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.


Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga Teacher & CEO of KHYF


Sir TKV Desikachar, who developed Viniyoga® (a term from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali),is the son and successor of Acarya T. Krishnamacharya.  What Madhurakavi Azhwar was in the Vaishnavism in the discovery of Nammazhwar Sir TKV Desikachar is in the field of yoga for the public know the entire range of Acarya T Krishnamacharya’s teachings.

Before Sir TKV Desikachar came into the field of Yoga Acarya T. Krishnamacharya was a legend already, but not very well known, especially his teaching was not very well known.  The spectrum of teaching was not very well known.  It was TKV Desikachar the second son of T. Krishnamacharya who really brought out the multitude of  Acarya T. Krishnamacharya’s teachings and built bridges between the traditional Acarya T. Krishnamacharya and the modern world.

If today Acarya T. Krishnamacharya’s teaching is well known the most important credit goes to Sir TKV Desikachar. But Sir TKV Desikachar was not just a postman or a messenger in the field of Yoga. He was a very great established Yogi in his own right and his contribution to the field of Yoga are made. He was very generous in his contributions and many of us we use them today without even knowing that these came from Sir TKV Desikachar.

One of the greatest gifts he gave to the field of Yoga is stick drawings. Today most of the people use stick drawings to represent asanas and pranayama. This was conceived and created by Sir TKV Desikachar way back in the 60s and 70s using his background in engineering and brought it as a good way and an unique way and in a simple way to communicate the teachings of Yoga  to the people so that they could write down their practices in a small piece of paper which can be taken back home to use it as reference to practice. Sir TKV Desikachar is also the one who brought greater light to the field of Yogasutra in modern Yoga circumstance.

Of course, Yogasutra has remained thousands of years. There is no doubt about it. But the modern world – the Western world did not know much about Yogasutra philosophy.  When Yoga was practiced in the 50s and the 60s few people knew about Yogasutra philosophy. When Yoga was practiced in the 60s and 70s, very few people knew about Yogasutra Philosophy.

It was Sir TKV Desikachar who opened the Doors of Yogasutra philosophy also to the public in a conference in Zynal in the early 70s. Eventually he wrote the commentary on the Yogasutra as well which became a part in the  legendary book of “The Heart of Yoga”. “The Heart of Yoga” is another major contribution of Sir TKV Desikachar which in a very simple way describes the entire teaching of Yoga in a very simple and very crisp manner. Since being published in the 90s this book has become one of the greatest references of yoga irrespective of what tradition people follow. This was one of the greatest contribution of Sir TKV Desikachar, one of the best books he ever brought. Sir TKV Desikachar is also the link between traditional Yoga and modern medical science.

He built bridges between Yoga and modern science especially medicines, inviting doctors, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst and many projects heads,  so that people would understand the Yoga Therapy functions. Acarya T. Krishnamacharya was one of the most important Yoga Therapist of his time, but very few people could understand what he was doing and how he was doing. It was Sir TKV Desikachar who built these bridges to help the Western world understand about Yoga as a Therapy function. This is another credit to Sir TKV Desikachar. Sir TKV Desikachar also helped Yoaga system and the Eastern system to many of the spiritual traditions in the world.

For example, he met with Dalai Lama, he met with the Catholic monks, the Carmelite monks, etc., to help bridges and to communicate to them that the yoga is a universal tradition that can be practiced by people irrespective of their original faith.  This was very significant because the evolution of yoga especially in the 80 s and 90s  here were some resistances where people were not open to Yoga because they thought that Yoga was cult or another religion and they have to give up their own faith to practice Yoga. Sir TKV Desikachar removed all these by engaging a wonderful conversation with all these spiritual teachers.

One of the greatest contributions of Sir TKV Desikachar to open the doors of Chanting to everybody. Prior to 80s only very few people were allowed to practice the chanting of Mantras. Women were not allowed. Western people were not allowed. This was due to the very strict rule followed by the traditional Indian Brahmins. But Sir TKV Desikachar understood how important the chanting of mantras in the field of Yoga and he opened the doors of Chanting. It is because of Sir TKV Desikachar today that the Mantra and chanting have become such an integral part of Yoga especially to women and Western audiences. These are some of his important and very profound contributions which are very practically used by people on the day to day basis.

There is also another important contribution Sir TKV Desikachar has done but not yet known to the public but drawing the process of revealing to the public which is his transalation of many of the important works of Acharya T. Krishnamacharya. Acarya T. Krishnamacharya had a very peculiar habit of using Telugu script by Sanskrit language. This promise he has made to his teacher. Very few people would interpret this because they needed to know both Telugu and Sanskrit languages to find easy relatively. The more important of all is that these are all technical manual.  So, it is necessary that somebody should know not only these languages but also its technical aspect.

Thus, Sir TKV Desikachar has translated many of these documents which we are slowly in the process art drawing,interpreting and eventual publication. Sir TKV Desikachar had been a very silent giant in the field of Yoga amazing an extraordinary that the world decided to celebrate the International Yoga Day on Sir TKV Desikachar’s birthday. That is the greatest respect that we can offer him or we have to thank him for his contributions.

Namaste! Sir TKV Desikachar.

By: Dr.Kausthub Desikachar, Viniyoga Teacher