About Paul’s Journey as a Student, Teacher, Chanter and Pilgrim

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  1. Paul’s Journey as a Student
  2. Paul’s Journey as a Teacher
  3. Paul’s Journey as a Chanter
  4. Paul’s Journey as a Pilgrim

PH_2013Paul Harvey has been a student and teacher of the personalised application of Yoga, as well as other Indian traditions such as Vedic Chant, Sāṃkhya, Yoga SūtraBhagavad Gītā and Āyurveda lifestyle skills over four decades. Undertaking a personal inquiry and formal Yoga practice in 1972 he began meeting teachers and exploring the practice and theory of āsana, prāṇāyāma and dhyāna.

Following this he met and commenced personal lessons in the UK with TKV Desikachar’s former student Ian Rawlinson in Spring 1974. Through Ian he also worked in Seminars with Desikachar’s leading Western students Claude Marechel in 1975 and Francois Lorin in 1976 and 1977.

However it was when Paul met and worked in England with his root teacher TKV Desikachar in 1976 and again in 1978 studied in Switzerland with both TKV Desikachar and his younger brother TK Sribashyam, that he realised the deeper potential of Yoga through the approach of their father and teacher the eminent T Krishnamacharya.

“The target of Yoga is ‘svatantra’ 
which means to discover our own technique.
‘Sva’ means itself and ‘tantra’ means technique.
The techniques are in oneself and we must discover them;
if not we will depend on others. I am sick and I go to the doctor;
but finally I must become my own therapist.
This is ‘svatantra’.”
– TKV Desikachar

This led in 1979, after a formal request and acceptance by Desikachar as a pupil immediately following that first meeting in 1976, to a two year residence in South India studying and practising within the traditional setting of teacher and apprentice pupil meeting together one to one.

“Yoga is a process by which you grow into self understanding.”

During this prolonged stay in Madras (as it was called then) he studied in depth many aspects of Yoga practice, as well as a detailed exploration of important Yoga and Hindu Texts, along with other facets of the primary Indian traditions.

“A guru is not one who has a following. A guru is one who can show me the way.
Suppose I’m in a forest and somehow I’ve lost my way.
Then I meet somebody and ask, “Can you show me the way home?”
That person might say, “Yes, you go this way”.
I say “Thank you,” and I go on my way. That is a guru.“
– TKV Desikachar

This was both directly under his teacher and through his guidance and recommendation with other students of T Krishnamacharya, namely S Ramaswami, one of the founding trustees of the KYM and AG Mohan, a KYM co-founder and its Honoury Secretary for 23 years, as well as Desikachar’s own students in India including R Prabhakar, Indra Mohan, Raghu Ananthanarayanan, TM Mukundan and AV Balasubramanian.

Bath Yoga Centre 1981-1984

Bath Yoga CentreReturning to the UK in 1981 Paul started the Bath Yoga Centre, which evolved with Paul’s work over 25 years from bYc or Bath Yoga Centre, to cYs or centre for Yoga studies, to VB or Viniyoga Britain, to aYs or association for Yoga studies, before returning to cYs in 2006 as Paul returned to his teaching roots on retiring from the demands involved in administering large teaching organisations.

They were all originally founded to help develop study and training options in the UK. The common thread within all these various organisations was the commitment to the spirit of the teachings from TKV Desikachar as received from his teacher and father T Krishnamacharya.

Centre for Yoga Studies 1985-1991

Centre for Yoga Studies 1985Paul’s study of Yoga and the Vedic tradition through the teachings of T Krishnmacharya was further complemented by workshops and seminars with Desikachar’s Western students such as Peter Hersnack, Laurence Maman and Bernard Bouanchaud.  Plus during many return visits to India, between 1983 and 2002, by the study of Saṃskṛta, Vedic Chant, Mantra, Āyurveda pulse diagnosis and Yoga Cikitsā (Therapeutic Healthcare) with his teacher and lessons on Āyurveda philosophy and application with KS Viswanatha Sarma, the Principal at The Venkataramana Āyurveda College.

To complement his Eastern studies with his teacher and to examine the root influences within his own psychological background and upbringing, Paul undertook Foundation Courses in Focusing in 1985, Core Process Psychotherapy in 1986 and NLP in 1987 before going on in 1988 to complete a four year training with the Centre for Transpersonal Psychology as a counsellor and workshop facilitator.

This and his teacher’s support for Paul‘s interest in both Eastern and Western approaches to philosophical psychology as a practice for life has enabled a further dimension in exploring how to better understand and integrate the Yoga teachings from the culture and attitudes of the East with the beliefs, culture and attitudes of the West today.

Viniyoga Britain 1992-1995

Viniyoga Britain with PHBetween returning to India and establishing a teaching practice in the UK he developed a six year study and training programme. The Programme extended across all aspects of Yoga, including āsana, prāṇāyāma, dhyāna (meditation), chanting, āyurveda and a detailed study of the primary Yoga text, the Yoga Sūtra, as well as an overview of other important Yoga texts such as the Yoga Rahasya, Yoga Yājñavalkhya and Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā.

This is complemented by appreciating traditional Indian teachings such as the Upaniṣad, Bhagavad Gītā, Saṃkhyā Kārikā and other texts informing the application of Yoga practice and theory.

The current Personal and Professional Study and Training choices cover:

The Art of Personal Sādhana – Two Day Workshop and Four Day Course Modules

The Art of Personal Sādhana Modular Programme offers Workshops and Courses focused on developing personal practice, study and appreciation of the possibilities that Yoga can offer.

The Art of Professional Studies – Practitioner and CPD Modular Programmes

The Art of Professional Studies Yoga Teaching and Yoga Therapeutic Healthcare Practitioner Programmes. They professional training for those students who wish to teach Yoga especially in one to one tuition or therapeutic healthcare and develop skills in running small group workshops, seminars and study courses.

Paul has had a long association with the British Wheel of Yoga, the bwy-accredited-group-logoleading National Governing Body for Yoga in England, in varying roles from County Representative in 1974 through to being the Treasurer and sitting on the National Executive Committee from 1976 to 1979. The cYs Yoga Teaching and Yoga Therapy Practitioner Programme Training qualification was fully accredited by the BWY in 1993 and the cYs Yoga Teaching and Yoga Therapy Further Studies Programme was fully accredited by the BWY in 2006.

Viniyoga Britain 1996-2002

Viniyoga Britain 1996Whilst Director of Studies for the various organisational bodies, over the next decade Paul started to de-evolve away from being the main Director and primary teacher. From 1996 he began to extend the teaching faculty and share the responsibilities for teaching the Foundational and Professional Practitioner Training and In-Service Training Courses to include other senior teachers teaching them independently within an organisational framework.

TKV with Paul Harvey New YorkPaul returned to Chennai (as it is called now) in South India over 20 times betwen 1979 and 2002, studying individually with his teacher TKV Desikachar. In addition Paul led some seven study groups to Chennai for special study meetings with Desikachar and to experience the teaching and Yoga therapy work at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.

Paul Harvey 2001

Paul hosted teaching visits by TKV Desikachar to the UK in 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000. Paul also travelled to many countries in Europe as well the US to seminars with Desikachar as a student or support teacher or to participate in meetings with Desikachar and other of his senior Western students.

He has led his own workshops, seminars and study and Yoga Teacher Training courses in the UK for many years. He has also been invited to teach in a number of countries within Europe, as well as Canada, the US and, at the invitation of the Israeli Yoga Teachers Association, initiated two One Year Foundation Courses in Israel. This has evolved over 20 years of teaching visits into student and teacher training courses ably led by his senior student in Israel.

Yoga for Every BodyIn 2001 a book on Āsana practice was published with the help of UK students (the book Yoga for Every Body was published in June 2001 by Readers Digest in North America and Time Life elsewhere).

