Principles Underlying Viniyoga
The principle behind viniyoga can best be summed up in the following quotation:
“The spirit of viniyoga is starting from where one finds oneself. As everybody is different and changes from time to time, there can be no common starting point, and ready-made answers are useless. The present situation must be examined and the habitually established status must be re-examined.” – TKV Desikachar.
What also differentiates viniyoga is the recognition that yoga is not merely a series of physical postures, but rather that breathing, sound, meditation, and personal attitude are just as important.
In the words of Desichakar:
- For Yoga Teachers it is important to understand the movement of the mind as well as the body.
- The quality of our breath expresses our inner feelings.
- The breath makes it possible to find ways to achieve access to the posture, it is possible to adapt a posture through the breath.
- It is possible to be aware of the state of the mind by observing the body during an Āsana practice.
- It doesn’t matter how beautifully we do a posture or how flexible our bodies are, if we do not have the unification of the body, the breath, and the mind, it is difficult to say that our practice falls within the definition of Yoga.
Treating the Condition that Bothers the Mind
Since the ancient yoga texts teach that illness and the mind are inextricably interrelated, according to Desikachar the most important element of yoga is the understanding that any physical ailment or condition can be helped if one acts on the mind. Yoga gives strength to the mind, which in turn allows one to face illness and feel healthier. In other words, “We must treat first the condition that bothers the mind.”
Treating the right person at the correct time is called Satviniyoga, where the goal of yoga is to serve the individual, inviting transformation rather than disseminating information. In this way, Viniyoga Yoga is a window into learning something about ourselves on any given day.
In Viniyoga, the state of the mind can be understood by observing the body during an Āsana practice, with varying postures available to suit different body types. Some of the postures are simple so that one can relax in one’s body and not be distracted by it. More advanced postures are corrective as well as challenging, allowing one to master his body and to attract younger students who are attracted to the performance aspect of yoga posturing.
In addition, the postures help the body get rid of toxins, allowing access to deeper parts of the mind in order to effect change.
In viniyoga, personal goals should be set, with planning preceding practice. During your Āsana practice, ask yourself the following questions:
- Where am I?
- What is my goal?
- How do I continue with my life?
Each posture should be visualized before execution, with steps performed in a mapped-out sequence leading to the ultimate goal of preparing oneself for life outside the yoga room.