|(One of several chanting cds featuring student and daughter of yoga master T.K.V Desikachar, granddaughter of yoga master of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacarya)|
So when I was reading the weekly sutra on the Krishnamacarya Yoga Mandiram (or KYM) website about a month ago, it occurred to me that I might as well take advantage of the sweep and scale of change that has overturned India, and interview someone from KYM who can speak to the state of yoga in the blizzard of modernity that is India today. And that's when I thought of Mekhala Desikachar, student and daughter of yoga master T.K.V Desikachar and the granddaughter of yoga master of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacarya. Not only does she have access to an illustrious history, and the knowledge and background that it likely confers, but she is also part of a generation that grew up in the new India, a locus of hyperactive flux.
I was quite grateful that despite the demands on her time her new role as mother (her newborn son is primary concern these days), Mekhala generously accepted the invitation to an interview which we completed thanks to the flicker speed of email communication. Her succinct replies evoke her childhood memories of playing with her grandfather Krishnamacarya at age 99, early yoga classes with her father Desikachar, and the significance of chanting in her own practice. Moreover, she contributes to a greater conversation about the shape of yoga in contemporary India with consideration and simplicity, as she details how, "the winds of yoga blow in from the west".
"In the Indian tradition, the idea of good health extends far beyond mere physical fitness, encompassing the mind and spirit as well...No matter how each of us defines wellbeing, what lies at the core of this concept is a healthy mind in a healthy body, empowered by an indomitable spirit. This may sound an ambitious proposition. Nevertheless, it must be possible for all our ancient texts speak about this harmonious integration of mind, body and spirit. How does one work towards what seems a challenging goal, given the pressures of life today?
Great masters have shown us the path – a path that is paved with the stepping stones of devotion, sincerity, commitment, detachment and surrender... Just listening to these chants can heal, for as TKV Desikachar (son and student of legendary yogi, T Krishnamacharya) says, "Chanting can open our hearts." (Excerpt from KYM Website)
"Chanting was so much part of my household. My father was teaching it to his students including my mother and then there were their own practices. There was so much that I think at one point I was chanting it all in my mind. I must have been 7 or 8 at that time" (Mekhala Desikachar)