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Jan 07

The heart of Viniyoga® : The Visualization

By admin | Yoga Therapy

Visualization plays an important role in the Viniyoga® tradition. Visualization has an important impact on the internal layers of the self (manomaya – the layer of the intellect – and vijñānamaya– the layer of the emotions) and hence has the ability to influence others layers like the physical dimension (annamaya), the breathing (prāṇamaya), etc. Bhāvana, visualization, in Sanskrit, is coming from the root BHŪ : which means to exist. Bhāvanais hence the act of creating something, of causing the existence of something. The explanation is highly relevant as this article will show that well implemented visualization has the impact to change positively someone. In fact, it can play different roles.

1) It can be used as a therapy – cikitsa. For instance, a practitioner with a lazy liver will benefitiate greatly from visualizing the sun (sūrya). It will slowly brings the quality of warmthness (uṣṇa) inside his system and will have an impact on the work of his liver by increasing his faculties. Another person whose lungs are tights and which is prone to asthma and bronchitis will feel more open by visualizing a blossoming flower and will slowly breath easier. Observation of the care seeker has to be very well done (parīkṣa) for giving the appropriate tool. Inappropriate visualization can have side effect, a care seeker who has been throught chemotherapy will already have pitta(the doṣalinked with the fire – jaṭharāgni) highly elevated in his system due to the nature of the treatment. Giving the sun will aggravate the warmth of the person.

In this case, it may be useful to work, for instance, with the moon, to continue to give some light (jyotiṣ) but in a very refreshing (śīta) manner. Other visualizations can be very usefull too like water (āpaḥ) who will refresh the practitioner has well as will help to remove the impurities (śodhanam). Water has also the ability to influence drastically our subconscious emotional patterns (pratyaya). Hence, we will carefully choose a moving or a still water after a real examination of the practitioner.

2) The second application is called prāṇacaitanya, it consist in bringing the consciousness in one part of the body during the practise. While practicing, directing our consciousness in one part of the body, which has as an immediate effect to brings energy in the respective part. For instance, an āsanawhose main effect is focused on the lower abdomen (apāna) will be greatly enhanced with the application of prāṇacaitanyain the same region. Prāṇacaitanyacan have a huge impact in some context. Visualization in the first cakrahas the ability to transform some āsana(like jaṭharaparivṛtti) in a very effective mudrā-s.

The power of the consciousness, through the visualization, has the power to shift completely the effect of one āsana. In jaṭharaparivṛtti, for instance, you will normally work on the third cakra, balance the fire in the body and help the practitioner to deal with some emotions linked with his own childhood and the relationship he had with his own parents. Focusing the attention and directing the energy consciously toward the first cakrawhile inhaling will help to work also on some older emotions linked with the emotional inheritance (vāsana-s) of the family. This is a huge difference. This is the power of visualization and the power of the consciousness.

 3) The third application is a spiritual one (vaidika). Patañjali explains it in the first chapter on the sūtra-s. “tajjapaḥtadarthabhāvanam” (I. 28). “Repeating [the name of God] has to be done with a visualization of the meaning”. In this case, the form of the desired god can be seen as a statue, a light, a mountain,… The mind has to focus on a meaningful form of the God and we are mentally reciting his name. This has the effect to help to practice with a consciousness and not mechanically, and then to engage fully in the meditation (dhyānamor pūjā).

The deeper mind (pratyaya) of the practitioner then only can change accordingly with the qualities of the God on which we meditate. The same idea is described by TKV Desikachar in “The Yoga of Krishnamacharya” (page 37-38). “Further, he [T. Krishnamacharya] also added long ago, the idea of Bhāvanain the practice of Prāṇāyāma. Long, long ago, he said, the breathing, inhalation, exhalation and retentions have some sort of a relationship with the highest force, Lord Nārāyaṇa. Inspiration is like an inspiration from God himself. Retention is some sort of meditation, because you are with him. Exhalation is some sort of movement towards God and retention after exhale is like surrender to God”.

 Hence, visualization is a very deep subject of Yoga. Patañjali explains this process in the third chapter. “maitryādiṣu balāni” (III.23) and “baleṣu hastibalādīni”(III. 24). “Meditating on [the strength of] friendship and the others will give you the strength of the meditated quality” (III.23) and “meditating on the strength of the elephant [you will gain] the [corresponding] strength”. The quality of the object of visualization will influence your deep pattern.

