Just back from lecture with yoga legend TKV Desikachar. {Yoga Journal Conference 2009, Estes Park}

Via Waylon Lewis
on Sep 23, 2009
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elephantjournal.com, reporting from Yoga Journal Conference at Estes Park, Colorado.

tkv desikachar

TKV Desikachar represents, or rather giddily, enthusiastically embodies, the best of the yoga tradition. When he says “yoga,” he’s not referring merely to glorified stretching. He’s talking about a spiritual path, the path as laid out in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali.

The son of Krishnamacharya—the grandfather of modern yoga who taught BKS Iyengar (founder of Iyengar yoga; and who I got to interview some years back at YJ Estes Park), Pattabhi Jois (founder of Ashtanga yoga), TKS spoke to a three-fourths full, dark, cool-to-cold auditorium. After the intermission, only about 10% of the crowd left (probably to nap, there were quite a few bobbing heads in the Auditorim, perhaps do to all the yoga practice and cold coziness—everyone was wrapped up in their own coats and blankets and shawls).

TKV, while a bit hard to understand, is wildy enthusiastic about his subject: the path of yoga, health, and how it all applies to various sundry ailments he’s encountered in students over the years (there were extended anecdotes re: swollen feet, breast cancer and Parkinson’s).

The basic point that I’ll take away from his lecture: yoga ain’t merely about getting a “yoga butt”—though it probably owes much of its ongoing popularity to its practicality in fulfilling our exercise needs. Yoga is about “stilling” or “calming” the mind. About freeing ourselves from undo suffering caused by ignorance, attachment, habits and craving. Ahimsa, non-violence, isn’t (just) about being noble or Gandhi-like—it’s practical. If I hurt you, that’s bad for me. If I take money that is unclean, that’s bad for me. If I say negative things (even if they’re true, interestingly), that’s bad for all of us. If I fall in a manhole, it’s because I’m wrapped up in my own ego.

What’s the answer? Meditate. Breathe (pranayama). Cut out distractions like listening to music all the time. Develop your faith and practice, if only a little with consistency.

Sadly, the kind of yoga he espouses is becoming, like the polar bear, something of an endangered species. It’s up to us to determine the future of yoga. Will it be physical? Or a spiritual path? Or both?




About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


8 Responses to “Just back from lecture with yoga legend TKV Desikachar. {Yoga Journal Conference 2009, Estes Park}”

  1. great stuff on Desi, he is the man. I look forward to his classes on Friday and Saturday. Definitely taking it further than just gymnastics.

  2. LindaSama says:

    "Sadly, the kind of yoga he espouses is becoming, like the polar bear, something of an endangered species. "

    As someone who studies at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram every year, I can tell you that I have more than few astangis who studied with Jois who came to the Mandiram to heal their bodies. Some told me that the yoga that is practiced at the Mandiram was like a lightbulb going off over their head.

    I don't believe that "his yoga" will become an endangered species. You would really have to go to the Mandiram to practice it and understand it. It's not "old lady's yoga" as some people think (and as I've I heard it described.) After my first intensive in 2005, my practice and my teaching changed forever.

  3. […] up. But we also talked seriously about elephant and had lunch with Ed and Deb and went to a talk by TKV and had bad wine by the ancient YMCA fireplace with new friends and said goodbye in the night with […]

  4. […] I’ve gone for eight years, now, missing a year here and there. I call it the Valhalla of yoga: the Rocky Mountain campus is crawling with famous, quality yoga teachers like John Friend, who’s leading this year’s Grand Gathering. We’ve done, say, 15 or 18 pages of interviews with Cyndi Lee, Seane Corn, Tias Little, Baron Baptiste and other general coverage of the conference in elephant magazine, and last year blogged and tweeted up the conference. […]

  5. […] I particularly appreciate the teachings of Sri. T. Krishnamacharya as outlined by his son T.K.V. Desikachar. In his book, The Heart of Yoga Developing a Personal Practice, Desikachar describes the functions […]

  6. […] because it is a slow, deliberate practice, breath-based and heart centered. Some believe that “the kind of yoga he [Desikachar] espouses is becoming, like the polar bear, something of an e… I can tell you that I met more than few astangis at KYM, some of whom studied directly with Jois in […]

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