What is Viniyoga® | Holistic Approach

Why Viniyoga®?

A lot of people are coming to Viniyoga® today because many of them are not finding what they are looking for in Yoga through their own traditions. This is because a majority of Yoga traditions today are focused on the practice of physical exercises only which sometimes they call asana. 

Wide number of tools integrated

Yoga does not only include asana. Yoga has a wide number of tools that is what the speciality of Viniyoga®. In the Viniyoga® tradition we are not emphasizing only on the practice of asana but we are also looking for practices of other tools of yoga which include things like pranayama, mantra, mudra, bhavana, meditation etc., which are all very vital tools of Yoga. We must remember my friends, if one tool was enough in the practice of Yoga Patanjali would not have approached ashtanga yoga a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to Yoga. That is what Viniyoga® tries. It tries to take the authentic approach of Patanjali where it integrates all the tools of yoga. 

Sarvanga Sadhana

So, if you embark in a training with Viniyoga® or a journey with exploring Viniyoga you will discover that we will not emphasise on only  one tool of yoga but we will embark you on a journey is a multi-disciplinary and that will embark includes all kinds of yogic tools and not just partly addressing our physical needs. Viniyoga® is a holistic approach to yoga where it considers our body Is made up of different kinds of dimensions  and tools to reach these dimensions both at a gross level and at a subtle level.  In some ways, that is why Acharya Krishnamacharya calls Viniyoga® as” sarvanga sadhana” which means it is not limited to one limb of the body. It is taking into consideration the holistic structure of our beautiful human system.  

My friends, if you want to explore Viniyoga®, please now you will be taking a holistic approach to yoga and you will explore multiple layers of  your beautiful holistic being.

Watch the video here

Namaste!

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Chief Viniyoga® Therapist

Will my condition return if I stop doing Yoga Therapy Practice?

Namaste my dear friends!

A lot of people come to me saying, “Sir, I started doing your practice, I got better and then I stopped. Then my condition came back.  Well, my friends, this is the reality that we have to work with.

Sustaining Yoga Therapy Practice

Yoga Therapy takes time. When we sustain the practice for a reasonable amount of time, then comes significant improvements but it is not a permanent solution very often, because Yoga is mostly addressing life – style based disorders and when we go back to our old life style that is not really healthy that will easily come back. When we start to do the Yoga practices, we have to sustain the practice but also make sure that we are making positive changes in our life style so that the benefit of the practice is sustained. 

Like I said in the previous video, Viniyoga® Therapy takes any time between one months to three months to give significant improvements. Already it could show improvements from the first or second practice itself.  This is because, when people come with certain illness, they start doing some good exercises, a good practice like Yoga Therapy there will be some impact on this. This is the problem of human beings. When we get enough better to return to our old lifestyle like job or our responsibilities we immediately go back and we don’t really complete the process.

I also talked to my medical colleagues and they said the same thing as well. Many people take antibiotics and when they start to feel better they return to their job and they forget the allegation and once again fall. This is the laziness of the humanity that we don’t sustain what we are taught because we are more attached to the quality of life that we had earlier.

Yoga is a process that causes us to reflect about our quality of life which contribute to the illness. When we embark the journey of Yoga as a Therapy to sustain the Yoga Therapy journey with the necessary lifestyle support systems as well. 

So, my friends, my suggestion is when you talk to a Yoga Therapist about your conditions ask him also how long you need to practice so that these things do not fall back. What kind of lifestyle changes? Dietary changes that you may have to look at so that this process is sustained. Otherwise It is a question of going forward and taking two steps and taking two steps backward. Nobody wants this. Give yourself the time and space my friends, to sustain the practice to that limit where yoga Therapy will take you on a positive movement forward so that you don’t fall back so significantly.  

Click here to watch the video

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga® Teacher, www.khyf.net

Yoga Therapy Practice

What can I expect a Yoga Therapy Practice to Look Like?

Namaste my dear friends!

Yoga Therapy is becoming very popular nowadays and many people are jumping into the band wagon on yoga therapy classes. Many public people are asking what is it containing the yoga practice. What can we expect from the Yoga Therapy practice. 

Yoga Therapy

Yoga Therapy is quite different from the regular yoga classes. While the regular yoga therapy class can be therapeutic it doesn’t mean that it is yoga therapy. I always give his example. When people who have never been walking, stuck to walk and therapeutic benefits from walking where your back posture improves, breathing capacity will improve, blood circulation will improve and people will have some kind of health benefits. It doesn’t mean that walking is the therapy. In the same way, when people go to a yoga class when they are practicing general yoga there may be some benefits but it does not make it a yoga therapy. 

