The title of being the Father of Modern Yoga is not one that has been handed lightly to Tirumalai Krishnamacharya! His contribution to this ancient spiritual practice is widely acknowledged and appreciated as having greatly developed yoga in many different ways.
Krishnamacharya is credited as being an architect of a type of yoga known as Vinyasa, as well as helping to improve the visibility and popularity of Hatha Yoga. In fact, many refer to him as one of the most influential yoga instructors of the 20th century.
Who is Tirumalai Krishnamacharya?
Krishnamacharya was born in the Chitradurga district of Southern India in November of 1888. He was the oldest of six children and lived a long life to reach the age of 100 before passing away in his native India. Krishnamacharya’s father introduced him to yogic concepts such as the asanas (poses) and pranayama (breathing) at a young age.
Although his father died when Krishnamacharya was just ten years old, he had many other guides throughout his young life who continued to sculpt his knowledge and passion for yoga and its principles. Krishnamacharya travelled around India during his youth, seeking the wisdom of his elders and studying Indian philosophy. He also made regular pilgrimages to the Himalayas in order to seek the knowledge of wise yogis rumoured to be living in the mountains.
Later in his life, he became known as a healer who utilised both yoga and his knowledge of Ayurveda to enhance the health of those who sought his help.He was a scholar of all six of the Indian philosophies, also known as the six Vedic darśanas. and, it is said that Krishnamacharya was able to control the pace of his heartbeat through utilising meditation and breathing techniques.
Influence and Admiration
The Father of Modern Yoga taught many other well-known and influential figures from within the yoga world, such as Indra Devi, Srivatsa Ramaswami and B.N.S Iyengar. Many of his students have spoke fondly of him as being such an important figure within their studies, and credit him with the development of their own practice.
In the late 1920’s, Krishnamacharya became employed at the palace in Mysore and began sharing his extensive knowledge of yoga with many different authority figures and respected scholars. It was also during this time that he began demonstrating the power of yoga in public by conquering difficult feats – such as lifting heavy objects through the mastery of various asanas. He is even said to have been able to stop cars with his bare hands.
Krishnamacharya went on to open his own yoga school in the 1930’s. This was a popular and well respected institution up until the political shifts that brought about many changes in India in the mid 1940’s. The school eventually closed in 1950 but Krishnamacharya continued to teach and inspire others in other ways.
Krishnamacharya’s Books and Teachings
The Father of Modern Yoga authored four books during his lifetime, all with a primary focus on spreading the concept of yoga and its teachings.
His first book, published in 1934 was titled ‘Yoga Makaranda – The Nectar of Yoga’. This book was one of the very first on the topic of yoga available at the time and inspired several styles of yoga to develop. Krishnamacharya published his second book in 1941, with two more following in 1988. He also published many articles, essays and poems during his lifetime.
The Father of Modern Yoga
Although Krishnamacharya was undoubtedly a master of yoga, he had a modest approach to his skills and expertise, and constantly referred to himself as a student throughout his life. He was an adamant believer that yoga was ‘India’s greatest gift to the world’, and his attitude to yoga and related concepts continues to inspire yoga students around the world to this day!