Tirumalai Krishnamacharya

Definition - What does Tirumalai Krishnamacharya mean?

Born in 1888, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya is widely regarded as “The Father of Modern Yoga” for reviving Hatha yoga, and combining breath and movement into vinyasa. The eldest of six children, his father was the well-known Vedic scholar and teacher, Sri Tirumalai Srinivasa Tatacharya.

At the age of six, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya accepted a rite of passage known as upanayana and became a student to the teachings of his father, studying Sanskrit, the Vedas, asanas and pranayama. Throughout his youth, he traveled and studied, earning six degrees in the Indian philosophies of the Vedic darsanas. He settled in Mysore and became known for yoga demonstrations where he performed advanced asanas and slowing his heartbeat to a stop.

Eventually becoming a teacher with a reputation for being very stern, his students include many of the most inspiring yoga teachers of the last century: Indra Devi, K. Pattabhi Jois, A.G. Mohan, B.K.S. Iyengar and B.N.S. Iyengar.

Yogapedia explains Tirumalai Krishnamacharya

T. Krishnamacharya was a scholar, a yogi and a widely revered healer. He applied traditions from both yoga and Ayurveda to bring well-being and health to the sick and injured. He authored many books on yoga, as well as dozens of essays, articles and poems on yoga, spirituality, Ayurveda and life.

Krishnamacharya's yoga teachings for his style of yoga, known as Viniyoga, were based on "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" and the "Yoga Yajnavalkya." He believed and taught that every individual would walk different paths of yoga, as the practice meant different things to different people at different times; however, he also believed that yoga was both a spiritual practice and a practice that led to physical healing. His underlying principle was to “teach what is appropriate to the individual.” This belief allowed him to be a dynamic and evolving teacher. His philosophy-based approach to teaching allowed his students to reach their own potential and go on to make remarkable contributions to yoga.

In 1934 Krishnamacharya opened the Yogashala school in Mysore where he taught until the school closed in 1950. During the Mysore years, Krishnamacharya’s reputation as a world-renowned yoga guru soared and he began to attract students from all over India and the world. In 1952 he went to Madras, India where he would teach and live for the remainder of his life. His teachings have made yoga available to all people regardless of their ability, yet he never took credit for being a guru; instead, he referred to himself as a teacher. He died in 1989 at 100 years of age.

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