Yoga Therapist

A yoga therapy session is administered by a qualified yoga therapist. When we say qualified it does not necessarily mean they have a piece of certificate because in today’s time the organisations are collecting money to issue certificates but they really guarantee the quality of the service. We need to go to a good yoga therapist who has gone through the educational system to qualify him or her to be a very good and disciplined yoga therapist. 

Diagnosis

In the yoga therapy sessions, in the first part of the session you may have to disclose certain information about your illnesses, your family situation, your professional situation because yoga therapy looks at illness in a holistic sense. It should not be surprising that your yoga therapist is asking you questions not only about your illness, but also about your job circumstance, whether you are stressed in job, whether you are relaxing in the job, whether there is any repetitive stress in your job, whether there is a conflict with your boss etc because stress related illnesses could come from that. 

He or she may also ask you questions about your family circumstance, your family agonies  because your emotional state also contributes to the illnesses because the yoga therapist may observe you in different positions, may take your pulse to see whether the pulse is indicating of certain kind of illnesses or certain kind of state in your body. So through a very comprehensive consultation session of not only observation, diagnostic like pulse and but  also asking you different kind of questions and yoga therapist will come to a conclusion of an overall health scenario of your situation. The yoga therapist does not offer a diagnosis for an illness. That is the job of a doctor, it is not the job of the yoga therapist. Don’t go expecting a yoga therapist to give you a diagnosis. 

In fact you can go with your diagnosis report from your doctor to the yoga therapist and disclose this information as well. Then the yoga therapist will design a practice that is suitable for your illnesses i.e. respecting your capabilities at the current moment. The yoga practice may just include not just asanas but he can also include pranayama which is breathing exercises, he can also include certain mantras because mantras are a certain form of affirmation and they have deep impact on our psychological states, it could include meditative components, it could include visualization components, etc.  So, the yoga therapy components could include all of these aspects. 

It is also possible that the yoga therapist may suggest you to have some reflection about the kind of diet you are consuming, the kind of life style you are living and ask you to  reflect on what choices may be the more suitable for your health condition. These are the things that you can expect from a yoga therapy session and the yoga therapist will teach you this practice. You will have to practice this at home and return after few days or few weeks depending on the frequency set by the yoga therapist to review the yoga practice and take it further. Yoga therapist is not going to offer a solution in one day or two days; it is a long term classes. You need to return to your yoga therapist at a regular interval so that this practice can be more appropriate to address  for your illnesses at a deep and profound level. So be regular in your practice my friends and be in contact with your yoga therapist and stuck the process of self empowerment in this journey. Be open to embrace a wide range of tools in yoga therapy because that is what is yoga therapy. It is a multi-dimensional holistic approach that can very beautifully compliment your already existing lines of treatment. 

Namaste my friends!

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar,

Viniyoga Teacher @ Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation

How can we understand Brahmacarya in the modern context?

A very important question that many Yoga teachers today ask is, “what is the real meaning of Brahmacarya”? The word brahmacarya  comes from the idea of moving towards Brahma or moving from Brahma which means from the divine.

In the traditional times when people practiced yoga they were often very young students. Parents would send the students to teachers already at the age of eight  and from the age of eight approximately they would stay till about the age of 20 or 25 years, studying with the teachers at the Gurukula and then they would become the teachers or practitioners of their own right. 

When you look at the age between eight and twenty five it is not only the significant time of learning but also very significant time of changes in the body. The hormones in the body changes and various desires are created. So in this context, the yogis said brahmacarya meant celibacy because the Brahma and this stage was focused on the learning and expansion of knowledge and the expansion of the potentials.  So when a person is very young, they said that brahmacarya meant celibacy. That means the connection between a person and the human being is not necessarily sexual in this time. It is a collegial student like environment under the Gurukula. 

In the modern context, this takes a different meaning because msot people come to yoga when they are adults. They already have a family or they are looking for a family.  In this time, in the second stage of life what brahmacarya was meant was a fiddle relationship with the partner. So here we can say it is a monotonous relationship between the partners or the relationship if it is open to all those concerned. There is no hiding, there is no secrets so there is expansion and the relationship is based on honesty, respect and trust. So in the modern context, when we interpret brahmacarya to Yoga students who are already coming to Yoga as adults. 

What we need to remember is that there is respect and dignity in their relationship with their partners. That is what is brahmacarya my friends, which is the basis of a healthy sexuality because sexuality is the very important and intimate part of relationship and it has to be based on respect and honesty. That is brahmacarya in today’s times my friends. 

Namaste!

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar – Viniyoga® Teacher

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, a grandson of Acarya T Krishnamacharya and son of TKV Desikachar, is the CEO of Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation, The World Wide Headquarters of Viniyoga® Tradition

Should Yoga Therapy align itself with the medical field?

Namaste my friends!

Yoga as a Therapeutic system is becoming popular and many Yoga institutions are scrambling to legitimize its practice. One part of this legitimization process is that these Yoga institutions are running to align themselves with the medical community. This is not really necessary because Yoga as a practice of Therapy has been in existence for more than 2000 years and that itself is its testimony to its validity as a Therapeutic school.

It doesn’t mean that the medical community has to be rejected. Yoga can function hand in hand with the medical practice and there can be areas where it can support each other and there can be areas where there can be some differences in the way things are seen and applied. That is the beauty that we have in this world today that we have a choice of more than one practice health paradigm to help us in healing process.

There are certain obstacles for medical science to understand Yoga because medical science is first of all reductionist in its approach, whereas Yoga is a very holistic system. In medicine we divide the body into smaller parts and we try to take this approach of finding the cause in minute details. Whereas in Yoga everything is looked at in a holistic way where everything is a part of a large continuum in a huge container where different things are collaborating with each other sometimes and not collaborating with each other at another times which is what leads to illness. The paradigm of how health is looked at by medicine and Yoga differs in this area.

An another thing where Yoga is different from medicine is that Yoga is non-invasive approach and self -empowering approach. Whereas, medicine is not necessarily always self- empowering because the patients give away their power to the doctors and health practitioners and don’t really empower themselves. Also, Yoga is non-invasive in the sense Yoga is using body’s its own resources whereas medicine is using external intervention to bring about change in the body. It is not that it is wrong. It is just that these are two systems.

Most important difference is that the western medicine is very much measuring tangible. But Yoga takes into consideration intangible concepts like Prana, for example, which is the basis for all the Yoga practices is a very intangible concept that modern science will not understand atleast at the moment.

So, it is very difficult for Yoga to be completely aligned with the medical system, but they can be at arm’s distance and work together in areas of agreement so that the person’s health is improved not just with one system but together hand in hand. I think a collaborative partnership is possible but not necessarily a system itself where they both align as a system itself. We can still help people eventhough we may not necessarily have an alignment in philosophy. That is where we need to keep our hearts open in the healing of ourselves and our patients.

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar
Viniyoga® Teacher
Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation

Is Yoga Philosophy Dogmatic?

Namaste, my friends!

One of the questions I always get when I travel around the world to teach is whether Yoga is Dogmatic. I have not seen a discipline in the world as non-dogmatic as Yoga. Yoga talks about practice and detachment as the fundamental pillars of its success. It does not talk about the idea that we must conform to a particular standardized set of practices or rules.

The beauty of Yoga is the concept of Viniyoga that is presented already in the Yoga Sutras and that was subsequently expounded by Acarya-s like Nathamuni, Yogacarya T Krishnamacharya and more recently Acarya TKV Desikachar. What the principle says is that all Yoga principles must be adapted and applied according to every individual practitioner and not be standardized. The concept of standardization does not exist in Yoga but rather Yoga is talking about applying different principles in a unique manner to every individual because Yoga teaches us to honour every individual as a unique being.

Hence my friends, Yoga is definitely non-dogmatic. You don’t have to be a believer of a particular religion to practice Yoga. You don’t have to be in a particular state of flexibility to practice Yoga. You don’t have to be belong to a particular cult or a sect to practice Yoga. Yoga is non-dogmatic and universal. The only condition that it requires is that you are dedicated in your practice through daily sadhana.

Therefore, my friends please embrace Yoga as a non-dogmatic principle and teach Yoga as a non-dogmatic principle.

Namaste!

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga® Teacher
Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation, Chennai, India

Can Yoga help improve Metabolism?

Namaste my friends!

A very important part of Yogic practices is in improving the metabolism. Both Yoga and Ayurveda looked human system as a metabolic process going through seven different stages. They said most of the illnesses are arising out of the dysfunction of the metabolic process. This is not only common to Yoga and Ayurveda. Many traditional medicinal system like the Chinese medical system or the Korean medical system, they always say that it is because of a weakened metabolism or a disturbance in metabolism that most diseases arise.

What is important to understand is that how Yoga and Ayurveda understand metabolism is very different from how Western science is trying to understand metabolism. Yoga and Ayurveda talk about metabolism going through the seven stages, through the creation of the seven “Dhatus” and each of the seven Dhatu has what is called the metabolic fire that is called “Dhatu Agni” and in Yogic practices as well as in Ayurvedic practices we are trying to bring about a balance to these metabolic fires. That is one of the basis on which yogic practices and Ayurvedic techniques have actually been evolved.

Most of the Yoga practices have something to do with the stimulation of bringing about the balance in the metabolic process and Yes, therefore Yoga can improve and assist us in our metabolic process.

Namaste my friends!

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga® Teacher
Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation

What is the difference between Surya Namaskara & Candra Namaskara?

Surya Namaskara is the technical name that is given to a sequence of practice which is popularly known today as the Sun Salutation. Some people also do a variation and call it as the Candra Namaskara. Many Yoga teachers and students ask me the question of where is the origin of these sequences, what are the effects, especially the differences in the effects between the two.

The origin of these two sequences is relatively unknown. There are many texts that do not talk about these sequences, especially the Yoga texts. It is my understanding that these sequences have been borrowed from what is called as the “Sastanga Namaskara”, the normal prostration done in the Indian tradition.

What makes this sequence as the Sun Salutation or the Moon Salutation is not the sequence itself. In traditional times these sequences were not done as a physical practice but rather as a spiritual practice with the inclusion of Mantra that honour the deity. So, when they chanted the Sun Mantras – the Surya Namaskara Mantras the sequence came to be what is called the Surya Namaskara. When they chanted the Moon Mantras the sequence became known as the Candra Namaskara.

The Sun Salutation or the Surya Namaskara is much more common and popular for many reasons. Firstly because of the importantance of the Gayatri Mantra which is a part of the procedure “Sandyavandanam” that is done three times a day where we are doing the sequence with the Sun Mantras and therefore we are invoking the Sun. That is why the Surya Namaskara is much more popular in today’s context. The effects will depend on the Mantras that are used because the Sun has different sets of Mantras, the Moon also has different sets of Mantras. But normally speaking the Sun Mantras are much more stimulating , heating and energizing than the Moon Mantras. So the difference is not in the sequence or position but the difference is in the Mantras that are used during the practice.

This is the difference between Surya Namaskara and Candra Namaskara.

Namaste!

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga® Teacher
Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation, Chennai, India.

What does Yoga offer to help people open their Hearts?

Namaste my friends!

Yoga is not as much about the body nor is it as much about the mind. Yoga is actually about the heart. This is why, my father the great TKV Desikachar titled his book “The Heart of Yoga”, because in Yoga we are talking about the role of consciousness, the role of self-realization, which is existing in the heart.

This is also a paradigm shift between the ancient oriental knowledge and moderns scientific knowledge because when ancient knowledge talks about the mind, they talk about the place of the mind being in the heart. Whereas the modern science talks about the place of the mind, the role of the mind being in our brain. This is the interesting difference.

When we have to try to understand the Yoga science, we have to understand it from the way Yoga understands the mind which is that its place is in the heart.

Opening of Heart is very important in Yoga practice because the concept of “Sukam” and “Dhukkam” itself refers to the construction of the space in the heart. Sukam – happiness, Dhukkam – Sufferings. When we are in Dhukkam-sufferings the heart space is feeling constricted and restricted whereas when we are searching for Sukha the heart space is open and expansive. These are very important aspects of Yoga that we have to consider and that is why the opening of the heart is important. When we say the heart, again it is not only the heart as the organ that pumps blood but the heart centre. “Hrudhaya”. That is why many Yoga practices are tailor-made to open the heart. Whether we take Asana practice, whether we take Pranayama practice, whether we take Mantra practice, the goal of Yoga is to reduce the construction in the heart and to open the heart.

That is why in Yoga practices we talk about attitudes which is very important in the practice along with the practices like the Asana and Pranayama. Attitudes like “Mythri” – friendliness, “Karuna” – compassion, “Mudhita” – appreciation and “Upeksha” – the concept of non-judgementalism as well as those that are presented in the Yamas and Niyamas such as “Ahimsa” – Non-violence “Satyam” – to be consistent with our reality, “Aparigraha” – not to grasp too much, “Brahmacharya” – to be fiddle, to be truthful, to be faithful, as well as “Astaya” – non-stealing, not to take away that belongs to somebody else.

Apart from Yamas, we also have attitudes like Niyamas where “Soucha” – to have purity in intention, “Sanhosha” – to be content, “Tapas” – to reduce the toxic thoughts, toxic emotions that we have sometimes, “Swadhyaya” – self-reflection, self-enquiry and “Iswarapranidhana” – the attitude of not being controlling, not behaving the way where we want everything to act in our way but rather to be more accepting what happens. All these become platform for other techniques of Yoga to work. So these are all the practices which we have to include in our Yogic practices to open our heart.

