Written by Michael de Manincor
My journey to the teacher & teachings, that changed my life:
In the mid-1990s, I had already been practicing and teaching yoga for many years, when I went to the US for further studies in the emerging field of yoga therapy. One of the books included as recommended reading in our training was the Heart of Yoga, written by TKV Desikachar. Although I knew little of the man and his teachings, this book inspired me, and also made me realise how little I knew about yoga! Reading this book awakened something inside me that opened a door and paved the path for the rest my life.
A few years later, back home in Sydney, I attended a workshop with visiting teachers from the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in India (known as the KYM), founded by Mr Desikachar, in honour of his father’s teachings and a service to humanity. The teachers invited and inspired me to go to the KYM to learn more, about yoga, and about myself. Although I had already travelled to India previously, I know this would be something different.
On that visit in January 2001, I first met Mr Desikachar, who kindly invited a group of us into his home-based rooftop classroom, and taught us about meditation in yoga. Whilst the teachings, practice and whole experience were profound, what inspired me most were the warmth, kindness and connection in Desikachar’s smile.
Later that year, Mr Desikachar and his wife were visiting Australia, hosted by Barbara Brian in Melbourne, and they graciously accepted our invitation to visit Sydney and teach a workshop with us. Almost 20 years later, people who attended that workshop still speak of how profound the experience of that workshop was for them. As the host of the event, I said a few closing words and casually asked Mr Desikachar “How can we thank you?”. His response was simple: “Keep the river flowing!”
This event at Kripalu, in commemoration of his 80th birthday, is all about honouring this simple request, to keep the river flowing, as we continue to share the teachings that have been generously shared with each one of us.
In the days after the 2001 workshop, Mr Desikachar and I were walking in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Sydney, and I asked him if he would accept me as a student and continue to teach and guide me on my journey in yoga. His first response was that “it would be better if I had someone from my own culture”. I was not sure if that was just a polite “no”. After further discussion, he graciously agreed. Knowing I had a young family, he invited me to India whenever I could go, and to otherwise stay in contact by phone (long before the days of Skype, Zoom or FaceTime).
In the following 10 years, I had the good fortune (and much support from my wife and family) to go to India many times, to learn, deepen my own practice, and be challenged with my own samskaras (habits of being), under the care of his mentoring and teaching, as well as numerous other teachers at the KYM. As well as learning about the depths and intricacies of yoga, I continued to learn about myself. I learnt tools and insights that continue to serve me today, which have been like a keel to keep me going through the storms of life.
I was also inspired to open our own yoga centre, develop a teacher training course (and later yoga therapy training), and start our own non-profit organisation providing yoga for the underserved. And, we have had the good fortune of hosting teachers from other countries, who have had a connection with Mr Desikachar, including Leslie Kaminoff, Richard Miller, Mark Whitwell, and Saraswathi Vasudevan. All this was inspired from my connection with Mr Desikachar, and his guidance both personal and professional.
Through the sharing of teachings that come from Mr Desikachar, we do our best to bring health, healing and transformation to the people and communities we serve, and keep the river flowing.
It is an honour and privilege to be part of this event at Kripalu, bringing together a community to commemorate Mr Desikachar’s 80th birthday.