Friday, 30 November 2012

1980's Desikachar Interview.

I was sent a link to a YouTube video in a comment last week, an interview with TKV Desikachar at KYM. Turns out it comes originally from Paul Harvey who had this to say about it on fb this morning

"Whilst living in Chennai through 1980 I recorded a video of an Indian TV programme about the work of the KYM in the field of Yoga and Health. Recently I had the video cassette digitalised and shared it as an online downloadable with students.
http://www.yogastudies.org/2012/11/on-yoga-and-health-in-the-kym-with-tkv-desikachar/
From here it has made its way onto YouTube and open source viewing".

I'm a little irritated by this, Paul shares so much with the Yoga community thorough the dharma Downloads section of his his website Centre for yoga Studies, strikes me as a bit off for somebody to post something like this without asking. If Paul hasn't gone ahead and posted it on his site already then it's a fair bet he had his reasons.

But then it's tricky deciding what is and isn't OK to post. I've been sent things here and had to sit on them while I try and trace a source to ask permission. Nancy's original Ashtanga syllabus was a case in point. I was sent the syllabus, told it was OK to post it but then had to wait a couple of weeks before I heard back from Nancy to double check it was OK, all excited and dying to tell somebody about it. Salutations to the teacher and the Eternal one is another, I was sent a copy after asking about it here, the person who sent it to me mentioned that they had been asked only to share it with people who asked directly. I'd asked indirectly but they made an exception. Meanwhile I'd been searching out other sources for the document and was eventually sent another copy. I'd asked if there were any conditions on posting but none had been given and so I went ahead. Now Salutations turns up as AG Mohan's release Yoga Makaranda (part II).

But then what about pictures? I try to give sources a lot of the time, links to where I found them, paintings and drawings I try to trace the artist. This worked out nicely when I found that drawing of Hanuman a while back. On tracing it I was taken to Tara books who ended up sending me a copy of the book from which the picture was taken to review.

And yet I know I haven't added links to every picture I've posted and then what of detailed workshop notes that get passed around, quotes from teachers. Then on facebook the pictures and videos we pass amongst friends that are now available to google....

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But anyway on to the Desikachar video.

I really don't know that much about Desikachar's work and feel a little guilty about that, he being the son of Krishnamacharya. I feel I should know more but for so long I kind of dismissed Desikachar, KYM, Viniyoga as just being about therapy and I had/have little or no interest at all in yoga therapy, apart from the obvious general health and well being.

I've made up for it a little recently, TKV Desikachar's Religiousness in Yoga is an excellent introduction.

TKV Desikachar on Yoga and Health
An interview held at KYM in happier times
Questions intespersed with some asana demonstrations


If you go to this link to Paul's site you can download it.
http://www.yogastudies.org/2012/11/on-yoga-and-health-in-the-kym-with-tkv-desikachar/


Highlights

Opens with an introduction to TKV Desikachar

0.54 Desikachar doing prostrations to Krishnamacharya

4.28 One of my favourite chants, Atma suddhi mantras (self-purification mantras) we made a real hash of this on Ramaswami course, getting all tangled up but coming back strong for the chorus each time.

7.50 Questions: "How does yoga differ from sports/exercise?"

13.10 demo ( can't read whey this ones being called)

13.57 Urdhva dhanurasana

16:40 "Do you believe foreigners can become as adapt at yoga as Indians?"

17:44 Demonstration, headstand , ardha matsyendrasana

19:20 "Can the practice of Yoga help a woman conceive?"

20:16 "Do you believe in certain circumstances yoga can be detrimental to health?"

23.00 Chanting of first few Yoga Sutras

23:38 "Does language impose an extra burden (chanting)?"

24:00 "What kind of (health) problems do you encounter?"

27:50 "Do you consider them to be diseases  of civilisation?"

30:45 "Is there any age limit to start an exercise?"

31:32 Kids demo

32: 30 Older gentleman's demo of pascimottanasana

35:50 Is there a time factor involved, should we only do yoga in the morning?"

37:37 More demo's

40:40 "Can we practice it as a group or only as individuals?"

42.00 More Chanting from kids

45: 40 Demo



from Paul's Dharma downloads, my favourite chant mentioned above and near the beginning of the video and it's explanation.

Atma Suddhi mantras (self-purification mantras) from taittirya upanishat


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Pranayama in Asana : The Breath in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda.

Today's my day off.

Last week I ended up having an epic ten hour practice on my day off, pretty much non-stop from 6:30-16:30. I'd started with pranayama, before practice for a change moved on to Ramaswami's ten minute tadasana sequence with the hand and arm variations that I use for warm up. Tadasana was followed by Sury's and my now regular slow Primary ( long 8 second inhalations and exhalations with mental mantra on each) which takes about two hours. Nicely warmed up I started working through AG Mohan's recent release of Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (part II). When I looked up it was gone three and just the shoulderstands to go so I stuck with it for another hour and a half.

Afterwards I had the best mushrooms on toast ever.

This week I thought I'd do something similar but less long and go through the original Yoga Makaranda. I'm much more familiar with this one. With part two I had to keep stopping as I wanted to read and follow every instruction just as it was given. Much of YM1 is close to Primary so I'll pretty much jump straight in, do some sury's and get on with it.

What I did want to look at more closely though was the Puraka and Recaka Kumbhaka, the breath retentions after the inhalation and exhalation. These have pretty much been left by the wayside in current Ashtanga but Krishnamacharya made a point of focusing on them in his 1934 text ( the same period he was teaching Pattabhi Jois). I've been exploring these longer stays and kumbhakas a little recently but have wanted to make a more formal study in my practice.

Recaka kumbhaka =  Bhaya Kumbakam = holding the breath out after exhaling

Puraka Kumbhaka = Anthar Kumbhakam = holding the breath in after inhaling


A little while ago I brought together all the pictures of Krishnamacharya practicing, I've turned those from YM1 into a poster to practice with more easily this afternoon, the kumbhaka's are underneath the postures. Yoga Makaranda has some other postures but these were photos of K's students so I didn't have them to hand, later I'll make up a list of all the Kumbhaka's in the book. The extra pictures/descriptions contain a lot of the leg behind postures and these tend to be equal breathing, no kumbhaka anyway.

One point to make, this isn't necessarily an order of practice ( although why not, it could work) and what looks like the stages of Suryanamaskara on the second line are actually those stages presented as stand alone postures. No sun salutations in Krishnamacharya folks (except a mantra version).

The kumbhaka mentioned is at the stage of the vinyasa shown in the picture (tends to be full vinyasa I.E. transitioning to and from standing, in the original Yoga Makaranda) . In YM1 Krishnamacharya often seems to indicate that one folds into forward bends on the long slow exhalation, retains the breath and then raises up slightly or fully for an inhalation before folding back into the posture on the next exhalation and retention (fascinated by this idea, means you can get a fuller breath). Six times/breaths seems the average in YM2 (In YM1the stay is less defined)  but I'll need to double check that.


There's a pattern, in postures, where you're sitting or standing up there's often puraka kumbhaka after the inhalation, when folded over it tends to be deep uddiyana (sounds like virtually uddiyana kriya) and recaka kumbhaka.

Mostly I'll practice a regular Primary and 2nd this afternoon with the poster to glance over at as a guide and to give me something to think about in the postures not mentioned in the text.

Yogasanagalu 1941 has the same asana descriptions as Yoga makaranda (original/part I)

YogaMakaranda (part II) is less clear, it mentions retentions occasionally but it has the feeling of being closer to a teaching manual than the original which seems to present more the ideal form of an asana and it's vinyasa.

This might explain too why Pattabhi Jois left it out of Yoga Mala. I tend to feel this approach makes an interesting alternative to ever more postures and series, a turning back to Primary, a shortened Primary even allowing us to explore ever more the breath.  I know, I know I can't talk/preach, I've had my fair share of asana madness. 

Yoga Makaranda (part II) does have this to say.

"When a position intermediate or final, has been reached deep breathing or the prescribed form of pranayama is done. This observation generally applies to all asana" P.66

"6. Do not less than six rounds of pranayama. the pranayama should be done with Anthar and Bhya kumbhaka of two to five seconds duration each, the period of Antha kumbhakam being kept equal to Bahya kumbhakam". p68 (Supta padangusthasana description)

A reminder

Recaka kumbhaka =  Bhaya Kumbakam = holding the breath out after exhaling

Puraka Kumbhaka = Anthar Kumbhakam = holding the breath in after inhaling

Yoga Makaranda (part II) gives a more cautious approach to kumbhaka by introducing it slowly. It starts with the regular automatic mini kumbhaka at the end of the inhalation and exhalation and increases it to two seconds working up to five.

One gets the feeling that the kumbhakas are held longer in the original Yoga Makaranda, however this is still asana and I doubt it's intended to retain the breath in the same way that one would in formal pranayama.

Breath retention in asana continues to be mentioned in the work of Desikachar, Mohan and my own teacher Ramaswami, exploring how they compare will make an interesting follow up post.

Preparation complete time for a warm bath and practice.

See also perhaps

Examples of usage of Kumbhaka (Breath retention) in asana in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda

How to practice Krishnamacharya's 'Original' Ashtanga Yoga

Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda extended stays.

Yogasanagalu's (1941) 'Original' Ashtanga Primary Group/Series in Yoga Makaranda (1934)

Uddiyana kriya and asana in Krishnamacharya's 'Original' Ashtanga

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Below is a nice page from yogavidya.com bringing together relevant quotes from the different yoga texts, there are other pages on all elements of practice.

Puraka, Rechaka, Kumbhaka from http://www.yogavidya.com/yoga-82.html

In-breathing (Puraka): "Even as a man sucks in water through the stem of a lotus even so should breath be drawn in. Such are the characteristics of in-breathing (puraka)." (Amrita Nada Up. 12.)

Out-breathing (Rechaka): consists in giving out, through the nostrils, the impure air from the lungs.

"Blowing out the air which is not part of one's body into the outside space and keeping to a state of emptiness, such are the characteristics of out-breathing (Rechaka)." (Amrita Nada Up. 11.)

Holding the Breath (Kumbhaka): "To keep still without breathing in, nor breathing out, nor move any limb, such are the characteristics of the Chalice (Kumbhaka)." (Amrita Nada Up. 15.)

Holding the breath (Kumbhaka) or "Chalice" is of two kinds: (a) The outward Chalice (bahya kumbhaka) consists in breathing out and then stopping the breath. The method usually adopted is to breathe in for the time it takes to repeat four times the sacred Syllable of Obeisance AUM, breathe out for the time it takes to repeat the syllable eight times, and stop breathing for the time it takes to repeat AUM sixteen times.

(b) The inward Chalice (abhyantara kumbhaka) consists in breathing in, then holding the breath before breathing out. The method usually adopted is to breathe in for four AUMS, hold for sixteen AUMS, and breathe out for eight AUMS.

The Absolute Chalice (kevala kumbhaka), or Stupefied Breathing (stambhavritti pranayama) consists in stopping the breath without effort at any point of in- or out-breathing. To do this, breathe regularly for some time, in-breathing for four AUMS, and breathing out for eight AUMS; then stop wherever convenient, and hold the breath for sixteen AUMS.

"That breath control in which the breath is held without effort and without breathing in or out, everyone calls the Absolute Chalice, kevala kumbhaka."

"He who is successful in the absolute chalice, without breathing in or out, finds nothing in the three worlds beyond his reach." (Vasishtha Samhita.)

"When, following the above method, the breath can be stopped for three ghatikas (one hour and a quarter), the yogi can realize all the attainments he wishes for without doubt." (Shiva Samhita 3, 62.)

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Wyatt's Vinyasa Krama Supine Sequence

My friend Wyatt from Ramaswami's 2010 Vinyasa Krama teacher training course, here practicing Vinyasa Krama Supine sequence.

I have so much respect for Wyatt's practice. Where I've tended to get pulled back and forth between my Ashtanga and Vinyasa Krama practice seeking common ground between them, some kind of resolution, Wyatt just gets on and practices his Krama just as he was taught it by Ramaswami. I find this always inspiring and his videos a reminder of how beautiful and powerful this approach to practice is, quite profound actually.

Part one

Part two

I know what I'll be practicing this morning.

More on Wyatt and where to study with him


Wyatt believes that yoga is one of the best habits that a person can have in life, giving one health, strength balance and ease. By practicing regularly, One gains control over the body, breath and eventually the mind. Wyatt's approach to yoga practice is straightforward: daily practice following the krama (method) and strong dedication. Truths are revealed to the practitioner by their own direct experience. After discovering yoga during a transition in life and becoming a regular at local classes, Wyatt felt the need to deepen his practice and understanding of Yoga. He had the great honor to study under Srivatsa Ramaswami, who is the most senior student of the legendary master T. Krishnamacharya. After completing the Vinyasa Krama 200 hr.TT course at Loyola Marymount University, Wyatt's daily practice intensified and he began to witness the awesome transformational power of this practice. Wyatt has embraced Yoga and this style as a lifelong practice and enjoys sharing this gift with others. His classes incorporate asana, pranayama and meditation and are suitable for all levels.

Wyatt teaches in Portland OR.


Yoga on Yamhill
124 SW Yamhill St. Portland, OR 97204

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Seem to have put up a lot of posts over the last week or so, in case you missed one...

Sunday
AG Mohan on headstands from Yoga Makaranda (Part II) also his book and online Yoga sutra course

Saturday
'Absolute peace of mind', Raja Bhoja's Commentary on the Yoga Sutras

Saturday

Saturday
Now what about Krishnamacharya's Yogavalli, his Yoga Sutras commentary

Thursday
Mythical 2nd part of Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda

'Absolute peace of mind', Raja Bhoja's Commentary on the Yoga Sutras

An FB status update from Ramaswami this evening

"“Yogo yuktiH samaadhaanam” is a quote from Bhoja's independent commentary on YS. The word Yoga has two meanings one is union, from the root 'yujir' as used in, say, Hatayoga (union of ha and ta) and the other from the root 'yuja' is 'absolute peace of mind' as used in Rajayoga".

This meaning deriving from yuja, 'absolute peace of mind', that I first came across in Ramaswami's book 'Yoga for the three stages of life' was perhaps the deciding factor for me to sell a beloved vintage Sax and fly to LA to study with him.


Actually, it wasn't so much peace of mind, I've never really bought into the idea that we're all searching for peace and/or happiness, neither concern me that much. No, it was rather this from Ramaswami's Yoga for the Three Stages of Life, my all time (so far) favourite book on yoga.