One funny example on one student of Sir TKV Desikachar explains this very well. A young and fearful man came to visit him to overcome his fear of taking the plane. Sir TKV Desikachar asked him to meditate on Hanuman, the monkey Lord which is also bachelor. This boy overcame his fear, but didn’t want to marry until Sir asks him to meditate on a God and his consort! The focus was the quality of strength of the God, his ability to jump over the sea. Somehow the quality of being a bachelor has also been absorbed by the mind of this young boy. Bhāvanais indeed a very precious yogic tool. Our practice will gain a lot by implementing it appropriately into our own personal practice.

 Kausthub Desikachar & Philip Rigo

Viniyoga® Teachers @ Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation

Dec 27

The art of Viniyoga® : Yātrā, a unknown tool of Yoga

By admin | Yoga Therapy

We all are very familiar with Yogic tools like āsana. But not so many of us, we know that Yātrā, pilgrimage, is a very powerful tool of Yoga. It consist to visit some specials places or people. Undertaking a Yātrā is undertaking a travel with some spiritual destination with great humility and sincere devotion. There is always a kind of an effort to make in a Yātrā to arrive at the right destination. There is often a large part of the travel condition left to the fortune.

A Yātrā has to be undertaken with a lot of open-mindness, to be open that the journey may not fulfil our egoistic expectations. This is the first part of why a Yātrā is working. This makes us to reflect on our attitude during this trip. Many things can happen and operates the changes in our expectation. This is why it is a work against the ego (asmitā). The pilgrim has to find his own psychological, energetical and emotional ressources from a deeper place inside himself rather than from the shallow and rigid force of ego. Our ego is usually very strong and drives us very often to judge everything which is not in the path that we imagined or planned before, because we think we know. Undertaking a pilgrimage with humility will slowly change this habit and the pilgrim will start to reflect on why he usually thinks like this or why he usually get trapped into the same kind of problems. By travelling in that way, having to change his plan, having to wait, having to adapt to go to the toilet, to adapt to the other pilgrims attitude, to the weather, food, etc, he slowly begins a very intense work on its own saṁskāra (internal habits). Then he slowly realizes that his way of thinking can be responsible for his suffering and can begins a deep self-enquiry (svādhyāya) which is actually held by the travel and the group.

One of our student went to Santiago de Compostelle with his familly. They walked two weeks in different forecast conditions with the intention to heal the familly from some dysfunctionnal behavior. When you speak with him now, he says how much this Yātrā has helped them and the functionning of the whole familly has changed for the best. Deep emotions and vāsana (impressions from the past) that are driven us, often unconsciously, are slowly coming out when the usual pattern of our lifestyle is broken by a pilgrimage. Then we can slowly heal it. That is why a pilgrimage is a deep meditation as it helps us to crack the egoistic armour that we have put in place in order to manage our daily life with some internal and conscious ressources.

The other beautiful aspect of a Yātrā is faith. There is not one place where everybody has to go for a Yātrā. Such a travel has to be chosen accordingly to the belief system of the pilgrim. For some people it will be going to a special temple for nārāyāṇa (vishnu) as for other it may be for śiva, Jesus, or some beautiful and natural places like a special forest or some mountains. This is the deep link between the pilgrim and the place that will help to transcend the limitation of our ego to adapt. That is why a Yātrā has to be done only with humility. The attitude behind is far different from a tourist attitude and if you undertake such a travel, conditions will remind you this by changing your expectation. Humility and faith are the chore of a Yātrā, not ego or entitlement. Having gone deep inside to reach the place, your faith will heal you.

Namaste,

Dr. Kausthub Desikachar
Philip Rigo
Viniyoga® Teachers @ Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation

Nov 28

Mantra

By admin | Yoga Therapy

Mantra-s are an very important part of the Viniyoga® tradition. The word itself, mantra, has a very important meaning. The first part of the word, MAN, means « manas, mind ». The second one, TRA, means « to cross, to protect ». This definition, from the Mantra-Yoga-Saṁhitā,explains this idea under the following definition : mananāttrāyate iti mantraḥ. Mantra hence is what protects from the mind (meaning that the work done with the mind protects as mantra practice is a meditation done with the mind). This idea is not easy to understand from an occidental point of view : how the fact of repeating a mantra during some times can have a positive impact on the practitioner ? In fact, mantra create energy (prāṇa), that is why a practice done with mantra is called sagarbha: « with an embryo » (with life actually).This represent well the fact that mantra brings prāṇa(life) to the practice. Each mantra is the holder of some specific energy. This is due to the power of the sanskrit language. It is said in the śastra(the classical texts) that the sound of the Sanskrit contains the meaning. Hence the name of the sun contain the energy of the sun, the name of the mountain contain the name of the mountain. This is why it is considered as a sacred language. Another very important aspect of mantra is that mantra are meant to be positive : tat codakeṣu mantrakhyāḥ : « what praise something is a mantra ». Most of mantra end with the word namaḥ which means « respectful salutation ». Sometimes, the word svaḥindicate a prayer to something that we consider as higher. There are few different ways of working with mantra.

1) The first way of working with mantra is called cikitsa. Mantra-s are then used with a therapeutical application. They have the power to heal the care seeker by giving an energy which is lacking inside the system of the practitioner. They have a quick result, they have the power to quickly change somebody’s mind. For instance, the mantra māṁ pāhi which means : « protect me ». This mantra has the power to make the practitioner feeling protected. This protection is highly significant nowadays, where medicine is more considered as a matter of fact rather than a matter of care and protection.

2) The second way of working with mantra is a mantra that will bring you to understand and to realize your dharma. It is called laukika. One mantra is very much shared with this intention in India, traditionaly to every boys who were around 6 years old. The ritual sandhyavandanam is taught to them as a way of praising the sun and asking him to illuminate their mind. With clarity, it becomes much easier to what is their own dharma.

3) The third way is called vaidika. It is a spiritual application of the mantra. Practised in this way, this mantra has the ability to show the reality behing the ordinary senses to the practitioner. When he realizes the power of his mantra, the sadhakawill see the tattva [the principles of reality] : he will understand and experiment the metaphysicals concepts. Applied in this way, the mantra will work with concept like « light », « God », « consciousness ».

A very important warning has to be uttered here : mantra are meant to be taught by a teacher to somebody that has the ability to hold the person during his practice. The changes that mantra-s brings inside the practitioner are so deep that sometimes some emotional help is required to maintain the stability of the student. This is the case every level of practice. One, for instance, can realizes why he got sick, another what his dharmais and another one may realizes that he not have the power that he think in his life and begin to surrender the higher force, etc. With the practice of mantra, every realization brings its level of change and challenges. But practiced in a way that make the practitioner gaining some maturity, yes, mantra are one of the best protector.

Article by: Philip Rigo, Viniyoga® Teacher

Aug 16

Viniyoga® : The heart of individualised practise

By admin | Yoga Therapy

We would like to begin by sharing a small example on how Viniyoga® works. One of our student was suffering since a long time from back pain. Rather than taking rest, reflecting about her life, she used to take a pain killer right away in order to come back immediately to her numerous daily activities. This lady has been raised in a familly where one should first worry about others, where woman would only serve familly expectation and work. She had not learned the meaning of taking care of oneself. Rather, she felt that taking care of other was a duty and she felt guilty and selfish everytime that she wanted to make something for herself. Fed up with the situation, she decided one day to take private Viniyoga® classes. After meeting the teacher, she received a very relaxing practise with some peaceful chants to listen. Slowly, after few months of reviewed practises, she began to think about herself. She is now taking some trainings on interesting subjects, beginning to read books that she likes, going to see some friends, going to cinema, to theater, etc. What a beautiful transformation ! And now, she realised suddenly that it is one year that her back problem nearly totally disppeared ! She didn’t even realized that this problem has been gone !

