Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Meet the man who made modern day Yoga possible: Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.
We owe T.K., I mean big time! Not only do we share the same birthday (except that he was born in 1888) but also the love for Hatha Yoga. And he was an extraordinary gentleman, because he taught those Yogis who created their styles which are taught today. His students, for example, were Iyengar and Pathabi Jois, who were the founders of Iyengar Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. Unfortunately they both passed in the last decade. One of his sons, T.K.V. Desikachar, who also wrote a couple of important books, like his dad, was also his student and the founder Viniyoga.
Krishnamacharya was lucky to get invited by the Maharaja of Mysore to perform 'Yoga Tricks' at his castle where T.K. showed off his unbelievable ability to stop his own heart beat at his will. Although he was born in 1888 he lived up to become 100 years old, dying when I was only 8. His mind remained very clear until his death, which kept him teaching when he was 100!
What is interesting about the styles Krishnmacharya influenced is the approach or the intention with which each student learned his style:
As for B.K.S. Iyengar, who had many ailments in his body, like Malaria, Tuberculosis, Typhoid and chronic malnutrition, he was taught differently by his master Krishnamacharya, maybe a little softer, because of these sicknesses. Yoga actually helped Iyengar heal which led him to create a Yoga Style with the intent to heal. This style is very accurate when it comes to form and divides the asana practices and breathing practices into seperate entities. He died at the age of 95.
Shri K. Pathabi Jois, also called Guruji, founder of Ashtanga Yoga, was a healthy young man when he met Krishnamacharya at the age of 12. He practiced under the great yogi's strict and demanding tutelage every day before school. After losing touch for a couple of years, they rejoiced again and remained together for 25 years, travelling the country to demo yoga together.
When the Maharaja of Mysore fell sick, Krishnamacharya was sent to him and he cured him through yoga. Out of gratitude the Maharaja then built the first Yoga Shala in Mysore which was taken over by Guruji after T.K.'s death.
Since Guruji learned yoga the hard and strict way, this might explain why the Ashtanga Yoga practice is very strong and requires a lot of discipline and dedication compared to Viniyoga, which adapts to the individual needs of the students.
T.K.V. Desikachar, son of T. Krishnamacharya, is the founder of Viniyoga, which is a term to describe his approach to utilizing the tools of yoga, in particular his conviction that yoga practice should be adapted to fit the individuality and particular situation of each practitioner. Desikachar later distanced himself from the term and is still alive today, aged 76, but unfortunately is suffering from dimentia.
See Krishnamcharya practice in 1938 at the age of 50:
As a conclusion, since all yogastyles evolved from the same root, why would any yoga style be so arrogant to think they are the ultimate best style and the rest is sh**? It's a common mistake, to rise in ego as soon as something becomes popular, but I expect from the Yoga scene to grow up, to evolve in the future to become open on all levels. It doesn't matter which style you practice, you shouldn't be judged by the Yoga that fits you best. There is a Yoga style for every one at every age.
Thank you Krishnamacharya for creating this tradition.
From here flows the river.