"Based on this interpretation the yoga of Patanjali is a system of practices that lead to the total harnessing of mental energy without any dissipation whatsoever (nirodha "completely contained")"



Here's the full passage for context.

"... yoga can also be derived from the root yuja and mean samadhi or samadhana, "to put in place perfectly".... Thus yoga by this definition, would mean putting all mental energies in place, or harnessing mental energies without any dissipation. This definition is different from the earlier derivation of the word yoga from the root yujir, meaning "unity" (yujir yoga).
Based on this interpretation the yoga of Patanjali is a system of practices that lead to the total harnessing of mental energy without any dissipation whatsoever (nirodha "completely contained") One can note that it is not unity with a higher principle that is aimed for in this form of yoga, but rather the removal of all the distractions of the mind.... One system talks of unity the other of freedom"
Yoga for the Three stages of Life.
Chapter III, What is yoga. p34-35
Srivatsa Ramaswami

...and again in one of Ramaswami's Newsletter's


"It can be seen that Patanjali's definition of Yoga does not suggest the usual connotation of Yoga as union. Yoga meaning union requires at least two separate principles to come together and ultimately unite, like prana and apana in Hatayoga, but in this sutra only cittavritti is dealt with and no union with another principle is suggested. Vyasa in his commentary says Yoga is samadhi, or a state of mind and not union. Sankara in his exposition of Yogasutras refers to yoga as samadhana or unalloyed peace. He says that Patanjali has used the word not in the meaning of yoga as union (yukti) but as samadhana or peace of mind. The word Yoga can be derived from two differentroots yujir meaning yoga as in union and yuja as in samadhi meaningabsolute peace of mind and the sutras use Yoga in the (second) sense,that of absolute peace".
Srivatsa Ramaswami April 2012 Newsletter


So it comes from the commentary on the yoga sutras by somebody called Bhoja

You have to love Wikipedia

"Bhoja (also Bhojadeva) was a philosopher king and polymath of medieval India, who ruled the kingdom of Malwa in central India from about 1000 to 1055 CE. Also known as Raja Bhoja Of Dhar, he belonged to the Pawar dynasty.[1] The name Bhoja means "bountiful, liberal" and appears as the name of a tribe, the descendants of Mahabhoja, in the Mahabharata.
Bhoja established numerous temples, including the Bhojeshvara Temple at Bhojpur, a city he founded [2], about 30 km from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh on the banks of river Betwa. He also established the Bhoj Shala which was a centre for Sanskrit studies and a temple of Sarasvatī in present day Dhar.

Biography

Raja Bhoja ruled the Mālwa region from the beginning of the eleventh century to about 1055. His extensive writings cover philosophy, poetry, medicine, veterinary science, phonetics, yoga, and archery. Under his rule, Mālwa and its capital Dhar became one of the chief intellectual centres of India. King Bhoja, together with the Solanki king Bhimdev of Gujarat (Anhilwara), rebuilt the temple at Somnath between 1026 and 1042 after it was sacked by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024. He founded the city Bhojpur. It is also said that Bhoja also founded the city of Bhopal[3], but it could be possible that the city was founded by another king of the same name. The Bhojtal (Upper Lake or bada talab) of Bhopal is said to have been constructed by Bhoja.

rAjamArtANda (pata~Njali yoga sUtra bhAshya): Major commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, wherein the Raja clearly explains various forms of meditations such as savitarka, savichAra, sAnanda and sAsmita, which are critical for understanding the nature of cognition from the view point of yoga."

and google to for that matter

Here's a link to Raja Bhoja's commentary, available in pdf for download here
http://blavatskyarchives.com/theosophypdfs/tatya_the_yoga_philosophy_of_patanjali.pdf

and his commentary on the first two sutras/aphorisms.



As I mentioned in my previous post I've just started to  follow along with AG Mohan's Yoga sutras online course, for more of Krishnamacharya's reading of the sutras and partly as an excuse to read more carefully Vachaspati-Micra's commentary as well as to review  Arany's, seems I'll be adding Raja Bhoja's commentary to the pile. nice thing about Mohan's course is that he's working through the text a couple of sutras at a time, perfect for comparing other comentaries.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

AG Mohan on headstands from Yoga Makaranda (Part II) also his book and online Yoga sutra course

More from AG Mohan and how he's used, what he's referring to as, Yoga Makaranda (part 2) in his teaching, here headstands.
Krishnamacharya on Headstand

After he released the text last week and mentioned that he had used it as the basis for his teaching I ordered his first book Yoga for the Breath and Body to see how he'd gone about it. I'd read this book in the library at LMU while on Ramaswami's TT course, always meant to get around to buying it but never did.

The book turned up yesterday, curious to see the different way Mohan and Ramaswami approach similar material, I think they compliment each other. Mohan has a very clean presentation, I love the little asana drawings (did he or his wife draw them I wonder), the tables and clear indications of usage.
The video above gives a good idea of the text, there's a chapter devoted to headstands, but here's the link to Amazon for the preview.
http://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Body-Breath-Mind-Reintegration/dp/1570629773

I'll do a fuller review after I've spent more time on it, but one thing it is inspiring me to do this week/month is to take a handful of asana from YM2 and explore the different breath options in a more...scientific way. So in paschinmottanasana say, doing a few of them with a different approach to breathing each time,  regular breathing and then long slow breathing, then a short breath retention after the inhalation and the a long slow exhalation and retention. Also, exploring in the full posture breathing long and slow with exhaled retentions but also lifting out slightly on each inhalation to allow a fuller breath. All approaches I've taken before but not comparing them one to the other in this way.

Some care required here, Krishnamacharya gives indications in YM1 on which kumbhaka's to avoid in certain postures as well as, in YM2, how long to retain the breath, often in the beginning at least, 2 seconds after the inhalation and 5 seconds after the exhalation, so not long.

AG MOHAN on the Yoga Sutras.

I've also started taking a look at AG Mohan's yoga sutras online, this is a course of study, four to seven videos a month, looking in detail at the Yoga Sutras and of course taking very much a Krishnamacharya reading of the text. You pay $19 a month and Mohan produces a video on the text each Friday, but there are extras E.G. charming stories by his beautiful wife Indria, learning to chant the sutras with his daughter Nitya. It's inspiring me to work along with My Ramaswami, Misra and Aranya commentaries.

Here's a sample


And his daughter Nitya teaching a prayer to Patanjali



.....and here's the link to the site. If you start thinking about it and adding it up, the whole text will cost you a small fortune, you could probably go to India and take his TT course in person, but it's quite wonderful to go through the text line by line in this way. There's a years worth archived already so you can go back to the beginning. Try the first month (July 2011) perhaps, which includes the first four sutras, learning to chant the first ten and stories on Durvasana and Visvamitra as well as an introduction to the text and course. There's no commitment you can just choose which sutras your particularly interested in or work through the whole course. I'm really enjoying it.

http://www.svastha.net/yogasutras-online/

You can get more of a taste fro AG Mohan's approach in these videos by looking at his Youtube channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/SvasthaYogaAyurveda

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Also this week....

and Tuesday's

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Some Q&A from Srivatsa Ramaswami's in-depth interview with WildYogi Magazine

Selections from Ramaswami's WildYogi interview, On Studying with Krishnamacharya, On Pranayama, On Bandhas, On Drishti, On Vinyasa Krama Method, On Books, On Teaching and Teachers. 


