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Studies With Krishnamacharya

Studies With Krishnamacharya

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Published by Vitor Caruso Jr
Ramaswami descreve seus anos de estudo com o maior professor de yoga dos tempos modernos
Ramaswami descreve seus anos de estudo com o maior professor de yoga dos tempos modernos

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Published by: Vitor Caruso Jr on Aug 17, 2009
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02/05/2012

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13
SPRING 2007
 MY STUDIES WITH
úRÅ
KRISHNAMACHARYA 
SRIVATSA RAMASWAMI
úrà 
Krishnamacharya during class at his residence in R.K. Puram. Photograph by Dr. Radhakrishnan.
 
14
ISSUE No.6
 W 
 
ú
Ktaught me, prayer came first.Classes started with a meditativeprayer (
dhyána ùloka 
) to Lord
 Viüóu
 for the success of the session, followedby prayers to Lord
Hayagràva 
, therepository of all Vedic knowledge, andto Lord
Käüóa 
. Next would be a prayerappropriate to the topic at hand—to
Patañjali
if it was a yoga program, to
Bádaráyaóa 
for a program on
Brahma Sâtras 
, to Kapila for a
Sáêkhya 
class,or the appropriate peace chant (
ùánti  páôha 
) for
upaniüadic vidyás 
and Vedicchanting programs. ere would alwaysbe a
Pârva-ùánti 
(beginning peaceinvocation), and following tradition,class would always end with a peacechant called
Uttara-ùánti 
, normally the surrender
ùloka 
to Lord
Náráyaóa 
 found in
Viüóu-sahasranáma 
, and theforgiveness or
küamápana-stotra 
, if it was Vedic chanting class. e way my guru maintained
añjali-mudrá 
whilesaying the prayer was a point of study.He said that in this
mudrá 
the palmsshould be slightly cupped while keepingthe hands together. ere should be ahollow between the palms sufficient tohold an imaginary lotus or your heartin a gesture of loving offering to the
dhyeya 
, the object of your meditation.e arms should be close to the body but not touching the body, and thefolded hands, inclined by about thirty degrees, should be held in front of theheart or the sternum. With a straightback and head slightly bowed,
úrà
 Krishnamacharya would be a dignifiedpicture of peace and devotion.In this article I would like to focuson what I studied with my guru,
úrà
 Krishnamacharya, rather than writinga historical account of him. Enougharticles and books have been writtenabout his greatness; I think it isimportant to know what he taught. It isclear that he taught different subjects todifferent people differently at differenttimes. Here is an account of what Ilearned from him.I studied with Pandit Krishnamacharya(as he was known in Madras at that time)from 1955 to 1988. Of course there were a few breaks, many times brief,sometimes longer, but on the whole my study with him was nearly continuousfor that entire time. After every break I would go back to him and, withouthesitation, he would give me time tocontinue with the studies. Normally, Ihad two to three sessions per week, butthere were occasions when I had theprivilege of going to him twice a day—for
ásana 
practice in the morning andfor chanting or the study of texts in theevening. I never got bored. Every class was unique; there was always somethinginteresting, something profound.My studies with Krishnamacharyacan be broadly classified into threegroups. ere was a longish study of 
Haôha 
Yoga, following his now famous
Vinyása Krama 
, including individualand specific therapeutic applications. Ilearned several hundred
 vinyása 
s builtaround very important classic poses.ere were preparatory 
 vinyása 
s, thenmovements within the
ásana 
itself, and
 pratikriyás 
or counter poses. My first few years of study were focused on general
ásana 
practice. I studied in a small groupmade up of the members of my family gathered in a large room in our house.
úrà
Krishnamacharya came to our housein the morning almost daily to teach.He taught different
ásana 
s to differentmembers of our family, depending uponthe age and condition of each individual.ere was my eight-year-old kid sister,energetic and supple. I was aboutsixteen. My brother was around twenty and, at that time, in need of particularattention.
úrà
Krishnamacharya gavehim special assistance. en there weremy thirty-five-year-old mother and my forty-five-year-old father to completethe group. While there were some
ásana 
s and movements that all of uspracticed, there were many that weredifferent—particular and appropriate toeach individual.
úrà
Krishnamacharyahad great skills of observation. He hada booming voice and a certain firmnessand authority in his instructions. It wasalways fascinating to see him teach somany people differently at the sametime, a feat in itself.My father had my 
upanáyanam 
,a ceremony for initiation into Vedicstudies, performed when I was ten. At that age, I learned some
ásana 
s atschool, well-known postures such as
sarváïgásana 
,
 padmásana 
,
matsyásana 
,and a few others. But on the very first day of my study with
úrà
Krishnamacharya, Ilearned a yoga practice so different from what I had been taught and how I hadseen others in India do yoga. He askedus to stand in
tadásana 
—standing with
    S  r   i  v  a   t  s  a   R  a  m  a  s  w  a  m   i ,    C    h  e  n  n  a   i ,   J  a  n  u  a  r  y    2    0    0   7 .
 
