“Live long in perfect health of body and mind, enjoy bliss, by the practice of our ancient and simple, yoga system, handed down to us by the Rishis.
This well regulated system requires no appliances and can be adapted to all, old and young, men and women.
Nothing to excel it in efficiency for building a sound body, a sound mind and a spiritual life.”
– Sri T. Krishnamacharya (November 18, 1888 – February 28, 1989)
Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (November 18, 1888 – February 28, 1989)
Tirumalai Krishnamacharya was an Indian yoga teacher, ayurvedic healer and scholar, often referred to as “The Father of Modern Yoga”.
Krishnamacharya is widely regarded as one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century and is credited with the revival of hatha yoga.
Krishnamacharya held degrees in all the six Vedic darśanas, or Indian philosophies.
While under the patronage of the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, Krishnamacharya traveled around India giving lectures and demonstrations to promote yoga, including such feats as stopping his heartbeat.
He is widely considered as the architect of vinyasa, in the sense of combining breathing with movement.
Underlying all of Krishnamacharya’s teachings was the principle “Teach what is appropriate for an individual.”
“Krishnamacharya was unparalleled in many ways — as a master of yoga, as a teacher, as an Ayurvedic/yogic physician, and as a scholar.
If yoga is so widely popular now, it is in no small measure due to his practice, his brilliance, his depth of knowledge, and his tireless perseverance in propagating ancient wisdom.”
— A. G. Mohan
While he is revered in other parts of the world as a yogi, in India Krishnamacharya is mainly known as a healer who drew from both ayurvedic and yogic traditions to restore health and well-being to those he treated.
He authored four books on yoga—Yoga Makaranda (1934), Yogaasangalu (c. 1941), Yoga Rahasya, and Yogavalli (Chapter 1 – 1988)—as well as several essays and poetic compositions.
Some photos of Krishnamacharya show him placing his palms together in a gesture known as the anjali mudra. This gesture looks like the Indian form of greeting, in which people bring their palms together and say, “Namaste,” which means “salutations to you.”
These gestures are not the same, though. In anjali mudra, the palms are not flat against each other; the knuckles at the base of the fingers are bent a little, creating a space between the palms and fingers of the two hands. When done properly, the shape of the anjali mudra resembles a flower bud that is yet to open, symbolizing the opening of our heart. This signifies the potential for and intention to progress toward greater spiritual awakening.
“Prāṇāyāma must be properly instructed.
The posture used, seated erect for example, is also important.
The duration and regularity in terms of time is also as important as proper instructions.”
– Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
“Krishnamacharya used to say that pranayama is the most important of the eight limbs of yoga (as listed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali), because the last limb —samadhi, the pinnacle of sustained mental focus and the goal of classical yoga—can be reached through pranayama itself.” — A. G. Mohan, “Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings”
Some of Krishnamacharya’s students include many of yoga’s most renowned teachers: his son T.K V. Desikachar (born 1938), Indra Devi (1899–2002), K. Pattabhi Jois (1915–2009), his brother-in-law B.K.S Iyengar (1918-2014), and A.G Mohan (born 1945).