Russia based Wild yogi magazine recently published and interview with my teacher Srivatsa Ramaswami, a student of Krishnamacharya for over 30 years. Yet again WildYogi has produced another excellent probing in depth interview.

Here's the link to the full interview
http://wildyogi.info/en/issue/huge-variety-krishnamacharyas-teachings-interview-srivatsa-ramaswami

Ramaswami included the full interview in his special mid November newsletter but recommended we have a look at the Wildyogi edition which also includes a number of pictures. I contacted the magazine to make sure it was OK to quote from their interview, they said sure, that it was a free magazine and that they looking to raise the profile of their English edition. A big thank you then to Ilya for allowing me to quote substantially from the article and I highly recommend stopping by and checking out their other interviews and article and putting the word around.
Ramaswami, Chris & me VK TT 2010 PIcture by Barry Wadsworth

More on the magazine Wild Yogi below the selections from Ramaswami's Interview
A few of the questions from the Ramaswami interview, I've included more of the questions and ramaswami's responses but it's so hard to choose and really I've still only scratched the surface of the interview, he goes into so much more detail on all these points.
The headings are mine


Interview with Srivatsa Ramaswami

 Questions: Yuri Sharonin, Ilya Zhuravlev

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S. Ramaswami (born 1939 in Madras, Tamil Nadu, India) was a student of the father of modern yoga, Shri T. Krishnamacharya, and studied under him for 33 years, from 1955 until 1988 shortly before Krishnamacharya's passing. He is Krishnamacharya's longest-standing student outside of Krishnamacharya's immediate family. Нe currently lives and teaches in the U.S.
Yuri Sharonin
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ON KRISHNAMACHARYA

What was your first impression of him (Krishnamacharya)?

First impression was that he appeared to be a bit stern. But once he started to teach - the first thing he said was "Inhale, raise your arms. Breath with hissing sound, rubbing sensation in the throat." - I had never seen a yoga teacher doing it with breathing. I used to have a few teachers, seen a few books. I was young - just 15 at the time. Like all Indians, I had some exposure to yoga. First thing that struck me was the use of breath, the way he was teaching vinyasas. He was very clear with his instructions. And then also types and number of vinyasas he was able to teach - that was also very impressive. Even with the first few classes I can see that yoga was much different than how we were practicing in India at that time. I had started  studying with him, this went on, he started to teach lots of other things. Soon he started teaching pranayama, then afterwards he started teaching Vedic chanting. I had some exposure to chanting when I was young; I liked the way he taught Vedic chanting. Then he started to teach various texts, like Yoga Sutras, Samkhya Karika... So this went on. I never knew he was a scholar, I thought he was just a yoga teacher. But later on I found he was an exceptional scholar.

Did you have any background in sports, any martial arts?

Me? No, not in martial arts. But I used to play cricket at school; I was playing tennis also. I had some exposure. In fact, I was in college tennis team, captain of the team. I used to play ping-pong. Once I started studying with him, I slowly cut down on these, and concentrated more and more on yoga.

When did you realize that he is your Guru?

I just started going to him - I thought everything he has to offer was very useful to me. I did not have any plan. I was very young then. I used to be interested in Indian philosophy at that time. When he started teaching I found that was another dimension to his teaching, which I thought was very good for me. I did not know he was able to do that. One day, I think it was his son, Desikachar - we started chanting together – came and asked "I am going to study Yoga Sutras with my father. Would you like to join? My father asked me to find out from you." I got interested, and started to study Yoga Sutras also. After we went through Yoga Sutras, we went through the commentary of Vyasa. By that time 4-5 years are gone by. Then he was started saying "why don't you study Samkhya Karika?" So we went on studying Sankya Karika. Like that, he would suggest which subject I should study, and I studied with him.

Have you observed his practice?

No, no. Ekagrata. Everyone has his own practice. But occasionally - suppose I was five minutes early to his class, I could probably sometimes see him doing his headstand, or shoulderstand, or sitting in mahamudra, or some of those postures. But then, he would be completing his practice. So I would stand outside. Of course he did not object me observing his practice, but you don't really go sit down and look. Sometimes he used to show some pranayama, some postures. Beyond that I did not observe his practice. And he also had daily puja which he was  performing, so I had a good idea how he spent his time.

STUDYING WITH KRISHNAMACHARYA

What was it like to study with him?

His main goal was to convey the subject to the student, that's all. He would be focused totally on that. His focus would be teaching, and you would be always thinking whether you are able to understand what he was talking about. Usually he would close his eyes and speak for 5-10 minutes, because most of the Sutras he knew by heart. And then suddenly he would open his eyes to see if you were sitting there, then close his eyes and continue. With him, there were nothing extraneous. From the moment you come to the class and start with the prayer, go through the class, and end with the prayer. After the prayer is over, I would just stand up, and go out of the room, and then come back next class. He was totally focused on whatever he wanted to teach. Not merely the subject, but how to convey it so you will be able to understand. That is the main thing. I think the impression you get from studying with him was this: these are the shastras, scriptures. His life goal was to understand it, bit by bit, so they will become part of his own psyche, his own way of thinking. And then convey it to the next generation. The rest of the things were secondary. I don't know how he was earlier. You can see a fierce intent in transmission of knowledge. Of course he used to charge fees. He needed money, everybody needs money. But that was not the main thing. If you can show that you are really interested, he came out of his way to help you by explaining, that's about all. And normally I never used to ask questions. If I had a doubt, I would keep it to myself. I tried to understand it myself by thinking about what he said, did I miss something. Sometimes I refer to other notes, other commentaries. But usually, if I had a doubt, in two-three days time, I don't know how he knew, but he would explain it. That was something very good about him. You can see that he was really interested in you, in your development.

It is said that Krishnamacharya was continued to call himself a student because he felt that he was always “studying, exploring and experimenting” with the practice. It seems like his practice changed through the years. His yoga as presented in Yoga Makaranda seems quite different from yoga he taught you.

I would not say Yoga Makaranda and Yoga Rahasya are complete representation of the way he taught. Sometimes when you write a book, you are writing about some asanas, how particular asana should be done.

Watching snippets of his 1938 movie, one get impression of very active, fast practice.

Right, right. I will tell you that all those things were done with a purpose of demonstration. For the purpose of people knowing it. See, when he was teaching in Mysore, he was teaching youngsters. He was also teaching the royal family. I don't think he was teaching those things to the royal family. They were not jumping through, or doing those difficult things. He would adopt to individual requirements. People like to see those things, so he presented things that people like to see. And that does not mean that this was what was he teaching. Even at that time he was teaching differently to different people.

It is clear that he was leaning towards individual, one-on-one approach in his later years.

No, even in earlier years. Whatever you see in the movies, in those photographs, or whatever is mentioned in Yoga Makaranda - he wanted to present a particular view of the whole thing. Whereas in Yoga Rahasya he says that the whole thing have to change, depending upon your age, view not found in Yoga Makaranda. So books are not a complete picture of how he was teaching. That is what I feel reading Yoga Makaranda, Yoga Rahasya, those movies. And I think he himself would say it sometimes that those were made to attract people towards yoga. Because people like to see those things, and shown them. He was capable of that. I would not say that his teachings were confined to what you see in 1938 movie, or what was mentioned in some of the earlier books. That is my view.

What other works he considered to be essential?

After the Yoga Sutras, he asked us to study Samkhya Karika, because a lot of things that are taken for granted in Yoga Sutras you find in Samkhya Karika, that is a theoretical basis for Yoga. He taught Samkhya Karika shloka by shloka, and then he also used Gaudapada's brief commentary on that. First you go through the Samkhya Karika text, and then - the commentary. There is also equally good commentary by Vachaspati Mishra; both are available in English translation. Traditional translations are available. That was the second most important text.
Then he went on to teach several of Upanishads. Not the complete Upanishads - he would take one section, they called Vidyas, Upanishadic Vidyas. Like the Panchakosha-Vidya, or Panchagni-Vidya, or Sad-Vidya, Bhuma-Vidya... That went on for a number of years. And of course, in addition to that - chanting, a lot of chanting. I have learned a lot of chanting.

Did he give any recommendations on massage, oil bath, other cleaning procedures?

Yes, oil bath is something that people in India, especially in South India, do it regularly. He did not give any particular recommendations, but he would say don't let anybody do an oil bath or a massage to you, as a yogi, a practitioner of yoga. You have to massage your own body, allow 20 minutes to half an hour for oil to soak, and then have a bath. And then there are some materials that are available to remove excess oil from the body. Usually this was done twice a week. He would also recommend taking castor oil twice a year for cleaning digestive tract. These were accepted practices. 
Normally in Madras we take a warm water bath in the morning. Many times we take a cold water bath, it is more refreshing. But Krishnamacharya insisted you take warm water bath. Of course yogis take cold water bath, we know that. But he said, at your age, this is what you should do. Naturally the condition of yogi who lives in Himalaya will be different. But from that day on, I take a warm water bath before my yoga practice.

Did he gave any other recommendations on diet, sleep, or monitoring one's health?

As far as sleep is concerned, he would say, go to bed early, and get up early in the morning. Because morning is the best time for you to practice your yoga, or chanting, or meditation, or whatever. He himself used to wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning. But he used to go to bed around 8:30 at night. Of course, this would be difficult in theWestern countries. In India sunset is always around 6pm, whether it is winter or summer. So he used to go to bed around 8-8:30, be up by 3 in the morning. By 6 or 7 would have completed all his morning ritual, and the ready to receive anybody for a class, about 7 o'clock in the morning. He would say, "go to bed early, get up early in the morning, try to get at least 6 hours of sleep".
"Don't put on weight, be careful about your diet". I think I mentioned to you, that he would say "don't allow your thighs and waist to spread".

ON PRANAYAMA


Let's talk about Pranayama. In his writings he says numerous times, that Pranayama is the key to the whole practice; it is the most important anga. 
Vinyasa Krama you teach is centered around the breathing.

Right.

And yet, Pranayama, by and large, taught on the fringes, and sometimes has an air of being remote like samadhi. Often presented as dangerous. How Krishnamacharya taught it, and how soon?

I don't remember when he started to teach me Pranayama. I know it was very early, because he had started to use breathing on day one. That itself is half Pranayama: long inhalation, long exhalation. You start from day one. And then Pranayama practice is regular. I think I mentioned, Pranayama practice is an integral part of daily routine in olden days. You are required to do ten times Pranayama with Gayatri Mantra, and all that. Pranayama is considered essential part of your daily life. You are required to do, say, ten in the morning, ten in the afternoon, ten in the evening, and there two or three in addition in every sitting. Virtually you do forty pranayamas every day. Everybody - you don't have to be a yogi to practice Pranayama. Everybody is required to practice Pranayama forty times every day. So, what's the big deal?

Samantraka Pranayama (pranayama with Mantra)?

Samantraka Pranayama. But still a pranayama. In fact it's a more difficult pranayama. If everybody, even non-yogi do forty times pranayama, why yogi should shy away from that? And I don't think Krishnamacharya told anybody not to teach Pranayama. He might have not told somebody to teach specifically pranayama, I don't know what happened. But he didn't prevent anybody... He taught Pranayama from very beginning. In fact, almost anybody who has studied with him learned Pranayama from him. He would himself teach Pranayama. Normally your asana practice ends with pranayama session. I have never come out from his class without practicing Pranayama. I think I've mentioned it several times. You see, Pranayama is the one that makes Yoga unique. In all other systems there is no control over the breathing. In all physical exercises, there is no control over the breathing. Here you try bring your breathing under voluntary control. If there is something very big, very unique about Yoga - it is the breathing. Any people who want to meditate, to achieve samadhi, achieve kaivalya, some of those things that are mentioned - if you shy away from Pranayama, how can you progress? You have to use this vehicle, you got to use Pranayama. Krishnamacharya was insistent that without Pranayama, there is no Yoga.

In fact, word Hatha, as in Hatha Yoga, means Pranayama. You look in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the commentator says Ha is Prana, Tha is Apana, Yoga is a Union, Hatha Yoga is a union of Prana and Apana, which is Pranayama. So Hatha Yoga Is Pranayama. How can you say, "I practice Hatha Yoga without Pranayama"?
I don't know why people are unnecessarily discouraged from Pranayama. Everything is dangerous. If you do Pranayama in very unorganized way, then perhaps... But then enough instructions are given in the books. And they say you have to be careful, you have to learn from a teacher. Yes, you have to learn from a teacher. See that it is within your limits. In fact in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the first instruction is "Inhale as much as you can". Yetashakti "Exhale as much as you can". Slowly build your capacity. You have to work along these lines. People who discourage Pranayama are doing a disservice to Yoga. That may not be their intent, but they are creating unnecessary fear in people, and they are doing a disservice to Yoga.

One reason why people are reluctant to teach Pranayama because they are afraid of teaching it. They don't teach Pranayama because they don't want to get into any problem. They don't want to teach Sirsasana, or Sarvangasana because they don't want to get any problem. These postures, these procedures are a bit tricky. If you understand, if you are able to practice them – well and good; but sometimes you make a mistake, you feel very uncomfortable...

If Hatha Yoga is Pranayama, then Pranayama is Kumbhaka?

Kumbhaka is breath holding. It has to be proceeded by inhale, or exhale. Pranayama is control of the breathing. Kumbhaka is the most essential aspect of that. You have to use your inhalation or exhalation before you are able to hold your breath.

How would Krishnamacharya teach it?

After you practiced your asana, he would ask you to sit in padmasana, vajrasana, etc. do your Kapalabhati, 108 times, or whatever. And then he would ask you to do - one day Ujjai, another day Sitali, another day Nadi Shoddana, like that he would slowly build up the practice, and then later on you have to practice Pranayama on your own. You don't have to teach forever. Once he knew that you practice your Pranayama properly, he would say at the end of the class, "practice Pranayama for 15 minutes".

Which Pranayamas were taught, and which ones were mostly frequently used?