How did it work really ? Is Viniyoga® working magically like a pain killer ? Is the practise working like a medicament itself ? The first thing to understand is that a Viniyoga® practise is not a prescription. The Viniyoga® teacher takes time to give a practise to a student. They share together an open conversation, where both individuals are reflecting together on the problem. This is the first difference with a simple prescription. This conversation is the first step where the care seeker is actively involved into by reflecting along with the care provider about his own problems. Slowly, he may get a wider picture on his problems throught the conversation and can make some connections with some parameters linked with the problem. These parameters were hidden before from the conscious level. Slowly, she started to realize that her back problem may have been linked with her inability to take care of herself, and even more, she realized that without taking care of herself the care she could offer was not really well received in the familly. Her behavior was even creating some kind of problems even thought it was coming from a good intention. At a point she felt that she was wasting her own time and started to change completely.

Secondly, the practise given was a very relaxing practise with some breathing while she was lying down on her back and listening to some chant. This gave her some good feeling by removing her fatigue, but mainly the practise gave her a sense of acceptation and a sense of being herself. This lying position while listening some chant is a very passive practise. This passivity has been extremely good for her as it was compensating her own habit of keeping herself really busy always.

This lead us to the third point, a simple discussion with the Viniyoga® teacher may not be enough. By practising everyday, not only she remembered consciously and focused consciously on her intention to hea her back, but also she is working on all the different constitutive layers (pañca-maya) of herself by sending into her whole system throught this particular practise a message : « relax and receive » ! Slowly, her unconscious pattern (samskāra) of being always active is encountered and all the changes in her life could slowly happen.

Article by: Philip Rigo, Viniyoga® Teacher

Jul 27

Emotions and the ancient art of Yogatherapy: How to release, repattern and transcend negative emotions

By admin | Yoga Therapy

 

  1. First step. Letting go: Allowing and releasing subpressed and unconscious negative emotions

Many people come with diseases that have their cause not in the physical, but in the emotional layer of their being. For example, if there is pent-up anger in your system against a (past or current) situation, job, person, pattern, place or circumstance in your life (or against yourself), your body might also express that emotion on a physical level and might develop an inflammation (or high blood pressure, acidity, ulcers, skin rashes, sometimes even autoimmune disorders or cancer) to express the feeling inherent in your system and to give you a sign that something inside you asks to be looked at, released and resolved.

Our whole being is a holistic expression of the energies, patterns and belief systems that we carry.  Whatever you feel in any moment will be expressed throughout your whole system, whether you are consciously aware of that or not.

That means that an emotion/energy/ state of being is simultaneously expressed through your feelings, your mental state, how good your connection to spirit is and of course, your physical body. In the Yoga sutras Patanjali talks about disease/ a disturbed mind being easily recognizable through a constricted heart space (duḥkha), a negative mindset (daurmanasya), a state of dis-ease in body and limbs (aṅgamejayatva) and also through the breath being disturbed (śvāsapraśvāsāḥ , YS. I.31).

When we look at people we might know that they are sad not just because they are crying, but because of the way how they carry their body, the way their face, skin and eyes look, the tone of their voice, their heavy breath (or continuous sighing), their state of disconnection from their inner light/higher self and the contracted energy we can feel around them.

As Viniyoga® Yoga therapists, our main purpose is often times not to instantly tell a person what we sense inside their system, but to hold the space and give the person an individualized practice that helps them realize the energy that they are holding inside, themselves. Yoga therapy is meant to be self empowering and practices will be designed specifically so that things are allowed to come up to be seen, understood, and released. The journey of healing involves that the person comes back to a holistic state of being and delves deeply into themselves. Most people in our consumerist society are so used to getting answers from outside of themselves, but real healing only occurs through your own inner transformational work. Only if a person realizes (not just mentally understands) a certain pattern themselves will they actually be able to release it.

Your own journey starts with awareness. When did the disease start and what happened at that time in your life?

Often times, by the simple fact that Yoga therapeutic practices make a person take time and space for themselves (you have to practice on your own every day), a process of reconnection between the different layers is started. All good individualized yoga therapy practices work holistically and will bring up what is held inside. Certain mantras, energetic locks and breathing techniques can aid the process of releasing energies that are held inside the system.

One time a student was suffering from high blood pressure. It never came to the student’s mind that the blood pressure wasn’t only physical, but was connected to the death of the father who had passed two years before. After doing the practice for a couple of weeks, she realized in a session that she had never taken the time to actually grieve for her father. In the coming weeks when she was doing her practice she was continuously crying. She was releasing all the subpressed sadness that she had held inside. For two weeks straight she was crying every single day, and this time she was allowing all those sad feelings to finally come up. After those two weeks the crying stopped- and the blood pressure went down.

