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  • Introducing The Father of Modern Yoga: Brian on Krishnamacharya

    When Brian was relatively new to yoga one of his teachers said, "If you really want to learn about yoga, find out who your teacher's teachers are."  Brian, never one to take an invitation like this lightly, started looking into it.  When he traced his teachers back, almost every branch on the tree led back to  Krishnamacharya - the same is true (with notable exceptions) of many American yoga teachers today.  Brian chose Krishnamacharya's Bow as the pose to accompany our monthly theme "What are you Offering?"  It is a lovely pysical expression of the heart gesture of giving.  

    Here is a little writing Brian did to introduce Krishnamacharya to those of you who may not have heard of him. - Shannon

    This photograph is the cover of the book Health, Healing, and Beyond by T.K.V. Desikachar, Krishnamacharya's son, which is a biography of Krishnamacharya and a book we highly recommend as a good general read on a variety of yoga topics.

    T. Krishnamacharya, TKM (1888 – 1989) is widely regarded as one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century and is often credited with the revival of hatha yoga.  

    He is often referred to as the father of modern yoga.  While it’s hard to say exactly what this means or how the heck this could be determined, the phrase does convey the degree of impact that the quiet little man man from southern India has had on the yoga that we do in our practices today.  Not only did he revive the practice of hatha yoga, he was also responsible for modernizing the practice and bringing this yoga to the west.  

    TKM is considered the architect of the vinyasa style of yoga, the way we practice today combining breath with movement in and out of the poses.  This style of practice came primarily through his students Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Vinyasa.  But that was long ago, and now practicing asana with the breath is generally called Vinyasa Flow.  Practicing this way has spread like wildfire and is found in almost all the popular yoga styles of today.  Kelly Rose will be teaching Ashtanga Vinyasa in our Norwalk studio, Tues/Thurs. 6:30 PM.  

    Underlying all of Krishnamacharya's teachings was the belief that every student is absolutely unique and that each student should be taught according to his or her individual capacity at any given time. One place this belief manifested is in the form of Iyengar Yoga, a very strict alignment oriented yoga where props are used so that each individual can achieve a correctly aligned version of each pose, no matter their abilities or limitations.  You experience this influence every time you hear a teacher say things like, “turn your back foot forward and take a the bend out of your knee.”  Mary Folger teaches Iyengar Yoga Mondays 5:30 PM in Sandusky or Wednesdays at 7:00 AM in Huron.

    Krishnamacharya believed that yoga was India’s greatest gift to the world, given freely with no strings attached.  By developing and refining different approaches, Krishnamacharya made yoga accessible to millions around the world.

    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. Krishnamacharya lived and taught in Chennai until he slipped into a coma and died in 1989, at one hundred years of age. His cognitive faculties remained sharp until his death. 

     by Brian Henderson

    Also check out this related blog post:  Featured Pose:  Krishnamacharya's Bow