Sometimes this is not so easy and sometimes we have certain techniques like Mantras, Bhavana which can be useful in opening our heart. Sometimes we are asking to touch different parts of the body which includes the heart, perhaps we use the Mantras to give the gesture of openness as practices that can slowly change the subconscious blockages, the subconscious locks that we have, that has made our heart closed.

All these, my friends, we need to look at it in a case by case basis because why somebody has their heart open and why somebody has their heart closed is subject to our own individual experiences in life. That’s why taking the guidance of a competent teacher who is our mentor we need to evolve such strategies that allow us to open our heart step by step in a safe manner. Lot of people are afraid to open their heart because of the fear of vulnerability. But in Yoga and traditional sciences vulnerability is the strength not a weakness. We need to face our challenges and accept them so that we can grow from them. It is very very significant. That is why opening the heart to one self first and then to the other is very very important.

So my friends, please remember, Yoga is about the heart. Take time to connect with the heart of Yoga which is nowhere but in our own heart.

Namaste!

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga Teacher & CEO of KHYF

Why does the Viniyoga® tradition combine Mantras with Asana and Pranayama?

This is a very important question about the role of Mantras in Asana and Pranayama. First of all we have to understand that Yoga is not the movement of body. Yoga is the movement of Prana, an energy. That is why the Yogis were very clear that they wanted to work with Prana. In the Vedic tradition, that tool actually manifest Prana and works with Prana is mantra.

Whether it is a Pranayama technique or an Asana technique they were using Mantra as a part of the practice so that the Prana would get activated and it will move in the body the way it is meant to be.

If you think about Asana for example, in the traditional times the Yogis were doing Asana-s statically. They were not jumping from one Asana to another like monkeys will jump from one tree to the other.  They were actually staying in the Asana practice for some time. What were they doing in the Asana when they were staying?  The were regulating the breath.

Asana is actually a Pranayama practice. In every Asana they would stay with some focus on the breathing,because the breathing would direct the energy to certain parts of the body which the Asana would facilitate. When you twist one side the energy is focused on one side. When you twist to the other side the energy is focused on the other side. That is what they were doing in the Asana practice where they would stay and breathe. We all know that in Pranayama we have to measure the breathing capacity. Inhale equal seconds and exhale twice the duration of the inhale etc. In modern time we are using a watch to  measure what is 5 seconds, what is 10 seconds etc. But think about the Yogis long time ago when they didn’t have a watch. What did they use? This is where the role of Mantra comes in. When they would stay in a position where they had to breathe inhale and exhale with equal duration they would use the same mantra during inhale and same mantra during exhale by reciting mentally. So the Mantra would become the measure of breathing.

That is not the only reason why they are using Mantras. Certain Mantras triggers certain effects on the body like Mantras on the fire or Sun or Mantras that are heating and therefore they are targeting the Pita system in the body. Whereas Mantras like water or earth are much more grounding or  much more cooling,  they would focus on lower Cakras in the body which is connected with Kapa.

Different Mantras have different effects as well. That is why they would choose different Mantras in Asanas and Pranayama so that these kind of effects would also manifest.

We all must remember that the Yogis did not practice Yoga sadhana whether it is Asana or Pranayama based on modern science. The Yoga has its own science and it’s the responsibility of all modern Yoga Teachers, Yoga Therapists to learn the Yoga science. Working on the Asanas and Pranayama through the modern understanding of human body like this Asana will work on this muscles  or that Asana will work on that muscle is not actually very accurate. If we take that approach it is like following the blind person or referring to Google Maps of directions in Lisbon when you are actually searching for a Restaurant in Rome . It just doesn’t make sense.

The Yogis used the ancient knowledge of understanding the human body that come from both Yoga, Ayurveda and particularly Sankya Philosophy to make the tools of Yoga work. According to Sankya Philosophy the most fundamental structure in our human system, the material structure in the human system is what is called the “Sabta Tanmatra” the fundamental element of sound. So when we are using the Mantras we are influencing the very subtle system in our body and through that there is changes in the gross skystem in the body as well. This is yet another reason why Yogis used the Mantras in Asanas, Pranayama and other practices.

This is another reason why the Mantras were used in the Yoga practices because Mantras influence very subtle systems in our structure.

Namaste!

Dr.Kausthub Desikachar
Viniyoga® Teacher @ Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation