What is VK?

What are the essentials of Vinyasa Krama that we teach?
1) Do asanas with a number of vinyasas, or variations, in succession. It is the art form of yoga practice. Vinyasa means art, and it involves aesthetic variation within the specified parameters.
2) The basic parameters used in Vinyasa Krama are steadiness of the posture, a calm mind, synchronizing the breath with slow movement of the limbs, and while in the postures, having the mind closely following the breath.

Why practice Vinyasa Krama yoga?

To quote Sri Ramaswami: "Vinyasa Krama Yoga is an ancient practice of physical and spiritual development. It is a systematic method to study, practice, teach and adapt yoga. This Vinyasa Krama (movement and sequence methodology) approach to yogasana (yoga posture) practice is unique in all of yoga. By integrating the functions of mind, body and breath in the same time frame, a practitioner will experience the real joy of yoga practice. Each of the important postures (asanas) is practiced with many elaborate vinyasas (variations and movements). Each variation is linked to the next one by a succession of specific transitional movements, synchronized with the breath. the mind closely follows the slow, smooth, deliberate ujjayi yogic breathing; and the yoking of mind and body takes place with the breath acting as the harness."

What is Kaivalya?

Kaivalya = Absolute freedom from the bondage of matter. The ultimate goal of the Yogi.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stories of Sri Krishnamacharya

Below you'll find the first newsletter from Jan. 2000 of (Sri Krishnamacharya's son) Sri T.K. Sribhashyam's 'Yogakshemam: School of Traditional Teaching of Indian philosophy, Ayurveda and Yoga'

Summary :

· Editorial : The birth of Yogakshemam Newsletter -T.K.Sribhashyam

· Yogakshemam - its signification - T.K.Sribhashyam

· Sri T. Krishnamacharya, from Muchchukunte to Thirumala - T.K.Sribhashyam

· About Guruji - Sri B.K.S.Iyengar

· My father’s medicine - T. Alamelu

· My childhood memoriesT.K.V.Desikachar

· The daily life of my father-in-law Sri T. Krishnamacharya - Claire Sribhashyam

· My father’s tricks – Srishubha

· A memorable event with my grand parents – Navarâtri festival – Sribhagyam

· Sri T. Krishnamacharya’s daily evening drink.

Editorial: : The birth of Yogakshemam Newsletter

Born in 1982, the Yogakshemam School is represented in many European countries. You who are the students of Yogakshemam, you have many things in common in spite of the diversity, the particularity and the individuality in each of you. Even though you have little chances of meeting together and get to know each other, you cultivate, develop and transmit the same values, thus becoming a united family.

Even if you had learnt many common subjects, yet each group, each seminary and each session offers its own particularity. In no means, they have affected the spirit of unity that you maintain, but sharing your knowledge will only reinforce your unity. Form this is born the idea of a newsletter.

Yogakshemam is very happy to inform you that Yogakshemam Newsletter is published in France, Germany, Italy and in Greece in their respective languages. Yogakshemam Newsletter wishes to be a means of communication between India, your students and your friends. To maintain the spirit of unity, the layout as well as the contents would be as accurate as possible to the French edition.

As a mark of respect, the first number is entirely dedicated to Sri T. Krishnamacharya. We have collected the childhood memories of his family members. There will be some more in the next numbers. We hope that you would lend continuous support to Yogakshemam Newsletter as you have lent to the teaching of Yogakshemam and that you will also give it a very long life.

Yogakshemam – its signification

- Sri T. K. Sribhashyam

It is in 1982 that I had had the idea of opening a Yoga Teachers’ Training school with a stress on Indian philosophy and real devotion which were very dear to my father. All over one evening, I thought over a name that would reflect the objectives of this new school. The next morning, I was woken up by a poem of the Bhagavad Githa in my mind:

Ananyâs chintayantômâm

yé janâs paryupâsathé

téshâm nityâbhi yuktânama

yogakshemam vahâmyaham.

