The Tradition

Where We Come From: Our Parampara

Thirumalai Krishnamacharya

Professor Tirumalai Krishnamacharya is known worldwide as the father of modern Yoga. He revolutionized Yoga in the 20th century and made it accessible to everyone. He was an outstanding Vedic scholar who was versed in all the six philosophies of Indian thought, as well as in other Vedic disciplines such as Ayurveda and Astrology. Later in life, he opened the doors of Vedic Chanting, previously only allowed to male Brahmins, to every sincere student, independent of age, religion, nationality, caste or gender.

He stood for a profound yet practical approach to Yoga, where all the tools of Yoga are implemented and wisely adapted to meet the needs, abilities, goals and requirements of each individual. He understood the body not just as a physical construct, but as part of a holistic entity. He propagated a Yoga that is not superficial but works on and with the subtle aspects of energy, what the Yogis call Prana. During his life he showed that Yoga can be used as a holistic practice, a way of life that connects body, mind and spirit, a spiritual path, and also as an extremely potent healing tool. Apart from being a Yoga Teacher, Krishnamacharya was known as a powerful healer and helped many people with ailments in body, mind and spirit.

His students, including Indra Devi, Pattabhi Jois, BKS Iyengar and his son TKV Desikachar, testify to the significance of his life’s work and to the breadth of teachings that he stood for. They underline his position as one of the most significant Yoga masters, teachers and therapists of the modern era.

T.K.V. Desikachar

T.K.V. Desikachar studied civil engineering before he decided to dedicate his life to Yoga. Being impeccably precise yet practical, he was always interested in making Yoga more accessible to every practitioner. He knew that the knowledge of his father was extraordinary, but that it needed to be explained in a way that every student of Yoga could understand. He wrote “The Heart of Yoga”, a worldwide bestseller and one of the most cherished books on Yoga, as an attempt to explain Yoga’s philosophy and foundations to a a broad audience. He designed the first stick figures, so that asana practices could be easily grasped and remembered by students. He broke the Sanskrit sentences of the Yoga Sutras into smaller parts, so people from all over the world could learn to recite and memorize them. His main focus was always to present the profundity of Yoga in a simple, modern and practial way. When Desikachar explained even difficult concepts of Yoga in workshops or seminars around the world, he was able to present them in a manner that modern students could understand, embrace and relate to.

Living in the same household as his father and teacher, Desikachar was introduced to the full range of Krishnamacharya’s teachings and was able to witness how his father’s teachings developed over the decades. Krishnamacharya shared as much of his knowledge with his son as he could and never stopped teaching him. For example, Desikachar studied the Yoga Sutras nine times in three decades with his father, a process that revealed ever deeper layers of the text to him. As the most important lesson, Krishnamacharya stressed how the tools of Yoga must always be applied to respect a person’s constitution, his goals, lifestyle, as well as his emotional, energetical, mental and psychological state. Desikachar was particularly impressed and attracted by the healing capacities of his father’s Yoga and became an outstanding pulse reader and Yoga Therapist himself. He also had an outstanding ability to read people and knew what they needed from him. He became instrumental in expounding the role of Yoga Therapy in the world and founded the first Yoga Therapy clinic in Chennai in dedication to his father. In 2006, he cofounded the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation with his son Kausthub in order to spread the Yoga teachings internationally.

He continued the teaching legacy of his father and always taught his students one-to-one with personalizing their practices, stressing that Yoga always has to be taught individually and not in groups. Throughout his career, T.K.V. Desikachar has helped and healed numerous people with Yoga Therapy and is known as one of the most respected and famous Yoga Teachers as well as the most significant Yoga Therapist of our times.

Krishnamacharya Healing & Yoga Foundation (KHYF)

The Krishnamacharya Healing & Yoga Foundation (KHYF) was founded by TKV Desikachar and his son & student, Dr.Kausthub Desikachar. It was founded in 2006 specifically to spread the teachings of Viniyoga® globally as the tradition was growing rapidly all over the world. TKV Desikachar also established the KHYF as the international anchor of the tradition.

The Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM), an Indian charitable Institution, founded by TKV Desikachar earlier, was primarily set up with legal and statutory provisions to operate only in India, barring it from any activity outside of India. This meant that the KYM was able to continue with its very different work as an Indian yoga therapy clinic.

Thus the Krishnamacharya Healing & Yoga Foundation (KHYF) is the worldwide headquarters and official umbrella organisation representing the complete and authentic Viniyoga® tradition of Professor T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar globally.

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