Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Questions on T Krishnamacharya – Answered by TKV Desikachar

I stumbled upon this old article yesterday, went looking for it again today to share it and of course found it on my friend Paul Harvey's excellent resource, Centre for Yoga Studies

Questions on T Krishnamacharya – Answered by TKV Desikachar

“Though familiar with some well known details of his early life, the students of the Mandiram were keen to know more about their teacher, T. Krishnamacharya. T.K.V. Desikachar answers a wide range of questions giving us details that were not known before. It covers his views on subjects as diverse as his early orthodoxy, Mahatma Gandhi, the qualities he respected, his diet and entertainment.”


answered by T.K.V. Desikachar

Though familiar with some well known details of his early life,
the students of the Mandiram were keen to know more about their
teacher, T. Krishnamacharya. T.K.V. Desikachar answers a wide range
of questions giving us details that were not known before. It covers his
views on subjects as diverse as his early orthodoxy, Mahatma Gandhi,
the qualities he respected, his diet and entertainment.

He was earlier very strict and followed Sastric
injunctions very faithfully. In his later days
he relaxed his orthodoxy and began to teach
vedic chanting to women. How did this transformation 
come about?

One of my father's earliest students was a
woman, my aunt. We even have her photograph
in the Yoga Makaranda. This was in 1934. My
aunt, my mother's sister, is still alive and living
in Bangalore. She would accompany him when
he went to the Mysore Maharaja's palace to
teach the royal family. In 1937, there was a
foreign lady who was the guest of the Maharaja.
Though sceptical, my father accepted her as a
student on the urging of the Maharaja, subject
to her following certain disciplines. She went on
to become a very famous yoga teacher and she
too is alive today. Her name is Indra Devi. In
addition, he used to visit Hyderabad to teach the
family members of the Nizam of Hyderabad who
were muslims.

It may seem silly to mention these instances
but in the context of those times it was quite
unorthodox to teach yoga to women leave alone
foreign women. This was all the more so because
my father was otherwise a very orthodox man
who lived his life strictly in accordance with the
sastra-s and was widely respected for his mastery
of the scriptures.

However he was very firm in his belief that vedic
chanting was to be taught only to men and that
too, to those belonging to the first three castes.
He also held the orthodox beliefs regarding the
marriage of women before puberty and the
ineligibility of widows for remarriage. He was
in fact called upon by the orthodoxy to defend
the sastra-s against the progressive reformers
of those days, people like the Arya Samaj and
Dayananda Saraswati.

So though he would teach yoga to all who sought
to learn, he was very firm in his orthodox beliefs
in other areas.

It was in the 60's that he began to change. He
saw that the cumulative wisdom of the ancients
which had been handed down from generation to
generation through the traditional practices was
in danger of extinction. The persons who were
traditionally the torch bearers of this tradition
were abandoning it in favour of modern occupations.
It was then that he decided that, in order
to help preserve the teachings, he would teach
anyone who came to learn, provided they were
sincere and they followed certain preliminary disciplines.

We have heard that he played the Veena very
well. From whom did he learn to play the instrument?

He was once challenged to learn and play the
veena. He accepted the challenge and went to
a veena teacher, Veena Seshan of Mysore. In
a short while he learnt to play the veena and even
gave a public performance.

The Sastra-s say, 'brahmano veena gatinah'.
A brahmarna, learned man, must be able to play
the veena. When chanting the Veda-s there are
certain mantra-s that need to be played on the
veena. Similarly, during the simantam of the
expecting mother there are mantra-s to be played
on the veena. These vibrations arc good tor the

What did he think of Mahatma Gandhi's role

i) acquiring independence for India

ii) uplifting the harijan-s and working for
their temple entry.

Though we have no official record of the event,
my father has mentioned that he once met
Mahatma Gandhi in Bangalore, in the pre independence

My father was the official teacher of the Maharaja of
Mysore and enjoyed his patronage. The
Maharaja was a part of the British system and so
my father was, in a way, against independence
and Gandhiji's efforts. He felt that India, which
had always been ruled by kings, was not ready
for this modem concept of self rule and democracy.
Power in the hands of people unprepared
for it would be disastrous, was his opinion.

In relation to the other question regarding
Gandhiji's work with harijan-s, we must
remermber that my father was a Sri Vaisnava.
Sri Vaisnavites are the followers of Ramanuja
and Vedanta Desika who both were very liberal
persons. The original teachers of their tradition
were not brahmin-s, Nothing is known about the
origins of Namalvar and the alvar-s were from
all four castes. Being of this tradition my father
had the official sanction of the Parakala Math,
to initiate people into the mula mantra whereby
they accept Narayana as their Lord. He has
travelled widely teaching this mantra to people
of all castes. So the question of emancipation of
the harijan-s and working for their temple entry
was not new to my father or his tradition.