In another example a male student came with intense anxiety attacks. He had to take a lot of different psychopharmica so that he was able to sleep. Because of their side effects he felt really drowsy during the day. He couldn’t explain where the anxiety originated but had suffered from it for most of his life. After he started practicing at some point the energy of abuse became really apparent. He remembered having been sexually abused as a teenager. After he was allowing himself to acknowledge and feel angry about what had happened to him, he started sleeping better and his anxiety became less.

Of course, not every disease is monocausal and not every sickness will be straight forward or resolved once the underlying emotion or energy is allowed to be felt and released.

But often we as therapists see that the releasing of an emotional energy that is held inside the system can be a tremendous facilitator of the healing process. In a society where many people were told to feel okay even though they feel fragmented and in which many people are still ashamed to show vulnerability, negative emotions and fragility, the acceptance that we are not okay, that we are vulnerable and actually allowing ourselves the space to feel all these subpressed feelings, frustrations or disappointments is the first step that we can take to feel better.

That being said, with emotions it is important to remember that they are meant to be felt- and then moved out (e-motion from Latin ex- out and movere- to move). Emotions should not be held on to for the rest of your life, but often times that is what we do.

For some people some emotions might need some time to be processed and released and that is okay, but if you hold on to anger for example and continuously feel angry or sad and you become addicted to the continuous drama, it actually also indicates disease that needs to be addressed.

A yoga therapist will always offer a safe neutral container in which the student is held without judgement and can open up. Yoga also offers extremely potent tools that help to bring up, clear, and release what is inside as well as bring more clarity to what it is you might be holding.

If you are interested in learning more about this beautiful ancient art of Yogatherapy and like to provide similar assistance for your own students, the KHYF will start a Yoga therapy training program in Germany in september 2018. For more information and to enroll check the full brochure at www.khyf.net/yth2018

By Evelyn Einhäuser, Viniyoga Teacher

Jul 23

“Prayatna” in yoga group class

By admin | Yoga Therapy

 

Yoga in the west is often known for its unusual postures, as relaxation or as a mixed bag tinted with Hinduism. It is often said that “yoga, its for acrobats, contortionists” or “what’s the use of putting my body in odd positions?” “For me yoga annoys me” Oh how many derogatory comments yoga attracts and how many people attack it/put it down. But I must admit these comments are well founded. Personally, I must confess that had I not found a good yoga teacher I would have also criticised yoga. Firstly, the postures are but the tip of the yoga iceberg. Out of the total of 195 aphorisms of the yoga sutras (the incontrovertible yoga text) only three of the aphorisms talk about yoga postures.

In the ancient Vedic tradition, the postures were considered as a basic tool of yoga. The old would live through difficult times without the benefits of modern medicine; the most vulnerable would die defenceless against disease, the strong would become stronger, going to fetch water, doing the washing, working in the fields… They were active enough to have no need for yoga postures. Today in our sedentary society, yoga postures are an important tool in the practice side of yoga; understanding ones body from the inside, strengthening it, making it suppler, stimulating digestion, learning to breathe etc are challenges in themselves. Let us face it, yoga is poorly perceived and misunderstood.

Yoga began to develop in Europe during the 50s. In good faith, some people have seen experienced yogis in India practising in the street and have simply come back and told what they have seen. Others without much conscience add one posture after another without making any obvious link. These are some of the reasons that I think have contributed to the devaluing of the image of the yoga posture in our modern world giving it the yoga label “acrobatic”. Behind each practice, each posture is an idea, an objective, an intelligent idea. The study of postures, the construction of a yoga séance and the application of the tools of yoga are subjects that are very far reaching/profound, take a long time to be learnt, requiring both experience and practice.