Mostly, in Vinyasa Krama practice, he would use Ujjai breathing, because we use Ujjai in our practice, so it becomes easier. Ujjai and Nadi Shoddana are the two most important pranayamas. And then if you combine those two, you get Anuloma Ujjai, Viloma Ujjai, Pratiloma Ujjai. Occasionally he would ask me to do Sitaly pranayama. When weather is very hot, he would say "you look tired, why don't you do a Sitali pranayama". The main emphasis was on Ujjai and Nadi Shoddana. Normally for Mantra Pranayama, they use Nadi Shoddana pranayama. Inhale through one nostril, chant the Pranayama Mantra, exhale through the other nostril. Nadi Shoddana pranayama is mentioned in the texts also.

ON BANDHAS


How did he teach the Bandhas? And how soon?

Once your breathing is comfortable, you have long inhalation and exhalation, and you can hold the breath for a short period of time, Bandhas can be done. I think he taught Trataka Mudra as the best procedure positioned to teach Mulah Bandha, and Uddiyana Bandha. Once you are able to do Bandhas in that position, then the next thing for you would be to try it in Adho Mukha Svanasana, then some of the seated postures, especially Padmasana and Vajrasana. These are the postures he would ask you to practice the Bandhas.

I think considerable confusion exists about Bandhas, and perhaps it may be useful for many people if we will discuss it. Let's go through three major bandhas. In case of Mula Bandha, queues can be very simple - yet books written about it.

He gave simple instructions, he did not elaborate on this. He would say draw your rectum and tighten lower abdomen. That is all instructions he would give. He would observe how your Bandha is, and say, it is fine. That's about all.

Jalandhara Bandha aids Ujjai.

Definitely! Jalandhara Bandha aids Ujjai. It also has a number of other benefits. It helps you to keep your back straighter. Once you pull up the spine, your Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha also become more effective. Because the pelvic muscles are pulled up, there is more space between the pelvis and ribcage, so you are able to do the bandhas much better. They are all related.

DRISHTI

How is Drishti used in Vinyasa Krama?

Drishti is mentioned in many of Pattabhi Jois works, but for all those years I've been studied with Krishnamacharya, he never mentioned about Drishti. He never mentioned about it. Only thing he will say, whenever you do Trataka you gaze at the lamp, and then internalize it. That's about all. But whether you must look at the toe, and all that I find,  that kind of thing he never mentioned. Keep your head down, and your eyes closed. Most of the time our eyes are closed, we are following the breath. Most of the asanas you keep the eyes closed and work with the breath. Concentrate on breath, except in standing poses. When you are doing Paschimottanasana, you better have your eyes closed, so that you will be able to focus on the breath and the bandhas. Everything is happening inside, you don't need to keep your eyes open.


It is peculiar that here in the West, people seeking to start meditation practice come to Vedantic or Buddhist meditation, and think of Yoga only as a source of health benefits. Why do you think that is? Why not Yogic Meditation?

The whole problem is, nobody teaches that. Nobody teaches the yogic meditation. You look at some older teachers, they don't teach meditation at all. So people who practice Yoga, when they want meditation, because meditation is mentioned there, what do they do? They have to go to Vedantic school, because they can teach some Vedantic mantras, like Aham Brahmaasmi, So-Ham, Shivo-Ham, and all that. Or, they go to Buddhist meditation, or, sometimes they take a mantra. They go to religious people, take a mantra, and trying to meditate.

VINYASA KRAMA METHOD

Can you describe the Vinyasa Krama, the method you are teaching? It's uniqueness?

Vinyasa Krama is a method, by which you do asanas, with a number of movements leading to asanas, movements in the asanas, counterposes to the asanas. And then all the asanas are done with a proper breathing. There is an appropriate breathing for each of these movements. And then the mind is focused on the breath. These are the main differences between Vinyasa Krama and other methods. The term Vinyasa means Art. Vinyasa Krama is practicing yoga as an Art. That's why it got so many movements. All of the various movements body can do, falling within common definition of asana. One more advantage of Vinyasa Krama is that you are able to access different parts of the body, which you won't do, if you doing fixed number of movements, fixed number of asanas. There are so many different movements, you are likely to reach and exercise all parts of the body. Prana goes to those areas, Rakta [blood] goes to those areas.


In his early works, Krishnamacharya recommends 10-15 asanas for a regular practice. You mentioned he asked four asanas for constant long hold practice: Maha Mudra, Paschimottanasana, Sarvangasana, and Sirsasana. 

Yes, that is what I remember, because, for instance, he also talks, for example, about Mayurasana in the Yoga Makaranda. But I remember these four. He would insist, almost every day he would ask us to do these four asanas.


How particular was Krishnamacharya in Vinyasa sequences? Did he required to stick to a particular sequence, or did he encouraged variations?

Yes, he would teach you the way I go about teaching this class. Once you learned these vinyasas, then in your own practice you will pick and choose on a daily basis. That is your responsibility. But, on the other hand, if you come to me for a treatment, then I will pick and choose the vinyasas and give it to you. But if you are doing it for yourself, and you had learned these vinyasas, then you have to design your program on a daily basis. You don't need a teacher to come and tell you. I've done this, tomorrow I think I should do something for my neck and shoulders, or sometimes I feel heavy in my legs, so I probably spend more time doing vinyasas in my shoulderstand, or headstand. I vary my procedures from day to day.

SURYANAMASKARA?

Did he taught Surya Namaskar, was it a part of a daily practice? You mentioned earlier it was a part of weekly routine.

No, no. That was a chanting, not the physical aspect. Just a chanting. We used to do only chanting part. We never used to do the physical part. He taught it, but then he never insisted on a physical part of the Surya Namaskar. Not as it is being done in the West.

So physical Surya Namaskar sequence was not practiced at all?

No, no. It was just taught out, that's about all.

ALIGNMENT?

How specific he was about alignment, in any vinyasas or asanas?

He would make minor adjustments. Few minor adjustments I've made in the class, similarly to that he will do. [very minor, gentle physical touch, rare; occasional verbal suggestions.] Supposing your shoulderstand is very uncomfortable, so he would come and help you out. But it won't be rough. Not a very meticulous kind of adjustment to the posture.

In your opinion, why Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga follows strict sequences, no variations allowed? Pattabhi Jois was stating that he was teaching strictly according with Krishnamacharya tradition. 

Right. I can only speculate. One is that Krishnamacharya taught only those vinyasas at that particular time. They belong to much earlier group, 1940s maybe. And another thing, it is all depends on how long they studied. I studied with Krishnamacharya for a long, long period of time. I specifically asked him for more vinyasas, when I started teaching. I realized that that I was not able to teach much more, so I went and asked him, are there more vinyasas? I said, I am not able to teach my students, is there something more? Yes, then he started, “did you teach this vinyasa, this other vinyasa”. Like that, he kept on teaching more and more... I used to practice, and then go and teach.

BOOKS 

Can you tell a bit more about your books?

