Fathers of Modern Yoga




Though his name is perhaps less well-known than some of his famous students, it’s not an overstatement to call T. Krishnamacharya the Father of Modern Yoga. His development of a unique approach to hatha yoga, together with his tireless promotion and exceptional acolytes, led directly to yoga’s increased availability to Western students.

Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) was an Indian yogi and scholar. He received his training in hatha yoga during seven years spent with his guru, Ramamohana Brahmacharya, who lived in a cave in a remote region of the Himalayas. Krishnamacharya also spent many years studying, and then teaching, Sanskrit, Vedic rituals and philosophy. His style of yoga is the first known to have incorporated movement through a series of poses that are coordinated with breathing, a style that is known as vinyasa yoga.

From 1926 to 1946, Krishnamacharya ran a yoga school at the palace of the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar in Mysore. During that time, Krishnamacharya had several students who would go on to play pivotal roles in popularizing yoga in the West.

Ashtanga yoga guru K. Pattabhi Jois was a devoted, long-time student whose vigorous style of asana was closely based on Krishnamacharya’s teachings. B.K.S. Iyengar, whose sister was Krishnamacharya’s wife, received his first yoga instruction from his brother-in-law before branching out to develop his own alignment-based style.

His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati – Founder of The Divine Life Society, born, 1887. Alive today in countless names & forms.

Sivananda Yoga is a classical and holistic approach to Hatha Yoga that stretches and tones the whole body.

This style of yoga has not been modified or watered down. The teachings have survived intact and are practiced as originally presented in India by Swami Sivananda in 1936. Sivananda Yoga is an international practice which follows the same format worldwide.

Sivananda Yoga is a complete healing system designed to help the body maintain a natural healthy state. It was developed by Vishnu-Devananda who wrote one of the contemporary Yoga classics, “The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga,” first published in 1960 and still one of the best introductions to yoga available. Sivananda training involves frequent relaxation and emphasizes full, yogic breathing.

K. Pattabhi Jois 

Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois was introduced to yoga in 1927 as a twelve year old when he attended a demonstration by S. T. Krishnamacharya who had learned yoga in Tibet. Thus began Guruji’s 25 years of yoga study with Krishnamacharya. In 1929, Jois moved to Mysore to study Sanskrit. He married in Mysore and with his wife Amma had three children.

Twenty years later he established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute as a centre for the study and practice of Ashtanga yoga  a system of yoga which is often promoted as a modern-day form of classical Indian the specific yoga practice known as Ashtanga (Sanskrit for “eight-limbed”) Yoga. In 1958  Jois he began writing Yoga Mala. It was published in India but took more than 40 years before it was published in the west.

Jois’ yoga shala attracts thousands of foreign yoga students every year. The west was introduced to Ashtanga yoga in the early 1960s when an European student spent two months with Jois learning the primary and intermediate asanas of the Ashtanga Yoga system. He returned to Europe and spread the word, marking the beginning of westerners coming to Mysore to study Ashtanga yoga. Power yoga and vinyasa yoga are generic terms that may refer to any type of vigorous yoga exercise derived from Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.

 B.K.S. Iyengar was born Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar in 1918. As the founder of Iyengar Yoga, he is considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world and has been practicing and teaching yoga for more than 60 years.

He has written many books on yogic practice and philosophy, and is best known for his books “Light on Yoga,” “Light on Pranayama,” and “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.” He has also written several definitive yoga texts. Iyengar yoga is taught around the world.

Iyengar Yoga, is a form of Hatha Yoga known for its use of props, such as belts, blocks, and blankets, as aids in performing asanas (postures). The props enable students to perform the asanas correctly, minimising the risk of injury or strain, and making the postures accessible to both young and old. The development of strength, mobility and stability are emphasized through the asanas

B.K.S. Iyengar has systematised over 200 classical yoga poses and 14 different types of Pranayama (with variations of many of them) ranging from the basic to advanced. This ensures that as the students gradually progress by moving from simple poses to more complex ones and develop their mind, body and spirit step-by-step. Iyengar Yoga is firmly based on the traditional eight limbs of yoga as expounded by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras.