Without him, Ashtanga yoga and many other styles of yoga would likely not exist: The foundation for our modern yoga practices was laid by Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989), who saved ancient yoga from oblivion.


Religion and Philosophy

Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya will be mentioned if we research the Ashtanga Yoga tradition (1888-1989).Krishnamacharya was born when yoga in India was losing popularity, much like the origins of numerous tales from yoga traditions.

Hinduism disapproved of yoga because it was thought too body-focused and “atheistic.” The orthodox environment of religion in India at the time was far from accepting the body as a place of experience for spiritual insight. Because they considered yoga a component of Indian culture that they tried to replace with British values they had brought with them, the British colonial period (1756–1947) was against yoga and thus not open.

The first Portuguese Jesuit monks arrived in India in 1539, and the missionaries who followed had little to gain from yoga. Their perception was that yoga was blatantly Hindu, making it the devil.

The Inquisition traveled from Portugal to India starting in 1560. From then on, from its base in Goa, until 1774, great care was taken to ensure that the Indians were properly converted to Christianity as well.

Yoga was more than just a hunch for the Inquisition that the “ancient pagan” religion might still be alive. Too many of these heresies in India were burned at stake.



The youth of Krishnamacharya

Krishnamacharya was born into a long-standing yoga-practicing family on August 11, 1881. So Krishnmacharya’s predecessors knew Nathamuni was the fabled author of the Yoga Rahasya. His father was the Sanskrit expert and Veda teacher Sri TirumalaiSrivinasaTattacharya.

Within five years, he had undergone the traditional Upanayanam rite, which initiated him into the Gayatri mantra and started his official instruction in the Sanskrit sacred literature. He also became familiar with the practice of yoga through his father.



Sanskrit research done by Krishnamacharya

When he was ten years old, his education was badly disturbed when his father passed away, and the family was forced to relocate to Mysore.

There, the traditional BramhatantraParakala Mutt, a Hindu monastic institution, was led by Krishnamacharya’s great-grandfather, H.H. Sri Srinivasa BrahmatantraParakala Swami. Then, at that location, Krishnamacharya completed his religious studies.

Throughout the entire period, he stayed committed to his yoga practice and made the most of his downtime by taking extended trips around India and the Himalayas.



The Himalayan studies of Krishnamacharya (1916-1924)

Around 1916, he made the decision to locate the renowned yogi Yogeshwara Rama Mohan Brahmachari. He eventually located him in a cave at the base of Mount Kailash after spending 2.5 months on foot.

There, he studied the depths of yoga with Brahmachari for seven and a half years.

He memorized multiple conventional yoga books in addition to the practical components of asana, pranayama, and vinyasa. He also studied the Yoga-Kuruntha/Korunta books by Vamana Rishi at this time, in addition to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.



Period of Krishnamacharya in Mysore (1924-1955) 

Krishnamacharya spent some time in Varanasi after leaving the Himalayas. Krishnamacharya met many influential personalities of his period due to his quick rise to fame as a yoga instructor.

The Maharaja of Mysore, Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, traveled to Varanasi to celebrate his mother’s 60th birthday. Also, there, he ran into Krishnamacharya. Between the two men, a relationship grew, and Wadiyar rose to prominence as a devotee and benefactor of Krishnamacharya.

In the center of Mysore, close to the Jaganmohan Palace, the Vishnu temple is where Krishnamacharya began his teachings. He wrote several publications at Maharaja’s request, including Yoga Makaranda, Yoganjali, and Yogasanalu. For the Maharaja, Krishnamacharya served as a yoga instructor, friend, and political adviser.

Numerous yoga demonstrations were presented to the populace by Krishnamacharya. Among other feats, he is claimed to have stopped his heartbeat on command, stopped cars with just his hands, and lifted big objects with his teeth The films of his Asana-Vinyasa practice are still stunning today.

Along with the Maharaja, Sri K. PattabhiJois, BNS Iyengar, BKS Iyengar, and Indra Devi were some of Krishnamacharya’s other well-known pupils during this time.

The Maharajas’ reign of terror ended with the end of colonialism.

When Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV passed away, his nephew JachaMaraja Wadiyar V took over. According to an order from Mysore’s mayor K.C. Reddy, the yoga school was to be shut down in three months.

Thus, an era came to an end.


Time spent in Chennai by Krishnamacharya (1957-1989)

After leaving Mysore, Krishnamacharya first spent roughly two years in Bangalore. He eventually rose to prominence as a lawyer, becoming in demand in Chennai and helping others who had suffered strokes.

Krishnamacharya taught his sons in Chennai yoga, including TK Srinivasan, TKV Desikachar, and TK Sribhashyam. He also taught Srivatsa Ramaswami and AG Mohan during this period.

Krishnamacharya passed out in 1985 while going to the mailbox. He was 96 years old and opted not to have surgery but took care of himself by doing yoga.

Up to his passing on 3.11.1988, he taught and practiced yoga. Even at the age of 100, he maintained mental clarity. The founder of contemporary Hatha Yoga is Krishnamacharya.

Krishnamacharya constructed the bridge that allowed yoga to travel from the past to the present. He preserved yoga as a priceless gem for humanity despite the opposition of his day.

Krishnamacharya could be characterized as traditional and yet creative.His philosophy was to uphold long-standing customs while bravely pushing limits. He was the first to educate a man and a woman from the West, which incensed the traditionalists of the day.

