Spoiler Alert: This is all highly speculative.
I'm reminded, updating this post, that Insight meditation practice was were I started, I actually went to the library to pick up some books on yoga ( they just happened to be Ashtanga) to help me in my sitting. Perhaps it is no surprise then that I took so naturally to Krishnamacharya's 'breathing practice.
This post may be a little confusing as I've added a lot of sections to the original post rather than rewrite the whole thing. Here's a summary of the argument/suggestion that I wrote for instagram.
"He (Krishnamacharya) mastered Hindu yoga in the Himalayas and Buddhist yoga in Burma, then part of India". T.K. Shribhashyam - Life Sketch of my father in Moksa- Marga 2011
Recently I've been bringing a somewhat more formal mindfulness of breath into my asana practice and the thought popped into my head that for a time I had wondered what influence Krishnamacharya's interest in Burma, visit to Burma and/or experience of Burmese Yoga may have had on his practice.
Were a 'Yoga Korunta' text to be found that clearly included a breath focus along the lines we are familiar with in Krishnamacharya's writing, it wouldn't necessarily negate the Burma influence argument. Of all the texts Krishnamacharya encountered in the libraries around India on his travels such a Yoga Korunta might have stood out for him precisely because it resonated with his interest in the breath, from his practice of Burmese yoga (meditation) and thus found it's way into his teaching.
Carried over from April 2015 my main blog Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama Yoga at Home
"Those who practice yoganga, with the power of vinyasa and pranayama, have the ability to significantly decrease this number (of breaths). While practicing yoga with reverence, one can offer their essence to God during exhalation and during inhalation, imagine/suppose that God is entering your heart. During kumbhaka, we can practice dharana and dhyana. Such practices will improve mental concentration and strengthen silence/stillness. Eliminates agitation and restlessness".
Krishnamacharya Yogasanagalu (1941)
- First up then the Question and answer from the interview with Sribashyam on Buddhism and Burma.
- Next a page outlining the focal points in Emergence of Yoga along with an outline of Krishnamacharya's own practice
- A couple of sections from Ajaan Lees book outlining the Meditation technique with a link to a free download for the full method.
- Finally the relevant passages on moving prana from vital point to vital point in pratyahara and pranayama practice found in Yoga Yajnavalkya.
Also example from the Book of Krishnamacharya's own practice to show how concentration of vital points might be employed.
"Sit in a half-lotus position, right leg on top of the left leg, your hands placed
palm-up on your lap, right hand on top of the left. Keep your body straight, and
your mind on the task before you. Raise your hands in respect, palm-to-palm in
front of the heart, and think of the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma, and
Sangha: Buddho me n›tho—The Buddha is my mainstay. Dhammo me n›tho —The
Dhamma is my mainstay. Saºgho me n›tho —The Sangha is my mainstay. Then
repeat in your mind, buddho, buddho; dhammo, dhammo; saºgho, saºgho. Return
your hands to your lap, and repeat one word, buddho, three times in your mind.
Then think of the in-and-out breath, counting the breaths in pairs. First think
bud- with the in-breath, dho with the out, ten times. Then begin again, thinking
buddho with the in-breath, buddho with the out, seven times. Then begin again: As
the breath goes in and out once, think buddho once, five times. Then begin again:
As the breath goes in and out once, think buddho three times. Do this for three inand-out
Now you can stop counting the breaths, and simply think bud- with the inbreath
and dho with the out. Let the breath be relaxed and natural. Keep your
mind perfectly still, focused on the breath as it comes in and out of the nostrils.
When the breath goes out, don’t send the mind out after it. When the breath
comes in, don’t let the mind follow it in. Let your awareness be broad and open.
Don’t force the mind too much. Relax. Pretend that you’re breathing out in the
wide-open air. Keep the mind still, like a post at the edge of the sea. When the
water rises, the post doesn’t rise with it; when the water ebbs, the post doesn’t
When you’ve reached this level of stillness, you can stop thinking buddho.
Simply be aware of the feeling of the breath.
Then slowly bring your attention inward, focusing it on the various aspects of
the breath—the important aspects that can give rise to intuitive powers of
various kinds: clairvoyance, clairaudience, the ability to know the minds of
others, the ability to remember previous lives, the ability to know where
different people and animals are reborn after death, and knowledge of the
various elements or potentials that are connected with, and can be of use to, the
body. These elements come from the bases of the breath. The First Base: Center
the mind on the tip of the nose, and then slowly move it to the middle of the
forehead, The Second Base. Keep your awareness broad. Let the mind rest for a
moment at the forehead, and then bring it back to the nose. Keep moving it back
and forth between the nose and the forehead—like a person climbing up and
down a mountain—seven times. Then let it settle at the forehead. Don’t let it go
back to the nose.
From here, let it move to The Third Base, the middle of the top of the head,
and let it settle there for a moment. Keep your awareness broad. Inhale the
breath at that spot, let it spread throughout the head for a moment, and then
return the mind to the middle of the forehead. Move the mind back and forth
between the forehead and the top of the head seven times, finally letting it rest
on the top of the head.
Then bring it into The Fourth Base, the middle of the brain. Let it be still for a
moment, and then bring it back out to the top of the head. Keep moving it back
and forth between these two spots, finally letting it settle in the middle of the
brain. Keep your awareness broad. Let the refined breath in the brain spread to
the lower parts of the body...."
from Method 2...
"As soon as you find that your breathing feels comfortable, let this comfortable
breath sensation spread to the different parts of the body. To begin with, inhale
the breath sensation at the base of the skull and let it flow all the way down the
"Then let the breath from the base of the skull spread down over both
shoulders, past your elbows and wrists, to the tips of your fingers and out into
"5. Become acquainted with the bases or focal points for the mind—the resting
spots of the breath—and center your awareness on whichever one seems most
comfortable. A few of these bases are:
a. the tip of the nose,
b. the middle of the head,
c. the palate,
d. the base of the throat,
e. the breastbone (the tip of the sternum),
f. the navel (or a point just above it).
If you suffer from frequent headaches or nervous problems, don’t focus on
any spot above the base of the throat. And don’t try to force the breath or put
yourself into a trance. Breathe freely and naturally. Let the mind be at ease with
the breath—but not to the point where it slips away".
from Yoga Yajnavalkya AG Mohan Translation
"The senses, by nature being drawn towards [their sensory] objects, their restraint by [conscious] effort is said to be pratyahara.
Whatever you see, look upon al of it as [being] in the self, and as the self. This is also called pratyahara by great souls who have realized [the essence of] yoga.
For all beings, the mental practice of the daily duties that are prescribed (by the Vedas), devoid of external actions, is also said to be pratyahara.
The following pratyahara is the greatest yogic practice and is praised and followed by yogis always. Having drawn the prana from one point to another, holding it in the eighteen vital points (marmasthanas) is spoken of as pratyahara. The Asvini Kumaras who are the best among the physicians of the celestials (devas) have spoken thus of the vital points in the body,
for the attainment of liberation through yoga".
7 bases of the mind
|T. krishnamacharya applying Tri-bandha from Paul Harvey Centre for Yoga Studies|