“While it is theoretically possible for the body, the breath, and the mind to work independently, it is the purpose of Yoga to unify their movement. In our very first practice classes, we will experience this unification. What appears as Yoga to an outsider is mainly the physical aspects of our practice. They will not be aware of how we breathe, how we feel the breath, and how we coordinate breathing with physical movement.”
TKV Desikachar – Religiousness in Yoga, ch2, p13
“Begin your practice from where you are,
finish your practice where you are going.”
– TKV Desikachar 1978
Shared from Paul Harvey’s Yoga Journal
“Our practice needs to become a celebration of what we have.
Rather than what we have, becoming a reason not to practice.”
shared from Paul Harvey’s Yoga Journal
Q: Why have the breath envelop the movement?
A: “Mastery of the Āsana is about mastery of the breath in the form not just the form itself.
The best reference for observing that there is a quality of grace, as well as power within the achievement of the form, is a long smooth breath.
In terms of movement this notion means that you can be sure these qualities are embedded by keeping the breath longer than the movement.
This also offers an experience of stillness and an observation point for any stresses arising from the performance of the Āsana.
As mentioned in the original article around this topic there are also other levels beyond the four I discussed.”
The above is a question raised in response to the post ‘Keeping the Breath Longer than the Movement” together with Paul Harvey’s answer.
“Writing distills, crystallizes and clarifies thought”
-Dr. Stephen R Covey
“A man in Ireland broke his leg and spent 10 days in the hospital after injuring himself in a surprising way — while practicing yoga.
The 38-year-old yoga enthusiast fractured the thighbone on his right leg while doing a difficult seated yoga pose known as Marichyasana posture B in his morning yoga class, according to a new report of the man’s case, which was published online Oct. 9 in the journal BMJ Case Reports. The pose involves sitting down, with the knee bent and drawn up to the chest, and then bending the torso toward the floor. “
“At the time of his injury, the man was practicing Ashtanga yoga, a physically demanding style, for an hour every morning.Research suggests that injuries from this style of yoga are more common in the hamstrings, knees and lower back, according to the report.”
credit for image: © BMJ 2015
“In the emergency room, the man could not straighten out his right leg, and needed IV morphine to dull his pain. X-rays showed he had a “low-energy femoral shaft fracture.”he had a “low-energy femoral shaft fracture.”
The “low energy” term refers to the amount of force that causes the bone to break, said Dr. Andrew Moriarity, an orthopedic resident at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, who treated the man and co-authored the case report. Low-energy fractures are sometimes called “stress fractures.”
“Although yoga is considered a gentle mind-body practice, injuries can and do happen, especially as the activity’s popularity rises. Still, this type of fracture is extremely rare in a young, healthy person, and it’s even more unusual for it to occur due to yoga, the researchers wrote in their case report.”
Two weeks before the fracture occurred, the man felt a dull pain in his right thigh. He sought advice about the problem from a physical therapist, who diagnosed it as a muscle strain in the man’s quadriceps, telling him he could return to yoga.”
“But that probably wasn’t a good idea,” Moriarity said.
“The pain he felt in his thigh was likely a stress fracture, a warning of impending fracture if he continued to apply stress to this area,” Moriarity told Live Science.
“To treat his femoral shaft fracture, the man needed surgery to insert a titanium rod inside his thighbone, which would allow him to walk safely,” Moriarity said.
“The reason this man sustained such a rare injury from practicing yoga, Moriarity said, “was likely due to repetitive stress on the thighbone, combined with a weakened bone state, known as osteopenia“
“Indeed, a bone scan taken at the hospital revealed that he the man had did in fact have osteopenia, a condition in which his bone density is lower than normal, which could increase his risk for low-energy fractures, Moriarity explained.
“Five months after his release from the hospital, the man could walk almost pain free and had resumed practicing yoga, but was doing only less-demanding postures.”
“Over the last two years, Pieta House – the suicide and self-harm crisis centre – has witnessed a marked increase in the number of 13- to 17-year-old girls presenting with suicidal ideation.
The most consistent issue they are presenting with is their struggle to obtain “the perfect body”.
“…..young girls regularly name social media sites, reality TV and other popular television shows as the trigger of their weight obsession.
The problem also manifests due to pressure from peers, sexual identity issues, cyber-bullying, negative online comments and relationship troubles.”
“Last week, a new report from the Children’s Rights Alliance (CRA) revealed that Ireland had the highest rate of female youth suicides and the second-highest rate of male youth suicides in the EU between 2009 and 2011.”
“Over the past 12 months, the charity, which has supported more than 17,000 children, adolescents and adults since 2006, is seeing more teenage boys presenting with body image issues.”
“Boys are looking at six packs and think it’s the perfect body,” Ms Kiely said. “There is nothing wrong with wanting to be fit but if they are over-indulgent and are on steroids or taking protein supplements to build themselves and bulk up, that’s not healthy.”
“However, Pieta House believes this is also a good sign and that young people are reaching out.”
”Progress must be seen as the distance from the starting point,
rather than the more usual reference of the distance from the finishing point.”
– Notes from Paul Harvey’s first seminar with TKV Desikachar in Cambridge in 1976
Shared from Paul’s Yoga Studies Blog
“Duḥkha is a disturbance of the mind. While sometimes the words sorrow, misery, and disease are used to define duḥkha, it is best identified as a feeling of restriction.
