The Yoga of Sri T. Krishnamacharya

The Yoga of T. Krishnamacharya

The following quotes from Krishnamacharya’s longest standing students clearly summarise the approach that Krishnamacharya took to his practice and teaching of yoga. He was grounded in tradition with his immense studies across the whole range of Vedic knowledge; and a great innovator, making yoga relevant to the prsent days. He felt that yoga was India’s great gift to the world and sought to make the prsent and future opulent with all that was glorious from the past.

“The approach to yoga these days may be classified in three ways. First, Yoga is treated as a Vedic Philosophy based on the sutras of Patanjali. It deals with all the aspects of Samadhi-its prerequisites and ramifications-and culminates in the realization of the distinctive natures of both prakrti and purusa, or indwelling consciousness. This realization leads to kaivalya or moksa, according to Yoga philosophy.

Second, yoga is treated as an art and as a complete physical culture (sarvanga sadhana). The many asanas and their variations, along with coordinated breathing, are what make it an art, and it is considered one of the sixty four arts (kalas or vidyas). This physical culture is fascinating to many.

Third, yoga is considered a therapy for many ailments, and as curative and especially preventive. Naturally the therapeutic approach (cikitsa krama) will be distinctly different from that of the student of yoga who approaches it as an art or a philosophy. Many texts talk about the benefits of certain asanas, pranayamas, mudras, bandhas, and so on. According to Ayurveda, those diseases that are chronic and cannot be cured by medicine alone can and should be treated with yogasanas and pranayamas.

Finally, certain texts talk about yoga practice being structured according to one’s age. These sources divide people according to their stage of life and suggest different approaches. Those approaches are called srsti, sthiti, and laya. Certain asanas and vinyasas should be done during the growth stage (srsti), and others during middle age, when their is neither growth nor decay, and still others during the period of decay, called the laya krama.”


Srivatsa Ramaswami. Yoga for the Three Stages of Life. P.234


“He (Krishnamacharya) divides the practice of yoga into three parts. When you want to develop muscular power, power to concentrate, power to do difficult postures, etc., this is called sakti krama, sakti in the sense of power. And then, he also considers another yoga practice, what is called adhyatmika krama. This is what many people like, that is, to go beyond the physical and to understand, say, God or oneself; in other words, to know what is inside us. Third, cikitsa krama, meaning people who are not ready for sakti krama or adhyatmika krama , or who may not be interested in them, but who come to us with some problem. We have to modify the practice of yoga asana and breathing so that this problem is reduced. According to him, this cikitsa krama is to eliminate impurities in what he calls kosa and nadi.”

T.K.V. Desikachar. The Yoga of T. Krishnamacharya. P.19

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