This period within Viniyoga Britain from 1996 through to 2002 also saw the appointment of a VB executive Director to allow Paul to focus on his primary role as Director of Studies. In addition came the setting up of both Steering and Teaching Councils with senior students as well as the growth of the senior students teaching faculty. Paul initiated the first VB convention in 2002, now held annually in July, as well as negotiating the shift away from the use of the organisational name Viniyoga Britain the following year.

Association for Yoga Studies 2003-2005

Association for Yoga StudiesThis change in attitude on the part of TKV Desikachar and his son towards the use of the name Viniyoga was the reason behind the shift in the organisational name away from Viniyoga Britain. This also influenced Paul’s move back to his original teaching vehicle of cYs and away from what became aYs from the Steering & Teaching Councils preference to maintain an active link with the name Viniyoga.

In 2003, prior to these events, Paul had already announced his retirement as the Director of Studies within a maximum of five years in order to focus more on his personal teaching direction emerging through his transition towards becoming an elder in the Yoga community.

Meanwhile the community of his students wanted a name to more closely reflect their sense of association so the name aYs or the Association for Yoga Studies was chosen by them as a vehicle to continue the work Paul initiated through Viniyoga Britain with its Newsletters and Conventions.

EUFNYThis phase also saw Paul’s UK Yoga Teacher Training qualification validated in 2003 by UEFNY, the European Union of Yoga, as meeting the European Minimum Standard for Yoga Teachers. The Centre for Yoga Studies is currently the only UK Yoga Teacher Training organisation accredited in the UK to their European four year Yoga Teacher Training criteria.

Entering his 60th year through 2006 marked a number of personal changes in lifestyle and location and also offered an appropriate moment to retire from the ever increasing demands of administrative roles within the community of students he formally trained over 30 years and return to his Yoga teaching and teacher training roots. With his formal retirement from being Director of Studies taken in April 2006 that phase was completed.

On a professional level the work of cYs in the field of Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapy Training continues to be recognised. The BWY awarded the cYs Postgraduate Programme UK Accreditation status in 2006, and the CNHC awarded cYs Direct Verifier status for UK Yoga Therapeutic Healthcare Training Diplomas in 2009.

Association for Yoga Studies 2006-Current

Meanwhile aYs continues in its role as a community support body for Viniyoga Britain and cYs Practitioners ays_2016trained by Paul or for teachers trained by his postgraduate students, as well as offering an annual Convention community gathering and subscription newsletters for its fee paying members.

Centre for Yoga Studies 2006-2013

Centre for Yoga StudiesThe 25 year circle re-linking to cYs enabled Paul to focus on Yoga teaching and Yoga Teacher training without the ever increasing encumberances presented by any large organisation. Thus, needing to be even freer of past, present and future organisational familial expectations and involvements, he journeyed into his sixties preferring to teach more as part of an informal global community of Yoga teachers and schools arising from nearly 40 years of training under T Krishnamacharya’s students, especially TKV Desikachar and his students in India, Europe and North America.

Individual Lessons and Small Group Practice and Textual Study 2014-Current

ph_2014_logoWith ‘official’ OAP status arriving from 2011 Paul’s continuing journey as a student of Yoga, dharma as a Yoga teacher and feeling for expressing the spirit of his teachers message, is more fulfilled within the space that only a simpler, smaller and even more personal practice and teaching environment can offer. Thus Paul now finds himself in a final stage of life needing to have more time to further refine his personal studies and practice as well as focusing on Yoga teaching and personalised teacher training apprenticeships through Individual Lessons and Small Practice and Textual Study Groups from his home studio.

This final movement completes a full return to the roots of the Paramparā that Śrī T Krishnamacharya used when teaching from his home studio his adult students such as TKV Desikachar, Srivatsa Ramaswami, AG Mohan, etc. Namely offering each student an individualised apprenticeship in Yoga Practice and if relevant, Yoga Teaching through Personal Yoga lessons and Small Study Groups. This also reflects the process Paul himself undertook with his teacher at his home in Chennai from 1979-2002.

