This blog is essentially 'sleeping'.

I've deleted or returned to draft 80% of the blog, gone are most, if not all, of the videos I posted of Pattabhi Jois, gone are most of the posts regarding my own practice as well as most of my practice videos in YouTube, other than those linked to my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book).

Mostly I've just retained the 'Research' posts, those relating to Krishnamacharya in particular.

Blog Comments are turned off, there are no "members" of this blog .

Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Mystery: Who was 'The Old Man of Hassan', one of Krishnamacharya's earliest students, pre Mysore, a link to Tibet?

WARNING: This is Pure speculation, a bit of fun only.....for now.
What happened to all these kids, did any of them end up teaching Yoga?

In recent posts I've been looking at  the idea of 'Much more to Mysore', following Michelle's recent guest post. Michelle is studying Ashtanga with Vijay Kumar in Mysore and in yesterday's post I focused on Vijay's big brother Vinay, the former 'Yoga Champion', who teaches a vinyasa approach to Yoga in Mysore that he calls Prana Vashya Yoga

But where did Vinay and Vijay learn their Yoga, were they students of Pattabhi Jois? Vijay does teach pretty standard Ashtanga by all accounts.

Turns out that Vijay Kumar was taught by his brother Vinay, but who was Vinay's teacher?

This is what I've heard.....

"So Vijay's asana teacher is Vinay. No-one else. He started when he was 12 learning from Vinay, that was 14 years ago. Vijay's other yoga teacher (philosophy etc) is an old guy in a little village near his mother's home town of Hassan".

Had this 'old guy' also been his brother Vinay's teacher?

The old Man of Hassan

How's your Ashtanga Vinyasa history? Krishnamacharya was working for a time in a coffee plantation around 1925/26. In fact that was where the young Pattabhi Jois first saw him. Krishnamacharya was giving a demo and lecture there on yoga ('...jumping from asana to asana' according to Pattabhi Jois).

Krishnamacharya's son Desikachar mentioned in his book about his father that Krishnamacharya struggled to attract enough students in the beginning so had to take a job for a time on a coffee plantation...... in Hassan

'enough students', so Krishnamacharya was teaching yoga even back then, of course he was.

Supposedly Pattabhi Jois walked a few miles from his house to Hassan every morning, for two years, to study Yoga with Krishnamacharya ( although I believe Jois' school was actually in Hassan so he would have had to walk there anyway, still he had to get up a couple of hours earlier).

"Sri K. Pattabhi Jois began to practice astanga yoga at age 12. He had seen a demonstration and heard a speech by T. Krishnamacharya in Hassan's community hall in March of 1927, and this impacted him greatly. After intense questioning by T. Krishnamacharya, two days later K. Pattabhi Jois stood on a mat as a student (sasthaka) of Krishnamacharya and received his first Astanga Vinyasa Yoga class under his soon-to-be Guru. He came and practiced daily with him for two years.

The path of yoga is not necessarily ideal for a child living in a regular Brahmin family. Yoga used to prepare the aspirant for the life of a monk (sannyasis), living outside of society and was not of particular benefit to being part of a family. This ended up causing some conflict with his parents, and for a time he chose to hide his intense interest in the path of yoga. The 12-year-old Pattabhi Jois woke up two hours before his school-classmates, walked five kilometers along a path to Hassan, where T. Krishnamacharya's school was, did his practice while Krishnamacharya counted the vinyasas... and then went to regular school"

So here's the question?

Who else did Krishnamacharya teach in Hassan?

Vinay's teacher perhaps?

If the had studied with Krishnamacharya as a boy he would have been an old man by the time Vijay and/or Vinay met him.

Speculation of course but.....

Vinay's approach to asana, which he calls Prana Vashya  is a vinyasa based system, movements follow the breath. It's very similar to the Ashtanga we know and love, especially if like me ( and Manju Jois too supposedly) you do a mixture of Primary and 2nd series with a couple of advanced postures thrown in for luck.

Prana Vashya Yoga
It only seems to have been Krishnamacharya who was teaching vinyasa, especially back in those days, a coincidence then that an old man in Hassan, where Krishnamacharya used to teach, teaches Vinyasa ( assuming this is the approach Vinay was taught back then).

Vinay teaches Kumbhaka in Asana, again, that has Krishnamacharya written all over it seem my recent post (UPDATED: Why did Krishnamacharya introduce kumbhaka (breath retention) into the practice of asana in Ashtanga?).

