On Monday I started a two week course called “Antaranga Sadhana” at Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. The reason I came to Chennai was to immerse myself in an environment to learn more about yoga and to learn from the Krishnamacharya tradition. TKV Desikachar’s book “Heart of Yoga” was one of my text books during my yoga teacher training in 2006 and he established this mandiram in honor of his father and guru, Krishnamacharya. Now in his 70s, TKV Desikachar is a legendary yoga teacher himself and one of his sons, Kausthub Desikachar also teaches at KYM. I had the privilege of learning from K. Desikachar during the “Heart of Yoga” course in the past four weeks and during that program I found out that TKV Desikachar will be leading a meditative practice as part of the “Antaranga Sadhana” course in March. When I heard that there was a chance to learn from TKV Desikachar, I didn’t hesitate to sign up to stay in Chennai for another two weeks.
My daily schedule looks like this:
7:00 – 8:00 Asana practice with S. Sridharan who was my pranayama teacher from the Heart of Yoga program and is also a vedic chanting teacher. He has a calming energy and a chanting voice that makes your spine straighten up and pay attention. The asana class for this program focuses on how the physical practice can and should lead one ready for meditation. We are given mantras to repeat and synch up to each movement, and we are led to turn inward and reflect. A wonderful way to start the day.
8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast. The menu hasn’t changed much from the Heart of Yoga program. The manager did switch the pongal out and replaced with rava dosas, since none of us liked the thick and heavy texture of the pongal… Everything’s still good and I really enjoy being on the roof of the building and taking this time to also speak with other students.
9:00 – 10:00 Meditation in the Sastra(s) is taught by a former executive director of KYM and a member of the board of directors at KYM now. He is a student of TKV Desikachar. I can sense a wonderfully patient man who is filled with infinite wisdom. He had a great way of relating the main topic to us and he will be teaching us the origins and practices of meditation from various texts, beliefs, and religions. Today he showed us how he was initiated for vedic chanting and how it is a form of meditation. He showed us the three strings he wears as a symbol of the three vedas and how one should sit properly to chant.
10:00 – 11:00 Principles of Meditation lecture is led by K. Desikachar. He will talk to us about why meditation is part of yoga, what is meditation, and how we should practice it. His presence for this course has been very different from the previous four weeks. He is still the same guy that draws from his travels around the world and brings the concepts of yoga in more modern terms, but I find his demeanor a lot more serious. I think I’m soaking his words better…
11:00 – 12:00 Meditative Practice (1 of 2) led by Geetha Shankar, the director of yoga studies at KYM. She has a different energy and a slightly different approach to leading our meditative practice than my teacher from the Heart of Yoga course. Today we focused on our mind and bringing positive influences and thoughts into it. It’s wonderful to end our morning session with our meditative practice.
Lunch break from noon to about 14:00
14:00 – 15:00 Structuring a Meditative Practice is taught by one of my favorite teachers, Nrithya. When I found out she was going to be teaching one of the classes for the Anataranga Sadhada course I got so excited that I almost squealed. She’s a lovely young woman who is so well read and so approachable. I’m thrilled to have more time with her.
15:00 – 15:45 Pranayama practice is led by a teacher I haven’t met yet. She’s a towering presence (she may be the tallest Indian woman I’ve ever met) and her intensity pours through her eyes.
16:00 – 17:00 Meditation in Yoga Cikitsa taught by Dr. Latha Satish. She’s the executive director of the mandiram and everyone’s boss. She is teaching us how meditation can be used for therapeutic purposes.
17:00 – 18:00 Meditative Practice (2 of 2) led by none other than TKV Desikachar. Even before he walks into the room there is a hush that spreads throughout. We are silent and all standing excitedly to wait and greet him. He is gentle, kind, patient, humble, and I can’t help but smile when I see him. For the past two days he led our meditative practice with the Gayatri mantra, for the sun. On Monday he chanted the entire Gayatri mantra for us. I listened with my eyes closed and in total awe. Yesterday we were able to watch him in his meditative process for a few minutes. I don’t know all the words and I certainly can’t understand all the mudras, but I am following his lead and loving every minute of it.
Even some of the teachers have commented that it’s rare to have so many great teachers gathered for one program. I know that meditation cannot be taught but I am so happy to be learning the basics from such an amazing group of teachers. I am all smiles!