- Another interview with Kausthub Desikachar: Grandson of Krishnamacharya and son of T. Desikachar, and the moving force behind the limited edition book Masters in Focus, Kausthub Desikachar has a valuable personal (and historical) perspective on Yoga.
Yoga is fundamentally a spiritual practice. And it shows how these different people connect with this idea. For T Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois, who is very devotional, it was through religious practice. For Indra Devi, it was more meditative. For TKV Desikachar, it’s a bit more reflective. Watch carefully that photograph where he is lecturing on God. The question he asks is, “What is God?” not “Who is?” So even though all of these teachers are fundamentally belonging to the same thread of yoga, their expression of [their] spiritual side is unique to each. This is wonderful. Isn’t it?
… At an age when people usually start to contemplate retirement, T Krishnamacharya had to start life afresh, as India became a democracy and funding for his yoga school was cut. This was a very hard time for him. When BKS Iyengar traveled first to Europe to teach, despite being “invited” as a yoga master, he was made to sit in the “non-white” tables to eat, even at the places he was teaching. He suffered humiliation in the form of racism for many years. Family members of my own father had to present him as an “engineer” to find a bride for him, as being a yoga teacher in the 1960s was not at all respectable.
… The primary function of Yoga is spiritual–to remove our suffering in various layers–whether it’s physical, physiological, emotional, or psychological. That’s why yoga was created. In the past, yoga was not created simply for an exercise routine. Unfortunately the sad reality today is that many people associate yoga as a physical form rather than a spiritual thing that is much deeper. That’s really why we need to rethink why we’re doing yoga–not what yoga we are doing but rather why we are doing yoga and if it’s serving the purpose or function that it’s meant to serve.
For example, I feel that in a majority of situations the function of yoga has been lost. There are many, many cases where this practice of yoga on the purely physical level has been causing people a great deal of injury.
- Still going strong at 92: Yoga teacher Tao Porchon-Lynch from 2006
- Sustainable Prisons Project: This amazing partnership between the Washington State Department of corrections and Evergreen State College has three goals: green-collar eduction and training, sustainable operation of prisons, and scientific research and conservation.
- The Tibetan Book of the Dead (A Way of Life / The Great Liberation): I’ve watched this 2004 documentary a few times, most recently last week. Following monks in Ladakh as they guide families through the death of their loved ones, one appreciates the importance of rituals in the live of Tibetans. Plus I love Leonard Cohen’s narration!