Yoga has been a part of my life since 1993. My entry into the world of yoga was via āsana practice. What began as a weekly escape from the demands of two small children soon grew into a passion, and eventually into a calling. I began teaching in 1995, and have attended many Yoga trainings and seminars since then.
In 2008, a lecture series on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali captured my interest, and it was at this event that I first met Dr. Kausthub Desikachar. What he presented in that weekend blew my mind and made me reassess what I thought Yoga was all about. It was my first taste of Classical Yoga in the tradition of Krishnamacharya, and it made me realise that what I had been practicing and teaching was just part of what Yoga has to offer. Since that introduction, I have completed a four-year teacher training through the KHYF, led by Ruth Diggins (one of Kausthub’s long time students), and have continued to attend Kausthub’s yearly lectures. I am currently studying Yoga Therapy at the KHYF in Chennai.
Last weekend I attended Kausthub’s most recent New Zealand offering: ‘The Power of Yoga – Exploring Prānāyāma for Health & Vitality.’ In this three-day seminar Kausthub took us through the theory & practice of various Prānāyāma techniques. The lectures were attended by a wide range of people, some of whom were relatively new to Classical Yoga, while others were long-term practitioners and teachers in the lineage of Krishnamacharya. Kausthub’s teaching is modelled on that of his teacher, TKV Desikachar, who is also his father. The process is always experiential, which allows the knowledge to seep into body, mind and heart. Classical Yoga texts, such as the Hathayoga-pradipika and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali formed the foundation of all the teaching, and yet the material was presented in a way that made it accessible, and applicable in our modern context.
The sessions were structured in such a way that everyone was able to find their own level. The beauty of this approach to yoga is that the relative simplicity of the practices allows for a deeper experience, because each person can access the knowledge in a meaningful way. The layering of āsana, prānāyāma, mantra and meditation led to moments of deep internalisation, even within the context of a large and diverse group.
What I have learned since that first introduction to Classical Yoga is that personal transformation requires commitment, and support. The concept of parampara (lineage) is often talked about at the KHYF. It is true that Kausthub is the direct descendant of Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar, and as such is part of the bloodline of this yoga family. However, I have come to understand that this lineage is about much more than this. To truly transform, one needs the guidance of a teacher, who himself has the guidance of a teacher. An acharya is someone who understands the struggles we go through on our way to discovering who we truly are. And such a person can teach us and guide us, as long as they themselves continue to learn and grow.
The knowledge imparted during the prānāyāma seminar was indeed profound, but what truly inspired me was the ongoing transformation I observed in the teacher himself. Kausthub’s teaching is heartfelt. He speaks freely about his difficulties, and shows humility in acknowledging his teachers and mentors for having guided him through some dark times. I observed a deepening of wisdom and spiritual connection in Kausthub that I attribute to his own ongoing practice.
What was modelled very clearly at this seminar is that we are here to connect with and support each other. It takes a lot of energy to organise such an event, and to create an atmosphere in which people can feel welcome, and free to explore the teachings. Ruth Diggins, Evelyn Einhauser, Sacha Kronfeld, Sandra Gerber and Elise Curnow provided support for Kausthub in various ways, so that everyone was able to gain the most from the weekend. I am grateful to all of them for their contributions.
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