The aphorism number II. 47 of the yoga sutras of Patanjali explains that the posture of yoga is “mastered when all effort is relaxed and the mind is absorbed in the Infinite”. It is on this notion of intelligent effort that I would like to place the emphasis in this article. It proves to what extent the responsibility of the teacher is engaged in the teaching process. Indeed there is no single way of applying the yoga postures, there is no single way of threading postures together and all of the postures are not useful to everyone. But above all, according to the teacher Krishnamacharya “It is the posture which should serve the person and not the person who should serve the posture”. What can be done so that yoga can effectively serve the person? The starting point must be that of observation both of the person or group practicing yoga in order to define an objective within reach. The objective could be to “Do the posture on the head” “learn to understand ones breathing” “to be aware of ones body” “Calm the mental state” “energise the person” “to unify the group” etc. The potential objectives are so numerous and complementary that it is virtually impossible to make an exhaustive list. Only the demonstration of their diversity is important. However, for each participant the means used to achieve the chose objective are different.

Let us take a simple example of “relaxation” For certain people it is impossible to relax before having completed ten or so postures, whilst for others they only a need to do one or two gentle postures with simple arm movements. Furthermore many different parameters enter into force when choosing the practice séance: age, strength, capacity, lifestyle, philosophical approach, interest….. This is exactly why yoga is above all a holistic tool considering the person in his or her totality/entity. As for group lessons, they must/should correspond, in the best possible way to each person within the limits of their own attainable objectives and achieving those within their ability to compromise with the group.

Within the diversity of the objectives and means, without intuition, knowledge and experience of the teacher it would be impossible to “tailor the suit” of the exercise to the specific tailoring capabilities of each student. It is clear that within this notion of “adjusted effort?” used by Patanjali that there are basis rules, a grammar of adjustment of postures – but this in itself will be the subject for another article…

Philip Rigo, Viniyoga Teacher
Translated by Sally Trickett

May 31

Who was Acharya T. Krishnamacharya

By admin | Yoga Therapy

Who was Acharya T. Krishnamacharya?

Every era goes through a period of high and then the period of low and this influences the culture and the knowledge systems that are connected to that culture and time and again when things go very bad there comes a pioneer who revives such a tradition such a culture back to its glory days. This in a nutshell is Acharya Shri T. Krishnamacharya for the field of Yoga.

In the beginning of the 19th century Indian culture which includes traditions like Yoga, Ayurveda were facing a great challenge because of the great invasions from the West, particularly England. England ruled India for many years and slowly the culture that was native to India was on the decline. So in this dark era for Indian culture came this genius called Acharya T. Krishnamacharya who championed the case of Yoga and resurrected it for us to benefit from it all.

He was among the few great Yogi’s at this time put together brought back yoga to relevance and greatness. Acharya T. Krishnamacharya is a great pioneer because he combined the experience of his own wisdom to build bridges between the traditional teachings of Yoga with other related teachings such as:

  • Ayurveda,
  • Vedanta philosophy and
  • other schools of Indian knowledge systems

He beautifully brought together the holistic nature of Vedic teachings and presented it through the medium of yoga for everybody to benefit. It is through his inspiring work that we have yoga to enjoy today because he inspired great students such as Indra Devi, Sri BKS Iyengar, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and most importantly his own son Sri T.K.V Desikachar, who founded Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation to spread Viniyoga®, actually brought the entire spectrum of Acharya T.Krishnamacharya to the public domain.

So today the whole world is practicing yoga and a majority of it is coming from Acharya T. Krishnamacharya’s teachings. If you take the brave and most popular schools of yoga today and go one or two generations backwards you will have to come to Acharya T. Krishnamacharya. Such was his profound influence that is still so relevant even decades after his passing.

As yoga teachers, we all must take a moment to salute our Acharya T. Krishnamacharya for his contributions to this field and also remember some of his contemporaries who also worked very hard so that we today can enjoy the benefits of Yoga.

Dr.Kausthub DesikacharViniyoga® Teacher

May 09

How does Yoga Build Pain tolerance?

By admin | Uncategorized

Yoga Building Pain Tolerance

Out of great many benefits of Yoga, is the one that is called “dvandva sahanam” which means we are able to withstand the extremes. Now when look at concept of pain, pain is a form of suffering where we are unable to allow resources of our body to face the challenges that it receives.

Some of these challenges are coming from within us, some of these challenges are coming from outside us, some of these challenges areexpected, some of these challenges areunexpected.

Now in this conflicting environment where the dualities of life are pulling us from one side to the other if we don’t remain centered and anchored, we will eventually collapse and when we are not actually centered we suffer with pain whether it is:

  • Physical pain
  • Emotional pain
  • Psychological pain.

Yoga helps us to reconnect with our core strength in our heart and in our gutand therefore bring in the capacity to be stable even in an unstable environment and when we can remain stable when things around us are unstable we will have a great tolerance towards the dualities and therefore to pain.

That’s how yoga helps us to build tolerance towards the extremes of life which make our life often challenging.

By Dr.Kausthub Desikachar

 

Apr 26

What is Yoga?

By admin | VIniyoga

Yoga has many definitions. The one that is closest to my heart is defined by my father Shri TKV Desikachar. My father defined Yoga as a relationshipand I feel this is the best definition possible especially in today’s times.

First Yoga helps us to have a relationship with ourselves – with our body, with our breathing, with our mind, with our ego and with our potentials. Now once we stabilize this relationship with ourselves then Yoga can help us have a good relationship with others.

Second domain where yoga helps us is in the inter-personal domain. The inter-personal domain-relationship with other people, relationship with members of our family, in our working environment, in our employment, in our society. Yoga helps us nourish all these relationships because Yoga is not just about ourselves. So the second domain where yoga helps us is in the inter-personal domain.

Now we have a good relationship with ourselves and with others, Thirdly, yoga also helps us to transcend these into the trans-personal domain – the domain of spirituality, the domain of the divine. Thus yoga can also help us have a good relationship with the divine.

That’s why I feel my father very simply put it as yoga is a relationship and I feel in conclusion this is the best definition that we can have in modern times. Yoga is a relationship

  • with ourselves,
  • with others,
  • with the divine.

This is consistent with the message of the root meaning of Yoga – Yuj: to link, to connect, which is the basis of every relationship; so Yoga is a relationship.

By Dr.Kausthub Desikachar – Viniyoga Teacher

 

Apr 12

The Pillars of Practice

By admin | Yoga Therapy

Part 01

Yoga is about changing patterns – of the body, of the breath and of the mind. Our life changes all the time, and patterns or habits that were once helpful become less so, even constricting or harmful – yet, because they are familiar, we cling onto them, often completely unconsciously. They become part of us, part of our self-identity. So the first step to being able to change is becoming aware, aware of those habits and patterns which we can see are now unhelpful to us and our current path.

However, Patanjali tells us that patterns or habits can never be destroyed; the only way of changing them is by building newer, ultimately stronger ones, always recognising that the old ones will still be there. And the only way of creating new habits is through repetition, painstaking repetition. This is why so much emphasis is put on practice in yoga. When we do our practice, we are, over time, creating new patterns of movement, posture, breathing and thinking.

So, if practice is so important, why do most of us find it so difficult to do? Why, even when we enjoy it, do we keep finding reasons not to do it? Most of us who have managed to do it fairly regularly for a time have found that we feel healthier, we have more energy, we think more clearly so that we can sort out priorities and solve problems better; our often negative thinking is replaced by a more positive outlook… but still it gets crowded out. How can we help ourselves to find a regular place for it in our busy lives?

Perhaps a very important first step is to be realistic about our life as it is at the moment. It is absolutely no good planning on doing a 75 minute practice if we are being woken up four times a night by a baby who then demands our attention throughout the day as well. Our changing needs and life style was accepted away back in ancient times, and in modern times was elaborated by T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar. They taught of the possibility for challenging physical practices for children, teenagers and young adults; of the necessity for practices that would maintain, support and energise, in the busiest midlife years, and that would help in the spiritual journey of people who are older and at last less busy.

The next step can be to look at our life and try to work out a way that a practice could become part of our routine – ‘making’ time for it, rather than hoping to ‘find’ time. This could be in the morning, the traditional time, but certainly does not have to be.

Then, it can really help to think about the attitudes we have towards our practice. Are we regarding it as something that we ‘ought’ to do, because others tell us that it is a good thing – or have we fully embraced the idea that it is something that WE have decided that we want to do? Patanjali gives us many ideas of attitudes that, if we cultivate them, will help us both in our life and in our practice, and in this series of short articles we shall look at some of them.

By Dr. Kausthub Desikachar and Sarah Ryan