संयोगो योग उच्यते
saṁyogo yoga ucyate
Ashtanga Yoga, Viniyoga, Vinyasakrama Yoga and a few other brands of several well known systems are yogasana practices may be traced to the teachings of Sri T Krishnamacharya. Many of the systems of asana practice emanating from Krishnamacharya are exhaustive and show what an outstanding yogasana teacher he was. But Sri Krishnamacharya, as many know, taught several other important subjects he considered useful or essential for life long yoga practitioners. He considered vedic and other chantings to be very important and spent hundreds of hours teaching chanting of several portions of vedas to many students including interested and talented women. His judicious use of yoga procedures especially the vinyasas and other yoga procedures like mudras pranayama for health and therapeutic purposes is something unique,--- like the application of yoga techniques for the health of vital kosahas or organs in the body, as the heart and the circulatory system, , lungs and the respiratory system, stomach and the digestive system, bladder/kidneys and the urinary system , uterus and the reproductive system and the intestines.
Sri Krishnamacharya was a great scholar of both religious and philosophical works. Many vaishnavites, the followers of Vaishnavism would come to him for studying religious works of the likes of Desikan, Ramanuja, Nathamuni and others. His knowledge of the complete spectrum of vedic philosophies was deep and wide. He had got several diplomas and honorary titles like Veda Kesari, Vedanta Vageesa, Samkhya Siromani, Nyayacharya, Yogacharya and others. One great feature of his teaching was that even though he was great Sanskrit scholar he was able to come down to the level of ordinary people like yoga students and explain them clearly, which was unusual in India at that time as most scholars would treat these subjects in a scholarly manner not necessarily as experiential.
He taught several yoga and philosophical texts. Hatayogapradipika, suta samhita, siva samhita, gherunda samhita, yoga sutras, Bhagavat Gita, Brahma sutras, Upanishads like Chandogya, Brahadaranyaka, prasna, kata, kena, taittiriya, svetasvara, kaushitaki brahmana, mandukya, mundaka, isa and many minor upanishads. And that included
योगयाज्ञवल्क्य yogayājñavalkya, a unique yogic text the authorship of which is attributed to sage Yagnyavalkya a renowned vedic rishi. While some scholars dispute the claim that it was written by the same yogayājñavalkya of the Sukla Yajur Veda, there is no dispute about the sweep and depth of the contents of this unique yoga work of a brilliant yogi philosopher.
The text follows the classic ashtanga yoga format of yoga but contains a variant and broader approach to each of the eight angas. The goal of yoga according to the author is union of jivatma, the individual Self with the Supreme principle, the paramatma, a classic approach of Bhakti Yoga and also of Vedanta.
संयोगो योग उच्यते
saṁyogo yoga ucyate
The book of about 500 verses is divided into a dozen chapters eight of which deal with each of the eight angas of Ashtanga Yoga. It details 10 yamas as opposed to the 5 in the yoga sutras. In the first chapter the sage insists on the scrupulous observance of one's duties according to the stage and disposition in life. The second chapter deals with the niyamas which are again 10 in number and detailed description of them and niyama observance consistent with one's own dharma. The third chapter is on asanas and the sage describes eight asanas that he considers important all of which are seated ones except mayurasana or peacock pose which becomes relevant in the context of removal of diseases and also with respect activating prana/apana and the gastric fire all of which are considered essential in arousing the kundalini an integral aspect for the cleansing of all nadis and opening up the sushumna nadi.
Here is my friend and an ace, exceptional yoga teacher Ryan Leier doing Mayurasana and then me in Padmasana
Actually the book is a dialogue between याज्ञवल्क्य yājñavalkya and his spiritually evolved spouse Gargi in an assembly of yogis sages and rishis. The fourth chapter is devoted to the nadi anatomy. It describes the position and route of major nadis, 14 according to the author. He would say of the 14 nadis from among the 72000 nadis in the body three, the ida, pingala and sushumna are important and of course sushumna is the most important of them all from the Yogi's viewpoint. It also describes the 10 vayus that traverse the nadis and their distinct functions. Additionally it describes the position of other important aspects as the kandasthana the origin place of the nadis, the place of fire or agni in the body, the nature and place of Jiva the individual Self, the position and structure of Kundalini and the interconnection among these phenomena. It describes in short the anatomy and physiology that a yogic should know and to achieve an experience through the yogic practices to the goal of union of jivatma and paramatma It also contains the important information that the nadis should be kept flushed and clean by a yogic practice called Nadi shodhana as the first step in the deeper yoga practice.
The brief fifth chapter describes the preparations and the actual practice of Nadishodhana. Then the sage returns to the ashtanga yoga practice, and dwells deeply and extensively into the next anga pranayama in the sixth chapter. Unlike the Hatayoga pradipika which describes several pranayama (kumbhaka) procedures and amantraka (without mantra) here it is full of samantaraka or with bhava also known as samantraka and sagarbha pranayama. This chapter explains how to locate the pranas in the different centers of the body and the mind slowly integrating with the prana. It is a very detailed chapter of the pranayama and its effects
The next chapter is also very absorbing. It is the seventh chapter on pratyahara the fifth anga of the ashtanga yoga system. While pratyahara generally is considered to be a practice of drawing the five senses from the external objects, here pratyahara, one of the five variants of it, goes much deeper and commends the withdrawing of prana sensations within one's own body especially from the 18 important vital points in the body. It is deliberate and conscious effort to draw in the prana awareness from these 18 marma sthanas, 6 in the lower extremities (toes, ankles, shin, calf muscle root, knees and mid-thighs), six in the torso (anus, body center, generative organ, navel,heart and the throat) and six in the head (root of the tongue, end of nose, region between the eyes, midbrows, forehead and the crown). Thus by shanmukhimudra which याज्ञवल्क्य yājñavalkya includes in pranayama, the yogi shuts out the external world communication with the senses. And then by the pratyahara from the marma stahnas the yogis is able to withdraw prana sensations within one's own body.
From Pratyahara याज्ञवल्क्य yājñavalkya proceeds to explain dharana which according to him can be considered as five types. While Patanjali defines Dharana as focussing on one object, याज्ञवल्क्य yājñavalkya is more specific. He would commend meditating the atman /paramatma in the heart lotus. In another treatment of dharana the author wants the yogi to contemplate on the five elements or bhutas of which the human body is made of, He would divide the body into five regions dominated by the five bhutas. The lower most portion is predominantly made of earth or solid matter, the next higher region is more watery then the the next higher region is more of fire then the higher region, the thoracic is dominated by air and finally the head portion is of akasa. Meditating on these five prakritic tatwas which according to all the yogis is not the real self helps the Yogi to directly experience that one is not the body.
Then the next step or anga would be dhyana which we generally term as meditation. Here one wants to know what is real, the individual Self (jivatma) and then the supreme self or paramatma.
While Patanjali would want the yogabhyasi to do samyama or meditation of the real Self, here याज्ञवल्क्य yājñavalkya following the bhakti yoga and the vedanta philosophy and tradition would want the yogabhyasi to meditate or do dhyana on paramatma which one would want to attain union with as per the definition of याज्ञवल्क्य yājñavalkya yoga. According to my Guru as per Bhakti Yoga there is only one dhyana that is bhagavat dhyana or meditation of the Lord, the Creator. According to the Upanishads, the source of the universe is Brahman which is nothing but pure consciousness immutable and the source of this Universe, the sustainer of the Universe and unto which the universe finally merges. That Brahman is the Paramatma and the Yogi here wants to merge the atman or the individual with that Supreme. So here the dhyana is on that paramatma. It can be done in its pure form as Brahman or also associated with its creation, the Universe. When one meditates on the ultimate in its pure nature then it is known as Nirguna dhyana and when associated with the attributes of the created universe then it is known as saguna dhyana. Both methods of meditation are recognized by the Upanishads. But thousands of ordinary bhakti yogis also have another option of meditating upon the Lord paramatma with a form so that the saguna dhyana on paramatma becomes possible. याज्ञवल्क्य yājñavalkya includes this form meditation in the heart or mid brows as dhyana.
Finally in the chapter on Samadhi याज्ञवल्क्य yājñavalkya recognizes one samadhi, In this the yogi brings about the union of jivatma and paramatma. Ultimately when the yogi sees signals that the end of life is near, sits in yogic pose, collects all the pranas and the unified prana moves through the Kundalini free sushumna and reaching the crown finally splits open the crown leaves the body and merges with the mahaprana or universal life force. The individual jivatma following suit leaves the body and merges with the Brahman, the paramatma and the union of jivatma and paramatma takes place.
संयोगो योग उच्यते
saṁyogo yoga ucyate
Having instructed his wife and advising her to follow the yogic path to the end of her life याज्ञवल्क्य yājñavalkya himself sits in a yogic posture and going into samadhi leaves the body and attains maha samadhi. And Gargi follows suit.
Virtually the text is a great internal journey of a yogi, the life and death or ultimate samadhi .
I am scheduled to teach this text as part of my 100 hr TT program in Vinyasakrama Yoga at Oneyoga in Victoria Canada in summer 2019
Yoga is a fascinating subject.
Dasara starts shortly, a period to worship Goddess Sakti. Here are some of my Sanskrit chants of the famous prayers to Mother.
1. Lalitha Sahasranamam
2.indrakshi siva kavacham
3. mooka Panchasati of Kanchi Kamakshi
In addition I have also recorded Devi Mahatmyam or Durga saptasati, Durga Sahasranamam, Gayatri Sahasranama some of which may still be available in the market as CDs or may be downloaded with some search. All were recorded many decades ago.
In September, 2018, I spent three days in Chicago teaching योगयाज्ञवल्क्य yogayājñavalkya, at Chicago Yoga Center to a compact group of yoga practitioners.
I gave a 90 minute talk on "What is Yoga" at Bodymindsoul yoga studio in New York City. It was my first visit to New York City to teach after many many years. The studio is just 5 mts drive from my home across George Washington Bridge. Very nice group, hope they liked the content of the talk.
In October I am travelling to three countries, Ireland ( The Ananta Yoga Studios, Wicklow Town), Luxembourg (Center de Yoga, Lu) and then Chile(Yoga Kanda). Here are the links for the programs