What was his association with the Parakala

The Parakrila Math is an old math started by
Vedanta Desika in the l2th century. The Parakala
Sami, the acarya of the Parakala Math holds
a position similar to that of the Sankaracarya. He
was the official guru to the Maharaja of Mysore
during the five hundreds years of their reign. My
father's great grandfather was a Parakala Swami,
Srinivasa Brahmantara Parakla Swami. He had
all his early education at the Parakela Math and
later when scholars would come to challenge the
Math it was my father who would represent the
Math in the debates. These debates would be on
a wide range of subjects, not just yoga. On the
(100th birthday of the Parakala Swami it was my
father who was responsible for the conducting
of the entire function. He was invited to become
the Parakala swami three times but he turned it
down on each occasion because his guru had told
him to lead a family life.

What did he think of the caste system as it
exists today?

My father always used to say 'I want to meet
a brahmin. A brahmin who fulfils the six
conditions of the definition;

adhyayanam - one who regularly does vedic

adhyapanam - one who regularly teaches vedic

yajanam - one who regularly performs yagna,

yajanam - one who regularly helps others perform yagna

danam - one who earns properly and gives away
what he haas earned.

parigraham - one who receives only what is appropriate.

Further, the Bhagavad Gita 18.42 describes
a brahmin as one possessing the qualities of
serenity, self restraint, austerity, purity, forgiveness,
uprightness, knowledge and realisation.

He used to say that we are all not brahmin-s but
brahmabandhu-s. Brohmabandhu is a term used
in the Chandogya Upanisad to describe a person
who has not undergone the proper study and does
not follow all the proper practices. He can only
say 'my ancestors were brahmin-s'.

Among his contemporaries, who were the
people whom he held in high esteem as men
of learning and character?

He had the greatest respect for his teachers. He
had many great persons as his teachers for Nyaya,
Sankhya, Yoga, Vedanta, Mimamsa, Veda-s. He
also had great respect for some of the ghanapati-s
who were well versed in the recitation of the

He was a very learned man but for him the
essence of being learned was to practise these
principles in one's life. This he found was very
rare, even in those days.
He had a lot of respect for the Paramacarya of
the Kanchi Kamakoti pitham.

He also had a lot of regard for the Sankaracarya
of the Sringeri Math, H.H. Chandrasekarabharati.
This was the Sankaracarya two generations prior
to the current Sankaracharya of Srinigeri. He was
a yogi and considered eccentric by many people
but to my father he was a great man.

Being a native of Mysore, how is it that he
chose Madras as his place of residence?

Right through his stay in Mysore, other than
through the Maharaja, he did not find many
persons interested in learning what he had to teach.
Only a few showed appreciation for the knowledge
that he possessed. We moved to Madras
in 1952 and whenever I asked him to consider
moving back to our native place he would say
that Madras, now Tamil Nadu, was the only
place where culture and knowledge were still
respected. It was on the pleading of the people
of Madras that he came to stay here. The leading
citizens of Madras were eager that he spread the
knowledge that he possessed among their people
and offered him the facilities to do so.

What did he admire in the British and the
West which he felt India could emulate and
learn from?

My father was not a political person. He
was a part of the 'other India' which has
through the ages been transmitting its teachings
from generation to generation unaffected by the
existing political situation, This he felt was
India's greatest treasure, Whatever may be the
economic plunder by the various invaders and
occupiers as long as this chain was continued he
felt that all else was of little consequence.
The fact that the British did not interfere in or
meddle with the religious life of India was for
him their greatest virtue. After independence,
this was not the case. He believed that the
decay in the various institutions was due to the
interference by politicians in religious life.

What did he feel about the rebellion of youth
against being bound by tradition anB the word
and authority of their fathers? Did he rebel in
his youth?

A young person rebels when he is dissatisfied
with the explanation given to him for an action
required of him. And when he is given no explanation
at all but ordered, the tendency to rebel
is greater. My father would answer any question,
however unconventional or unorthodox it
may have been. He never considered the asking
of questions, a sign of disrespect or impertinence
but rather, an essential aspect of the process of

In his youth he was independent and unafraid of
challenging even the most well-established orthodoxy.
During his stay in Benares he was well
known for the fiery debates he would have with
the great scholars of that city. He never accepted
a point of view with which he was at variance
unless it was validated to him in the light of the
Sastra-s. His enormous knowledge of the sastra-s
and his interpretations of them earned him high
respect from the pundits of that city.

Could you describe some aspects of his personality 
and the qualities in a person that would
please him?

Straightforwardness. He could not stand
hypocrisy. You could tell him something unpleasant
straight to his face and he would accept
it and still accept you but he would see through
insincerity easily. Till the end, he was extremely
alert to all that a person was saying and would
make gentle fun of any inconsistencies in ideas.
He had a very good and subtle sense of humour
and was a great favourite with children.

Has he even been to the movies? What were
his other recreations?

One of the first movies I saw was one which he
took the whole family to see. I think the name
was Bhadracala Ramdas, a Telugu movie.
He didn't have much free time but, enjoyed
gardening and conversation with the family,
where he caught up on the daily activities and
news of all members. Whenever he had collected
some money and had some free time he would
go on a pilgrimage taking both the family and
his students with him. Tirupati was a favourite
pilgrimage site.