Somehow something deeply disturbs us and we feel restricted.
This restriction is duḥkha…….
We all aim to remove duḥkha……..
That is what Yoga is trying to do.”
TKV Desikachar, Religiousness in Yoga
With plenty of focus on Mindfulness today,
Mindlessness is crucial to our mental health too.
Spacing out out from time to time is beneficial for our psychological health,
during these periods creative insights happen.
“In looking at how to deepen (rather than broaden) our personal practice choosing to focus on exploring the breath can be a key to unlocking the mystery of the relationship between body, breath, mind and beyond.
Here we can think of the deepening into our practice arising through progressively slowing the patterning of our breathing. To do this we have to reconsider our practice, not in terms of what we do with our body but what we do with the breath within our body.
This means firstly knowing what is our basic practice breath rate per minute and then progressively slowing that rate as we progress from Āsana, through to Mudrā and then to Prāṇāyāma.
For example when working with Āsana we can start with four breaths per minute, then with Mudrā slow it to three breaths per minute and finally with Prāṇāyāma, slow it again to two breaths per minute.
An accomplished practitioner may be working with three breaths a minute in Āsana, two breaths a minute in Mudrā and one breath a minute with Prāṇāyāma.
Whereas a less experienced practitioner may be working on five breaths a minute in Āsana, four breaths a minute in Mudrā and three breaths a minute in Prāṇāyāma.
The starting point does not matter and is something that is appropriate to the history, health and training of the student. What is more important is that no matter where we start from, the journey into the mystery of the breath and its relationship to the slowing of psychic activity, is through the progressive slowing of our breathing patterns.
This is realised within the long term developmental refinement of the practice limbs of Āsana, Mudrā and Prāṇāyāma within our journey into the evolution of Haṭha Sādhana towards Rāja Sādhana.”
“More than one-quarter of Irish adults are not physically active and do not participate in any kind of exercise as they “don’t have the time”.
“people simply must look at their week and find one hour out of the 24 hours in the day that they can be physically active”.
“The person who taught me how to vary postures, to bend the legs, to turn the neck, all the simple and complicated variations, as necessary, is Krishnamacharya. It is important to vary each posture according to the individuals requirements.
Further, he also introduced the use of other aids or supports, so that the person gets the benefit of a posture through other means when he is not able to do the posture itself. This can involve sitting on a chair, using a roll, using supports, etc., the use of other means to help a person achieve certain results.”
– TKV Desikachar from lectures on ‘The Yoga of T Krishnamacharya’, given at Zinal, Switzerland 1981.
“2.Yoga as Meditation
Now the concern is more with the mystery of life than the mastery of life.
Here Yoga is a means for meditation with self-inquiry as the primary focus.
“Who am I?” is the question that acts as a map for an inner journey into our psyche. It is a quest to touch and be touched by the “soulfull” quality of being that resides within.
In this approach Yoga is a tool for a movement towards a deeper relationship with our sense of soul, by searching both into and beyond what we experience as the everyday self.
It is a journey of discovery exploring and ultimately going beyond attitudes that, for better or for worse, have shaped our lives, work and relationships.
Now Yoga is a skill by which we seek to sustain awareness and clarity in spite of the vagaries of everyday life. The quality of this awareness engenders a freshness within which actions are less affected by our usual attitudes and habits. In other words we have more choice over how we respond or react. In those situations where our reaction would be automatic we now find we have different possibilities.
Here Yoga is a process by which we grow in our understanding of ourselves. From this we come to realise that we can change those aspects of ourselves that are unhelpful on our journey. This means firstly recognising the qualities that hinder our personal growth, an important, if not always comfortable stage in the journey. Secondly, having reflected on how we are rather than who we are, we go on to discover that there exists within us a resource with the potential to transform these undesirable aspects.
From this we can take steps towards living more creatively. Here again the help of a teacher is important as a guide for advice and suggestions on practices to support the process of growth into an understanding of how we are and ultimately who we are.
To quote another saying from the teachings on meditation:
“Before I can experience myself as nobody, I must first experience myself as somebody.”
This approach is known as the Yoga of Reflection and Discovery.
However, we all experience problems, poor health or illness from time to time.”
What is Yoga?
“1. Yoga as Power
Firstly Yoga can be explained as a means to attain a degree of power or control over our body and mind.
Here Yoga links the body and the mind through intense physical and mental effort.
For instance through rigorous physical practices we develop and maintain a state of concentration which is used to hold power over the body and the breath. Within this approach such control is often seen as a prerequisite to the body and mind becoming free of disturbances and distractions.
This power arises out of three areas of personal development:
i) Mastery of the body through physical postures.
ii) Control of the breath through breathing techniques.
iii) The ability to concentrate through mental techniques.
The consequences of this intense effort are energy and control that is available for whatever purpose suits our direction in life.
Many people could usefully enjoy more power over certain areas of their lives. The question is, are we prepared to put in some effort to reach this point.
In the words of a teacher from long ago:
“Yoga is the means by which that which was not attained earlier is now attained.”
This approach is known as the Yoga of Energy and Will.
As such, this aspect of Yoga is an art and offers a fascinating field. It is appealing to many people searching for power in and over their lives.
However this approach is only a means towards a more important goal……”
“Yoga is about recognising change and recognising that which recognises change.”