compromise, as it should be in Vedic chanting for example.
Rakṣaṇa Krama is aimed at protection and preservation;
it promotes continuity in any levels like health, abilities, knowledge, etc.
Cikitsā Krama looks for adaptation, healing, recovering…”
TKV Desikachar speaking with his senior Western students London 1998

One could say that I have taught Yoga to hundreds of people……

“One could say, of course,
that I have taught Yoga to hundreds of people,
of different ages, states, origins,
but by Yoga I mean only postures and breath control,
and do not count meditation or interpretation of the texts.

These I have only taught to a few people and
only to those I deemed worthy after several interviews,
designed to give me an idea of their personality
and the firmness of their intentions.

I discouraged those who appeared to have superficial reasons for learning Yoga,
but never those who came to find me because of health problems and
who had frequently been turned away by the medical profession.”

– From interviews with T Krishnamacharya by Sarah Dars,
published in Viniyoga Review no 24, December 1989

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’.

The process of Cikitsā has two parts…..

cikitsa

“The process of Cikitsā has two parts:
1. Rakṣaṇa Krama
I am healthy and don’t want to be sick.
By not doing anything there will be no Rakṣaṇam.
For example:
Yoga Sūtra Chapter Two verse 16
heyaṃ duḥkham anāgatam
I’m alright now,
but I must be careful so I don’t get sick tomorrow.
This is Rakṣaṇa Krama.”
TKV Desikachar France 1983

Often people have little distinction between Exercise and Yoga….

siksana

“Continuing the idea of Śikṣaṇa,
it is possible to put further categories into Sādhana.
It is important,
as often people have little distinction between exercise and Yoga.
According to texts and great masters Sādhana is not just at the body level,
but at the Indriya level, the mind level and possibly even further.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

People come to study Yoga for many reasons……

TKV_France_1999

“People come to study Yoga for many reasons,
however it comes into two groups.
1. They come to learn or study (Śikṣaṇa).
2. They come to us for support rather than to study (Rakṣaṇa).
So the Yoga we offer to the person who is inquiring
is not the Yoga we offer to the person seeking protection.
Therefore one can give the wrong advice (Asat viniyoga) to the right person
and vice versa (Asat viniyoga).
This can do more harm than if the person had not come.
The intention must be right as must be the execution.”
TKV Desikachar Switzerland 1978

We cannot say that this Āsana or this Prāṇāyāma can be given……

janu_sirsasana

“We cannot say that this Āsana or this Prāṇāyāma can be given for this disease.”
– T Krishnamacharya 1984

How is Āyurveda linked to Cikitsā or the therapeutic application of Yoga?

Question to TKV Desikachar:
“How is Āyurveda linked to Cikitsā or the therapeutic application of Yoga?”

TKV Desikachar Response:
“There is a lot of difference. As far as Yoga is concerned, we are concerned with the personality of the person, the mental aspect and the higher aspirations of the student.

That is why Yoga has a lot to offer. For the body Āyurveda is the solution. A good combination would be Āyurveda and Yoga.

My father used to do that. He would teach Āsana practice, or Prāṇāyāma or meditation and he would talk about diet and he would also give some Āyurveda medicine.

He was treating not only the body but the whole person with the help of this great combination.”

Extract from an interview in the Journal Viniyoga Italia on Yoga and Well Being.

Śikṣaṇa Krama – do something perfectly or correctly……

asana_12

Śikṣaṇa Krama – do something perfectly or correctly.
Anything is taught to achieve perfection in the practice of Āsana and Prāṇāyāma.
In other words teaching children and healthy people where you can take risks with no problems.
Not a valid approach for groups.
We need to use intelligence and Viveka,
not follow the idea of no pain, no gain to become painless,
or to get to a point without suffering.”
– TKV Desikachar France 1983

Prāṇāyāma done, along with a Mantra, has a role to play in Yoga Cikitsā.

jalandhara_bandha

Prāṇāyāma done, along with a Mantra, has a role to play in Yoga Cikitsā.”
From T Krishnamacharya’s composition, the Yoga Rahasya

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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


Abstract
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

Download or view as a PDF

If a teacher is unable to follow the unique conditions of each student……

“In a group class, if a teacher is unable to follow the unique conditions of each student, it would be unfortunate, since not only we would not understand Yoga, we might also be discouraged.”
– TKV Desikachar Religiousness in Yoga Chapter Two Page 15

But we need to know how to help the person……

we need to know how to help the person

Question from Paul Harvey

So to conclude from what you are saying, because somebody comes in with a particular problem and Yoga helps that person with a problem we cannot turn it around and say therefore that Yoga helps that problem in all situations.

 Response from TKV Desikachar

We help the person, because we help the person certain illnesses are reduced
but we need to know how to help the person.

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

I still do not know the answer until I meet the person……

I still do not know the answer until I meet the person

Question from Paul Harvey

If I may conclude with an awkward question. For somebody reading this interview they would perhaps understand from it that Yoga is not a straightforward means of for this problem this solution.

Yet there are many, many Yoga books already on the marketplace that offer precisely this, almost as a glossy self-help manual with quite specific links between postures and diseases or breathing techniques and diseases, between techniques and illnesses.

What have you to say to the reader with this respect, because there is this large body of, I cannot say evidence of, there is this large body of information that is there. What is the reader to do? With all this what can help?

Response from TKV Desikachar

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If I love my body my body will heal……

If I love my body my body will heal

Question from Paul Harvey

So if we find that Yoga is difficult to evaluate in terms of Science and I appreciate that it does not work in the same way that Western medicine does in that Western medicine looks at the symptom then tries to tackle the particular symptom. How in your opinion does Yoga work, what is in Yoga that is so precious, so special?

