Life of the master
Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, often referred to as “the father of modern yoga“, was born in 18th November 1888 in Muchukundapura, Karnataka, to an orthodox Iyengar brahmin family.
His father was a well-known teacher of Vedas. After his upanayana at the age of 6, he started learning Sanskrit and the Vedas from his father.
When he was 10, his father died and he moved to Mysore to stay with his grandfather, who was the head of the Parakala math.
He continued learning from his grandfather. In Mysore, he had formal education from Chamaraj Sanskrit College, from where he also passed the Vidvan examination.
In 1906, at the age of 18, he left for Varanasi, to study logic, Sanskrit and Mimamsa. He joined the Queens college in 1914, where he earned more teaching certificates in philosophy. He then left to study saddarsana (vedic philosophy) from Patna university, after which he held degrees in all the six Vedic darsanas -: vaiśeṣika, nyāya, sāṃkhya, yoga, mīmāṃsā and vedānta.
His illustrious learning further went on to include the study of Ayurveda from Vaidya Krishnakumar and yogasanas from Sri Babu Bhagavan Das. In 1919, he travelled to Tibet, to study under a supposedly highly accomplished master Yogeshwara Ramamohana Brahmachari, who was said to have mastered 7000 asanas. He spent 7 years there, learning asanas, pranayama and the Patanjali yoga sutras. As gurudakshina, his guru instructed him to get married, and be a teacher of yoga.
He returned to India in 1925, after which he got married, and spread yoga, in different ways.
In the late 1920s, while under the patronage of the King of Mysore, Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, Krishnamacharya traveled around India giving lectures and demonstrations to promote yoga, including such feats as apparently stopping his heartbeat, stopping cars with his bare hands, performing difficult asanas, and lifting heavy objects with his teeth.
In 1934, he wrote the book Yoga Makaranda (Essence of Yoga) which combined the wisdom he had gained in his life.
In 1952 he moved to Madras, where he joined Vivekananda college as a lecturer. He taught yoga there and had students of various physical conditions and capabilities. As he adapted his teaching for each student, his method slowly turned into what is known as Viniyoga or Vinyasa krama yoga.
In 1976, he along with his son established the Krishnamacharya yoga mandira in Chennai.
Krishnamacharya’s students included many of 20th century yoga’s most renowned and influential teachers: Indra Devi; K. Pattabhi Jois; B. K. S. Iyengar; T. K. V. Desikachar; Srivatsa Ramaswami; and A. G. Mohan (born 1945).
At the age of 96, Krishnamacharya fractured his hip. Refusing surgery, he treated himself and designed a course of practice that he could do in bed.
He died in 1989, after he slipped into a coma. His cognitive faculties remained sharp till his death.
Krishnamacharya yoga mandira(KYM) was established by Krishnamacharya and his son Desikachar in 1976. Desikachar, himself a great yoga and Ayurveda master had learnt yoga and Ayurveda directly from his father since early age. He continued taking care of the organization after his father died.
It has a presence in 13 countries of the world including India.
The organization has the following activities primarily:-
Conducting therapy support programs, teacher training programs and vedic chanting programs etc
Customised yoga therapy interventions- Anyone can contact them with their health issues and they prescribe yoga methods tailored to that specific person along with diet and lifestyle modifications. More than 1,00,000 people have been benefitted by this therapy.
They conduct free yoga training sessions for the poor who cannot afford to learn or are differently abled, through their MITRA program
They also publish a quarterly journal called Darsanam which is available for free in their website.
Yoga vaisharadi- They have published an online website where one can access useful yoga literature for free
KYM research- Recognised by the Department of Scientific and International Research (DSIR), Government of India, KYM’s research wing continually conducts research on the therapeutic aspects of yoga, researches literature, sponsors projects, conducts seminars and workshops to spread their findings.
It has an online presence in Twitter, Facebook, 2 websites and 3 paid apps.
Their founder TKV Desikachar died in the year 2016.
He authored four books on yoga—Yoga Makaranda (1934), Yogaasanagalu (c. 1941), Yoga Rahasya, and Yogavalli (Chapter 1 – 1988)—as well as several essays and poetic compositions.
To start learning from them you can attend their yoga programs, download the apps and publications, or buy the books written by the founder.
Yoga makaranda- https://www.yogastudies.org/wp-content/uploads/Yoga_Makaranda.pdf