The Art of Veda Mantra and Yoga Chanting 1985-Current

Art of MantraOriginally it was during Pauls continuing visits to study the Arts and Practices of Yoga from 1979 with Desikachar in India that he became exposed to the Art of Sound, Veda Mantra and Yoga Sūtra Chanting. It was taught by his teacher both as a method of transmission for sacred texts and teachings and as a personalised Sādhana through which one became deeply focused as well as facilitating access to the profundity of an experience of the Sacred.

tasya vācakaḥ praṇavaḥ
“Its expression is sacred.”
– Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 27

This experience and the other benefits such as a deepening confidence in the message of the heart, improvements in memory through the teaching and learning processes, confidence and power arising in the sound of our own voice, led Paul in 1985 to begin nearly 20 years of formal study with his teacher.

Desikachar and Paul Chanting in 1999Though having had no prior training in singing, the use of the voice, in Western or Eastern music or ever having played a musical instrument, Paul began a formal study and practice of the art of Veda Mantra and Yoga Sūtra Chanting. Meeting within the traditional 121 setting of teacher and student, the Mantra or Sūtra would be taught through the ancient method of personal transmission through working individually and privately with the teacher.

This involved refining the art of listening by repeating what was heard, traditionally two or three times, until it exactly matched what was being chanted. Learning primarily under his teacher and, through his guidance and recommendation for Veda Mantra and Yoga Sūtra Chant material, also working within additional 121 lessons with Desikachar’s own senior-most Chanting students including Sujaya Sridhar and Desikachar’s wife Menaka Desikachar. Through these many 121 resources, to refine both Veda and Yoga Sūtra Chanting, Paul’s interest in this ancient art and practice flourished.

The influence and value of chanting to steady the mind and open the heart was soon appreciated by many and this has led to the story today.

“To share Chanting is to share an experience of silence through listening,
a process of healing, and a link with nature, the deeper self and the divine.”
– TKV Desikachar

However, as with any aspect of the viniyoga of learning, it is only through personal transmission within 121 lessons that the individual student’s chanting needs can be truly met in terms of Saṃskṛta pronouncing, musical pitch, Saṃskṛta timing, vocal strength, ones ability to sustain a note and maintain continuity of breath and sound.

Plus 121 lessons support the longer term aspect of cultivating, maintaining and refining ones learning of chant as a personalised and Sacred Sādhana. A process possible with the help of a careful methodology, a student committed to a personal Chanting Sādhana and a persistent teacher. From this slow beginning Paul began to teach the Art of Sound, Veda Mantra and Yoga Sūtra Chanting in the West from 1986.

This phase from the late 1980’s to the late 1990′s also saw the development of a core group of first generation Yoga students who studied Veda Mantra and Yoga Sūtra Chanting for many years privately with Paul through 121 lessons.

As interest in the practice of Chanting grew in the UK, with it also arose a blurring of the boundaries between Yoga and Indian Hindu religion. Thus a distinction between Yoga teachings and practice and the Hindu religious practice of Veda Mantra Chanting was established in 1999, at the personal request of TKV Desikachar to Paul and other of Desikachar’s senior pupils around the world, and Veda Mantra was a taught separately from the teaching of the Yoga.

“Unfortunately, many people are not able to differentiate between Yoga and Hinduism.
This is the biggest blunder I have seen in many institutions.”
– From an interview with TKV Desikachar

This was both in order to clarify the confusing boundaries appearing between Yoga teachings and practices and the Indian religious practices within which Veda Mantra Chanting resides, as well as to offer Veda Mantra Chanting as a specialised reflective and meditative personal Sādhana for all interested in this ancient Indian spiritual tradition.

