Tradition is the foundation on which good yoga practice is built.
Just as a building cannot last long without a good foundation, so yoga practice cannot be sustainable and productive without solid foundations based on a long-lived tradition. In yoga, the tradition of imparting knowledge from teacher to student is called “parampara,” or disciple-teacher succession.
In yoga, the relationship between teacher and disciple is much closer and deeper than the more formal one observed in the modern educational system, where the teacher has the role of thematic lecturer. Here the teacher has the role of mentor and friend who takes care of the disciple’s development and his highest good.
In the traditions of yoga, the knowledge is to be passed on from teacher to disciple. So it is to this day, intact for millennia. In this way, its authenticity has been preserved. The teacher shares the knowledge he has received and kept in his heart from his teacher, together with his personal realizations, with pure intentions and without any selfish motives.
The disciple, in turn, follows the instructions of his teacher and humbly accepts this knowledge with an open mind, trying to understand its depth.
Parampara can be compared to a well-trodden path in the dense forest that leads to the top of the mountain. If the student carefully follows in the footsteps of his teacher, he will avoid the countless dangers along the way and reach the ultimate goal.
Teachers in the lineage of Ashtanga Vinyasa
Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
T. Krishnamacharya became known as the “father of modern yoga”. He is considered the Guru of the world’s most popular yoga teachers, such as the BKS Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi, TKV Desikachar, who in turn have millions of followers around the world. T. Krishnamacharya is a perfect example of practicing true yoga, a scientist, healer and therapist, as well as an example of a man of the modern era who has reached almost 100 years of his life. He is at the heart of the fact that yoga is an integral part of the daily lives of so many people today.
T. Krishnamacharya was born in 1888 in a small village in India. Driven by a strong inner search, at the age of 27 he set out for the Himalayas to find a real teacher to teach him the science of yoga. After a long journey, he discovered his Guru, Yogi Rama Mohan Brahmachari, who lived alone in a cave in the Himalayas. After a long test of Krishnamacharya’s will and determination, Rama Mohan officially accepted him as his disciple.
Under the guidance of his teacher, for 10 years, Krishnamacharya studied yoga asanas, Pranayama, kriya, meditation and studied yoga texts. When Rama Mohan saw that his disciple has mastered what he has learned, he told him that he is ready and must share the knowledge with others. Krishnamacharya then went to Mysore and became a teacher to the royal family and some of the local children, one of whom was Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois.
K. Pattabhi Jois
There are few people who practice yoga and have not heard of Ashtanga Vinyasa. For the past 30 years, along with BKS Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois has become one of the most famous names in yoga in the West. His famous students are David Swenson, Mark and Joan Darby, Nancy Gilgoff, Eddie Stern, Richard Freeman, McGregor Kino and many others. Pattabhi Jois is also known among his followers as “Guruji”, which shows the respect that his disciples had for him. From an early age he had a strong desire to learn Sanskrit, which actually led him to meet T. Krishnamacharya. He was his teacher at the University of Mysore in Sanskrit.
P. Jois once went to a yoga demonstration at the university and was very inspired to see his teacher demonstrate amazing yoga asanas. P. Jois then asked T. Krishnamacharya to become his teacher and guide him on the path of yoga. Pattabhi attended yoga shala early in the morning before school and practiced every movement diligently. So, not long after, he became one of his teacher’s most serious students. Krishnamacharya began to take him with him to yoga demonstrations throughout India.
In 1948, Guruji founded the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute – AYRI and began teaching local people, including police officers and doctors. They even sometimes referred their patients to him to help them with various diseases (diabetes and high blood pressure). The first American and European students of Guruji appeared in the late 60’s and early 70’s, which later led to a number of trips and yoga conferences to various destinations – Brazil, America, Australia, France, Norway, England, Finland and Switzerland.
Over the next two decades, Ashtanga Vinyasa’s practice gradually spread throughout the world, leading to many new students who came enthusiastically to practice with Guruji. The yoga shalal moved from Lakmipuram to Gogulam. In 2002, the iconic new shala opened its doors, allowing many new students from around the world to come and practice.
In 2007, after nearly 70 years of teaching yoga, Guruji retired, leaving the Ashtanga Yoga Institute AYI in the hands of his daughter Saraswati and his grandson Sharath.
Sharath Jois is the son of Saraswati and the grandson of Pattabhi Jois. Growing up in a family of yogis, Sharath, from an early age, began to practice asanas. However, it was not until he completed his formal education, at the age of 19, that he began practicing his daily yoga practice. For many years, he got up every morning at 3:30, went to his grandfather’s yoga shala, practiced, and then stayed to assist the other students. He is the only student to have completed all six series in Ashtanga Vinyasa.
After taking charge of the shala, Sharath gets up at 1 a.m. every day to practice before teaching his students. To this day, he continues to teach in Mysore, where he lives with his family.