When I informed my father that this poem woke me up, he chose the name Yogakshemam for the school and had the grace to bless it for an expanding and eternal life. That is how, is born in Europe, Yogakshemam.

The word yogakshemam is derived form two words: yoga and kshemam. The word yoga has many meanings: (1) to unite, (2) to mix, (3) to create a relation, (4) meditation, (5) means, trick, (6) success, (7) to dress, enthronement, (8) unexpected earnings, new wealth, (9) will, (10) medicine, (11) physical force, (12) material riches, (13) planetary conjunctions’ influence on humans, (14) planetary interrelation in a native astrological chart, (15) the interactive action between the day of the week, the solar transit and an individual birth star, (16) stopping of the modification of the mental activities, (17) specific force of a combination of words in a sentence, (18) pride, (19) union with God. The word Kshema also has many meanings: (1) protection of what is obtained, (2) pleasure, felicity, sound health, (3) auspicious, well-being, (4) protection, (5) Liberation. It is also the name of one of the sons of Yama, the God of death.

The word yogakshemam signifies attainment of new riches and its protection. It also means having God’s vision and from that obtain the liberation.

This notion of attainment, of protection and of maintaining the felicity applies not only to what this world offers us but also to those of the liberated souls if not the Kingdom of Heaven. We find this notion from the beginning of Veda. But it is more direct in the Thaithiriya Upanishad and in the Bhagavad Githa. In the former, a reference is made to the supreme happiness coming from the knowledge brahman while in the Bhagavad Githa, Lord Krishna declares: Those persons, who think of nothing else and worship Me through meditation – the accession to and the maintenance of the welfare of such ever devout person, I look after.

Sri T. Krishnamacharya, from Muchchukunte to Thirumala

- Sri T. K. Sribhashyam

Muchchukunte is a small village in Andhra Pradesh of South India. This village in Chitradurga district is closer to Karnataka State. The word Muchchukunte comes from two Telugu words: muchchu meaning hidden, and kunta a lake. Muchchukunta is a village with a hidden lake.

Muchchukunte is the native place of Sri Krishnamacharya family. It is around this village that the family had very fertile land and comfortable houses earned by hard labour and from offerings from the kings of neighbouring states to Sri Krishnamacharya’s parents and grand parents. All the forefathers of Sri Krishnamacharya were great devotees of Lord Srinivasa of Thirumala and were so much dedicated to Him that they also became the ‘people of Thirumala’.

The initial T in my father’s name and in the name of all his children, stands for Thirumala, one of the holiest places of India situated in Andhra Pradesh, closer to Tamil Nadu, about 120 kilometres from Chennai. The word Thirumala comes from thiru or Sri and mala or Small Mountain. Thirumala or the holy mountain is the sacred place dedicated to Lord Srinivasa also called Venkateshwara, Lord of Venkata. Venkata is another name of Thirumala. Surprisingly, Thirumala is a Tamil language word and not Telugu which is the language of Andhra Pradesha. Telugu was the most beloved spoken language of Sri T. Krishnamacharya, next only to Sanskrit! Sri T. Krishnamacharya had not even a house of his own in Thirumala. He used to stay in Maths or religious monasteries or hire a room in a hotel. It was his custom to visit Thirumala once a year like millions of Hindus.

While our great master is called in the world of yoga as T. Krishnamacharya, he is known, recognised and respected in all the religious institutions and traditional Sanskrit universities as Muchukunte Krishnamacharya.

Being the eldest son of a large big and united family, he was the natural heir to the family properties. He loved to face intellectual and philosophical challenges all over India. To avoid being entangled by the obligations of family wealth and to be entirely free to answer to challenges, he left Muchchukunte offering all the wealth to his brothers, sisters and cousins to take shelter at Lord Srinivasa’s feet. In Hindu devotion, asking protection at the Feet of Lord is the most important devotional act. Lord Srinivasa is the Lord of Thirumala.

As Muchchukunte Krishnamacharya, as he is even now recognised, he was an intellectual giant where as Thirumala Krishnamacharya he was a spiritual master. In both the realms, he was unbeatable, yet both as Mucchukunte and as Thirumala Krishnamacharya, he lived a very simple living, so simple that no one, not even Indians, ever thought that they met such a great person. No where had he a house of his own.

He believed with an undaunted conviction that when one is at the Feet of God, peace, harmony and contentment would be his permanent home.

Was he the ‘hidden lake’ of Muchukunte?

About Guruji

- Sri B.K.S.Iyengar

My brother in law, Sri T. Krishnamacharya after initiating me in yoga, became my guru. Hence, my respect and reverence to him make me dumb to express on him.

He was a man with unsurpassable intelligence with a super sharp memory, an orator of his time, who could quote texts whether existed or non-existed instantaneously to establish his logic of Darshana. Many learned scholars had no iota of his quotes not knowing from where they come from. Yet, he was a very poor writer as an author. I have seen him making up his mind to put in black and white, but he never completed any of his undertakings. If his writings are preserved, one may see a few pages here and there on various subjects. The only printed book I have is his first part of Yogamakaranda in Kannada a few articles in booklet form.

I have seen him as a Pandita, heard him as a musician on a Veena (a musical instrument), a gardener, a wood cutter, chanter of Veda, a best cook, an astrologer and I don’t know to say what he did not know.

Often I have seen him as an intellectual wizard and noticed both the qualities of saint as well as bruteshness. His way of living was very simple.

He was happy to be always in a loins cloth, and often I have seen him going out with loin cloth (what we call langot) to buy things he wanted and have seen my sister (his wife) scolding him, which he never cared to listen.

One fine morning he was so harsh on me. He woke me up to water the plants. I got up, opened the tap for the tank to get filled. I was sitting on the parapet of the tank. He come out, saw me sitting and asked me to get out of the house and he went inside. I took his word literally knowing his nature, as he went in, I went out. It was dark. Having no friends nor relatives close by in Mysore; I made up to drown myself in the river at Sri Rangapattana. It was about 20 kilometres from Mysore. I strolled in the Palace garden and when the sun became bright, I walked towards the river Kaveri, desperate to end my life.

My brother-in-law might have become nervous in not seeing me at all. So he took a car from King’s uncle and searched for me. He must have anticipated that I may be on my way to Sri Rangapattana and found me half way, picked me up and took me back home.

The only question he asked me was “why are you out here”. I told him that I wanted to commit suicide and end my life to be free from slavery. He never spoke on the way.

If I had committed suicide, to day the yoga I learnt and practised would have gone into the thin air.

Soon he asked me to accept the job of a yoga teacher in Pune and am here since then.

My father’s medicine

- Srimathi T. Alamelu Sheshadri

It was an evening in 1939. I was probably 9 or 10 years of age. After school hours and play time, father’s first three children (my eldest sister Srimathi Pundarikavalli, my younger brother Sri T. Srinivasan and I) were to listen to the Vedic recitation chanted by some of father’s students. That was the method of training small children in those days to make learning easy and attractive. Father was there to rectify the mistakes.

When the class was going on, a stranger came running all on a sudden, with a little boy on his shoulders. The boy’s face was pale blue and was gasping for breath. I thought, the boy would die then and there.

He placed the young boy on my father’s lap, prostrated to my father praying him to save his son. Father took his pulse. He told me to get some warm pepper rasam from my mother. I came with rasam in a glass and give it to father, who still holding the boy’s pulse. The image of the boy on my father’s lap, taking his pulse and uttering prayers gave me the idea that he was transferring his own life force (prâna shakthi) to the boy. He fed the boy small quantities of the rasam. I couldn’t believe my eyes: The boy started breathing and his blue face disappeared. A few minutes later, he got up from my father’s lap and managed to stand and started walking slowly. We were all stunned. The stranger was speechless. With tears in his eyes he bowed down before my father. My father advised him to pray God with faith and reverence for the welfare of his son and continued his Vedic recitation class.

Some of my father’s method of curing the needy still remains a mystery in my mind.

Pepper rasam: A soup made out of little pepper powder, cumin seeds powder, a small quantity of jaggery, salt to taste and curry leaves. This mixture is boiled in diluted tamarind water for about five minutes.

My childhood memories

- Sri T.K.V. Desikachar

My first recollection of an even involving my father and myself is that once my father asked me to go to the Yogashala in Mysore. I was playing with friends. I said ‘no’. He came to catch me. We had eight coconut trees in our house and I climbed in one of them. He waited and left. Later when I cam down he caught me and tied me in baddha Padma Asana using a thin rope. I was in this posture before he untied me, after an hour.

One evening he took all of us to a movie called ‘Chandralekha’. I remember this because it was full of circus event. It is hard to believe that my father took us to cinema.

One more memory. One day my father and myself were walking on the street. A few Brahmins were coming in the opposite direction. The moment they saw my father they ran away. I asked my father why they ran away. He said that they were scared of him because he corrected their chanting in one of the religious ceremonies that took place recently. Later I came to know that they were Ghanapâtis.

Once we were playing in the street. We were targeting to hit with a stone a person coming in the opposite direction, carrying a bundle of grass on the head, thinking that the person must be some villager. As he approached us, we found he was my father carrying green grass for his cow. We fled from the scene.

The daily life of my father-in-law, Sri T. Krishnamacharya

- Claire Sribhashyam

When I started to visit my in-laws, my father-in-law was already very aged and yet lived to his own rhythms. He would wake up at 4 in the morning and would go to bed around 7 in the evening.

One of my best souvenirs was to be woken up every morning around four by the sound of the prayer bell announcing the beginning of his prayers. This daily morning ceremony that lasted an hour and a half was indeed a great feast for me. At times, I would wake up earlier and wait for the prayer bell to ring.

My mother-in-law would wake up a little later to open the door for the milk maid who brought us milk every morning shouting, below our windows, “pâl”, “pâl” (“pâl” in Tamil language means milk). Then she would prepare coffee for all of us and one by one we would all get up.

At the end of his long prayers, he would prepare his breakfast: wheat semolina roasted and cooked in water with some spices, coriander leaves and grated coconuts. He would share his preparation with children before sitting on the veranda to eat. He would spend some time reading the day’s newspapers while waiting for his students. At times, he would retire to his room to read or to give lessons. Once in a while, he would come to see me and talk or play with my daughter Sumitra or give me some advice on how to bring up young children.

In the afternoon, he would stay in the veranda to eat a fruit, often an orange or some grapes. He would never eat anything without first giving to children, young or elderly.

In the late afternoon, around 6 p.m., he would sit on the swing in the garden and watch the street life. Then, he would retire to bed after having drunk a glass of milk prepared with sugar, saffron and some cardamom. Everyone was attentive in not making too much of noise so as not to disturb him. And, next day at 4 in the morning, it was he who would give the departure sign for the new day by his prayer bell.

Ever since, I visit my in-laws, he had always had the same punctual rhythm. If, I did not hear the prayer bell at 4 in the morning, I was overcome by a slight anxiety! I would come out of the bed to see what he was doing. Felling that I was worried, he would say, with a smile, that he was late that morning.

My father’s trick

- Srimathi Shubha Mohan Kumar.

I consider this opportunity as blessings showered upon me to write about my parents. I happen to be the last child (6th) of my parents Prof. T. Krishnamacharya & Mrs. Namagririammal. I also happen to have born after almost 11yrs of my elder brother Sribhashyam. So you can well imagine how I was pampered and treated by all of them in our family. So in those early days of my childhood I was almost a VVIP. So was my background with extremely loving parents and very affectionate siblings around me all through. There are lots of memories to cherish while I was living with them. I would like to share the memories of my early days with my loving father. In those days 1959-60 I was in 2nd or 3rd year in school. I was into my fathers classroom on and off. It was all playful then. In those days he would go to triplicane to give yoga lessons to a family. He kept calling me to accompany him. Initially I used to refuse, so he ended up buying a very nice read satin kurtha and pajama so that it would attract me. Yes! For the sake of the new red dress I started going with him. Like any child I did stop after sometime so he would promise me that he would gift me something if I accompanied him. He used to take me in a cycle rickshaw one mode of transport in those days. The rikshaw ride was a long one about 30-40 min, so both my father and rikshawman would usually have a conversation about Indian politics which I was least interested. My mind would actually be wondering as to what new I would get, so that I could show-off. The class would go on for an hour or so. He would ask me to show a couple of postures. Some how the hour would pass, now was my time, appa used to take me to the fancy store and keep up his promise. He would reward me with a bead necklace, rubber/plastic bangles etc., as a child I loved it mainly because so very colourful and attractive. Each time I was reluctant to go because I was busy playing with my friends in the neighbourhood. So to pull me out from play and drag me he would always tempt me by saying “ u can have the gift of your choice”. He never made a stiff face, no matter what gift I chose. This became a routine which I cherished because of the time I used to spend with my father, the long ride around the town and not to forget my incentives at the end of the day.

I did not realise during those early days of my life as to why my father was taking me along. Now looking back on the memories my I realise that my father wanted to spend sometime with the kid of the family. He was a father who loved to give what his child asked whether it was important or not for him as long as it made his beloved kid happy. He was a simple plain and a friendly father. So, as a father, was this great personality Prof. T.Krishnamacharya - yogâchârya.

A memorable event with my grand-parents - Navarâtri festival

- Srimathi Sribhagyam Srinivasan (grand daughter of Sri T. Krishnamacharya)

Any festival for a child carries vivid images of splendour and grandeur of fun and frolic. As a small girl, the festival of Navarâtri also called, the autumn festival of nine nights was the most endearing one. It was full of gaiety ad piety, all the more so, because, I would celebrate it with my grand-parents in Madras.

Navarâtri is celebrated to mark the victory of Lord Sri Râma hero of the epic Râmâyana, over Râvana, the terrible demon king. In other words it is a victory of good over evil.

During this festival, the house was decorated. The major attraction for me was the exhibition of dolls of all types, with the king and queen given the pride of place arranged on well decorated steps. Small springs, gardens were added here and there to give an aesthetic look. A sacred silver pot, called Kalasha with a coconut surrounded by mango leaves is kept on the top representing the Goddess of Victory.

I can never forget the whole-hearted involvement of my uncle Sribhashyam. He would often chip in with new ideas to make it more artistic.

The delicious lunches prepared by grand-mother for everyone including grand-father’s students were simply superb! Her offerings to the Goddess was very special for me as I used to be with her during her prayers.

For my grand-father these nine days were days of severe austerity, special prayers, reading the epic Râmâyana for six to eight hours with explanation of each chapter to his students. The fact that he could do so much at his age, without forgoing his daily routine shows his perseverance, dedication and will-power!

The culmination of this nine day long festival of Navarâtri was done on the tenth day., by celebration the coronation of Lord Sri Râma. With grandfather leading the prayers, the whole atmosphere would be electrified as if by a divine presence.

I enjoyed such precious moments with my grand-parents.

Sri T. Krishnamacharya’s daily evening drink

Almond milk

Ingredients :

25 cl of milk

2 green cardamoms

2 spoonful of almond powder

2 filaments of saffron

Sugar according to taste

Cooking time : 10 minutes

Dip the saffron in some lukewarm water for 20 minutes.

Crush cardamoms into fine powder. Put it in the saffron water and mix well.

Boil the milk and add the saffron water with cardamom in the milk. Continue boiling the milk in a low heat for 5 minutes mixing it once in a while.

Put out the fire and let the milk cool. Drink lukewarm.

You can add sugar according to taste along with the saffron water.


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