Sri T Krishnamcharya (1888-1989) – The Source
At The Yoga Institute we teach an approach of yoga that derives its roots from the teachings of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (Nov 18th, 1888 – Feb 28th, 1989). This post aims to share a brief summary on the life of Krishnamacharya and our connection to his teachings.
The life of Krishnamacharya
“Krishnamacharya was convinced that Yoga was India’s greatest gift to the world.” (Health, Healing and Beyond, 1998)
Sri Krishnamacharya is regarded as one of the most pivotal Yoga Teacher’s of this Century. The transmission and relevance of Yoga in the West and the resurgence of Yoga in India, truly owes thanks and gratitude to Sri Krishnamacharya. His lifelong quest for right knowledge, his dedication and contributions to Yoga, including his sharing of the teachings to others, has culminated in the spread of Yoga beyond the caves of Tibet and the shores of India.
Education and academic accomplishments
Tirumalai Krishnamacharya was born into an orthodox Brahmin family in Southern India. In keeping with the traditions of his family customs he grew up exposed to Vedic texts (ancient Indian knowledge) and the practices of Yoga by his father. Following on from this early experience, it is well documented that he was a natural scholar with a sharp intellect and a thirst for learning. He lived an accomplished life academically, having completed a number of degrees in philosophy, logic, divinity, philology, and music and obtained scholarships in the 6 Vedic Darshana’s (Indian Philosophy), which earned him a number of esteemed titles.
Studies in Tibet
Sri Krishnamacharya spent time in Tibet (approximately 7 years) where he studied under the direct tutelage of the yogi Ramamohana Bramachari. Here he further integrated his understanding of Yoga, practicing Asana (Yoga postures), pranayama (yoga breathing techniques), studying the Yoga Sutras, Samkhya philosophy and the healing aspects of yoga. His guru’s parting request to Krishnamacharya was “take a wife, raise children and be a teacher of Yoga”.
The Mysore Years
Returning from Tibet he continued his academic studies and began to offer public lectures and demonstrations on yoga. This led to an invitation by the Maharaja of Mysore for him to set up a yoga school at the Mysore Palace in 1930s. It was during this fruitful period that Krishnamacharya authored the book, Yoga Makaranda (1934). In 1946 with the Independence of India, Krishnamacharya work at the Mysore Palace came to an end. Soon after, upon an invitation, he relocated to Chennai with his wife and six children.
Passing on his knowledge
It was in Chennai, Sri Krishnamacharya settled for the remainder of his life. Here he continued offering his services as a healer, a Yogacarya (one who has lived and practices what he teaches), generously sharing his profound wisdom from his home and externally. By this time he had a number of devoted students and thankfully a number of these students have continued the sharing and become internationally renowned Yoga Teachers. These include Patabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, Indra Devi, T.K. Sribhanshyam (Krishnamacharya’s son), T.K.V. Desikachar (Krishnamacharya’s son), A.G. Mohan and Srivatsa Ramaswami.
The legacy of T.K.V. Desikachar
It is through Krishnamacharya’s son T.K.V. Desikachar that we have had the great fortune to become familiar with the teachings of Sri Krishnamacharya. Recognised worldwide as a remarkable teacher of Yoga in his own right, T.K.V. Desikachar was his father’s student for the last 30 years of Krishnamacharya’s life.
Director of The Yoga Institute, Michael de Manincor was a direct student with Krishnamacharya’s son T.K.V. Desikachar who passed away in 2016.
Michael first met and studied with Mr Desikachar in his home in Chennai in January 2001. He was Michael’s yoga-teacher-mentor for many years, and they shared a deeply respectful bond of friendship. His teachings have been of profound significance and at the heart of Michael’s own practice, and all that we teach and share at The Yoga Institute.
Tailoring Yoga to the individual
The guiding principle at the heart of the teachings of Krishnamacharya and his son Desikachar can be summed up in this quote from Krishnamacharya: “Teach what is inside you. Not as it applies to you, but as it applies to the other”. The central idea is that yoga is most beneficial when it is tailored to the individual and this concept is the foundation of what is taught in our Teacher Training, Yoga Studies and Yoga Therapy courses.
Our international community
It is through our connection with T.K.V. Desikachar and the international community of teachers and students that Michael was part of, that we’ve had the privilege of hosting many world renowned teachers during their visits to Australia, and hosting numerous study programmes to the KYM (Chennai) including:
2001: T.K.V. Desikachar and Menaka Desikachar “The Three Pillars”
2003: Kausthub Desikachar “The viniyoga of Yoga”
2003: “Celebrating Yoga” International Yoga Convention, hosting emerging teachers in the Krishnamacharya tradition, from all over the world
2003 – 2008: Numerous study programmes to the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM, Chennai)
2011: Mark Whitwell “A Masterclass with Mark Whitwell”
2012: Saraswathi Vasudevan “Yoga and Emotional Wellbeing”
2013: AG & Indra Mohan “The Legacy and Teachings of Sri. T Krishnamacharya”
2014: AG & Indra Mohan “Pleasant Pranayama, Effortless Asana”
2015: Leslie Kaminoff “Healing Through Breath-Centred Yoga”
2015: Richard Miller “A Day of iRest Meditation and Self-Inquiry”
2016: Mark Whitwell “An Afternoon with Mark Whitwell”
2016: Richard Miller “iRest Yoga Nidra Level 1 Training”
Written by Lisa Grauaug B AppSc (Nursing), B Psych, M Psych, Adv Dip Yoga Teaching, Ayurveda Lifestyle Certificate, Perinatal Mental Health Course (USyd), Registered Psychologist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Registered Yoga Therapist, Yoga Australia Member
Desikachar, T. K. V. (1998) Health, Healing, & Beyond
Ruiz, Fernando Pagés (2007) Krishnamacharya’s Legacy: Modern Yoga’s Inventor https://www.yogajournal.com/article/philosophy/krishnamacharya-s-legacy/
Mohan, A.G with Ganesh Mohan (2010) Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings