Tradition of Krishnamacharya and Teaching Style of TKV Desikachar

My article highlights the difference between the tradition of Krishnamacharya and the teaching style of his son TKV Desikachar.

Tradition of Krishnamacharya

The multi-disciplinary practices in the tradition of Krishnamacharya as transmitted by his son TKV Desikachar comprise of posture (āsana), breathing (prāṇāyāma), meditation (dhyāna), and Vedic chanting.

Krishnamacharya’s popular signature style is Vinyāsa Kramathe vigorous and dynamic sequencing of postures with breath, incorporating the control over muscular contractions, bandha, which support the optimal movement of energies, or vitality.

The key to Yoga meditation in the tradition of Krishnamacharya is contained in the āsana of mahamudrā (the great seal), and not in padmāsana (lotus pose) as the mainstream market is misled to believe. Mahamudrā is the authentic seat of meditation because it demands the skilful, directed energies in the holding of āsana and bandha, whereas any flexible person with no Yoga training can take padmāsana.

Teaching Style of TKV Desikachar

The teaching style of TKV Desikachar is the only secular humanist style of Yoga that provides the tools to destabilise indoctrination. Other traditional schools of Yoga conform to orthodox theism such as nondualism (Advaita) or dualism (Dvaita), whereas popular mainstream fitness Yoga instructors conform to the exercise- or posture-oriented mindset of the fitness lifestyle market, which favours physical body image, motivation and prescriptive instruction (e.g. Yoga Boot Camp). In contrast, the teaching style of TKV Desikachar adopts the path of gnosis (jñāna) to liberate the mind from the trappings of conformist ideologies and from becoming a follower or a consumer.

Conformist ideologies constrain possibilities and manufacture an achievement-oriented culture that breeds indifference to individuality. Innovative and scientific in methodology, the teaching style of TKV Desikachar emphasises the need for individualised (one on one) consultation to assess the relevance and suitability of any type of practice.

The method of absorbing gnosis (jñāna) follows the repeating cycle of three tiers:

  1. Know the subject matter
  2. Investigate the subject matter thoroughly and critically
  3. Find the relevance in the subject matter and relate it to your own life

At the heart of “anti-theism”, or secular humanism, is the belief that morals and values must be intrinsic to the transcendental spirit. This belief underpins Friedrich Nietzsche’s übermensch suggestion that human beings have the innate capability to overcome the deficiencies of herd mentality.

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