"A significant development of potential is experienced during the practice of kumbhakas. The use of kumbhakas helps quiet the mind and keeps the awareness on the breath/asana. The body experiences a better development in its resistance power and this helps to impart the complete effect of the asana practice without fatigue. Concentration on the bandhas isn't necessary when consciousness is on the simultaneous action of the breath and movements." Vinay Kumar

This of course would link Vinay back to the pre Mysore Krishnamacharya, one small step closer to the cave in the Himalayas perhaps and Krishnamacharya's own teacher Yogeshwara Ramamohana Brahmachari.

Of course it may well be that Vinay began practicing and teaching a vinyasa approach when he moved to Mysore and he might have read about kumbhaka in asana, just as I did, in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda, but when, I wonder, did he teach his brother Vijay, in Mysore or Hassan, and what did he teach him in the beginning a vinyasa practice not unlike Ashtanga Primary?

Speculation, complete speculation of course and perhaps in a day or two I'll hear more and the connection will turn out to be nonsense but Krishnamacharya did teach in Hassan, what happened to those kids,  I  do love the idea of The Mystery of The Old Man of Hassan.

Krishnamacharya 1925?

Friday, 25 October 2013

YS 1-33 Ashtanga Yoga and Loving Kindness II, the four Immeasurable as Meditation technique in yoga Sutras

“May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
“May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
“May they not be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering.
“May they dwell in the great equanimity free from passion, aggression, and prejudice.”
-Traditional Chant

In an earlier post I showed how I've been bringing a loving kindness mantra into my practice...

"Pre practice I sat for some Loving Kindness meditation and for some reason or other decided to bring that into may asana practice, my Primary series. I've explored Mahasati in practice recently and mantra often, this was an extension of that.

So basically on the inhalation I mentally recited

"May I be filled with loving kindness"
on the exhalation
"May I be safe and well"
on the next inhalation
"May I be peaceful and at ease"
and on the exhalation
"May I be happy"

...and then continued that throughout the whole practice, every breath, every inhalation, every exhalation for going on two hours".

It's a powerful practice, 90 minutes+ of chanting this mantra, every breath throughout your practice.

I'd originally planned to change the mantra each day of my practice week, so on the first day it would be may I be happy, the next day, may my teacher be happy, the next my most loved one M., next, the sangha, the Ashtang/Yoga blogging and wider yoga community,  then all those I work with anyone I know, next all those I don't know and finally, all sentient beings which includes of course, any 'enemie's and those who you might consider evil. 

That's what I'd planned but I was struck that first day with how powerful the loving kindness mantra was when projected at myself and in my practice, at how important it is to begin loving kindness with ourselves, actually it's suggested you begin with your mother, a new born child or perhaps even a kitten, I've tended to begin with Nietzsche...

Nietzsche, much missed
however you're most able to first conjure up that feeling of unselfish love, warmth, kindness which you then bring as a ground into all the other objects of the meditation.

As you bind in Marichiyasana D, the mantra reminds you to be safe

....there are lots of Marichi D's in our day-to-day life, 

in Supt Kurmasana, in Kapo be peaceful and at ease, 

again how often in our day do we need to be reminded of that. 

...May I be happy

however my asana is, however my practice is, may I be happy with it as it is and with my actions of the day, don't judge myself so much, be happy with where I am, hopefully do a little better in my next action, the next moment, the next day. 

And most of all may I be filled with loving kindness

in every breath of my practice, every breath throughout my day.

Because it shows up when you recite this mantra through your practice how you perhaps aren't filled with loving kindness, that you aren't perhaps being concerned enough that you're safe and well, or that you're peaceful and at ease or that you are happy however you may wish to parse it. 

So this week focusing on the I, rather than the you or he or she or they it's been bringing that home quite powerfully, the mantra has come alive, it resonates,  such that when I do bring in the he, she they it will perhaps be even more profound.


Loving Kindness is one of the four Immeasurable in Buddhism and it's there in the Yoga Sutras 1:33. This sutra is the first of seven contemplation techniques or approaches to meditation. 

The final meditation option of the seven is the 'fast track' approach of contemplating  Ishvara. The most straightforward (but challenging) of the seven being perhaps the most familiar of following the breath. But This is the first...

Brahmavihāras, the four immeasurables in the Yoga Sutras

Yoga Sutras 1-33

maitrî-karuñâ-muditopekæâñâä sukha-duïkha-puñyâpuñya-viæayâñâä bhâvanâtaå citta-prasâdanam

maitrî = friendliness
karuñâ = compassion
mudita = delight
upekæâñâä = equanimity
sukha = happiness
duïkha = distress, pain, suffering puñya = good, virtuous

apuñya = bad, evil
viæayâñâä = object (of experience)
bhâvanâtaï = radiating, projecting
citta = consciousness
prasâdanam = calming, tranquilizing, clarification

Consciousness settles as one radiates friendliness, compassion, delight, and equanimity toward all things, whether pleasant or painful, good or bad.

