Modern Masters of YOGA

    Representative Image Yoga
    Representative Image Yoga
    Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
    Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888 – 1989)

    He is considered “The Father of Modern Yoga. Certainly, one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century and is credited with the revival of hatha yoga.

    While under the patronage of the Maharaja of Mysore, 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.”

    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), and brother-in-law B. K. S. Iyengar (1918-2014).

    B.K.S. Iyengar
    B.K.S. Iyengar (1918 – 2014)

    “Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one’s being, from bodily health to self – realization.”

    “Yoga means union-the union of mind with consciousness, and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the way of maintaining a balanced attitude in day to day life and endows skill in the performance of ones’ actions.”

    “The light that Yoga sheds on life is something special. It is transformative. It does not change the way we see thing; it transforms the person who sees.”

    “Yoga is like music. The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”

    Iyengar was the founder of the style of yoga known as
    “Iyengar Yoga” and was considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. He was the author of many books on yoga practice and philosophy including Light on Yoga, Light on Pranayama, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and Light on Life. Iyengar was one of the earliest students of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. He has been credited with popularizing yoga, first in India and then around the world, with his headquarters in Pune. His use of yoga aids like ropes and blocks during asana practice was innovative.

    Iyengar was awarded the Padma Shri in 1991, the Padma Bhushan in 2002 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2014. In 2004, Iyengar was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

    Sri K. Pattabhi Jois  (1915-  2009)

    Gurubhai of BKS Iyengar, he developed the popular style of yoga referred to as Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga, which has been popular in the West. In 1948, Jois established the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute  in Mysore. In his book “Yoga Mala” he recommends staying 5-8 breaths in a posture, or, staying for as long as possible in a posture. Breathing instructions given are to do rechaka and puraka (exhale and inhale) as much as possible.

    Sivananda Saraswati (1887 - 1963)
    Sivananda Saraswati (1887 – 1963)

    Swami Sivananda was a Hindu spiritual teacher and a proponent of Yoga and Vedanta. Born Kuppuswami in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, he studied medicine and served in British Malaya as a physician for several years before taking up monasticism. He lived most part of his life in Rishikesh.
    He was the founder of the Divine Life Society, and author of over 200 books on yoga, Vedanta and a variety of subjects. Some of his main disciples went on to start worldwide yoga movements.

    Vishnudevananda Saraswati (1927 - 1993)
    Vishnudevananda Saraswati (1927 – 1993)

    He was a disciple of Sivananda Saraswati, and founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and Ashrams. He established the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Course, one of the first yoga teacher training programs in the West. His books The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga (1959) and Meditation and Mantras (1978) established him as an authority on Hatha and Raja yoga. Vishnudevananda was a tireless peace activist who rode in several “peace flights” over places of conflict, including the Berlin Wall prior to German reunification.

    Yogi Bhajan  (1929 - 2004)
    Yogi Bhajan (1929 – 2004)

    Harbhajan Singh Khalsa (later Yoga Bhajan) was born in 1929 into a Sikh family in Gujranwala district, in what is now Pakistan’s province of Punjab. He was a spiritual leader and entrepreneur who introduced Kundalini Yoga to the United States. He was the spiritual director of the 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) Foundation, with over 300 centers in 35 countries. Under his influence, tens of thousands turned to Sikh way of life. He passed away in Espanola, New Mexico.

    Satyananda Saraswati/Bihar School of Yoga (1923 -2009)

    He was a sannyasin, yoga teacher and guru in both his native India and the West. He was a student of Sivananda Saraswati, and founded the Bihar School of Yoga in 1964 in Munger, Bihar. He wrote over 80 books, including Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. In 1988 he  handed over the active work of his ashram and organization to his spiritual successor, Niranjanananda Saraswati, and left Munger.

    Born in Calcutta and having a yoga empire in America, Bikram Choudhury has a yoga style name after him. Bikram Yoga is a system of yoga that he synthesized from traditional hatha yoga techniques  and popularized beginning in the early 1970s. All Bikram Yoga Beginning Series classes run for 90 minutes and consist of the same series of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises. Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room heated to 40 °C (104 °F) with a humidity of 40%. All official Bikram classes are taught by Bikram-certified teachers.

    Bikram ChoudhuryBikram Choudhury made claims starting 2012 that the postures of his yoga practice, were under copyright and that they could not be taught or presented by anyone whom he had not authorized. But the United States Copyright Office issued a clarification that yoga postures  could not be copyrighted in the way claimed by Bikram.

    In another controversy, at least five women were suing Bikram Choudhury with allegations including sexual harassment and sexual assault.

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