D is for Desikachar

T.K.V. Desikachar, born 1938, died 2016 at age 78.  He is the son of Krishnamacharya and carried forward his father’s yoga tradition, although naturally in his own way.

Desikachar’s book The Heart of Yoga explains his philosophy.  The subtitle of the book is “Developing a Personal Practice,” which says it all.  Desikachar notes "My father's teaching first and foremost was based on the truth that each student must be taught according to his or her individual capacity at any given time.”

Heart of Yoga covers yoga principles, asanas, and pranayama.  Breathing properly is essential for effective asana practice.  Desikachar says “Yoga is as much a practice involving breath as it is involving the body.”  He also covers specific breathing exercises as a discipline beyond asana practice.  Bandhas are covered in a limited way.   Bandhas “lock” areas of the torso to remove obstacles to energy flow.   They are an advanced component of hatha yoga that definitely require a teacher in order to avoid injury.

Desikachar discusses individuals’ practice design, asana selection, and performance.  Four examples of practice sequences are provided.  He recommends adding variations, both for the body (“physical capabilities”) and for the mind “attentiveness”).  Some asana variations are illustrated. 

Healing to Desikachar is an integral element of individualized yoga.  There is more on therapeutic yoga, as approached by him and Krishnamacharya, in another book of his: Health, Healing, and Beyond.  The discussions in this book focus largely on concepts, not specific healing techniques.

The Heart of Yoga is a wide-ranging book covering fundamental yoga philosophy as well as particulars for asana performance.  It even includes the Yoga Sutras (see Patanjali page) with a brief commentary.

In 1976 Desikachar founded Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram ( to support and continue his father’s teachings.  The organization now is basically being carried on by others, who inevitably put their own spin on things, but the central message remains clear.

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