What were his favourite foods?
You might be surprised to know that he relished
good food. He was from Andhra and so, relished
food that was hot and spicy. He was very fond
of sweets and would eat them in great quantities.
With all this he would always have ghee.
Ghee formed a very important part of his diet
and whatever the food, it would be accompanied
with large quantities of ghee. Of course, he
was also doing asana-s for three to four hours
daily in addition to his pranayama His practice was
extremely rigorous  and that may account for
his being able to handle these large quantities of
spicy and sweet foods.

There was one golden rule, that food should always
be fresh and eaten right after being cooked.
The food of the morning was never eaten in
the evening. He was a very good cook himself
and could make difficult preparations quite artistically.
The Maharaja of Mysore would eat the
same food that my father ate. My mother would
cook for both in the manner my father required,
using herbs and special ingredients.

What was the state of the  Sanskrit language
in his early days? What did he think of its

In his days Sanskrit was still reasonably widely
spoken among the scholars. At the Parakala
Math, during the debates there would be forty
or fifty scholars present and they would all be
fluent in Sanskrit.

With the coming of Independence, my father felt
that there would be a shift to Western life styles.
Simultaneous with this, there would be a resurgence
of the regional languages and Sanskrit
would die a natural death. This came to pass in
his own lifetime and he accepted this as a natural
consequence of the changing trends. He must
have been deeply pained at this but never showed
or gave expression to it. Sanskrit, he would say,
was a 'sampurnabhasa' (complete language).
He was overjoyed when he came upon anyone
who could speak to him in Sanskrit, however

What did he think of yoga as a means to
awaken the kundalini?

The main goal in yoga is vairagya, being detached
and, brahmacarya, seeing truth. The
practices that do not help in these goals are
vamacara, practices worth condemning. He
called kundalini yoga, vamacara. He has studied
all the sastra-s and yoga texts and even written
his own articles on kundalini but never referred
to anything called kundalini yoga. The pursuit of
powers is contrary to the goal of vairagya and
therefore not classifiable as yoga.

Similarly, tantra yoga, where sex is used as an
aid to yoga is contrary to the goal of brah'macarya,
This too, he did not consider yoga and
called vamacarya,

What were the most important pilgrimage
centres in India, according to him?

In India, pilgrimages are undertaken to places
mentioned in our mythology, as having been
made holy by Cods. They are also undertaken
to places associated with holy men. A pilgrim
embarks on a pilgrimage with a feeling of
devotion. In India there are thousands of such
pilgrimage sites and each person will have a
few places to which he is attracted and drawn
towards. In the case of my father, the important
pilgrimage sites for him were:

Tirupati, Srirangam, Badrinath, Kanchipuram,
Koppal, Alwar Tirunagari, Benares, Mukti
Narayana Ksetram, Gaya and Melkote.

Whenever he could, he would undertake
pilgrimages to these Places.

In addition, there are rivers mentioned in the
Sastra-s in which one must bathe in the course
of one's lifetime. Here too, it is the association
with the Gods that makes these rivers holy and
especially so at a particular place where the river
is associated with the God.

These rivers are Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari,
Triveni, Naramada, Sindhu, Kaveri and Pushkar

He had also undertaken pilgrimages to these sites
and bathed in these rivers.


Sunday, 28 October 2018

Review: Mysore Yoga Traditions Documentary. Also related Retreat and Conference

Reposting from this time last year

UPDATE Oct 9th 2018

Looking forward to attending this...

Mysore Yoga Traditions Retreat and Conference

February 8-22  2019

I like the thought of broadening our perspective of Ashtanga vinyasa out from one scene, one teacher, one family to that of Mysore itself, to the practice, practitioners and teachers the city has inspired, to the philosophical traditions from which it derives. This is, for me, personally at least, perhaps a way back to a practice I loved for so long after the upheaval of the last year.

It's no coincidence that Ashtanga vinyasa arose in that city and at that time, we can look to the Royal family and their patronage of Krishnamacharya, we can look to the Sanskrit college where Krishnamacharya and later Pattabhi Jois, taught. Ashtangi's know their practice is a Mysore practice but If you practice Iyengar yoga be reminded that Iyengar learned his yoga here, Iyengar yoga is as much Mysore as Pune. The Vinyasa Krama of Ramaswami, Mohan, Desikachar? We can see in Krishnamacharya's inversion vinyasas, in the 1938 Mysore documentary footage, the same vinyasas that these students of Krishnamacharya would later teach (we also see Krishnamachrya practicing Acroyoga with his kids in the same documentary).


