What is the word viniyoga as used in recent years within this country?
The term viniyoga had come to be associated with TKV Desikachar’s methods of teaching, adapted from his twenty-seven year long study with his father and teacher T Krishnamacharya in order to make the essence and depth of the tradition available to Westerners.
Desikachar had described it thus:
“Like everything, Yoga must be presented intelligently. It should be spoken of carefully and offered with due regard for the aspirations, needs and cultural background of the individual. This must be achieved in stages. The appropriate application of Yoga – involving physical exercises, deep breathing, relaxation, meditation, lifestyle, food, studies and so forth – is, for me, what is represented by the word viniyoga.”
However from April 2003 Desikachar disassociated himself and his teacher’s teaching from the name Viniyoga because of the current embracing of the word around the world as a style or brand name which he felt had replaced the word Yoga – and to brand T Krishnamacharya’s teachings as a particular “style” is unfair, unhelpful and confusing. Desikachar is concerned to make it clear that he and his students are Yoga teachers, rather than Viniyoga teachers.
It was the replacing of the word Yoga by Viniyoga and his concern about the distortion and confusion where this had become the case within the wider field of Yoga that led to this re-appraisal of its choice, use and value and the consequent request by Desikachar.
In a letter to his own students in April 2003 he asked them, in the spirit of guru daksina, to choose either not to use the word Viniyoga to represent his and his teacher’s teaching or to remove his and his teachers name from their communications.
This view was expressed through a seminar in Omega, New York in May 2002 around the theme “The Ocean of Yoga – From the Parts to the Whole” as:
“The current world of yoga seems to be made up of many small parts, each one competing with and often confusing the other. This is not consistent with the spirit of yoga, whose very meaning is “to unite”. T Krishnamacharya, a yogi par-excellence, immersed in the ocean of ancient Indian wisdom, understood the wealth of teachings that yoga had to offer and showed how each practitioner can choose the right means for his or her own development.”
It is this feeling that offers an important message that Yoga means to unite.
Click on the link to download an interview with Desikachar conducted during this seminar and published in Yoga and Health magazine in the UK in July 2003.