Response from TKV Desikachar

I had an expert medical doctor, super expert doctor she had some problem with headaches. An extremely competent person but nothing could help, she is a surgeon also, a great writer and then somebody suggested why don’t you try Yoga, that is all. She came to us. I did not teach her, I asked one of my colleagues to teach her. After one month she just said, this is magic. I cannot explain it and the science to it, I have done research, I tried meditating, nothing happened, and this is magic, that is all I can say. She is very grateful for this. I asked her how do you explain some of simple things that we taught you. One thing I must say she said is that you seem to know more about the body than we do. You seem to know about the intricacies of the body but we do not know how the body moves, we do not know what is stiffness what is flexibility, we do not know how to make a body flexible.

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The problem is what does this word ’Yoga’ mean……

The problem is what does this word ’Yoga’ mean

Question from Paul Harvey

On the question of clinical conditions, the Western way treats disease in terms of the use of drugs and has a consistent response to disease and this is seen as something that is of great interest to people in the West.

In terms of Yoga research could you talk more about what exists in terms of research into Yoga in India from a medical viewpoint.

Response from TKV Desikachar

We have a lot of data to say that somebody had a problem, they went to some Yoga courses and then they got better. We have enormous data back in India. This is because India has many Yoga teachers, reputable teachers and not so reputable teachers. When I look at the journals and newspapers many Institutions are doing a lot of good work where people feel better after going to Yoga.

The problem is what does this word ’Yoga’ mean. Because science is exact, science expects that we know what was given and what were the conditions in which it was given and what are the effects and science expects this to be repeated again and again. A particular medicine is given for a particular condition again and again and again and when it was not given it does not work and when it is given it works, this is why they have this double blind test.

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So this is the initial relationship between Science and Yoga……

Question from Paul Harvey

It is a very broad area that we want to look at around science and medical conditions, as there is a tremendous interest in Yoga as a therapy in the world today.

I would like to start by maybe getting a historical perspective on Yoga and asking questions on your understanding of it. Where do you feel that this link started between Yoga and Science? Because Yoga originally was something that was not associated with science.

It was something that was done for personal development, spiritual development, or even perhaps physical development and somewhere we seem to have made this link with science, which was predominantly something that was growing up in the West whilst at the same time Yoga was growing or has grown in India, with less connection directly with science.

So I am wondering if you could help develop this question about the link between Yoga and Science.

Response from TKV Desikachar

If we look at the history of India, for centuries and centuries for different reasons India has always fascinated the West. More people have travelled to India from the West than from other parts because the Chinese could not come because of the mountains. There has been silk; there has been a lot of mix about India’s great history; also many conquerors came.

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One of the important rules is that……

One of the important rules is that we should know what not to teach

“One of the important rules is that we should know what not to teach.”
– Extract from Interview with TKV Desikachar by Paul Harvey in 2000
on ‘Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy’.
n.b. This ‘rule’ was one of the primary foci for my first years 121 lessons
on Pathology and Yoga Cikitsa with Desikachar when living in Madras through 1980.

When somebody comes to us they are not coming with one problem……

they are not coming with one problem

Question by Paul Harvey

So from what you are saying it appears that it is not really possible to evaluate Yoga in the terms that would satisfy Western science, in terms of having several study groups, one group practising Yoga, one group practising some placebo, one group not practising; measuring the different groups and trying to determine the effect over the same period of time.

Response from TKV Desikachar

It is a challenge. Now I am not saying that people have not done this type of study, I always want to call it study, I do not call it a conclusion, study is being done by scientific people interested in Yoga, studies are being done but there is a tendency to make a hasty conclusion. There are many Institutions in India that say we have done these studies

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Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy

Science, Medical Conditions and Yoga as a Therapy

Interview with TKV Desikachar

By Paul Harvey in 2000 whilst studying with TKV Desikachar in Chennai

Paul thanks Desikachar for agreeing to give time for this interview and Desikachar replies with thanks.

Question from Paul Harvey

It is a very broad area that we want to look at around science and medical conditions, as there is a tremendous interest in Yoga as a therapy in the world today.

I would like to start by maybe getting a historical perspective on Yoga and asking questions on your understanding of it. Where do you feel that this link started between Yoga and Science? Because Yoga originally was something that was not associated with science.

It was something that was done for personal development, spiritual development, or even perhaps physical development and somewhere we seem to have made this link with science, which was predominantly something that was growing up in the West whilst at the same time Yoga was growing or has grown in India, with less connection directly with science.

So I am wondering if you could help develop this question about the link between Yoga and Science.

Response from TKV Desikachar

If we look at the history of India, for centuries and centuries for different reasons India has always fascinated the West. More people have travelled to India from the West than from other parts because the Chinese could not come because of the mountains. There has been silk; there has been a lot of mix about India’s great history; also many conquerors came.

Through these travels people from the West, which is the source of modern science, heard about many things that are happening. Among the things that they came to know about were some of what we call the ‘feats’ of Yogis. In fact long, long ago Yoga was linked only to all these feats, levitation, flying, etc.

In the 18th and 19th Century, in the beginning of the 19th Century, there was an observation made during the time of the great King, Ranjit Singh in the Punjab, which fascinated some of the travellers of the West. There was a Yogi who was kept in a box and buried underground. He was there for a number of days and he did not die.

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As teachers we can only confine ourselves to diseases where……

cikitsa

“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

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T Krishnamacharya Cikitsā Practice excerpt aged 96

A short clip extracted from a video of T Krishnamacharya practising as part of his Yoga Cikitsā or Yoga therapeutics when recovering from a hip fracture from a fall in 1984 when aged 96. Apologies for the quality, the original cassette is a bit flakey.

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