"And by the time I got to 16, I was able to do some 300 asanas with all the variations of course, because Sri krishnamacharya believed in a kind of innovating. There was nothing like a set, fixed kind of postures. So he would not insist that everyone has to follow the same regime, the same series of asana. One thing is , he was very particular about surya namaskara, you start your yoga with surya namaskara, after that the world is free. You are free to sort of innovate on postures. But Surya namaskara is an important thing. IT's kind of an introduction to the entire thing." 
T.R.S. SHARMA Mysore Yoga Tradition 2017

This quote by T.R.S. SHARMA in the excellent new documentary Mysore Yoga Traditions, released last month, was a bit of a game changer for me. Up until now I had tended to think that Krishnamacharya was perhaps somewhat dismissive of the practice of Surya namaskara, perhaps considering them little more than a fitness fad of the time (see my earlier post ). And that it was Krishnamacharya's young student Pattabhi Jois (said to have been asked to teach a three or four year course at the Sanskrit college) who added the Surya namaskara's to the beginning of the practice of the asana we find in Krishnamacharya's table of asana (Yogasanagalu (Mysore 1941). That Surya namaskara practice, along with practicing Krishnamacharya's table as fixed series rather than flexible groups that constituted Pattabhi Jois' main contribution to the formation of Ashtanga Vinyasa. I was mistaken, T.R.S. SHARMA is clear, Surya namaskara WAS important for Krishnamacharya. After their inclusion we are free to choose our practice, as well as to innovate, what is appropriate for us that morning.  This of course ties in with how Krishnamacharya continued to teach throughout his life, how Ramaswami , who encountered Krishnamacharya soon after the later left Mysore, presents his studies with his teacher.

Note: As much as I love and respect Manju, I strongly disagree with him here when he argues in the movie that it was his father Pattabhi Jois who researched and constructed the sequences of asana that make up Ashtanga Vinyasa. We have Krishnamacharya's table of asana in his Yogasanagalu (Mysore 1941), the first two series of Ashtanga closely follow the layout of asana in the table, with only minor reordering. The difference, as T.R.S. Sharma points out, is that for Krishnamacharya the practice of the asana was flexible, for Pattabhi Jois more fixed (See this recent post 

Manju stresses that there were originally only three series, Primary, Intermediate and Advanced, I would argue that it is with the advanced asana that Pattabhi Jois had the most input, arranging Krishnamacharya's jumble of proficient group asana into first one series 'Advanced', then two, 'Advanced A and B' and then finally four advanced series 3rd to 6th series (note: We can see most of the Advanced asana found in Ashtanga's 3rd to 6th series demonstrated by Iyengar in the 1938 documentary footage of Krishnamacharya, his family and students).

Of course Pattabhi Jois also mentioned that advanced asana were merely for demonstration, just as Krishnamacharya had suggested they were unnecessary for most but that some should practice them if only for the sake of preservation.

Ashtanga Vinyasa, it's origin and continuation is but one part of the story the documentary Mysore Yoga Traditions has to tell, I strongly recommend watching it, it is no coincidence that Ashtanga vinyasa evolved in Mysore, this is a city that has a long tradition of of investigating, preserving and teaching the history of yoga and it's texts through, among others, the venerable institution of the Sanskrit college and Mysore library.

Below. the trailer for the movie along with some info from the website and some more clips, the 

Mysore Yoga Traditions Official Trailer 

"Mysore Yoga Traditions! It is a tale to tell. Our original intention was to make a film about the life and teachings of our teacher Sri BNS Iyengar in honor of his 90th birthday. I had been asking for 3 years. But at the last moment, he changed his mind and flatly refused. An important part of his teachings has always been about rejecting fame and fortune, self-promotion and the egotism that goes with it. We knew better than to press the issue. But we went to Mysore anyway to see Guruji and see what would happen with the documentary idea. What happened totally blew our minds! Through luck, chance, good fortune and the tireless efforts of Kanchan Mala we were able to interview Her Royal Highness Sri Satya Pramoda Devi, the Queen of Mysore, as well as Bhashyam Iyengar, the principal of the Maharaja's Sanskrit College in Mysore (the college where Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois taught) several of the professors there including MA Alwar, Gangadhar Bhat, Satya Nariana, Jayashree and Narasimhan of the Ananta Research Institute,TRS Sharma, Yamini Muthana, Sri Laxmi Thathachar the President of the Samskrti Institute, and many others. Guruji finally agreed to an interview in the end - he just didn't want to make a documentary only about himself. Becuase of this our documentary broadened exponentially and we owe it all to him! That level of detachment is why we call him Guruji.

What we came up with was a deep look into the yoga tradition in Mysore, how it has evolved and the philosophy that it rests upon. Our documentary will be an unbiased collection of statements from the intellectual community in Mysore about how they see their own yoga tradition. We were able to ask the questions that have always been in the back of our minds such as....How old is the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga we are practicing in the west today and how did it evolve into it's current state? How do they feel about the idea that western exercise systems have influenced it? And how do they feel about the way yoga is being taught and practiced around the world today, among many other topics.

We left Mysore with our hearts full and tears in our eyes at the warmth, generosity, astounding level of knowledge, and deep sincerity of the great men and women we interviewed. We are extremely grateful to all of them! These interviews could never have happened without the help of Kanchan Mala who worked tirelessly to arrange them and convinced people who normally would never be interested in such things to give us interviews.

Also, I have to express my deep gratitude to Dallos Paz, our video man, Joey Paz who did nearly all of the long tedious job of transcribing these interviews, Kelly O'Roke who has been extremely generous and took so many amazing still shots, and Bryce Delbridge who supported all of us with utmost sincerity. Without these beautiful souls, this documentary could never have taken place".


Pattabhi Jois: Asthanga finds its Way to the West

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois was certainly the person who communicated Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga to the west. Without even speaking English fluently, he managed to create huge enthusiasm and dedication in his students. In my eyes, he was a creative genius. He systematized the asanas in a way that made sense and that many people could practice and memorize. To this day, his sequencing and approach is very influential in many forms of yoga throughout the world. His method of teaching turned out some of the finest western practitioners ever, and really ignited a fire in many people. And true to his culture, the way all good Indian teachers do, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois handed all the credit back to his teacher and the tradition that he came from. He never said a word about any of his own contributions.
I think that is where the confusion comes in. He insisted that yoga is ancient, that he was teaching a good method, and that his students should stick to it. What’s wrong with that? There is a lot of humbleness and dedication expressed there. To me, it is endearing! Especially in the yoga scene of today where everyone is trying so hard to think of any possible new twist to put on yoga. The moment anyone thinks of a good idea to add to yoga, they will usually try to brand it, copyright it, and take it to the bank! We have every kind of yoga imaginable now. We are so attached to the material aspects of the practice that we miss the point of the whole thing. We bicker and quarrel about asana sequences that are very modern in light of yoga’s long history, and fail to see the deep, beautiful community and culture that gave them to us.

 As David Williams used to say “Before practice the theory is useless, and after practice the theory is obvious.” Theory and practice: “Before practice the theory is useless, and after practice the theory is obvious.”

'Never changed anything' (said to be Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois's reply when asked about the 'system they taught): Why does every teacher insist on having been giving precisely this sequence from his teacher, who received it from his teacher (and from his teacher and from his teacher…)?

Not every teacher does. My teacher, Sri BNS Iyengar, who just turned 90, teaches a slightly different sequence of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. He can be very innovative when working with advanced students. In fact, no two teachers teach every nuance of yoga exactly the same. No matter how hard we try, it is impossible. I think there is a good reason for fixed sequences. Having an underlying system in common is a brilliant thing and has had a very positive impact on yoga, in my view. The fixed sequences are like the scales a classically trained musician must learn. Anyone trained in the Ashtanga sequences of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois or Sri BNS Iyengar has a particular grace and competency gained through repetition of movement that is very noticeable. I think Sri K. Pattabhi Jois may have made a bigger contribution than anyone else in this regard. When the sequences are fixed, the practice becomes much more concentrated and the standard goes up exponentially.

So in my view, the asanas we are practicing do come from a long tradition. And the yoga community  they come from is very old indeed. They just happen to be a little more recently formatted than we would have liked to think. Yoga has been around forever and taken many forms.


Here are some screenshots of the scene with T.R.S. SHARMA quoted above.

A short introduction to TRS Sharma from a recent workshop

"Ashtanga Yoga Studio is very honored to host a Skype lecture with TRS Sharma! This is an amazing opportunity to hear the thoughts and views of someone who studied extensively with T. Krishnamacharya during his early days in Mysore. TRS Sharma began to practice yoga with Krishnamacharya at the age of 12. Krishnamacharya is considered by many to be the father of modern yoga. Mr. Sharma grew up in the heart of the yoga tradition in Mysore. He comes from a long line of Sanskrit scholars and priests. Experts are now saying that at least half of the yoga postures practiced outside of India have been directly influenced by Krishnamacharya. Because he was educated in America, Mr. Sharma has a unique insight a very articulate view of how yoga has unfolded into Western culture. Mr. Sharma is particularly interested in the way Indian and Western culture have blended together, and the parallels as well as the stark differences in our views. He will be speaking about the history of the yoga we are practicing today, as well as the cultural and philosophical background that it has come from. There will be time for questions and answers at the end.
Have you have ever been curious about the origins yoga we are practicing today? Just who are the keepers of this knowledge? What do they think about the way we practice yoga today? Mysore holds those secrets. This is a rare and special opportunity!
Everyone is welcome!"


More photos from the Life magazine photo shoot, see this post for the full series of photos of Krishnamacharya's students.

I like the thought of broadening our perspective of Ashtanga from one scene, one teacher, one family to that of Mysore itself. It's no coincidence that Ashtanga vinyasa arose in that city and at that time, we can look to the Royal family and their patronage of Krishnamacharya, we can look to the Sanskrit college where Krishnamacharya and later Pattabhi Jois, taught. We can also make ourselves more aware of the great work being done in Mysore to preserve ancient texts and palm leaf manuscripts. If the fabled Yoga Korunta ever existed, these may well be the people to discover, digitise, translate and preserve....., as well as other equally fabulous works.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

How Krishnamacharya may have taught asana to Pattabhi Jois in the 1920s-30s inc leg behind head instruction and benefits in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (1934)

Back in the 1920s-30s in Mysore when Pattabhi Jois was a Student of Krishnamacharya, it seems unlikely that he learned asana in fixed sequences (Pattabhi Jois seems to have turned Krishnamacharya's asana groups into sequences for a college course, mostly following the order in which Krishnamacharya listed them). More likely it seems is   that he would have been given ever more challenging variations, so starting from asana in the primary group he would have been given more challenging intermediate variations from Krishnamacharya's middle group and finally those from the proficient group. Srivatsa Ramaswami, Krishnamacharya's later student of thirty  plus years was also taught this way and continues to present this approach in his Vinyasa Krama

"Srivatsa Ramaswami's Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga is based on the idea of one asana leading to another, the impossible or improbably (asana) becoming perhaps possible over time.

Link: My blog Vinyasa Krama subroutines and sequences

Ramaswami has a slightly different presentation in his book but this is  from my from my most recent blog post...

"Once you could do Maha Mudra and Janu Sirsasana  say, you might work towards putting the leg behind the head ( eka pada sirsasana) via arkana dandasana (archer pose)
When that became possible you might explore some more proficient variations, you might fold forward and/or lay back (Kasyapasana), work on an arm balance (chakorasana) or side arm balance (Bhairvasana), stand up (durvasana), fold forward (skandasana) and lower into a one leg squat all with the leg still behind the head. Or, from Janu Sirsasana again you might take the leg deeper and try putting your arm over your leg and binding, (Buddhasana ), fold forward (Kapilasana) or explore something similar in marichiasana variations G and H. Viranchasana A is another asymmetric variation, this time with half lotus, an arm balance (viranchyasana B) is also possible, other balances with the leg behind the head are Onkrasana and Parsva Dandasana. BKS Iyengar demonstrates yet another variation in the 1938 film footage, one leg behind the head while in sirsasana".

Leg behind head postures
Krishnamacharya seems to have added on variations of asana rather than present fixed sequences. Once you could do Maha Mudra and Janu Sirsasana say, you might work towards putting the leg behind the head ( eka pada sirsasana) via arkana dandasana (archer pose). When that became possible you might explore some more proficient variations, you might fold forward and/or lay back (Kasyapasana), work on an arm balance (chakorasana) or side arm balance (Bhairvasana), stand up (durvasana), fold forward (skandasana) and lower into a one leg squat all with the leg still behind the head. Or, from Janu Sirsasana again you might take the leg deeper and try putting your arm over your leg and binding, (Buddhasana ), fold forward (Kapilasana) or explore something similar in marichiasana variations G and H. Viranchasana A is another asymmetric variation, this time with half lotus, an arm balance (viranchyasana B) is also possible, other balances with the leg behind the head are Onkrasana and Parsva Dandasana. Iyengar demonstrates yet another variation in the 1938 film footage, one leg behind the head while in sirsasana.

"(These asana were fun to explore over a period of three to four year) ...but at some point it may feel time to put the toys away and look for something more. Some manage to do both of course, play/explore/research the more intricate and physically demanding asana ( and Krishnamacharya hoped a few would) and still go deeper into the practice. Personally I just wanted to breathe more slowly, which meant less asana and less asana and at my age meant less of the intermediate and advanced asana".

"A more subtle approach can be taken towards our Primary asana, a longer stay in an asana like Baddha konasana, long slow inhalations and exhalations, perhaps while exploring kumbhaka strikes me currently as just  as much about 'advanced practice' as some of the  Advanced A and B series leg behind head asana we see here"

Quotes above from my recent post...


 Leg behind head postures instruction and their benefits in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda 1934

27 Ekapada Sirsasana (Figure 4.71, 4.72)
This has two forms: dakshina ekapada sirsasana and vama ekapada sirsasana. Both these forms together have 18 vinyasas. The first picture depicts dakshina ekapada sirsasana and the second picture vama ekapada sirsasana. The 7th and 12th vinyasas are the asana sthitis of these different forms. For this asana, you need to do sama svasauchvasam (same ratio breathing). In the 7th vinyasa, the left leg, and in the 12th vinyasa the right leg, should be extended and kept straight from the thigh to the heel. No part should be bent.
Keep the hands as shown in the picture. In this sthiti one needs to do equal ra- tio breathing. When the hands are joined together in ekapada sirsasana paristhiti, one must do puraka kumbhaka. One must never do recaka.
While doing the 7th and the 12th vinyasas, the head must be raised and the gaze must be fixed at the midbrow.
In the 7th vinyasa, the right leg, and in the 12th vinyasa, the left leg, must be placed on top of the back of the neck. Study the picture carefully. The other vinyasas are like those for ardhabaddhapadma pascimottanasana.

Benefit: This will arrest bleeding due to piles and give strength to the body. It removes vayu disturbances in the neck region and gives the neck extraordinary strength to carry excess weight. It is extremely helpful for the awakening of kundalini. Pregnant women should not do this posture.y helpful for the awakening of kundalini. Pregnant women should not do this posture.

28 Dvipada Sirsasana (Figure 4.73)
This has 14 vinyasas. It is the same as for pascimottanasana up to the 6th vinyasa. While practising the 7th vinyasa, place both legs on top of the shoulders, and do uthpluthi as in the 7th vinyasa for bhujapidasana. Then lean the rear of the body forward and sit down.
After this, do recaka and slowly and carefully place the left foot on top of the right foot on top of the back of the neck. That is, the right heel should be by the left ear and the left heel should be by the right ear. While remaining in this state, do puraka kumbhaka and raise the head. Bring the hands next to the muladhara cakra and join them together in prayer. From the 8th vinyasa until the 14th vinyasa practise just as for bhujapidasana.

Benefit: It will remove diseases of the spleen, of the liver, and of the stomach. It will clean the muladhara cakra. It will greatly help with uddiyana bandha. Practise it after first studying the picture very carefully. Women who are pregnant should not do this posture. Those who are prone to miscarriage must practise this asana regularly for some time and then discontinue it before they conceive. If they stop practising this asana during pregnancy, it will enable a strong healthy birth and will help the uterus wall expand and be healthy. People who do not wish for progeny must always practise this asana. If they do, then they will not have any children. 

29 Yoga Nidrasana (Figure 4.74)
This has 12 vinyasas. The 7th vinyasa is yoga nidrasana sthiti. The first 6 vinyasas for kurmasana are the first 6 vinyasas for this. In the 7th vinyasa, sit like you did in dvipada sirsasana and instead of keeping the two legs on the back of the neck, first lie back facing upwards. Then lift the legs up and place them on the back of the neck.
In dvipada sirsasana, we joined the hands together in prayer and placed them next to the muladhara cakra. In this asana, following the krama, take the shoul- ders (that is, the arms) on both the left and right sides over the top of the two thighs, and hold the right wrist tightly with the fingers of the left hand beneath the spine. Study the picture.
In the 7th vinyasa, after doing only recaka, arrive at the asana sthiti. Then, one should do puraka kumbhaka and lie down. The 8th vinyasa is caturanga dandasana. The last four vinyasas for this asana are exactly the last four vinyasas for pascimottanasana.

Benefit: Tuberculosis, bloating of the stomach, dropsy and edema (swelling of tissue due to accumulation of water) — such serious diseases will be cured. It will cause the vayu to be held at the svadhishthana cakra and the brahmara guha cakra and as a result will cause long life. It will help to rapidly bring the apana vayu under one’s control. It is not for women who are pregnant. 

30 Buddhasana (Figure 4.75, 4.76)
This has 20 vinyasas. The 8th and the 14th vinyasas are the right and left side asana sthitis.
The first picture demonstrates the right-side buddhasana and the second pic- ture demonstrates the left-side buddhasana.
The 7th vinyasa of the right-side buddhasana is the 13th vinyasa of the left-side buddhasana. These are like the 7th and the 12th vinyasas of ekapada sirsasana.
While doing the 8th vinyasa, it is just like the 7th vinyasa for ekapada sir- sasana. Study the picture carefully.
The 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th vinyasas for this are just like the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th vinyasas for ekapada sirsasana. The 14th vinyasa is the left-side buddhasana sthiti. In this sthiti, take the left leg over the top part of the left shoulder and place it on top of the back of the neck. Then hold the wrist of the right hand with the left hand. A different form of buddhasana sthiti is depicted in the second picture and here the hands are clasped together behind the back. The practitioners need not be surprised by this. Some think that since Buddha advocated siddhasana as superior to any other asana, hence siddhasana and buddhasana are to be practised in a similar manner. This is contrary to all the yoga texts and their descriptions of the connections among the nadi granthis in the body. Hence, the practitioner must understand that the siddhasana krama and buddhasana krama are different and must be practised accordingly.

Benefit: It will cure hunchback and will create proper blood circulation in all the nadis. It will clean the svadhishthana, anahata, visuddhi and brahmara guha cakras and gives complete assistance for kevala kumbhaka.
This asana is very beneficial for curing long-term persistent fever. Pregnant women should not do this. 

31 Kapilasana (Figure 4.77)
This has 24 vinyasas. Kapila Maharishi discovered this and because he helped spread its practice, it came to be called kapilasana.
The right-side kapilasana is the 9th vinyasa and the left-side kapilasana is the 17th vinyasa.
Up to the 8th vinyasa follow the buddhasana krama. Then, as though you are doing pascimottanasana, place the chin on top of the bones of the front of the knee of the extended leg. Do recaka in this sthiti.
The 10th to the 14th vinyasas are just like the 10th to the 14th vinyasas of pascimottanasana. But until you complete the 10th and 11th vinyasas, the right leg must remain on top of the back of the neck. In the 10th vinyasa, the hands must be clasped together behind the back.
The 15th and 16th vinyasas are like the 13th and 14th vinyasas for the left- side buddhasana. The 17th vinyasa is the left-side kapilasana sthiti. The 18th to the 22nd vinyasas are like the 10th to the 14th vinyasas of right-side kapilasana. The 23rd and 24th vinyasas are to be done like the 15th and 16th vinyasas of pascimottanasana.