This distinction was only around the Hindu religious implications within chanting the Veda, rather than all chanting practices, such as Yoga Sūtra or Tantra Mantra Chanting. Thus the area of Veda Mantra Chanting was taught separately from Yoga Sūtra and other Chanting, which were included within other Yoga practice and study areas.

“I think, that all those who want to practise Vedic chanting must be able to do so,
provided there is no confusion with Patañjali’s Yoga.”
– TKV Desikachar

Paul’s focus these days continues to be on the personal transmission of Chanting  through the two routes of Yoga Sūtra Chant Courses and Veda Mantra Chant Courses through working with small groups with a maximum of five students. As well as offering 121 lessons for the refinement of core practice skills and cultivation and progression of a personalised Yoga or Veda Chanting as a Sacred Sādhana.

Garuda Yatra 1979-Current

Garuda YatraPaul’s interest in the transformative symbolism inherent within personal journeys developed from his initial experiences when he first travelled to India in 1979 to study Yoga with his teacher. During the two year stay in his first visit as a formal pupil of TKV Desikachar the need to have some respite from the extreme summer heat in South India led to travels around North India including the Punjab and Kashmir and especially the Himalayas.

Over the following two decades, in addition to his personal study stays and leading seven Practitioner group study visits to Chennai, Paul made a number of special pilgrimages to explore India’s rich tapestry of Sacred Geography by travelling extensively in North India, Nepal and Tibet visiting Holy towns and Spiritual Centres in the Hindu, Sikh and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, following Sacred Paths to Sacred Sites.

Source of the Ganges 1993In 1993 he travelled to the source of the Ganges. This was followed with further visits in 1998 and 2000 to all the other primary sources of the Ganges, known as the Char Dham or four sacred points. Each of these four sources eventually merge into what becomes the river Ganges and are signified with a sacred temple high up in the Himalaya mountains. They are considered some of the most revered sacred Yatra points in the Indian spiritual geography.

Mount kailash and Lake manasarovarThese visits to India were complemented by a pilgrimage to Tibet in 1995 with a group including Dr. Robert Svoboda to make a parikrama (sacred circumambulation) around Mount Kailash walking up to 18,600 feet and visit the lake Manasarovar at 15,000 feet.

Paul also travelled to North India in 2000 with his teacher TKV Desikachar, his wife Meneka and senior student Sonia Nelson to Badrinath, said to be the most important of the four sites in India’s Char Dham pilgrimage.

Badrinath was said to be a favourite pilgrimage place of T Krishnamacharya especially when he lived and studied with his Yoga Teacher Yogeswarar Rama Mohana Brahmacharya, most likely on the banks of the Gandaki river in Mustang in the early part of the 20th century.

kedarnathIn 2001 (Click for Link to Picture Gallery from this Journey) Paul led his first ‘Personal Journey’ group to the Himalayas. They embarked on a Pañca Kedar Pilgramage in the Garhwal district of the Himalayas to visit the sacred sites of Śiva as depicted in myths around the great Indian story the Mahābhārata.

Further group journeys were planned to sacred sources and sites of rivers, mountains and temples. However the need to just travel lightly and freely to these sacred places, many of which he had not been to yet, has become the greater priority. Whilst appreciating the community and shared experience offered within a group, travelling lightly with only a small backpack offers the type of nourishment that co-ordinating groups around India’s Holy places cannot. So Paul decided not to put together any more groups preferring to have the freedom to spontaneously undertake Yatra to sacred sites as and when he wishes.

Currently he is considering further Yatra or pilgrimages to such as Kāmākhyā Temple in Assam to honour his Śakti Sādhana and to Mustang on the Nepal/Tibet border, the latter a personal recommendation from his teacher, as a respect to Śrī T Krishnamacharya who lived and studied on the banks of the Gandaki river in the early part of the 20th century with his Yoga Teacher Yogeswarar Rama Mohana Brahmacharya.

Meanwhile much gratitude for the interest and support of students, especially those who have become spiritual friends and best wishes for your inner and outer journeys towards Svatantra into 2018 and beyond.