Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
Born to Srinivasa Taraharya and Ranganayakamma of the Thirumalai family, Sri T Krishnamacharya’s linage can be traced back all the way to Nammazhwar, a well known Vaishnavite saint. Through his father’s encouragement he became a direct descendant of Nathamuni whose works include the Yoga Rahasya.
Professor Krishnamacharya possessed an extraordinary understanding and experience in numerable domains. He was the expert to whom others would come for consultation and skill of pulse taking thus employing all aspects of Ayurvedic healing.
The essence of his teaching was relating the importance of prana and pranayama as the unifying movement between the body, and the breath for both the physical and emotional equilibrium of the senses and the mind.
Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya lived to be 101 years old.
At the age of 16 Krishnamacharya decided to make a pilgrimage to alvar Tirunagair
where upon entering a temple there he met an old man who instructed him to bathe in the river Tamraparani.
When Krishnamacharya came out of the river he lost consciousness and collapsed on the bank of the river. In a trance like state he found himself in a mango grove with an old man seated under a tree. Krsihnamacharya asked this old man to introduce him in the teachings of the yoga Rahasya.
When Khrishnamacharya regained consciousness
the mango grove had disappeared but he was able to remember all the verses received while in this trance like state. So he ran back to the temple to tell the old man who said, “son, you are blessed, you have received the teachings of the Yoga Rahasya from Nathamuni himself”. When Khrishnamacnarha left the temple he realized that the old man in the temple had looked exactly like the sage that had recited the verses in the mango grove.
At age 18 Krishnamacharya went to Benares
where he learned some secret and vary rare aspects of Sanskrit grammar from Brahmasri Shiva Kumara Shastri. From there he returned to Mysore and studied for 3 more years under Swami Sri Krishna Brahmatantra, head of the Paralaka Mutt.
He was the first to teach
Vedic chanting to members of other castes, women and foreigners alike. He also insisted that women learn and practice all aspects of yoga at a time when yoga was considered only for men.
In the early 1930’s
Krishnamacharya was recruited by the Maharaja of Mysore to provide physical education and training to the young boys at the palace. He focused on the needs of the growing young boys through postural movements and pranayama, which eventually found its dynamic expression in the form of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga.
His teaching evolved
throughout the duration of his long career. He revitalized the importance of the techniques of yoga to adapt the practice to each person, carefully respecting different parameters of constitution, place, sex, time, age, capacities, and aspirations. It was imperative to him that the adaptation of the practice of yoga is to the individual and not the inverse, for this is essence of yoga itself.
” …Like a many-faceted diamond, each side brilliant in its way. Diﬀerent individuals saw diﬀerent sides of him in diﬀerent ways and took whatever appealed to him or her. I was fascinated by whatever he thought I should know and therefore taught me, and I found that in ásana practice, the Vinyása Krama method was most beneﬁcial and satisfying. I am sure a few others also ﬁnd it so.
With his deep scholarship, immense wisdom, and abundant compassion, Krishnamacharya reveled in making the ancient benevolent teachings accessible to ordinary mortals like us.”