15
SPRING 2007
both feet together. After some wait inthe pose, he asked us to keep our headsdown and slowly raise our arms, inhalingslowly with a “rubbing sensation” inthe throat. “Inhaaaaaaaaaaaaale,” hesaid, “raise your arms slowly overhead;interlock your fingers and turn themoutward.” To this day, that is how Istart my 
ásana 
practice and how I teacha class. It was the first time I had everheard someone instructing to move thelimbs with the breath. “Exhaaaaaaaaale,”he said, “lower the arms with a hissingsound in the throat. e hands shouldtouch the sides as you complete yourexhalation.” It was so new and exciting.e seeds of 
 Vinyása 
Krama were sownin me on that day with that movement.Learning the various
 vinyása 
s wasa lot of fun. Because I had done
ásana 
 practice when I was even younger, thelearning was smooth. Integrating thebreath with movements and keeping themind closely following the breath madea profound impact on the practice.If yoga meant union, then the unionof mind and body was easily achievedby using the breath as the harness tounite them. In addition, this initialtraining got one comfortable with thebreath in preparation for more involved
 práóáyáma 
and sowed the seeds of 
dháraóá 
, or meditation, with the breathspot (
 práóa-sthána 
) as the focus of attention.In the summer of 1958 or so, I went with my parents to
úrà
Krishnamacharya’shouse in Gopalapuram. My guru’sfamily had just moved to Madras fromMysore. We met his gracious wife, hiseldest son,
Sri
nivasan, his younger son
Sri
bhashyam, and the last daughter,Shobha. His second son,
úrà
Desikachar,had come for summer holidaysfrom Mysore, where he was doingundergraduate study in engineering.His father introduced me to him.My father developed a particularliking for
Sri
nivasan. One day, in hisfather’s presence and at his request,
Sri
nivasan showed us
ùàrüásana 
. Hestood in the pose for well over fifteenminutes, absolutely motionless, withexceptionally slow breathing. It wasperhaps two breaths per minute forthe entire duration, instead of thenormal fifteen to sixteen breaths perminute. My father used to like talkingto
Sri
nivasan; one day, after conversing with him, my father mentioned that he was a worthy son of the great
yogà
 
úrà
 Krishnamacharya.
I
   work in electrical engineeringin 1960. By then I had been
úrà
 Krishnamacharya’s student for aboutfive years. I had learned many of theimportant poses such as
sarváïgásana 
,padm
ásana 
,
vajrásana 
, and
dhanurásana 
 plus several
práóáyáma 
methods. But it was time to take a job. As an electricalengineer, I got offers to work as a traineein a government-owned, lignite-basedelectric-generation company about 150miles from Madras or in a hydroelectricplant in the hilly regions of Nilgiris,about 350 miles from where I lived.One day as my teacher was leavingfor home after teaching classes in ourhouse, I told him that I was leavingMadras to take a job. He immediately turned to my father and asked if he would find a job for me in Madras itself.He indicated that his son Desikacharhad also graduated in engineering and would probably find a job in Madras.My father, who was a founding partnerin a leading stock brokerage firm, talkedto some of his friends and arranged afew interviews for me. I took a job in amotorcycle company. But for my guru’stimely intervention, I would have misseda lifetime opportunity of studying witha great soul.
úrà
Desikachar’s arrival in Madrasbrought about a few momentouschanges. He soon started teaching,still working as an engineer in hisoutside job. One day, in a dramaticdevelopment,
úrà
Krishnamacharya toldmy father and me that he was stoppingteaching (he was in his mid-seventiesat that time) and that we could study  with his sons. I was sent to Desikacharand my father became
Sri
bhashyam’sstudent. It was a different experiencestudying with Desikachar, who wasmore or less my own age. It soon becameapparent that he was going to becomean extraordinary teacher. Even as hestuck to the basics of Krishnamacharyasteaching—the
 vinyása 
s, the breathing,the counter poses, and rest pauses—he was more accessible and communicative.It was a great experience studying
ásana 
s with him. Soon he added several
ásana 
sand
 vinyása 
s and
práóáyáma 
s to my practice. After a while, another dramatic changetook place. Desikachar asked me if I wasinterested in learning Vedic chantingfrom his father, as he was going to startstudying with him. Before meeting
úrà
 Krishnamacharya, I had studied Sanskritand Vedic chanting for almost four years with a Vedic scholar in my house. Withthis scholar I used to learn chanting with my father almost every morningbefore dawn. We learned to chant theentire
Sârya-namaskára 
, taking aboutan hour, and the
Rudram Camakam 
, theVedic prayer to
úiva 
. And there were the
Sârya-namaskára 
,
Taittiràya Upaniüad 
,and
Mahánáráyaóa Upaniüad 
. Yes, I wasinterested in chanting with my guru,but I was surprised. How could a yogateacher teach Vedic chanting? I hadalways found that
Haôha 
Yoga teachershad no background at all in chanting orold texts, but had expertise only in thephysical aspects of yoga. Anyway, I saidthat I was interested, and the next day Desikachar told me I could join him onan auspicious day chosen by his father.Desikachar also said that henceforth I would study both chanting and yoga with his father, as
úrà
Krishnamacharyasaid that he did not want me to havetwo teachers. He himself would teachme both
ásana 
s and Vedic chanting.Desikachar and I learned chantingtogether for several years, but my 
ásana 
 classes with my guru were one-on-one.
        ú    r     à
   K  r   i  s    h  n  a  m  a  c    h  a  r  y  a .   P    h  o   t  o  g  r  a  p    h    b  y    S  r   i  v  a   t  s  a   R  a  m  a  s  w  a  m   i .

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