Consciousness settles....

Ronald Steiner has the full yoga sutras and his commentary on his excellent

here's the link to his treatment of 1:33 I've quoted a couple of sections from his treatment of 1:33 below.


मैत्री करुणा मुदितोपेक्षाणांसुखदुःख पुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातः चित्तप्रसादनम् ॥३३॥
maitrī karuṇā mudito-pekṣāṇāṁ-sukha-duḥkha puṇya-apuṇya-viṣayāṇāṁ bhāvanātaḥ citta-prasādanam ||33||
All that is mutable in human beings (chitta) is harmonized through the cultivation of love (maitri), helpfulness (karuna), conviviality (mudita) and imperturbability (upeksha) in situations that are happy, painful, successful or unfortunate. ||33||

These four basic traits nurture each other, which means that developing one helps to develop all the others.
  • I always try to accept other people in a loving fashion (maitrī), and particularly when time is at a premium.
  • If someone needs my help, I try to be there for them (karuṇā). This is part of my job as a yoga teacher and physician. In some cases, this help takes a very concrete form, e.g. when I prescribe a drug or therapy. However, when it comes to personal problems I rarely provide specific answers, but instead try to help the student find their own solution.
  • mudita means conviviality, which is an important trait for me as a yoga teacher and physician. When I have to give a patient bad news, I nonetheless try to be as upbeat as possible – because after all, how can he be expected to believe in his own recovery if I rob him of all hope from a medical standpoint?
  • Of the four key traits, I have the most difficulty cultivating imperturbability (upekṣa) – for example being accepting when a close friend lights up a cigarette. I need to exhibit this same kind of acceptance in cases where a patient refuses to undergo therapy that I feel he needs. This ability to accept a person as they are is a sign of a good relationship.

For me this seems to be treating 1:33 as a yama/niyama, a general approach to daily life and while I agree completely, cultivate loving kindness, the four immeasurable in all your interactions, I want to go further and remind myself that Patanjali has placed this sutra here among the approaches to contemplation, the meditation techniques and he places it first.

Here's Aranya but notice Vyasa's commentary, "...the mind becomes pure. A purified mind becomes one-pointed, eventually attains serenity"

and the last line of Aranya's commentary

"These fours practices are called Brahmavihāras by the buddhists and these, they say, lead to the brahmaloka" (Theravāda Buddhists hold that rebirth in the brahma-loka is the reward enjoyed by an individual who has accompanied great virtue with meditation).

Here's the sutra and Vyasa's commentary along with that of Aranya.

Ramaswami reminds us that we take the principle that if something is not expanded on, explained in detail in Patanjali's text, then it's taken as a given and we refer outside the text. So to understand Purusha for example we turn to Samkhya on which Patanjali's system, his presentation of yoga, is grounded.

To understand and explore the four immeasurable in more depth then we might turn to Buddhism. There is an area of study that explores how much Patanajali was influenced by Buddhism and/or whether the Yoga Sutras were a response to the Buddhism prevalent in India at the time of writing, It's there in the text and never more so than here in 1-33

Krishnamacharya too it seems was interested in Buddhism in his early life although for how long a period and to what extent is unknown it seems. 

Of course you don't have to become a Buddhist to take on board Buddhist Meditation techniques or Buddhist ethics and Buddhism doesn't hold the patent on Loving, kindness, Compassion, equanimity, Joy but they do write about it a lot.

So where can we look for more info on Loving Kindness mediation.... Insight meditation of course, vipassana often treat metta, loving Kindness as a meditation technique, you'll find retreats, workshops, special sessions on loving Kindnesss...

Check out podcasts from audiodharma, I have a soft spot for those by Gil Frondsal

See too this in depth article from the Berzin archives for sources


The four immeasurable attitudes (tshad-med bzhi, Skt.apramana, Pali: appamanna) are:
  • immeasurable love (byams-pa, Skt: maitri, Pali: metta),
  • immeasurable compassion (snying-rje, Skt: karuna, Pali:karuna),
  • immeasurable joy (dga'-ba, Skt: mudita, Pali: mudita),
  • immeasurable equanimity (btang-snyoms, Skt: upeksha, Pali:upekkha).
They are also called "the four Brahma abodes" (tshangs-gnas bzhi, Skt. brahmavihara, Pali: brahmavihara) and are found in the various Hinayana and Mahayana traditions of Buddhism, as well as in Bon. Different schools and texts interpret them slightly differently, and certain practices in some traditions change their order. The Four Immeasurable Attitudes in Hinayana, Mahayana, and Bon
The Tibetan Buddhists however really go to town on Loving Kindness and the four immeasurable, the be all and end all of Tibetan Buddhism perhaps, OK maybe I exaggerate ( discuss), actually I think I probably don't.