The first writings I did for a journal, called Indian Review journal. I think it was way back in 1978 or so. At that time I was a trustee of Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM). When the Mandiram started, I was one of the trustees. Desikachar, myself, and one of his class fellows, we were all the trustees. So at that time, what we did, Desikachar said, we should publish to make Mandiram known, and this particular magazine was interested. He asked me to write those articles, so I started writing. In about six months time I got out of Mandiram. But the publishers said, why don't you keep on writing? I went on writing, it went on for about 28 months or so. First few issues I used to type the article, give it to Desikachar, and he would, whenever  find time, read it to his father, explain it to him. And then he would make suggestions. Not corrections, suggestions. He used to be very happy about what was going on. 
Then after a few years, one of the Desikachar students, Paul Harvey from the UK who studied Yoga Sutras with me at that time, asked me to write a book, an introductory book on Yoga Sutras.
So I wrote a book called “Basic Tenets of Patanjala Yoga”. It was not a great success, not many people read that. When the book was published in 1982, I was not going to classes for three-four months, I had something going on. But when Krishnamacharya came to know about it, he came all the way to my house. One Sunday, he and Desikachar came to my house, I was surprised. He said, “I understand you have written a book, and I want to bless you. It is a very good thing, you must write more books.” He was very positive, very supportive. He used to encourage you very well. So he wanted Vinyasa Krama, he wanted these teachings be known.

At that time, Pattabhi Jois and Iyengar were teaching, but not directly in contact with him; Desikachar started to go to different parts of the world. He was very supportive.
And then another thing  started doing, I first recorded the Yoga Sutras, then wanted to have a recording company do it. Ultimately I was able to find a Recording company, they recorded it and released it. Then subsequently they  asked me to come up with a number of other subjects. So over the period of 15 years, most of the chanting I have learned from Krishnamacharya I was able to record about 30 in all, about 30 hrs of sanskrit chants, and this company released it. This was another important aspect of Krishnamacharya's teaching.


These were two early publications. Then in 1999-2000 I wrote “Yoga for the Three Stages of Life”, and in 2005 I wrote “The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga”, a Vinyasa Krama book, and in 2006 a book with David Hurwitz, “Yoga Beneath the Surface”. These are the publications. And subsequently, I started to send Vinyasa Krama newsletters, so I can share whatever I consider is important. It was good to keep on writing, one way or the other.

What do you think is your best work so far?

Of course “Yoga for the Three Stages of Life”, I really, really enjoyed writing it. 
But then Vinyasa Krama book is also good. Reason why I wrote this particular book, is that I found that even though I go and teach workshops, not many people heard about it. I thought I will not teach, so I wanted to put everything I knew in form of the book, and publish it, so it is out of my mind. And then LMU fortunately started this program [LMU 200 hr Teacher Training with Srivatsa Ramaswami in LA, California, USA]. Few people now had studied this. And then book with David was good – I could see what kind of questions arise in people, that was good.

Any other books, besides essential scriptures, that should be studied?

As yoga teachers you must be familiar with various texts. Bhagavad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Yoga Yajnavalkya – these three texts... Yoga Upanishads are there, but they are not very accessible, some of them are repetitive. You can still have a look at them. This is all with respect to Hatha Yoga. There is also other text – it is not a text, it is part of the Purana – it is called Sutra Samhita. It is not very important, just an additional material.

Then you can probably think about Samkhya Karika. It is work of 75 shlokas or so, like Yoga Sutras it is also very concise, and a beautifully written text. Lot of things that are taken for granted in Yoga Sutras can be found there. For instance, the three Gunas, the evolution from the Mulah Prakriti explained very well, Transmigration; number of other concepts that are taken for granted by yogis can be found there. English translations are available; english commentaries are also available. Samkhya is one of the six traditional Indian Philosophies. Samkhya, Yoga, and Vedanta form a compact group. They  all talk about Nivriti Shastras – how to stop the Transmigration.

Go through the Yoga Sutras, get a good outline of that, then try to support it by Bhagavad Gita from one side, and Samkhya Karika on the other side. Bhagavad Gita will be very helpful, because it is very “user-friendly”, not like the Yoga Sutras. Yoga Sutras are very dry – Bhagavad Gita tries to explain. In fact, you don't need any commentary for it, because same ideas explained over and over again. Arjuna was a warrior, not an intellectual.

Then once you are familiar with these texts, then you can read some of the Upanishads, Upanishad Vidyas. 
Vedas per se might not be of much importance to us. It contains lot of rituals, things like this. More important thing for people who study Yoga is to study Upanishads. The Upanishads portions is the Thought, philosophical ideas are contained there, and there are many.

ON TEACHING/TEACHERS

Do you feel that someone with a serious practice of several years has a duty to teach?

My feeling is, anybody who practicing Yoga for five years should start thinking about it. Where am I going, what I am trying to do? Some introspection is necessary. You can't just keep doing the same thing over and over again. That is not an intelligent approach to Yoga. You try to find out, what else is there in Yoga. 
Suppose somebody says, don't do Pranayama - why you should not do Pranayama? Or if somebody says, don't do shoulderstand – what are the problems? Why shouldn't I do shoulderstand? Otherwise it is all the same routine. As they get older, it will not going to be helpful, I am sure. Practices that are good when you are young will not be helpful when you get older. You need a different set of practices.

Do you feel like in the West people are reinventing the Yoga?

Yes, many people are now inventing Yoga, because they don't have access to tradition, like Krishnamacharya had. What happens – yoga is popular, so I run my own yoga, or stick to the same routine. I am not saying that everybody is doing it... At least in olden days, I used to know many people who come to India to study. Nowadays it is all gone. They say that “who knows Yoga in India? Now it has become established here.” My approach  would be: alright, I had studied with Krishnamacharya, and the only reason I had stayed with him for a long period of time, was because he was interpreting the shastras with his experience to me. If he would have said, it is a yoga he is invented, I would not have gone to him. I would not have gone to him. Because I had wanted to know what was Yoga, Vedanta have to offer. I wanted to know that. And he faithfully interpreted those shastras to tell you what they are all about, which he did admirably. Whatever I understood from him, now I want to explain to people the way I understood. It is not as good as he taught, but that is the best I can do. I will do whatever I can do to explain the way I understood. And I should be happy about it.

What is your advice for those times when one feels uncertain, even discouraged about yoga practice, practice progression? Everyone has those moments at some point.

Right. I get that feeling quite often even now (laughs). 
It should not be frequent, it could happen once in a while. What I can tell you from my own experience, 90 people out of 100, when they start on Yoga, after some time they don't find any improvement whatsoever. “What am I doing? Why am I doing this?” That is why I would say, the reason why we are getting this feeling is, we are not getting everything that practice supposed to give. Yogis promise so much, but they are very sincere. They have no ax to grind, they tell you what they had experienced. The only problem, I am not able to experience it, that is the only thing – at least when I was young. The reason why it does not work for me is I don't know what they are talking about. Maybe I am not doing it properly, not understood it properly. I have to persist. That faith I must have in this. I had that faith in my Teacher. I have the faith in subject also. These two things you must have. That's what they call Shraddha (faith with love and reverence). So first starting point - you must have Faith.

And then another thing, what happens in our life – sometimes there are other problems. They come into our life...
Here Yoga Philosophy comes more importantly. You try to understand Yoga Philosophy, what does it say about Three Gunas... One of the reasons sometimes we get more depressed, or more and more angry – that can be due to preponderance of other two Gunas: Rajas and Tamas. Philosophy is the only way they can help us. We must try to find out situations that causing these problems. Sometimes you must find a permanent solution for a chronic problem. All of us – we don't solve the problem, we expect it will go away.  So we have to devise a solution, and then deal with it. 

