“Our relationship with Food can be too little, too much, or wrong.
According to Āyurveda, even the best food eaten in the wrong amount,
or at the wrong time, or with the wrong attitude
will fail to nourish and even disturb the system.
The same could be said for Yoga Practice.”
– Paul Harvey
Books in the bookcase leading me to read. Apt quote around my Yoga group this evening.
” The mind is part of a team, along with the body, the breath and the senses. Everything that we do is a product of that team, but the mind is generally the boss……..We know that the state of the mind affects the breath and, luckily for us, the opposite is also true”
What are we Seeking – TKV Desikachar
“Yoga Practice is about a re-turning towards our inner life. However, even without outer obstacles, we can encounter inner feelings that arise and manifest as obstacles to that re-turning.
With the spirit of Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 33 in mind, the cultivation of the four pillars is a practice that can support a stepping, rather than stalling, onto our mat or seat through:
- Maitrī –
Cultivating a feeling of friendliness towards our own attempts,
let alone other’s demands, to distract ourselves.
- Karuṇā –
Cultivating a feeling of compassion towards our bodies and minds,
whatever state we find them in.
- Muditā –
Cultivating a feeling of looking for the positive spot in ourselves
and what we can do well and now, rather than what we can’t do well or now.
- Upekṣā –
Cultivating a feeling of keeping distance from the self-deprecation that can so often accompany our attempts to improve the quality of our inner life and old responses to inner tensions and memories.”
– Paul Harvey’s personal commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 33
“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.
”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
“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.”
“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……”
” The movement of the breath is a mirror to the movement of the mind.”
– Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā Chapter Two verse 2
“Yoga is about recognising change and recognising that which recognises change.”