Benefit: It will maintain the muladhara, svadhishthana, manipuraka, ana- hata, and visuddhi cakras in the proper sthiti. It is extremely helpful in guiding one along the path of dharana and dhyana

32 Bhairavasana (Figure 4.78)
This has 20 vinyasas. The 8th and the 14th vinyasas are the right and left side asana sthitis.
From the 1st until the 7th vinyasa, follow the method for ekapada sirsasana. In the 8th vinyasa, instead of keeping the hands at the muladhara cakra (as in ekapada sirsasana), hug both arms together tightly as seen in the picture and lie down looking upwards. While remaining here, do puraka kumbhaka, raise the neck upwards and gaze at the midbrow. The 15th to the 20th vinyasas are like those for kapilasana. This asana must be practised on both sides.
Since Kalabhairava was responsible for the spread of the practice of this asana, it came to be called bhairavasana.

Benefit: Keeps vayu sancharam in equal and proper balance in the ida, pin- gala and susumna nadis and prevents any vata disease from approaching. Preg- nant women should not do this. But those women who do not wish for any children, if they practise this asana regularly following the rules for a period of time, they will definitely never conceive. Of this there is absolutely no doubt. Practising this asana will close the uterine passage and stop the fertilization from taking place. 

33 Cakorasana (Figure 4.79)
This has 20 vinyasas. This is from the Kapila Matham.
After observing that this follows the form of flight of the cakora bird, this came to be called cakorasana. In the Dhyana Bindu Upanishad, Parameshwara advises Parvati that “There are as many asanas as there are living beings in the world”. We readers must always remember this.
The 8th and 14th vinyasas are this asana’s sthitis. The 7th and the 13th vinyasas are like the 7th and the 13th vinyasas of ekapada sirsasana. In the 8th and the 14th vinyasas, press the palms of the hand firmly into the ground, do puraka kumbhaka, raise the body 6 angulas off the ground and hold it there. Carefully study the picture where this is demonstrated. Keep the gaze fixed on the midbrow. The other vinyasas are like those of bhairavasana.

Benefit: Diseases causing tremors (trembling) in the joints of the arm and in the wrists will be cured. Pregnant women should not do this. 

34 Skandasana (Figure 4.80, 4.81)
This has 20 vinyasas. The 8th and the 14th vinaysas show the asana sthiti. The other vinaysas are exactly as for cakorasana. In pascimottanasana, we hold the big toes with the fingers of the hands as we place the face down on the knees. In this asana, instead of doing that, extend the arms out further forward, clasp the hands together in the manner of prayer, slowly bend the body forward and place the face down in front of the kneecap. You must do recaka in this sthiti. The gaze must be fixed on the midbrow.
There are two forms to be followed in the different vinyasa kramas for the left and right-side when doing skandasana. The first picture depicts the right-side skandasana sthiti and the 2nd picture depicts the left-side skandasana sthiti. Ac- cording to the sastras, Parvati’s son Skandan learned this asana from Paramesh- wara. Since Skandan spread the practice of this asana, it is called skandasana.

Benefit: Gives the skill of pratyahara through the knowledge of the light of the self shining in the crevasses of the heart. 

35 Durvasasana (Figure 4.82)
This has 20 vinyasas. The 8th vinyasa is right-side durvasasana and the 14th vinyasa is left-side durvasasana. In the 7th and the 13th vinyasas stay in ekapada sirsasana sthiti. From there, in the 8th and the 14th vinyasas, get up and stand. Study the picture carefully. While remaining in this asana sthiti, the leg that is being supported on the ground must not be even slightly bent and must be held straight. Keep the gaze fixed at the middle of the nose. You must do sampurna puraka kumbhaka. The head must be properly raised throughout.
All the other vinyasas are like skandasana.

Benefit: Elephantiasis, vayu in the scrotum, trembling and tremors of the head — these serious diseases will be destroyed. It is a tremendous support on the path towards samadhi. Pregnant women should not do this.

36 Richikasana (Figure 4.83, 4.84)
This has 24 vinyasas. The 9th and the 17th vinyasas are the richikasana sthiti. The 7th and 15th vinyasas are like ekapada sirsasana. The rest of the vinyasas are like cakorasana.
The first picture shows the right-side richikasana and the second picture show the left-side richikasana.
In the beginning of the 7th vinyasa, remain in ekapada sirsasana. In the 8th vinyasa, practise following the rules for the first vinyasa of uttanasana. The 9th vinyasa is like the 2nd vinyasa for uttanasana. The 9th vinyasa has been demonstrated in the picture. While remaining in this sthiti, the legs and arms that are supported on the ground should not be even slightly bent. Only recaka must be done.
The 10th vinyasa is like the 8th. The 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th vinyasas are like the other vinyasas for kapilasana except for the kapilasana sthiti. The left- side richikasana, in the 15th, 16th and 17th vinyasa is done following the rules for the right-side richikasana in the 7th, 8th and 9th vinyasas. As mentioned earlier, recaka must be done in the asana sthiti.

Benefit: It corrects the recaka that is essential for the practice of pranayama


Leg behind head postures in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (Mysore 1934)

BKS Iyengar 1938

Around the time he was a student for Krishnamacharya