Then there is certain problems which you cannot completely eliminate. Then you must at least learn to make use of Yoga so you can overcome those difficulties. Sometimes it can be Pranayama practice, sometimes it can be Asana practice. But to greatest extent – the Philosophy.
Personally, I will tell you: Yoga Philosophy, the Upanishads, they were very helpful. These thoughts contained there... You are able to see that those people in olden days – they were able to see those problems; it is nothing new to me. It has happened to many people earlier, only details may be different. All of us have our own set of problems. If we can make use of Yoga to deal with these problems better, it will be good. There is no other way. If we don't deal with the problems at this level, then we have to depend on external help. We must slowly try to see that these problems do not affect us. They may not go away completely, but at least they won't affect us so much. I am not saying it is going completely solve the problem, but to some extent Yoga Philosophy may be very very helpful. Like you, I too have or had my own problems, but it is much easier to deal with them, if you understand philosophy. Maybe Asana and Pranayama can help on physiological level. On psychological level you have to sit down and analyze. Frankly speaking, many problems we come across in life are of our own creation. When you solve the problems, you also have to give up certain things. You have to sit down and analyze, what do you want to give up, what do I want to get rid of. Analyze and choose a course. Sometimes, though, we take ourselves too seriously, and get affected by outside factors too much.

Practice sustained by Yoga Philosophy.

For the mind to become quiet, it should have an anchor. The mind should know it can be peaceful without any external things, things you depend upon, health, relationship. So long as everything ok, all is fine, but if something goes wrong, mind is shattered. I should not allow myself to get shattered. Once I allow  it to get shattered, it is a big problem. It is very difficult to rebuild it. That is why these things will be helpful: Practice to some extent, Philosophy to some extent. Between them, mind is reinforced so I can deal with problems better. Mere Practice won't do.


Do you have any advice for teachers who only starting? Or do wish you had done something differently in your own teaching career?

I will say that Yoga is a very very rich subject, it is very rewarding. It helps you physically, psychologically, disciplines your mind. Only thing is, try to understand all these things, reflect on all the practices. Even if you do your asana practice, reflect upon that: how do you feel after  this particular asana, this particular vinyasa, kriya? How do you feel after Pranayama? And look for long-term effects. Over the period of time – maybe practice for a month or two, and see how you feel. I am sure that the whole system was designed in such a way that it was going to benefit the individual. It meant to benefit the individual. They have done a lot of research, a lot of practice on this. It is a result of accumulation of lots of individual practices, and practices of gurus, like my Guru, Krishnamacharya. Teachers must teach with certain amount of conviction. You practice, see how you feel, and start teaching – that should be helpful.
Try to maintain practice, try to enlarge your base, so you make it really useful for yourself first. Before you start teaching others, find usefulness to yourself. And then, share it with others.

Thank you very, very much for your time.

Thank you. I hope it will be useful.
---------------------------------

Link to the full interview, this was just scratching the surface
http://wildyogi.info/en/issue/huge-variety-krishnamacharyas-teachings-interview-srivatsa-ramaswami

More on Wild Yogi Magazine



Here's their own introduction to the magazine

"Let us to present you a new online magazine Wild Yogi, dedicated to different styles of yoga, spiritual practice, self development and healthy way of life.
    What occurs when you hear this title – Wild Yogi? Maybe those who are familiar with Indian culture will imagine hаlf naked sadhu, coated with ashes, roving ascet, with impressive trishula (trident) in hands. This may seem strange to the modern buyer of yoga mates, props and fashionable yoga clothes. But, most likely, this is how yogis looked like at the times when those texts were written, which are sometimes recited by western educated inhabitants of big cities, who are familiar with yoga practice.
    We decided – let Wild Yogi be a source of alternative information among different "yoga brands" and a process of yoga conversion into a glamourous fitness industry. We want a thinking person to have for reading and looking something else than young girls in white leotards, retouched with Photoshop, who diligently perform yoga postures among all sorts of international cosmetic products advertising.
    Yoga was born in India thousands years ago, it is a powerful system of spiritual and physical improvement, today it became popular all over the World. Great yoga teachers said that this science belongs to all Humanity. According to the insights of sages in ancient India each one of us is Atman – a soul, it means that yoga lives in all of us, because it is a way of discovering your soul. And it does not matter in what spot of our Planet we were born and live. Our creative teamwork practices yoga for a log time and we consider it an important part of our life. Considerable amount of our authors are professional yoga teachers. Our desire to share our ideas, information, to tell about interesting people and events in the yoga world and at last just a need of creative self-expression brought us to making this magazine.

    We define a conception of our magazine as “a magazine about Yoga for thinking reader”. In the first place it will interest those for whom yoga is not just a popular kind of fitness, but a profound and interesting system of body and consciousness development.

    «Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet…» wrote Sir Rudyard Kipling in “The Ballad of East and West” (1889) But is it true? We think, that it is possible to preserve and even to multiply rich heritage of traditional yoga in the western world. The world changes and with it history of yoga also changes, along with areas of its spreading. We all, those, who practice and teach yoga, also create this history.
    We invite authors, practitioners and yoga teachers to cooperate with us on the volunteer basis. Welcome if you have something interesting to say, which maybe does not fit into the frame of “modern yogic mainstream”. With our magazine we invite you to accompany us in the journey along this fascinating way.

Interview with Bal Mukund Singh, disciple of Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, senior yoga-teacher of Morarji Desai National Yoga Institute, New Delhi 2002 - Ilya Zhuravlev, Marina Raykis.
Interview with Dharma Mittra, NY 2003 - Ilya Zhuravlev, Boris Sirchenko.
"Yoga and Vipassana: An internal work" article by A.Vorobiev and M.Baranov. Interview with V.Karpinsky and I.Zhuravlev, 2003
Interview with Krishna Das, NY 2004 - Ilya Zhuravlev, Boris Sirchenko.
"My experience in Bihar school of yoga" - Interview with Swami Akhilesh Saraswati, russian yoga teacher from Kazakhstan, 2006.
"Brahmins' favorite planets" - Interview with Anand Bihari, indian Vedic astrologer (Jyotirvid). Arambol, Goa, 2007.
"Kumbha Mela - The Great Flow" - my article about Kumbha Mela holy festival in Allahabad (India), jan 2007.
"Tradition of Tamil Siddhas" - interview with Shri Panduranga Swamigal, doctor of ancient tamil siddha medicine, 2007
Interview with Hariji Baba, head of Aghora ("Left Hand Tantra") ashram in Sonoma, California, NY 2004 - Ilya Zhuravlev, Boris Sirchenko.
"Talks with Rampuri Baba" - american born sadhu of Juna Akhara order - Arambol, Goa, 2006 - Tim Rakin, Ilya Zhuravlev.

Best regards, editor in chief of the Wild Yogi magazine Ilya Zhuravlev.
Founders of the project:

Ilya Zhuravlev, editor in shief
Маxim Yasochka, co-editor, commercial director
Mikhail Baranov, co-editor


Current edition

October 2012

April 2012
Interviews with Richard Freeman, Krishna Das, Jivamukti yoga founders, Hareesh (Christopher Wallis). Yoga-therapy of the wrists, principles of practice during pregnancy, Surya and Shakti Namaskar, and recipes with edible plants for true yogic life.




November 2011
Interviews with David Swenson, yogacharya MadhavanDanny Paradise, Rakesh Pandey (Varanasi)Article on kumbhaka in asanas, recipes for veg pancakes.





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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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