Pretty much anything by  the Dali lama is probably based on Loving Kindness and the four immeasurable to some extent.

but try this


or this Meditation handbook by the 'New Kadampa' school which is based on  Lamrim, and can be read in a day, practiced for a lifetime...

Lamrim - The Stages of the Path

The stages of the path to enlightenment, or Lamrim in Tibetan, is the backbone of Kadampa Buddhism.

Lamrim is a special set of instructions that includes all the essential teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni arranged in such a way that all his Hinayana and Mahayana teachings can be put into practice in a single meditation session.

It was compiled by the great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha, who was invited to Tibet by King Jangchub Ö in AD 1042, and who spent the rest of his life there spreading pure Dharma.

First we must understand the value of Lamrim. Then by joyfully and patiently doing the meditations we shall gradually experience the fruits of Lamrim practice.

Eventually we shall attain freedom from all suffering and the unchanging peace and happiness of enlightenment.

There are 21 Lamrim meditations, which are usually practiced in a three-week cycle as a daily meditation practice:

Our precious human life
Death and impermanence
The danger of lower rebirth
Refuge practice
Actions and their effects
Developing renunciation for samsara
Developing equanimity
Recognizing that all living beings are our mothers
Remembering the kindness of living beings
Equalizing self and others
The disadvantages of self-cherishing
The advantages of cherishing others
Exchanging self with others
Great compassion
Wishing love
Tranquil abiding
Superior seeing
Relying upon a Spiritual Guide

These meditations, along with instructions on how to practice them and essential background material, can be found in The New Meditation Handbook.

I liked the New Meditation Handbook, the 21 contemplations are short enough that I can bring them into my morning practice, turn one of the meditations into a mantra, similar to the loving kindness mantra and repeat it throughout my practice before sitting with it at the end of my practice.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

How to chant the Yoga Sutras - Ramaswami's Traditional Chanting tutorials plus transliteration, articles and books.

Ramaswami chanting the Yoga Sutras in full

Ramaswami's traditional tutorial.
He chants the sutra then repeats it softly while you repeat, breaking it up into manageable 'portions'

Chapter I
Samadhi Pada

Chapter II
Sadhana Pada

Chapter III
Vibhuti Pada

Chapter IV
Kaivalya Pada

























Ramaswami has been a student of Prof. Krishnamacharya for over two decades in the theory and practice of Yoga. Apart from Yogasanas and Pranayama, he has studied yoga texts such as Patanjala Yogasutras, Samkhya Karika, Hathayoga- pradipika. UpanishadsasChandogya,Taithiriya, Svetasvatara,Isavasya,the Gita etc., adhyayana(chanting) of the whole of Taithiriya Aranyaka of Yajur Veda and Upanishads, Mantraprasanam etc., all from the Acharya. He has also had yoga lessonsfrom Sri T. K. V. Desikachar, and has written a seriesof articles on Yoga, and also contributed to a few journals. S. Ramaswami holds a masters degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Oklahoma State University, and has had teaching experiencein Indian universities. He has been teaching yoga practice and also the texts for over fiveyears.

David Hurwitz (Author), Srivatsa Ramaswami (Contributor)

This is a brief guide to the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali. It is brief by way of being practical. After stating the goal of Yoga, it is basically an exposition of the eight limbs of Yoga Patañjali gives in Chapter two and the beginning of Chapter three of his Yoga Sutras.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: Based on the Teaching of Srivatsa Ramaswami by Pam Hoxsey
Book and CD by Pam Hoxsey
Local author and yogi, Pam Hoxsey, learned to chant the Yoga Sutras from Srivatsa Ramaswami, who learned them from his teacher. T. Krishnamacharya. They met one-on-one for two hours each morning in two-week intervals, repeated over three years. They chanted the sutras, and then Ramaswami would discuss their meanings. This book--and the CD--is the result of their meetings together.
This version of the Yoga Sutras is comprehensive. Each sutra is written as a phrase, followed by a word-by-word translation, and then a summary of its meaning. In addition, a “tacit question” is often proposed to suggest what topic is being explained. Sometimes there are additional short “notes” to further aid in understanding.
At the end of the book is Ramaswami’s handwritten Sanskrit, followed by the chant phrases written in English with red and blue markings to indicate where the pitch goes up and down. And then there’s the CD by Pam, who has a beautiful voice, chanting the sutras. So you can both read the Yoga Sutras and learn to chant them as they were originally chanted and passed on through the centuries before Patanjali wrote them down.
You can order the book directly from Pam by calling 847.328.4246.


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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta


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