Even though the knowledge of Yoga had long been performed in secrecy, his numerous presentations helped to spark a worldwide interest in this ancient practice. He is renowned for his asana and pranayama presentations.




Krishnamacharya’s yoga always acknowledged the uniqueness of each person and their unique traits. A practice unique to each pupil emerged over time through systematic progression.

The yoga practices of PattabhiJois, Indra Devi, BNS Iyengar, or BKS Iyengar, as taught by Krishnamacharya in Mysore, are only marginally different from those of TK Srinivasan, TKV Desikachar, TK Sribhashyam, Srivatsa Ramaswami, and AG Mohan, who studied it in Chennai a few years later.

Ashtanga and Vini yoga have different styles, although they are fundamentally equivalent. Ashtanga yoga is a vigorous and forceful variation. Krishnamacharya approached the same yoga in another way because the students were unique. Though they appear at odds with one another, the two types of yoga are intertwined; Vini yoga is found inside Ashtanga and vice versa.

From then on, Krishnamacharya’s yoga was created to recognize the person and support their personal growth. The goal included spiritual development and physical w well-being Krishnamacharya was able to treat several diseases successfully thanks to his individualized approach to treatment.

The following are some unique and fascinating aspects of Krishnamacharya and his life that highlight his greatness:

  • Krishnamacharya was raised in a household that valued education and the study of the scriptures. And becoming a great scholar who was well-versed in the Vedas would have been the most typical and expected thing to happen. But because his teacher wanted him to spread the message, he decided to train as a yoga teacher. In his book, The Heart of Yoga, T.K.V. Desikachar, Krishnamacharya’s son, claims that his father declined numerous offers of professorships in Sanskrit, logic, Vedanta, and many other subjects.
  • Krishnamacharya kept thinking about what he had learned from his teachers or his tradition. He read the writings of Alvars, who were extraordinary individuals who frequently came from low-class farming families. He learned about the perception of yoga in South India. According to Desikacahar, this is how his father incorporated the lessons he had learned from his teachings in North and South India.
  • For most people in Krishnamacharya’s era, yoga was a spiritual journey. Desikachar, however, claims that his father’s yoga practice included other things. The sick and injured were always on Krishnamacharya’s mind. According to Desikachar, his father related how he was asked to assist the British governor who had diabetes. He was successful in helping him, and he later returned to Mount Kailash to continue his studies.
  • Krishnamacharya had a remarkable capacity for healing. Desikachar speculates in his book that perhaps his father gave him advice on how to treat illnesses. In Yoga Rahasya, Krishnamacharya discusses the use of yoga in treating sick people. The methods of treatment mentioned include asana, mantra, pranayama, and diet modification. Krishnamacharya’s thirst for knowledge was never-ending, and he was knowledgeable in many subjects, including yoga, ayurveda, Nadipariksha (pulse reading), and many other fields.
  • In Heart of Yoga, Desikachar claims that Krishnamacharya’s counsel on physical, mental, and spiritual wellness was founded on a careful analysis drawn from the scriptures and instruction from his teachers. It was, therefore, not surprising that he occasionally worked genuine miracles.
  • According to Desikachar in Heart of Yoga, Krishnamacharya’s insistence on treating each person as an individual made his yoga distinctive. He honored each person’s individuality and dealt with the problem in a way that led to healing. The individual was always the center of attention, and the yoga practice needed to be adjusted to fit that individual rather than forcing them to fit into an established structure. A person who came to Krishnamacharya for assistance could expect various responses. According to each student’s capabilities and needs, he would adjust postures and breathing.
  • Krishnamacharya stressed the significance of using the healing power of breath to treat both physical and mental illnesses. The key text, according to Krishnamacharya, was the Yoga Sutra, and Nathamuni’s Yoga Rahasya was another important text for him. It was a lifelong endeavor for him to comprehend the Yoga Sutra despite being such a great scholar. Every time Desikachar read the Yoga Sutra with his father, he claims to have learned something new. The idea of vinyasa krama was created by Krishnamacharya and entailed having a carefully planned sequence of asanas or postures leading to a predetermined goal, followed by asanas to consolidate the benefits of the asana sequence and counteract any adverse effects if any.
  • Krishnamacharya made significant efforts to advance yoga for women. And his wife used to practice regularly. One of the first books to emphasize the value of yoga for women is The Yoga Rahasya. Indra Devi, a well-known yoga instructor from the United States, studied under Krishnamacharya. According to Desikachar, his father never felt that living with his family and following the true teachings of sannyasin were incompatible. An actual sanyasi places all of his efforts at the feet of his teacher or god. And a prime example of this was Krishnamacharya.
  • Great teachers Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, and Indra Devi each had distinctive teaching philosophies. At various times, they were Krishnamacharya’s pupils, demonstrating what a fantastic teacher Krishnamacharya was and how his philosophy evolved. Desikachar also explains in his book how his father would teach him by getting down to his level. Knowing that his students came from different backgrounds, Krishnamacharya tailored his teachings to suit each one. He was patient and encouraging all the time.
  • Never once did Krishnamacharya claim to be a guru. Desikachar claimed that one trait of a clear, wise person is that they won’t self-identify as such! Such a person would possess humility, and Krishnamacharya had a lot of it.
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